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Review: Motorola Moto Z2 Play

By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

Motorola’s Moto Z Play was last year’s midrange surprise which turned out to be a veritable chameleon handset thanks to easy on, and off Moto Mods accessories as well as the best battery life on any device.

While the flagship Moto Z was, and remains the most premium handset and also the thinnest smartphone Motorola has ever made. The Moto Z Play, on the other hand, is a far more practical and less frivolous affair that appealed to more users.

Serious Play

For 2017, the Moto Z2 Play sticks to the script and maintains some of the key features that made its predecessor shine while shaving off some weight and bulk as well as upgrading necessary components.

Now clad in an all aluminum design, the Moto Z2 Play feels even more premium and less delicate. The profile is thinner and the battery, unfortunately, gets slimmed down as well. You still get a respectable 30 hours on a single charge and you can juice it up to run 8-hours with a 15 minute charge thanks to TurboPower, a charging technology that Motorola introduced years ago and continues to refine to great success.

Built to last, designed to evolve

The precision built shell is flanked by a 5.5-inch super AMOLED 1080p HD display that’s reasonably bright and clear. An improved fingerprint sensor now doubles as a means to control open apps, lock the display and manage apps thanks to one-button nav functionality.

Motorola’s improved the camera hardware and now offers a large f/1.7 aperture for its 12 megapixel rear-facing camera and a wide 5 megapixel camera for selfies and video messaging. Camera software has been improved as well and offers a great degree of control and even a professional mode for those with the patience know-how. A ‘best shot’ feature captures multiple shots to recompose the best possible feature, its something we’ve seen before and works well most of the time.

Taking photos with the Moto Z2 Play is easy and you generally get good results although nowhere near the level of detail you'd get from a Pixel, iPhone or Samsung S8.

Moto Software enhances the experience

Moto display, Moto actions and Moto voice, which are the triumverate of proprietary enhancements are further refined. The Moto Voice app, in particular, omits the need to use the ‘Hello, Moto’ trigger word before asking the assistant things. Now you can just say ‘show me my calendar,’ or ’show me the weather,’ and Moto Z2 Play complies.

 In terms of specs , we get a hardy 8-core Snapdragon 626 processor clocked at 2.2GHz and an Adreno 506 CPU. This is backed by 3 GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage. These are midrange specs that deliver great performance but never at the cost of battery efficiency.

Using the Moto Z2 Play as a daily driver running all my go-to apps and services proved that it is mostly better than the Moto Z Play. The reduced battery life was not a big deal for me, specially since I have the first-gen TurboPower battery pack ready.

Moto Mods are here to stay

The older Moto Mods do fit although there’s some noticeable wiggle room. I had some issues with the Hasselblad True Zoom lens, which would shut off sporadically or refuse to turn on. I’m hoping a firmware update solves this as the Mod works just fine on older Moto Zs and is one of the better examples of seamless modular expansion.

The new JBL SoundBoost speaker Moto Mod, now with equalizer settings, brings big sound to this slim smartphone. This Mod works great, as does the projector Mod and both of the backplate mods (leather and wood) from the previous generation.

I personally like to carry the Moto Z2 Play without any of the accessory mods. I love the slim profile, the precision-built metal case as well as the sleek gunmetal finish.


Motorola has smartly stuck to the formula and created a great ‘tweener’ smartphone that’s nearly as slim as the Moto Z from last year, but also has improved battery life, durability and utility that’s endeared that larger Moto Z Play to many users.

Rating: 4 out 5

Moto Z2 Play will be available in Canada beginning July 5 for around $800 CAD. While supplies last, Moto Z2 Play will launch with JBL Soundboost2 in box (an additional value of $114.99 CAD) at Bell Mobility, Bell MTS, Freedom Mobile and SaskTel. Moto TurboPower Pack and Moto GamePad will be available this summer.

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