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Moto Z2 Force vs. Samsung Galaxy S8: Top dollar battle

When you launch a phone that costs over $700, you're pretty clearly targeting the top of the mainstream phone market. So for the new Moto Z2 Force, it's going to be expected to go head-to-head with the proven Galaxy S8. Both phones have some clear advantages, a couple of less-desirable features and some points of personal preference to boot. Which one deserves your money, though? We compare the two so you can decide.

On the Motorola side of things, the Moto Z2 Force hardware hasn't changed much since last year on account of its Moto Mod compatibility. It's still a handsome and unique device, though, particularly if you've taken a liking to its flat and angular looks. The aluminum frame is robust and nicely chiseled, with plenty of flat surfaces and angles not only on the back but also the front. It's a bit on the wide side and its 6 mm thickness and perfectly flat, slippery back make it rather tough to manage in one hand without a Mod on the back.

Flat, angular and wide versus curved, smooth and narrow.

The Galaxy S8's design is pretty much the antithesis of the Z2 Force — it's narrow, curved and smoothed in just about every area. Setting the two side-by-side it's quite amazing how much more hand-friendly the Galaxy S8 is — not just in its narrow profile, but its curved edges that don't jut into your hand so sharply. The one clear downside of all this size-trimming is the fingerprint sensor, which is much harder to reach than the standard placement on the front of the Moto Z2 Force.

Display area is about the same on the two phones, but the big differentiator is the Moto Z2 Force's ShatterShield display that's guaranteed to not break in the first four years you own it. On the other hand, the Galaxy S8's Gorilla Glass 5 is tough, but its curves and tiny bezels give it effectively zero extra protection against cracking when dropped. If you're clumsy, this is a pretty clear choice ... although if you're willing to take it easier on your phone the Galaxy S8's display is a bit better overall and its glass feels better to your fingers than the Z2 Force's plastic coating.

Internally, this is a dead heat, with both phones offering a Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Of course the calculation changes a tad if you're outside of the U.S. where the Z2 Force bumps to 6GB of RAM, but given the performance of these two phones it doesn't seem like that's going to make too much of a difference. Of course you also have the battery, where the slightly-below-average Galaxy S8's 3000mAh capacity is nearly 10% larger than the Z2 Force's 2730mAh. Neither one is going to be a multi-day phone, but you may like the prospects of the Galaxy S8 give you a little extra breathing room.

The camera comparison here is interesting because the Moto Z2 Force has a new setup with dual lenses but ostensibly lower overall specs on them. The pair of 12MP cameras — one monochrome, one color — let the Z2 Force take great black-and-white shots as well as selectively focused photos with dramatically blurred backgrounds. But with just an f/2.0 lens, no OIS and smaller pixels, the Z2 Force's cameras aren't likely to produce the same consistent low light shots that the Galaxy S8's single camera can. The Galaxy S8's front-facing camera wins in some respects with its higher resolution (8MP), brighter lens (f/1.7) and auto focus, but the Z2 Force is no slouch with its 5MP sensor getting a nice boost from a dual-tone front-facing flash.

Samsung's software just feels a little bloated and heavy-handed compared to Motorola's offering.

Much like their hardware, these phones are differentiated strongly in their software. Samsung's experience is consistent and familiar to those who are upgrading from other Samsung phones, but the piles of features and additions may be off-putting to someone who wants a cleaner interface, simpler experience and choice over what they put on their phone. Motorola's software strikes a great balance between keeping things simple and providing just a handful of user-friendly features. Moto Actions, Moto Display, Moto Voice and just a few other tweaks add to Android without being distracting or heavy-handed, whether you've used a Motorola phone before or not.

The only true wildcard in this comparison is the Moto Z2 Force's bevy of available Moto Mods to augment its experience, which really don't have an equivalent on the Galaxy S8. If you like the idea of having a phone that could pretty seamlessly expand its capabilities over the year or two that you own it, this is where you want to be. Your Mod usage may be just a Style Shell early on, but over time you may add wireless charging, or a big speaker, or a battery pack or something new entirely without having to buy a whole new phone. That's pretty neat.

Choosing where to spend the big bucks

Moto Z2 Force vs. Galaxy S8

For most people who are a bit flexible in what they get out of a phone, either the Moto Z2 Force or Galaxy S8 will get the job done — which you should buy will come down to your preferences on the design, shape and brand recognition. Both phones offer top-end specs, screens, hardware quality, cameras and performance.

