SmartHouse - - CONTENTS - Writ­ten by Fer­gus Hal­l­i­day

While the orig­i­nal Moto Z saw Mo­torola suc­ceed with a con­cept that com­peti­tors like LG (and even Google) couldn't make work, the orig­i­nal Moto Z Play re­ally broughtMot­o Mods to the masses. It landed at just the right price-point with just the right specs not to men­tion the al­most-cat­e­gory-lead­ing bat­tery life.

The Moto Z2 Play builds on that to some suc­cess but doesn't quite dis­tin­guish it­self in quite the same fash­ion. Like a good movie se­quel, it's easy to rec­om­mend – even if it doesn't pack quite the same im­pact the sec­ond time around.

In terms of the de­sign of the de­vice, it's clear that Mo­torola are a lit­tle lim­ited in what they can do with the Moto Z2 Play. If they want to keep the de­vice com­pat­i­ble with the rest of the Moto Mod ecosys­tem, there's only so much that can be changed. Still, there are some gains in form-factor.

15% thin­ner and 12% lighter than its pre­de­ces­sor, the Moto Z2 Play fea­tures a 5.5-inch FHD Su­per AMOLED dis­play coated in Go­rilla Glass. The hand­set also boasts a 2.2Ghz Snap­dragon 626 chipset along­side 4GB of RAM and 64GB of in­ter­nal stor­age. On pa­per, this amounts to a de­vice that is – on a tech­ni­cal level – a leaner, faster and tougher ma­chine than the first Z Play. In prac­tice, we ab­so­lutely found this to, more-or-less, be the case. The above are all un­de­ni­ably wel­come im­prove­ments. How­ever, our time with the de­vice did un­earth a few key caveats.

Firstly, the bat­tery life. I'll be the first to ad­mit that the Moto Z Play's 3510 mah bat­tery might have spoiled me for a time. I even said as much in my re­view of the Huawei GR5. Still, it's hard not the be a lit­tle dis­ap­poined by Moto's de­ci­sion to curb the bat­tery size to 3000mAh.

While the Moto Z2 Play ends up de­liv­er­ing a per­fectly re­spectable 12-15 hours per charge, it falls short of the ex­cep­tional per­for­mance-per-charge seen in its pre­de­ces­sor. The bat­tery life of the de­vice is fine by most met­rics. Un­for­tu­nately, it's only good in much the same way that most mid-to-flag­ship de­vices are these days. It's good, but un­ex­cep­tion­ally so.

The other area where I came away a lit­tle un­sat­is­fied with the Moto Z2 Play was the cam­era. Mo­torola say they've swapped out the 16-megapixel rear shooter of the first Moto Z Play for a 12-megapixel cam­era with a bet­ter im­age sen­sor. Re­gard­less of this tin­ker­ing, the cam­era as­pect of the de­vice still feels pretty un­der­whelm­ing on their own mer­its.

Images taken us­ing the Moto Z2 Plays cam­era some­times caught colour quite well but of­ten fell short on the de­tails. Like the first de­vice, the new Moto Z2 Play comes with a sleek faux-wood back cover but that can be swapped out for any of the other avail­able Moto Mods – al­low­ing you a de­gree of cus­tomiza­tion you won't find with any other ma­jor smart­phone brand. We're not quite at “there's a Moto Mod for that” lev­els of util­ity yet, but there's still a lot on of­fer here from pro­jec­tors to power­banks. It re­mains a com­pelling part of the Moto Z pack­age, even if the lim­i­ta­tions on the po­ten­tial of Moto Mods re­main the same as they've al­ways been: a higher price point and the added has­sle of car­ry­ing them around. That said, if you can af­ford them, the case for their value is still quite strong. Es­pe­cially if you can see your­self up­grad­ing to a new Moto phone in two years, since they'll all still be com­pat­i­ble.

We tried out the Has­sel­blad True Zoom Moto Mod to see what a dif­fer­ence the $399 add-on makes. While it does of­fer clear gains in qual­ity (es­pe­cially when it it comes to close-ups), it does push the to­tal price-point of the Moto Z2 Play un­com­fort­ably close to flag­ship phones like the Pixel or HTC U11.

For bet­ter or worse, Mo­torola seems to have gone all-in on Moto Mods. The pros and cons of that strat­egy are on full dis­play in the Moto Z2 Play. On one hand, the Moto Z2 Play is def­i­nitely a marked im­prove­ment on the orig­i­nal Moto Z Play. How­ever, it rarely feels like the im­prove­ments on of­fer here quite cover the cost. At $699, it sits to­wards the ab­so­lute top end of the mid-tier crowd. And of course, when you toss in the ad­di­tional of Moto Mods, this be­comes an even harder sell. The de­vice sits in this pre­car­i­ous place where you need those ac­ces­sories to get the most value out of it. How­ever, do­ing so pits it (price-wise) against flag­ship of­fer­ings that it clearly can't match.

If you've al­ready bought into Moto Mods with last year's Moto Z or Z Play, there's prob­a­bly not enough on the ta­ble to jus­tify an up­grade to the Z2 Play. Even if it is tech­ni­cally bet­ter than the first, The Moto Z2 Play isn't quite bet­ter in the ways you'll want it to be. That said, If you're keen to dive into the mod­u­lar ecosys­tem, this is cur­rently the best de­vice avail­able for do­ing so.

Again, it's a se­quel – and se­quels are rarely as good as the orig­i­nal.

RAT­ING 7.7/10

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