Skip to main content

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

122 Comments
  • Thanks for the summary. They seem so similar but the Force looks like the better phone.
  • I'm leaning toward the standard Moto Z myself. I don't see much value in the shaterproof screen, and I like the ability to have a super-thin and light phone that can just pop on an extra battery when needed.
  • The moto z *would* Be my next phone, i only have no money. I guess i'll have to manage with my pure another year :P Posted from outer space on my Moto X Style
  • Moto always has 12 months interest free...as long as you have an interest in paying them back! LOL
  • Give us a good understanding of the difference in screen quality and camera performance in the review. If they are similar it will be a tougher decision.
  • Yup. The screens are closer together in quality this year than last year's shatterproof ... but they're not the same. I'm curious to see about the cameras as well. That's basically what it comes down to. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Agreed... The regular Z works for me. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'm still not sold on Moto. The phone looks like a great bit of kit, but I'm still feeling burned by the decision to EOL the 2014 Moto X so quickly.
  • This is my issue right now. I dont trust them. That and, i am on tmobile, when these finally come to other carriers in the fall, there will be something newer and better and moto will not get my money at that point.
  • That's why I've stopped recommending Moto devices to F&F. Still feeling really burned.
  • I'm leaning towards Andrew's assessment so far.
  • The bigger on board battery doesn't woo you at all?? Posted via the Android Central App
  • If the price of Moto Z + battery mod is less than or equal to the Moto Z Force, I would prefer the Moto Z as well. Simply because I don't think I will like the weird feeling P-OLED screen they use on the Force. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Nice report. I personally felt the shatter shield of last year's Droid Turbo 2 was sort of hype which fell flat. An issue I feel isn't getting enough attention is how a smartphone's insides can get effed up by a hard drop, where you try to power on and you see what looks like an oil slick and you can't go further. And shatter shields do nothing to address that. I'm super pumped about Moto Mods!
  • I feel bad for Sprint customers since they can't enjoy these phones at all. Posted via the Android Central App
  • All 3 of them?
  • Lol don't do them like that Posted via the Android Central App
  • Has Sprint said they won't be getting any of these? I know Verizon has initial exclusivity, and the unlocked versions will be GSM only ... but Sprint could get a dedicated Sprint version in September once the Verizon exclusivity deal expires - unless you've heard or read otherwise? I don't really follow Sprint, so could easily have missed it if this has been confirmed.
  • Last year's unlocked Moto X works fine on Sprint, I imagine the unlocked Moto Z will as well.
  • Unlocked are only gsm this year per droid-life. 
  • I feel bad for Sprint customers period lol. Posted via Samsung's beast S7
  • And the winner is.... Moto G4 :p Posted via the Android Central App on Moto G3 16/2 on $35 Cricket wireless plan.
  • You may be right.
  • If i'm reading this correctly, this phone abandons the qualcomm 2.0 turbocharging for the Nexus 5v/3A standard?
  • It's not using Qualcomm's Quick Charge, so it's doing its own thing. I can't commit to saying that it's the "Nexus style" Rapid Charging until we have the phones for a longer period to test, but it seems to be more on that route.
  • That's good to hear. Posted via the Android Central App
  • It is using the standard USB C rapid charging (pretty fast) that the Nexus 5X and 6P use. Posted via my glorious Nexus 6P
  • The Z Force looks like the choice for me this year, but I really want to see what Nexus is bringing this year first. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Same here, I was pretty eager for a G5 to replace my G3, but that whole business of having to power down to change modules is a non starter for me. Doesn't help that the G5 is also pretty darn ugly to boot. Like that bigger battery on the Force and don't mind the extra thickness, makes it easier to hold in my experience. Then again I can always slap on that Incipio secondary battery as well! (Tried to upvote your post, but this dang stupid iPad took it as a 'report this post' instead. Damn you Tim Cook!)
  • I was hopeful, after seeing how closely they are working with Google re: Tango that Moto Z might be Fi compatible... Posted via the Android Central App
  • If Google doesn't 100% control the update of a phone, I don't think they're going to bother with Fi.
  • Don't disagree. Just was hopeful that the tighter partnership with Google may have spawned that update promptness. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Well, so far the only devices that work on Project Fi are Nexus phones (and data-only tablets that aren't Nexuses, but you still have to have an active account w/ a Nexus phone first), so I don't think there's anything that would have indicated the new Moto Zs would be compatible with Fi.
  • I agree. Not disappointed or expected. Sometimes you just wish... Really liked my experience with the 2015 Pure, but based on recent comments I think Google has its eye on the ball for upcoming Nexus options. Really enjoying the Fi service. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I love the MXPE and I use it daily. I just wish its battery life was better.
  • Does the force have wireless charging without battery mods?
  • Neither one has wireless charging. The back plates are stainless steel. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Stainless???
