We have already reviewed the Moto Z and Moto Z Force which were announced this summer, but these are not the only devices in Motorola’s latest family. Back at IFA, Lenovo and Motorola unveiled another member of the household. The Moto Z Play was positioned as an affordable device, with some cutbacks on specifications. But in my testing period, I didn’t find it to be that much of a reduction.
Well for starters, Motorola has added a headphone jack. Yes, the Moto Z Play features both a USB-C port and a headphone jack on the same device. So in the box, there is no need to include a USB-C to audio jack dongle, but they also don’t give you a pair of headphones.
The design is similar, but the display is different. The Moto Z Play has a 5.5-inch Super AMOLED display that is only 1080pHD. You do not get that Quad HD 1440p display that is found on the Moto Z and Moto Z Force Droid. But, do you need it? As the Moto Z Play is still very colorful and vibrant with almost no pixelation. And since the device is thicker Motorola may have thought about Shatter-Shield, but a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass is onboard.
However, this device is not as durable as either the Moto Z or Moto Z Force Droid. For starters the front and back of this device are glass, so if you drop it, you can expect it to crack. It is also cheaper for the consumer to buy, which probably means it is cheaper to make. And out of the three, the Moto Z Play picks up scratches the most.
The camera setup on the Moto Z Play is slightly different. The front facing camera is a 5-megapixel wide-angle lens with flash. But the back features a 16-megapixel camera with flash. And while the number of megapixels is different, the quality is the same as on the Moto Z and Moto Z Force Droid. Images have a yellowish tone to them, and it doesn’t perform well in low-light scenarios.
Motorola opted for the slower Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, which is nowhere nears as fast the Snapdragon 820 found in the Moto Z and Moto Z Force Droid. On GeekBench it scored 800 on single-core and 2518 on multi-core. The processor clocks in at 2GHz, and it only has 2GBs of RAM. For the average user, the Moto Z Play should run just fine, but it did have some very noticeable latency with gaming.
The biggest difference here is that Motorola opted for a 3,510mAh battery inside the Moto Z Play and it beats out the Moto Z, and more importantly the Moto Z Force Droid Edition. This is a massive battery, and it explains the need for a thicker body. It can still Turbo-Charged, but it can also last for multiple days. You will not have to worry about it powering down after a few hours unless you have a battery eating Moto Mod attached.
A key reason behind this great battery life would have to be the processor. As it is less taxing and powerful, but it brings the efficiency of the device to a much higher level. Being that the device is around $400 off contract, it is pretty impressive to find this good of battery life in a mid-range handset.
What’s The Same?
A big similarity is that you will think the not-so-reliable fingerprint sensor on the front is a home button. This happens to me on a daily basis, and I wish that Motorola would have opted to make this sensor the home button or an action button on the Moto Z Play.
The awkward design style of past Moto Z’s is still present on this model. The left-hand side remains bare, while the right-hand side as the volume up, volume down, and power button all in close proximity. On the Moto Z Play, the volume buttons are slightly more recessed than the power button, but it can still be confusing.
Motorola and Lenovo’s take on a modular smartphone are not Project Ara, but it is much better than the LG G5. The big issue I have with Moto Mods is the current lineup of them and the price. The projector mod gets the most attention and is a great party trick, but is not much more especially with the $300 price point.
However, the battery pack mods and speaker mods are more affordable at under $100. The use cases for these are realistic and come in handy. There are also several Style Shields to choose from, and these are similar to Moto Maker for the original Moto X. Out of the box, you get a dark bamboo Style, Shield.
The way the Moto Mods attach are nice, but if you do not have a mod or shield on the back, the pins and connectors can be a bit of an eyesore. Moto Mods are an exciting feature of the Moto Z family.
The Moto Z Play is my favorite members of Motorola’s family of devices. It is cheaper than the Moto Z and Moto Z Force Droid, yet it still performs relatively well and has access to Moto Mods. My favorite feature is the battery life which beats both of the aforementioned devices as well. And while it doesn’t have as sharp of a display or as fast of a processor, for a mid-range handset it performs well.
The Moto Z Play Droid is available from Verizon for $408 with no contract or commitment or for $17 a month on a device payment plan.