2017 looks set to be another year of Motorola supported innovation. Motorola’s Moto executives have reportedly confirmed to a small group of tech journalists, that Motorola is committed to releasing a minimum of 12 new Moto Mods for 2017, and each subsequent year.
Moto Mods transform Motorola’s flagship phones with the snap on modules offering new functionality. The Moto Mods that have been released so far includes a movie projector, advanced camera module, battery pack and speaker.
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Motorola has recognised that alone, it cannot meet and exceed the number of new Moto Mods that it has committed to being launched each year. So, Motorola is sharing its Moto Mods Development Kit (MDK) with the world, so that developers can dream up and produce Moto Mods of their own.
In order to encourage and support developers, Motorola is collaborating with Indiegogo. Indiegogo is a global platform for entrepreneurs, which aids the process of moving from concept to market production, with the opportunity to raise funds.
Developers who submit Moto Mods ideas will be entered into a competitions to win a MDK and a Moto Z smartphone. Winners will also receive a trip to Chicago, where they will meet the Moto Mods executive development team, in order to discuss how their idea can be brought to life.
The drive to launch new Moto Mods into the market is further supported by Motorola’s parent company, Lenovo. Lenovo has set aside over £750,000 to help bring the best Moto Mods to market.
Written by: Michael Brown
We originally reported on the launch of Moto Mods back in August 2016:
Motorola is introducing Moto Mods, which will transform their Motorola phones by snapping on modular units, that offer new features not offered by the phone’s original hardware. We first saw plugin modular units offered by LG, with the LG G5, earlier this year.
But, Moto Mods do away with the cumbersome plugin approach that LG used with its LG Friends modular units. Instead, Moto Mods connect with a snap to the mobile phone by using very strong magnets, which in turn give a convenient and precise fit. The Moto Mods automatically connect to the Motorola phone and the connection process does not require the user to reboot the phone.
Moto Mods effectively transform the smartphone into a completely new device. A one time setup process is initiated when a new Moto Mod is attached to the phone and after this the phone recognises the Moto Mod and automatically adjusts accordingly.
Motorola has been working with third party brands such as JBL, TUMI and kate spade new york, in order to bring the initial Moto Mod units to market. Now that these have been created, Motorola is encouraging other third party brands to create Moto Mods, through its Moto Mods Developer Program, which offers financing once prototypes have been created.
The Moto Mods that are available to consumers now are as follows:
Moto Insta-Share Projector
The first Moto Mod is the Moto Insta-Share Projector and this allows the user to stream TV shows, movies and their photo library. The projector projects an image onto any surface and from any angle.
The projected image can be up to 70” and an integrated kickstand allows the user to sit back and enjoy the show. The projector module incorporates a 1,000mAh battery that will give up to one hour of projector time, before the projector begins to use the phone’s battery.
The Moto Insta-Share Projector adds an extra 11mm of thickness to the phone, yet it is pretty lightweight at 125g. The projected images have a resolution of 854x480 pixels, in a 16:9 ratio. The lamp has a brightness of 50 lumens and has a 10,000 hour lamp life, which is roughly equivalent to playing 5,000 movies.
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The projector module is charged with a USB Type-C cable and the projector package costs approximately £230.
JBL SoundBoost Speaker
The JBL SoundBoost Speaker is an extra loud stereo speaker that has been designed to create a concert-like listening experience. This Moto Mod has two 3W speakers that combine to give a total output of 6W.
Once again a kickstand is built in, along with a 1,000mAh battery that can be charged with a USB Type-C cable. The battery ensures that the speaker doesn’t drain the phone’s battery and gives up to ten hours of music playback.
The JBL SoundBoost Speaker can be used as a speakerphone, for making or receiving calls, and the modular adds an extra 13mm of thickness to the phone, along with 145g.
The speaker design has been well thought out and has a portal through which the camera can be used to capture still images or record video. This Moto Mod costs approximately £60.
Incipio offGRID Power Pack
The Incipio offGRID Power Pack is equally practical, with the same porthole-styled design. The 2,220mAh capacity of the power pack adds up to 22 hours of extra power, without adding excessive bulk.
This Moto Mod offers a little more to the story with a Smart Efficiency Mode that can be used to create an even longer battery life. A choice of designer editions have been created by TUMI and kate spade new york, to ensure that style isn’t compromised.
The Incipio offGRID Power Pack adds 6.2mm to the thickness of the phone. The wireless charging version weighs 85g while the standard charging version weighs only 79g. This Moto Mod costs approximately £45.
Moto Style Shell
With no actual function, the range of Moto Style Shells are purely used for changing the look of the phone they are attached to. The snap on magnetic process is far easier to deal when compared to taking the back off of other phones, that have changeable covers.
The Moto Style Shells are made using premium materials such as genuine leather, real wood and durable fabrics. These add only 2mm to the thickness of the phone and weigh between 25g and 32g. Moto Style Shells cost from approximately £15.
The Moto Z story
For now, the Moto Mods are compatible with the Moto Z and Moto Z Force Droid Editions. In order for Moto Mods to be used, the whole design concept for a smartphone, had to be rethought.
These phones have been designed to be as thin and light as possible, to help ensure that when the Moto Mods are connected, the combined thickness and weight doesn’t make them impractical.
To avoid overheating, a liquid cooling system has been built in to optimise thermal evenness. This allows the processor to run faster and for longer, without overheating.
The internal components, such as the 4G antenna, have been redesigned and re-positioned to ensure that the phone’s signal isn’t interfered with, when Moto Mods are attached. The battery needed to be designed to fit into a 5.2mm space, with the final battery design only measuring 3.3mm thick, with continued support for turbocharging.
The energy efficient AMOLED display is 8mm thinner than most LCD displays, yet it is ten percent more efficient. To avoid bending issues, an aircraft-grade stainless steel casing has been used, along with a magnetic-grade steel back plate, and this is eight percent stronger than those used by competitors.
The Moto Z and Moto Z Force Droid Editions are available in the US with no news yet of a UK release. It is probable that the Moto Mods will make an appearance in the UK market but these will most likely be paired up with different Motorola phones altogether.
Written by: Michael Brown