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Moto X Play (XT1562) Review

Ben Andrews reviews the 20 megapixel Moto X Play smartphone, an affordable smartphone with an excellent screen.

| Motorola Moto X Play (XT1562) in Camera Phones


Moto X Play (XT1562) Review: Motorola Moto X Play XT1562 Product Shot1 Front

The Moto X Play is positioned between the Moto G and Moto X Style as a mid-range model in Motorola’s current smartphone range. It comes with either 16GB or 32GB of internal storage, though both have MicroSD expandability. The X Play shares the same 21MP rear camera and 5MP front-facing camera as the more expensive X Style and X Force, and will set you back around £250 for the 16GB version.

Moto X Play Features

Unlike some smartphone manufacturers which hobble cut-price smartphones with cut-down cameras, the X Play has no such compromises. In addition to the headline-grabbing pixel count, it also sports a large aperture f/2.0 lens and phase detection autofocus for faster focussing. 

There’s no shortage of processing power, either, as the X Play gets twin quad core processors. All versions come with 2GB RAM, which falls short of the 3GB in the Moto X Style, but should still be enough to run all but the most demanding games smoothly.

As with the X Style, if you order the X Play direct from Motorola it can be specced with one of 14 different coloured rear panels, while the accent strip surrounding the rear camera lens is available in six colour options. It’s almost as customisable as the premium Moto X Style, but the X Play doesn’t have the same option to select real wood or leather back panels.

The X Play is fronted by a large 5.5-inch display that equals the LG G4 and iPhone 6s Plus for sheer size. The X Play also shares the 6s Plus’ Full HD 1080 x 1920 resolution, though the X Style’s 5.7-inch display boasts a 1440 x 2560 resolution and a higher pixel density.

Key Features

  • 21MP 1/2.4-inch image sensor
  • Fixed 27mm-equivalent lens, f/2.0, 4x digital zoom
  • Phase detection autofocus
  • 5.5-inch IPS LCD screen, Full HD 1080 x 1920, 403 ppi
  • GPS / Wi-Fi / NFC
  • Full HD (1920 x 1080) video recording
  • HDR / panoramic shooting / 5MP front-facing camera
  • MicroSD slot, up to 128GB expandability
  • Splash resistant
  • Customisable rear panels

Moto X Play Handling

Moto X Play (XT1562) Review: Motorola Moto X Play XT1562 Product Shot2a Back

The Moto X Play looks and feels very much like a slightly scaled down Moto X Style. Like its bigger brother, the X Play is relatively chubby, with a maximum thickness of 10.9mm, but thanks to a curved rear panel design, the left and right edges are only around 5mm thick. That’s great for easily slipping the phone into your pocket, but as with most high-end smartphones, it means you don’t have much to hang on to. At least the soft-touch rear panel is fairly grippy, and though this doesn’t exude the same premium feel as an iPhone or Galaxy S6, the overall build quality of the X Play is just as high as the X Style with no obvious body flex.

Display quality is also first class. Although the Full HD resolution lags behind that of the flagship Samsung, LG and Sony smartphones, the pixel density over the X Play’s 5.5-inch panel is still easily high enough to hide individual pixels and create a Retina effect. But what impresses most is the superb contrast, with whites that display with even greater purity than they do on the X Style. Viewing angles are also first class, and there’s enough brightness to view the display comfortably under bright sunlight.

Moto X Play (XT1562) Review: Moto X Play

The Moto X Play uses the same camera app as other Motorola smartphones like the X Style and cheaper Moto G. If you’re after the simplest possible shooting experience, then it delivers, but it won’t satisfy keener photographers wanting more creative control. You don’t get any options to adjust ISO sensitivity or white balance, while focus point and exposure compensation can only be tweaked by entering a dedicated adjustment mode, or by tapping and holding the screen.

In the default shooting mode, pressing the screen will fire the shutter. It’s an unusual system to adapt to if you’re used to a dedicated shutter icon, and it also means you’ve got no way of knowing whether the camera has successfully focussed, unless you press and hold the screen. 

Apart from the limited creative control and lack of easy focus point adjustment, the camera app works well and is very fast. A single virtual control wheel can be accessed by swiping inward from the left of the screen, revealing low light, HDR and panorama modes.

Moto X Play Performance

The performance section is where we look at the image quality performance of the camera. Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Motorola Moto X Play (XT1562) Sample Photos

Images from the X Play’s 21MP sensor are vibrant, well-exposed and have plenty of dynamic range. If the camera detects a high contrast scene, the automatic HDR mode makes a noticeable difference to highlight and shadow intensity, whilst also boosting colour vibrancy. The effect is very noticeable, although in some instances it can look a little too intense.

