Do you know that a modular smartphone can be transformed into anything you want it to be? Read this Moto Z2 Play review to find out all the interesting things you can do with this modular smartphone.
Itechguides' Take on Moto Z2 Play
The Moto Z2 Play features an innovative design that helps you transform an already powerful smartphone into a more functional device. It also boasts an all-day battery life, a bright display, and a respectable camera. However, some of its downsides include an ugly camera bump – also, the phone is not waterproof.
- All-day battery life
- Bright display
- Supports existing Moto Mods
- Camera is quick to focus
- Ugly camera bump
- Not waterproof
This review will be an eye-opener into the world of modular phones specifically, the Moto Z2 Play. I will give detailed information about its design, display, camera, storage, sensors, and battery life.
Furthermore, I will provide a rating of over ten after each section’s discussion. At the completion of this review, you will have all the relevant knowledge about the Moto Z2 Play that can influence your purchasing decision.
My Initial Thoughts
Modular phones are useful for getting more functionality from smartphones. Unfortunately, there are not many modular phones in the market.
Few of the modular phones are from Motorola’s Moto Z series for flagships and Moto Z Play for mid-range. The case in point of this review is the 2017 Moto Z2 Play which is a successor to the 2016 Moto Z Play.
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Like I hinted earlier, the Moto Z Play series which includes the Moto Z2 Play, aims at offering modularity at an affordable price. Speaking of affordability, in October 2021 when we updated this article, the Moto Z2 play cost $129.67.
The predecessor – Moto Z play – earned a good name for itself and the series in general. Now that the Moto Z2 Play is here, let us find out if it holds up the legacy of the series.
Moto Z2 Play Design, Dimension & Weight Review
The Moto Z2 Play boasts a unibody metal design with brush edges and a flat back. It also has a very slim form factor making it a bit difficult to hold.
Speaking of its form-factor, the Moto Z2 Play measures 156.2 x 76.2 x 6.0 mm. Meanwhile, the Moto Z2 Play has a similar footprint to its predecessor – just that Z2 Play is slimmer than Z Play.
Speaking of which, the predecessor – Moto Z Play – measures 156.4 x 76.4 x 7 mm.
Obviously, the Moto Z2 Play is quite slim but it has an annoyingly protruding camera bump. Moreover, attaching the Moto mods transforms the Moto Z2 Play into a thicker device that might be difficult to hold or slid into a pocket.
Speaking of the Moto mods, these are swappable modules that can be attached to the back of your smartphone. There are different Mods performing different functions making your smartphone versatile and more functional.
For instance, there is a battery Mod that turns your phone into a powerhouse. Precisely, there is a 3450mAh Turbo Powerpack that you can utilize to get longer battery power.
The Turbo Power Mod can also be charged quickly using the Turbocharger supplied with the phone. Additionally, there is a projector mod, a speaker Mod, – basically, all the Mods you need are available.
However, each of these Mods attracts an extra cost. Thankfully, Motorola has ensured the compatibility of the Moto Z2 Play with new and existing Mods.
Hence, users of the Moto Z Play who wants to upgrade to Moto Z2 Play don’t have to waste more money on new Mods. To ensure compatibility, Motorola has retained the 16 pin connector which is made of 23 karat gold.
When it comes to weight, the Moto Z2 Play weighs 145 g which is lighter than the 165 g of the predecessor (the Z Play). Moreover, this is a perfect weight for a smartphone as most mobile phone users prefer a phone that weighs between 140 g to 170 g.
The front view of the Moto Z2 Play is occupied by its 5.5-inch display. Thankfully, its screen size is ideal, it is within the range most smartphone users want their phone’s screen size.
Our research findings confirm that most users prefer a phone with a screen size within 5-inch to 5.5-inch range.
Furthermore, the screen has a top and bottom bezel. The top bezel has the call speaker by its center and to the left of the speaker, there is a flash.
Meanwhile, to the right of the speaker, there is a camera as well as proximity and ambient light sensor. Also, the top bezel houses a Moto branding.
On the other hand, the lower bezel houses a fingerprint sensor that has a microphone to its left. Speaking of the fingerprint sensor, it is fast at registering the fingerprint.
