The Moto Z Play will save you a few shekels while still feeling like a flagship

So there's a burgeoning field of phones out there that aren't top of the line devices, but for the money you save it's either barely noticeable or easily liveable.

Recently I reviewed Lenovo's top of the line Moto Z.  A phone that really has me enamoured right now.  But it's $900.  Not a lot of people can pull together that kind of scratch for their new phone.  I'm guessing Lenovo thought of that too and put together the Moto Z Play for only $650.

The Play ditches a couple of the top end features to bring the price down, and long story short, you probably won't notice.  You might even prefer it!

So let's take a look at the specs:

  • 5.5" @ 1080p
  • Snapdragon 625
  • 2GHz x8
  • 3GB RAM
  • 32GB + microSD
  • 16MP (f/2.0 1.3um)
  • 5MP (f/2.2 1.4um)
  • 3510mAh

The RAM is a GB less, the processor is a level below (weird how we never hear about any Snapdragon 700 series), the camera is a lesser (sure it's more MP, but doesn't have quite the low light of the Z).

Where the big win is (aside from the price) is the battery.

The Play now has 35% more battery than the Z.  And it's noticeable.  Essentially this whole review is going to be me talking about this battery really.

To get that battery it has to make the device thick. At first I thought it was because I had been using the Z, and it's SUPER thin.  But compared to even other devices I have it's thicker.

The other advantage of having this larger casing is that this allowed them to put in the headphone jack.  Personally, I get the whole audio jacks are old point ... but until the audio community agrees upon a new standard folks are going to want their 1/8" port, and that could be a strong selling point for most people.


If you read the review on the Z pretty much everything is the same.  Software, performance... everything.

Well, there wasn't the Drive Mode (or I couldn't figure out how to enable it) that you have with the Z, but everything else was there.

Despite being a GB shy on RAM, I never noticed a slow down on switching apps.  Despite being a slower processor it still was always performing amazingly with the apps and features I use.  And I use my device fairly heavily and I tend to notice even minor slow downs.  Not once in a full week of use.  Camera, games, photo editing, documents, music, running, Pokemon Go, ... nothing showed any difference between the 2 phones.  Maybe there was some slight difference, but on the microsecond  level and not noticeable to me.

So definitely not noticeable to the average user.

Then there's the battery.  I really started to watch some of the stats here on the battery.

On average the device would be slated to last at least 24 hours of usage with plenty of Screen On Time.

Here's some of my battery readings

  • 10 hours used - 15 hours to go - 3h9m of SoT
    • (so, it should have reached 25 hours with 7.5 hours of SoT)
  • 16.5 hours used - 6 hours to go - 6h42m of SoT
    • (so it should have reached 22.5 hours with with ~9 hours of SoT)
  • 15 hours used - 7 hours to go - 7h6m of SoT
    • (so it should have reached 22 hours with 10h25m SoT)

Now those are some estimates mind you, and I really used it on those days (I have more data, but it all points to pretty much the same picture ~24 hours use with about 9 hours of screen time).

This is a phone that you would not complain at all about the battery.  I'm sure the average user (who didn't have a bunch of games, several email accounts, a score of social media accounts, and cloud syncing etc...) would easily get 2 days out of usage.

Best yet, with Turbo charging it wouldn't take long at all for it to bring back some life.

Speaking of the charging.  Yes, it is still USB-C, but it still is what is the new microUSB.  But sadly, the wall charger they put in the box is one of those that is connected to the wart (AC adapter).  So, if you want charging on the go, you'll have to purchase some spares.  If it's your first USB-C device it would have been nice to have the cable in a box you can bring around with you to your office to plug into the computer, etc... and then yeah, there's no way to plug this into the computer.  Without a computer cable you'll have to use services like cloud syncing and AirDroid, et. al. to get your files back and forth from computer to device (then again, who still does that... Google Play Music takes care of music, there's Netflix, Play Movies, Dropbox or Photos, etc... to access as you need).


Similar to the Z, it's good, but I've seen better.  The megapixel count is higher than the Z, but it also has a lower aperture for lower light (meaning it doesn't take as good in lower light conditions).  The front camera still has the selfie flash, but interestingly enough, they swap sides (on the Z the flash is on the right and camera on the left, then flipped for the Z Play).


Really there isn't much notable difference with this Play variant.  Read over the review of the Z and then just up the ante on the battery.  For all intents and purposes, they're the same phone, just one's chunkier and cheaper.

Best of all the Z Play still uses the Moto mods which is the perfect reason to pick up these devices.  So much fun.  Just because they're that much fun, I'll give you the links to the previous reviews for the mods:

(click to see my review of each)