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Moto Z2 Play Review - Modular Marvel?

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Moto launched Z Play last year with much interest with the promise of functional modularity with Moto Mods with the next generation with a lot to live up to.
Moto Z2 Play Review - Modular Marvel?
Moto Z2 Play

After holding so many phones in our career this is the phone with the best feel in the hands than any other phone we have held. It feels incredibly solid but almost weightless.

It's so light yet so sturdy! Plus the antenna lights are better and are beautifully implemented than the competition.

Display Quality

One of the highlights of the Z2 Play is its beautiful 10 point multi-touch 5.5 Inch FHD Super AMOLED 1920 x 1080 resolution w/ 2.5D curved screen and Gorilla Glass protection at 401 ppi with incredibly thin side bezels!

Good and vivid screen!

It is sharp, saturated, and bright with a lot of punch and deep blacks! The adaptive brightness, night and reading mode are present.

Audio Quality

The Z2 Play has a single speaker on the earpiece. The sound is clear, crisp and full. It is not the loudest device we've had but it is loud enough to fill a small room but may barely overpower high volume ambient noise.

For headphones audio output is good and superior than just the speaker. We used the stock earphones along with our RHA S500i earphones. The sound signature is clear, full and crisp with a punchy but decent bass. Mids are full and has decent separation. Highs are good but has some hissing. Soundstage is surprisingly good with decent size and power. We like it.

Microphone is good for both recording and calls. We have never had problems like dropped calls or complaints from the caller on the other end.

Battery Life

Good battery performance
Good battery performance

The phone is equipped with 3,000 mAh battery that is big enough to power the 5.5 inch 1080p display with the Snapdragon 626 with hitch!

As a result, battery performance is decent. The phone had problems with our usual PC mark battery benchmark so we could only share our experience with the phone. With our normal use of calls, texts, LTE, ride sharing, Waze, chrome browsing, YouTube and e-mails, the phone would be unplugged at 7 am and we would get home at 7 pm with an average of 20% battery life each time depending on how much LTE data usage we did.

It has the standard battery saving modes where it lowers performance and background tasks to improve longevity.

It includes a regular power saving mode that will darken the screen and disconnect you to WiFi, data or Bluetooth and Smart-saving that consumes 20% less power.

Charging time is around 70 minutes to 90 minutes depending on how much battery was left. The fast charging works because the phone is fully charged under 2 hours which is a big deal especially when our power banks are low.


Camera

12 MP f/1.7 main camera
12 MP f/1.7 main camera

The 12 MP f/1.7 main camera has the dual pixel autofocus that we love and swear by from recent Samsung flagship and Canon DSLR cameras. It is quick and accurate we wished all cameras had this.

It also comes with a simple camera interface with a lot of modes. You'll find the regular photo, HDR, panorama, professional and face beauty modes. It does not have the blur / bokeh mode that dual cameras have popularized which is expected because it only has a single main and a single secondary cameras.

The pro mode is good with manual focusing, aperture control, exposure compensation and manual ISO. It maxes out at ISO 3200 but the only downside is that the shutter speed maxing out at 3 second exposures.

Moving to the camera experience of the phone, shutter speed and autofocus speed is fast and accurate. In daylight conditions, the images are very good but it can struggle in low light. It is better than most phones for lowlight shooting due to its f/1.7 sensor though.

HDR is fast compared to most HDR phone implementations.

Rear Camera Samples

Daylight sample
Daylight sample
Close up 1
Close up 1
Close-up 2
Close-up 2
Close-up 3
Close-up 3
Indoor dim
Indoor dim
With flash in lowlight
With flash in lowlight

The selfie camera performs similar to the main where it works well in bright lighting conditions and will struggle in low light. It does perform better in low light than most cameras. It loses some resolution, some saturation while the grain is apparent but is acceptable.

The beauty mode on the other hand has 7 levels and it works well but like most beauty modes it looks artificial.

