Technophile

Moto Mods : Add useful features with a snap

Mirza Mohammed Ali Khan | Updated on January 15, 2018 Published on November 16, 2016

For you shutterbugs The Mod takes your phone camera up several notches BIJOY GHOSH

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Moonshot The Supermoon captured using the Mod MIRZA MOHAMMED ALI KHAN

Innovative new features click into place, but at a hefty price range

On the face of it, it sounds like a great idea. Snap on a little thingamajig onto your phone and like magic, your phone acquires new powers. But is this an idea whose time has come? Will its time ever come? Well, Motorola definitely seemed to think so and launched its Moto Z and Z Play along with the Moto Mods — accessories than can be coupled with the phones. We got our hands on three of them. Here’s how they played out:

TrueZoom indeed

The best of the lot. Motorola has a good idea on its hands with the Hasselblad True Zoom Mod. It gives you 10x optical zoom with amazing clarity. Of course, expectations with this one ran high, given it carried the Hasselblad name, and it did not disappoint.

The Mod effortlessly clamps on to the back of the Z, thanks to magnetic contact points, and you can start using it with no other intervention by just opening the phone’s camera app. After it has been attached for the first time, a handy tutorial shows you how to work the Mod. The shutter button is enclosed by a zoom dial and you can half-press the shutter button to focus. The Mod has a protruding lens that is controlled using the zoom dial. When attached to the Mod, the phone is easily mistaken for a digicam.

The Hasselblad True Zoom sports a 12MP camera with an aperture range of f/3.6 to 6.5. It has a powerful xenon flash and also provides HD video recording at 1080p at 30fps. Attaching the Mod makes you lose the phone camera’s functionality and with that, the slow motion video feature is lost too. However, the Mod has a black and white mode and also lets you capture pictures in RAW format, which is handy for professional editing. The Mod does not have a battery of its own and draws juice from your phone, something to keep in mind for those long photo sessions.

Apart from the optical zoom, there is not a lot that sets aside the Mod from the phone’s own camera during the day. It is at night when you can truly appreciate what the Mod adds to your phone. There was a definite improvement to the picture quality and the shots clicked were clear, and even on zooming in fully, there was not a lot of noise. At ₹19,999, it is pricey, but don’t forget that it is a Hasselblad, whose professional equipment costs a lot more. It is a great add-on for phone photography enthusiasts, if you have the money to spend. However, keep in mind that the competition, namely the Apple iPhone 7 Plus, the Samsung S7 Edge, and the Google Pixel, offer great cameras too, without the hassle of an extra accessory.

Louder and a lot heavier

The JBL SoundBoost is a handy addition to the phone, given how smartphone speakers are not up to the mark when it comes to music and videos. The twin speakers on this Mod are rated at 3W each and it comes with its own 1000 mAh battery, which can be charged using a USB Type C port.

The Mod does make the audio significantly louder, and along with a stylish stand, makes for a great accessory for video calling and conferencing, and for watching videos. However, it is a little lacking on bass, which doesn’t augur well for music lovers.

Battery life is average and it drains especially fast once it falls below 35 per cent. It is also quite heavy and makes your phone difficult to hold. It is compatible only with the Mod-enabled Moto phones and is pretty much useless without one, which is a marked disadvantage, given how the market is flooded with good Bluetooth speakers that can pair with any device.

At ₹6,999, the JBL SoundBoost is no doubt an expensive add-on for the limited utility it offers.

All the world is a screen

This Mod, made by Motorala themselves, is a good feature addition. Attach it to your phone, and you have a projector that is great for gaming and videos. It offers 70 inches at a 16:9 aspect ratio, with a brightness of 50 lumens. This Mod also comes with its own 1100 mAh battery, which offers you about an hour of use, so forget using it to watch movies, unless you keep it connected to a power source.

The Mod has its own cooling fan, and while this is a good feature given how it heats up quickly, it makes it noisy. This is quite a hindrance as it interferes with the sound from the phone’s speaker, and we recommend using an auxiliary speaker as you cannot attach two Mods at once.

It has a power button and a dial to adjust focus. We used the projector on different light-coloured walls and the quality was sharp and clear. However, the quality reduces a little as you increase the size. In a pitch dark room, watching videos and gaming gives you a great experience. Utility could be a plus, given how those who make frequent presentations can just flip their phones out, attach the Mod and proceed, eliminating the hassle of setting up projectors.

This one is also priced at ₹19,999 and like the other Mods, the price is a letdown.

The fourth Mod is the Incipio power pack, which we did not get to review. Motorola claims that it adds up to 20 hours of battery to the phone. It has a 2200 mAh battery and is equipped with wireless charging. It is priced at ₹5,999.

The bottomline is that Motorola has got the modular aspects right by introducing four Mods adding very handy features to its phones. But will there be takers for these, given how history has not been too kind to modular smartphones? Remember Google’s Project ARA that folded up and the LG G5?

The company also recently announced a crowd-sourcing initiative for the Mods, underlining their commitment to modular accessories. Again, the drawback is the pricing, but for those who can afford them, they are useful additions.

Mods price range: ₹5,999 to ₹19,999

Love: Great ideas for features

Hate: Price, add weight to the phone

Published on November 16, 2016
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