Hands-on with the Moto Z2 Play: Is it still the battery king?


The Moto Z line left a positive impression with smartphone enthusiasts and critics alike when it was officially launched last year, in part thanks to the Moto Mod accessories. Lenovo has graced us with a new addition to the Moto Z line this year: the Moto Z2 Play. I took part in the official unveiling in São Paulo, Brazil – and had the chance to take a closer look at the new smartphone and present you with my first impressions.

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Motorola Moto Z2 Play release date and price

Motorola held an exclusive event in São Paulo today (June 1, 2017) and presented the new Moto Z2 Play. The smartphone is available from today, but currently only in Brazil. When the device will be released in the US is still unclear (most likely at some point this summer), but Verizon will be selling it unlocked for $ 499.

The new Moto Z2 Play will be available in the following colors: Lunar Gray, Nimbus Blue and Fine Gold.

Motorola Moto Z2 Play design and build quality

Motorola has made a few changes to the design of the new Moto Z2 Play compared to its predecessor. Most of the changes are a definite improvement, such as switching out glass for aluminum. Unfortunately, Motorola decided to buckle the trend of thinner frames and left the front panel unchanged – meaning large. On the upside, the Moto Z2 Play is noticeably thinner than the Moto Z.

AndroidPIT Moto z 2 12386124858 front The front facing camera and the dual-tone LED flash of the Moto Z2 Play  / © AndroidPIT

Personally, I’m not too bothered about the thickness of a smartphone as in most cases, a thin smartphone means that you have to cut certain features. The Moto Z Play from last year had to sacrifice some of its good looks for the sake of a larger battery. The same applies in reverse to this year’s model. The battery power was sacrificed to make the Moto Z2 Play thinner. For comparison, the Moto Z2 Play is 5.99 mm thin and weighs in at 145 grams, while last year’s Moto Z Play was 6.99 mm thin and weighed 165 grams.

AndroidPIT Moto z 2 You can also use the home button to navigate through your Moto Z2 Play / © AndroidPIT

You can definitely say that the Moto Z2 Play is a smooth fit when you hold it, even if it doesn’t really look like it at first glance. The frame itself is pleasantly rounded. For fans of the Moto Mods, there is good news: Lenovo kept its promise, the Moto Z2 has the necessary pins to connect it with Moto Mods.

AndroidPIT Moto z 2 123124 The Moto Z2 play has gotten noticeably rounder / © AndroidPIT

Another nice change is the shape of the physical button on the front, which also acts as a fingerprint sensor. This is now similar to the Moto G5 Plus. This can (just like with the Moto G5 Plus) be used to navigate through the phone’s system.

Motorola Moto Z2 Play display

The display of the Moto Z2 Play has been left virtually unchanged. The Moto Z2 Play still has a 5.5-inch full-HD AMOLED display – which is largely down to the fact that it needs to be compatible with the Moto Mods. In terms of sharpness, detail and colors, seeing as the display is virtually the same as last years Moto Z Play, we can expect that it will perform just as well. 

AndroidPIT Moto z 2 12386124858 The Moto Z2 Play with its 5.5-inch full-HD AMOLED display. / © AndroidPIT

Motorola Moto Z2 Play software

The Moto Z2 Play will be shipped with Android 7.1.1 Nougat, so it seems that Motorola continues to follow up on its update “tradition”. Along with Android 7.1.1, you can expect to find the Moto app, which continues to be the central nervous system of the Moto Z2 Play’s smart features.

The app lets you assign different gestures to the fingerprint sensor. If you you disable it, the on-screen navigation buttons will re-appear. In the short time that I had to test the Moto Z2 play, I didn’t experience any issues – no lagging or crashing – which sums up nicely what I’ve come to expect from a Moto smartphone.