It uses the tap to focus system and the face recognition autofocus. Both works well with the face recognition recognizing faces 8 out of 10 times.

Selfie Camera Samples

Selfie daylight
Selfie daylight
Selfie indoor
Selfie indoor
Outdoor dim w/ flash
Outdoor dim w/ flash

For videos the front camera can shoot in 4K 30 fps, 1080p 30 - 60 fps, 720p and 480p while the selfie camera can shoot up to 1080p 30 fps. The quality of the main camera video is okay with noticeable increased in grain and slight loss of resolution even in daylight with the autofocus working at decent speed. The selfie video quality is the same but it more noticeable grain with out autofocus.

Video Samples


Performance

Benchmarks
Benchmarks

The phone packs an octacore Snapdragon 626 with 4GB giving this phone great performance on paper and with the Adreno 506 this could potentially be decent for gaming! Even the benchmarks back it up!

Snapdragon 626 4 GB of RAM!

The result is smooth multitasking and decent gaming performance with almost no hiccups with normal tasks like web browsing, texting or e-mailing. We've never had lags or stuttering with our time with the phone. In fact almost everything is seamless.

Clean Nougat OS
Clean Nougat OS

Equipped with the latest Nougat Android 7.1 with moto added features make this one of the best near stock experience ever! We love the added gestures that moto adds like twist to start the camera or to chop twice to launch the flash light! We wish all phones had this.

The phone also has no bloatware that could compromise the user's experience.

Fingerprint scanner is fast, accurate and seamless. The only problem we had with it is that we at first kept pressing it like it was the home button when this phone uses onscreen navigation buttons. It may take a while to get used to but it isn't really an issue.

Telephone connectivity is good with strong signal and steady 4G data connectivity. There's the usual WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS as well that never failed us.

The phone uses Moto's version of Android which is near stock but with added functional features that we love. The Moto actions and voice add another layer of interaction that actually speeds up your workflow. Our favorite are the twist to capture and Moto Display.

Moto Mods

SoundBoost 2
SoundBoost 2

We were lucky enough to get a hold of one of the first generation Moto Mods, the JBL Sound boost mod. This is last years model which still works because of Moto's promise of having several years of compatibility. 

The build quality is solid and beautiful. It connects with the phone seamlessly by aligning the pin connectors from the phone and the mod. Magnets help with connecting seamlessly and securely. The mod never disconnected unless we wanted it to. 

The SoundBoost 2 has an internal 1,000 mAh battery, a USB c port for charging, battery capacity light indicator and a kickstand. 

The sound quality is amazing. It is loud with sharp details, great isolation and large sound stage. It is perfect for people who love to sound trip on the go without needing to bring a portable speaker. The Moto Mods always add some unique functionality to each Moto Z2 user.

Our only gripe with the Sound boost is that the battery is dedicated for the speaker's use only. This means that it doesn't charge the phone when you are not using the speaker which would have been great if we ever needed it. We understand that the speaker needs its own power source, so we kind of understand.

Pros - Attractive and sturdy design, speedy processor, decent gaming GPU, 4GB RAM, large 64 GB storage, Good battery performance, Good Cameras, Soundboost mod is the best convenient portable speaker solution 
Cons - Phone is expensive and the Moto Mods are more expensive, JBL soundboost doesn't charge the phone


Verdict

The Z2 Play has almost no down sides. It is pretty, sturdy with a great unique features like Moto Mods and the Unique Moto Android added features that makes it quite the performer. Our only gripe with the phone is that it is priced at Php 24,999. If the price of the phone and the mods were priced a little more affordably then this would be a must buy! So we highly recommend this phone when there is a sale for the phone and the mods! BUT if you want the mods and want the phone now, we will not blame you! It is a great phone! 

Build / Design - 4.5
Display - 4.25
Audio - 4
Battery - 4
Camera - 4
Performance - 4.25
Average - 4.25 / 5
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