Motorola's newest Moto Mod isn't another battery — thank goodness — nor a speaker. It's not a wireless charging add-on nor a gamepad (though I really want that, too). It's not even a camera — at least not in the traditional sense.
The latest Moto Mod is a 360-degree camera, similar to Samsung's Gear 360 or Ricoh's Theta S, except that this one snaps on to the back of any Moto Z smartphone. The benefits are many: it's extremely thin for a camera, because the size can be distributed throughout the length of the phone. It's also very light, because it uses the phone's battery for power. And perhaps best of all, there's no awkward transferring of photos to the phone using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi; the camera is connected using the pins on the Moto Z series rear ports, so files are stored on the phone (or a microSD card) for immediate editing or sharing.
The camera itself has two 13MP cameras at 1/2.8", for a pixel size of 1.25um, identical to the new Moto Z2 Force itself. With an aperture of f/2.0, the sensors appear to be pretty capable, though we'll have to take it out for a test run to see for ourselves. Given users' needs for video capture, the add-on can shoot 360-degree 4K video at 24 frames per second, along with 3D sound that Motorola says is one of the camera's best features that differentiates it from the competition.
The lenses are wide — really wide — capable of capturing 150-degrees of the world around you when using just one lens. Motorola has also worked with Google to ensure that all uploads, 3D or otherwise, are usable in Google Photos out of the box. Another benefit to users of the Moto 360 Camera is that it uses Motorola's native camera app for shooting and editing, as well as the aforementioned Google Photos for unlimited uploads. Along with the fact that photos and videos are stored on the device and don't need to be transferred wirelessly using the clumsy Bluetooth protocol, this should make the experience much better than the other 360-degree cameras we've used. There's also support for livestreaming to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any number of platforms.
Of course, we have to address the name: Moto 360 Camera. The Moto 360 brand has been used since 2014 on Motorola's smartwatches, and as we learned earlier in the year, the company has no current plans to refresh that line anytime soon. While we can't say for sure that Motorola is out of the Android Wear game completely, that it is co-opting the Moto 360 brand for use in its new Moto Mod doesn't instill a huge amount of confidence in its future.
The Moto 360 Camera will be available alongside the new Moto Z2 Force Edition on August 10 for a retail price of $299.99 USD. That's not cheap, and puts it in play with standalone 360-degree cameras like the Gear 360 that is compatible with more devices.