Modern smartphone design has seen far bigger changes than moving the headphone jack around, but Motorola’s newest ad for the Moto Z makes Moto’s stance on innovation in the smartphone space pretty clear. Essentially, this commercial is meant to tell the viewer that Moto’s hardware is made to revolutionize the way smartphones work, rather than to iterate on the same basic design. While the Moto Z itself has a somewhat plain Jane design, the embracing of Moto Mods, including multiple developer advocacy efforts, could certainly qualify as the pursuit of smartphone innovation. The commercial also seems to hint that the upcoming version of the Moto Z will have a headphone jack, correlating previous leaks, but this should obviously be taken with a grain of salt this early on.
The commercial is titled “The Designers: Different is Better,” and consists of the titular designers seemingly languishing over the design of a phone, mainly where to put the headphone jack. The boxy phone on show in the commercial is a pretty obvious riff on the core smartphone design tropes typified by Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy lineup, though the Galaxy S8 does quite a lot to buck these trends. Even the designers in the video are a stereotype; intelligent-looking European gentlemen dressed in black sweaters, with heavy accents. While the Moto Z and Moto Z Force are fairly sleek and good-looking, their designs are still ultimately iterative of the design shown, essentially a “proto-smartphone.” This means that the “different” could essentially only be coming from Moto Mods.
This is not Moto’s first ad to attack the status quo, of course, and it likely won’t be the last. Previous advertisements weren’t quite as bold about it, instead choosing to flaunt just what makes the Moto Z so different. While Moto’s panning of smartphone norms is somewhat on point, phones like the LG G6 and the Samsung Galaxy S8 are essentially the extremes of design that can logically be reached at our current level of technology without turning to entirely new features and niche use cases, such as the dual-sided YotaPhone devices or the nearly bezel-free Xiaomi Mi Mix. Essentially, the commercial is confirming what the industry is saying; adding a way to modify a smartphone’s functionality is essentially the only major innovation that’s possible right now.