    The stories on here yesterday said the backs are glass.
    There were a whole lot of blatant mistakes in Android Central's reporting yesterday. I get you guys were trying to get everything pumped out as quickly as possible but I'd rather you wait and get everything correct than have so much wrong. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Did we have a lot of "blatant" mistakes? Feel free to point out any other places where we made these blatant mistakes — we never want to have the wrong information. We definitely mistakenly wrote glass for both sides in our first hands-on post, but did quickly fix to say it's stainless steel with a glass-like coating. As much as any organization tries, there will always be mistakes. (And the information we receive from official sources at events isn't always accurate or consistent, and again I don't think those people mean to make mistakes or mislead, either.) We just try to minimize those occurrences and fix them quickly when we find them. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Well said Andrew. You guys do a terrific job. Anyone who complains should try doing this for a day. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I don't have time to re-read every Moto Z post but most of what I'm talking about related to specs. I just went back through one of the posts I remembered for sure (Moto Z Force) and it still says both Z and ZF have the shatter proof screen and both are the same thickness. There were several of those types of mistakes in the reporting that seem like maybe they would have been caught if there wasn't a rush to get so many redundant posts out. I know... certainly not a big deal overall but if that post was the only one someone reads, they have incorrect information.
    I'm not trying to be negative. I like the site and it's the only one I read for this type of information. Sounds cliched but I just want to see it be even better. Posted via the Android Central App
  • ...unless someone makes a wireless charging accessory module Posted via my glorious Nexus 6P
  • They should've made the Style mods capable of wireless charging IMO Posted via the Android Central App
  • Why would anyone spend their hard earned money on these gimped out Lenovo phones,when you have so many other great choices to choose from. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Gimped out? How do you figure? Posted via the Android Central App
  • I think what Cybtertec is referring to is that rather than continue to add features to the Moto X line, Lenovo has instead taken features like the larger battery and stereo speakers from last years Moto X out of the Z, and made them only available as an additional purchase.
  • And you forgot, NO headphone jack, LMAO. Posted via the Android Central App
  • No headphone jack isn't a big deal. By next year or maybe two most phones won't have headphone jacks Posted via the Android Central App
  • It is a big deal if you have a high end wired set and can't use it.
  • It's not a big deal because adapters will come with the phone to make sure you can still use your current headphones. Posted via the Android Central App
  • still is tho. it sounds ideal to have a single universal port on devices but until the things you plug in are universal its just a pain. I have a 6 inch cable thats a micro usb female to usbc male. ive lost it tons of times which resulted in pulling the oem cable out of the box to charge my phone. my point is all these adapters are annoying to keep track of
  • I wonder how long this adaptor will last before it breaks at the USB port.? Posted via my Motorola Startac
  • This^ Posted via the Android Central App
  • considering most people replace their phone in "a year or two" if contest that it is a big deal ... no reason a larger battery, quality audio and the headphone jack couldn't have been implemented without the need for mods. My 6p has all 3 features and it's plenty thin. 6p on Verizon
  • It ain't 5.2mm thin. Besides, you do realize that the whole pin expansion system on the phone takes space as well.
    Man, everyone on this board is an engineer and designer.
  • And your phone doesn't have mods which make your phone that much better.
    Roflmao pbilsh dadlinco and other such nonsensical acronyms that aren't remotely accurate to your behavior
  • I haven't used a headphone jack in at least 2 years. I'm sure I'm not the only one that it's not a big deal to. You'll either overcome that or you won't buy it Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'm not a fan of no headphone jack, but since Apple's next iPhone will have no headphone jack, this is trend that will continue, and Lenovo just beat Apple to the market with it. I'll have to use an adapter for my Bose QC25 once I get a phone with no headphone jack. I'd prefer not to, but it seems the powers that be (aka Apple) have decided this is a good idea, and I imagine that the quality of headphones that connect directly through USB type C or lightning will be higher. Posted via the Android Central App
  • The Verizon crap versions are gimped otherwise these are wonderful phones. Too bad can't buy at launch unlocked versions. Posted via the Android Central App
  • How are the Verizon versions any more "gimped" than the unlocked ones, 6p on Verizon
  • They aren't, it's just fun to hate on Verizon.
  • So basically, get the Z Force if you're interested in either phone
  • SOL for a Sprint user Posted via my glorious Nexus 6P
  • Why would anyone get the Moto Z and not the Z Force? Is there going to be a huge price gap? There seemed to be a bit of confusion regarding this phone after it was announced. Many people were led to believe that the Moto Z would be the only unlocked phone and the Z Force would be a Verizon only variant. I know that is what took from several different articles yesterday. If I can get the Z Force unlocked with the larger battery and the shatterproof glass for no more than $499, I still might remain a Moto customer.
