Moto Z2 Play ...........................................................

LEN­OVO STICKS TO ITS MOD­U­LAR PHONE GUNS, AL­BEIT WITH ONLY A MOD­EST IM­PROVE­MENT OVER LAST YEAR’S MODEL

PC & Tech Authority - - CONTENTS - Alan Martin and Ben Man­sill

Re­mem­ber when mod­u­lar phones were sup­posed to be the fu­ture? Google and LG may have lost faith in that vi­sion, but Mo­torola’s par­ent com­pany Len­ovo is still plug­ging away with the Moto Z2 Play. Which is great news. Not only is this the most con­vinc­ing in­te­gra­tion of cus­tom mod­ules I’ve seen, it’s back­wards com­pat­i­ble with last year’s add-ons.

At a glance, there’s lit­tle di„er­ent from the Moto Z2 Play and the orig­i­nal, but that’s no bad thing: if the de­sign had changed, then last year’s mods wouldn’t fit. Be­sides, there are a cou­ple of changes. First, the phone has gone on a diet. At 6mm thin, it’s roughly 15% skin­nier than last year’s Moto Z Play. On top of this, the back switches from a glossy fin­ger­print­mag­net of a de­sign to a stylish matte metal grey fin­ish.

Not that you’ll spend a lot of time look­ing at that if you use the phone in the way Len­ovo in­tends. Af­ter all, the back is where the mod­ules that make the phone unique are at­tached.

As with last year’s model, each mod takes the form of a mag­netic back­plate. And I re­main just as amazed at how well the sys­tem works. Mod­ules stay se­curely in place but can be eas­ily re­moved with even close-cut nails. It’s a de­sign tri­umph.

Last year’s Moto Mods in­cluded a bat­tery pack, a Has­sel­blad cam­era, a pro­jec­tor and a JBL speaker. You can also sub in a tex­tured pla­s­ticky back plate (in­cluded in the box) to re­duce the pro­tru­sion of the cam­era lens. This set of mods con­tinue to work, and are sold with, the new Z2 Play. Our pick of the bunch is the JBL speaker, which can fill a small ho­tel room or bed­room with ac­cept­able mu­sic qual­ity, and the vol­ume is enough to en­joy with­out dis­turb­ing the neigh­bours.

This time around, we’ve got an o™cial Len­ovo bat­tery pack (last year’s was a third-party model), a wire­less charg­ing back­plate and a gamepad grip. While the gamepad is un­doubt­edly handy if it works with enough An­droid games, the wire­less charg­ing plate is bašing: you ei­ther have to at­tach it ev­ery time you charge or keep it on all the time, in which case why not just buy a phone with built-in wire­less charg­ing and skip the mod­ules?

One side e„ect of the slim­mer chas­sis is that bat­tery life is worse than last year’s Moto Z Play – but then again, this was some­thing of a marvel thanks to its un­prece­dented 23hrs 45mins of life in our video-run­down tests. Bat­tery ca­pac­ity drops from 3,510mAh to 3,000mAh this year, and this was re­flected in it man­ag­ing “only” 19hrs 33mins in our run­down tests. That’s still a very good score; it’s just no longer in­cred­i­ble. Other than that, it’s busi­ness as usual: a USB-C con­nec­tion is present for charg­ing (in­clud­ing Quick Charge sup­port) and Len­ovo finds room for a 3.5mm head­phone jack.

I’m less en­am­oured with the 5.5in dis­play. It’s an AMOLED screen, so con­trast is per­fect, and with a max­i­mum bright­ness of 420cd/m2, it’s fine for out­side use – it’s just that colour ac­cu­racy is poor. Even af­ter turn­ing o„ the over­sat­u­rated “vi­brant” screen mode, the phone has trou­ble pro­duc­ing ac­cu­rate colours, with our mea­sure­ment tool show­ing an av­er­age Delta E of 4.04. We hope for 2 or less.

As a per­former, the Moto Z2 Play is – just like its pre­de­ces­sor – strictly a mid-ranger. There’s now a Snap­dragon 626 (rather than 625) pro­ces­sor in place, 4GB of RAM rather than 3GB and 64GB of stor­age. This re­sults in a mod­est boost in day-to-day tasks – it scored 12% higher in the sin­gle-core Geek­bench 4 with 911, while 4,620 in the multi-core tests means it’s 18% faster – but 3D graph­ics per­for­mance re­mains slovenly, scor­ing 10fps in GFXbench’s Man­hat­tan 3 tests. If speed is what you’re af­ter, choose the OnePlus 5 or Xiaomi Mi 6.

For­tu­nately, the Moto Z2 Play has one more trick up its sleeve: a very good cam­era. While there’s still no op­ti­cal im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion, the new 12-megapixel cam­era fea­tures both laser- and phasede­tec­tion aut­o­fo­cus, and the aper­ture has jumped from a mid­dling f/2.0 to a bright f/1.7. That means the pho­tos it takes are far bet­ter than last year’s, es­pe­cially in low light. Out­door shots were even bet­ter, with rich colour and crisp de­tails in good con­di­tions.

So there we have it: the Moto Z2 Play is a great mid-ranger, with su­per stamina and a clever party trick, just like its pre­de­ces­sor. And Len­ovo has been ex­tremely sen­si­ble in en­sur­ing it’s back­wards com­pat­i­ble with last year’s Moto Mods. That alone should be ap­plauded.

The Z2 Play with its wire­less charger at­tached – it’s still a skinny phone

Want to boost bat­tery life? Then sim­ply at­tach the new bat­tery mod

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