Moto Z Play Review: 8-Cores And Insane Battery Life

Moto Z Play: Look & Feel

The Moto Z Play shares a very close design to the Moto Z and Moto Z Force. After all, the phone must be the same size and shape for mods to fit. That doesn’t make this a simple copy-paste either.

This time around, Moto sent us a white bodied phone with gold accents. The gold accents are a more subdued hue which we think looks classy, not gaudy. There is a narrow black band around the display some may not like, but we didn’t find it distracting. This band helps the display stand out from the white face.
moto z play stand front
Right off the bat we find one subtle change that gives the Moto Z Play a big visual improvement over its siblings. The Moto Z and Moto Z Force have both been criticized for having a large bottom bezel which to some feels like wasted space, as seen below.

Moto Z Moto Z Force
Left: Moto Z Force, Right: Moto Z

With the Moto Z Play, however, the screen has shifted downwards slightly to be more centered in the body of the phone. Note how the Moto logo is now below the speaker instead of above the fingerprint reader. This further improves using the phone in landscape mode as well, which we appreciate. It is interesting to see this variation within the same product generation and we hope future iterations of the Moto Z family take this into account as well.

The display itself is a step down on paper - at least where resolution is concerned. The Moto Z Play screen is only 1080p but we would be hard pressed to spot a real difference between this and a 1440p display at arm's length without nitpickng. Yes, this is worse for VR experiences, but even QHD displays aren’t great. Instead, the 1080p display should offer better battery life and work the processor and GPU a bit less. Colors appear even and well saturated on the display with the Super AMOLED panel offering deep blacks and superb viewing angles. While not as punchy as Samsung’s Super AMOLED technology, the Moto Z Play’s display still looks fantastic.

The only other notable change we find on the front is the camera and flash have switched sides. This doesn’t affect usability or performance much but does keep the camera up top if used in landscape mode tilted to the left. It’s the little things that add up to a better experience here.

moto z play stand clamshell with hasselblad mod

The backside of the Moto Z Play offers up more dramatic departures from the Moto Z and Moto Z Force. Instead of solid bands at the top and bottom, the Moto Z Play utilizes a single pane of glass with subtle concentric circles resonating from around the camera bump. The Moto Mod plate is exposed on the Moto Z Play with a texture matching the outer band of the phone.

Ultimately, however, the back of the Moto Z Play is intended to be covered up. It simply isn’t comfortable to hold - owing to semi-sharp edges and a slick back - without the included backplate in place. The backplate pleasingly rounds out the back of the phone and levels off the camera bump. These backplates are not a throwaway material, either. They are comprised of a dense polycarbonate material which resists flexing too much and securely slips in and out of place thanks to well-tuned magnets.

moto z play base shell backing

The edges of the phone are near-identical to the other members of the Moto Z family. We still have the same arrangement of power and volume keys. These have a satisfying click and textural distinction. Up top the SIM and MicroSD Card slot has moved sides to follow the flash. We still have USB-C at the bottom for charging and data transfer - but what’s this? A circular hole? Our sources inform us this used to be referred to as a 3.5mm headset jack for something called headphones. Amazing.

moto z play usb c rear closeup

The Moto Z Play’s build quality is rock solid. The phone has zero flex and tolerances are very tight on our unit. It is also noticeably substantial at 5.82 ounces. This is a full ounce heavier than the regular Moto Z and a hair more than the Moto Z Force, though still lighter than a 6.07 ounce iPhone 6s Plus. The Moto Z Play also matches the thinness of the Moto Z Force at 7mm, though the backplate does admittedly add 2mm.

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