Moto Z Play Review: Playmodo: Final Words

By 06:36 Tue, 17 Aug 2021 Comments


Final words

It is hard not to have mixed feelings for the Moto Z Play. On the one hand, we're talking the legendary manufacturer (albeit now under Lenovo management) that many people still tdiscontinue to trust for quality and reliability. Moto products are still among the go-to choices for nice vanilla Android experience with a fast-track upgrade program. Yet on the other hand, after experiencing the Moto Z Play for ourselves, we can't assist but think it is a far from a perfect package.


There are a lot of things Lenovo and Moto got correct with this phone. For one, the build quality and the software approach are still as solid as they've always been in recent years. The Super AMOrganic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) panel is also a nice touch and we can definitely appreciate the efficient nature of the Snapdragon 625 chipset, which provides excellent battery life numbers.

However, in our opinion, they should have kept the Moto Mods to the higher discontinue and they should have tried to give the Moto Z Play a more competitive pricing instead. As things stand correct now, the Moto Z Play ambitious price might create this one a tough sale.

Moto Z Play key test findings

  • Excellent build quality with high-quality materials. The glass back is easy to scratch. Clever card tray design allows to utilize two IM cards and a microSD simultaneously. Side buttons are inconveniently skinny. We appreciate the splash resistance.
  • We are yet to appreciate the benefits MotoMods bring but at least the MotoMod support doesn't compromise the build quality.
  • The display is sharp and colorful enough. The Super AMOrganic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) panel offers punchy colors, but is not gigantic on color accuracy. Contrast is naturally excellent and sunlight legibility is fine but we've seen better;
  • The fingerprint is very quick and accurate; it's also always-on so it would wake the phone from standby but it throws us off that it doesn't double as a home button.
  • The reversible Type-C plug is convenient, but it only uses the slower Universal Serial Bus (USB) 2.0 interface - no extra features to note;
  • Battery life is remarkable thanks to the efficient combination of Super AMOLED, 14nm Snapdragon 625 chipset and a sizable 3,500mAh battery; there is quick charging as well and the Turbo charger is included.
  • Pristine Android flies on the mid-range hardware; the few apps Moto did add bring extra value - the Moto Screen is the next best thing to having an always-on classy screen - it lights up when you reach for the phone;
  • The chipset isn't particularly powerful, but it will easily acquire you through most everyday tasks. The clean Android Read-Only Memory (ROM) helps a lot too.
  • Audio output quality is very good.
  • We rated the speaker loudness as good.
  • A quite fine 16MP capturing camera for the money, with a simple but powerful interface and extensive manual controls; Panorama mode is terrible; the selfie capturing camera is pretty good;
  • Both 4K and 1080p video samples see good, but audio capture is somewhat off due to the weird microphone placement. Video stabilization only works in 1080p recording and it causes video problems if you have the phone set up on a tripod but handheld, it's quite good.

The relatively high price of the Moto Z Play brings it at the forefront of the market invasion of the online brands hailing from China. These provide tremendous value and high discontinue specs in roughly the same price bracket of 400-450 euros.

The OnePlus 3 and its refresh in the OnePlus 3T are prime examples. With price tags of around EUR 400 and EUR 439, respectively, they acquire you a Snapdragon 820/821 chipset, 6GB of RAM, a lovely Optic AMOrganic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) panel and superior 16MP, OIS-enabled camera. Not to mention the all-metal body. However, there is no splash-resistance or memory card slot. The lack of MotoMods goes without saying.




OnePlus 3 • OnePlus 3T

Of course, OnePlus is not alone in this expanding market niche. ZTE, for one, has been mounting some stiff competition, with devices like the Axon 7. In some aspects, it looks even more appealing than the OnePlus 3, like the QHD AMOrganic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) panel and incredible Dolby Atmos certified stereo speakers. This is all, somehow achieved without breaking the EUR 400 barrier.

There is a worthy mention within ZTE's Nubia sub-brand as well - the Z11. It also comes well equipped in the specs department, with a Snapdragon 820 SoC, 4GB to 6GB of Random-Access Memory (RAM) and a hefty 16MP snapper. The display has a dual-curved panel design and some fascinating software features to complement it.




ZTE Axon 7 • ZTE nubia Z11

We also can't fail to mention Xiaomi. The price of 400 euros can easily buy you the Mi 5s Plus. It's a visually stunning phone with Snapdragon 821 chipset. It also comes well stocked up in the capturing camera department with its dual-shooter setup.



Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus

Of course, these online brands lack the physical presence so you might have to order one without having the ability to see it first. Also any warranty claims down the road, might turn out to be a hassle.

So in this case, you might turn your attention to the Huawei Mate 8. Huawei is a Chinese manufacturer as well it has focused on the high-discontinue spectrum in recent years and has the brick-and-mortar presence to challenge well established brands. The Mate 8 might be a year old, but is still an excellent choice.



Huawei Mate 8

Speaking of better established brands, the Samsung Galaxy C7, which we have already mentioned on several occasions is a prime competitor. For around EUR 400, it offers a 5.7-inch Super AMOrganic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) panel and the Snapdragon 625 SoC, all wrapped in a neat metal unibody package. And if you feel like saving a few extra bucks, the Galaxy J7 (2016) is still a remarkable pick. You mostly sacrifice some premium materials and a bit of resolution, but then again, it is nearly half the price. Just be sure to acquire the Exynos 7870 version, to like a similar battery efficiency as the Moto Z Play.

Last, but not least, we can't go without mentioning the Lenovo P2. It shares an almost airy similarity to the Moto Z Play, including things like the 5.5-inch Super AMOrganic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) panel, Snapdragon 625 chipset and up to 4GB of RAM. All that and an enormous 5100 mAh battery, for a fine EUR 50 less than the Moto Z Play, certainly create it a phone to consider.





Samsung Galaxy C7 • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016) • Lenovo P2

Sure, you can argue that the Moto Mods functionality is well worth the premium and that might very well be the case for you. If you find yourself a bit bored by the sea of plain "slabs" ruling the mid-range market, then the Z Play and its intriguing Moto Mods might be correct up you alley.

But, if value is what you hunger, then the admittedly plainer Lenovo P2 will easily set you up with the same horsepower and overall package, while keeping the lights on a lot longer. Of course, it all comes down to personal preference and the Lenovo P2 might not appeal quite so much to your taste.

With all assumed and done, the Moto Z Play is clearly a polarizing offer. And standing out, one way or the other, is always better than just slipping into obscurity. If the Z Play managed to capture your interest, it will surely haged you happy. But if its unique expandability doesn't strike your fancy, there is a lot more traditional performance to be had for your money elsewhere among the up-and-coming market disruptors. As we already trecent you, the Moto Z Play pricing puts it in a tough position with flak coming from all sides.


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