Motorola Moto Z2 Play Review
The Moto Z2 Play is a premium mid-range smartphone that follows the Moto Z Play from last year. Lenovo/Motorola is committed to making the Moto Z series an integral part of the Moto Mods ecosystem so the Moto Z2 Play will be backward and forward compatible with the existing Moto Mods accessories.
Design and Construction
The Moto Z2 Play follows the same design signature as the original Moto Z. Compared to the Moto Z Play, the Moto Z2 Play is thinner by 1mm and lighter by 20grams. It looks almost the same although there are some minor enhancements done on the exterior. The unibody design is made up of all glass and metallic materials with rounded corners and chamfered edges. It’s got the same smooth, matte finish and thin profile.
The power button and volume toggles are on the right side though the buttons are slightly smaller than what we’ve wanted, the one for the power has ridges on it so you can easily figure it out without even looking.
The fingerprint sensor at the front is now more rounded than the squarish design before. The front-facing camera also comes with dual-tone, dual-LED flash along with the Moto logo just below the speakerphone.
The USB Type-C is placed at the bottom end along with the 3.5mm audio jack. Up top is the SIM card tray the supports dual-SIM slots with the second one that can double as a microSD card slot (up to 2TB capacity).
At the back is a flat surface with a polished metal finish, pin connectors for the Moto Mods at the bottom end and the large camera lens that protrudes about 2 or 3mm. The 12MP rear camera comes with another set of dual-tone, dual-LED flash just below it. The protrusion of the camera module at the back is a result of the very thin profile yet a large camera module. It also helps stabilize the Moto Mods when attached to the back of the device.
The implementation of the antenna bands is unique with the lines circling all the way around the corners so at first glance you would not notice it.
Up at the front is a 5.5-inch full HD Super AMOLED display protected by Gorilla Glass 3. The screen is vibrant and crisp as expected of a Super AMOLED display.
The Moto Z2 Play certainly has a certain flair to it — solid build quality and premium look and feel. If there’s one thing we’ve been really concerned about it, that would be protrusion of the camera module at the back.
Display and Multimedia
The Moto Z2 Play features a 5.5-inch Super AMOLED display with a full HD 1080p resolution. The Super AMOLED display is bright and crisp, colors are vibrant and rich while maintaining low-power consumption.
With a 401ppi pixel density, the screen looks really great. The side bezels though are slightly on the thicker side and it’s more prominent with the white color variant.
There are also options in the settings that allows the user to set color saturation and brightness controls, for personal preference.
There’s Gorilla Glass 3 protection up at the front and a fingerprint scanner that actually does not function as a home button (can be confusing at times).
OS, Apps and UI
The Moto Z2 Play runs on the latest Android 7.1.1 Nougat with barely any customization on top of it. It’s the closest to Vanilla Android as you can get. It has clean and simple UI that we really liked.
The on-screen menu offers haptic feedback and the app drawer launches by pulling up the shortcut bar. The Z2 Play is also one of the very few smartphones we’ve tested that allows for the home-screens to be rotated sideways (horizontally).
There’s not a lot of options for custom widgets, no theme gallery and almost zero bloatware included. System files use up 13.09GB of the available 64GB storage capacity. It’s nice that Motorola did not bother to add 3rd-party apps (bloatware) or additional app that will only use up space.
The Moto Z2 Play comes with a single 12-megapixel autofocus camera paired with a dual-tone, dual-LED flash. It’s quick and snappy, focuses quite fast and generally takes really good photos even in low-light environments, thanks to the wide f/1.7 aperture.
It comes with a Pro mode which allows the user to adjust the settings manually (White Balance, Shutter Speed of 1/6000 to 1/3 seconds, ISO 100 to 3200 and Exposure Compensation -2/+2).
The rear camera can take 4K videos at 30fps or full HD 1080p at 60fps. There’s an option for slow-motion in one of the camera modes. Here’s a sample clip:
One Moto Mods available since the first generation is the TRUE Zoom Hasselblad, an attachment that comes with its own 12MP 1/2.3″ BSI CMOS sensor (25-250mm equivalent). What’s really great about it is the 10x optical zoom with a f/3.5-6.5 lens.
TRUE Zoom Hasselblad Moto Mods for the Moto Z2 Play.
