Moto Z3 Play Review: Have Mods, Will Travel

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Moto Z3 Play: Performance Benchmarks

We will quickly cover some performance numbers here, though as with prior generations, the Z3 Play is not vying for any thrones here.

We will kick off our testing with JetStream to gauge relative Javascript performance. Technically, JetStream examines JavaScript rendering performance but thanks to JavaScript’s prevalent usage across websites it is a good analogue for overall web browsing.
moto z3 play bench jetstream

The faster big.Little configuration of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 636 provides a measurable uplift in JavaScript rendering performance for the Z3 Play versus its predecessor. Its score of just over 44 brings performance in line with the flagships just a few years old. In practice, this metric holds true with faster page loads than prior Z Play’s and fewer hiccups while scrolling through complex web pages.

Moving on, GeekBench taxes only CPU cores in a handset (not graphics), with both single and multi-threaded workloads. It uses a variety of test scenarios to simulate real-world applications in a controlled manner.

moto z3 play bench geekbench

GeekBench also elicits measurable gains from the SnapDragon 636. Multi-core uplift is modest at around a 300 point improvement versus the Z2, but the single-core’s 400 point jump represents an approximately 45% leap over both the Z and Z2 Plays. The Z Play line has never struggled with stuttering in our experience, but the Z3 Play does respond with more snappiness which is always welcome.

Futuremark's PCMark for Android is a newer benchmark addition here for us, so we have fewer results in our database of tested phones to show you. However, this is an excellent suite of tests that we recommend for benchmarking performance of a handset with heavier-duty tasks for things like image and video editing, as well as lighter-duty workloads like email, and web browsing. When you see the test running live, it's clear the scripted application tests are carefully selected and tuned to make use of the platforms involved in a very controlled way.

moto z3 play bench pcmark

Unfortunately, we were unable to get PCMark to cooperate with our Z and Z2 Play for comparison here, but we can still see how the Z3 Play fits into the bigger picture. To that end, the Z3 Play actually fares quite well. Performance-wise, it is about on-par with the original Google Pixel XL, a very capable phone even today. The video and photo editing sub-scores are the only metrics where the Z3 Play comes up short, but it can still comfortably handle 1080p footage to satisfy most users and has had no difficulty with 24MP RAW files from our Canon 80D in Lightroom CC.

Finally, we wanted to throw a little graphics testing in, so we ran 3DMark’s Ice Storm Unlimited which is targeted for mobile devices and runs at 720p in offscreen mode, so as to take display resolution out of the equation.

moto z3 play bench ice storm scores

moto z3 play bench ice storm fps

Graphics performance has also received a jolt to the tune of about 40% over the previous-gen Z and Z2 Play. The Adreno 509 GPU is almost exclusively responsible for this as we see the physics score fall in between the Z and Z2 Play’s performances. Regardless, the Z3 Play is capable of rendering games with greater fluidity which in turn makes choosing it as a daily driver less of a sacrifice for casual gamers.

With processing performance notably improved across the board, it is time to see where the Z3 Play weighs in on battery performance…

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