Review Motorola Moto Z2 Play: The midrange smartphone that shapeshifts

Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

Motorola has recently launched a modular smartphone that is part of their Motorola Moto Z family. Modular means that you can magnetically attach various Moto Mods which enhance your smartphone. There are Moto Mods for increasing the battery capacity, for taking better photos, or even for projecting your smartphone’s screen on walls. Over the last few weeks, we played with the Motorola Moto Z2 Play, the latest mid-range Android smartphone in the Z family. We also had the moto 360 camera, the Hasselblad True Zoom and the moto insta-share projector in our hands. In the following review, you can read about Motorola Moto Z2 Play and what it has to offer:

What is the Motorola Moto Z2 Play smartphone good at?

The Motorola Moto Z2 Play is an excellent smartphone for:

  • People who want a modular smartphone that can be transformed when performing different activities
  • People who want a midrange smartphone of good quality but which does not cost a fortune
  • People who already have one or more Moto Mods and want a smartphone that is compatible with them

Where To Buy

Pros and cons

Here is what we liked about the Motorola Moto Z2 Play:

  • You can attach different Moto Mods, enhancing features like the photographic experience, the sound or the autonomy
  • The build quality is excellent, with a body made of metal
  • The smartphone is slim and lightweight
  • The screen offers deep colors and high brightness, even in sunlight

There are some negative aspects too:

  • The smartphone’s main camera can shoot good photos, but it has no image stabilization features, so pictures and videos are shaky unless you keep the smartphone still
  • The Moto Mods are pricey and buying a few of them significantly increases the total cost of ownership
Product Rated
4/5

Verdict

The Motorola Moto Z2 Plus is an excellent mid-range Android smartphone. It has a fast processor, enough RAM and internal storage space, a good display and a well-built metal body. It is also capable of shooting good photos (if you compensate for the lack of image stabilization) and can offer a quality user experience. It does not, however, manage to impress in any field, except one: its ability to use Moto Mods. If you already have one, or if you intend to buy some, then the Motorola Moto Z2 Play is a good investment. If, however, you do not intend to buy any Moto Mods, you can find smartphones with similar specs at lower prices, or better smartphones at the same price tag as the Motorola Moto Z2 Play. If you want a modular smartphone with a medium price and mid-range performance, the Moto Z2 Play is a good choice. Keep in mind though, that the costs of the Moto Mods can add up quickly and, with just a few of them in your bag, you can quickly go over the $1000 price tag.

Hardware specifications and packaging

The Motorola Z2 Play smartphone arrives in a red cardboard box with some illustrations depicting red crystals. On the upper part of the box, you can see the Motorola brand and the name of the smartphone, as well as the fact that it is compatible with Moto Mods.

On the back and one of the small sides of the box, you can find some details about the smartphone, like its hardware specifications, color, IMEI numbers and the supported radio bands.

To get to the smartphone and the other insides of the box, you must slide the inner tray from the cardboard box. The first thing you meet is the smartphone itself.

Besides the Motorola Moto Z2 Play, inside the box, you also find a power charger and a detachable USB Type-C cable, a pin for taking the SIM cards tray out of the phone, a quick start guide and a safety information leaflet.

The Motorola Moto Z2 Play is available in two color variants: Lunar Gray and Fine Gold. The model that we tested was the Fine Gold one.

It features a 5.5 inches Super AMOLED display with Full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels at 401 ppi pixel density. The screen is also protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3 against scratches, dust, and falls. The smartphone is powered by a powerful octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 processor running at up to 2.20 GHz and an Adreno 506 graphics processing unit. Motorola has been generous when it comes to memory too: the Moto Z2 Play offers 3GB or 4GB of RAM and 32GB or 64GB of internal storage space, depending on the model you buy. The one we tested had 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal flash memory. The smartphone also supports a microSD card, which you can add if you want to expand the storage capacity by up to 2TB. The autonomy of the Motorola Moto Z2 Play is offered by a non-removable 3000 mAh battery.

The rear camera has a 12 MP image sensor, with laser autofocus (up to 5 meters), PDAF (Phase Detection Auto Focus), and dual LED flash. The primary camera can record videos at up to 4K resolution, at 30 frames per second. The Motorola Moto Z2 Play also has a built-in front camera, with an image sensor of 5 megapixels, beautification options and, interestingly, a dual LED flash.

