The concept of modular phones has gone from non-existent, to completely modular everything, and back again. The more you can embed into a phone at once, the slimmer the design and often everything ends up being efficient. Where modularity makes sense is when the ecosystem is large enough, and the optional mods to choose from actually make some sense.

Motorola has been running its Moto Mod collection for at least two years now. The modular component is on the rear of the phone, which limits the smartphone dimensions if mods are designed to be transferred from one generation to another, but in the Moto Mod arsenal includes a bigger battery, a Hasselblad camera, big speakers, and now is set to include a 5G modem and antenna array.

One of the main differences between current modem and antenna technology and 5G is the size – implementing 5G will require a good amount of power and space, and as a result most analysts have to this point expected 5G to come to industrial and large use cases first. However Motorola has announced that one of the future mods, coming in 2019, will be a US 5G capable add on for the moto z3. Inside the unit will be Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X50 mmWave 5G-capable modem and QTM052 mmWave antenna solution, along with 2000 mAh of extra battery.

The new mod, according to Motorola’s press release, will promise uninterrupted 4K live streaming, lag-free gaming, VR experiences, and the fastest download speeds ever, using the Verizon 5G network. Motorola has yet to announce pricing or specifications beyond the design, such as weight and effect on battery life, but states it will be ‘ready’ in early 2019. The state of Verizon’s 5G network will also be a question mark, and likely limited to particular regions of cities to begin with.

The Moto Z3 (Stylized as moto z3)

For the smartphone to attach the 5G modem to, Motorola’s new moto z3 is a 6-inch 2280x1080 smartphone running an 18:9 aspect ratio and an OLED display. Inside is a Snapdragon 835 with 4GB of LPDDR4X memory and 64 GB of UFS 2.1 storage. The front glass is Gorilla Glass 3, with an 8MP f/2.0 wide-angle (84-degree) camera on the front. The rear cameras consist of a 12MP f/2.0 primary RGB camera and a second 12MP mono-chrome unit to assist with image enhancements, depth sensing, and contrast-related focus.

The smartphone will be available on Verizon for $480 retail from August 16th, with up to $300 off a new 2-year contract with a trade-in.

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  • bubblyboo - Monday, August 6, 2018 - link

    Snapdragon 835? Yikes. Needing to double the size of the phone for 5G? Double yikes.
  • jabber - Monday, August 6, 2018 - link

    They said 3G would be amazing, it was meh.

    They said 4G would be amazing, it was meh.

    They say 5G will be amazing...
  • smilingcrow - Monday, August 6, 2018 - link

    Well try going back to 2g and see how you get on.
  • lashek37 - Monday, August 6, 2018 - link

    That's a dumb statement ,most people don't want 6inch phone, and most people don't have big hands.
  • cigar3tte - Monday, August 6, 2018 - link

    6" with thin bezels should be barely bigger than the 5.8" iPhone X.
  • PeachNCream - Monday, August 6, 2018 - link

    That's a commonplace argument in favor of larger screens. "If phone B has less bezel, it will not be significantly larger than phone A," but the problem is the relatively short vision people presenting the argument often have by picking a current size screen like say 5.5 inches and saying that 6 inches isn't much larger. That's true, but regardless of bezel reductions, 6 inch phones are substantially larger than 4 inch or 3.5 inch phones. There is a substantially under served market segment of phone buyers that would jump on a mid- to upper-end phone if it was smaller and more practical to carry around. Some of those people wouldn't be bothered much about a few additional mm of thickness in the name of battery life and managing SoC heat production too.
  • Impulses - Tuesday, August 7, 2018 - link

    Size is the main reason I bought a Pixel instead of a OnePlus #, Sony seemed to be the only one still making half decent small phones and they've become kind of irrelevant in the US... I still liked the size of my Nexus 5 better, meh.
  • nirolf - Tuesday, August 7, 2018 - link

    I don't understand why most manufactures ignore this big market. It's not a niche market, Apple is selling millions of "small" iPhones: the 7 and 8 still sell better than their Plus counterparts!

    And no one is trying to compete with them, the only small phones are usually low-end phones. More troubling is that even Apple seems it will ditch the small iPhones, rumors suggest this year the 5.8" will be the smallest iPhone.
  • Gunbuster - Monday, August 6, 2018 - link

    Whats the use case? How many users do something on their handset that would be more enjoyable or noticeably different at 1 to 20Gbits?
  • Djebel714 - Monday, August 6, 2018 - link

    This is exciting. Not for the 5G. For the price point. Verizon is offering $300 off with a trade in.
    $180 comes to $7.50/month! 835 SoC for less than $10/month? Yes.
    I got my 16:9 screen ratio MotoZ2 play for 99¢/month on black friday and love the value. I'm sure Moto/Verizon will offer the 18:9 ratio screened Z3 at $10-$5/month sooner than later. Keep yr eyes open for a that.
    The only curious thing is the Z3 play (with the same exact form factor and hardware as the Z3) being offered for $450-$500 dollars with a much slower processor...for the customers on the non-Verizon carriers. The Z3 play has been available for a few weeks with a one week wait for the "flagship" phone for Motorola this year.

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