Moto Z3 Play Review: Unlocked and Loaded

Would you want a Mod to go together with that Moto? After three iterations of the Moto Z, it’s clear that Motorola nonetheless believes in its line of snap-on magnetic telephone equipment. And it ought to. There are a whole lot of intriguing Mods you should buy, together with a photograph printer and a flowery Hasselblad-branded digicam, and all of them work interchangeably with these Z telephones.

Unfortunately, Moto Mods haven’t grow to be a promoting level but. According to Motorola reps, solely 40 p.c of Moto Z homeowners are shopping for them—however the ones that do have a tendency to return again for extra. To attempt and up these middling Mod gross sales, the telephone maker goes to present everybody a style. The new unlocked Moto Z3 Play comes with a Mod within the field, and it is precisely the Mod you will need.

Normally $50, the Motorola Moto Power Pack Mod (that’s a mouthful) comes with each Moto Z3 Play. It provides a 2,220mAh battery, or about one full waking work day (16 hours), of additional juice to the telephone. It’s good and skinny too, including solely 5mm of thickness.

The smartest thing about having that further battery pack is that you simply don’t normally want it. I stored mine tucked away in my laptop computer bag more often than not. On a typical day, the Moto Z3 had about 25-35 p.c cost round bedtime. That’s about according to different Android telephones this yr. Oddly sufficient, the BlackBerry Key2 is without doubt one of the solely telephones that’s constantly carried out quite a bit higher, however and not using a snap-on battery.

Take off the included battery-stuffed backpack and the usual Moto Z3 Play is sort of equivalent to final yr’s Moto Z2.


There’s quite a bit to love concerning the Moto Z3. It has roughly the identical general dimensions as its predecessors, but the HD AMOLED display screen is longer, stretching to six inches. It’s additionally quicker, with a Snapdragon 636 processor, 64GB of onboard storage, and 4GB of RAM (1 greater than earlier than). The further built-in far-field microphones make speaking to Alexa or Google Assistant simpler, and the MicroSD slot ensures you gained’t run out of area.

That enhance in processing energy helps its Android 8 Oreo working system pace alongside nicely sufficient that lag isn’t as frequent as it’s on comparable mid-range telephones. The new OS additionally will get out of your means, with unbelievable, easy options like swiping up and down on the homescreen to open your apps menu or pull down notifications. Motorola doesn’t spend its vitality reinventing the wheel. Unlike the heavily-skinned and modified Google OSes you will discover in competing telephones, Motorola simply provides just a few helpful extras and lets Android be Android. I respect Moto’s movement gestures, which allow you to do issues like shortly rotate the telephone to open the digicam or make a chopping movement to activate the flashlight.

Improved Cameras Can’t Quite Compete

The cameras have additionally improved—ever so barely. Motorola has had the weakest cameras of a significant U.S. telephone model for years. Even the Moto G6, which is a good worth for its value, had a painfully laggy digicam app that couldn’t deal with dim lighting. The 12-megapixel rear digicam and 8-megapixel selfie cam on the Z3 Play nonetheless take a sizzling second to spin up, however can take some pretty photographs. I took a tour round Boston, and appreciated a whole lot of the pictures, together with most macros, although it did appear to have hassle specializing in close-up flower petals.

Night pictures are nonetheless a ache and gained’t end up nicely (not an issue distinctive to Moto, sadly), and virtually each single one in all Motorola’s further digicam options, just like the depth-of-field impact from the second 5-megapixel cam or the bizarre animated GIF maker, don’t work all that nicely.

Using the Moto Z3 Play isn’t one huge celebration, although. For no logical cause besides that each different telephone maker is doing it, Motorola determined to cowl the again of the Z3 Play in glass, which makes the telephone quite a bit extra slippery to carry, much less sturdy, and an enormous fingerprint magnet. It’s significantly troubling because it’s in all probability a telephone you gained’t purchase a case for, since even the great circumstances are inclined to cowl the again—blocking the flexibility to snap on a Mod. Just sitting in my bag, just a few tiny chips got here off the blue paint on the perimeters, and I’ve a small scratch on the glass up entrance. Moto went with Gorilla Glass 3, which is much less sturdy than what many high-end telephones use.

To make the display screen greater, the fingerprint sensor was relocated to the suitable aspect, which is a really handy location. I want it will have gone all the best way and flip that fingerprint sensor into an precise energy button, so now there may be an additional energy button on the left aspect of the telephone. The setup is generally advantageous, and once more, that fingerprint sensor is in an awesome spot, however the further button did confuse my muscle reminiscence. I discovered myself urgent quantity buttons hoping for the ability button, and trying to find that energy button greater than traditional. Even after a pair weeks, I nonetheless screw it up typically, which is a small #trouble.

Finally, like the opposite Z telephones, Motorola has stubbornly eradicated the headphone jack, although it does embody a USB C adapter within the field. If you aren’t prepared to purchase wi-fi headphones or use a dongle, this isn’t the telephone for you.

Unlocked and Ready to Rock

For the worth, it’s straightforward to forgive a number of the Moto Z3 Play’s quirks. The telephone comes with that battery mod universally unlocked for $500 and works on each main U.S. provider (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint). And if you happen to purchase from Amazon, the package deal solely prices $450.

If you are a Verizon buyer and do not plan on switching anytime quickly, there may even be an unique Moto Z3. It’s locked to Big Red’s community and you do not get the battery Moto Mod within the field. What you get in alternate is a quicker Snapdragon 835 processor, which was the quickest Android telephone chip in 2017 and the identical processor that was in final yr’s Z2.

It’ll nonetheless be a little bit of a pace enhance over the Z3 Play if you happen to’re a gamer, and the additional rear digicam (used for depth results) packs just a few extra megapixels. But, the Moto Z3 (non-Play) can also be below embargo till later this month, so we’ve not had an opportunity to present it the complete overview therapy simply but. If you are thinking about that telephone, relaxation assured that the Z3 Play is functionally about the identical.

There are undoubtedly telephones, just like the OnePlus 6, that supply extra energy for the cash, however with its 4-network compatibility (sure—Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile all jive with this unlocked telephone) and an additional battery pack within the field, the Moto Z3 Play must be on each telephone purchaser’s radar this yr.

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