The year 2016 marked the release of Motorola’s premium smartphone, the Moto Z Play. The Moto Z brought new functionality to smartphones with its unique magnetic add-on accessories Moto Mods, which changed how users interact with their smart devices. Now, Motorola released the newest model to the Play brand in the Moto Z2 Play, retains the same features found in last year’s model while upgrading its specs to rival the competition of other 2017 smartphones.
The first change that the Moto Z2 Play makes from its predecessor is its size. The Moto Z2 Play is just a tad bit taller and wider than last year’s model, causing it to be a bit heavier as well, weighing in at 145 g. It’s unfortunate that its larger size doesn’t amount to a larger screen, instead of using the more common 5.5-inch screen with 1080p resolution. The Moto Z 2 Play’s screen size isn’t a negative at all, however, especially given how light and thin the phone is even with its added weight.
Aside from its girth, The Moto Z2 Play’s appearance isn’t all that different from the Moto Z. The phone retains the same sleek, clean look but with a few small changes made for the better. Unlike the glass back used for the Moto Z Play, the Moto Z2 Play uses a metal finish. This not only makes the Moto Z2 Play more durable and less likely to scratch, but it also won’t show smudges the way that its predecessor did. Motorola also changed the fingerprint scanner found on the front of the Moto Z2 Play, making it larger this time around so that it’s easier to use. The Moto Z2 Play also uses a Gorilla Glass 3 protected Super AMOLED screen as opposed to the Moto Z’s regular AMOLED touchscreen with Gorilla Glass 4 protection.
Running on Android 7.1 (Nougat), the Moto Z2 Play uses a Qualcomm MSM8953-Pro Snapdragon 626 chipset. It also uses an Octa-core 2.2 GHz Cortex-A53 CPU along with an Adreno 506 GPU. While not the best, the Moto Z2 Play runs apps quickly with no lag or graphical glitches. In terms of storage, the Moto Z2 Play has an internal storage space of either 32 GB but can be expanded up 2 TB using a microSD card.
Motorola upgraded the Moto Z2 Play’s camera hardware to improve on its focusing capabilities. While still not as good as the latest high-end mobile phones available on the market, the Moto Z2 Play’s camera offers 12 megapixels, f/1.7, phase detection and laser autofocus as well as dual-LED flash. It also features geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, panorama, and Auto-HDR. The Moto Z2 Play can record video up to 2160p at 30fps, 1080p at 60fps or 720p at 120fps.
The Moto Z2 Play uses a non-removable Li-Ion 3000 mAh battery, a change from the Moto Z’s Li-Ion 2600 mAh battery. To call the battery life of the Moto Z2 Play good would be a massive understatement. This phone will easily last a couple of days with heavy use, and when left alone, it can survive a full week. When the Moto Z2 Play does eventually die, charging only takes around 45 minutes to an hour for a full charge. The Moto Z2 Play uses a type-C USB and also works with a magnetic connector.
Like the Moto Z, the Moto Z2 Play features a magnetic strip on the back that allows the phone to make use of Moto Mods. Sold separately, Moto Mods are clip-on accessories that transform the functionality or style of Motorola phones in the Z-series. Moto Mods are fully set up and work right out of the box, easily snapping on the phone with no extra setup needed. After trying out a couple of them, I can safely say that Moto Mods are the best reason to own the Moto Z2 Play. Not only do they add to the functionality of the phone but a number of the Mods include their own individual battery back that the phone can use after its battery is drained. This practically doubles the time you can spend with the Moto Z2 Play and makes them practically a necessity.
The Hasselblad True Zoom turns the Moto Z2 Play into a far more powerful camera than you’d find in any smartphone camera. Delivering a 10x optical zoom lens from a 25-250mm equivalent, the True Zoom is able to zoom in without losing any quality before the 10x limit. This mod also uses its own 12-megapixel sensor separate from the Moto Z2 Play and comes with a number of features found on studio cameras like adjustable shutter speeds, manual focus, aperture and exposure. It also includes a xenon flash which works much better than any phone’s built-in flash.
With Motorola’s new phone releasing, the company is also releasing new mods that improve on their predecessors. One of these new mods is the JBL SoundBoost 2, a stereo loudspeaker mod with two three-watt drivers and a new fabric-covered, splashproof design. This Mod is perfect for playing music at a party or gathering. It also includes a small kickstand which makes it great for watching videos, though I can’t say that the kickstand's durability doesn’t worry me at all.
Another interesting Mod is the Moto Insta-Share, a pico projector able to beam images or videos up to 70-inches away. Like the JBL SoundBoost 2, the Moto Insta-Share features a built-in loudspeaker, though nowhere near as good in terms of sound quality or volume. Another drawback is that it only has 480p resolution, making larger projections appear less detailed.
Motorola offers a variety of other mods, ranging from battery packs to stylish covers. Moto Mods aren’t completely flawless, however. Many of the Mods add to the size of the Moto Z2 Play even more, making it heavier and thicker to a point of inconvenience. Carrying Mods around can also be a bit of an inconvenience as well because of their size, often forcing me to choose one mod over the others. With how essential Moto Mods are for the Moto Z2 Play, the expensive prices of the individual Mods is also a downside, ranging from $70 to upwards of $200.
The Moto Z was what many would consider a sleeper-hit of 2016. With all its upgrades and the continuous release of new Moto Mods that increase functionality, the Moto Z2 Play should be a name that more people looking to get a long-lasting smartphone should look into. With no major gripes, my only problem with the Moto Z2 Play comes down to cost. In Canada, the Moto Z2 Play costs around $800. Adding on any Moto Mods you might be interested and you’re looking at around $1000 if not more. If you’re willing to spend the extra cash needed for Mods, I’d highly suggest the Moto Z2 Play. If not, it might be best to either wait for a price drop or pick up the original Moto Z which also works with Moto Mods.
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