Moto Z2 Play Review


Announced earlier this summer, the Moto Z2 Play, a successor to the original Moto Z Play(link review), is by no means a flagship phone but is rather intended as a mid range device. Packing a punch when it comes to battery life and dependable specifications, the phone’s price is also a bit better coming in at $499 off-contract. A significant change from last year’s Z Play is that in the United States the Moto Z2 Play is exclusive to Verizon. Keep reading to see my full thoughts on the Moto Z2 Play.


On paper the Moto Z2 Play has a 5.5-inch Full HD Super AMOLED Display which comes in at 1920 X 1080 and, since this is a mid range smartphone, it can’t be docked too much for only having a standard HD display, but it would have been nice to see a higher resolution. As we saw in the past with other Moto devices, the display can be hard to read in direct sunlight.

Battery life is an area where the Moto Z2 Play succeeds, and it’s good to see they didn’t change much in this section. The 3,000mAh battery inside the phone should last a day and a half even with some heavy use. A USB-C cable also comes in the box, along with a separate wall port that is Turbo Power enabled.

Powering the Z2 Play is several processors which form into a Motorola Mobile Computing System. This time around it is made up of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 2.2GHz Octa-Core processor, an Adreno 506 GPU, and two other system oriented processors. All of this is paired with a surprisingly snappy 3GB of RAM, especially when you consider the price of the device.


Motorola and Lenovo have backed themselves into a wall when it comes to design because of support for Moto Mods.The back of the phone features a port for the Moto Mods and the back plate mod, which originally came with the Moto Z, is no longer included in the box, possibly due to cost cutting. With a large, cumbersome frame and a bulbous camera on the back, the Moto Z2 Play is a hard phone to fit in one’s pocket. The camera can often get caught on the hem of one’s jeans, and regarding size, there’s no way it will fit anywhere unless the user has deep enough pockets. The front button is unsatisfying and gives little feedback on whether or not it’s registering a touch or not.

The size also makes using the phone awkward as it’s simply too wide to use with a single hand. However, the buttons on the side are a good size for volume controls, not too large but not too small either, and they don’t protrude much from the side. Right along side them is the power button which is helpfully distinguished by having a textured feel. For some unknown reason the button on the front, which is traditionally the home button that returns the user to the home screen, also turns the device off.


The primary lens on the Moto Z2 Play would be a 12MP 1.4um Dual Autofocus setup. Motorola is combining both Laser Autofocus and Phase Detection Autofocus. In theory, this paired with the lens setup should provide a good experience. The front features a 5-megapixel lens and a physical LED flash, something that Lenovo has pioneered, which should help to awaken the inner Selfie queen that lives in all of us.

Multiple camera modes are on offer here, ranging from the standard photo and video modes to slow motion, panorama, and even a mode labeled “Professional mode.”

Regarding quality, the photos look pretty good, retaining a high amount of detail even if one manually zooms in. Slow motion runs fairly well too and allows the user to select the section they wish to slow down with an easy to use, and aesthetically pleasing, slider. That said, the video quality can be a little grainy depending on the amount of light. Panorama shots also generally come out looking fairly good and allow for a Geosphere view, something the iPhone has yet to implement.


Keeping software within the Motorola tradition is not that hard, you take stock Android and add in a simple Motorola user interface. You get the base Android 7.1.1 Nougat with a few unique features. For starters the quick look display is here, on a simple basis it can be used to check the date, time, and battery level. When notifications are arriving it can be used to quickly peek at them and open ones that are of interest.

This device does come with some bloatware, including many applications from Verizon. The good news is that some of them can be removed, but a majority of them cannot be. Many of the typical in-house Motorola applications are gone as well, though some Moto Mods may come with special software features.


Although the Moto Z2 Play has many useful features, including the camera and front facing light, it’s hampered by an equal number of bad features, particularly the baffling decision to make the home button shut the phone off and the fact that the device no longer comes with a backplate despite it’s $499 price tag. While I wouldn’t suggest getting it unlocked, especially with the additional cost of Moto Mods for features that should be built-in, at $17 a month on Verizon’s device payment plan it would get the job done of an entry level Android smartphone.

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Robert is a contributing editor for NJTechReviews covering gaming and gadgets. He is a junior at Muhlenberg College studying Film and is a published author. Rob's favorite piece of technology is the iPhone SE.