Regarding connectivity, the Motorola Moto Z2 Play uses two nano-SIMs and can connect to CDMA, GSM/GPRS/EDGE, UMTS/HSPA+ and 4G LTE mobile networks.

This smartphone can be bought in a Single-SIM or a Dual-SIM configuration. The one that we tested was the Dual-SIM version, meaning that it allows you to use two different SIM cards at the same time (both have to be nano-SIMs). However, although both SIM cards can connect to 3G WCDMA or 4G LTE, only one of them can be connected to 3G/4G at a time. The smartphone works in a Dual SIM Dual Standby implementation, which means that even if both SIM cards are active when you are not using them, once you take a call on one of them, the other becomes inactive.

It also offers a USB Type-C port with USB 3.1 support, Bluetooth v4.2 LE + EDR and dual-band wireless support for the 802.11 a/b/g/n 2.4 GHz and 5GHz networks. It does not offer support for 802.11ac.

Motorola Moto Z2 Play benefits from the information it gathers from a series of sensors: compass, gyroscope sensor, accelerometer, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, and fingerprint reader. The fingerprint reader is mounted on the front of the device, beneath the display, and has an oval shape.

The Motorola Moto Z2 Play is compatible with all Moto Mods. They are separate devices that you can attach magnetically to the Moto Z2 Play and which can transform your smartphone into another device, with new powers. For instance, you can attach a super-zoom camera, a boombox, a projector, a 360 degrees camera, and so on. We also received a few of these Moto Mods, and we will talk more about them a bit later, in a dedicated section of this review.

The Motorola Moto Z2 Play is a large but thin smartphone: it has a size of 3 x 6.15 x 0.24 inches or 76.2 x 156.2 x 5.99 mm and a weight of 5.11 ounces or 145 grams.

If you would like to see more details about the features and the detailed hardware specifications of this smartphone, browse its official webpage: Motorola Moto Z2 Play.

The Motorola Moto Z2 Play is a smartphone with mid-range hardware specifications: a Full HD display, 3 or 4 GB of RAM, and 32 or 64GB of internal flash storage space. If you already own some Moto Mods, the good news is that the Moto Z2 Play is compatible with all of them.

Design and build quality

The Motorola Moto Z2 Play is a smartphone that looks good and feels well made. The body is all-metal, but even so, the phone is light and thin. Unless you are adding a Moto Mod to it, the Moto Z2 Play fits perfectly in your pockets. The front of the device is home to the display, the oval fingerprint reader on the bottom, and the ear speaker, front camera, and flash to the top.

The right edge holds the usual volume and power buttons, and the top edge is where you can find the SIM cards tray.

On the bottom edge, there is the USB 3.1 Type-C port and the 3.5 mm audio jack.

The rear side of the Motorola Moto Z2 Play is the interesting part. Towards the top, you can find the camera rounded bump. Motorola squeezed the dual LED flash inside the camera module too.

Then, towards the center of the back, you can see a small Motorola logo and, on the bottom, 16 small pins and a magnet. These are used by the smartphone to connect and attach to Moto Mods.

When used with no Moto Mod attached, the Moto Z2 Play smartphone feels comfortable to hold in your hand. The metal edges are slightly rounded, and the grip you have on them is pretty good. We have also appreciated the good placement of the fingerprint reader, which is easy to find and touch, and it is also fast at unlocking the smartphone. Finally, it is also worth mentioning that, if you do not want to scratch the camera module, you can attach a back cover that protects the back of the smartphone, although it also makes it a little thicker.

The Motorola Moto Z2 Play is an Android smartphone that impresses by how light and thin it is. We did not expect that from a device with an all-metal body and a 5.5-inch screen. The design is good, although nothing out of the ordinary catches your eye. The phone feels pleasant in your hand and fits comfortably in any pocket. However, things change if you add a Moto Mod to it, though Moto Mods usually have their bags and should not stay connected to the smartphone permanently.

If you would like to read more about the smartphone experience offered by Motorola Moto Z2 Play, its camera, bundled apps, and performance in benchmarks, read the second page of this review.