The Moto Z2 Play is a handset which brings the modular goodness along, which maybe deeply valued and cherished by quite a few. For those who seek a more powerful device and do not feel too enticed by the modular concept, OnePlus 3T looks like a good bet, says Himanshu Juneja
Motorola has been on an overdrive with their mobile phone releases. Not only have they kept up with the competition from fellow Chinese handset makers, they have been able to take steps which have enabled them to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack.
The introduction of their modular phones was one such brave move, and Moto Z Play earned high praises.
The decision and critical success of the Z Play was even more remarkable, given that Lenovo's modular phones took off when Google had scrapped their modular phone's project Ara, and LG's G5 had bitten the dust as well.
The Moto Mods were thoughtful and gave the users the option to tweak their devices as per their liking.
The sequels are always a hard act to pull off, and especially if the originals leave a positive mark.
Will the decision to hold back on 4K display and a smaller battery pack come to haunt Lenovo?
Or will the niche product will be able to repeat the successor's feat? Time for a closer look to find the answers.
Design and construction
Since Lenovo has ensured that the Moto Mods from the previous model be compatible with the Z2 play, we see limited changes made here.
Apart from the overall contours, we again see the frustratingly big bezels at the top and bottom of the display, but there are some effective changes made for the 2017 avatar.
For one, the handset is a tad thinner, and about 20 gms lighter than the 2016's Moto Z Play.
An all metal rear panel greets the users along with redesigned antenna lines. These run along the edges and are not consistently thin all over.
Instead, they thicken over the top and bottom edges, giving the back panel a very different and distinctive look. The camera bump really spoils the party here.
Motorola phones have been showing off a large circle, which houses the lens and the LEDs. The one with the Z2 Play protrudes substantially and looks quite like an eyesore.
Towards the bottom of the panel one finds the 16 gold contact pin connector for attaching the Moto mods.
Flip the phone over, and one finds that the screen melds nicely with the chamfered edges. The top edge has the hybrid SIM card tray, while the right edge carries the volume and the power keys.
The former has been given a texture for easy differentiation, and is a good touch. The bottom edge has the Type C USB port only.
The ear piece doubles up as speaker. Lack of a dual speaker setup was disappointing, given the amount of bezel the handset is carrying.
The bezels also contribute to one handed usage being an issue.
The construction of the phone is of top notch. The water resistance for the phone and Corning Gorilla glass 3 protection for the display only lends more credibility. Some may lament about the phone makers aiming for thinner phones by sacrificing battery capacity, but we do find more efficient SoC onboard these days.
The trade off should be acceptable for those who do not mind a slimmer phone profile.
Lenovo decided to go with a 5.5-inch SUPER AMOLED type display for the Moto Z2 Play. The FULL HD display's 1080x1920p resolution yields a good 401 ppi worth of the pixel density.
Performance wise, the display doesn't disappoint. The images come out sharp and users can choose from either the vivid display mode for punchy colours, or the standard mode for more realistic hues.
The viewing angles are satisfactory, and Motorola handsets traditionally have been pretty bright of late. So sunlight legibility was not an issue either.
Thoughtfully, Lenovo has included a night mode which should come to assist the avid readers.
The Moto Z2 Play is powered by Snapdragon's 626 SoC. The Octa Core CPU comprises of Cortex A53 cores, and is clocked at 2.2 Ghz. Adreno 506 has been roped in for GPU duties.
The Indian market gets the 4GB RAM/64 GB of onboard memory model.
Users can further expand the storage memory via microSD card slot, upto another 2 TB. This of course comes at the cost of sacrificing the second SIM option.
The dual SIM handset comes with the support for 4G VoLTE technology, and carries the usual options like WiFi (dual band), Bluetooth (ver 4.2), GPS and NFC support as well.
The inclusion of FM radio is definitely a big plus.
Lenovo has garnered some serious praise over the years due to the OS they have included, and it was again a pleasant surprise to see the Moto Z2 Play running Android Nougat (ver 7.1.1) out of the box.
Very few handsets can boast of this feat. Lenovo even went to the length of emulating the Pixel launcher here.
The near stock Android ethos are still there. Moto Display section allows users to toy with notification system settings in various ways, and make changes to the Blue light filter like scheduling it.
