Moto Z2 Play review: Decent mid-ranger with tremendous battery life
Reviewer's note: Motorola provided a review unit, which was returned after the review period.
The Z2 Play takes a few steps forward, introducing a thinner and lighter design; but, it also takes a few back, trading away battery size to achieve this. It’s a slightly odd decision since one of the most touted features of the Z2 Play and its predecessor, is its long battery life, said to last a full day or two on full charge. At the same time, one could look at it as Moto attempting to find better overall balance.
Don't get us wrong, the battery life is still one of its strongest points. The Z2 Play can come close to lasting as long as the OnePlus 5 and outlast pricier flagships like the LG G6 and the Samsung Galaxy S8 under heavy use.
Good feel, no 4K and could use some more brightness
At first glance, the overall look and appearance of the Z2 Play is not all that different from its previous iteration – it keeps the serviceable 5.5 inch screen and AMOLED 1080p display. The 1920x1080 resolution is not much of an issue here, even though most of the competition are trying out larger resolutions. Apart from 4K not being supported by the Snapdragon 626 processor on this phone, keeping the display at this level helps prolong the phone’s battery life. In terms of display, I only had an issue when using the Z2 Play under direct sunlight as the phone’s brightness, even when cranked to its highest setting, is not bright enough to be visible.
Shedding approximately 20g and an entire millimeter off, the Z2 Play is most definitely thinner and lighter. I never had a chance to have a Z Play in my hands to extensively compare it; but, the Z2 Play, for its size feels easy to carry around and hold. The Z2 Play ditches the glass for a new aluminum metal back that is smooth enough for the phone to rest easy on my fingers or palm, without being too slippery. It also has a water repellent nano-coating. It's not waterproof though, so don't get any ideas.
The only problem I have with the phone’s design is the placement of the volume toggle and power buttons – all three are on the right side of the phone with only a small gap separating the toggle down and the power button.
I would try hastily to adjust the volume only to close my phone as I accidentally press the power button. The power button itself is textured to easily distinguish between the three; though I still find it troublesome that they are all on the same side.
Battery lasts a day under heavy use
Undoubtedly, the best feature of the phone is its battery life - said to reach 30 hours of use. I put this to the test by simply using the Z2 Play as my primary phone for an entire week. And I was very impressed that I can make it through an entire day of heavy use which included: on and off mobile data connection, calls, instant messaging, gaming, social media, music and video streaming, without having to charge. I don’t think I have ever reached the 30-hour estimate from Motorola but it definitely comes close. Thanks to the TurboPower charging feature, it doesn't take long to get the phone powered back up making it really good on the go.
As mentioned earlier, the Z2 Play’s battery size received a downgrade – now at 3000 mAh from the Z Play’s 3510mAh. Regardless, the Z2 Play’s battery life still easily outlasts that of it’s competition; it's just a shame that in this aspect, it failed to live up to its predecessor.
Fingerprint scanner with swipe functions
The fingerprint scanner situated at the bottom center of the phone has been redesigned and enlarged. This allows it to be more accessible and much easier to use. The scanner is actually very reliable – reliable enough that it even recognizes my fingerprints at different angles. The phone still allows different options for unlocking but, I particularly like the fingerprint scanner on the Z2 Play because of how quick the response time is for the phone to unlock.
On top of this, the scanner could be used as a single button navigation tool – swiping left goes back, swiping right brings up recent apps, and tapping brings the phone back to the home screen – replacing any on-screen buttons and freeing up some screen space. It’s a simple idea and one that takes some getting used to. Fortunately for those who prefer on-screen buttons, the one-button nav could easily be turned on or off.
Fans of Motorola’s "Moto Actions" would be happy to know that gestures like the double chop that activates the flashlight and the wrist twist that activates the camera are back in the Z2 Play. These are neat little features I found useful, saving me time and effort from tediously navigating menus.
Camera is okay
The Z2 Play comes equipped with a 12-megapixel autofocus rear camera with an f/1.7 aperture lens and dual LED flash. The wide aperture obviously helps in low-light shooting but not enough to avoid the high ISO range – although the Play's high ISO images aren't always pleasing like many other smartphones. Some low-light samples:
Coupled with this is a 5-megapixel front facing camera with a wide view f/2.2 aperture lens and dual LED flash. There is a professional mode for those who want to fiddle with the settings and 4K video shooting at 30fps but, overall the camera here is nothing special.
Here are some of the photos I took with the main shooter:
Looks pretty good when there's adequate light.
Unlike the LG G5, Motorola’s Z series, including the Z2 Play will be continuing support for Moto Mods. For the uninitiated, these are clip-on accessories that magnetically connect behind the phone. Those who already own Moto Mods will also be glad to know that these are backwards compatible with the Z2 Play.
I was given the previously released Hasselblad True Zoom Moto Mod with the review copy of the phone. The built-in magnets make it easy to plug and remove these mods and are strong enough without them feeling like they could fall off. Once plugged, the device immediately recognizes the attachment, reading “Moto Mod connected”. These Moto Mods are a big part of the Z series of phones and some great new features/enhancements. The only downside is that some of them are quite expensive.
Housed in the Z2 Play is a Snapdragon 626 processor, octa-core CPU reaching a max clock speed of 2.2Ghz, an Adreno 506 GPU for graphics, 4GB of RAM, dual-SIM support, and 64GB of storage space with up to 2TB microSD card support.
I really like how Motorola has kept the headset (audio) port that the Moto Z and Z Force dropped, especially since the single front-facing speaker is not as loud as I hoped it would be. The USB-C port is also kept intact.
It ships with the latest version of Android for this series of phones, Android 7.1.1 Nougat. The Z2 Play comes in two colors: "Lunar Gray" and "Fine Gold."
Despite the lack of game-changing specs in this range and being P2000 higher than the Z Play’s Php22,999 launch price, the Moto Z2 Play is still a great phone. Decent across the board, and excels in terms of battery life.
Considering everything, the Z2 Play is an affordable midranger with a lot to offer. One alternative that might give consumers pause? The OnePlus 5, which comes with better specs and hardware for just about a thousand pesos more. Motorola’s edge here comes in its mod support, which may be a selling point worth considering for a certain portion of the market.
The Z2 Play came out in July 2017 with a launch price of P24,999. – Rappler.com