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Moto Z Play Review

Moto Z range lets you add Moto Mods, so you can upgrade your smartphone at a later date if you want to.

| Lenovo Moto Z Play in Camera Phones

Moto Z Play Review: Moto Z Play (5)

The Moto Z Play is the cheapest Moto Z phone from Lenovo, and features the same Moto Mod compatibility as the other Moto Z phones available, meaning you can add extra functionality to your smartphone, including an extra battery, a projector, stereo speakers, or even a 10x optical zoom Hasselblad True Zoom camera! The Moto Z Play is available for around £340-360 sim-free.

Moto Z Play Features

Moto Z Play Review: Moto Z Play (9)

The Moto Z Play features a large 5.5inch screen with a FullHD (1920x1080) resolution, and there's a fingerprint sensor built-in to the bottom front of the phone. It's available in white / gold as shown here, and also available in black. The phone is large, but thin, being just 7mm thick, and features a high power 3510mAh battery. The phone runs Android v6, with reports of Android v7 rolling out to the phone in some areas of the world. It's known as the Moto Z Play Droid in the US. 

The Moto Z range can be expanded with Moto Mods:

  • Hasselblad True Zoom (adds a 10x optical zoom and Xenon flash)
  • JBL Soundboost Stereo Speaker (features a 1000mAh battery)
  • Insta Share Projector (features a 1100mAh battery)
  • Incipio offGRID Powerbank (adds an extra 2220mAh)

These mods can only be used with the Moto Z range of phones, so if you upgrade your phone at some point, you're tied in to buying another Moto Z smartphone if you want to continue using the mod with it. Read our Hasselblad True Zoom review here.

Moto Z Play Review: Moto Z Play (11)

The rear camera has a 16 megapixel sensor and the f/2.0 lens has an anti-relective coating applied to the protective glass, and underneath you can find the colour balancing dual-tone LED flash. Focus is fast, with both phase detection focus, as well as laser autofocus. There's a professional mode that gives you more manual controls, however the camera doesn't feature a raw shooting mode. The camera can record 4K video at 30fps, as well as 120fps slow-motion at 720p. The front selfie camera uses a 5 megapixel sensor, and has an f/2.2 aperture. It has an 85 degree view, making it wider than most, and it also features an LED flash to help illuminate photos. 

The screen is protected with Gorilla Glass 3 and the phone has metal sides. Whilst the back of the phone (according to some websites) is made out of glass, it feels more like plastic, and scratches just as easily as plastic. Luckily the phone comes with a textured cover to protect the back, for when you don't have a Moto Mod attached. In comparison, the Moto Z features a metal back. While on the subject, let's have a quick look what the difference is between the three different Moto Z models:

Moto Z Moto Z Play Moto Z Force
13mp f/1.8, OIS 16mp f/2.0 21mp f/1.8, OIS
5.5inch QuadHD 5.5inch FullHD 5.5inch QuadHD
2600mAh battery 3510mAh battery 3500mAh battery
No headphone jack Headphone jack No headphone jack
5.2mm thick 7mm thick 7mm thick

The Moto Z Play is water repellent (not waterproof!), with a water repellent nano-coating. You can use gestures to quickly get into the camera app, simply by twisting the smartphone back and forth. 

The processor is an octa-core 2 GHz Snapdragon 625, so not top of the range, but still very good, and there is 3GB of RAM built in, and 32GB of storage built-in, which you can expand with a MicroSD memory card. Everything else you come to expect from a mid-range smartphone is included, with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, NFC, and a headphone socket. 

Moto Z Play Review: Moto Z Play (2)

Key Features

  • 16 megapixel sensor, 1.3micron pixel size
  • f/2.0 aperture, wide-angle lens
  • Laser and Phase detection autofocus (PDAF)
  • Dual LED flash
  • ISO100 to ISO3200
  • 5mp, f/2.2 aperture, wide-angle 85° lens, front camera
  • Front Flash, Auto Night mode, Beautification software, Professional mode
  • 5.5inch Super AMOLED screen, 1080p, Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • 4K (30fps), 1080p (30fps), 720p (120fps), Video Stabilization, Slow Motion video
  • Wi-fi, Bluetooth, NFC, GPS
  • Water-repellent nano-coating
  • Auto HDR, Panorama, Burst mode
  • 3GB RAM, 32GB storage, MicroSD slot
  • Fingerprint sensor, USB-C
  • Android 6.0.1 (Marshmallow)

Moto Z Play Handling

Moto Z Play Review: Moto Z Play (10)

The metal edge is quite harsh, particularly without the rear plastic cover fitted, and the phone definitely feels better with the rear cover in place. The front of the smartphone has a slightly curved edge towards the metal edge, making it feel a little more comfortable. The phone feels very well built, with the metal surround giving it a tough construction. 

By quickly rotating the phone back and forth you can enter the camera app, and this makes it quick and easy to start taking photos. Once you're in the app, you can rotate the phone again to switch between the rear and front cameras. You can use the volume controls to take photos. 

Using the camera app is straightforward, and you simply press the camera icon to switch to the different modes, which includes: Professional, slow-motion, panoramic, video, and auto. The Professional mode can be used with both the rear, and front cameras. To view the photos or video you've taken, you swipe from right to left, and to change additional settings you swipe from left to right. When you take a photo, it swishes off the screen, and doesn't appear as a thumbnail anywhere on-screen, which can be a little concerning if you're used to other smartphones, but is easy enough to get used to.

Moto Z Play Review: Moto Z Play (1)

There aren't any physical home keys, which is a shame, and means that the screen is used up by the on-screen home, back and option buttons. It's a shame that the fingerprint sensor can't double up as a home button. The screen looks bright and colourfull, with good viewing angles making it a great screen to view photos on. 

Moto Z Play Review: Hasselblad True Zoom (1)

Shown above, is the Hasselblad True Zoom Moto mod, which snaps on to the back of the Moto Z Play, to add a 10x optical zoom lens and Xenon flash camera.

Battery life - The battery life of the Moto Z Play is impressive, by using a processor that's not a top of the range, power hungry processor, but rather a more modest processor, and combining that with a large 3510mAh battery. This means you can get at least a day, and often a day and a half out of the battery, which is much better than most smartphones these days. 

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