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Moto Z Play Review


For the Moto Z Play, being a mid-range phone that we wouldn’t typically review, we took a different approach to sharing our final thoughts on it. Hey, look, a video review from Droid Life! This should be interesting.

If you have watched the DL Show in recent weeks or follow us on Twitter, you probably know that I’ve actually become quite a big fan of this phone. It might be the legitimate 2-day battery life that has me brainwashed. Seriously, I have never in all my years reviewing phones, seen one that can last this long on a single charge. You get battery estimates from companies as they announce new phones, yet none ever live up to those numbers. This phone does and I am incredibly impressed.Β 

But I also still find Moto’s approach to software refreshing, as well as the performance they seem to get right, even with lesser processors than flagships. The Moto Z Play really embodies what can be good in a $400 phone without any major sacrifices.

Of course, the camera isn’t going to win any awards, the design might turn some away, and the Verizon exclusivity is a downer. It’s not a perfect phone. At $400, though, I think it certainly should be proudly in the conversation of mid-tier phones. Oh and Moto Mods. Yeah it does those too, if that’s your thing.

This is our Moto Z Play review.

  • Sporttster

    Sounds like a great phone. How does this compare, especially camera-wise, to a MXPE?? Considering it for a upgrade to what I have.

  • Lavesh Mamodia
  • Jimneezy

    great review Kellen but not looking at the camera kinda made it seem a bit awkward

  • Xsoldier2000

    Went out and bought this for the wife and I last night. I did not think I would ever leave LG, but this phone is insane. Wife got the camera mod, and I got the extra battery mod (Though I don’t think I will need it.) Both phone and mods were Buy one get the second 1/2 off, plug the 25% corp discount…no brainer.

  • Boomdizzle

    So the processor is apparently not an issue at all which makes this phone super attractive, but I still worry about updates. I’m a nerd for software updates and That’s about the only thing that’s holding me back at the moment. The past Droid updates have not been timely and a midrange Droid really makes me question how high up this will be on the priority list at VZW.

    • Ismail Akram

      buy Pixel phone your worries will be no more

      • Boomdizzle

        Am looking to not drop $649+ on a new phone. Basically debating between a 5x, 6P or maybe but probably not likely Play.

    • Person Dude

      People like to rag on Moto’s and Verizon’s update schedules for the Droids, but in reality they aren’t that bad. In the 11 months I owned a Turbo 2, I got 4 software updates, which is better than most before security patches became the trend. It got Marshmallow before many S6’s and G4’s as well.

      Then there’s the likelihood that Lenovo will be more motivated to support the Moto devices they made (G4 series, Z series) better than the ones they inherited (E, X, G3 series)

  • BW10666

    Does the play support LTE-A on Verizon?

  • trevorsalienarms

    Constructive criticism:

    Slow. Down. You’re speaking way too quickly. Feels like you were trying to crank through the review before someone came along to kick you off their property.

    Speaking of property, the woods is a cool and different environment for a review. Onto something there I think.

    One-armed selfie style video shots feel awkward. Have someone else along with you to film the walk-n-talks.

    Just one dude’s opinion, so take that for whatever it’s worth. Liked the review though, felt like I got a good sense of the device. Hope to see more like this.

  • tampadoug

    what a wacky way to do a phone review. the guy makes no eye contact walking through the woods.

  • M3D1T8R

    If only there was a 5″ version. Sigh.

    Enjoyed the review though, btw, even though I usually prefer text to video.

  • Kevin Vesga

    You should look at the camera more often. As is, it looks like someone is filming you while you talk to yourself.

  • trentsws

    Hey @kellex:disqus ,
    What did you used to record? Was very pleasant to watch.
    Great review.

  • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

    Crushed the first Video Review!!! Great to see you expanding!

  • Ryan B

    I just came to say great(as always) job on the video review. I really enjoyed the change of scenery.

  • Jigga_Z

    I really enjoyed this new format. I’ll admit, I like reading reviews, but I liked the style of this a lot. It felt like having a conversation with a friend, rather than a more formal review, even though you had all the formal review content in there. The walk/shoot/talk is definitely tricky, but I think if you can make a little more eye contact with the camera (or look away from it completely, as if we’re walking next to you IRL) you’ll have a really polished new review style.

  • MGardnerDA1235

    Kellex, you should have used Daydreaming as your background music because you had your full Thom Yorke going on.


  • gabe1989

    moto z play also scores a 10 in the creek balance beam competition.

  • Steve Wright

    [First thoughts] Oh my god; he has a face!