The Hasselblad Moto Mod has a physical shutter release, a zoom lever for tactile control and a built-in Xenon flash. The electronic connection automatically transfers the files (photos and videos) to the smartphone.
The 5-megapixel front-facing camera also has a dual-tone, dual-LED flash which is really useful for taking selfies in low-light situations.
Performance and Benchmarks
Powering the Moto Z2 Play is a new Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 chipset (a slight upgrade to the SD625) which is composed of an ARM Cortex A53 octa-core processor with a maximum clock speed of 2.21GHz.
It’s a fairly powerful chipset and very capable device, scoring as high as 68,691 in our Antutu benchmark. Running multiple apps and windows is not a problem and graphics-intensive games play very smooth.
PCMark: 5,924 (Work 1.), 5,395 (Work 2.0)
PCMark Storage: 7,637
GeekBench: no data (app crashes)
The variant that will be released in the Philippines will have 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.
Call Quality, Connectivity and Battery Life
The Z2 Play comes with 3 distinct microphones — one at the front, another up top and one at the back. This gives great noise-cancellation feature and clearer audio quality.
Call quality and signal reception are very strong and GPS is very accurate.
With a 3,000mAh Li-Ion battery, the Z2 Play can last us well over a day on light to moderate use (WiFi connection only). It’s also impressive that Motorola managed to pack that much in such a thin device that’s under 6mm thick. In our standard video loop test, the Moto Z2 Play lasted 12 hours and 15 minutes.
The Z2 Play also has Turbocharging which is similar to Qualcomm’s Quick Charge so you can quickly recharge the device in just a short amount of time. Charging time is pretty fast — it can charge from 0% to 50% in 30 minutes. The device can get pretty warm though during this period.
What makes the Moto Z2 Play, and its entire family of the Moto Z series is the modularity. It’s an approach that has never been tried before and, unlike the modular design of the LG G5 (that was subsequently discontinued), continues to be a solid offering with over a dozen Mods to choose from.
The new line-up also comes in a selection of style shell that adds a fashionable cover and wireless charging capability.
Motorola is committed to make more Mods and make them backward and forward compatible to the Moto Z series for at least two years. Some of the Mods really extend the feature and functionalities of the device — an extended battery pack, a stereo speaker from JBL and a more capable camera module from Hasselblad.
The Mods will either be made in-house or in partnership with 3rd-party manufacturers. Some of them though are a little expensive.
Lenovo has managed to make the Motorola brand stand out from the rest in the industry by pursuing a direction and sticking to it. Motorola stands by the modular approach and we commend the bravery. The Moto Z2 Play is a testament to that. It’s a beautifully crafted phone, well balanced, can proudly stand on its own or conveniently maximize itself with the Moto Mods collection.
The modular approach may not be for everyone but for those who really see the value and flexibility, it’s an offer like no other. And no, it’s not just a passing fad.
The Moto Z2 Play will be available in three exclusive Motorola outlets located in the CyberZone areas of SM Mall of Asia, SM Megamall and SM North EDSA starting July 21 with a suggested retail price of Php24,999.
The Moto Z2 Play will also be available in major Motorola retailers nationwide and via online shopping site Lazada.
Motorola Moto Z2 Play specs:
5.5-inch Full HD Super AMOLED display
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 2.2GHz octa-core CPU
Adreno 506 GPU
4GB LPDDR3 RAM
64GB internal storage
microSD card slot w/ UHS-I support (up to 2TB)
12MP 1.4um Dual Autofocus Pixel rear camera, f/1.7, Laser AF, PDAF, dual-LED flash
5MP 1.4um, f/2.2 front camera w/ dual-LED flash
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n 2.4 GHz + 5 GHz
Bluetooth 4.2 LE+EDR
GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS
Moto Mods connector
USB-C w/ USB 3.1 support
3.5mm headset port
Android 7.1.1 Nougat
3,000mAh battery w/ TurboPower charging
76.2 x 156.2 x 5.99mm (dimensions)
145 grams (weight)
Lunar Gray, Fine Gold
What we liked about it:
* Solid build and beautiful design
* Very good battery life
* Good performance
* Support for Moto Mods
* Great camera quality
* Affordable pricing
What we did not like:
* Expensive Moto Mods
* Camera bump at the back