Moto Z2 Play Review: A Refined Battery Life Champion Returns

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Moto Z2 Play: JBL Soundboost 2 & Turbo Power Mods

The Moto Z2 Play retains full compatibility with all Moto Mods currently on the market – a very welcome, continued commitment from Lenovo. You can check out our other Moto Z Family reviews for more mods, but for this review, Moto provided us with their Turbo Power Battery Pack and the JBL SoundBoost 2.

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Motorola TurboPower Battery Pack Moto Mod

As a mod, the battery pack is about as simple as it gets. Slap it on the back of the Z2 Play and it keeps the internal battery topped off with juice. It is about as thick as the phone at 6.58mm so the total package stays thinner than many cases while packing a capacity of 3490mAh. It also offers a good amount of grip with a rubberized ribbed texture. It uses a single button and four white LED lights to display charge levels on demand. A Type-C connection on the side allows it to be charged independently or while on the phone.

There are two modes of operation for it. Turbo mode allows the full charge rate (15W) and will charge the phone to 100% and keep it there. Efficiency mode allows the phone to drop or charge to 80% battery life and then keeps it there with a slower (unspecified) charge rate.

Of Charge Modes And Battery Life Expectations

Why the different modes? Lithium batteries increase resistance as they charge up which means, in short, it requires more power to charge from 95% to 100% than from, say, 50% to 55%. Using the Efficiency mode keeps the phone’s battery in an “easier” to charge range so more power from the battery pack goes towards battery life. Turbo mode should only be used when users need a quick charge but cannot keep the battery pack on for long (e.g. to then use the Hasselblad mod for photos at an event), otherwise the Efficiency mode results in much better battery life and will be the default mode of operation for most users.

There is an interesting difference between using the Turbo Power port to charge versus the Moto Z2 Play’s port in Efficiency Mode. In the first case, the phone will charge to 80%, then top off the power pack before finishing the phone’s charge to 100%. In the latter case, the phone will charge to 100% directly while also charging the Turbo Power Battery albeit at a slower rate. This is likely due to the Z2 Play not knowing the charging state of the Mod in the first case. It is a minor difference in practice but may help some users decide which port to use based on their immediate needs.

One other side effect of being a battery pack is that it outright disables power saving modes while charging the phone, including Android’s Doze features. Some users may be put off by this, but if battery life in regular performance mode is somehow an issue with over 6000mAh of combined battery capacity, you may want to seek help for your phone addiction. We understand there may be emergency circumstances to warrant it, but this combo will still get more mileage than just about any other integrated option on the market.

The TurboPower Battery Pack Mod sounds pricey at $79.99, but it is a fantastic value when many similarly priced battery cases offer only about half the capacity. Its seamless operation and convenience is further icing on the cake for any battery hog out there.

Good Vibrations From The JBL SoundBoost 2 Mod

The JBL SoundBoost 2 is an overall minor revision to the original SoundBoost Mod that launched with the Moto Z last year. Like the Moto Z2 Play itself, its construction is refined a bit but the internals are largely the same. It features the same dual 3 watt speakers for loud, crisp audio that can fill a room without jarring distortion. It’s not better, but rather it is still great – only hardcore audiophiles will find any fault with its fidelity.

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Instead, the improvements come from slimming down a touch with a more rounded backing that trades a plastic grill for fabric mesh. The speakers also span more of the mod’s surface for a more premium appearance.

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Onboard, the SoundBoost 2 has a 1000mAh battery to keep itself charged for about 10 hours of playback. Like the Turbo Power battery pack, it can charge while attached once the phone is topped off, but unlike the battery pack, it does not charge the phone when out and about.

The software side is less spectacular but not a deal-breaker. The My JBL SoundBoost app offers six preset equalizers and a Dirac Panorama Sound option. Dirac helps the speakers sound more immersive with better source separation. Unfortunately, there’s no option to create a custom equalizer profile so many users may prefer to use Android's own Audio Effects equalizer which is configurable via Google Play Music and certain other apps.

It is a useful mod to have for music fans and Netflix bingers alike, thanks to the integrated kickstand but may lack broader appeal. If you’d usually use a Bluetooth speaker, you may want to consider this for greater reliability and portability without the hassle of pairing or keeping it charged separately. It is thin enough to keep on the phone most of the time, if that’s your thing, but most users will probably only want to lug it around as needed.
Tags:  Lenovo, Android, mod, moto

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