Moto Z2 Play review

GSMArena team, 10 October 2017.

Display

The Moto Z2 Play might share a screen diagonal with its more-expensive Z2 Force sibling, but this is where the similarities end in the display department. The two clearly employ very different panels, but thankfully both of our favorite OLED variety. Mid-rangers that punch above traditional LCD constraints are always a pleasant sight.

Motorola Moto Z2 Play review

The Super AMOLED branding suggest Motorola did some shopping over at Samsung's for the particular panel. While some might miss the QHD resolution, we think FullHD still looks perfectly sharp across a screen with a 5.5-inch diagonal. Plus, lower resolution typically means better graphics performance and improved power efficiency. These traits fit in perfectly with the efficient Snapdragon 626 chipset in the Z2 Play as well. But more on that in a little bit.

As far as numbers are concerned, the Moto Z2 Play managed a solid 432 nit max brightness in our tests. This is noticeably brighter than the Z2 Force in normal lighting conditions, but also far from what the Z2 Force can output in auto overdrive mode when bright light is available (559nits).

Display test 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge max auto 0.00 610
Xiaomi Mi 6 0.462 603 1305
Huawei P10 0.416 592 1423
LG G6 max auto 0.277 564 2036
Samsung Galaxy S7 max auto 0.00 563
Motorola Moto Z2 Force (Max Auto) 0 559
Motorola Moto Z Play (max auto) 0 526
Xiaomi Mi Max 2 0.401 519 1294
Lenovo Moto Z Force Droid (max auto) 0.00 517
Lenovo P2 max auto 0 510
Oppo F3 Plus 0.343 509 1485
Lenovo Moto Z max auto 0.00 506
Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (S625) 0.322 484 1503
LG G6 0.228 468 2053
OnePlus 5 0 435
Motorola Moto Z2 Play 0 432
Xiaomi Mi Max 0.46 424 922
ZTE Nubia Z17 (Max Auto) 0.268 392 1461
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 0.00 392
Samsung Galaxy S7 0.00 391
ZTE Nubia Z17 0.267 388 1451
Motorola Moto Z2 Force 0 376
Lenovo Moto Z 0.00 371
Motorola Moto Z Play 0 371
Lenovo Moto Z Force Droid 0.00 352
Lenovo P2 0 346
Xiaomi Mi Note 2 0.005 341 68200

