The modular phone dream is practically dead, but no one seems to have told Motorola. Granted, its vision of modularity is so far removed from that of Google’s Project Ara that it might as well be called a different thing. The good news is that Motorola’s Moto Mod is far from dead and to prove that, it is announcing two crowdfunded and accelerated mods that will finally hit stores sometime this year. And, yes, that includes the QWERTY keyboard.
Motorola itself has made very few Moto Mods of its own, which has been so far limited to things like battery packs, stands, and design covers. Its most notable Moto Mod is perhaps the game pad mode that turns any compatible Moto Z model into a Android version of the Nintendo Switch.
Instead, Motorola is driving Moto Mod innovation and development from the outside, a strategy that is both smart and cunning. After all, it can only do so much on its own. Some such mods that rose out of its OEM partnerships include a JBL speaker, a Polaroid printer, and an Amazon Alexa add-on.
For everything else, Motorola sought the wisdom of the crowd through its accelerator program, dubbed “Transform the Smartphone”. Two of the winners are now finally ready to go retail. One is the Lenovo Vital Moto Mod which basically turns your Moto Z into a mini health laboratory. It measures heart rate, respiratory rate, pulse oximeter, core body temp, and, for the first time, systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Perhaps more interesting to regular consumers, however, will be the Livermorium Slider Keyboard. The add-on brings back the days of old QWERTY phones that would appeal to those who do a lot of typing on their mobile devices. And since it’s simply a Moto Mod, it won’t get in the way when you don’t need it.
In line with these new mods, Motorola is also announcing the moto z Market App which is simply a storefront for buying Moto Mods. The app is now available in markets where the Moto Z and its kin are available. The Lenovo Vital Moto Mod will go on sale in April for $395 while the Livermorium Slider Keyboard Moto Mod will cost $99 when it hits stores in winter.