Motorola was kind enough to send over a few Moto mods to test drive with the Moto Z I have on hand.
If you're not familiar with the Moto Mod concept, it is Motorola's take on the modular phone, allowing you to snap various different modular devices to the back of any one of Motorola's Z series phones.
The mods range from very simple mods like a faux-wood grain back cover to a $300+ Hasselblad camera with 10 X optical zoom.
One of the Mods I have been using over the past few weeks has been the Motorola Insta-Share Projector.
- 50 Lumens
- 480, up to 70" screen size
- 1100 mAh battery with USB C
- 10,000 lamp hours
- 125g in weight
Those specs won't blow most, actually any, other projectors out of the water. But that's not the goal. The value-proposition of being able to snap this projector to the back of your phone and instantly have 70" projection screen is what really stands out. Much like printing photos on your ink-jet printer at home compared to taking them to photo lab. At home, it will be lower quality, but the immediacy of being able to print them right away, rather than wait is a major benefit. The projector mod also comes with a handy carrying case to keep it protected when on the go.
How does it work?
The Insta-Share projector, like all Moto Mods, connects to the back of any Moto Z series phone via a combination of magnets and contact pins. The magnets hold the mod in place, while the contact pins allow for data transfer between the mod and the phone.
To use the projector, there is a power button to the right of the projector lens which turns it on or off. Once powered, the focus of the projector is controlled by a jog wheel to the left of the lens.
The projector, once powered, automatically displays the image from the display of your phone. No extra intervention is needed. Simply connect the mod and power it on.
The mod, thankfully, charges overs USB C connection, which is welcomed since the Moto Z also charges over USB C.
Is it any good?
Surprisingly, yes! The first time I snapped the projector on the back of my Moto Z I was ready for a grainy, dull mess but, I was blown away by just how good the picture was. The brightness was better than expected, clarity was much higher than expected and on top of it, the ease of use was incredible.
The mods 1100 mAh battery is rated to provide up to an hour of projection time before your phone battery takes over and starts to drain. In my use of the projector so far, it does not even come close to that 1-hour rating. Within 30 or so minutes the projector battery was depleted and the phone's battery started draining, fast!
The build quality was rather impressive too. When fitted to the phone, the mod feels like it belongs there. The buttons are tactile and responsive. The kickstand provides excellent resistance, keeping the phone at any desired angle and also stays secure when close thanks to a few magnets.
Why would you want this?
It really comes down to the immediacy factor of being able to pull the projector out and fire up a video on the spot. My wife and I have 3 small children. When you're on the go and need them to stop climbing the walls for a few minutes, pulling the projector from your bag and snapping it to the phone makes them stop dead in their tracks and suddenly are sitting cross-legged waiting for the video to start.
I guess you could say the mod is nothing more than a cool party trick or instant child tamer, but until you have used it and experienced the versatility of the Moto Mod eco-system, you cannot really appreciate how useful and fun they can be.
Should you buy this?
Before even considering the mod itself, you have to ask yourself if Motorola it's the right ecosystem for you in general. Motorola does an excellent job of keeping Android as vanilla as possible while also making great improvements with utilities like Moto-Voice and Moto-Actions, but they tend to be very slow with OS updates. My Moto Z is still stuck on Android 7.1 Nougat, while Google is full steam ahead on Android P development.
If you can live with Motorola shortcomings and after intrigued by the mod ecosystem, I'd absolutely recommend the Insta-Share Projector. The price tag, however, may deter you. When launched this mod retailed for around $400. It has been heavily discounted, but will still set you back $224.99.
For me, I have always enjoyed Motorola's phones, but their camera tech has always considerably subpar, driving more towards the likes of the Google Pixel. With add-ons like the Mods, however, I may consider giving Moto a go as my daily driver. That does hinge on if Moto doubles down on mods beyond their 3-year commitment, or decides to retire the form factor after the Moto Z3.