This appears to be one significant difference between the pair of panels, or perhaps their respective controllers - the Z2 Play never actually managed to shine brighter than 432 nits. It does have a light sensor and a properly functioning one, judging by its readings. Auto brightness also works as expected. It is just that there is no overdrive mode. Even so, these numbers constitute an improvement over the original Moto Z Play. We also had no real trouble using the Z2 Play outdoors, thanks to its very impressive 4.459 sunlight legibility rating.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Samsung Galaxy S8
    4.768
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    4.658
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+
    4.615
  • Motorola Moto Z2 Play
    4.459
  • Oppo R11
    4.454
  • 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
  • Nokia 8
    4.239
  • OnePlus 3T
    4.232
  • Google Pixel XL
    4.164
  • ZTE Axon 7
    4.154
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    4.148
  • Meizu Pro 7 Plus
    4.147
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    4.09
  • LG V30
    4.022
  • 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
  • Meizu Pro 6 Plus
    3.935
  • Lenovo Moto Z
    3.931
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)
    3.918
  • OnePlus 5
    3.914
  • 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
  • Apple iPhone 6
    3.838
  • Sony Xperia XZs
    3.818
  • Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016)
    3.817
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    3.816
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017)
    3.812
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
    3.804
  • 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
  • Xiaomi Mi 6
    3.767
  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    3.765
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)
    3.756
  • Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact
    3.729
  • Oppo F1 Plus
    3.709
  • Vivo X5Pro
    3.706
  • Sony Xperia X Compact
    3.694
  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
    3.688
  • Apple iPhone SE
    3.681
  • Huawei Mate 9
    3.68
  • Samsung Galaxy A7
    3.679
  • Meizu PRO 6
    3.659
  • BlackBerry Priv
    3.645
  • Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra
    3.597
  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    3.588
  • LG G6
    3.556
  • 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
  • Huawei P10 Plus
    3.456
  • HTC U Ultra
    3.453
  • Samsung Galaxy J7
    3.422
  • Meizu MX5
    3.416
  • LG V20
    3.402
  • Huawei P10
    3.379
  • Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016)
    3.378
  • Oppo R9s
    3.352
  • Honor 8 Pro
    3.341
  • Oppo R7
    3.32
  • Lenovo P2
    3.316
  • Honor 9
    3.289
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s
    3.276
  • Nokia 5
    3.261
  • Nokia 6 (Chinese version)
    3.244
  • Xiaomi Mi 5
    3.24
  • Nokia 6 (Global version)
    3.238
  • Samsung Galaxy J2
    3.235
  • Sony Xperia X Performance
    3.234
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 2
    3.228
  • Motorola Moto X Play
    3.222
  • Oppo F3 Plus
    3.218
  • Huawei Mate 9 Pro
    3.206
  • Huawei P9
    3.195
  • ZTE Nubia Z17
    3.159
  • Lenovo Vibe Shot
    3.113
  • Motorola Moto X Force
    3.105
  • LG Nexus 5X
    3.092
  • HTC U11
    3.089
  • Huawei Mate S
    3.073
  • Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
    3.065
  • Sony Xperia XA1
    3.012
  • Sony Xperia L1
    2.994
  • Sony Xperia X
    2.989
  • Huawei P10 Lite
    2.974
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Sony Xperia Z1
    2.95
  • Huawei Mate 8
    2.949
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4
    2.92
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3S
    2.913
  • Sony Xperia XA Ultra
    2.906
  • LG G5
    2.905
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime
    2.893
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus
    2.884
  • Sony Xperia XZ Premium (sRGB)
    2.877
  • Sony Xperia XZ Premium
    2.877
  • Sony Xperia Z5
    2.876
  • Nokia 3
    2.871
  • Microsoft Lumia 550
    2.851
  • Lenovo Moto M
    2.813
  • 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
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (S625)
    2.714
  • Meizu M5
    2.71
  • Sony Xperia M5
    2.69
  • Huawei P9 Lite
    2.679
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime
    2.679
  • Vivo V3Max
    2.659
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix
    2.658
  • Doogee Mix
    2.642
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    2.641
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4a
    2.635
  • Xiaomi Mi 5X (Standard)
    2.616
  • Sony Xperia XA
    2.609
  • Motorola Moto G4 Plus
    2.582
  • Motorola Moto G4 Plus (max auto)
    2.582
  • Meizu M5s
    2.58
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    2.574
  • LeEco Le Max 2
    2.567
  • Microsoft Lumia 640
    2.563
  • Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
    2.563
  • Xiaomi Mi Max 2
    2.561
  • Lenovo Moto G4
    2.544
  • Lenovo K6 Note
    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
  • Xiaomi Mi 5X (Auto)
    2.417
  • HTC 10 evo
    2.407
  • Huawei Honor 7
    2.406
  • Sony Xperia E5
    2.386
  • ZUK Z1 by Lenovo
    2.382
  • HTC 10
    2.378
  • Oppo F3
    2.376
  • vivo V5 Plus
    2.371
  • Meizu m1 note
    2.362
  • 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
  • Meizu M5 Note
    2.189
  • 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 (X20)
    2.145
  • Archos 50 Diamond
    2.134
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Xiaomi Mi 4S
    2.095
  • Acer Liquid X2
    2.084
  • Huawei P8lite
    2.078
  • vivo V5
    2.059
  • 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
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    1.772
  • 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
  • Sony Xperia L
    1.351
  • Xiaomi Redmi 2
    1.311
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215

In terms of color reproduction, Motorola's clearly worked towards a vibrant "OLED"-ish color palette more than anything else. The Z2 Play comes with two color modes - standard and vibrant, neither of which is really calibrated against sRGB. In our test with a colorimeter at max brightness, both exhibited an average deltaE of about 4.8 and a maximum of about 10.