Additionally, the fingerprint sensor supports gestures known as One Button Navigation. When you enable it, the onscreen navigation controls disappear – enabling you to use the fingerprint sensor for navigation.
Swiping left on the fingerprint sensor will take you back to the Recent app while swiping right will switch between apps. A tap on the sensor takes you to the Home screen while a long tap will lead to a short vibration and lock the screen.
Furthermore, you can tap the fingerprint sensor and hold it for some time to launch Google Assistant.
Moving on to the back view of the Moto Z2 Play, it features a circular camera bump that houses the camera itself. It also houses a dual-tone flash and a laser autofocus sensor.
For color options, the Moto Z2 Play is available in Fine Gold, and Lunar Gray. Therefore, users can choose the color they like best.
Unfortunately, the Moto Z2 Play is not water-resistant but is splash-resistant. This implies that you cannot submerge it in water but it will be fine if some water drops on it.
Below the camera bump, there sits a glossy Motorola logo. Further down the chassis, you will find a second microphone and the 24-karat 16 pin connector for connecting the Moto mods.
Motorola has used gold because of its high resistance to scratches and its anti-corrosion capability.
At the top edge of the phone, there is a SIM card tray that can be ejected using a pin-like ejector. Next to the SIM tray, there is another microphone.
Meanwhile, on the bottom edge of the phone sits the USB Type-C charging port, and next to it is a 3.5mm headphone jack. When you unbox your Moto Z2 Play, you will find a Turbocharger, an headphone and a SIM ejector tool in the box.
In conclusion, the Moto Z2 Play is very lightweight, easy to use, and carry around despite its metallic build.
Therefore, I will rate the Moto Z2 Play a nine in this design review section.
Moto Z2 Play Display Features Review
The Moto Z2 Play features a 5.5-inch super AMOLED display. One known advantage of AMOLED is that it saves battery – AMOLEDs use less power compared to IPS LCD (another display technology).
One other advantage of AMOLED is that it is thin – allowing the phone to be thinner and lighter. This may be one reason Moto Z2 Play is only 6mm thick.
In addition to its an AMOLED screen, the Moto Z2 Play has a display density of 401 PPI. Impressively, this is better than the 300 PPI industry standard.
Consequently, due to its super AMOLED screen and high pixel density, the Moto Z2 Play delivers crisp and bright content with great contrast.
Additionally, the Moto Z2 Play supports a Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) video resolution. Full HD displays deliver a great HD experience consequently, videos are vivid and sharp.
However, it is still far from 4K displays. To give you an idea, after FHD, you have FHD+, 2K, and finally all variants of 4K displays.
Moving on, the Moto Z2 Play has an aspect ratio of 16:9. Therefore, you will get your videos to fit the entire screening giving you a cinematic experience while watching movies or playing games.
When it comes to color reproduction, The Moto Z2 Play comes with two color modes – standard and vibrant; but both modes are not really calibrated against sRGB. From a colorimeter test performed by Techradar, both color modes exhibited an average Delta E of about 4.8 to 10.
In more detail, Delta E measurement provides insight into how color accurate a display is – a lower Delta E rating of 2 is considered good, the lower the better.
When it comes to brightness, the Moto Z2 Play has a maximum brightness of 432 nits. You’ll not have any issue using the Moto Z2 Play outdoors thanks to its impressive 4.459 sunlight legibility rating.
As a protective measure, the Moto Z2 Play features a corning gorilla glass that protects it from scratches and cracks. Although you might need to use a tempered glass screen protector, you can decide to use one to add another protective layer to the screen.
Finally, based on all the discussed features of the display, I will rate the Moto Z2 Play an eight in this display review section.
Moto Z2 Play Camera Features Review
A phone’s camera has become one of the most important features to check before making a buying decision. This is because most of us use our phones to take photos.
To review the quality of a phone’s camera, we review the camera’s megapixel, pixel size, and ƒ.stop number. The ƒ.stop number of a camera determines its aperture size.
Consequently, the lower the ƒ.stop number, the larger the aperture and the better the picture it takes especially at night.
The Moto Z2 Play has a 5-megapixel front selfie camera along with a dual-tone LED flash. The camera takes decent selfies and the flash helps take bright selfies in low light.