The Moto Voice feature allows user to set up the voice recognition, to allow for accessing of the device via Voice commands.
The Moto Actions menu will let users toggle enabling of gestures like the pick up to mute, twist to launch camera, chop gesture for flashlight, and the all new one button navigation.
Users can disable and remove the onscreen navigation buttons by making the fingerprint sensor perform the actions instead, freeing up some screen space.
The pill-shaped scanner when swiped left takes the user back, while swiping to the right brings up the app cards for switching between apps. To jump to the home screen, a short tap will do the job.
Additionally, a prolonged hold will launch Google Assistant, while a short tap will lock/unlock the device.
Apart from this, there is no bloatware to be found. The user interface looks uncluttered and is pretty smooth to navigate through.
The suite of Google apps comes pre-installed, and none can be removed.
As expected, the handset's performance complimented the capable hardware combined with a non intrusive software. The tasks thrown were handled smoothly, and these included multitasking, split screen running of apps, and running HD content.
There was bit of a warmth felt when the phone handled intensive tasks, but nothing to cause concerns.
The mono speaker was pretty good with its job, and the sound via the supplied headphones was clear and satisfactory.
Fingerprint sensor have been excellent on the Motorola phones of late, and the Moto Z2 Play carries the trend.
The scanner was fast and accurate, with clear signs of 360 degree recognition function being well implemented.
Armed with an f/1.7 rear camera of 12 MP, the camera has dual pixel phase detection autofocus technology, but sadly lacks Optical Image Stabilisation. There is a dual tone dual LED flash. This here, is essentially the same camera as on the Moto G5 Plus.
The photographs captured were pretty good in quality.
Colour reproduction was impressive, while good amount of details got captured. Users may encounter instances where over exposure would spoil the results. This can be managed, but it is pretty certain that the camera results are not going to rival the flagships.
The pics captured with low ambient light were marked with noise. While the results were not horrible, details do get suppressed, and the grains were clearly visibile.
There is a full fledged manual mode, and major shooting modes include the panorama and HDR. The latter is good, but not very impressive. This was disappointing after lack of OIS was evident while shooting and recording especially.
The camera can capture 4K videos, and grabs some very good results. Users will have to maintain steady hands though. HDR again was a hit or a miss.
There was noticeable lag between the actual recording and pressing of the record button, which added to frustration.
For the front facing camera, Lenovo has supplied a 5 MP shooter, with f/2.2 aperture, and this too has its two tone LED flash.
The camera grabbed pretty good selfies. The LED flash comes in handy, and so does the included beautification mode.
The Moto Z2 Play comes carrying a 3,000mAh power pack. This may raise some eyebrows, as its predecessor packed a 3510 mAh cell, but one must also consider the improved SoC this handset is being run on.
On a moderate to heavy usage pattern, a user will not feel the need to charge the phone before the day runs out.
A more conservative approach may even extend the backup to a day and a half. There is support for fast charging too, and the box comes with a 15 watt turbo charger.
Moto Mods 2017
As mentioned earlier, the mods from previous year are fully compatible with the Z2 Play. This will enable the previous owners of the Z1 Play to upgrade without thinking too much. This year sees new mods being introduced as well.
JBL SoundBoost 2
The twin speaker pack produces some impressive sound which should be enough to enthrall members of a mini meet inside a room. The speaker has a kickstand, and a 100 mAh of battery, and can deliver quality sound for about 10 hrs, as per the company claims.
For those lamenting about the reduced battery, a 3490 mAh battery pack which comes with a Type C USB port of its own, and supports fast charging as well! As an added bonus, the mod actually improves the grip of the phone too.
Moto Style Shells
These mods especially caters to those who crave for wireless charging. The shells come in different designs to cater to the varying tastes.
If defying the odds with the Moto Z Play was a task, getting a worthy successor truly is a commendable effort. The more efficient SoC along with a refined design brings much needed freshness for a handset where the criteria of keeping first generation Moto Mods relevant posed a considerable challenge.
Additionally, an impressive battery backup, near stock Android experience, and a good camera makes up for a valid case here. The handset has been priced at Rs 27,999.