You’ve got to hand it to Motorola — the Lenovo-owned phone maker never slows down. Last year, it released a whopping seven devices in the United States, with even more hitting overseas markets.
The Moto X, formerly the brand’s flagship, was reborn into a midrange handset with support for Google’s Project Fi network, while the G5 Plus set a new benchmark for quality and performance in the budget segment. And that’s to say nothing of the E4 Plus and its gargantuan battery life, or the second generation of the Moto Z range, which saw many more mods released in 2017.
Motorola certainly has a formula for producing consistently solid devices at every price range. However, 2018 looks to shake up that formula significantly, thanks to breakthroughs in the market, like full-screen displays and 5G connectivity. What follows is everything we’ve heard about Moto’s lineup for the upcoming year.
Moto Z3 and Z3 Play
Motorola held off from committing to a complete redesign with the Z2 so as to maintain compatibility with the first generation of Moto Mods, which began releasing in 2016. However, the industry has moved on, with smaller bezels, larger screens, and narrower form factors — and it appears the company’s competitors may have forced Motorola’s hand.
That may explain the only serious rumors we’ve seen surrounding the Moto Z3 so far, which depict a Galaxy S8-like curved front glass panel that drapes the screen over the left and right edges, along with minimal bezels above and below.
The renders come from Droid Life, which received them from an anonymous source. Although the blog admits it was unable to verify the details with a second source, prominent leaker Evan Blass appeared to lend credence to the reports soon after they were published. Nevertheless, it’s always a good rule of thumb to take such rumors with a grain of salt.
The story so far indicates the Moto Z3 could see a 6-inch display with an 18:9 aspect ratio and a resolution of 2160 x 1080. Under the hood, the updated phone be powered by Qualcomm’s next-generation Snapdragon 845 chipset, which is all but certain to feature in the Galaxy S9 as well as many other Android flagships throughout 2018.
For a long time, Moto has turned to a prominent physical button or fingerprint reader on the front of its phones. Interestingly though, if the company goes with a full-screen design as rumored, it will face the same challenge that Apple and Samsung ran into with last year’s flagship phones, which could force that fingerprint sensor to move.
While the images we’ve seen thus far of the standard Z3 and midrange Z3 Play indicate there won’t be a rear-facing scanner, there does look to be a software button where the navigation bar is typically found, and it could potentially double as an in-display fingerprint reader — though it’s too early to definitively tell.
The only thing we know for sure about the new Z line is that it will still be compatible with all of the Moto Mods released to date. That means that no matter how Motorola approaches design this time around, these phones are pretty much guaranteed to have the same basic frame, though they will probably differ in thickness, fit, and finish. It’s also safe to assume there will be at least two models in the Z3 family, though Droid Life was tipped to a third, even more premium variant releasing down the line.
It was only a matter of time before we saw Android devices copy the iPhone X’s notch and devil horns, but we wouldn’t have expected the first device to do so would be the next Moto X. Lo and behold, the same source that sent those juicy details on the Moto Z3 to Droid Life has also shared a render of the Moto X5, and it very much resembles a cross between the company’s previous work and Apple’s latest handset.
In the image, the notch splits the status bar, similar to the way it operates on the iPhone X. However, the status bar is left black, which allows those areas to blend into the front glass. It’s a different look from Apple’s software, which rarely attempts to mask the existence of the notch in the same way — though it does create a disparity between the rounded corners at the bottom of the display area and the 90-degree angles at the top.
The notch also provides space for a pair of front facing cameras, which, if they function the same way Motorola’s dual rear cameras have, should allow for shallow depth-of-field Portrait-style selfies.
On the display front, the rumors suggest a 5.9-inch panel, again with a resolution in the neighborhood of 2160 x 1080. A logo appears where you would have found the fingerprint sensor on previous editions, though it strangely spells out “Motorola” in full, rather than the shortened “Moto” moniker that Lenovo has been favoring more recently.
Just as on the Z3 render, we see a single on-screen button underneath the home screen dock, indicating the X5 could offer the same solution for navigation in addition to the stock Android back, home, and recent apps keys.
Moto G6, G6 Plus, and G6 Play
The Moto G5 Plus was one of our favorite inexpensive phones of last year, so the G6 has a lot to live up to. Back in October, VentureBeat’s Evan Blass tweeted that Motorola was planning to revive the Play series with the G6, meaning there would once again be three devices in total in the family: the G6, G6 Plus, and G6 Play.
We only ever got the G5 Plus and its dual rear camera-equipped sibling, the G5S Plus, in the United States, so it’s hard to say right now how many of these models we’ll receive. Regardless, another set of renders courtesy of Droid Life depicts all three rumored G6 models sporting 18:9 aspect ratios and slim bezels, just like their more powerful and expensive siblings. The sizes would measure 5.7 inches for the G6, and 5.9 inches for the G6 Plus.
Unlike the rumored Z3 and X6, all three G6 models look to preserve their fingerprint sensors — although the G6 Play’s appears to have been moved around back. If they operate similarly to how Moto’s scanners have in the past, they may double as capacitive home buttons and even respond to gestures to replace the back and recent apps buttons — an interface Moto has historically called One Button Nav.
When it comes to specs, the G6 and G6 Plus will see a predictable bump in power according to Droid Life. That means an upgrade from a Snapdragon 430 processor in last year’s G5S to a 450 in the G6, and an upgrade from the Snapdragon 625 in the G5S Plus to a 630 for the G6 Plus. The report adds that the G6 Play will feature the largest battery of all the models, at 4,000 mAh.
There will also be a slight difference in cameras across the range. The G6 and G6 Plus will benefit from a pair of 12- and 5-megapixel dual rear shooters, while the G6 Play will only receive a single lens at a resolution that wasn’t disclosed in the report. Moto’s Play series has always been used for lower-end products, so the G6 Play is expected to undercut the prices of the other models.
Speaking of which, the anonymous source pegs the G6 at $240 and the G6 Plus at $330. It also adds that each variant will arrive in three exclusive colors, among which are rose gold, silver, charcoal, blue, black, and teal.
A 5G Moto Mod
We’ve seen Moto Mods that turn your smartphone into a projector, health monitor, Polaroid camera, and portable speaker, but we’ve never seen anything like what Motorola is reportedly planning.
The final item leaked to Droid Life was not a handset, but a Moto Mod — and a pretty remarkable one at that. While 5G is still at least a good year away, Motorola may be working on a mod that adds 5G connectivity to the Z family.
Now, it’s important to note that Motorola has talked about this before — about a year ago, as a matter of fact. So it’s quite possible this project may never see the light of day, and was simply relegated to internal test status. However, if it does surface, it could mean that Moto Z customers — users with phones they bought as far back as 2016 — would get 5G before the last devices to drop in 2018.
If these rumors bear out, 2018 will be an exciting one for Motorola, and some of these devices could end up in our best-of considerations by year’s end. However, these are just the first details to drop for a long line of products set to release over many months. There’s a chance we’ll see one of these devices debut at Mobile World Congress (MWC) at the end of February in Barcelona, so watch this space over the coming weeks.