The front camera has a beautification mode which can be used to clear blemishes and improve skin tones. Thankfully, it is subtle and doesn’t over-edit the photos.
Overall, the front camera of the Moto Z2 Play produces great pictures that are social media-worthy.
Furthermore, Moto Z2 Play has a 12 MP main (back) camera which might seem like a step back from the 16 MP of the predecessor – Moto Z Play. However, the Moto Z2 Play produces better results.
Additionally, the Moto Z2 Play has an ƒ.number of ƒ/1.7 which is very impressive.
In terms of focusing, the Z2 Play boasts laser autofocus, a phase detection autofocus, dual-pixel autofocus, and a LED flash. The multiple auto-focusing helps makes it easy to capture fast-moving objects with sharp results.
The camera app supports a double twist gesture that can be used to launch it. The gesture is quite intuitive and easy to use.
Besides, the camera has some mode settings for tweaking the result of your shots. The vivid mode gives more vibrancy to pictures.
Also, the night mode is used to take better pictures in low lights however, this results in sharper pictures but with more noise than we hoped for. Thankfully, the Moto Z2 Play supports the professional mode that gives you complete control over your camera settings, enabling you to tweak it as you want.
HDR is on by default, and most of the photos taken in that mode display good levels of color and detail even when viewed on a larger screen.
Generally, pictures taken with the rear camera are decent but outdoor pictures tend to be overexposed.
For shooting videos you can choose between full-HD at 30fps or 60fps, and 4K resolution at 30fps. There’s also no optical image stabilization when you’re shooting video, which means your footage can end up a little bit shaky if you’re not using a tripod.
To improve the rear camera performance, you can attach a Hasselblad Moto Mod which is quite expensive but offers 10x optical zoom and the ability to shoot in raw for better quality.
In conclusion, I will rate the Moto Z2 Play a seven in this camera review section.
Moto Z2 Play Battery Life and Talk Time Review
As we depend more and more on our phones, the reliability of the battery is becoming extremely important. This is why the quality of a phone’s battery has become the most important consideration when buying a phone.
The Moto Z2 Play has a 3,000 mAh non-removable battery. Considering other phones in its league, it is a sizable capacity and Motorola has promised us up to 30 hours of 3G battery talk time.
Also, considering that the Moto Z2 Play is just 6mm thick, equipping it with a 3000 mAh is noteworthy.
However, the fact that the battery is not replaceable is not so impressive. The reason is that users prefer a battery they can easily swap out for another when they are low on power.
To determine if the Moto Z2 Play’s battery is as great as Motorola claimed, we referenced a video playback battery test performed by Techradar. The test involved playing an FHD video repeatedly until the battery drains.
Based on the test outcome, the Moto Z2 Play lasted 17 hours which is quite impressive. In comparison with more expensive flagship phones like the LG G6 and the Samsung Galaxy S8, the Moto Z2 Play excelled.
Specifically, the LG G6 lasted 13 hours 30 minutes while the Samsung Galaxy S8 lasted 16 hours. However, the Moto Z2 Play performed below its predecessor.
Precisely, the Moto Z Play has a 3,510 mAh battery which lasted a whopping 23 hours in the same test.
The battery performance of the Moto Z2 Play is great but, it is a huge step back from that of its predecessor. This can be attributed to the slimmer design of the Moto Z2 Play – which means just enough space to include a 3,000 mAh battery.
Popular belief has it that slim devices do not have great performance. This does not hold true in this case because the Z2 Play performed well but only lower than its predecessor.
Furthermore, the Moto Z2 Play supports Turbo charging which means that recharging the battery takes minimal time. Specifically, it takes about 30 minutes to charge the battery up to 50%.
Moto Z2 Play is a powerful device but you can still make it powerhouse by attaching a Moto mod.
In summary, the Moto Z2 Play is capable of delivering an all-day battery life at standard usage. The only flaw I have with the battery is that it is non-removable and performed below the predecessor.
Hence, I will rate the Moto Z2 Play an eight in this battery review section.
Moto Z2 Play Storage Options & Performance Review
In terms of storage, the Moto Z2 Play is available in 32 GB and 64 GB versions. The internal storage is quite limiting considering that people store a lot of media on their phones these days.
