THE Z2 PLAY PARTICULARLY EXCELS IN MAKING OTHER PHONES LOOK BORING, AND FOR ANYONE WHO’S YEARNING FOR A HANDSET SO THEY CAN PROVIDE LIFE TO THE PARTY, THIS IS THE ONE TO GET.
MOTOROLA Z2 PLAY
Android 7.1.1; 5.5-inch IPS LCD display @ 1080p (403ppi); Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 octa-core 2.21Ghz; Adreno 506; 4GB RAM; 64GB internal storage (microSD card up to 256GB); 12MP rear, 5MP front camera; 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 5.0; Type C port; 3,000mAh battery; 15.4 x 7.4 x 0.7cm; 153g
WHAT MOTOROLA’S NEW Z2 smartphone lacks in outright power it makes up with character. Physical gestures turn the camera or LED-light on in mere milliseconds from standby. Twisting the phone quickly wakes the lens, or making a chopping motion with the phone in hand sparks the light up — and that’s just the start. While this family of gestures is unique in itself, Motorola’s Z range really sets itself apart with its line of mods. The rear plate of the phone can be easily swapped out for something else, like a bigger battery, a speaker, game controller or even a projector. These can be swapped even while the phone is on and running. The mods are fairly central to the Z2 Play’s appeal, so we’ve covered a range of them in a bit more depth on the opposite page, and more are coming.
Now, the modular phone trend originally started (and threatened to abruptly end) with a rival phone, LG’s G5. The latter needed to be powered down to change out the battery and camera, and left sharp, dust-collecting hinges and electrical contact points exposed. Motorola’s version is elegant in comparison, as the mods use magnets and align perfectly every time. It’s a surprise that the concept hasn’t yet been copied elsewhere, though this does mean that Motorola is locked into a certain design for the next few generations of phones.
The Z2 Play is fine in its day-to-day performance too, even if the internals reveal it to be a little bit underpowered. On specs alone, this is basically a repurposed Moto G5 — it has a slightly higher clock speed, but the same mid-range chipset and GPU. This isn’t a phone for high-powered gaming, nor for intense multitasking productivity work. The versatility it offers with the mods really is the main reason you’d buy it.
That said, there’s still a lot to like, even if you don’t want a whole bagful of accessories. The camera is fast and responsive for the most part, although high-contrast situations leave it lacking. It employs a single lens for its rear camera where many others have two, and the lack of image stabilisation means its low-light results are a bit so-so. With the standard flat rear plate attachment on, it’s a friendly, thin and neatly rounded phone with a large, impressive screen. At 1080p, it’s not setting any records, but that standard resolution coupled with the 5.5-inch Super AMOLED display helps contribute to a long-lasting battery.
We easily got a day’s use out of the Z2 Play, and having various mods on hand — such as the expanded battery, or the wireless charging pack — meant that it was easy to get a few more hours of power if needed. Having a custom skin over the top of stock Android causes other phones to chug, but the Z2 Play hummed along nicely. We loved that simply waving a hand over the front camera from standby shows the clock, and Motorola’s custom voice commands — “show me the weather” or “show me my events” — could teach Google Assistant and Siri a few things when it comes to user friendliness.
The Z2 Play particularly excels in making other phones look boring, and for anyone who’s yearning for a handset so they can provide life to the party, this is the one to get. However, if you’re looking for a more budget option without the frills (or, frankly, the thrills), the Moto G5 can be had for up to $300 less.
JBL SoundBoost 2
Hasselblad True Zoom
AS ANDROID GAMES BECOME MORE AND MORE SOPHISTICATED, THERE’S A GROWING DESIRE, IF NOT A NEED, TO BE ABLE TO HAVE COMPLETE CONTROL
Moto mods on test
WE GET HANDS-ON WITH SOME OF THE Z2 PLAY’S BEST ADD-ONS.
MOTO TURBOPOWER PACK
Rather than taking an external battery pack with you, Motorola’s Moto TurboPower pack snaps onto your phone to provide longer battery life. With 3,490mAh of juice inside, you more than double the original capacity of the Z2 Play. And unlike a normal battery pack, the TurboPower Mod is fairly slim and light, so you’ll barely notice it’s there. You can charge it up using the same fast charger, too, giving you 50% in just 20 minutes.
JBL SOUNDBOOST 2
This stylish mod offers big sound from its deceptively small twin 3W stereo speakers. A petite kickstand on the back props it up, with the speakers firing slightly downward but leaving the screen free for you to choose your tunes. A 1,000mAh battery powers the whole thing, which is covered in a special nano-coating that makes it splash proof. It weighs 135g, and it’s currently our pick of the best mod to get.
MOTO INSTA-SHARE PROJECTOR
You’d be surprised by how well this small projector works considering it’s powered by your phone. It’ll beam a 70-inch image onto a wall, albeit at 480p (854 x 480), and while the contrast ratio is a not-too-shabby 400:1, you’ll need a dark room to make the most of it. Apart from the gamepad, it’s also the chunkiest mod going; packing a 1,100mAh battery, it measures 15.3 x 7.4 x 1.1cm and weighs 125g. However, for sheer convenience, this is unbeatable, thanks to the kickstand that folds back 180°, so you can point this at a wall or ceiling.
As Android games become more and more sophisticated, there’s a growing desire, if not a need, to be able to have complete control — and Motorola has designed the perfect peripheral for anyone who games on the go. With two thumbsticks, shoulder buttons, a D-pad and face buttons, this robust mod offers console-like levels of interactivity. It even has a 1,035mAh battery built-in, so it won’t drain your phone. It weighs 140g on its own and, like all mods, has a USB Type-C charging port. It’s large, though, so unless you’re still rocking cargo shorts, this mod may need its own case.
HASSELBLAD TRUE ZOOM
The Hasselblad True Zoom attaches to the Z2 Play, giving you an instant photography upgrade that consists of a 10x optical zoom lens with f3.5–6.5 aperture, bigger Xenon flash and enhanced detail. It’s perfectly suited to the modern day photographer who’s more likely to snap a picture with their phone than a bulky camera. The shutter release is big and bright, making it easy to find — even in a rush. This relatively svelte mod makes your phone between 9mm and 15.1mm thicker (from the thinnest end to the peak of the grip) and it weighs 145g.
WIRELESS CHARGING MOD
Boost your phone’s power without having to touch a cable. Wireless charging is certainly worth having, and the good news about the this adapter is that you’ll hardly notice the size difference between it and the standard swappable rear case piece. Compatible with both Qi or MPA charging pads, this mod has four different styles, including a lovely floral print. You’ll need to BYO wireless charging pad to actually juice this one up, however.