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Motorola Moto Z2 Play UK Review: One of the best modular phones

Written by  Nov 16, 2017

The Moto Z2 Play looks to be quite a good contender on at least on paper.

Not only is it reasonably priced as a SIM-free option, it is slimmer and sleeker than its predecessor. Furthermore, it is fully compatible with Motorola’s Moto Mod accessories.

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Motorola Moto Z2 Play Review

Design

Its sizes are 156.2 x 76.2 x 6 mm (6.15 x 3.00 x 0.24-inches) and it weighs just 145g.

The Z2 Play features a fully metal design with brushed edges and a mostly flat back. I prefer the feel to the glass-y Moto Z Play. However, being all metal doesn’t make it any less slippy. 

The rows of visible pins on the rear, lower portion of the phone, are there for the mods. I don’t mind them being exposed like that but, it's not for everyone.

Motorola Moto Z2 Play 64 GB (Single Sim) UK SIM-Free Smartphone - Lunar Grey

On the right-hand edge of the phone you have three small buttons for volume up/down and power.

The front is the Z2 Play’s good side though, its 5.5-inch display is surrounded by a fairly slim bezel.

At the bottom of the screen is a fingerprint sensor. This sensor is more than for unlocking or Home, it can act as a gesture pad for replacing the on-screen buttons.

On the bottom edge of the phone sits the USB-C port, and next to it is a 3.5mm headphone jack. 

Also see: Which is the best budget smartphone for under £400?

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Motorola Moto Z2 Play Review

In the box, Moto includes a Style Shell. This is a thin fabric backplate that covers the back of the phone and those Mod pins. It also does a good job of reducing that camera hump.

Furthermore, it makes the device a lot more ergonomic to hold and it's less slippy. The Shell attaches by magnets, which I think is a good idea.

Motorola Moto Z2 Play 
Motorola Moto Z2 Play Review

Display

The 5.5-inch, 1080p display is nice and sharp and it also has an AMOLED panel, giving deep blacks and the colours are bright. You get 401 pixels per inch, which is the norm for phones around this price level. 

There are two screen modes to choose from, Standard and Vibrant. Standard leaves things slightly washed out and dull when compared with Vibrant. 

Viewing angles are also fine, especially for a phone at this price point. Moto’s neat Moto Display feature is here. The cool thing about this bit of software is that it only lights up the pixels needed to show notifications when they come in. It also allows you to respond without unlocking the phone.

Processor

The Moto Z2 Play has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 SoC with eight cores and clock speed of 2.2 GHz. The main benefit of this chip is its efficiency and how it works to get as much battery life as possible. All this without sacrificing performance.

Considering the impressive battery life stats, coming up next, it really lives up to expectations.

Battery

Spec sheet numbers are all very well, but what can you actually do with a 3,000mAh? I consistently got through a whole day without needing to recharge. When I was using it in a more ‘normal’ way, I could even get through a day-and-a-half without a boost.

iit also charges up quickly too, thanks to the Turbo Charger which is included.

moto-z2-play 
Motorola Moto Z2 Play Review

Software

Thankfully, it is basically stock Android 7.1.1. here on the Z2 Play, which works well with no fuss.

I ilke the swipe up app drawer and the circular icons. Naturally, Moto have made a few of their own modifications.

I really like the battery level indicator right there on the main screen. The indicator is neatly ensconced around the clock. The marker recedes as the battery level falls, making it easy to see at a glance how much battery you’ve got left.

Motorola has also included its own Moto Mods app to handle the Moto Mods add-ons. The general ‘Moto’ app deals with customising Moto Display and the gesture-based Moto Actions. Those Actions range from shaking the phone to open the camera, to chopping to turn on the flashlight. Additionally, split-screen multitasking is great for having two apps open side by side.

Motorola-Moto-Z2-Play  
Motorola Moto Z2 Play Review

Camera

The Z2 Play has a respectable specifications, the 12-megapixel sensor and f/1.7 lens capture detail well. The wide aperture gives a lovely, natural bokeh effect and portraits are especially sharp.

However, it struggles when the light isn’t perfect. I even found some daylight shots coming out even darker than they should. The night time photos were not particularly inspiring which is disappointing as the large pixels and wide aperture should’ve performed better. 

The lack of OIS, something still rarely seen at this price, also becomes noticeable in lower light and when trying to capture 4K video. 

The Pro mode on the Z2 Play doesn’t appear to add much in terms of functionality.

At the front of the phone, you’ll find a 5MP selfie shooter that gets the job done. It’s fine for video calling or the odd pic to share on social media.

The 360 camera Mod is fun to use. However, again, it doesn’t like low lighting. It is capable in the right situations though. 

360-degree St Mary's

Motorola Moto Z2 Play 64 GB (Single Sim) UK SIM-Free Smartphone - Lunar Grey

Conclusion

The Moto Z2 Play offers great value for money, and has enough going for it that I’d be happy to recommend it to anyone who values battery life and an uncluttered feel. 

This is also looks to be the best option to get into modular phones. The JBL Sound Booster 2 speaker is great. I also really like the game controller Mod.

The camera is fine for uncomplicated daytime photos but struggles out of the normal light conditions, giving mixed results. It's a reasonable phone at a reasonable price and performs well overall.

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