GearBrain

Review: Hasselblad True Zoom Moto mod feels like a real camera in the hand

A $200 add-on that's more than worth its price

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Overall Rating:
8
10

Motorola's Z Play line of smartphones are a bit of a gimmick: you're getting a phone but you're really buying the option of modular pieces that snap to the back of the device — a Transformer-like experience. There's a ton of options: Extra battery packs, speakers and also a camera. Sure, no tech brand would deign to launch a smartphone without a camera built inside — that's likely the main feature most of use aside from texting and hailing a Via. But the Hasselblad mod is a little outside the mode — a retro throwback to SLR's, when having a real camera in your hand made you consider more pointedly how you framed a shot, how you saw the light and how you wanted to tell a story with a picture. Motorola sent us the Hassleblad mod with a Moto Z3 Play to test, and we spent time across two states trying the camera.

Photo of Hasselblad True Zoom for Moto Z Play smartphone on a table.The Hasselblad True Zoom mod turns the Moto Z Play phone into a cameraGearBrain

The basics

The 12MP camera on the $200 Hasselblad True Zoom comes with a Xenon flash, and a 10X optical zoom and a 4X digital zoom. The zoom quality however didn't produce the sharpest images when tapped all the way. I found the optical zoom of the iPhone X to produce clearer images. The ability to shift back and forth from manual to automatic was simple — even more so than other phone cameras we've used.

You can shoot both still images — and they're also captured in RAW format and 1080p video in full HD at 30 frames per second (fps) with two microphones to capture sound.

The picture quality of the Hasselblad True Zoom is crisp with high color saturation and sharp focusGearBrain

Design

This add-on makes you feel you're taking photos with a real camera. The feature works by holding the phone in landscape mode, there's even a shutter button and the phone's lens shifts outward when you launch the camera. The shutter also opens and closes as you shoot — enhancing that feeling of having an SLR in hand.

Hasselblad's name is a big selling point for this mod, and the camera has the look of one Hasselblad's own. There's a solid grip on the side, and the photos the camera shot have solid clarity and color — even compared to the images we've shot with the iPhone X. Plus you also get a free subscription to the brand's Phocus editing software.

The mod is more than a fun add-on, but note that it added substantial weight to the phone — about 145 grams — and made the entire set-up, phone plus camera, nearly impossible to put into a pocket. Because it's both a camera and a phone, it's also difficult to put this device, when the Hasselblad mod is added, down. Why? One side is the lens — the other the Gorilla Glass front of your Moto Z3 Play. So you're going to want to carry a case for the assembled device when both are together.

Hasselblad True Zoom mod top view.The Hasselblad True Zoom mod works in landscape mode, with a proper shutter buttonGearBrain

Should you buy a $200 Hasselblad True Zoom?

Here's the thing: If you're committed to the Moto Z world, this camera is nice extra to own. It's a perfect holiday gift because the mod truly expands the way you're going to shoot. Is this going to create photographs that rival an $11,000 Hasselblad X1D? Not even close. But for anyone who want a little more investment in the way they shoot, maybe wants to dabble in how holding a camera changes the way you look at an image, this is a nice step.

After you've dropped $500 on the new Moto Z3 Play, another $200 is going to feel excessive. For those who are sticking with older versions, but looking to give their modular phones a bit of sprucing, we think the Hassleblad True Zoom is worth a real look.

Pros:

  • Transforms Moto Z Play phone into look and feel of an SLR
  • Simple to use and attach
  • Produces beautiful images

Cons:

  • Hard to store when attached to phone without an extra case
  • Price
  • Adds 145 grams to the phone
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