In June this year, Lenovo unveiled the Moto Z, its flagship smartphone for 2016. The new phone took a radical approach to smartphone design, with its Moto Mods. These attachable accessories add functionality to the smartphone that is one of the best implementations of the concept yet.
The company has gone a step further and has now introduced the Moto Z Play, a more affordable version of the Moto Z. It features the same modular design, but with a more mid-range approach to the specifications sheet. The device was unveiled in the build-up to IFA 2016, and we were on hand to try it out.
The biggest feature of the Moto Z is its support for Moto Mods, a set of optional accessories that can be attached to the back of the device to add functionality. The new Moto Z Play also features support for Moto Mods, with the same ones compatible with both devices. Lenovo has promised that three future generations of Moto Z smartphones will be compatible with the same Mods.
For the time being, there are only four Mods available to buy, including the newly announced Hasselblad True Zoom Mod which was announced alongside the Moto Z Play, along with Style Shells which allow you to customise the back of the phone. What we really liked about the Moto Z Play is that attaching a Mod is incredibly simple. You don't have to open or replace anything; all you have to do is touch the Mod to the back of the phone and it will clamp onto it magnetically and stay firmly attached.
Removing the Mod after you're done is equally simple, only requiring you to pull the accessory off. Mod connectivity is seamless as well. We tried attaching the JBL SoundBoost while the phone was already playing music, and the phone detected it and switched over within moments, without any intervention on our part. This also holds true for the other Mods, which spring into action the instant you attach them onto the back of the phone.
Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 under the hood
While the Moto Z and US-only Moto Z Force are powered by the top-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC, the Moto Z Play built around the upper-midrange Snapdragon 625 SoC, which also powers two of Asus's ZenFone 3 models. There's 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage (with support for expansion) and Android 6.0.1 out of the box. Although we can't say how this phone will perform in comparison to the Moto Z, it definitely represents an affordable approach, with Lenovo choosing to retain the more expensive model's key feature over top-end specifications. That said, we do expect it to perform well.
The screen resolution is also lower than that of the Moto Z, with a 5.5-inch full-HD Super Amoled screen. While individual pixels aren't visible at this density, there's still a definite and noticeable difference between the two. However, if we put aside comparisons, the Moto Z Play has a screen that is more than capable in its own right.
The Moto Z Play features a 16-megapixel primary camera and 5-megapixel secondary camera, both of which have their own flash. The rear camera also features hybrid autofocus and support for upto 4K resolution video recording. Camera performance is on par with that of the Moto G4 Plus, which has a similar rear camera.
The device also features a 3510mAh battery, which is considerably larger than that of the Moto Z. Motorola promises up to 45 hours of mixed usage, but we'll reserve judgement on that till we've reviewed the device and put it through our own battery tests. A Turbo Power charger will be included with the device, giving you up to 8 hours of usage with 15 minutes of charging, as per the company's claims.
The Moto Z Play supports nano-SIM cards, and while Motorola has not specified whether India will receive the dual-SIM variant, we do expect this to be the case. There's also a fingerprint reader, a USB Type-C port for charging and data transfers, a 3.5mm socket for audio, and a liquid-repellent nano-coating. Although India pricing has not been announced, we expect the phone to cost under Rs. 30,000. Lenovo is expected to bring the Moto Z Play to India alongside the Moto Z and the full range of Moto Mods and Style Shells. Stay tuned for our full review of the Moto Z and Moto Z Play.
Disclosure: Lenovo sponsored the correspondent's flights and hotel for the trip to Berlin.