Motorola Moto Z2 Play Smartphone Review: a success with no real brilliance

PROS:

  • Clean finishes.
  • Quality screen.
  • Balanced performance.
  • Soundtrack well mastered.
  • Very solid autonomy.

CONS:

  • A camera lens that stands out a lot and highlights the problems of running to finesse.
  • Lack of optimization of the front face.
  • Photo processing too aggressive.
  • Autonomy below last year’s model.

BOTTOM LINE :

The Z2 Play could not escape the comparison with the excellent Z Play of last year. And side by side, this new version does not have much to show. The design does not evolve, except for this small millimeter of thickness expensive paid, since it mainly results in a battery of less capacity. Autonomy, although always excellent, suffers directly. Of course, the Z2 Play is still a success, but its lack of indisputable strengths ultimately makes it less attractive than its predecessor.


Since the takeover of Motorola by Lenovo, the historic American telephony brand has seen many adventures. First kept as is and then “simplified” under the moto banner, the phones hit the historical “M” have experienced a small identity crisis until Lenovo finally decides to give back to the Motorola brand all its splendor. The first product announced under this “new” brand is therefore the Moto Z2 Play.

In 2015 came out a shy phone, but that was going to redistribute the autonomy question cards, the Moto Z Play. Successor to the already excellent X Play, this Z had upset our ranking and our expectations as to the autonomy of mobile midrange. The expectations of the Z2 Play were therefore disproportionate from this point of view, and the disappointment was great when Motorola announced that the battery of its new Play would be limited to 3,000 mAh. Apart from this reduction in capacity, the recipe has remained more or less unchanged: a mid-range technical sheet, an Android “stock” and a price around 400$.

The Z2 Play features a 5.5-inch Full HD Amoled display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 mobile platform, 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal memory (expandable via microSD). On the back is a 16-megapixel camera, while another 5-megapixel camera is on the front. There is Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, an FM radio chip, 4G (Band 3 [1800 MHz], 7 [2600 MHz], 20 [800 MHz] and 28 [700 MHz]), and a Type-C USB port on the lower slot. It is therefore a battery of 3 000 mAh which supplies the whole, while Android in its version 7.1.1 is in command.

ERGONOMICS AND DESIGN

Motorola has promised to offer its Moto Mods modules on its new smartphones for at least 3 years, and this prevents it from upsetting the design of its devices. The Z2 Play looks like two drops of water to its predecessor, except for its thickness. The manufacturer has indeed sought to build a slightly thinner mobile, halfway between Z Play and Moto Z first generation . This slimming cure has forced Motorola to trim a bit in the battery, but at least the mini jack is still there.

Lovers of thin and light phones will find their happiness with this Z2 Play, since the mobile is somewhat similar to the standards of 2017. It is regrettable that the system still highlight the outgrowth of the camera. Admittedly, adding a “modular” shell will solve the problem, but this solution looks a bit like a dressing on a wooden leg.

Motorola remains a bit blocked on the standards of last year regarding the ratio of occupancy of the screen on the front. Where the best scores are around 80%, the Z Play remains blocked at 70%. A lack of optimization that is noticeable especially at the bottom and at the top of the screen, where the manufacturer nevertheless stalled many sensors, loudspeaker, camera …

On the construction itself, however, there is not much to complain about, the phone is well finished and the metal always gives an impression of seriousness. The design is quite sober and the only real problem is the placement of the on / off button, too close to the volume buttons and which can sometimes be confused with the latter.

SCREEN

On the side of the screen, Lenovo has retained the same recipe as for the Moto Z Play, as there is an Amoled slab with a diagonal of 5.5 inches and Full HD definition. Unfortunately, where the Z Play managed to display almost perfect colors with a delta E pointing to 2.4, the Z2 Play gets a little foot in the carpet and has a delta E at 3.9, slightly above of the sacrosanct value of the 3 below which it is considered that the human eye no longer sees chromatic aberrations. The temperature of the colors is also a little high, since it settles to 7 379 kelvins.
Note that these values ​​were obtained by setting the screen profile to “normal” rather than “bright”.  In terms of readability, thanks to the adoption of Amoled technology, the screen of the Z2 Play is endowed with an “infinite” contrast. The maximum brightness reaches a respectable 433 cd / m² (the minimum goes down to 3 cd / m²) and the reflectance is rather contained, as it gravitates around 14%, rather in the top of the movable basket so. Finally, the Full HD definition is ample enough on such a diagonal.

