Moto Z and Moto Z Force Droid Edition — what's the difference?

As was the case in 2015, Motorola has announced multiple versions of its flagship phone. This year, we have the Moto Z ... and then there are the "Droid Edition" variants, a Moto Z Droid Edition and Moto Z Force Droid Edition. Thankfully for everyone, the difference between each model isn't all that substantial — there are just a few key points differentiating the Moto Z from the Moto Z Force, and Verizon hasn't changed things up too much in the Droid Edition versions either.

Ready to understand all of the fine details separating these models? Read on.

Moto Z vs. Moto Z Force Droid Edition

Moto Z and Moto Z Force

Motorola has done an admirable job in keeping the Moto Z and Moto Z Force Droid Edition very similar, save for the stand-out features of each that it chose to differentiate them with. Both phones have the same specs in terms of processor, screen size and resolution, RAM, storage, ports, radios and capabilities. Both charge and output audio over USB-C, and have water-resistant coatings to hopefully save the phone if it takes an accidental splash.

For the most part, it comes down to camera sensor size and battery capacity.

Physically, both phones have the same style of design, as well as materials — in fact, at a glance it's tough to tell which one is which. They both have the same look on the front, including the speaker, camera and fingerprint sensor placements, though you'll notice the Moto Z Force Droid Edition has ever-so-slightly wider bezels in order to accommodate its shatterproof screen. The Moto Z Force Droid Edition is of course slightly thicker than the standard Moto Z, on account of its larger 3500 mAh battery that's a solid bump over the 2600 mAh in its sibling. Speaking of battery, the Moto Z Force Droid Edition will also come with a higher-power charger to top up that bigger cell — it charges with a 30W (5V/6A) charger, compared to the 15W (5V/3A) charger in the smaller model.

That extra bit of thickness doesn't change its compatibility with Moto Mods, though, which is important — you can take a Mod from one Moto Z and move it to a Moto Z Force Droid Edition, and you won't notice a difference.

The only other notable difference here is the camera sensor, where the Moto Z Force Droid Edition has a 21MP sensor instead of 13MP on the Moto Z. Aside from the sensor, both phones have the same camera capabilities — an f/1.8 lens, OIS, laser autofocus and the same software. The camera sensors both have the same pixel size, even, at 1.12-microns.

Verizon's exclusive 'Droid Edition' Moto Z

Moto Z Force Droid Edition

Verizon hasn't destroyed these Droids ... a nice change of pace.

Thankfully, there aren't actually that many differences in the "Droid Edition" version of the Moto Z, straying from the completely new phones we had last year with the Droid Turbo 2 and Droid Maxx 2. In 2016, the "Droid" version basically just means the exclusive Verizon model. But that doesn't mean that the situation isn't a little confusing. At this point, the Moto Z Droid Edition and Moto Z Force Droid Edition are world exclusives for the launch of this family — so Verizon will be the only place to go for a Moto Z until the fall when the line expands. Further, Motorola says there won't be an unlocked version of the Moto Z Force ... only an unlocked Moto Z.

But beyond all that, you're going to find very few differences between the unlocked Moto Z and the Moto Z Droid Edition. Externally, the only difference is the subtle Droid branding on the camera pod — and that's it, the hardware is the exact same otherwise. The current couple of color schemes available from Verizon are no different than what will be generally available internationally, and the size and shape of the Droid Editions matches that of the other versions, meaning Moto Mods can be used across models.

The biggest changes are in the software, naturally, as you're going to find Verizon's pre-loaded software, including its Messages+ app and all of the other services you probably don't want. But you're going to expect that on any Verizon phone — these are no different. You can just be glad that the rest of the phone has gone untouched.

(Editor's note: Wording in the article has been clarified to indicate that there will be no unlocked non-Verizon version of the Moto Z Force.)

Andrew Martonik

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.