Moto Z Play review: Playmodo

Playmodo

GSMArena team, 23 December 2016.

Google Photos is now more AI than album

Google Photos is your gallery app on the Moto Z Play. Just like its sibling, it even comes with 2 years of free full-resolution backups (normally this is paid, free accounts get only limited resolution backups). Uploads can happen over Wi-Fi only or use cell data too.

Pinch zoom changes the size of thumbnails, but the search field is pure sci-fi - type in the name of a place, person or just name a thing (e.g. 'swimming pool') and it sifts through years of photos in a moment. That is some next level neural network computational power right in your hands and free of charge. Better yet, the more photos you accumulate over time, the smarter Google's search gets.

Google Photos - Motorola Moto Z Play review Google Photos - Motorola Moto Z Play review Google Photos - Motorola Moto Z Play review Google Photos - Motorola Moto Z Play review
Google Photos

Sometimes Google Photos will also decide to bundle photos together in a themed album, from, let's say, a certain outing or event. Or even apply some automatic filters for you. The results vary in quality, but are typically quite good, especially for something you put zero effort into.

All of these auto features can be triggered manually, of course. From the editing you can hit Auto to fix the colors and contrast, you can auto-level a photo or just add filters.

Manual editing options - Motorola Moto Z Play review Manual editing options - Motorola Moto Z Play review Manual editing options - Motorola Moto Z Play review
Manual editing options

Video Player

There's no video player as such, but you can use Google Photos to view videos. That's mostly for ones from your camera as if you want "advanced" features like subtitles you're out of luck.

Basic video player from Google Photos - Motorola Moto Z Play review Basic video player from Google Photos - Motorola Moto Z Play review
Basic video player from Google Photos

Google Play Music merges streaming and offline playback

The overall music playback experience, on the other hand, almost makes up for the video hurdles. Play Music works as a generic music player, but it's also a streaming app. Google boasts 50,000 tracks and if you're worried about data usage, you can just make your favorite albums available offline.

Better still, Google is also generous enough to let you upload your own MP3 files to its servers and then stream those through the app.

Google Play Music is built around music streaming - Motorola Moto Z Play review Google Play Music is built around music streaming - Motorola Moto Z Play review Google Play Music is built around music streaming - Motorola Moto Z Play review Google Play Music is built around music streaming - Motorola Moto Z Play review
Google Play Music is built around music streaming

Still, if you prefer your own music library, locally, then Play Music will assist you in loading tracks from your computer or a USB drive if you happen to have one.

Separate equalizers are available for wired headsets and the front-facing speaker. For headsets, you can also enable surround sound and other features.

You can cache streamed music - Motorola Moto Z Play review Setting up the equalizer - Motorola Moto Z Play review Setting up the equalizer - Motorola Moto Z Play review
You can cache streamed music Setting up the equalizer

Interestingly enough, the Moto G4 Plus, we keep mentioning, might just have one extra feature to boast over its more refined Moto Z Play sibling - Radio. To be perfectly frank, we weren't able to obtain any official information on whether the handset has an FM receiver or not.

Our test unit came without Motorola's FM radio app. Still, the latter is available on the Play Store, so we decided to try and fetch it ourselves. The outcome of said effort is that the app is marked as unavailable for the Z Play. And even when we sideloaded the APK, it still refused to run. Thus, we are fairly certain that the Moto Z Play does not have a radio receiver.

Audio output is very good

The Motorola Moto Z Play did very well when hooked up to an active external amplifier. The smartphone posted excellent scores for clarity and its volume was well above average.

Volume remained good when we hooked up a pair of headphones, while the only affected reading was stereo crosstalk, which rose moderately. A pretty solid showing, all in all.

Anyway, here go the results so you can do your comparisons.

TestFrequency responseNoise levelDynamic rangeTHDIMD + NoiseStereo crosstalk
Motorola Moto Z Play+0.04, -0.02-93.093.10.00180.0085-93.8
Motorola Moto Z Play (headphones attached)+0.05, -0.02-92.792.80.00230.054-52.4
Oppo R9s+0.01, -0.02-93.393.20.00100.0070-93.5
Oppo R9s (headphones attached)+0.19, -0.35-92.392.20.00980.295-58.3
Meizu MX6+0.10, -0.03-94.294.00.00190.0064-89.3
Meizu MX6 (headphones attached)+0.30, -0.07-92.593.00.8100.271-31.3
Asus Zenfone 3 +0.03, -0.30-86.683.60.00170.049-91.1
Asus Zenfone 3 (headphones attached)+0.06, -0.03-92.492.40.00180.021-88.2
Xiaomi Mi 5s +0.01, -0.03-89.690.20.0029 0.040-85.5
Xiaomi Mi 5s (headphones)+0.71, -0.31-82.984.80.229 0.559-48.0
ZTE Axon 7+0.06, -0.10-92.492.30.00150.0093-80.9
ZTE Axon 7 (headphones attached)+0.03, -0.11-92.392.30.00110.012-77.0

Motorola Moto Z Play frequency response
Motorola Moto Z Play frequency response

You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.

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. ...