But when you're being asked to pay around $750 for a phone, it's totally reasonable to have high expectations and want something very specific. The Galaxy S8 clearly offers more features, a slightly nicer display, a more compact design and great extras like I68 water resistance, wireless charging and a 3.5 mm headphone jack. The Moto Z2 Force has a shatterproof screen, cleaner software, interesting dual camera tricks, better fingerprint sensor placement and a truly unique system of interchangeable Moto Mods.

On the whole, most people will see the scale tip toward the Galaxy S8 for everything that it does. But with so much overlap in what these phones do and the few areas where the Moto Z2 Force has unique advantages, it's worth considering in this price bracket.

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

88 Comments
  • I will be ditching my S8+ for the Z2 Force, but probably come back for the Note 8 or S9
  • You have major commitment issues.
  • Or Jump on Demand with T-mobile. I have it but even with it I'm skipping the Motorola. Too many ridiculous decisions that include the small battery and lack of headphones jack. No thanks.
  • Jump on Demand is correct
  • This "Jump on demand" seems like a thing of my dreams...do you basically just rent your phone and turn it in for another phone whenever you want?
  • That is exactly what it is. No up front cost usually. And taxes get spread out so you don't have to fully pay the sales tax. The only limiting factor is you can only upgrade 3 times a year, but there is a work around if you go to a store. And they still offer it to new customers despite not being advertised you just need to call and ask.
  • How much does it cost for this jump on demand?
  • It depends how much the phone cost. It's just tmobile's service. So I pay 90$ for 3 lines. And then I pay 29 a month right now for my G6. The Moto Z2 Force is like 35 a month after taxes.
  • It sounds nice, but is the grass always greener? I get new tech, but a new phone once a year seems reasonable to really appreciate the phone. Changing up three times a year means you need to adjust to a new phone three times a year. Why out yourself through that?
  • For many of us the adjustment is the fun. :)
  • Well you don't have to upgrade 3 times a year, you can do once twice thrice or nothing If you go to the end of your lease you can just buy the phone for your leftover balance
  • Jump on Demand is gone unless you already have it. Trust me I lost it. I had an employee's mess my stuff up but supposedly he's not their best but they other employees and manager are helping me out and getting my JOD back :)
  • 😁😁😁 fon harlot
  • Note 9
  • Chosing between the GS8 & the Moto Z2, I would have to go with a SONY Xperia! All are about the same in price and specs.
    And baring mobile payment tech and fingerprint sensors, I would choose to have PS4 remote play compatibility.
  • I have the S8+ thru T-mobile JoD but also just got an Xperia XZ Premium (the International version with working FPS) for $600 and it is spectacular so far.
  • if the Xperia was available on JOD i would have tried it, looked awesome
  • It is so far amazing and I'm enjoying it much more than my S8+
  • I have HTC U11 and it`s a crazy phone, Delivering the same performance, smoother and cheaper than S8 and the Motorola Z2. It cost me $546 saving $200.
  • I've heard recently about people having light bleed issues and problems with the touch screen
  • It may be smoother and quicker than the Samsung, but not the Motorola. Motorola phones don't have those issues, in fact, they are usually the best performing phones in their class year after year.
  • Now that the S8 can be had for $550 or less ($499 on Boost Mobile, for example), this is not a contest. I do miss Moto Display, having owned nearly every Moto phone, but I'll tell you what..I LOVE Samsung Pay.
  • If price makes it a "no contest" to you, the Moto is $360 on VZW plus a free projector mod if you make payments and have unlimited plan. Seems like a contest. VZW may not be for you, but to simply quote a price that can found and say No Contest is off base.
  • Off base? That's not nice. I owned the Moto Force, even owned a Play. I'm saying from my own experience, while the S8 doesn't do notifications like a Moto phone (nobody does), it does most everything else better. That you can get an S8 at a discount (they're not $800 anymore), it isn't a fair contest. And the deal you mention, you can't get a new Force for $360 with bill credits, can you?
  • To answer your question, no you can't. The guy who said that had no idea what he was talking about. You get the free projector after you pay for the phone's real price of 756 dollars. Still the galaxy for 500 is a much better deal unless you really want the moto mods
