Motorola'sis a premium phone that made waves with its magnetic snap-on accessories. Unlike the , which also had swappable components, Motorola's take on modularity made a lot more sense and was easier to use.
With its Moto Z Play, the company trimmed down the hardware but beefed up the battery, retained the quirky Moto Mod feature and slapped on a cheaper price. And what can I say? I'm all for it. Affordable, reliable and boasting super-long battery life, the Z Play is an excellent midrange phone even without the Mods.
The device is available in the US on Verizon for $408, but an unlocked version that's compatible with GSM networks will be available globally in October for $450 (or £347 and AU$590, converted). Compare that with the original Z and its other counterpart the, which costs an additional $200 or more, the Z Play offers you all the goodies from Motorola's Z series, without breaking your wallet.
What makes this phone unique again?
The Z Play is a fully functioning handset, but on its back are two rows of magnetic bumps that let you attach and swap out accessories called Moto Mods. These Mods have a variety of uses and can be as simple as a decorative back cover (those covers come in a variety of patterns and textures) or as complex as an extra battery case, a snap-on speaker with kickstand or a projector. Motorola's newest Mod, a point-and-shoot camera accessory with a 10x optical zoom, is called the Hasselblad True Zoom.
The Mods are incredibly easy to use. With the audio speaker, music automatically starts playing when attached,and the projector requires hardly any setup. Even the True Zoom takes only a few seconds to ramp up and start capturing pictures.
What's the difference between this Z Play and the Moto Z and the Moto Z Force?
The Z Play looks like the Z and Z Force (they share that annoying fingerprint sensor on the front that can be mistaken too easily for the home button), but as the more affordable midrange option, its specs vary. For one, instead of ditching the 3.5mm headphone jack like the other two, the Z Play still has its jack. That means its USB Type-C port and headphone jack exist side by side, together and happy, and you don't need a dongle adapter to listen to your music. You can also charge your phone while listening to beats. With even the Apple iPhone 7 losing its jack, maybe there's hope for your wired headphones in this cruel post-headphone-jack world, after all.
Though Z Play's 5.5-inch display is the same size as the other two, but it has a 1,080-pixel resolution compared with the others' 1,440p, and it isn't as durable as the Z Force's ShatterShield display. The Z Play also has a less powerful processor and a bit less RAM and its 16-megapixel rear camera sits between the Z and the Z Force's in terms of megapixels (compare all specs below). The camera lacks optical image stabilization too, so your photos might look blurrier if you have an unsteady hand.
Lastly, the Z Play is a tad thicker and heavier than the already weighty Z Force. This is because the former packs a slightly larger battery. Motorola says this is the "longest-lasting phone battery" on a Moto phone, which I'll get to later. For a quick comparison, check out our chart below:
Motorola Moto Z series
|Motorola Moto Z Play||Motorola Moto Z||Motorola Moto Z Force (US only)|
|Display size, resolution||5.5-inch; 1,920X1,080 pixels||5.5-inch; 2,560x1,440 pixels||5.5-inch; 2,560x1,440 pixels|
|Pixel density||403 ppi||535 ppi||535 ppi|
|Dimensions (Inches)||6.16x3x0.28 in||6.11x2.96x0.2 in||6.14x2.98x0.28 in|
|Dimensions (Millimeters)||156.4x76.4x6.99 mm||155.3x75.3x5.19 mm||155.9x75.8x6.99 mm|
|Weight (Ounces, grams)||5.82 oz; 165 g||4.79 oz; 136 g||5.75 oz; 163 g|
|Mobile software||Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow||Android 6.0 Marshmallow||Android 6.0 Marshmallow|
|Processor||2.0GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625||2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820||2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820|
|Storage||32GB||32, 64GB||32, 64GB|
|Expandable storage||Up to 2TB||Up to 2TB||Up to 2TB|
|Battery||3,510 mAh (nonremovable)||2,600 mAh (nonremovable)||3,500 mAh (nonremovable)|
|Fingerprint sensor||Below screen||Below screen||Below screen|
|Special features||Headphone jack, Moto Mod snap-on accessories and dedicated accessory port on back||Moto Mod snap-on accessories and dedicated accessory port on back||Moto Mod snap-on accessories and dedicated accessory port on back|
|Price off-contract (USD)||$450 unlocked||$699 unlocked||$720 (on Verizon)|
|Price (GBP)||£347 converted||£499||£555 converted|
|Price (AUD)||AU$590 converted||AU$905 converted||AU$944 converted|
How's the camera?
The phone's 16-megapixel camera took clear, decent photos and its shutter operated quickly. Though I didn't have as a noticeably rough time with the camera's white balance as I did with the Z and Z Force, some images I captured still had white hues that were slightly tinted blue. Dimmer environments understandably featured more graininess, but the camera was altogether satisfactory for quick, casual shots. For more about photo quality, check out the images below and click on them to view them at their full resolution.