Moto Z2 Play: Features and spec

Now we’ve discussed the design of the Moto Z2 Play and the Moto Mods available, it’s time to delve a little deeper into what else the mid-range smartphone offers.

Display

Let’s start with the display; the Moto Z2 Play features a crisp 5.5in Super AMOLED display with a Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution. That equates to roughly 401ppi – not bad for a mid-range smartphone – and a 70.1 percent screen-to-body ratio. The use of Super AMOLED rather than IPS LCD provides a brighter, more vivid image and is the same display tech used by flagship smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S8.

Moving beyond the specification, it’s a decent display. It’s bright enough to be used outside in sunlight and displays colours beautifully without the over-saturation seen on other smartphones. It’s also protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3 and while it isn’t shatterproof like the Moto Z2 Force, it should protect against scratches and low-level impacts.

Specs

It’s when it comes to the internals of the Moto Z2 Play that the mid-range pricetag becomes apparent, as it’s not the fastest smartphone we’ve ever benchmarked – but we’ll come to that in more detail below. First’ let’s discuss the specs.

Inside the Moto Z2 Play you’ll find an octa-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 626. The amount of RAM that is included depends on the storage capacity you opt for; you’ll get 3GB of RAM with the 32GB variant, while the 64GB variant will get 4GB of RAM. For reference, we’ve been using (and have benchmarked) the higher tier Moto Z2 Play with 4GB of RAM. The storage is also expandable by up to 256GB thanks to the microSD card slot.

Alongside the Snapdragon 626, you’ll find an Adreno 506 GPU. It’s a decent mid-range GPU designed to work with the Snapdragon 626, and is found on similarly priced smartphones including the Moto G5 Plus and Redmi Note 4. It won’t compete with flagship smartphones, but it should provide decent performance for the price.  

Benchmark results

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and discuss the benchmark results. While benchmark results don’t always reflect real-world usage, it gives us a much easier way to quantify and compare performance amongst smartphones. We’re comparing it to the first-gen Moto Z Play alongside the similarly priced Moto G5 Plus and the OnePlus 5 to show what you can get if you want to pay a little more.

Let’s start with Geekbench 4. Geekbench is used to test the CPU of the smartphone, and is a good indicator of general performance. As with all tests we performed, a higher number is better. The Moto Z2 Play scored 911 and 4585 in single- and multi-core respectively, beating both the Moto Z Play (790 and 2569) and the Moto G5 Plus (843 and 4225), although it couldn’t quite compete with the ‘flagship killing’ OnePlus 5 (1967 and 6760).

Next up is GFXBench which, as you might’ve guessed by the name, tests the graphical power of the smartphone and helps determine what kind of quality you’ll get when mobile gaming.

We ran multiple tests of varying levels of quality to determine where the Moto Z2 Play performs best and worst, but we’ll only mention two here: T-Rex (lowest quality) and Car Chase (highest quality). Those who want more information can look at the infographic below.

In GFXBench T-Rex, the Moto Z2 Play managed a stable 23fps. That puts it in line with the Moto G5 Plus (23fps) and last year’s Moto Z Play (23fps), suggesting that there isn’t much in terms of a graphical upgrade compared to last year’s model. In fact, it performs slightly worse than the Moto Z Play and Moto G5 Plus in Car Chase, managing only 3.5fps compared to 3.7- and 3.8fps respectively.

As with Geekbench, the OnePlus 5 outperformed the Moto Z2 Play by a long-shot. In T-Rex the OnePlus 5 scored a perfect 60fps and even managed a whopping 25fps in Car Chase. Considering you can pick up a OnePlus 5 for £449 (the Moto Z2 Play is £379), it might be worth saving a little more money and investing in something a little more powerful, especially if you’re into mobile gaming.

The last benchmark we ran was JetStream, a browser-based benchmark that tests the speed of the built-in browser. In the case of the Moto Z2 Play, it’s Google Chrome. While it’ll never be able to compete with the blistering speeds provided by Safari on iOS, the Moto Z2 Play scored 27.1, in line with both the Moto G5 Plus (30.2) and Moto Z Play (30.2) but way behind the OnePlus 5 (73).  

Despite the above results, it’s worth mentioning that in real-world usage we experienced nothing in the way of lag when gaming or using the phone. It should be able to power many of the games available on Google Play. Sure, it might fall over slightly when playing AAA-rated mobile games, but what more do you want from a mid-range smartphone?  