  • Sorry, but you are incorrect. It is not only on the website at VZW, but I confirmed it through a phone call to them. I was told that I needed to pay the tax only. It is also in a story right here on AC. "Verizon has the best pricing at launch, with a total retail price of $756 but also a really great deal if you choose to finance the phone. Customers with unlimited data plans can get the Z2 Force for just $15 per month, or $360 in total, assuming they finance over the course of two years. The free Projector Mod you've been hearing about still applies." AC
  • Yeah, with the forced 65 a month with unlimited, totaling 100 bucks a month. I do know this because I did pre-order this, it does cost more than my wife's s8. Not only that but once it actually comes out it does go back to being 31 bucks a month
  • And you have to consider the fact that you may have to buy different Bluetooth headphones and will be practically forced to buy a stupid battery mod cause the battery is pathetically small with not wireless charging, so another mod to have to purchase to use my wireless charger. In the long run this phone will be super expensive.
  • To get the most out of your phone, it is a no contest. The s8 has a headphones Jack, wireless charging, a bigger battery, and it is just gorgeous. Sure it doesn't have a shatterproof screen or moto mods, but it has basic features that should be with every android flagship like water resistance, wireless charging, and headphones jacks. I'm sorry I'm usually with motorola but this is a step back.
  • So you are backtracking on you original statement. Your prices are only in certain instances and you do need a plan with ANY phone so that hardly is a differentiator. For someone on VZW Unlimited, it is a good deal. The plan is already in place ($40/line in my case) and my current battery mod will fit fine. BTW, you are not FORCED to buy a battery mod. If battery life is a priority, it is helpful, but nobody will point a gun at your head.
  • I'm not, did you pre-order this cause I did. I realize that this phone is going to cost a fortune in the long run. If you want a full day of use for this phone, you'll probably need to buy the motor mod. I'm just looking into the future, the moto may be cheaper to start out with, but will be more expensive in the long run. Also you didn't recognize that I did say that my wife's s8 will cost less monthly than this phone. So in my case, it is a no contest which one is the better deal or cheaper phone or how ever you want to twist it
  • Any other plan gets the Z for $480 ($20/month) and the projector mod.
  • I was going by that you said price was no contest only. Nothing else. Yes on the Z2 Force. Pre-order, unlimited plan is $15/mo. for 2 years and eligible for the free projector mod through Moto. Total is $360 for the phone and mod. This is especially attractive to someone that has a battery mod to throw on there and not worry about the battery shrinkage (me, for instance). My current Z Play is still quite good, but I may do it anyway as my bill will actually go down due to one line dropping by $20. Sorry you thought that was not nice, not my intent.
  • Who really wants a projector? The S8 is more feature rich than the Moto.
  • Having to pay for damage insurance or worry about breaking the S8 makes it a really tough call. Throw in Motorola's minimal changes to Android and I am leaning towards the Moto. Really, the only interesting thing about the S8 is the aspect ratio and minimal bezels.
  • Well said. And if you're willing to spend a little more, you get Moto mods - a unique differentiator. It's fun to keep up on the development of mods. It's fun to use them too.
  • It supposedly scratches really easily
  • Plastic screen, smaller batteries to sell mods, going backwards with the z play, can't pay everywhere like samsung, no built in wireless charging, no headphone jack, motorola cameras are never as good as samsung. you can get a gear 360 1st gen far cheaper than the moto mod and do 360 video. Woohoo its for sale on all 4 carriers in the USA. of course they picked it up as its a way to push accessory sales with the moto mods.
  • Between those 2, S8 is better by miles, it even cost less around 550$ with all discounts. 2017 high end phone MUST come with IP68 rating, sammy apple LG Sony and HTC already did that
  • Headphone jack. Nuff said.
  • While I'm a big Moto fan, the Z2 Force is a step backwards IMHO. While the near stock software and Moto Display is awesome, the fact that the Z2 has a smaller battery, no headphone jack and isn't IP68 certified gives the S8 the advantage. But, I could be wrong and Z2 could be awesome but right now, the S8 wins. (Quick sidenote: While I myself don't mind the absence of the headphone jack due to my use of Bluetooth, it is nice when you have it and BT at the same time. Also, while I know the Z2 is water-resistant, it still isn't IP68 certified so another advantage to the S8.
  • I feel like you're splitting hairs here (even though this article justifies splitting hairs since you'd be spending so much). Your decision between these two should be based on the differentiators like Samsung's awesome camera or MotoMods. Side note: If you're not on the water all the time and you don't get your phone out while taking a piss, water resistance should take a backseat too what happens when you drop the phone on dry earth.
