One of the selling points of Motorola's Moto Z lineup has always been its modular accessories. Called Moto Mods, they provide additional capabilities for the devices. And better yet, all Mods have worked with all Moto Z devices. In fact, Motorola has kept the same footprint for three generations now just to maintain compatibility.
So when Motorola announced the Moto Z3 today, saying that it would be the first smartphone to be upgradeable to 5G via an upcoming Moto Mod, it might have seemed like the Lenovo subsidiary was going to produce its first modular accessory that isn't supported by older devices. If you assumed this, you'd be both right and wrong.
Coming out of the gate, the 5G Moto Mod will only be supported by the Moto Z3. This isn't unprecedented, as there have been new Mods that take some extra time for backward compatibility. Next, Moto Z2 support will arrive, and then the firm is hoping to support the original Moto Z.
But there's a catch. Today's Moto Z3 is a Verizon exclusive, as is the 5G Moto Mod. That means that the Mod will only ever work with Verizon Moto Z handsets, and that means devices sold by Verizon. In other words, if you're using a Moto Z3 Play on Verizon, which is only sold unlocked, this Mod still won't work on your phone.
There is some hope though. The 5G Moto Mod actually contains hardware that isn't being used, and could be used in other markets. Motorola wouldn't confirm anything, but it wouldn't be surprising if versions of this product show up that aren't exclusive to Verizon.