Motorola’s recent smartphones and the love for bumpy cameras on the back are now becoming a routine now, right? A bad start to the review of the Moto Z2 Play but that’s what gets noticed first when you take a look at the otherwise so good device from the company in the Z series that is not only about the smartphone but its modularity. And the mods. And the Moto interface. And the smart assistant. And a few other things. What Lenovo is trying hard here is to make people get into the ecosystem of modular phones, the one they cannot move away from, because it is for sure that once you have a couple of useful mods for your Moto Z phone, you are looking at upgrading the phone in the future but have the same mods keep up the functionality.
Let’s rush into the review to see what’s so good and what’s not so good with the Moto Z2 Play. The good starts with the Mod support, and that happens with the 16-pin section on the back of the phone that helps attach and seamlessly connect that Mod to the phone.
Moto Z2 Play Specifications
- 5.5-inch Full HD display
- 2.2GHz octa-core Snapdragon 626 processor, Adreno 506 GPU
- 4GB RAM + 64GB storage (expandable)
- 12MP rear camera + 5MP front camera, Dual CCT flash support for both
- 3,000mAh battery, Turbo charging support
- Android 7.1.1 Nougat, Moto App
What’s so good?
The design and display
Keep aside the camera bump as that is a trade-off but an unavoidable one but otherwise, the Moto Z2 Play has perfect design and display. A Full HD display has good brightness, readability, and the design is likeable. The phone is slim, evenly distributed weight and the buttons too are placed very rightly.
With the help of the Moto actions, you can make the fingerprint scanner function as the navigation buttons, and that would let you take a full advantage of the screen real-estate.
The Moto Mods
As mentioned above, the Moto Z2 Play supports Moto Mods, the accessories that are meant for not the very basic stuff but some excellent ones including the JBL speaker attachment, a Hasselblad True Zoom mod, a Projector mod, and a few more. But the good thing here is that you don’t need new Mods if you are already owning any of them with the previous Moto Z series phone.
The only new Mod that we see is the upgrade to the JBL Soundboost speaker mod, which is actually a very nice upgrade. The other ones, you can see what’s on the portfolio in the video after the break.
* An excellent gaming mod is in the making and while we can’t speak much about what it comes packed with, the Mod did look excellent.
Every Moto Mod here has the same way of attachment. Unlike the accessories that smartphones get, the Mods here not just attach but have a connectivity with the phone through the same pin attachment. That makes the attachment and connectivity seamless and you don’t have to worry if there’ll be any break in the connectivity or any lag that is common with the other options.
It doesn’t have the flagship processor, but it doesn’t need one. The stock Android interface and the chipset itself added to it have enough power to handle things smoothly and be swift. It is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 processor clocked at 2.2 GHz and along with that, the Adreno 506 GPU handles the graphics. Playing games is a bliss and given how well that is, we did expect the other standard things like video playing on YouTube and such to be totally smooth as well and in this case, it indeed was as expected.
When we talk of the phone in terms of the performance, there are some smartphones like the OnePlus 3T in comparison having a better processor, but then there is nothing with the performance that can disappoint in the Moto Z2 Play as well.
The battery life isn’t bad
With the reduction in the battery capacity, it is usually well expected to see a poorer battery life, but with time, we’ve also seen the newer chipsets making it easier on the phones and the consumption of the battery is lesser. Thankfully, the 3000 mAh battery on the Moto Z2 Play had enough to give about the same life as the 3500 mAh one on its predecessor.
Lasting easily for a day, the battery also has the Turbo Charging support to charge it fast. The screen-on time we got on average was just a little over four hours, which is decent enough for regular users but the phone should show some struggle to last till the end of the day if you are a heavy user.
The stock Android isn’t really stock when you take a look at what is offered along with it. The Moto app changes the way your phone responds to you and the way you use it. There are several gesture features included, and the Moto Voice does a great job in assistance. Usually with the gestures, it is about whether you need them or not, but with the Moto interface, there are some gestures that you might surely want to have activated to save your time and help quickly get things done.
Moto phones usually have an interface close to stock Android and thus, you don’t even see any unnecessary pre-installed apps that most of the other smartphone companies push onto the users, taking up some storage and annoying because there is Play Store always there if someone had to install them based on their need.
While there is some seriously good support given by the Dual CCT flash for both the cameras, the pictures always don’t come out perfect. There are times when you feel it completely missed the mark but then, if there is a proper shot taken, you won’t find even a bit of a flaw in the final picture.
On the back of the phone is a 12-megapixel F/1.7 camera with 1.4um pixel size. The color reproduction is usually brilliant but sometimes, the pictures are over-exposed and the results are not consistent. But one thing that’s admirable about the rear camera is the performance in low light. Less noise, colors being retained well and the picture does a lot of justice because of the aperture size.
The 5-megapixel front-facing camera responds to the light conditions around. In bright light conditions, you would see a picture that seems like taken from the regular cameras because the job isn’t done only on the face in the view but the background as well has its colors retained. Overall, with both the cameras, although they do a superb job, there are some hits and misses that might keep you confused on whether to call it a perfect imaging set in the mid-range devices.
What’s not so good?
Where are the new Mods?
The smartphone is upgraded, sure, but users do expect something new, something far more affordable, and even better with functionality when it comes to the Mods. Except for the upgraded speaker, no new Mods were announced. Also, no reduction in the price for Mods that are present in the market. For the Hasselblad camera mod or the Insta Projector one, you have to shell out about Rs. 20000 if you are buying them at a later time and not along with the phone.
The camera bump
Oh my, that bump is going to hurt the user, if there’s some damage happening to the camera lens when it badly falls on a surface with the camera being the first area to get an impact. Quite understandable in a couple of ways that Motorola had to do that because there wasn’t any compromise needed with the camera optics, and if you had to use any of the Mods, that camera gets leveled.
Let’s first accept the fact that this isn’t the strongest phone in terms of performance because the Moto Z2 Play keeps itself in the price segment where you get much better choices in this department. But Lenovo hasn’t still compromised with it while trying to add the specials like the Mod support, a decent camera set, the basics like availability of expandable storage, etc. Still, for an end user, the question still remains the same – Would you want to spend more on the Mods?
The topic of Moto Mods is very much debatable and it is all about the personal preference vs. availability of the feature in the phone. I’d any day pick up a JBL SoundBoost 2 and Hasselblad True Zoom mod during my travel if I had the Moto Z2 Play as my primary device but each Mod adds up quite a lot to the budget. On the other side, these things are hard to find on a device because such a loud and good speaker can only be an attachment to the smartphone. Also, why not get a great Bluetooth speaker and then use it with any smartphone?
The Moto Z2 Play is an interesting device, just like its predecessor. If someone wants to get this, they should understand that the true potential of the phone is not with the internal specs here but it is with the Moto Mods and still otherwise, the phone isn’t a bad one at all. It only gets overshadowed by the competitors in its price range.