  • The Z Force is thicker and heavier, which some people don't want. We don't know pricing, but I'm going to guess the Force will ask $75-100 more than the standard Z, too. Posted via the Android Central App
  • eh most people won't think 7 mm is that thick when you add in the added benefits of the much larger battery. 
  • pretty much every moto mod is going to make the phone thicker anyway. What's an extra millimeter at that point? If the non-Force doesn't have the shatterproof screen, a 75-100 dollar difference makes the Force a slam dunk winner, plus possibly saving the need (and extra cost) for the Incipio battery mod depending on whether you expect it to last a weekend camping or not.
  • This 6p on Verizon
  • Andrew, that size difference is minimal and when you consider the extra bulk and cost for the battery mod, what's the point in getting the regular Z? Extra 1000 mAh with shatterproof glass (along with the warranty) seems to make a lot more sense.
  • I'm on the fence between the two myself. My first reaction was the Force, hands down, because of the battery. But most days I have access to a charger at my desk; the only time I need a big battery is when i'm flying or when I'm camping. I'll end up having a module for those anyway. So I'm thinking it might make sense to enjoy the thinner Z most days and slap a battery on when I need it.
  • For me, if I had to pick, it would have to be the Z Force. Main reason is the much larger 3500mAh battery. Even though there is a MotoMod for it, 2600mAh is just too small, especially if I don't plan to get a MotoMod module sometime in the future. I can't argue with a much larger battery, even if it has to be thicker and heavier. And Shattershield is a nice bonus.
  • Yeah I don't know what they would even release the other one. A phone that does it all but is just all around better should be their one and only. Plus the other one just looks to thin for its own good. Buying the regular Z would be like choosing a galaxy s6 over the 7. Posted via the Android Central App
  • The Z Force is around 7mm (1.8mm thicker) and 163g (27g heavier) in terms of thickness and weight respectively. But honestly, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is only a few grams lighter (we're talking single digits as it's 6g lighter) and also a little bit thicker, and it's not even considered to be too hefty or too thick by quite a few, so the Z Force, to me, is almost a direct upgrade from the standard model. Right now, the only reason someone might pick the standard model, aside from pricing (assuming they can also afford the Force) is that they're really obsessed with thinness and light mass
  • And someone may also prefer a gorilla glass screen to a shattershield one. Aside from feeling slicker to use, a screen is more likely to get scratched than broken. I would personally get a maxx or turbo or whatever they are calling the big battery version this generation
  • This.
    I don't want the weird feeling plastic screen. So, I would too opt for the Moto Z + battery mod which I think would be more or less similar in price to the Moto Z Force. Posted via the Android Central App
  • +1, honestly....how about making the battery Bigger so it last a whole day, rather than adding a modular feature that is still very, very young ? Posted via the Android Central App
  • I don't care what anybody says the back is sexy in a weird kind of way. It sucks that the front looks more "budget". Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yes the backs are very nice ... I agree on the front, it doesn't quite do the phone justice.
  • It's weird that it looks budget yet it's far more sophisticated than most every other phone with all of the sensors working on it
  • +1 Posted via the Android Central App
  • Thought the force was a verizon only model? that is what a bunch of other sites are saying, and that the z will be the only unlocked model or are they wrong? 
  • Yup, the Force is exclusive. Looking at this post, I can see how it was confusing. Should be much clearer now. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Even if it is exclusive, isn't Verizon suppose to sell LTE phones unlocked and be able to use as a world phone? Posted via the Android Central App on Moto G3 16/2 on $35 Cricket wireless plan.
  • Depends if the manufacturer puts in a GSM radio.
  • Thanks for the article Andrew. The Z Force is actually the only reason why I'm sad that I left Verizon, but if it's priced correctly and the camera delivers I'll probably go for the regular Moto Z to use it with T-Mobile. Really enjoy the design of it, and looking forward to those mods. Posted via the Android Central App (LG G4)
  • Well if a person was going to get one of these devices then the only one I could recommend is the Force. Other then that I would recommend the 6p or the one of the S7 variants. Rodeo time, time to get er on down the road.
  • Or the HTC 10 Posted via the Android Central App
  • I still dont understand why the front bottom has 4 sensors? Posted via the Android Central App
  • The black dots are IR sensors for the wave gesture to work in order to enable Moto Display. Oh, and the obvious fingerprint scanner.
  • There are 4 though. 2 small and 2 big ones. the tiny ones are for infrared. What's the other two dots on either side of the fingerprint sensor? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Not too sure about the larger dots. Details are somewhat scarce now. We'll have to wait for the review in order to really find out.
  • Safe to say no one should opt for the white front model. The sensors look hideous on that thing.
