Over the past few years, Motorola has become the underdog of the smartphone world. They make great devices and add innovative features such as the Moto Mods ecosystem. Last year, Motorola introduced the Moto Z and Z Play, the latter was the one that ending become a surprisingly good device, with its Moto Mods support, huge 50-hour battery life and the inclusion of the headphone jack (which is missing from the flagship Moto Z).

This year, Motorola introduced a follow-up to the Z Play with the aptly named, Moto Z2 Play and I’ve been using for the past few weeks and it easily lives up to the original.

Design & Hardware

The most significant change is that the Z2 Play is thinner than the original Z Play. It has an ultra-slim aluminum unibody design which looks great. The Z2 Play also has a water-repellent coating.

The Z2 Play feels great in the hands, with its slim metal design and just the right amount of thickness. It strikes the perfect balance between the original Z and Z Play in terms of build.

Lunar Gray

Even with the slim profile, it still retains the 3.5mm headphone jack and a USB Type-C port. However, Motorola did make the battery smaller in the Z2 Play, it has a 3,000 mAh battery compared to a 3,510 mAh battery in the original Z Play. The Z2 Play’s battery should get you about 30 hours of battery life and I just about got that along with some great standby time.

And should you need to charge the device, it has support for Motorola’s TurboPower which can give you about 8 hours of battery life in just 15 minutes.

Lunar Gray

The screen is a 5.5-inch Full HD Super AMOLED display, which does look great but doesn’t compare to the one found on the Galaxy S8 or LG G6. Below the screen is a redesigned fingerprint sensor which looks similar to the one found on the Moto G5, which enables support for gesture navigation using the sensor.

The Z2 Play is being powered by the Snapdragon 626 processor with 3GB of RAM. The device could easily keep up and I had no issues with multi-tasking and the occasional gaming session.  It comes with 32GB of internal storage with a microSD card slot.

On the back of the device is where you’ll find the Moto Mods connector. Motorola also introduced some new Moto Mods alongside the Z2 Play.

The first of which is the JBL SoundBoost 2, which can give you 10 hours of music playback and now has a fabric splash-proof coating. It still retains a built-in kickstand and there is now a new app called My JBL Soundboost 2, to allow you to adjust the speaker’s sound. It comes in three colours, black, blue and red, but only the black option will be available in Canada and will retail for $114.99 CAD.

The next new Moto Mods it the Moto TurboPower pack which has a 3,490 mAh battery and can charge your Z2 Play and up to 15W while on the go. The TurboPower pack will retail for $99.99 CAD. Motorola will also be releasing new Moto Style Shells with wireless charging capabilities, which will retail for $39.99 USD.

Also, coming this summer is the Moto GamePad which will allow you to make your Z2 Play into a handheld console. It has dual control sticks, a D-pad and four action buttons and a 1,035 mAh battery. It will retail for $99.99 CAD.

The Z2 Play will be available in Canada starting July 5th for $800 off-contract and available at Bell, Bell MTS, Freedom Mobile (with support for their Band 66 LTE) and SaskTel in one colour, Lunar Gray.

Software

The Z2 Play is running Android 7.1 Nougat and it looks and feels like stock Android along with a few Moto apps.

With Android 7.1, you’ll get things like better app permissions, app and memory management and improved microSD card support. There is also better and custom quick setting toggles in the notification shade.

As for the Moto tweaks, you get Moto Display which will give you a small preview of your notifications and update without locking your device. With a simple wave or nudge of your phone, it will light up the screen to see what’s new.

Moto Actions add stuff like gestures that when you karate chop the phone twice in the air, it will turn on the flashlight or a twist gesture to flip the camera to the front camera.

In addition, Motorola has improved Moto Voice, to be able to see what’s important to you without unlocking your device or opening an app. If you just say “show me the weather”, it will show you the weather briefly or “show me my calendar”, and your calendar will pop-up.

Motorola didn’t want to have any “awkward trigger phrases”, they just wanted to be as simple as possible.

You’ll also get the Google Assistant in Android 7.1 on the Z2 Play. So you can ask Google all the questions you want hands-free and even control your smart home.

Camera

The main rear-facing camera on the Z2 Play is a 12-megapixel Dual Autofocus Pixel sensor with laser autofocus up to 5 meters. It can also shoot up to 4K video at 30fps, 1080p at up 60fps and 720p at up to 120fps.

Photos do look great on the Z2 Play, you’re able to see details and accurate colour. Sure, the Z2 Play’s camera might not be as great as the one on the Google Pixel or Galaxy S8, but it’s still great and gets the job done. Like for example, the Z2 Play wasn’t the greatest in low-light while the Google Pixel is.

The video quality on Z2 Play looks good and should be fine for the everyday user.

Final Thoughts

Lunar Gray

Motorola has done a great job with the Z2 Play, while also making a few sacrifices (like adding a smaller battery, and the camera’s not-so-great low-light performance). The Moto Mods can get expensive, especially in Canada and the Z2 Play isn’t exactly cheap either, at $800 CAD.

The Z2 Play is a great phone and a nice alternative to the Galaxy S8 or Google Pixel, especially if you don’t want to pay the high price of those flagships.

Pros

  • Great screen
  • Nice design
  • All-day battery life
  • Solid performance
  • Expandable storage
  • Keeps the 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Good camera
  • Moto Mods support

Cons

  • High price for a mid-range device in Canada
  • Moto Voice doesn’t always work

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One thought on “Moto Z2 Play Review: Thinner, faster and modular

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