  • It's nice to have both covered as opposed to one or the other.
  • Which phone does that?
  • Right now I'm readying my s7 to go back from my moto z play. I thought the platform had great potential and would really mature nicely including the base phone hardware.... Well how much of a FU has Lenovo just given us with these new Z phones. Terrible.
  • Yeah, Moto seems to be holding back on this year's phones. The battery capacity issues are hard to ignore.
  • to each it's own, but i could never understand why people like Samsung. For years their phones UI bogged down the phone's performance plus they're notorious for installing too much bloatware. I've only experience the s4 briefly and htc one. I had sony's for about 2 years which i liked allot. Otherwise, i'm a big iOS fan. I'm interested in seeing what this phone is all about, mainly since it's finally coming to all carriers and my last one was the razor. I'm interested in your experiences with the moto z/play line; how well does it stand up? I heard HTC's work well in the beginning and then their software deteriorates. I heard the Moto's line has unlock screen issues from other site's comments. Please only those who've owned a moto.
  • Hey! I'm a current owner of a Z Play if you want an opinion? The battery life on this phone is absolutely phenomenal, I consider myself a heavy user and I can usually get a day and a half out of it. If I didn't use it as much, there isn't a doubt in my mind that I could get two days. The display is fantastic, and even at 5.5", FHD is more then enough for me and the AMOLED panel is great but that's me, I'm not sure if you're into VR or anything that would benefit from QHD or even Sony's 4K, although not many apps support it currently. The performance is also very good and played Injustice 2 fine. My last phone was a Xperia Z3 which is an older flagship and the Z Play is just as good for a "midranger." It has one front facing speaker that get's plenty loud enough for me and if you need a reference, it get's MUCH louder than my Z3 did, a fact that I find funny since the Z3 had front facing stereo speakers. I'm not good at judging camera quality but I think it takes good pictures, not Pixel, S8 or U11 quality but pretty good, but definitely get other opinions. Also, I apologize for the length.
  • I've owned a Z Force for almost a year now. No lock screen issues. No major lag issues. I had a 2nd gen Moto X for 2 years and loved it. I had a Galaxy S3 before that. That phone's performance degraded noticeably over the 2 years I used it, factory resetting it multiple times. Moto software additions truly augment the Android experience without getting in the way. This article very accurately sums up what my experience has been when comparing Samsung software with Moto's near stock Android. Moto display and Moto actions are awesome! Moto mods should factor heavily into the decision here since it's a major differentiator in the market. The mods are fun to use and fun to follow online. I think they are still stuck in first gear and they are having a hard time being desirable to mainstream consumers... But when I get my turbo battery mod, I'll have about 7000 mAh of total battery life with my Z Force. To me, that's awesome! My current off-grid power pack is fun too. My JBL mod is useful and just fun. These things mean more to me than less bezels and having Samsung's OS in my face. The camera on my Z Force is slow. That's my biggest criticism.
  • There's your problem. YOu stopped at the s4. Samsung is worlds different now
  • I would go for the S8, even though I don't like the display format or the FPR location. The turnoffs for the Moto are the battery capacity, and giving us something instead of the headphone jack that's worse, not better.
  • Neither because both phones are overpriced
  • I'm paying like $5 a month for my S8 plus on Sprint. I would have to see I have no intentions of switching to the moto LOL
  • Motorola needs to get up with their software update program.
  • Considering the display is the part that will be utilized most the S8 is a no-brainer. Could care less about pure Android and neither do most Android users. As for Sony nice 4k screen but 4k in LCD still can't beat 3k in Super Amoled no matter what the pixel count is.
  • Have you used both extensively? I have both and so far am enjoying the Xperia more.
  • How does Samsung Pay work on it? That's a deal breaker for lots of people.
  • 3K???
  • Maybe he was alluding to pentile.
  • Seems like it
  • How awesome is that screen when it is cracked?
  • There is a cost to the shatterproof display, however. It's more prone to scratches. There is an easy workaround, however. A protector.
  • Right, a glass screen protector and all is good. I will take a scratched screen any day over a cracked one.
  • Or even simpler, the outer layer of the shattershield is more or less a screen protector itself, and replaceable.
  • I would pick the S8 solely because of the fact it has a 3.5mm headphone jack. No more.
