My current phone as of this writing is the Moto Z Play from Lenovo. This makes my third consecutive motorola ‘smartphone’ in recent times and fourth motorola ‘phone’ of all time; these being (in reverse chronological order) the Moto Z Play, Moto X Pure, Moto X Play, and Motorola Razr v3. This pattern is not because I’m necessarily a big Motorola fan perse’ but because I’m a fan of great value. As much as I consider myself a ‘techy’, I’m not willing to fork out upwards of USD$600+ on a phone that will lose 20% of its value the second I take it out of the box. At the same time it makes no sense in buying a cheap phone incapable of fulfilling my needs and wants in at least a year. Enter, the mid range phone category, which I particularly love. Some of the companies who produce the best mid rangers IMO are Oneplus, Motorola, HTC, and once upon a time Google.
Me owning this device was because my previous phone (the Moto X Pure) stopped working after just 10 months, and was sent to Motorola for repairs. Sending it from Jamaica was particularly challenging since the free FedEX airway bill I received was only valid in USA. But after some logistical gymnastics I finally got it to them. To my amazement I received an email telling me they would send me a replacement phone, however they no longer manufactured that model anymore, so instead they would send me the next equivalent in their line up of phones, the Moto Z Play. And here we are today.
The fact I have this shows how today’s mid range smartphone is on par or better than yesteryear’s flagship. Let us step back in time to ancient 2016, and review it in the context of its time.
Looking at the specs, this phone checks all the boxes for a typical mid range 2016 phone:
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 625
OS: Android 6.0.1 (Marshmallow), upgradable to Android 8.0 (Oreo)
Display: 5.5″ 1080p, Super AMOLED 403ppi
Main Camera: 16MP autofocus & dual-LED dual-tone flash
Front Cam: 5MP wide-angle with flash
Storage: 32GB, with expandable microSD
Battery: Non-removable 3510mAh battery
Extras: Front Fingerprint sensor
Dimensions: 6.99mm, 165g
Compared to its flagship predecessor (Moto X Pure/Style), it takes a drop in resolution from 1440p to 1080p, the screen size changed from 5.7″ to 5.5″, camera resolution dropped from 21MP to 16MP. This actually works out to be a good thing though, because the reduction in screen size and resolution reduces the overall power consumption. This coupled with an AMOLED screen, highly efficient Snapdragon 625 processor and a staggering 3510mAh battery makes this phone a juggernaut energy efficiency that would impress even the Energizer Bunny. For heavy usage you can easily get through a day with charge to spare, with moderate usage you can easily get 2 full days worth of usage.
The Moto Z with its aforementioned Snapdragon 625 processor is not a powerhouse like the Samsung Galaxy S7 or Iphone 6S of its time, but it’s more than cable of getting through typical everyday usage. It will even be able to play most games on the Play Store without a hitch. However when too much apps are open, there are few times when some apps will crash or slow down to a halt. The 3GB of RAM this phone offers seems to be the bare minimum RAM for a capable phone in 2016. 4GB would have been better, but 3GB gets the job done.
The main camera takes respectable quality pictures, but nothing to get excited over. With natural sunlight and proper focus you can get some really vibrant pictures, but this quickly goes downhill in low light. This won’t matter much however for the average consumer since the pictures will lose its original quality after going through Instagram and Facebook’s compression. The front camera is not really noteworthy, but it can capture your selfies, with the added bonus of night pictures with its front flash.
This phone is beautiful with its all glass design, but quite thick and heavy for a phone these days. And with the glass body design you will probably have to use a case which definitely gives it noticeable thickness. This is however is due to the beefy battery; so it’s a trade-off. But nonetheless a trade off I can live with. The glass is quite soft too. I found that even when having a 2 part case on, it still picked up small dirt particles which left microscratches on the glass, so there seems to be no avoiding it. The Corning Gorilla Glass 3 on the front however does an excellent job with keeping of scratches though. But it’s still advised to have tempered glass on it, because glass on a phone, no matter how strong, can’t withstand a 5 foot drop.
This generation of Motorolas also introduced the Moto Mod concept which adds extra functionality to the base phone. Some mods include a 10x Optical zoom camera, battery pack, speaker, and many more. Motorola even has the Moto Mod dev kit for sale for designers who want to create their own personal mod for the market. Think Play store for hardware.
This phone is great phone for the price and more than gets the job done. Motorola adds their take on the modular phone concept with their Moto Mods. Time will tell if it catches on however. The main draw backs of this phone are that it is quite bulky, there is no 4GB RAM or 64GB storage options available, and there is no IP67/8 water resistance.