Moto Z2 Play review

The Moto Z2 Play is the mid-range smartphone you’ve been waiting for: it’s sleek, sexy and offers a range of Moto Mods that extend the functionality of the smartphone. But is it enough to tempt users away from the likes of the flagship-killing OnePlus 5? We’ve spent some time with the Moto Z2 Play, and here’s what we think.  

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Moto Z2 Play: UK pricing and availability

The Moto Z2 Play is now available to buy in the UK, and can be found from a number of retailers like Clove alongside Motorola’s own store for £379. That makes it more expensive than the Moto G5 Plus, and a cheaper alternative to the 5.5in OnePlus 5 which costs £70 more at £449.

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Moto Z2 Play: Design and build

The Moto Z2 Play is a stunning mid-range smartphone – there’s no argument there. Crafted from brushed aluminium, the Moto Z2 Play looks more like a high-end smartphone rather than a mid-ranger, and feels great in the hand too. From the chamfers around the edge of the display to the slight curvature at the edges to make it more comfortable to hold, every design element has been carefully considered.

It boasts an impressively sleek form factor, measuring in at a rather impressive 156.2 x 76.2 x 6mm and weighing a lightweight 145g. It’s even more impressive when you consider it houses a 5.5in display. Take the 5.5in iPhone 7 Plus for example: while it’s almost double the price of the Moto Z2 Play, the phone is both thicker at 7.3mm and heavier at 188g.

However, the sleek form factor comes at a price, as the battery is smaller than that included in 2016’s Moto Z Play. While a slim smartphone is great, we’d prefer an extra few hours of battery life instead of a saving of a few millimetres.

On the left side of the smartphone, you’ll find two pill-shaped volume buttons alongside the power button. The main issue with this is that it becomes easy to mistake the power button for the volume button and vice versa – as we have done on several occasions while using the smartphone. Lenovo tries to alleviate the issue by texturizing the power button, making it easier to feel the difference between it and the volume button, but we don’t feel like it’s enough.

Admittedly, the rear-facing camera isn’t flush with the rest of the body – in fact, without the removable back plate attached the camera sticks out pretty far. It’s not a huge issue as many of the Moto Mods available (which we come to below) will fully engulf that camera bump, but it’s worth pointing out to potential users.

The Moto Z2 Play features a solid-state touch-sensitive Home button similar to that used on Huawei’s flagship, the Huawei P10, with a built-in fingerprint scanner.

While the idea of using the Home button for multiple functions (Home, Back, Multi-tasking menu and Power) seems like a good idea, we couldn’t get used to the functionality – we’d accidentally access the multi-tasking menu instead of going back, and we’d end up locking the smartphone when trying to go back to the Home screen. It can become frustrating, but Lenovo offers the ability to switch to the standard Android on-screen controls for those that can’t get used to it.

The Moto Z2 Play features a USB-C port at the bottom of the smartphone, alongside a 3.5mm headphone jack – another design benefit compared to the iPhone 7 Plus. In terms of colour options, it’s available in three shades: Lunar Gray, Fine Gold and Nimbus Blue.

The Z2 Play, like the Z Play from 2016, is splash- and dust resistant, but Lenovo doesn’t provide anything in the way of an IP rating so we’re not sure how resistant the smartphone is.

If you remove the magnetic back plate of the Moto Z2 Play, you’ll notice a connection strip that runs along the lower-rear of the smartphone. This strip allows Moto Mods to be used with the Z2 Play, extending the functionality of the smartphone depending on what you want to use it for.

Moto Z2 Play: Moto Mods

Moto Mods extend the functionality of the Moto Z2 Play depending on what you use the smartphone for. It’s a smart idea on Lenovo’s behalf: make the smartphone mid-range and save on the base cost, then offer bespoke upgrades for the camera, battery, speaker and more, depending on what is required by the user.

The Moto Mods are incredibly easy to install and use too – thanks to embedded magnets within the Z2 Play, you simply remove the default back plate and replace it with one of the Moto Mods. It should snap into place and be automatically recognised by the phone with no need to pair. Some may require you to download an additional app to get the most out of the Mod, but beyond the first time setup, it’s a breeze.

The complete range of Moto Mods available for the Moto Z2 Play includes:

  • Moto Insta-Share Projector
  • Moto Style Shell with Wireless Charging
  • Moto TurboPower Pack
  • JBL SoundBoost 2
  • Hasselblad True Zoom
  • Moto 360 Camera
  • Moto Gamepad
  • Incipio Vehicle Dock
  • Mophie Juice Pack

While we didn’t get to use the entire range of Moto Mods with the Moto Z2 Play, we have had a chance to use the JBL SoundBoost 2 and the Moto style shell with wireless charging.

JBL’s SoundBoost 2 Moto Mod adds a speaker to the rear of the device. We all know that built-in smartphone speakers are never great in terms of quality and overall volume, and many opt to use Bluetooth speakers when necessary. The SoundBoost 2 negates the need for a separate Bluetooth speaker, as it does a very good job of amplifying whatever is playing on the smartphone.

While we’ve found the speaker to be loud enough to be used outdoors at the park or at the beach, we’re not blown away by the sound quality. Vocals are clear and it provides a decent mid-range for the price but there isn’t much in terms of bass – playing around with the EQ in the accompanying app improves the quality somewhat, but it’s not perfect.

We found that it performs much better when using it to watch TV shows and movies on the smartphone, especially with the built-in kickstand.

The Moto Style Shell with Wireless Charging does what it says on the tin – provides the Moto Z2 Play with wireless charging without adding any bulk to the smartphone. It’s a no-thrills charging experience and it’s worth noting that the Mod doesn’t include a wireless charger, so you’ll still have to invest in one if you’re thinking about getting the wireless charger mod.

Carry on reading to find out about the features and spec, camera and software. 


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