Moto Z Play review: Playmodo

Playmodo

GSMArena team, 23 December 2016.

Display

The similarities between the Moto Z Play and the Moto G4 Plus, we reviewed earlier, are notable and on at least a few levels. However, the display is one area where the added hardware value of the former starts to shine through. Instead of a simple IPS panel, even the entry-level Moto Z handset offers a superior Super AMOLED panel.

It has a diagonal of 5.5-inches and a resolution of 1080p, for a total pixel density of 403ppi. We continue to stand firm behind our believe that this is perfectly sharp for a display of this size. Plus, an OLED panel, combined with said resolution and the efficient Snapdragon 625 chipset should yield some impressive battery endurance results. But, more on that later.

Motorola Moto Z Play review

The "Super AMOLED" notation itself indicates that the panel comes from Samsung. However, it is not really a top-of-the-line piece. Viewing angles are sub-par and the maximum brightness could use some improvement. In our test, we measured 371 nits in normal mode and up to 526 in max auto. The auto brightness adjustment is not very quick to respond to changes in ambient light, so we often found ourselves reaching for the brightness slider to override it.

Color accuracy is only about average. We understand that vibrant colors are what most users have come to expect from OLED so that we won't judge the Moto Z Play too harshly. If that is what you are after, the Vibrant mode has all the "pop" you could ever want. There maximum color deviation has a DeltaE 2000 of 11.8, and the average is 5.3.

Then, there is the Standard mode. It lowers the maximum DeltaE to 7.1, which is quite good. You do, however, end up with a slightly colder color pallet and it's still not calibration-grade color reproduction.

We can thank Super AMOLED technology for the practically infinite contrast. The almost uncanny exact match in numbers with the more expensive Moto Z is not a typo. Motorola seems to be using panels with basically identical performance between the pair.

Display test 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Motorola Moto Z Play 0.00 371
Motorola Moto Z Droid 0.00 371
Motorola Moto G4 Plus 0.33 478 1448
OnePlus 3T 0 447
Xiaomi Mi 5s 0.51 660 1294
Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime 0.475 528 1112
Xiaomi Redmi Pro 0.00 408
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL 0.45 607 1349
LeEco Le Max 2 0.30 426 1444
ZTE Axon 7 0.00 352
LG G5 0.17 306 1855
nubia Z11 0.43 513 1196
Meizu PRO 6 0.01 360 40000
Meizu MX6 0.34 457 1344
Huawei Mate 8 0.346 471 1361
Huawei P9 Plus 0.00 400
Huawei Honor 8 0.34 374 1101
Alcatel Idol 4S 0.00 373
Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016) 0.00 353
Samsung Galaxy C7 0.00 422
Oppo R9s 0.032 411 12844