Moreover, users get less than 32 GB or 64 GB of storage space due to the OS and pre-installed applications. The good news is that the storage can be expanded through the use of a microSD card.
Most impressively, you can add a microSD card up to 2 TB. This ensures that you never run out of storage space to store your apps, music, videos, picture, games, etc.
When inserting a microSD card, there are usually two options to choose from. The first option is to use the MicroSD card as portable storage.
Selecting this option means that you can only store media files and no applications. The portable storage option also allows the card to be readable by other devices.
Hence, you can remove this card to transfer its contents to other devices. Moreover, this option does not encrypt the MicroSD card neither does it format it.
On the other hand, choosing the second option – internal storage – will allow you to install applications and games to your microSD card. To choose this option, you need to use fast speed cards like the UHS-1.
Additionally, choosing this option means you always want to leave the microSD card on the phone. Moreover, choosing this option means that your microSD card cannot be read by other devices.
Furthermore, the Moto Z2 Play encrypts the MicroSD card and cannot be decrypted by any other device. Also, selecting this option will format the microSD card, make sure you move the important data away from the card before choosing this option.
In conclusion, the Moto Z2 Play is a bit limiting on the internal storage front. However, it makes up for that by offering storage expansion up to 2 TB.
Therefore, considering all these, I will rate the Moto Z2 Play a seven in this storage review section.
Moto Z2 Play Security Features & Sensors Review
The Moto Z2 Play is loaded with most of the important sensors. Firstly, it comes with a fingerprint sensor that allows you to unlock the phone with your finger instead of a PIN.
This is a very convenient way to secure your phone.
In addition to the fingerprint sensor, the phone also ships with the following sensors: accelerometer, ambient light, gyroscope, magnetometer, proximity, and ultrasonic.
The accelerometer and gyro sensor work together to determine the phone’s orientation and automatically rotate the screen.
Meanwhile, the proximity sensor detects when you are holding the phone near your face during a call and turns the display off. This is very important as it increases the battery life of the phone.
Another function of the proximity sensor is that it deactivates the screen so that the cheek does not touch it during calls.
Another very important sensor on this phone is the ambient light sensor. The ambient light sensor detects the ambient light (light in the phone’s environment) and automatically dims the phone’s display.
Automatically dimming the phone’s display benefits your eyes and saves battery.
If you combine the AMOLED display, the proximity sensor, and the ambient light sensor (all three reduce battery consumption), you have a super battery saver that keeps the battery going for a long time.
It is, therefore, no surprise that the phone’s battery delivers a talk time of up to 30 hours!
Furthermore, the Moto Z2 has a magnetometer. This sensor is used to measure magnetic fields and it is useful in compass applications.
Finally, I will rate the Moto Z2 Play a nine in this sensors and security review section.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, the Moto Z2 Play is not waterproof but it is splash-proof. This indicates that you cannot submerge it in water but it will be fine if some water drops on it.
The Moto Z2 Play is available in 32 GB or 64 GB models. These storage capacities are barely enough considering that the OS and pre-installed apps occupy a part of it. The good news is that you can expand the storage space via a microSD card up to 2 TB.
Moto Mods are swappable modules that can be attached to the back of the Moto Z Play smartphones. There are different Mods performing different functions making your smartphone versatile and a multi-purpose device.
However, these mods cost extra thankfully the Moto Z2 Play is compatible with existing Moto Mods.
The Moto Z2 Play was released in June 2017. Hence, at the time we updated this review in October 2021, the Moto Z2 Play was a little over 4 years.
At the time we updated this article in October 2021, the Moto Z2 Play cost $99.35.
My Final Thoughts
Undoubtedly, the modular design of the Moto Z2 Play is a functional design concept. It enables you to transform your already powerful smartphone into more powerful workstations.
However, the use of Moto mods comes at two costs, the first is the monetary cost of buying different mods which are quite expensive. Secondly, using the Moto mods transforms the phone into a thick device that might be difficult to hold or fit into the pocket.
Asides from attaching Moto Mods, the Moto Z2 Play is by itself a good phone. It boasts an all-day battery life, a bright display, and a respectable camera performance.
The only nitpick I have is that its battery performance is not as good as its predecessor. Other than that, the Moto Z2 Play is a good versatile smartphone.
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