Battery

In terms of battery life, the Moto Z2 Play features a 3,000mAh battery. While that is a decent-sized battery for a 5.5in smartphone, it is worth pointing out that battery life was sacrificed for the slimline design with the Z2 Play as the original Z Play featured a larger 3,510mAh battery.

The Moto Z2 Play also features fast charging technology that provides around 50 percent of the total battery capacity in only 30 minutes, somewhat negating the issue of a smaller battery. Besides, if you find the battery life isn’t enough for you, there’s a Moto Mod that’ll provide the smartphone with extra battery life.

Besides, the battery life isn’t bad on the Moto Z2 Play – while it won’t last days on a single charge, we’ve found it can comfortably last a day with average usage. You might be able to squeeze more out of it if you’re careful with brightness, location services and other battery-draining features, but we didn’t feel we really needed to.

Connectivity

The Moto Z2 Play features the usual range of connectivity options including Wi-Fi 802.11 a/g/b/n, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, NFC (which also means it supports Android Pay) and even FM Radio for those that still use the functionality.

As mentioned in the design section of the review, the Moto Z2 Play also offers a USB-C port and 3.5mm headphone jack for music fans.

Camera

The Moto Z2 Play features a 12Mp rear-facing camera capable of decent low-light photography (f/1.7, 1.4um pixel size) with facial detection, phase detection and laser autofocus and a dual-LED flash to brighten the photo up.

Generally speaking, the Moto Z2 Play produces decent images with great exposure and colour representation, although, as with many mid-range smartphones, details are a little softer than we’d like.

Take the below image of St. Pancras Hotel; while the image looks impressive on the whole, as you start to zoom in you’ll notice the aggressive noise reduction come into play, making smaller details like the individual bricks and paving stones much less noticeable.

The aggressive noise reduction is more apparent when taking low-light photos like the one below, but overall, it captures enough light to make out details of the photo. You can easily read the writing on the glass bottle and iPhone case, although the Dark Knight starts to disappear into the darkness in places.

In terms of video quality, you’ve got a handful of options to choose from: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected] for slow-mo capabilities.

While we initially had reservations about the quality of 4K video on a mid-range smartphone, we were surprised by just how detailed and vibrant the 4K videos we captured were. It’s worth mentioning the lack of optical- or digital image stabilisation here though, as videos taken were fairly shaky even with sturdy hands.

In terms of the front facing camera, you’ll find a 5Mp snapper capable of recording 1080p video. While the quality is standard for a selfie camera in 2017 and more than enough for the likes of Skyping and Snapchatting, the addition of a dual-LED flash should help to capture those selfies in darkened environments.                                                    

Software

The Moto Z2 Play features Android 7.1.1 Nougat, Google’s latest iteration of Android. It comes with all the benefits of Android Nougat including split-screen viewing and the ability to quickly switch apps, and there isn’t much in the way of pre-installed bloatware either. You’ll find a Moto app for customising software features specific to Moto phones, but not much else.

Speaking of the Moto app, let’s discuss a few of those software features. The Moto app gives you access to a range of Moto Actions, a range of shortcuts and actions that Lenovo think will make your smartphone life a little easier.

It includes options like twisting your phone twice to activate the camera and a nifty feature that turns your display on when it thinks you’re reaching for it, along with tweaks like Moto Display and Moto Voice.

While it’s not for everyone, we found ourselves using more and more of these Moto-specific shortcuts the longer we used the smartphone.

Specs

Moto Z2 Play: Specs

  • 5.5in (1920x1080, 401ppi) Super AMOLED display with Gorilla Glass 3
  • Android 7.1.1 (Nougat)
  • Qualcomm MSM8953-Pro Snapdragon 626 (Octa-core 2.2GHz Cortex-A53) CPU
  • Adreno 506 GPU
  • 3/4GB RAM
  • 32/64GB storage, microSD support up to 256GB
  • Dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • GPS, GLONASS
  • NFC
  • USB-C
  • 12Mp f/1.7 phase detection and laser focus
  • 5Mp f/2.2 selfie camera
  • Front fingerprint scanner
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Stereo speakers
  • 3,000mAh non-removable lithium-ion battery
  • 156.2x76.2x6mm
  • 145g

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