Moto Z2 Play is the newest edition to the line up of phones that are taking Google’s dream of modular phones forward. Google’s project Ara and LG’s modular approach with LG G5 bombed spectacularly. While Ara never made it to the world, LG G5 ended up without sales. Motorola’s Moto Mods concept was hailed as the right step forward for modular smartphones but the first generation mods were costly, bulky and underwhelming. With Moto Z2 Play, Motorola is trying to take one step further towards perfect modular phone. Motorola has announced new mods that are cheaper, lighter and more resourceful. The question though is, will Moto Z2 Play succeed, given that the Moto Z Play was a big hit, thanks to its massive battery life. Read On!
- CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 (octa core CPU)
- RAM: 3GB | 4GB
- Storage: 32GB | 64GB
- Display: 5.5" 1080p FullHD
- Camera: 12mp rear | 5mp front
- OS: Android Nougat 7.1.1
The bright red box is one of the best looking retail boxes we have seen in a while.
Open the box and the Moto Z2 Play proudly smiles at you.
The usual documentation is on the phone. Lift the documentation cover to access Turbo Charger, USB Type C cable, and headset. The overall packaging is colorful yet simple. If you are a Youtube creator, do not throw the box away as it can be used as a colorful prop. The overall packaging is colorful yet simple. If you are a Youtube creator, do not throw the box away as it can be used as a colorful prop
Exquisite. Elegant. Gorgeous.
The Moto Z series is all about Moto Mods and making sure that all those mods work. This is the main reason why Moto Z2 Play inherits the design language that made the Moto Z famous. Like the first Z series, the Z2 Play is compatible with all Moto Mods. Moto Mods is Motorola’s way of making a phone modular. Unlike LG G5 where the mods had to be attached by removing bottom panel, Moto Z series comes with powerful magnets on the back panel. These magnets make the mods latch on to the phone. Motorola had promised that they will make more of the Moto Mods for three years. With Motorola sticking to same design for Z2 Play, Motorola is making sure that Moto Mods that are released now will also work with last year’s Z series and last year’s mods will continue to work with the new Moto Z2 Play.
Due to this simple reason, Moto Z2 Play has the same design as that of the first gen Play. There are some differences though. What we have here is the gold Moto Z2 Play. Unlike last year, this years model has a uniform gold accent. The antenna bands are much more pronounced and are clearly visible. The bands are so visible that they are kind of part of the design itself. Believe me, the Moto Z2 Play in gold looks way better than last year’s Z Play. By reducing battery size, Motorola has managed to shink the thickness by 1mm, so the Moto Z2 Play is just 6mm thin.
The metal design is breathtaking to look and the phone feels amazing in hand. The Moto Z2 Play is just 6mm thin and you feel the lack of bulk when you hold the phone. The full metal body feels strong. The unit I have for review is not a brand new unit and there are no scratches at all on the back. There are few scratches near the magnet strip but otherwise, the phone looks like ‘just out of the box’ piece. The massive camera hump is huge and sticks out like a sore thumb. It does make the phone look different. When you add a Moto Mod the hump will not be as pronounced.
The top of the phone has SIM card tray that holds two SIM cards and a dedicated microSD card slot. Remember, this is not a hybrid slot. You have two SIM card slots and a microSD card slot. One of the noise cancellation mics are placed at the top and the antenna band is placed at the middle.
The USB Type-C port and 3.5mm audio jack are at the bottom.
The top has a noise cancelling mic and a SIM tray which can take in 2 SIM cards and a SD card for memory expansion.
On the right side, there is volume rocker and power on/off key.
The left side of the phone is clear with no buttons.
Front of the phone, there is 5.5″ AMOLED display. Above the display, the earpiece also acts as a loud speaker. The front facing camera is placed on right corner while the dual tone LED flash is on the left corner. Talking about the front camera, with dual tone LED flash, we should be able to take some quality selfies in low light conditions. How good that is, you will get to know in ‘camera’ section. The fingerprint reader is placed below the display and is now oval in shape. The extra space means that the finger print sensing is more accurate now. One small awkward design element is the earpiece which is placed near the fingerprint reader. Given that the phone has while front, the earpiece is clearly visible.
The Moto Z2 Play feels very good in the hand. Initially, you will feel like the phone will slip out of hand a lot but once you get used to the thin frame, you will feel more confident in holding the phone. Given how beautiful the phone looks, do not ever think of buying a back case for this phone. Do get a good tempered glass though. Here is an easy guide that explains how to get the right tempered glass.