High megapixel counts and small sensors aren’t necessarily a good combination, but the X Play manages to resolve plenty of detail and doesn’t apply too much noise reduction processing and image smoothing. If you really scrutinise, some distant detail like foliage can look slightly painterly, but it’s no deal breaker. Compared to a Samsung Galaxy S6, the Motorola’s results in good light aren’t quite as crisp or eye-catching, but they’re not far off.

Things are less impressive in low light, where noise becomes more obvious as the camera requires higher ISO sensitivities to compensate for the lack of image stabilisation. However, the benefit of relaxed noise reduction smoothing is increased detail retention, resulting in more natural-looking images.

Motorola Moto X Play (XT1562) Lens test images

The front-facing selfie camera generates good enough image quality for social media sharing or 6x4 prints, however there isn’t enough detail for images to stand up to closer scrutiny.

The fixed focal length, 27mm-equivalent lens produces distortion-free images, while corner sharpness is almost a match for the centre of frame. However there’s no way of knowing whether the camera has accurately focussed for a close-up shot, without holding the screen, so judging the minimum focus distance can be tricky. We found it to be approximately 10cm.

Video - Videos recorded at the maximum Full HD 1920 x 1080 quality consume around 130MB per minute. Video quality is detailed, vibrant and well exposed.

Value For Money

The Moto X Play is available in 16GB or 32GB versions, both with MicroSD expandability. The 16GB version is available for £250, placing it in direct competition with smartphones like the OnePlus 2 - this is available for £249 with 64GB internal storage, the same screen size and resolution as the X Play, and a 13MP camera with optical image stabilisation. However, it lacks the Motorola’s MicroSD expandability and NFC connectivity. Samsung’s original Galaxy A5 can still be had for around £250 and also packs a 13MP camera, but its 5.0-inch 720 x 1280 screen is no match for the X Play’s and neither is its 2300mAh battery. Sony’s Z3 Compact is also available for £250 and shares the Galaxy A5’s screen resolution, but condenses it into a smaller 4.6” panel. It features a 20.7MP camera and is capable of 4K video recording.

Have a look at more smartphones in our Top 10 Best Smartphone Cameras. You can also buy a MicroSD memory card and a case or bag to keep your smartphone safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to bags.

Moto X Play Verdict

The Moto X Play offers a lot for the money, with a superb screen and a camera that’s capable of attractive image quality in daylight conditions and acceptable low light results. But, like its current Moto cousins, the shooting experience doesn’t live up to the same standard, marred by an unusual touch capture interface and restricted creative control.

Choosing between the Moto X Play, the cheaper Moto G and the more premium Moto X Style isn’t easy. The Moto G has full waterproofing and an even lower price on its side, whereas you get a higher resolution screen and optical image stabilisation with the X Style. But ultimately the X Play is the best compromise, with the same core camera as the X Style, an even higher capacity battery and a superb screen, all at very reasonable price.

If you’re after very good image quality and a great all round smartphone at an accessible price – and can live with its cut-down camera app – the Moto X Play is a great buy.

Moto X Play Pros

Attractive image quality in good light
Excellent screen quality
Water resistant
Long-lasting battery
MicroSD expandability
Customisable casing
Keen price

Moto X Play Cons

Average low light performance
No ISO or WB control
Lacks real-time filter effects
No Ultra HD video


Moto X Play (XT1562) Review:

The Moto X Play is a high performing smartphone with a great screen and camera.


Motorola Moto X Play (XT1562) Specifications

Front Camera
PixelsNo Data
Max ApertureNo Data
Smartphone Cameras
Smartphone Cameras
    Additional CamerasNo Data
    Max Aperturef/2
    35mm equivalent27mm
    Optical Zoom0x
    Image Sensor
    Pixels21Mp (Megapixels)
    Pixels (W)5344
    Pixels (H)4008
    Sensor TypeCMOS
    Sensor SizeNo Data
    Sensor Size (width)No Data
    Sensor Size (height)No Data
    Aspect Ratio
    • 4:3
    LCD Monitor
    LCD Monitor5.5in
    Screen resolution1080p
    Touch ScreenYes
    Focusing modes
    • Autofocus
    • Face Detection
    • Touch AF
    Exposure Control
    Shutter speeds shortestNo Data
    Shutter speeds longestNo Data
    ISO sensitivityNo Data
    Movie modeYes
    Video Resolution
    • 1920x1080 FullHD
    Video FPS30fps
    Stereo SoundNo Data
    Other Features
    Image StabilisationNo
    USBUSB 2
    Internal Memory2000MB
    Power Source
    Battery Type3630mAh battery
    Box Contents
    Box ContentsNo Data

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