It feels like yesterday when I published a review of the Moto Z Droid. In reality, it was nine months ago. Time sure does fly. Over the past two months, the folks at Lenovo (Motorola) have introduced Version 2.0 of their Moto Z family of phones. Within the Moto Z family, Verizon offers consumers the most choices with seven models including the new Moto Z2 Play and Moto Z2 Force Edition. And Lenovo continues to work with third-party companies like Hasselblad and JBL to produce complementary products called Moto Mods. I had the pleasure of testing the Moto Z2 Play for a few weeks. How does the Moto Z2 Play fare against its predecessor or family members? Let’s find out in this Moto Z2 Play review.
• Beautiful, creative design
• Aluminum construction, attractive design
• Accepts Six Moto Mods accessories
• Battery life of 3000 mAh
• Quick battery charging time + TurboPower™
• Cannot film in 4K (60 fps)
• It’s water repellent, not waterproof
• No Moto Maker
• No back panel, style shell additional
Motorola Moto Z2 Play Review
As far as mid-tier Android phones go, this model is like those from other well-known brands. All have similar specifications with regards to the screen, CPU, and GPU. When compared to its predecessor, the Moto Z Play, there are mostly internal improvements like processing power, but there are a few back steps. Height and width are virtually unchanged. The physical differences are in thickness and weight. The Moto Z2 Play is a full 1 mm thinner. The Super AMOLED screen size remains the same at 5.5 Inches.
• Height: 156.4 mm
• Width: 76.4 mm
• Depth: 6.99 mm
• Weight 165 grams
• Height: 156.2 mm
• Width: 76.2 mm
• Depth: 5.99 mm
• Weight: 145 grams
Among reviewers, there’s been some discussion about the placement of the Moto Z2 Play’s power and volume buttons. For you left-handed users, this won’t matter one bit, but for you right-handed users, this is where a dispute arises. Many right-handed users won’t like how their thumb rests on the volume buttons. I would have preferred to have the power button up high, rather be in the third position. Anyhow, all of this discussion disappears when you use a case to protect your phone.
If you’re using a mobile phone holder, button placement is important. I use a Manfrotto mobile phone holder (and flexible tripod) with my mobile phones. This allows me to take better pictures and video of whatever interests me. Because you want to balance your phone, you’d place the holder along its center-line. With this mobile device, there’s no button interference.
Concerning the design, the aluminum chassis is slippery in my hands. The addition of a removable back panel shell adds some texture, but it isn’t enough. If you want to ensure the Moto Z2 Play stays in your hand, a protective case is a must.
There is one bonus by adding a Moto Style Shell, and that’s the wireless charging capability. Priced at $39.99, it’s 10 Watts of charging and works with Qi and PMA charging pads. Unfortunately, there are only two shell colors available.
Z2 Play Design and Features
Like its predecessor, the Super AMOLED screen display on the Moto Z2 Play is a thing of beauty. And again like its predecessor, the display contains Corning® Gorilla® Glass. The only thing missing from this phone is Shattershield™. If you want this feature, you’ll have to pay more as it’s only available on the Moto Z2 Force Droid.
The phone comes with a 3.5 mm headphone jack and USB-C port. While I applaud this decision, there aren’t many headphones available with a USB-C connection just yet.
Speaking of charging, the battery size on the Moto Z2 Play is 3000 mAh. This is what you call a step back. You see, the Moto Z Play has a battery of 3510 mAh.
If you desire more battery life, you have three options. You can purchase one of two mods:
This mod will substantially provide extra battery life. They’ll also add weight and thickness to your device. The product has the added feature of being compatible with a wireless charging pad.
Storage and memory have stepped up nicely. With storage, the phone comes with either 32 or 64 GB on board with support up to 2 TB. Unfortunately, micro SD cards over 256 GB is are expensive. Like flagship mobile phones, this one incorporates memory of either 3 GB or 4GB of LPDDR3 RAM. See specs below.
Moto Z Play versus Moto Z2 Play
• 2.0 GHz Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 625 processor with Octa-Core CPU and Adreno 506 GPU
• Android 7.11 Nougat OS
• 3GB LPDDR3 RAM
• 32GB, Micro SD Card support (up to 2 TB)
• 5.5” Super AMOLED, 1080P (1080 x 1920), 403 ppi, Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3
• Battery (3510 mAh) TurboPower™ for up to 9 hours of power in 15 minutes of charging
• LTE Category 13 uplink, Category 7 downlink
• 16 MP Rear Camera ƒ/2.0 aperture Phase Detect Auto-Focus (PDAF)
• 5 MP Front Camera ƒ/2.2 aperture Wide-Angle 85° lens
• Bluetooth version 4.0 LE; Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n 2.4 GHz + 5 GHz
• USB-C port, 3.5 mm headset port
• Moto Mods connector
• 2.2 GHz Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 626 processor with Octa-Core CPU and Adreno 506 GPU
• Android 7.11 Nougat OS Current; Android 8.0 Oreo OS Fall 2017
• 3GB LPDDR3 RAM w/32GB Micro SD Card support (up to 2 TB) OR
• 4GB LPDDR3 RAM w/64GB Micro SD Card support (up to 2 TB)
• 5.5” AMOLED, 1080p HD (1920 x 1080), 401ppi, Corning® Gorilla® Glass
• Battery (3000 mAh) TurboPower™ for up to 8 hours of power in 15 minutes of charging
• LTE Category 13 uplink, Category 7 downlink
• 12 MP Rear Camera ƒ/1.7 aperture Phase Detect Auto-Focus (PDAF)
• 5 MP Front Camera ƒ/2.2 aperture Wide-Angle lens
• Bluetooth version 4.2 LE + EDR; Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n 2.4 GHz + 5 GHz
• USB 3.1 support, USB-C port, 3.5 mm headset port
• Moto Mods connector
If you didn’t notice from the specs comparison above, the rear camera size has decreased from 16 MP to 12 MP, but the aperture has increased to ƒ/1.7. This isn’t all bad news. How many of you were taking photos at 16 MP with the Moto Z Play? I certainly wasn’t, and part of my job description is to take photos for a living. The aperture on the front camera remains the same at 5 MP, but now has color correction dual LED flash.
