Motorola moto z2 play grey

Motorola Moto Z2 Play Review

Modular smartphone hardware is, at the very least, an intriguing concept: since phones are far from one-size-fits-all, it makes sense to let users choose the hardware features that matter most to them, and by making this hardware modular, it saves shoppers the expense of picking up a whole new phone every time their desires shift. But for as nice as the idea is, actually making modular smartphones work is an uphill battle, and even giants like Google have looked long and hard at such projects before eventually declaring, “Nope!”But last year Lenovo-owned Motorola did the impossible, and launched not just a modular smartphone, but a whole family of both modular phones and the modules that attach to them: the Moto Mods. We were promised that this wouldn't be a one-shot phenomenon, and this year they're indeed back, as we get a new phone and some new Moto Mods add-ons. Will this new batch of hardware finally convince the nay-sayers that modular smartphones are here to stay? Or is there little here that's going to sway a critic who wasn't already won over by last year's lineup? Join us as we take a look at the new Moto Z2 Play, as well as a trio of new Moto Mods.

In the box:

  • Moto Z2 Play
  • Motorola Turbo Charge adapter
  • USB Type-C to standard-A cable
  • SIM tool
  • Safety card
  • Quick-start guide
The blessing of support for Moto Mods can also be a bit of a curse: on the one hand, you're giving a phone support for a growing body of add-on hardware, letting users augment the handset with a heavy-duty camera, extra battery capacity, or maybe even a digital projector. But on the other hand, you're locking your phone into being a particular shape and size, with Moto Mods support inherently linked to the physical makeup of a phone. While that does give Motorola some wiggle room to experiment with handset thickness, other aspects of the phone's design, from that utterly flat back panel to the prominent, centered camera bump, are set in stone. As a result, the Moto Z2 Play looks and feels a lot like its predecessors, even as it strays a bit from the decisions that went into making the original Moto Z Play. Perhaps most notably there, Motorola's decided to give us a thinner phone this time around, with the Z2 Play's 5.99mm thickness (no Moto Mods attached) coming in below the first gen's 6.99mm. As a consequence, though, battery size also takes a hit – which we'll talk about just a bit later.Layout-wise, we've got a 5.5-inch screen dominating the phone's face, with a fingerprint scanner below and front-facing camera hardware up top – including a rare dual-LED front-facing flash. The hybrid SIM tray (with support for microSD expansion) lives up top, and along the right side we've got the power button, as well as discrete up-and-down volume controls. Underneath we find the phone's USB Type-C port, and also the analog headphone jack – a feature we got on the first Moto Z Play, but not the other Moto Z phones.On the back, there's a camera that sure looks a lot like those on earlier Moto Zs, but that's hiding some new hardware within, and down below is the critical Moto Mods interface.By itself, the Moto Z2 Play is both quite thin and notably lightweight, coming in at just 145g. But neither of those will last for long, as the phone is just begging to have some Moto Mods attached. From the moment you first boot up the Moto Z2 Play, the phone looks ready to impress with a dazzling, high-contrast Motorola logo on-screen. It's a great way to grab your attention, and really emphasizes some of the best properties of the phone's 5.5-inch AMOLED display. The screen's 1080 x 1920 resolution looks decent at this size, but by default the phone's interface doesn't take great advantage of all those available pixels, with text and on-screen elements displayed quite a bit larger than they need to be – and making the screen seem less well-equipped than it really is. Luckily, you can quickly make strides towards fixing that with a few settings tweaks.But while we were impressed by that early onslaught of classic-AMOLED saturation and bright colors, that honeymoon period didn't last. By default the phone is set to its “vibrant” color mode, but even in “standard,” which claims to deliver realistic colors, our tests found the screen doing not such a great a job at accurately depicting colors – and beyond the general intensity issues we see with AMOLEDs, we also found magenta hues in particular to be poorly reproduced, leaning much more towards blue than they should.

Those disappointments continue when it comes to screen brightness, which seems to top out just north of 400 nits. That's significantly less bright than the majority of phones that cross our path, and notably worse than we saw on the much-more-affordable Moto G5 Plus – which hit nearly 600 nits.

In the end, the screen is detailed and colorful, but still comes up short in a few key areas, and even for a $400 phone, we expect a little more.