  • What if there was a mod that had a high end DAC with extra battery and a headphone jack? Surely someone must be working on one.
  • I really wanted that Z2 Force..... But the lack off H.J., and small battery is a turn off....I would have worked with it, with the battery pack mod, but headphone jack is a must.
  • If I didn't have any Moto Mods then I would go with the S8. If your already invested in Mods then it kind of locks you in
  • Yup, I got my Mods from last year
  • I have had the Moto x pure and currently on the Moto Z I love these phones. The battery life is amazing they last more than a day online playing music and you tube binging with charging 10 minutes a day only no caring chargers around. With people changing phones yearly give a different phone a try. Moto has great features that are very useful. I listen to music everywhere but I don't want to carry a separate box along so this is a great choice for me. If you like the phone everyone else has with tons of bloatware get the S80
  • My choice between these two, if I were forced to take one or the other, would be the S8 without any hesitation, and I didn't even get the S8 because it has a few issues/compromises that I find unacceptable.
  • Both are nice but also expensive. If I got one it would have to be the motorola on the Verizon deal.
  • Here's hoping the Moto X is the real winner
  • Headphone jack kills the Moto. Dumb move Moto.
  • I would have to say S8. The Z2 is just priced too high for what’s essentially a gimped phone that all but requires a mod to make it worthwhile. I like Motomods and I have 2 for my current Z, but a gimped phone for $750++ that almost requires a $80 mod is a really tough pill to swallow, especially since you can get phones with similar hardware for less. We’d probably see a lot of deals for this phone in the future, like the last one.
  • Z2 play is already on sale for $5/month at Verizon, that's $120 total.
  • and i returned for a poorer battery life compared to my last year z play. but at this price point i might have to buy it again. The problem is they won't let you pay it off early.
  • I don't consider the Moto Z2 Force to be a flagship, it's missing too many standard features and has a dated design. Than again I feel the same about Apple and Sony.
  • I just picked up an unlocked S8+ from Samsung for $424 with a trade in for my Note 5. Slipped in the T Mobile SIM card, and now good to go.
  • yeah, they could have done a better job spec wise, I mean the moto z2 play is very close to being the same phone albeit the camera, 2k display is better. I've learned that 1080p is fine, moto has a history of subpar cameras, the price point is crazy. Although verizon is selling it for $15 a month and the z2 play for only $5 there are too many potentially good phones coming out, note 8, iphone 7s or 8, lg v30, pixel 2 I might have to pass on this one.
  • I've had every Moto phone for the last 8 years. I just recently got a S8+. I was never a fan of the extra garbage Samsung throws on their phones but the small bezels, great display and great battery performance sold me on the S8+. Bixby is pretty worthless though and I will disable it. I loved the Moto display but Samsung have the always on display, which is even better for me. No more waving my hand over the phone to get the display to come on to see the time. Confusing menus and bloat are the only drawbacks to the S8+ in my opinion. I'm fine with the FPS location on the back. It prevents having a stupid big bezel at the bottom. Of course, I will be singing a different tune if I ever drop the S8+. That would be an expensive repair.....
  • well am not comfy with FPS placement on either devices. battery Capacities are terrible. but the Touchwiz (Samsung experience) is cute😙 + the sAMOLED . and the Samsung brand supremacy ahuh would make me go for an s8+ . the modularity 😌. shatter shield n the ultra slim design😙 no clear winner for me tho
  • I don't like either phone, but it's not even a real comparison the S8 is just the better phone
  • Moto wins for one reason... FRONT FINGER PRINT READER!
  • I find it easier to put my finger on the back while holding my phone
  • Wow. There is absolutely no comparison. The Samsung S and Note series are flagbearers of the best innovations and the most well rounded technology available presently. From the Absolute Best Screen quality with it's super wide dynamic range and colours to the best camera out there (the Pixel and HTC11 have their list of quirks, and if you're a user, you'll know). While the bloatware on Samsung needs to be worked on, and the placement of the finger print sensor is a never ending joke, in almost every other regard it is at least 2 generations ahead of the Moto).
  • How many gigabytes does it have??
  • Tough call. Both phones look great, have great screens, have great performance (moto has an advantage here). Only cons moto has is no headphone jack, no ip68 certification. Only cons Samsung has are performance deterioration over time, no shatterproof screen. Tough decision...