Saturday, 7 July 2018

Moto Z2 Play

Have you got a Moto Z? Stop reading.
Have you got a Moto Z Play? Stop reading.
This is for the rest of you!

The bottom line is that it's a nice upgrade to the Moto Z Play and I can confirm that even though the battery has been decreased from 3500mAh to 3000mAh, you wouldn't know it. The battery life, in my short tests here remains stunning and much better than the Moto Z's. I've been wow'd by nearly 3hrs screen-on-time reading news, catching up, watching a few videos, and dropping less than 20% of the battery. Go about my normal day thereafter and 13hrs later, it's still only down to 70%. Now, you might use your phone very differently to me, but I reckon that by any standards, this is a good return.

So, laying that aside and assuming that you're not bought into the Moto Mod system (yet), the question is around whether or not this is a good enough handset to 'stand alone' on the merits it has, or if there are better options out there for the money if you don't have, nor are interested in the Mods.

Before I go on, I'll just say that I am bought into the Moto Mod system and because of that it's a no-brainer. However, for me personally, having the Z, it's not for me as (yet) another handset in stock! The Mods are great and most of them work brilliantly, but there's little point in having multiple handsets unless you're buying into the system - as a couple, maybe, of for the family together.

The device is markedly thinner than the first generation handset, but only a slither thicker than the Moto Z. I was pleased to see that Cruzerlite had at last got onto the Moto Z bandwagon and released a Bugdroid Circuit for the Z2 Play for a tenner. The phone is 145g in weight and complies with the same 5.5" standard that the Moto Mods dictate. The unit which I had shipped from China directly via Motorola's UK website is a Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by) version with a Super AMOLED 1080p screen covered by Gorilla Glass 3. The back is now metal and not glass. The general fit and finish is quite superb. Robust and smart.

The unit is splash and dust resistant, it's powered by a Snapdragon 626, has 64GB of storage and 4GB RAM. It arrived with Android 7.1.1. on board and quickly updated with Google's July 2017 Security. It has a MicroSD Card Slot (unusually around the flip-side of the SIM Tray, meaning that you can have 2 SIM Cards in place as well as the memory card).

The camera is a 12MP f1.7 unit with a 5MP f2.2 sister around the front, both with LED flash. It retains the 3.5mm headphone socket and software includes an excellent FM Radio. I've tested the speaker against the Moto Z and it's really hard to tell any difference between them. If I was pushed, I'd say that maybe the newer model is slightly richer - but you'd have to be picky to hear it. The sound from both punch well above their weight in terms of what you'd expect from an earpiece-embedded speaker. It's loud enough for desk/bedside/sofa listening to any media and not far off being 'car good'. The richness and quality can be tweaked in Settings inside GPM or via your player of choice.

The lightning fast fingerprint sensor has been switched to the same 'oval' style of the G-Series Moto's and is also on board with the alternative swipe-navigation controls instead of the traditional method devised by Google. Fortunately, they remain optional! To rounds things up, the 3000mAh battery is fast-charging with a charger in the box and will top you up 50% in half and hour.

In terms of the software and UI, pretty much everything is either Stock or really near to Stock in the way that Moto seem to have embraced Android these days. Kudos. Google Assistant is present out of the box along with a launcher which looks very Pixel in the way that the latest G-Series and E-Series phones from Moto have become. Swipe-right for Google Now stuff, enjoy the 5 permanent Icons across the bottom of the screen and the 'new' style swipe-up arrow for the App Drawer. As I said before, the one-swipe Navigation option is there but if you do want rid of the on-screen buttons to make more space, you have to use the Swipe Navigation as there are no capacitive buttons flanking it.

The Moto Z2 Play retains the hover-over screen sensor to wake it - the closest it seems we're allowed to 'always on' here(!) and I have found with all my time with the Z that it works brilliantly. It is by far the best system employed, over double-tap to wake, or lift to see or shove to view et al. Almost as interesting is the new look of the lock screen when you do float your hand over - a lovely round clock has been added which shows the battery percentage, text and graphical 'circle' around the cluster, time and date with below the usual options to look at incoming stuff and reply right from there.

I don't see any difference in speed around the UI or multi-tasking between my Moto Z and this unit, regardless of the less powerful chipset. For anyone coming to the Moto Z family, I think it would be madness to consider anything other than this device, or maybe the Z Play if you really believe that you can squeeze more power out of the battery. If you don't like any aspects of the UI and are really picky, then you can of course install another launcher, but this look and feel is very pleasing and very Vanilla.

And then there's the Mods! But I've covered those elsewhere until I'm blue in the face(!) and everything I've said applies. They all fit perfectly, as you'd expect, and work as seamlessly as they do on the Moto Z and Z Play. Personally, I think that is reason enough to buy into the system - the fun factor - but it's clearly far from essential. This phone can be bought for the stand alone merit it holds. Recommended.

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