Motorola Moto Z2 Play - user opinions and reviews


I ned help please,I just got moto z2 play from China(Chinese version ) with global ROM. I have white light constantly on(beside front camera) light never go off when phone is power off..really confusing


How long does the battery last? Good or bad?


Anonymous, 28 Aug 2018Moto Z2 Play or G6 Plus, especially in terms of camera quality, what do you think???Dont u think that this phone has a superamoled and it is better than the Samsung note 8 bcs i compared it. Only the camera in samsung is good bcs it has great night camera but other than that everything in the Samsung wont be better when we talk about z series performance os too good the display clarity is mind blowing i am a fan of moto bcs they have a best hardware i am a Mobile tech too and i sujest ppl to buy a phone that can withstand water, sudden fall, a fast superb gaming experience, a great theater fr u with ear phones only not with stock speaker it is good, and thn the camera its k it is fine,it also has the great stylish look that no one can provide with this quality, i had a z play a x force a g4 plus and i was really into moto from 2015 that was my first purchase of moto and till now i sujested 50 moto's and they bought it and they loved it and this is a brand that only design shatter sheild phones in this price range it's great but i dont understand why people still buy Chinese phone ur getting a moto fr 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 even z2 play 9999 great.....


Bought this phone in early October 2017. It's a pretty good phone, but it's not without flaws. Of which I really only know two. First thing is the fingerprint scanner. I don't know if it's the scanner or just the slow, laggy processor, but this phone has a LOT of issues unlocking the screen with the fingerprint scanner easily. Not to say it WON'T unlock, but it's a headache a LOT. The fingerprint scanner is just really, really, really, really slow to respond when you need it to be fast. Pull it out of your pocket and try to unlock it and it's gonna take a good 4 seconds to register your fingerprint. Otherwise it's going to revert to the swipe pattern as backup. I honestly have no idea what the problem is, but the scanner is often really effing slow to respond. Extremely frustrating.

The 2nd issue is the battery. I have a Moto Mod battery on the back, and I charge it wirelessly every night. About a week before the warranty is to end, the battery has begun to bloat/swell and it's pushing the screen of the phone away from the back of it. I know bloat is not uncommon for smartphone batteries, but this is happening inside of a year. I'm not sure if I'll be getting another Motorola phone. It's a shame because I love having ridiculous battery life (combined with the mod). I like how if the battery gets degraded, you can just swap a $30 Mod on and have about the same battery capacity again. If the OEM battery were user-replaceable, I could easily forgive the laggy responding sensors.


I bought it yesterday and installed all available updates: I observed, for 1st year motorola given monthly updates. After 1 year they kept this handset in quarterly update cycle. Now its running Oreo with August security patch. Battery life & screen & speed are awesome. Sound amplification is also too good. Speaker volume is 8/10. Camera 6/10. It will recieve 9.0 version for sure. But after 9.0 update, i think there wont be any software support further. Not even quarterly security patches.

Still at 12k this is the best viable option.


Ljlj, 23 Jul 2018Is it worth to buy new moto z2 play now for 12.5k INR/(approx 180$). What chance it would be e... moreIt's a steal in 12k.

Go for it.


This is by far, the worst phone I've ever had. It's been replaced, & this is no better. You can hardly hear the volumn, all the way up, even with speaker on. It's always just stopping, the only good thing about this phone is the battery


Anonymous, 28 Aug 2018Moto Z2 Play or G6 Plus, especially in terms of camera quality, what do you think???i have seen that the g6 plus has the 630 it's has a better chip, the camera has a depth sensor so that's the only different thing that's different about the camera.


Moto Z2 Play or G6 Plus, especially in terms of camera quality, what do you think???


Hope the update fixes my conectivity issues. Wifi isn't 100 percent and Bluetooth to my car is unusable. Will keep the phone to try the P update.


Aju, 31 Jul 2018Yes,It attracts scratches. There are some products available to protect the lens. May you suggest some or provide link


Aju, 31 Jul 2018Yes,It attracts scratches. There are some products available to protect the lens. May you suggest some or provide link


Ljlj, 29 Jul 2018Is back camera glass easily scratchable like moto z play? is it require some protection or can... moreYes,It attracts scratches. There are some products available to protect the lens.


