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Best mobile innovation of 2016: Moto Mods

by Brandon Russell | December 22, 2016December 22, 2016 9:30 am PDT

If the majority of smartphones in 2016 felt the same, that’s because they were. Companies are sticking to a familiar formula, creating devices largely indistinguishable from the next. For better or worse, these ingredients make up the modern day smartphone, to the point of nausea.

Where’s the next great feature?

That’s why Lenovo’s Moto Mods were such a breath of fresh air. It’s true they didn’t obliterate the competition or change the market forever. But the Mods were exciting in their execution and proved there are ways to approach the “modular” market without going completely LG.

Introduced this summer, Mods are case-like accessories that magnetically attach to the back of the Moto Z. The device’s pogo pin connector then allows the Mods to communicate with the software, providing users with additional functionality. The nice thing is these Mods are hot swappable, so you can mix and match to your heart’s content without shutting your device down.

A variety of Mods were available at launch, including a JBL speaker, InstaShare projector, and several style shells. Each had their own unique functionality, turning the Moto Z into a Swiss army knife for different scenarios. There was even a Hasselblad accessory that produced some truly impressive results. All of them quickly and easily snap onto the back of the device, too; it’s incredibly seamless and requires no extra technical acumen.

“What’s great, however, is that these mods are insanely simple to use,” I wrote in our review of the Moto Z. “Just attach the projector and you can start, well projecting. Same goes for the speaker. They even come packed with their own batteries, so your Moto Z’s battery doesn’t drain in a hurry.”

In addition to the Mods at launch, Lenovo said third-party companies could develop their own ideas; the company even planned to provide $1 million in funding as part of a Mod contest, encouraging innovation in a market that sorely needs it.

While the Mods aren’t have must-have accessories, they do complement the Moto Z well, and they beat the pants off LG’s attempt at modularity. In a market of sameness, Moto Mods was a cool idea that was executed beautifully. For that, it gets this year’s best mobile innovation award.


Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...

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