Moto Mods Tested and Ranked Best to Worst
The Moto Z lineup of smartphones has a lot going for it, but one of its coolest features is the wide variety of Moto Mods you can slap onto the phones. Moto Mods easily attach to the back of everything from 2016's Moto Z Force to more recent releases such as the Moto Z2 Play and Moto Z2 Force (and presumably, whatever Z3 Motorola has planned for this year). The mods all magnetically clasp to the back of the phone with a definitive click and vibration, allowing the phone to automatically detect its new add-on.
We've tested a dozen currently available mods, ranking them on their design, utility and cost. If there are any Moto Mods you'd like to see us review, hit us up in the comments.
Credit: Tom's Guide
Incipio Offgrid Power Pack with Wireless Charging
One of the most useful Moto Mods I've tested, the Incipio Offgrid Power Pack with Wireless Charging lets you snap a respectable 2220 mAh battery onto the back of your phone. While that's not quite as impressive as the Turbopower Pack, the Offgrid's slim profile and wireless charging compatibility more than make up for its shorter life. The Offgrid will charge your phone (and itself) fairly quickly once you place it on top of any Qi wireless charging pad, or you can charge the old-fashioned way, as long as it's connected to your phone. Either way, it's an attractive and functional Moto Z addition.—Marshall Honorof
Moto Turbopower Pack
One of the newest Moto Mods offers the next best thing to a removable battery. The Moto Turbopower case packs a whopping 3,490 mAh battery that promises a full day of extra battery life. The coarse back material provides a solid grip and feel, though one of our editors found that the phone tended to get warm after initially attaching the Turbopower before eventually cooling down. The mod weighs a hefty 3.36 ounces, but it offers the option to recharge it separately via its USB-C port. There's also a battery indicator on the shell itself for checking power levels at a glance.—Ben Moore
Moto Style Shell
Swapping in a new back panel for your phone is a convenient and relatively inexpensive way to give your phone a new look. The Moto Style Shells, which cost only $20, can also alter the way the phone feels in your hand. The 0.8-ounce shell we tested featured a gray textured back with diagonal cross-hatching, as well as a circular Motorola logo, but you can choose from different materials, including fabric (Herringbone or Crimson Ballistic), wood (Silver Oak, Washed Oak or Charcoal Ash) and leather (Black) styles. We found the texture to be softer than the Z2 Play's metallic back, offering a good amount of grip.—Ben Moore
JBL Soundboost 2
If you're ready to rock out, the dual 3-watt speakers of the latest JBL Soundboost mod deliver louder and clearer audio than your Motorola phone's built-in speaker. The Soundboost 2 also supports speakerphone functions. When you first connect this mod, it prompts you to to install the JBL companion app for controlling the equalizer and enabling the surround-sound enhancements.
The mod's splashproof fabric, which comes in either a black or blue (the blue was bright and bold in-person), felt nice, despite the overall bulkiness. There's also a stand that flips out from the back for propping up your Moto Z and giving the speakers a better playback angle. At $80, this is a fairly cost-effective way of boosting your phone's audio powers.—Ben Moore
Available exclusively through Verizon Wireless, the $79 Moto Gamepad transforms your phone into a veritable mobile gaming powerhouse by adding two joysticks, a gamepad, a directional pad and a few other navigational buttons. That functionality adds size: the gamepad tacks on another 2.75 inches in height and nearly an inch of width to your phone.
With the integrated battery pack on the gamepad, Motorola claims that gamers can play for a full 8 hours without interruption. The Moto Gamepad ships this summer, but we had the chance to test drive it during E3 2017, and we found that its buttons felt firm and responsive. It's not cheap, but the Gamepad mod offers a more comfortable experience for dedicated mobile gamers along with extra juice.—Ben Moore
Moto Style Shell with Wireless Charging
The Moto Style Shell with Wireless Charging is exactly what it sounds like. You simply snap the style shell, which comes in a gray herringbone or a pink floral design, onto the back of your Moto Z phone. Then, if you place it on top of a Qi wireless charging pad, the battery will charge — and pretty quickly at that. However, the mod has no battery of its own, making it considerably less useful than the comparable Incipio Power Pack with Wireless Charging. Furthermore, while an average Style Shell mod will run you between $15 and $20, the wireless charging variant costs a hefty $40.—Marshall Honorof
Tumi Power Pack
Moto Z owners seeking an extra power boost have several backup battery options, including the Tumi Power Pack. This mod includes a 2,220 mAH battery, which is rated to add 22 hours to your phone's battery life. The mod features a somewhat slippery and brushed hard-plastic design and weighs 2.72 ounces.
