Motorola Moto Z Play
£379 • motorola.co.uk
The Moto Z range isn’t yet available in the UK, but has been on sale in the US for a couple of months. It’s the third model in the Moto Z line-up, and it’s coming soon along with the Moto Z (see page 33), though not the Moto Z Force.
The Z Play is a mid-range phone which costs £369 and you will be able to buy it from Amazon and
John Lewis. It comes in black or white. It’s £160 cheaper than the flagship Moto Z and the same price as the recently launched Honor 8 and £40 more than the OnePlus 3.
Unlike the Moto Z, which is just 5.2mm thick and has to ditch the headphone jack, the Z Play is 7mm thick, allowing it to have a 3.5mm minijack next to its USB-C connector. The phone still feels thin and well built, though, just as a premium phone should. It has a glass back, unlike the metal rear of the Moto Z.
The circular camera and LED flash arrangement protrudes from the rear, but it’s flush once you pop on a Moto Style Shell. A black nylon one is included in the box (no matter whether you choose a black or white phone) and a variety of other shells are available from wood to fabric and
plastic: they simply snap on using magnets so are very quick to change.
Shells also hide the rather ugly connector, which is used to communicate with other Moto Mods accessories such as speakers, battery packs, projectors and cameras. These ‘Mods’ are a different approach to the modular smartphone.
All Moto Mods are compatible with all Moto Z phones, and Motorola has promised support for them for at least the next two generations of Moto Z phones, so certainly until 2018.
The connector has been opened up to third parties, and anyone can buy a Moto Mods developer kit and make their own accessories, so there should be plenty of options from wellknown accessory brands soon.
The Z Play’s other main claim to fame is its large 3510mAh battery, which Motorola says will truly last you two days so you won’t have to charge it every night. We’ll be putting that to the test shortly.
Below the screen is a fingerprint reader. This can be used with Android Pay, as well as for unlocking the phone and signing into apps or websites that support it. It’s not a physical home button: the Z Play uses the standard on-screen Android buttons.
In many respects it is hard to tell apart from the Moto Z at a glance. It has the same 5.5in AMOLED screen, albeit with a full HD resolution rather than quad-HD, and the same design on the rear to ensure Moto Mods fit.
Few people will miss the Moto Z’s extra pixels: the Z Play’s screen is bright and sharp, with the
same eye-popping colours from the AMOLED technology. Another benefit of the tech is that it can light up certain pixels to show information without impacting on battery life. Motorola has offered this for a while, and although the Z Play doesn’t have infrared sensors at the bottom of the screen like the Z, it uses ultrasonics to detect your hand over the phone and will then show the time, date and notifications in monochrome. There’s no option to have the screen always on as with Samsung’s flagship phones.
Processor and storage
Obviously, as you expect, the Moto Z Play doesn’t get the top-of-the-line Snapdragon 820 processor. Instead, it has the 625, a 2GHz octa-core chip. Graphics power is also a step down, the Adreno 506 instead of the 530 in the Moto Z. There’s also 3GB of RAM rather than 4GB, but you can add storage via microSD up to 128GB. We’ll have to wait until we can run our usual benchmarks to see how the Moto Z Play performs compared to its rivals, but it was perfectly zippy in our brief hands-on time with the phone.
While the Moto Z has a 13Mp main camera with OIS, the Play gets a 16Mp snapper with – amazingly – slightly larger pixels (1.3μm vs 1.12μm). It has only electronic stabilisation, but this also works when shooting video, which can be shot at up to 4K at 30fps. 1080p records at 30fps too, but you can increase framerate to 120fps by lowering resolution to 720p.
The lens has an f/2.0 aperture and there’s phase-detection autofocus. Around the front is a 5Mp camera with an LED flash and a ‘wide-angle’ 85 degree lens that has an f/2.2 aperture.
Although there’s no dual-camera trickery here, through the Moto Mods connector you can snap on the latest accessory: the Hasselblad True Zoom. This costs £199, but brings a 10x optical zoom to the party. The difference this makes is enormous: we’re all used to a phone’s fixed lens and the inherent limitations of digital zoom.
The True Zoom has a 12Mp sensor and optical stabilisation. We’ve tried it out and it appears to work seamlessly with the Moto Z Play’s camera app. It has its own power button, which launches