    On the other hand, no one should opt for a white front on any phone lol. Posted via the Android Central App
  • The white Moto Z looks pretty goofy with how the sensors and finger scanner look. xD
  • Moto X has always been awful with the white front but this takes it to another level. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Infrared sensors for the Moto Display stuff. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'm still not sure if I'll be getting one of these, but if I do, the main thing that would get me to pick the Force is if the camera produces better pictures. Posted via the Android Central App
  • There's no reason to get the Verizon version if you want this phone. Just wait until the fall use moto credit and skip out on the bloatware and slower updates.
  • If you are on Verizon, the Droid versions are the only option. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Not true, you should be able to use any unlocked phone that has Verizon radios on its network Posted via the Android Central App
  • With the Verizon one, do you have the hotspot readily available like o.k. moto x Posted via the Android Central App
  • And still not a word on pricing? Last year, that was a big thing Moto touted, so my guess is these aren't going to be down-priced flagships, but rather something priced like a GS7.
  • When are these companies going to learn that you need to have pricing and availability (a solid date) ready when you formally announce/introduce these products?
  • Also - are we essentially saying there is no Moto Z Force, just the Moto Z Force DROID EDITION?
  • Yes ... and I agree with pricing/availability immediately after the announcement. 6p on Verizon
  • What is the size of the camera sensor on the Force? 1.12 pixel size with 21 megapixels means it's probably fairly big for a phone camera
  • So the only one I am remotely interested in is a Verizon exclusive? Posted via the Android Central App
  • It is such a shame that the Force is Verizon exclusive indefinitely. I use way too much data to ever be able to afford their service. All I want is a phone with a huge battery. Is that asking for much? My initial reaction was that Motorola would be dead to me after yet another Verizon exclusive of a phone I really want, but, after thinking on it more, I can deal. With the battery mods, you're increasing battery life to well over what every other phone on the market has anyway. I won't have the biggest and best battery, but I'll have more than the next phone. Plus if companies like ZeroLemon and Mugen hop on the battery mod bandwagon, I might get even more juice without compromising the feel of my device as much as their current extended batteries and juice packs do. The fall launch, though, means it's now competing with the next Nexus phone and I'm going with whatever gives me the most battery, though I doubt I could expect a huge battery on a Nexus. Phone manufacturers care more about how thin they can make a phone over how long they can make them last. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Increasing battery life to well over every other phone, then you say in the next sentence you won't have the biggest battery? I get what you're saying though. I just don't get why Moto couldn't have made it thicker and included the larger battery. 2600 mAh, even with a mod available, is disgraceful IMO. Larger battery, quality audio and a headphone jack are features available in a lot of phones (like my 6p) without the added expense and hassle of dealing with mods. 6p on Verizon
  • I have to agree with Tom that the Moto Z line is a step in the wrong direction for Lenovo. The Moto x pure front facing stereo speakers and value ($299 on sale plus discounts like 10% on top) made it attractive. Lenovo phablet line running Google tango will be horrible on the SD 652 since its Gpu (Vulcan supported) is weak. Lenovo stock is plummeting http://fortune.com/2016/05/12/lenovo-shares-plunging/ . Keep in mind that exclusivity is a relative term. For example, all Verizon phones are required to be gsm unlocked and Lenovo knows it. So, the droid force will work elsewhere. I recommend looking at the ZTE axon 7 and hopefully the LeEco, formally LeTv, le2 line if available in the U.S.
  • The Axon 7 looks pretty damn good.
  • I have to agree with some other posters. The lack of front facing stereo speakers is a deal breaker for me. That is WHY I bought the Moto X in the first place. Sure, I can BUY the JBL Mod for extra $ but my phone then becomes a block and not a slim phone. Bad move Lenovo.
  • I don't get it, why people show so much love to a Company that don't give a toss to their customers. I am hoping they don't see the daylight here in the UK
  • I seriously doubt this phone will be cheaper than last year's Droid Turbo 2 and that phone was basically $700...I expect the same price on this Force version. Posted via the Android Central App
  • The volume buttons are like the iPhone 6s Posted via the Android Central App
  • Obviously the Moto Mods preclude a fingerprint sensor on the back, but that pretty much rules it out for me (and the square FPS on the front is a big part of what makes the phone look terrible IMO). The backs look really nice though.
  • I really miss the Nexus 5 form factor. I've been looking for a phone like that with high end specs.
  • Are these phones Daydream VR ready? If not they are DoA to me. Posted via the Android Central App
  • You should wait until 2017 then
  • Yeah, probably not going to happen. These phones take time to develop, sometimes a year or more, it is doubtful we will get any day dream phones this year.
  • Was I the only one thinking about Star Wars when I saw Force and Droid in the names?
  • Actually, the messages app works quite well, even on wifi - it doesn't need to be on a Verizon network. Plus you can download a version to your PC and in there easily send longer messages if need be. But I sure would like to know when Verizon will put Marshmallow on the original Droid as promised. My guess is around the time that N comes out.
  • So what's the difference between "Z Force" and "Z Force Droid edition"? I didn't see that in the story Posted via the Android Central App