Owners of 2018's Moto Z3 can expect to see an update to Android 9.0 Pie begin rolling out to their handsets, and along with the usual Pie goodness, this package brings support for the as-yet unreleased 5G Moto Mod. There's no word on whether this means Pie updates will do the same for other Moto Z series phones. The Moto Z2 Force is a likely candidate, since it has the same processor and largely the same software as the Moto Z3, but there's nothing official yet, even though the update is live for owners of all regular members of the said modular handset lineup.
While the Moto Z3 is essentially a Moto Z2 Force with a redesigned front plate and no plastic coating, the phone being the first to get support for the 5G Moto Mod has been a major selling point. Now, it seems that the far-off promise is close to becoming a reality, but it's still anybody's guess as to when the Moto Mod will actually be released. It has been officially unveiled, but there was no mention of a release date when this happened.
This announcement means that the Moto Z3 is the first phone in America to officially support a commercial 5G network, even though the Moto Mod that makes it happen isn't available just yet. Should the Moto Mod make it to market before any 5G-enabled phones with the modem on board get the chance, it will mean that the Moto Z3 will officially be the United States' very first commercial 5G smartphone.
It's worth noting that there has been no official word from Moto about 5G Moto Mod compatibility with the Moto Z3 Play. Given its weaker processor, 5G compatibility there would mean that other phones in the range are capable, and perhaps even that the Moto Mod is hardware-agnostic.
If the 5G Moto Mod does end up being hardware-agnostic, that means that using the Mod as far back as the first Moto Z would theoretically be possible, even if Moto would likely never lend that any official support. The cheaper, lower-end Moto Z Play could also potentially become 5G-compatible.
This update and the Moto Mod it enables is targeted at Verizon users only, for now. Moto has yet to state whether the Moto Mod will be compatible with 5G networks from other providers, or with older Moto Z series phones. This severely limits the potential impact of this news.
It is possible, of course, that Moto will make a separate 5G Moto Mod for each carrier, though that solution is unlikely, since it wouldn't be very cost-effective. On top of that, the Moto Z3 is not sold on any other US carrier. This means that Moto would have to sell the Mod at significant profit in order to break even and eventually get a net gain from it, if the company does indeed decide to make multiple versions.
The more likely impact of this news is that other players in the 5G market get things in gear and scramble to either beat the Moto Mod to market or at least release 5G-compatible gear not long after it hits the market. Since the Moto Z3 is somewhat niche, however, other OEMs and carriers may be content to just let this one go.