The Super AMOLED display is a pleasure to look at. We did try various phones with Super AMOLED displays but the only phones that come with better AMOLED display panels are Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones. The text is crisp and content looks better most FullHD panel 5.5″ phones. When compared to the AMOLED display of the Moto G5 Plus, the Z2 Play display is on an entirely different level. Movies look breathtaking, especially if you look at colorful scenes. One is that display fails to score is in brightness and outdoor visibility. The poor brightness makes the display a bit hard to use in places where there is a lot of sunlight. If your location is cloudy most of the year, you should not face any issues. But in places like Chennai, Delhi where is gets super bright and hot, the AMOLED panel of Z2 Plus is difficult to view when outdoors.
Software and Performance
Ever since Motorola released the first Moto X phone, their mantra has been simple. Get the latest of Android and optimize the hell out of it. No bloat ware, no duplicate applications. The Moto Z Play could easily last two days on a 3500mAh battery with 5.5″ FullHD display. Moto Z2 Play comes with Android 7.1.1 Nougat and will get Android O update later this year or early next year. The camera application is the only application that Moto touched and everything else is just stock Android. The Z2 play comes with Android Assistant built in which is great news for those who love conversational style, virtual assistant. The wallpapers application is another Moto application that contains a list of wallpapers you can apply.
The optimized clean build of Android makes the Moto Z2 Play super smooth and applications opened without any lag. Games like Asphalt 8 and Real Racing 3 were able to load fast and races load times is good too. The problem though is that there is not much difference when compared to the Snapdragon 625 chipset that powers the Moto G5 Plus. I did play continuously for 30 minutes and the phone only got a little warm.
Fingerprint reader, as with other phones, is super fast and it works in any direction. I use iPhone as a daily driver so felt right at home with front mounted fingerprint reader.
Network quality is good but not among the best. My house is a black spot and Moto Z2 Play struggles for network connectivity here. Move a bit towards the road and the n/w improves. Phones like Moto G5 Plus, Apple iPhone 6, Honor 8 Lite did not struggle to connect to the network. If I sit in my work area, I would certainly miss all calls. The only solution is to leave the phone in living room and that is a big bummer for me. Wi-Fi signal latching is perfect, so is GPS performance.
Like recent Moto phones, the front earpiece doubles up as a loud speaker. Th0ugh the speaker gets loud, the lack of clarity is a bummer. The clarity is so bad that you feel irritated when you try to watch videos on this phone. We highly recommend using a good pair of third party headphones. The music quality is above average.
Though the Moto Z2 Play battery life is impressive, it is nowhere close to that of the first Z Play and the Moto G5 Plus. This is mainly due to the fact that Motorola cut down on battery size to make the phone 1mm thinner. We would have loved to see the phone 1mm thicker with 4000mAh battery that would give the phone 2 day+ massive battery but hey, some decisions, you never understand. With normal to heavy use, the phone easily lasted a full day and had 5-6 hour screen on time.
The primary camera on the Z2 play is a 12 MP SOny IMX362 sensor with a f/1.7 lens assisted by a dual tone LED Flash. The front camera is a 5 MP OmniVision sensor with f/2.2 lens and a dual-tone LED flash. The primary camera can shoot 4K videos and the front can shoot full HD videos. 1080p videos at 30 FPS has electronic image stabilization support. The camera app is very quick to open and it fires shot after shot instantly. The camera can be invoked with a twist of the arm and another twist will change to the front camera. I found this very useful and handy. The app does not have many features. It is minimalist in design and straight forward in function. It does support manual mode with full control along with panorama and slow motion video. It has auto HDR. Right swipe brings in the settings and the left swipe opens the images front the gallery.
If I had only two words to define the quality of shots from the Z2 Play, I would choose: Sharp and Natural. The colors are natural and nothing over saturated to please the eyes. In fact, the natural color tone gives it a classy feel. The images have a good amount of details and the sharpness is unreal. The quality of videos is also similar. The front facing camera performs well under good light, but the edges start to get soft as the light drops. Check out the camera samples below.
The Moto Z2 Play is strictly for those who need a phone that looks amazing and has very good battery life and a great camera. It is primarily for those who want to use Moto Mods. If you have a budget of 30k and are looking for a phone that is powerful with a great camera, you have to look at phones like OnePlus 3T, Honor 8 Pro etc that offer lot more. I am impressed by the quality of the phone, but at 27,000/- (powered by Snapdragon 626), it’s hard to recommend the phone. This mobile is incomplete without its mods. I would recommend this mobile if you find any of the mods to be a must-have-utility for you. There is no other mobile out there in the market with modular features as extensive as the Moto Z Play and the Moto Z2 Play. We are awaiting the Mods at our office. Once we have them we will revisit this review and will also have a separate article on the Mods with Moto Z2 Play.
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