We received an AT&T unit of the Moto Z2 Force, which didn't really include anything more than a 15W TurboPower charger. Although we didn't get the headphone jack adapter in the box, AT&T says the final retail units will include one. Sadly, there are no bundled earbuds, so you'll need to supply your own.
As usual, the AT&T unboxing experience was hindered by the carrier; with most of its smartphones it prefers to use generic branding, with the AT&T logo displayed proudly on the packaging.
The Moto Z2 Force sits right at the top of the box. Underneath this cardboard cradle is a flap that reveals the TurboPower charger and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Unfortunately, the Moto Z2 Force doesn't come with anything else. Our review unit didn't even have a 3.5mm headphone jack adapter, but we were assured that the retail units would include one.
Also worth noting: the Moto Z2 Force comes with a separate USB cable and wall adapter, which is much more practical; last year's Moto Z models came with a single unit charger, which meant you needed to buy a separate USB-C cable to hook up the phone to a PC. Motorola mentions some markets might not offer a bundled TurboPower charger with the phone.
The Moto Z2 Force is essentially a Moto Z with updated internal hardware and a slightly modified exterior. The Moto Z2 Force is a little bit beefier than the Moto Z. While the Moto Z had a super thin profile of 5.2mm (minus the camera assembly), the Moto Z2 Force gains 0.9mm in thickness, adding up to 6.1mm thick (minus the camera 'disk'). Also, the Z2 Force doesn't come with any Style Shells like last year.
Instead, the Z2 Force's backside is much more comfortable to hold. With the Moto Z, if you took the Style shell off, you were left with holding sharp edges whose lines easily imprinted into your palm. The new Force shaves off the hard edges with an every-so-slight bevel around the edge that joins the antenna band and the metal frame. On the bottom of the phone, there's a mic hole on the lower antenna band.
Speaking of antenna bands, the Z2 Force has only one. It goes all the way around the back of the phone; which, surprisingly, hasn't really been done by other phone makers that were too busy copying the iPhone's antenna band layout. This antenna band layout just makes sense.
On the inside of the antenna band is a brushed aluminum metal backing. The Moto Z2 Force features the Moto batwing as an insert rather than a silk-screen printing. This makes the "M" easier to find to rest your index finger on, bringing us back to the days of the Moto X. The Z2 Force's insert doesn't curve in, rather, it's is slightly recessed.
New to the Z2 Force is Moto's first generation dual-camera setup. The camera ring does protrude quite a bit, just like any other Moto Z model. The camera assembly is made up of two 12MP sensors: one RGB and one monochrome. This means the Moto Z will be able to take pure black and white photos, as well as produce images with a simulated-bokeh effect. More on this in the camera section.
As a reminder, the MotoMod interface remains exactly the same as last year, which means you can use any MotoMod accessories you might already have on the new Z2 Force, in addition, any new MotoMods are also backwards-compatible with any variant of any generation of the Moto Z.
Motorola made the Z2 Force out of 7000 series aluminum, which Motorola attributes to the phone's elegant, yet, strong exterior. "Because what's the point in having a beautiful phone if you cover it with a bulky case?" The phone's frame is metal and features a smooth-matte finish. Just keep in mind it may not dent but it will scuff. Although, it will definitely hold up better than many other phones that are built with more malleable metals.
The Z2 Force is a shatterproof smartphone, which Moto calls "ShatterShield". The display is a durable OLED panel protected by a plastic lens, which means there isn't any glass that can break. However, the plastic lens is much more susceptible to scratching.
Motorola did state that the press received pre-production units, so the retail devices for the masses should see a ShatterShield that isn't as prone to scratching. We also think it's a shame that Motorola discontinued making replaceable ShatterShield lenses for the Z2 Force. It used to be that you could go to the store and buy a replacement factory screen protector, but Motorola has wiped its hands of that responsibility and handed it over to the customer. Motorola should have handled this process better.
While you likely won't get a case for the Z2 Force, you'll definitely want to invest in a screen protector of some kind. We barely used ours for a day after the announcement event and already saw two scratches on the lens. In fact, pressing a fingernail into the screen is enough to permanently dent it, which does not look good for a phone that starts at $720, even going for more than $800 on AT&T.
Lens aside, the Z2 Force's front consists of an unchanged 5MP selfie camera with front-facing dual-LED flash, and an earpiece which doubles as the loudspeaker. Under that, a 5.5-inch QHD P-OLED display, which doesn't look like much of an upgrade from last year's Moto Z, but we'll be taking a look at the display tests and let you know our findings in the next section.
Under the display is a larger fingerprint sensor, one that matches the size and shape of Motorola's other offerings. Also under the display is a mic hole, and two infra-red sensors on either lower-corner that detect the wave of your hand when you want to activate Moto Display. More on that in the UI section.
Like the Moto Z and Z Force last year, the Z2 Force is also missing a 3.5mm headphone jack. So there is only a USB type-C port on the bottom. We do like that Moto uses a more durable material just around the USB-C port to protect the metal frame from getting scratched front frequently connecting the charger.
The top edge houses a SIM and microSD card tray, as well as a noise-cancelling microphone (this makes three external mics, which work together for Moto Voice and video. Meanwhile, the left side is completely blank while the right side is home to the phone's only physical keys, which have been placed pretty high up on the phone.
The volume and power keys are made of presumably the same 7000 series aluminum as the phone and feature tiny beveled edges. The power key is also textured to tell it apart from the volume buttons. We like when phone makers put this kind of attention to detail.
All in all, the Moto Z2 is still quite wide for a 5.5-inch display. As phone makers are focused on getting more screen to fit in your hand, this was not a priority for Motorola, and this overall design may not resonate with some in 2017.
While thin, the device has generous amounts of surface area and pretty large bezels. That said, the iPhone 7 Plus is still a bit taller and wider than the Z2 Force. Then again, the iPhone 7 Plus technically carries designs from 2014 and is still the largest 5.5-inch phone in 2017.
In the next section, we'll dive into the display, battery life, and connectivity suite.