The modular concept for mobiles had a bit of a shaky start; while we liked the idea of LG’s Friends for the G5, the execution just wasn’t quite right, and the concept kind of fell on deaf ears. However, they weren’t the only ones doing modular in 2016, and while it seems they’ve given up on the idea, Motorola most definitely have not. When the Moto Z launched with a modular ecosystem, we were immediately impressed; gone was the terrifying feeling you were tearing your phone in half, replaced with a magnetic, clip-on system that just worked seamlessly.
In our review, Scott opined that the concept was extremely well executed, and while some modules were on the more expensive side, the concept was sound, and it worked. In fact, our surprise at the quality and success of the modules is nothing; it wasn’t just us, even Motorola was caught by surprise.
When I caught up with Moto’s Australian staff for breakfast just before Christmas, high on the list of topics was the Moto Z and how it had gone in the local market, and of course worldwide, and Moto had some very interesting stats to share. Unsurprising was that the battery mods were the best sellers – external batteries for mobiles are big business, especially for those who spend a bit of time hammering their phones away from power supplies. Naturally, those mods sell well, and there’s more manufacturers jumping on board which should be announced in the next month or so.
What caught us — and Moto — by surprise was just how many of the battery mods had shipped. Up to a staggering 80% of Moto Z handsets worldwide have had a battery mod attached out of retail (and yes, Moto have the anonymous analytics to prove this). The JBL speaker is the next most popular mod, followed by the Hasselblad camera, and others.
Another interesting tidbit was the popularity of that Hasselblad True Zoom camera; in Japan, for example, that was the most popular selling Moto Z mod, followed by the projector.
What caught us — and Moto — by surprise was just how many of the battery mods had shipped.
Moto tells us they expected something in the realm of 10% of Moto Z customers would want a battery mod, and they were blown away when three months of projected stock supplies were completely exhausted in just one month.
When you think about this .. it’s not surprising. Power users, and there are a lot of us out there, demand more than just one ordinary battery’s capacity from their phones, and external batteries are – for the most part – ugly as sin, connected by a cable that you have to carry around. Some of the more popular handsets have special battery cases made for them — mainly Samsung and Apple devices — but for those using anything more esoteric than that (and we use that term very lightly), it’s an external battery and cable, or nothing.
External batteries that simply clip on to your phone are an excellent idea.
Moto Z has gone with the third option; rather than having a special battery case, which extends every dimension of the phone inserted inside, they’ve simply gone for a clip-on battery option, from the likes of Incipio, Mophie and others, which adds a tonne of extra power while only increasing the thickness of the phone. This is an incredibly solid idea.
It’s in the leadup to events like CES 2017 and MWC 2017 that we think more about things like this; we’re considering our own power needs, and starting to wish that we had an option like Moto Z’s battery mods for all the handsets we carry.