Moto Master 1000, 28 Jul 2018Is the screen really that bad outdoors? The review says it's less bright than Galaxy J5Don't worry about the outdoor visibility. Its great


Is back camera glass easily scratchable like moto z play? is it require some protection or can use barely?


Is the screen really that bad outdoors? The review says it's less bright than Galaxy J5


Bertha, 24 Jul 2018It is not water resistant like it states. My stopped after getting a little moisture on the sc... moreIts not water resistant. Just spash resistant.


It is not water resistant like it states. My stopped after getting a little moisture on the screen while working out. Needless to say it turned off and will not come back on. Not Happy at all.


Is it worth to buy new moto z2 play now for 12.5k INR/(approx 180$). What chance it would be eligible for Android P as was launched on Android nougat and should get 2 major os update

Motorola Moto Z2 Play review: thinner, lighter, better

Last year’s reinvention of Motorola centered around the short-lived buzz over modular smartphones. Its Moto Z and Moto Mods platform were the most practical take on the modular phone concept, but they didn’t exactly ignite the smartphone world.

Hidden among this modular hype was one of the best smartphones made last year: the midrange Moto Z Play. It wasn’t the flashiest phone, didn’t have the fastest processor or best camera, and didn’t have the highest-resolution display. It did have the best battery life you could get in any smartphone, and the rest of its components were good enough that the overall package was greater than the sum of its parts. The Z Play was easily the sleeper hit of 2016 (and one of my favorite phones of all time), even if you didn’t care one bit about its modular capabilities.

Blending high-end build with midrange price and features

This year’s version, the $499 Moto Z2 Play, available unlocked and through Verizon this summer, attempts to improve upon the first version’s weaknesses without losing the charm that made the original so appealing. It’s much thinner, much lighter, has a better camera, and comes with a refined design and a handful of new software features. It also works with all of the Mods Motorola has released — battery packs, projectors, cameras, speakers, and so on — and will release this year. The new phone basically a blend of the 2016 Z Play and the higher end Moto Z, with a price that sits between them.

The Z2 Play is better than the original in almost every respect, except for perhaps the most important area: battery life. But as I’ve found after using it as my primary phone for the past week, that doesn’t ruin the experience.

As a regular user of last year’s phone, the first thing that I noticed with the Z2 Play is how thin and light it is. This is not a small phone — it has a traditional 5.5-inch, 16:9 display, which definitely puts it on the larger side of the scale — but it measures a scant 5.99mm thick and only weighs 145g. That’s almost as thin as the higher-end Moto Z, but the extra 0.7mm in the Z2 Play affords room for a headphone jack that the Z lacked last year. More importantly, it’s a lot thinner-feeling than last year’s brick-like Z Play, and it’s much nicer to hold for long periods.

Of course, the reason the Z2 Play is so thin and light is because its battery is almost 15 percent smaller than the cell in last year’s model. There’s reasonable cause for concern here; after all, the best feature in the Z Play was its battery life. And my experience with the Z2 is not as good as the prior model: it’s not the zero-worry, multi-day monster its predecessor was.

Thin and light design comes at cost of battery capacity

That said, the Z2’s battery life is still excellent. I’m able to use it for a full day of heavy use — up to five or six hours of screen on time — without having to plug in for a charge in the middle of the day. Most phones typically kick the bucket after just three or four hours of screen time, so the Z2 Play is notably above average here. When I’m not constantly using my phone, such as over a quiet weekend, I can stretch the battery across two days pretty easily.

  • 5.5-inch, 1080p AMOLED display
  • 5.99mm thick, 145g
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 processor
  • 3 or 4GB of RAM, 32 or 64GB of storage with microSD card support
  • 12-megapixel dual pixel autofocus camera with f/1.7 lens
  • 5-megapixel selfie camera with f/2.2 lens and dual LED flash
  • 3,000mAh battery
  • Water-repellent nano-coating
  • Lunar Gray, Nimbus Blue, or Fine Gold color options
  • Verizon or unlocked direct from Motorola
  • $499 for 64GB model, available summer 2017

I’m okay with the trade-off Motorola made reducing the thickness and weight of the phone by using a smaller battery. The battery life is still very good — I’m not constantly thinking about it or monitoring it — and the phone is much slimmer and more comfortable to use as a result. And since the Z2 Play is compatible with the Moto Mod platform, if I do need to extend its range away from the outlet, it’s very easy to slap on a battery mod, such as the new TurboPower Pack, and keep going.