  • Jucef Martinez

    I’m currently using the Moto Z Force Droid and I have to admit, the battery on that thing (same size as the Moto Z Play 3500mAh) is awesome! I’ve used it all day and still have 40-50% left at the end of the day. I was pleasantly surprised! All this while using it on AT&T’s network, with full 4g LTE. It has all the necessary LTE bands even though it’s a Verizon phone – https://www.frequencycheck.com/carrier-compatibility/ZgE5Fd/motorola-moto-z-force-td-lte/at-t-united-states

    • Ismail Akram

      damn if Moto Z force is that good in battery then how good it will be πŸ™‚ battery beast

  • What are you using to record you walking? Super stabilizing mount for a camera??

  • mustbepbs

    This is such a weird review. You’re in a park, sitting on a bench, reviewing a phone, not making eye contact, walking through the park, cutting to shots.

    I hope this isn’t the new format.

    • FAL_Fan

      I, too, was distracted by the lack of eye contact. I’m fine with the location as he was referencing the camera and showing it in the process of taking pictures, but it was different. Eye contact with the camera would have made the biggest difference to me.

  • Kanoosh

    hey kellen, can you look at the camera more next time.. it’s hard to tell if you are talking to me or talking to the forest haha.

  • Sounds like the Motorola being bought by Lenovo is paying off.

  • Loved the format of the review and I was hoping you guys would review this phone in the first place. I know it’s a midrange device, but that battery life is fairly ideal for my lifestyle. The only thing weighing my decision is that I’m strongly leaning towards a Oneplus 3 while also waiting to see the release and reviews of the new Pixel devices. Looking forward to seeing more video reviews!

  • habanoshunter

    First off.. I am not a fanboy of Moto.. AT ALL! I have been a loyal Samsung “when you could remove the battery” and LG user for years! With that said, I gave this phone a try based on the performance of the battery. All I can say is.. WOW! Lenovo hit it out of the park with this one! Ive got 10 hours of screen on time with auto brightness engaged and easily 2 days between charges with moderate use. The phone is nearly pure android and most of the apps are google and no crazy theme or skin from Moto. VERY snappy performance and Turbo charge capability! The 16mp camera is mediocre but the rest of the phone is a total WIN! Especially for $408 bucks!

  • paul_cus

    Looks like this might be Kellen’s dark horse pick for phone of the year.

  • disastrousrainbow

    I gave up the regular Moto Z for the Play model and like Kellen mentioned in the review I just can’t tell the difference in every day use. This usage here was across two days with half the usage done at work, a notorious area where my service is usually at one bar of 4G and drops to 3G constantly.

    Since cell reception is such a huge factor in overall battery life, I’m confident I could’ve easily gotten to nine or ten hours were I in a good service area. Honestly, even if you can afford a high-end phone this phone kind of makes you question why you should when its performance rivals them and its battery outdoes them by quite a margin.

    Unless if you MUST have the best camera out there (and this one is actually pretty good for this price range…I can post some samples later) check this phone out immediately. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8149590f7692dad0107bee316d644bb0bb949dfbea3e7822eb314f45105b8ed8.jpg

    • Trooper311

      That is awesome. This review and now your post is making me think I should get this phone!

      • Bane

        Care to comment on your experience with Moto Display coming from the regular Z? I’m a little concerned over the loss of the IR sensors on the front. I used to frequently wave my hand over my Moto X to check time/notifications and the proximity sensor just doesn’t seem to work as well on the Galaxy phones and the OnePlus 3.

        That’s my only reservation getting the Play over the regular Z. Well, that and the ridiculous unlocked price for the Z.

        • Alfred

          It looks like the Moto Z Play still has the Moto Approach, but it doesn’t have the Attentive Display feature where it keeps the screen on as long as your face continue to look at it. So waving your hand over it to check notifications is still there.

    • Stephaniejsalazar3

      Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family! !mj55d:
      On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
      ➽➽;➽➽ http://GoogleFinancialJobsCash55DirectBookGetPay$97Hour β˜…β˜…βœ«β˜…β˜…βœ«β˜…β˜…βœ«β˜…β˜…βœ«β˜…β˜…βœ«β˜…β˜…βœ«β˜…β˜…βœ«β˜…β˜…βœ«β˜…β˜…βœ«β˜…β˜…βœ«β˜…β˜…βœ«β˜…β˜…βœ«β˜…β˜…βœ«β˜…β˜…βœ«β˜…β˜…βœ«β˜…β˜…βœ«β˜…β˜…βœ«β˜…β˜…::::::!mj55d:….,…..