Z2 Play owners in particular may appreciate how this mod's dark gray and red color scheme blends in well with the phone's metallic side buttons. But the material does not feel as high quality or as comfortable as some of the other mods we tested. Motorola's own Turbopower pack offers a higher battery capacity, a USB-C port for charging and feels much nicer in the hand for only a small jump in price.—Ben Moore
Moto Insta-Share Projector
Motorola claims that this mod projects a 70-inch-wide picture, and were mildly impressed. On the plus side, this mobile projector mod is well-built, with textured rubber grips on the top and bottom and a brushed metal kickstand in the middle. The kickstand folds out smoothly and clicks shut decisively. There's a dial for focusing the image sharpness as well as a power button (long press to start; short press to access settings) on the top edge, which matches the silver accents of the Play 2's hardware buttons.
Unfortunately, while projected images appeared vibrant in a dark environment, the weak 50 lumens of brightness means you can't really use this Mod in a room with much ambient light. In addition, the 858 x 480 resolution means you're not getting an HD picture.—Ben Moore
Moto Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa
The voice-powered Alexa assistant goes everywhere you do when you attach the Moto Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa onto your Moto Z. All the questions you'd ask at home can be fielded by your phone, and the speaker's four far-field microphones are sure to pick up any of your requests no matter how far away you are from your phone. The mod promises up to 15 hours of battery life from its own built-in battery, so it's able to keep up with long-lasting phones like the Moto Z Play and Z2 Force.
When we used the Moto Smart Speaker, though, we found audio playback to be underwhelming. The sound is loud enough to fill a small- to medium-sized room, but audio quality isn’t high enough to justify the price. Playing music on the Moto Smart Speaker sounds tinny, and any song with bass lacked potency. While having Alexa available to answer queries was helpful, if you care about audio more so than having a virtual assistant, the JBL SoundBoost 2 is a better alternative for half the price. On a positive note, the Moto Smart Speaker makes it easier to listen to all your Amazon digital purchases for a great hands-free experience.—Cortney Moore
Image Credit: Motorola
Polaroid Insta-Share Printer
Motorola's Polaroid Insta-Share Printer is a blast from the past, taking you back to the days when instant cameras churned out photos right after you pressed the shutter button. At 6 x 2.9 x 0.8 inches, Polaroid's mod isn't as bulky as those old cameras, and it only adds 6.6 ounces to the weight of your phone when you attach the mod. Shoot images using Polaroid’s capture button or snap directly from your Moto Z's camera to produce 2 x 3-inch prints. Link your social media accounts and add filters with the Polaroid Insta-Share app.
Unfortunately, when we tested this mod, our prints were a mixed bag. All of the prints were undersaturated, though some filters were able to mitigate this. Darker tones showed up more accurately, while brighter colors appeared faded. For example, hot pink and yellow registered as pastels. This mod might not be worth its full $199 price tag, but if you like the novelty of printing photos straight from your phone and sticking them anywhere (thanks to its adhesive back), then Polaroid’s mod is worth considering.—Cortney Moore
Image Credit: Motorola
360 Camera Moto Mod
Motorola's $300 360 Camera Moto Mod enables live-streaming 360-degree video by shooting 4K video with 3D sound captured by four on-board microphones. If you want to edit what you've just shot, fire up the companion software right on your Moto phone to make any adjustments.
All of these promised features sound great on paper, but the 360 Camera Moto Mod doesn’t quite deliver. The 4K resolution doesn’t look very 4K when its stretched 360-degrees, which degrades its crisp quality. The camera also struggles with overexposure in brightly lit conditions and graininess in low lit ones; since there’s no image stabilization, we also saw a lot of shaky footage.—Cortney Moore
Image Credit: Motorola
Hasselblad True Zoom
The Hasselblad True Zoom mod promises superior camera performance with a 12-megapixel sensor, 10x optical zoom and xenon flash, but when we tested this mod, it fell short of that. Its design features a rubberized grip and a physical shutter button, while its technical specs include a f3.5-5.6 aperture range, RAW compatibility and electronically stabilized 1080p 30fps video recording.
We found that imaging performance was inconsistent at best, with the camera add-on producing blown-out highlights and inaccurate colors. On the positive side, the optical zoom worked as advertised in good lighting.—Ben Moore