When Lenovo and Motorola debuted the Moto Z line last year, the outcome was pretty good. Not only did Lenovo stay consistent with Motorola’s direction over the past few years, but they also successfully implemented mods – something that LG also tried to implement last year, but to no avail.
The Moto Z line-up was also nice because it had a little something for everybody. There was Moto Z and Moto Z Force, which were the flagship options that touted excellent performance as well as modular support (with no headphone jack, unfortunately), and then there was the Moto Z Play, which served as an affordable alternative that offered long battery life, modular support, and a headphone jack.
It’s been a year since we were introduced to the Moto Z family, which means that Lenovo has begun rolling out the Moto Z’s sequels. So far, we’ve only officially been introduced to one: the Moto Z2 Play.
At a glance, the Moto Z2 Play isn’t vastly different from its predecessor. The screen size is the same and the colors are quite similar. There’s still a prominent camera bump on the rear, an “M” logo on the back, and a connection area towards the bottom for mods. The fingerprint sensor shape has changed, however, from square to oval, and the material used on the back of the device is now aluminum rather than the original’s glossier design.
While there are some changes regarding the device’s design, most of the changes are going to come from within, the biggest one being that the Moto Z2 Play sacrifices one of the best things about the Moto Z Play: battery life.
The original Moto Z Play housed a large 3,510 mAh battery. When coupled with the battery efficient Snapdragon 625 processor, the result was amazing for those who value good battery life. The new Moto Z2 Play, however, features a much smaller 3,000 mAh battery. Not exactly awful, per se, but it is a significant step backwards when directly compared with the original Z Play. But hey, at least it’s thinner, right?
On the plus side, despite having a thinner body, no headphone jack was sacrificed in order to get there, so there’s that.
The Moto Z2 Play comes in two variants: Verizon’s version, which is less powerful but also less expensive, and the unlocked version, which is more powerful and more expensive. The Verizon Moto Z2 Play features 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, and the unlocked version features 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. Both support microSD card slots up to 256GB of additional storage. Verizon’s will run for $408 full-price (or $10/month for 24 months, which is a good deal if you plan to stick with it for that long) and the unlocked version is $499.
For Verizon customers, the price of the new Z Play is the same as last year’s Z Play when it was released; for everybody else, the price of the unlocked version increased by about $50 from the $449 price tag it once was for unlocked. However, there is a spec bump this time around, so it’s not completely unwarranted. It’s still on the cheaper side of things, although just barely – especially for a mid-range device.
I do wish Moto hadn’t sacrificed battery for thinness. I don’t think I came across a single complaint about the original Moto Z Play’s thickness – people were too busy praising its excellent battery life. Although the new Moto Z2 Play doesn’t seem to have atrocious battery life by any means, it is kind of a bummer in comparison. If anything, it seems like a blatant cash grab for Moto Mods, which conveniently offers a battery mod. The same could be said about the camera, which is a 12-megapixel shooter (down from a 16-megapixel shooter, but I think we’ve learned by now that megapixels don’t necessarily mean much when it comes to overall quality). Regardless, there’s a mod for that, too.
I don’t think it’s a bad deal – especially for Verizon customers, who also get a free JBL SoundBoost 2 mod out of the deal – but if the smaller battery is a huge bummer, it’s not a bad idea to keep the original Moto Z Play in mind. The device is cheaper now, and although it’s a year old, Lenovo was never particularly quick about updates anyway. As long as battery life is your main concern, the Moto Z Play still holds its own for now.