The Moto Z Play's AMOLED panel is superior over the Moto G4 Plus one in the sunlight legibility as well. The results themselves are nothing spectacular, but, still, the improvement is tangible.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+
    4.615
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
    4.439
  • OnePlus 3
    4.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    4.376
  • HTC One A9
    4.274
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7
    4.247
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    4.241
  • OnePlus 3T
    4.232
  • Google Pixel XL
    4.164
  • ZTE Axon 7
    4.154
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    4.09
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    4.019
  • OnePlus X
    3.983
  • Vivo Xplay5 Elite
    3.983
  • Oppo R7s
    3.964
  • Apple iPhone 7
    3.964
  • Huawei P9 Plus
    3.956
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)
    3.918
  • Samsung Galaxy C5
    3.911
  • Samsung Galaxy C7
    3.896
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    3.895
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 outdoor
    3.879
  • Samsung Galaxy J2 outdoor
    3.873
  • Samsung Galaxy A8
    3.859
  • Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016)
    3.817
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    3.816
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.802
  • Xiaomi Redmi Pro
    3.798
  • LG V20 Max auto
    3.798
  • Sony Xperia XZ
    3.795
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
    3.789
  • Apple iPhone 6s
    3.783
  • Meizu Pro 5
    3.781
  • Microsoft Lumia 650
    3.772
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)
    3.756
  • Oppo F1 Plus
    3.709
  • Vivo X5Pro
    3.706
  • Sony Xperia X Compact
    3.694
  • Apple iPhone SE
    3.681
  • Huawei Mate 9
    3.68
  • Samsung Galaxy A7
    3.679
  • Meizu PRO 6
    3.659
  • BlackBerry Priv
    3.645
  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    3.588
  • Apple iPhone 6s Plus
    3.53
  • Motorola Moto Z Play
    3.526
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016)
    3.523
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.523
  • Acer Jade Primo
    3.521
  • Microsoft Lumia 950
    3.512
  • Oppo R7 Plus
    3.499
  • nubia Z11
    3.466
  • Samsung Galaxy J7
    3.422
  • Meizu MX5
    3.416
  • LG V20
    3.402
  • Oppo R9s
    3.352
  • Oppo R7
    3.32
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s
    3.276
  • Samsung Galaxy J2
    3.235
  • Sony Xperia X Performance
    3.234
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 2
    3.228
  • Motorola Moto X Play
    3.222
  • Huawei P9
    3.195
  • Lenovo Vibe Shot
    3.113
  • Motorola Moto X Force
    3.105
  • LG Nexus 5X
    3.092
  • Huawei Mate S
    3.073
  • Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
    3.065
  • Sony Xperia X
    2.989
  • Huawei Mate 8
    2.949
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3S
    2.913
  • Sony Xperia XA Ultra
    2.906
  • LG G5
    2.905
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus
    2.884
  • Sony Xperia Z5
    2.876
  • Microsoft Lumia 550
    2.851
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3 Pro
    2.803
  • Sony Xperia Z5 compact
    2.784
  • Meizu MX6
    2.751
  • LG V10
    2.744
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3
    2.735
  • Sony Xperia M5
    2.69
  • Huawei P9 Lite
    2.679
  • Vivo V3Max
    2.659
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix
    2.658
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    2.641
  • Sony Xperia XA
    2.609
  • Motorola Moto G4 Plus
    2.582
  • Motorola Moto G4 Plus (max auto)
    2.582
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    2.574
  • LeEco Le Max 2
    2.567
  • Microsoft Lumia 640
    2.563
  • Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
    2.563
  • Lenovo Moto G4
    2.544
  • Oppo F1
    2.528
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    2.525
  • Huawei Honor 7 Lite / Honor 5c
    2.506
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    2.503
  • Oppo F1s
    2.481
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus
    2.473
  • Huawei G8
    2.471
  • Huawei nova
    2.467
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Lenovo Vibe K5
    2.459
  • Meizu m3 max
    2.447
  • Huawei Honor 7
    2.406
  • Sony Xperia E5
    2.386
  • ZUK Z1 by Lenovo
    2.382
  • HTC 10
    2.378
  • Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016)
    2.378
  • Huawei nova plus
    2.329
  • HTC One E9+
    2.305
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • Lenovo Vibe K4 Note
    2.254
  • Sony Xperia C5 Ultra
    2.253
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (MediaTek)
    2.249
  • Sony Xperia C4 Dual
    2.235
  • Xiaomi Mi Note
    2.234
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    2.233
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Huawei P8
    2.196
  • Huawei Honor 6
    2.169
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 2
    2.166
  • OnePlus Two
    2.165
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • LG Aka
    2.145
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4
    2.145
  • Archos 50 Diamond
    2.134
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Acer Liquid X2
    2.084
  • Huawei P8lite
    2.078
  • Moto G 3rd gen max manual
    2.026
  • Xiaomi Mi 3
    2.001
  • Xiaomi Mi Max
    1.996
  • Sony Xperia E4g
    1.972
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Meizu m3 note
    1.923
  • BlackBerry Leap
    1.892
  • Meizu m2 note
    1.892
  • ZTE Nubia Z9 mini
    1.759
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Asus Zenfone Selfie
    1.68
  • Motorola Moto E (2nd Gen)
    1.675
  • ZTE Nubia Z9
    1.659
  • Jolla Jolla
    1.605
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215

Connectivity

We already mentioned this on a few occasions, but we will reiterate that the Moto Z Play offers a dual-SIM variant. Not only that, but it is incredibly convenient since you can use two Nano SIM cards and a microSD, all at once - a real rarity these days.

Dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n is supported along with Bluetooth 4.1 LE. This is a rather odd downgrade since the Moto G4 Plus does have a newer Bluetooth 4.2 radio. Still, NFC has not been omitted this time around. That means you also get support for Android Pay in supported regions.

Including USB Type-C is a pretty progressive move on Motorola's part. However, like many other manufacturers, the new connector standard doesn't necessarily bring about new communication tech on the backend. Data transfer is handled by USB 2.0. There is no video output - MHL, SlimPort or otherwise. Luckily OTG is thrown in the mix.

Battery

Most of the Moto Z Play's girth can be attributed to the rather sizable 3510 mAh battery pack. It is sealed in, which has been the norm in the industry for some time now. We won't hold a grudge against Lenovo on this point.

Motorola Moto Z Play review

Battery endurance is definitely one of the Moto Z Play's strong suites. It is one of those mid-range offers with a focus on power efficiency. Their number has been growing in 2016, and we expect the trend to continue well into 2017 as well.

The better part of the magic lies within the chipset. The Snapdragon 625 SoC is still among the select few to use an efficient 14nm process. Since it relies on less powerful Cortex-A53 cores, the benefit is almost entirely to power efficiency.

Combine that with the 3510 mAh battery and the efficient nature of the FullHD Super AMOLED panel and you end up with what our endurance tests calculated at 100 hours. This is quite respectable and on par with the Samsung Galaxy C7.

The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritties. You can also check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we've tested will compare under your own typical use.

Reader comments

  • Sarfraaz

Moto z series is great

  • Jabi

awesome performance from my the purchase date(since 2016)

For the moto z play, I have NO mods and never have used a moto mod. I am getting an irksome message repeatedly - "The Moto Mod isn't lined up correctly. Make sure the connector is clean and try attaching it again." Message repeats every few seconds. ...