Setting the panel to 200 nits doesn't improve things notably. Since the Z2 Play doesn't offer any manual color correction, you are pretty much stuck with a consistent color deviation and especially punchy reds no matter what you do. That being the case, vivid mode seems to be the best choice, since it at least boosts the other colors and brings them closer to the hot, fiery reds.

Connectivity

Just like its sibling, the Moto Z2 Play is available with either one or two SIM slots. There are of the smallest Nano-SIM variety and we are happy to report, Motorola found a way around using a hybrid slot for the microSD. Instead, it is positioned on the back side of the same tray - impressive, for such a slim phone.

Naturally, mid-range internals necessitate a few downgrades from the impressive connectivity load-out of the Z2 Force flagship. Still, most of these cutbacks are not really deal-breakers for most users. The X9 LTE modem is still capable of a respectable 300 Mbps down stream and 150 Mbps up.

The X9 chip also offers decent network band support, including HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100 and LTE 1(2100), 3(1800), 5(850), 7(2600), 8(900), 19(800), 20(800), 28(700), 38(2600), 40(2300), 41(2500). 2x20 MHz carrier aggregation is a nice little touch as well.

Motorola Moto Z2 Play review

On the local side, the Moto Z2 Play has Wi-Fi a/b/g/n (2.4GHz) + ac (5GHz). It's a 1x1 configuration, but you do still get 802.11ac Wave 2. Bluetooth is fairly modern as well - v.4.2 (A2DP, EDR, LE). A-GPS, Wi-Fi Direct, Android Beam, and NFC with support for tap-to-pay services are also on board.

The Moto Z2 Play also offers the good old 3.5mm audio jack, putting to shame the Z2 Force as it not only is thinner but it also has a bigger battery and an FM radio receiver. The audio jack is positioned on the bottom, right next to the fast USB 3.1, Type-C port. The latter offers USB On-The-Go support.

Battery Life

In its second iteration, the Moto Z Play model comes with a drastically slimmed-down 6mm profile. We can't really blame Motorola for the design choice, since slapping a Moto Mod on top of the 7mm thick original Moto Z Play does make for a very bulky package.

A new fancy waistline, however, means a reduced battery capacity - by as much as 500 mAh to be specific. While still better than the 2,730 mAh capacity by the Z2 Force, the Z2 Play's 3,000mAh battery capacity is still a notable downgrade.

Just like its predecessor, the Z2 Play uses an efficient 14nm Qualcomm mid-range chipset. This time around, it is even the improved and tweaked Snapdragon 626. Throw in the frugal Super AMOLED panel and you've got yourself a promising start. While you don't exactly end up with the 100 hours of endurance of the original, you still get a respectable 76 hour score.

This is surprisingly similar to what the Moto Z2 Force manages with its smaller, 2730 mAh battery. The Z2 Force did handle its standby cycle a little better for a few extra hours of endurance. On the other hand, the Z2 Play seems to last significantly longer in calls. Web browsing and video playback on both models fall in line neatly. Both do very well as media players over extended periods of time too.

Motorola Moto Z2 Play review

Put into perspective, these are really solid numbers on today's smartphone scene. Furthermore, you can easily slap on a Moto Mod battery pack to conveniently extend the battery life even further.

In terms of charging, Moto includes one of its TurboPower adapters in the box. Rated at 5V@3A, 9V@1.6A, and 12V@1.2A, the charger pumps out a maximum of 15W of power. In 30 minutes it charges the phone's battery from 0 to 74%, which is even more than the promised 50%.

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

  • Salman Khan

I buy new phone moto Z2 play i need to update

in the review it says the z2 play has wifi ac (5GHz) Wave 2, but it does not. it only has wifi N 5ghz

  • Anonymous

No audio with GPS