  • disastrousrainbow

    I gave up the regular Moto Z for the Play model and like Kellen mentioned in the review I just https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8149590f7692dad0107bee316d644bb0bb949dfbea3e7822eb314f45105b8ed8.jpg can’t tell the difference in every day use. This usage here was across two days with half the usage done at work, a notorious area where my service is usually at one bar of 4G and drops to 3G constantly.

    Since cell reception is such a huge factor in overall battery life, I’m confident I could’ve easily gotten to nine or ten hours were I in a good service area. Honestly, even if you can afford a high-end phone this phone kind of makes you question why you should when its performance rivals them and its battery outdoes them by quite a margin. Unless if you MUST have the best camera out there, check this phone out immediately https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8149590f7692dad0107bee316d644bb0bb949dfbea3e7822eb314f45105b8ed8.jpg .

  • Trooper311

    Nice review Kellen! Decisions decisions for me now, ugh!


    Nice vid Kellen. I’m sure you’ll work out the kinks if you decide to do more of these

  • JΓ©rΓ΄me Besnard

    Look at the camera Kellex. You remind me of MKBHD a couple of years ago.

    • Guest

      Whatever happened to him?
      MKBHD quality has gone down as of late

      • luffy199

        The review is very good. The quality is as good as MKHBD and Michael fisher…

      • Batman

        Nothing happened to him…not sure what you mean

    • aleubalton

      This happens when you’re used to make written reviews I guess…

  • JSo

    Getting all fancy with your reviews now huh? I like it.

  • Andy

    Is there still Verizon bloat on this?

    • habanoshunter

      Yes, I disabled all of it

      • Higher_Ground

        can you root it? Not that it’s a dealbreaker – haven’t had root since I got my last moto phone, but it’d be nice to know ahead of time.

  • 6stringslinger

    Kellen, good job! The video was a real joy to watch. Don’t go Hollywood, just keep it real like this. Holy crap I think I might have to buy this model. Anybody know if Moto will unlock the bootloader on the Verizon one?

  • Greg Morgan

    Nicely done on the video Kellen. I hope to see more of these, you can give MKBHD a run for his money! lol

  • Rashad

    I like the video review. I think you guys should do more of these. By the way, Kellen, how were you holding the camera you were using while walking? Selfie stick?

  • Lunkman

    I might have missed it but what is the back made of- is it plastic?

    • paul_cus


    • habanoshunter

      The phone is all glass on front and back with a metal frame.

      The only plastic is the style mod cover that you can use if you want.

  • You used to be able to buy Moto phones from their website and get 6, 12, or 18 months interest-free financing. Now it’s a “special rate” 9.99%. YAY! πŸ˜’

    I wonder if this is a big Red influence as well, to get folks to buy the phones at the store.

  • Jdub174

    Love the new look to the review #teamDL

  • Eric

    This phone was too tempting to pass up. Ordered one directly from Moto with a free Incipio battery mod for about $349 before tax. I’ll probably give it to my mom if I end up not liking it as a secondary phone.

    • cns2007

      I bought this for my son to replace is OG Moto X, he loves it.

    • Walker Citterman

      how’d you get that deal? really want one of these cause i’m sick of charging my 2nd gen x halfway through my day

      • Higher_Ground

        same here… great phone, wish I could just get an updated version of it. I really don’t want to give up moto display, so I’m gonna give this a hard look come time for the holidays.

  • Joel Hardman

    Diggin the video review, I like that I can listen to it while I work

    • hebrewHAMMER

      The video review is probably less time and energy consuming. I still welcome it though!

    • sonicyoof

      For me video review means nope, not gonna bother. Would prefer at least some amount of text to go with it. But I can appreciate that others might prefer it this way.

      • BoreskiLebanon

        I quit working @my 9-5 job to work online and now I make $75-95 per hr. My work wasn’t satisfying 4me so I decided to try something new. I kept hearing other people sucessful stories of making money from their homes, and turned out it’s possible indeed. I couldn’t be happier now. This is what I do
        546!p:- http://GoogleFinancialJobsCash/Eep!?=4d37…

    • misha

      Moto phones are now on sale only at AndroidSmartphoneDeals;com

    • Higher_Ground

      I’m the opposite – can’t watch videos at work but scrolling through a review is no problem πŸ™

  • written reviews please although I loved the video

    • MichaelFranz


    • RDPaPa-G

      How about no. You are not a special snowflake no matter how much mommy tells you.

  • MichaelFranz

    Video review FTW!!!

  • Jeremy B.

    U forgot to mention that moto got it right with putting the headphone jack in this version lol…game changer

    • Heh I did in the vid. πŸ™‚

    • RDPaPa-G

      Moto was so courageous to add the headphone jack in this model!