Moto Z Play review: The best smartphone battery yet


Last week we got our hands on the Lenovo Moto Z, which is comfortably the most interesting phone I’ve used in 2016. At this late point in the year, it’s likely to maintain that accolade, although the cheaper Moto Z Play gets the runner-up award for carrying off all the same party tricks in a slightly less appealing way.

Yes, “Play” in this context could be a synonym for “cheap”. But it’s not that cheap: it’s still more expensive than the benchmark phone for all mid-priced handsets this year – the OnePlus 3 – and yet loses a lot of ground in terms of its core specifications, more on which later.

Here are the key questions that the Moto Z Play must answer, then: can it justify that extra cost, and exactly what are the differences between it and its more expensive sibling, the Moto Z?

Moto Z Play: Design

The Moto Z would have looked like a perfectly generic phone, if it weren’t for how ridiculously thin it is: 5.2mm, to be exact. The Moto Z Play gains an additional 1.8mm, making it a little plain to behold. It still has the camera hump – although it’s much less pronounced here – and still attracts fingerprints like there’s no tomorrow.

It has the 16 metal contacts at the bottom of the rear panel, which attach mods to give the handset extra functionality. These attach magnetically, just as they do on the Moto Z. Crucially, the same mods work on both phones and, just as with the Moto Z, you get a backplate in the box that smoothes out the camera hump and gives you a more fingerprint-friendly back. Of course, plate does add a little more thickness to the mix.

There are differences, aside from negative ones. You know how the Moto Z followed Apple’s lead and disposed of the 3.5mm headphone jack on the Moto Z? Well it’s back for the Moto Z Play, meaning no messy adapter to listen to your music, and you’ll be able to listen at the same time as you charge. The Moto Z Play still charges via USB Type-C, though, so it’s time to invest in spare cables, if you haven’t already done so.

Moto Z Play: Screen

While the screen size between the Moto Z and the Moto Z Play is identical, the specifications of the panel aren’t. Both have 5.5in AMOLED displays, but while the Moto Z outputs a resolution of 1,440 x 2,560, the Play’s display is “only” 1,080 x 1,920. That’s a pixel-per-inch difference of 32 535 vs 403), so not exactly huge, and a 1080p display is sharp enough, especially when it’s as good a panel as this one.

And it *is* a good panel. Here it is against some of the best in the business:

Resolution

Brightness

sRGB gamut

Contrast

Lenovo Moto Z Play

1,080 x 1,920

355cd/m2

100%

Perfect

Lenovo Moto Z

2,560 x 1,440

354cd/m2

98.5%

Perfect

HTC 10

2,560 x 1,440

449cd/m2

99.8%

1,793:1

LG G5

2,560 x 1,440

354cd/m2

97.1%

1,621:1

Samsung Galaxy S7

2,560 x 1,440

354cd/m2

100%

Perfect

Apple iPhone 7

1,334 x 750

540cd/m2

95.8%

1,425:1

OnePlus 3 (sRGB mode enabled)

1,080 x 1,920

415cd/m2

100%

Perfect

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