Review: Moto Z2 Play is thinner, mostly better and still very mod-able
Moto Z2 Play retains the strengths of the predecessor, and is better in many respects, but it isn’t as powerful as the OnePlus 3T
We’ll readily admit, it takes a while to get used to the Moto Z2 Play, but after a while of living with it, it does grow on you. This is the successor to last year’s Moto Z Play, the idea behind it was the ability to attach modular accessories (known as “mods”) to enhance the performance and user experience that the Z Play could offer. Some of these mods included a camera enhancing attachment from optics giant Hasselblad (Rs19,999 on amazon.in), while another was a speaker from JBL (Rs6,999 on amazon.in). While the modular smartphones concept fizzled out faster than you could blink once, Moto has persisted and made these mods genuinely useable. But is this enough of a reason to splurge on Moto Z2 Play?
Design: Everything you would want, from the next generation
The original Moto Z Play was no bulky smartphone. However, the Z2 Play is less wide, less tall and thinner, and also weighs 20 grams less than the Moto Z Play that tipped the scales at 165 grams. The design is largely the same, to retain compatibility with all the mods that existed in last year’s phone. You will be able to use mods you may have bought with the Moto Z Play with the Moto Z2 Play.
One look at the design, and it is impossible to not wonder at least once why Lenovo didn’t consider slimming down the bezels around the screen, at a time when all other phone-makers seem to be tripping over themselves to do so. But the answer lies in what we mentioned a while ago—the older mods need to work with the new phone.
Overall, the Z2 Play feels well built. The glass and metal blend well together, and the flat slab design isn’t a problem. Yes, compared to some of the more modern designs, this feels a bit old-school, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Display: Why change a good thing
The 5.5-inch Super AMOLED display, with Full HD (1,920x1,080) resolution, is much like last year’s phone—it could be the same display, with slight tweaks to improve the viewing experience. Colours look fairly accurate in the Standard Mode, and while that isn’t exactly the sRGB mode, it’s very close to that. Unless you like unnaturally bright colours that pop out, this screen should be ideal for a variety of uses, including reading, watching videos and perhaps even giving your photos a bit of the Snapseed treatment before you share them on social media.
The only shortcoming with this rather acceptable display is perhaps the contrast, which isn’t up to the levels that rivals such as the OnePlus 3T offer on their Full HD displays.
Performance: Powerful enough, strong battery life
Out goes the Qualcomm Snapdragon 825 processor, and in comes the newer Qualcomm Snapdragon 826 processor. And instead of 3GB RAM, there is now 4GB RAM. The Z Play wasn’t, and the Z2 Play isn’t the phone to buy if you want something with the most powerful processor. This enables consistent performance, so you’ll get satisfactory performance while multi-tasking, with no sluggishness or stutters. Gaming performance is largely okay too, with more RAM now available. You’ll find some sluggishness visually if you play graphics-intensive games though, because the graphics chip that accompanies this processor isn’t that much more powerful than the predecessor.
It may perhaps be a bit presumptuous to assume that someone considering buying the Moto Z2 Play will not have any knowledge about the fact that phones such as the OnePlus 3T pack in a significantly more powerful processor. It is that sort of hardware which makes phones future proof for most usage cases, and the Z2 Play undoubtedly lacks that.
The Moto Z Play rocked a 3,500mAh battery, which made it one of the few Android phones with genuine stamina. This time around, the Z2 Play has a slightly smaller 3,000mAh battery instead. You would expect significantly lesser battery life, because that is what common sense would suggest. However, the Z2 Play manages similar battery backup time as the predecessor, under the same usage conditions—this is due to a different processor which has lower power requirements and because of better optimized software.
Camera: Usable, but nothing else
The Z2 Play has a 12-megapixel camera. This has the f1.7 aperture and 1.4um pixel size. This essentially is the same camera that the Moto G5 Plus has (apart from the additional laser focus in the Z2 Play)—you get similar photograph quality. The dynamic range is acceptable, but not all that great. You will get blown out images, due to over-exposure because it isn’t always easy to optimize the algorithms to manage so much light streaming on to the sensor. Low-light photos are vibrant, and colours as well as detailing tends to suffer depending on what sort of photograph you have clicked. At this price, the camera performance of the Z2 Play is something that cannot be ignored.
Verdict: Are you investing in the mods?
The entire premise of the Moto Z2 Play retains the “mods” concept, where you can attach these accessories and improve facets such as the camera or the audio performance or even add additional functionality such as an extra battery or even a projector. To top it off, it is slimmer and lighter. The display is crisp enough, good battery life and clean Android still have their undeniable advantages. However, it isn’t as powerful as some rivals (and neither is it future-proof), such as the OnePlus 3T, for instance. Unless you are adamant about investing in the mods in earnest, it is hard to recommend this over the slightly older but more powerful 3T.
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