I also appreciate the other hardware improvements Motorola made here. The phone’s appearance is not much different than last year — the Moto Mods system has essentially locked Motorola into a specific design for a couple of generations — but it’s a little more polished and refined. The glass back, which was prone to scratching and damage, has been swapped for a more durable and more attractive metal finish, and the front fingerprint scanner is larger and recessed, making it easier to use.

Motorola has also upgraded the camera hardware with a faster lens and much faster focusing systems. It is a better camera than last year’s version, but even though the spec sheet is very good, the image processing doesn’t keep pace with the Pixel, iPhone, or Galaxy S8 cameras. The Z2 Play can struggle with high-contrast scenes, and its lack of optical stabilization really hurts it in low light. It’s not a bad camera at all, but it’s merely passable instead of great.

Performance, camera, and display all fall into the “this is fine” camp

The performance from the Snapdragon 626 processor and 4GB of RAM is also fine: this isn’t blisteringly fast like high-end phones with Qualcomm’s best chips, but it doesn’t have any stutters or performance issues either. The same goes for the 1080p AMOLED display: it’s not the brightest or most pixel-dense screen available and doesn’t have curved sides or an elongated aspect ratio to display more content, but it’s sharp enough for anything short of VR and works well outdoors. The best thing about the processor and screen is that you just don’t think about them — they do the jobs they are supposed to do without any glaring faults or flaws.

Motorola’s approach to software has long been to take Google’s Android and leave it mostly untouched, save for sprinkling a few enhancements here and there. The Z2 Play has a number of useful gestures, such as a double karate chop to turn on the flashlight or a double twist action to launch the camera, both of which I use a lot. The Moto Display feature, which shows the time and notifications whenever you pick up the phone or just wave your hand over it, has been improved with a battery meter and the ability to take actions on notifications without unlocking the phone. I can even reply to a message with text or my voice right from the Moto Display, which is very convenient.

Lots of phones have the ability to work hands-free with just voice commands, and Motorola has been using this feature in its phones since 2013. The Z2 Play takes voice commands a step further: not only can you wake up the phone and use the Google Assistant with an “OK Google” command, you can also directly tell the Z2 Play to do things with a “show me” command. This can be used to check the weather (“show me the weather”), see upcoming appointments (“show me my calendar”), or launch an app (“show me Chrome”) without unlocking or even touching the phone. It only works with my voice for security, the screen lights up for just five seconds, and its uses are fairly basic, but it’s still convenient. It’s a small change, but one that makes using voice commands slightly more natural than the “say wake up word and wait” cadence we’re used to.

New voice controls are great, new fingerprint gestures less so

I’m less enthused by the new swiping gestures for the fingerprint scanner that are designed to replace the on-screen home, back, and recent apps buttons. Tapping the scanner acts as the home button, while swiping to the left goes back and swiping to the right launches the recent apps tray. It makes sense, especially the tap to go home gesture, but it’s difficult to reliably execute the swipe gestures; all too often it would take me to the home screen when I meant to go back in my app or launch the recent apps tray. Fortunately, these gestures are not enabled by default and you can use the traditional on-screen buttons without ever bothering with them. I wish that Motorola would use the areas next to the fingerprint scanner for back and recent buttons like other phone makers do, as it feels like wasted space right now.

The Moto Z2 Play and some of the compatible Moto Mod accessories.

The reason last year’s Moto Z Play was so compelling to me was that it blended stellar battery life with solid performance, good software, and a usable camera. The mix has changed a little with the Z2 Play — the battery life is not quite as stellar, while the camera is better — but the essential package is the same. It’s a very well-executed device that gets all of the basics you need in a phone correct without spoiling the recipe with gimmicks or an unreasonable price.

At $500, however, it’s not an instant purchase. It’s a lot more expensive than true budget phones and not that far off from the actual flagships that offer better displays, better cameras, and more forward-looking designs. This is especially true if you purchase a phone on a monthly payment plan: the difference between a Moto Z2 Play and a Galaxy S8 might be only a few dollars per month.

Still, the Z2 Play provides a great mix of what matters without any unnecessary stuff piled on. And it does so with better battery life than even most flagships can provide. When you think about it, isn’t that all you really want from a phone?

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