The Moto Display app now also registers voice commands and performs the appropriate actions. For example, you can respond directly to messages, open the calendar or view a weather report. The function reacts very quickly and accurately. To do this, you must first teach the Moto Z2 Play your voice and set up a call command, such as “Hello Moto” or “Ok Moto”. Also the Moto Z2 Play brings the Google Assistant with it, which carries out very similar tasks. As with Samsung and HTC, this function seems to be duplicated.

Motorola Moto Z2 Play performance

The Moto Z2 Play packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 processor. The chip reflects the typical strengths of the 600 series and provides above all good battery performance. The processor has 8 cores with a maximum clock frequency of 2.2 GHz. The RAM was upgraded to 4 GB.

The Moto Z2 Play has an internal memory of 64 GB, which can thankfully be upgraded by an microSD. In theory, the hardware doesn’t disappoint, so I’m not expecting any performance issues (especially considering that the software has been optimized and manages to suffice without any unnecessary frills). The biggest question that opens up at this point is the battery performance. It’s shrunk down to only 3000 mAh, so it’s questionable if the Moto Z2 Play will be able to keep up with its predecessor.

Motorola Moto Z2 Play camera

The camera certainly wasn’t one of the Moto Z Play’s strong points – something that Motorola has tried to improve with this new one. The Moto Z2 Play now has a 12 megapixel sensor instead of the previous 16 megapixels (yes, it’s gone down), but it also has a new autofocus. This should greatly help with focusing speed and image quality. Similar to the Moto G5 Plus, the Moto Z2 Play can now record videos in 4K resolution. 

The front facing camera has a resolution of 5 megapixels and remains virtually unchanged. This also means that it’s still got that front facing flash to help you with your selfies. 

AndroidPIT Moto z 2 12386124858 cam The Moto Z2 Play now has a 12 megapixel camera / © AndroidPIT

Motorola Moto Z2 Play battery

The battery of the new Moto Z2 Play measures 3000 mAh, which is 510 mAh less than its predecessor. According to Renato Arradi, Product Manager of Lenovo, this step was necessary to make the device thinner and to ensure that the Moto Mods fit better.

According to a Lenovo survey, 80% of all Moto Z Play users still had battery charge left at the end of a day’s use. These results led Motorola to incorporate a battery that had sufficient power, but still a lower capacity than the previous model. According to the Motorola employee, users who need more capacity can simply buy the corresponding Moto Mod to achieve longer battery times.

Renato Arradi also points out that the stated 12 hour battery run time was determined by laboratory test run by the manufacturer. The Moto Z Play underwent the same test under the same conditions and achieved a battery life of 45 hours. We’ll find out in our final review if this decision paid off.

Motorola Moto Z2 Play technical specifications

Dimensions: 156.2 x 76.2 x 5.99 mm
Weight: 145 g
Battery size: 3000 mAh
Screen size: 5.5 in
Display technology: AMOLED
Screen: 1920 x 1080 pixels (401 ppi)
Front camera: 5 megapixels
Rear camera: 12 megapixels
Flashlight: Dual-LED
Android version: 7.1.1 – Nougat
User interface: Stock Android
Internal storage: 64 GB
Removable storage: microSD
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 626
Number of cores: 8
Max. clock speed: 2.2 GHz
Connectivity: HSPA, LTE, NFC, Dual-SIM , Bluetooth

Early Verdict

The Moto Z Play series has clear goals: longer battery life for the customers and more functions thanks to the Moto Mods. The fact that Motorola is launching this new Z2 Play initially only in Brazil shows that the strategy at least has worked in this market. So now there is a new Moto Z Play smartphone, which costs roughly the same as the predecessor, doesn’t really do anything drastically different, except with exactly the single feature that made the predecessor so good: the battery.

Moto Mod owners can of course be happy that Lenovo kept its word and made its new smartphone compatible. Only our final test will show if the new Moto Z2 Play is really better than the Moto Z Play, and how much off a performance impact the smaller battery has. 

Motorola Moto Z2 Play

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