Although we get laser autofocus, I don’t see optical image stabilization on the Moto Z2 Play. The latter feature appeals to many YouTube vloggers.
After activating the camera, in this case, the rear camera, touch the camera icon in the lower right corner of the screen. This action pulls up a menu consisting of the following: Photo, Video, Panorama, Slow motion, and Professional mode. The latter is most exciting. You can choose to take a photo right off the bat, or you can open any of the five manual settings: Scene, White Balance, Timer, ISO (100-3200) and Exposure (-2 to +2). By adjusting any of the five settings, you can perfect your skills in the art of mobile photography.
On the main camera screen, there are icons for switching to the front camera, Flash, and Timer. Swiping your finger to the left and right yield different results. When you initially swipe right, another menu appears. It’s in this menu where you can adjust such items as photo and video size, along with quick capture. Swiping left takes you to the images you just captured. No longer do you need to go into Photos (or Gallery) to see them. If you don’t like the picture the camera just captured, you can modify it or simply delete it. It’s a time saver for sure.
What makes the Moto Z family of phones stand out from its peers–a little something Moto Mods, and it’s a big deal. Nearly two years ago, LG introduced the G5, their flagship phone at the time. It was a disaster! After spending millions of dollars launching the product with commercials starring actor Jason Statham, sales have been weak, to put it mildly. And the reviews weren’t much better. The biggest problem with LG’s design was that their G5 was modular. Who wants to take apart a phone, right?
Lenovo (Motorola) took a different approach. They kept the phone intact, only allowing for the back shell to be removed. With this no-nonsense approach, Lenovo was able to reap those rewards that eluded LG. Lenovo has introduced a handful of mods for the Z2 Play. They are the following: Moto Style Shell, Moto Turbopower Pack, Moto Gamepad, JBL SoundBoost 2 speaker, the Insta-Share projector, and the Hasselblad True Zoom camera. The first three mods retail for $79.99 while the remaining two mods list for $299.99.
For the Moto Z Droid review, I had the pleasure of playing around with Hasselblad.
The Hasselblad True Zoom camera is quite the exciting product. With its 10x optical zoom, you’ll be able to take better, clearer photographs than before. Just place it onto the back side, the True Zoom mod magnetically snaps on and comes to life. With this mod, you’ll be to take photos at 12 MP and video in 1080P at 30 fps.
With the Hasselblad True Zoom camera mod on the Moto Z2 Play, you have the option to receive two images, JPEG and DNG, a RAW format. This added functionality comes in handy when you’re processing images in Adobe’s Photoshop. The downside to having this mod is that it doubles the size and weight of your Moto Z2 phone.
Lenovo provides a convenient carrying case for the phone and camera. It’s not only easy to carry around by hand, but it fits nicely into a back pocket, purse, or satchel (man purse.)
After spending $400 on the Moto Z2 Play, the purchase of a Hasselblad True Zoom camera mod for $299 (or less) is something you’ll have to ponder. My suggestion is to try out the camera mod at your local Verizon store, then decide.
The Moto Z2 Play is a minor step to the Moto Z Play. There are slight camera improvements, but a drop in battery size, thus life. Plus, the missing back panel shell is a problem I found difficult to overlook on either Play model. Even with this said, it’s still a contender for your dollars against other mid-tier mobile phones that use Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 600 series processors. Plus, no other brand has modular devices like the Moto Z2 family.
While the Moto Z2 Play comes with some unnecessary bloatware, it’s easily removable. Oddly enough, the phone doesn’t come with Google Now Launcher pre-installed. Adding this should be one of the first things you do when activating this phone.
What do you think of this Motorola Moto Z2 Play review? Do you agree or disagree with our verdict? Let us know in the comment section below or via social media. We’re eager to hear your thoughts.
The Moto Z2 Play Android smartphone comes with a one-year limited end-user warranty. If you’re looking for the User Guide, it can be downloaded here. Don’t hesitate to head over to the Motorola website to see their latest equipment.
FTC Disclosure: Verizon Wireless provided Beantown LLC with one (1) Moto Z2 Play smartphone for review purposes. This writer’s opinion is 100% his own and not a paid product ambassador.
All photographs are the copyrighted property of Beantown LLC © 2017.