The more time I spend with the Moto Z2 Play, the more I like this midrange phone.
It's certainly the most interesting handset in its price range. Those magnetic Moto Mods and a ton of software features and shortcuts take it way beyond what most $500 phones can do. The hardware gets the job done, and there are a lot of little touches I appreciate.
Go ahead and laugh, but the timer is the best of the four phones I've currently been using, including the Samsung Galaxy S8, HTC U11 and the iPhone. A timer may seem inconsequential, but since I've been using three times a day as part of an exercise routine, I really start to notice. (If you really want to know, the Moto interface lets you tap the time widget on the home screen to open the clock, plus you can save multiple timers, say for 1 minute and 2 minutes. The other phones have you open the clock app first and don't save timers, so I'm scrolling a lot to switch duration.)
Anyway, I like this phone, and I'm eager to see how it compares to the upcoming OnePlus 5, which will launch June 20. The 3T earned CNET's Editors' Choice award for its midrange prowess, so the OnePlus 5 should present some pretty stiff competition.
(P.S. This review is based on near-final software. Motorola says a final version of the phone's software will be pushed out before the phone ships to consumers in July.)
UK and Australian prices and release dates are yet to be announced, but the $500 US price converts to about £390 or AU$675.
In the US, eager buyers can get it from Verizon in early July, or buy it unlocked from Motorola.com.
Amazing battery life, promising voice trick
I have good news and bad news. The good news is that the best thing about the Z2 Play is its battery life. In our looping video drain tests, the Z2 Play ran an average of 17 hours, which is pretty great for a phone that costs a fistful less cash than tier-toppers like the Galaxy S8 and . Those guys ran for 16 hours and almost 13.5 hours, respectively, in the exact same test.
In real life, you should be able to easily go a day and a half or even two days with some heavy use. I streamed 45 minutes of YouTube video without making much of a dent. (Motorola claims the battery will last up to 30 hours total.)
Are you ready for the bad news? It's that last year's Z Play ran for 23 hours in our video playback test, so this year's attempt isn't as much a marathoner. If you're looking for a new phone though, this is still very good.
So that was the Z2 Play's best feature. Its most clever feature -- and its most promising -- is actually a voice command that opens apps when you simply say "show me." That's right: no wake word like "Siri," "Alexa" or "OK, Google" to call out before telling the phone what you want it to do. Just "Show me YouTube," "Show me Maps" -- you get the idea.
You just slide the shade that pops up and you're in. Or, in the case of the calendar and weather, the information floats on screen before fading off. Best yet, you can configure "show me" to work from the lock screen when it recognizes your voice.