In use, the tactile delay of 135 ms is not noticeable and will not spoil the experiment. The remanence is for its part quasi zero, Amoled obliges.

PERFORMANCE 

This year, Motorola did not take too much risk and has simply traded last year’s Snapdragon 625 for its most obvious successor, the Snapdragon 626 which almost only increases the power of a few megahertz . We will not complain because the SoC of last year already delivered solid performances. Nothing to declare on this Z2 Play, everything obeys the finger and the eye and if one loses probably a millionths of a second compared to high-end chips, this does not affect the experience.

By privileging a mid-range chip, one would have thought that the heater of the mobile would be very contained. Unfortunately, the Z2 Play sometimes tends to have hot shots, especially when you shoot a picture and video. The heating is particularly concentrated on the front face, which hinders little for grip, but we have known phones with better hold.

For gaming, the Snapdragon 625 and the Adreno 506 – its graphic part – do a perfectly correct job and will have no trouble running the vast majority of the games of the Play Store, with which more is a level of detail quite satisfactory. On a game like Real Racing 3, the impression of speed is there, and fluidity is at the rendezvous. It is not at the level of the very best, but this is quite acceptable for the vast majority of uses.

AUDIO

The Moto Z2 Play, the last member of the family to take advantage of a mini jack, enjoys a rather clean audio with a wide dynamic range and a well-marked sound scene. The icing on the cake, the power is generous.

The only loudspeaker, which also serves as audio output for calls, reproduces a sound as often concentrated only on the high mediums, but at least it does not saturate at full volume.

PHOTO

If Motorola has largely resumed the same recipe compared to Play of last year, on the front of the photo the manufacturer seems to have made a small step back. Nothing dramatic, but the photo processing adopted on the Z2 Play is a bit too heavy.

On pictures taken in good light conditions, the contrast is quite pronounced, but the level of detail takes a little bit. The treatment of the image a little more aggressive also makes lose a bit of dive, and the colors are a bit too saturated. This is pleasing to the eye, but far enough away from a natural rendering. The mobile also accentuates a little more the outlines for an effect seductive, but again quite false.

In low light, the observation is the same, the Z2 Play applies a greater smoothing layer to eliminate digital noise, which he manages to do, alas to the detriment of the accuracy of the image. Interesting detail: there or in full brightness the Z2 Play accentuates a little too the colors, when the light misses the phone attenuates these same colors and thus produces a rendering almost too dull.

In short, the Z2 is equipped with a rather good sensor, but like too many other phones this year, the treatment that accompanies it is a little too present to try to create a scene more pleasant to the eye, but little natural. On the other hand, let’s welcome the speed of snapshot capture. Finally, a word on the sensor front that is afflicted with the same small worries of smoothing to excess, but again the result will be rather flattering with a slightly forced emphasis.

AUTONOMY

If there was indeed an area where this Z2 Play had to do well, it is on the autonomy. His predecessor broke records last year, it’s little to say that this Z2 was expected at the turn. We have written a comprehensive article on the performance endurance of Z2 Play, but to sum up, despite its battery capacity slightly lower than that of the Moto Z, the mobile manages to provide autonomy altogether reasonable. On Smartviser, the Z2 Play makes its weapons after 16 hours and 39 minutes, and in streaming the result is very similar with 16 hours and 18 minutes. This is below what the Moto Z is capable of, but it remains satisfactory in the absolute.

Finally, thanks to the fast charge, it will take less than two hours to recharge the mobile in full.

Interface & OS

As expected now from Motorola, Android in its purest version that comes to animate this Z2 Play. We thus find a clean interface with an alignment of virtual desktops on which it is possible to align the icons and the widgets. The applicator drawer is accessible by simply sliding the finger upwards. Otherwise, all the features of the Google system are there: notifications / shortcuts panel, menu of recent applications, multi-windows, etc.

The only additions to the system are in the Moto app, where you can activate or deactivate the movements to launch the camera, flashlight, one-handed mode … Also note that if the software buttons are present by default, it is possible to make them disappear to use the fingerprint reader as single navigation button. The return action is in this case of a sliding to the left and the invocation of the menu of the recent apps of a sliding to the right.

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