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Enterprise Investment L.L.C Researches 3 Features Makes Moto’s Modular Phones Innovative, Radical And Risky

In 2013, a Dutch designer named Dave Hakkens posted a YouTube video called Phonebloks. It went viral (about 22 million views), because its logic was so compelling: We should be able to snap together the various components we want in a smartphone: camera, processor, storage, GPS, screen.

 

We’d save money, we’d replace only individual components as technology improved, and we’d stop pouring 2.5 million tons of sharp, toxic, non-biodegradeable electronics into our landfills every year.

 

Compelling, yes; practical, no. For example, a modular phone would be much bigger and bulkier and uglier than today’s integrated, unified models. And that’s assuming you could persuade the Apples and Samsungs to embrace the modular concept; they love that we throw away our phones every year. (Google experimented with a modular phone project, but eventually shut it down.)

 

All of which brings us to the Moto Z family.

 

Three things make these 5.5-inch Android smartphones radical, innovative, and risky.

 

First, they’re thin—the thinnest in the world, Moto says. The Moto Z model ($700, available for any carrier) is only one-fifth of an inch thick; you could practically fold it like a paper airplane. Its sibling, the Moto Z Force (Verizon [VZ] only), costs $20 more and gets you a higher-resolution camera and longer battery life—yet it’s still thinner than a Samsung Galaxy S7.

 

Second, the Z and Z Force have no headphone jacks. So you’ll have to carry around the included adapter to accommodate normal earbuds, just as on the iPhone 7.

 

The new Moto Z Play is fractionally thicker, has a lower-res screen and slower processor, and lacks the shatter-resistant screen and optical camera stabilizer of the others. But it restores the headphone jack, its battery goes for days—three or four between charges—and it costs only $408 from Verizon, or $450 from Moto for use on other networks.)

 

But third—and this is the big news—the Moto Z phones are, in fact, modular. Now, don’t get excited; they’re not nearly as modular as the Phonebloks or Google’s Ara concepts. Instead, each phone can accommodate one new component that magnetically snaps onto the entire back.

 

All of which brings us to the Moto Z family.

 

The magnets provide a satisfying click and a super-firm grip.

 

At the moment, there are five of these Modo Mods available: interchangeable back panels, stereo speakers, battery pack, projector, or camera. Here’s a rundown:

 

Style Shells ($20). These are thin, light back panels made of cool materials like wood or nylon. You can use the phone without one, but it really looks as though it’s expecting something to snap on; the Style Shell completes the phone by adding a smooth, slightly rounded back.

 

With the new Moto Z joining the smartphone market with an innovative, radical and risky concept, will it be able to compete with the already strong market position of the Apple, Samsung and HTC, their concept of having a smartphone with interchangeable mods may change the way in which we purchase a new phone when the latest version comes onto the market Stated Lilly Chen tech analyst for Enterprise Investment LLC.