Motorola recently held a small press event at its Chicago headquarters to unveil two new Moto Mods, accessories that snap onto the back of Moto Z phones using magnets.
The two Moto Mods that Motorola showcased – a 3,000mAh Mophie battery pack and an Incipio car dock with charging and a 3.5mm audio output – are neat but it’s the company’s vision for future Moto Mods that has tech sites talking.
John Touvannas, senior director of product management at Motorola, told PCMag’s Sascha Segan that future Moto Mods could include a baby monitor, e-ink displays and even a 5G modem.
As you may know, Moto Mods can access direct display interfaces, talk with the image-processing unit in a phone (the camera) and communicate over USB 3.1 which is reportedly fast enough to handle a 5G radio.
Retrofitting a current-generation smartphone with a 5G radio certainly sounds appealing… until reality sets in. Although Verizon (Motorola’s primary partner in the US) will begin 5G trials next year, a nationwide rollout isn’t expected to happen until around 2020 at the earliest. The odds of someone keeping a smartphone for four years just to retrofit it with 5G are likely pretty low. By the time 5G networks are live, new handsets will be available to take full advantage of them.
5G aside, the bigger story here is the fact that Motorola has been the only company to find success in the modular smartphone category.
Project Ara, perhaps the most compelling of them all, was ultimately cancelled and LG’s G5 with “friends” add-ons never gained traction (or third-party support). As PCMag notes, there are five Moto Mods currently available not counting the two Motorola just unveiled. What’s more, the company plans to release at least four new Moto Mods per quarter beginning mid-2017.