Motorola’s latest handset to hit the shelves is the Moto Z Play. And, as the name might suggest, it’s a real toy.
With a super long-lasting battery, headphone jack and mid-range price, it’s certainly got a lot going for it. But, it’s the additional modular components that make this phone so exciting.
After we played with the Moto Z Play, here’s what we loved about it.
Modules made simple
Finally, a phone that actually makes add-on modules easy. Until now, modular phones have generally involved unclipping parts of the handset in order to insert a new module. Which is a bit of a faff and often feels so flimsy, you worry you’re going to snap something off.
Modules for the new Moto Z Play, however, are a dream. Thanks to some fancy magnets, all you need to do is slap the module onto the back of the device and it will automatically start interacting with the phone. It really is that simple.
Called Mods, these additional modules are a bit pricey, but they will really enhance your use of the phone. Whether you’re a film-freak, music-lover or a would-be photographer, there is a Mod that will help you turn your smartphone into the only device you need to own.
Outstanding battery life
Aside from the nifty add-ons, our favourite feature of the Moto Z Play by far is the outstanding battery life.
Consistently voted as the biggest problem with modern-day smartphones, we have all experienced the panic of seeing our phone’s battery slip below 10%. And knowing that you only have minutes to finish scrolling through our Facebook feeds before it dies can be pretty scary.
Enter the Moto Z Play. With a powerful 3,510mAh battery, the phone should last a few days without needing a charge. Yes, that’s right, like the Nokia bricks of old, you can use this smartphone for at least a couple of days without needing to charge it.
However, if you ever do find yourself running out of battery without anywhere to charge your phone, there’s always…
The battery pack
This is way and above the most useful Mod available for the Moto Z Play. Just put the Incipio battery pack onto the back of your phone to get an extra 20 hours of battery life.
And unlike other battery packs we’ve tested, this one is actually pretty light-weight and doesn’t need to be attached to the handset through the charging port. Thanks to the magnets, you just put them together and the phone starts charging immediately.
When it’s on, it looks and feels very similar to a regular phone case and is only slightly heavier than a normal clip-on cover.
Want to boost your Moto Z Play battery in seconds? Buy the Incipio Powerbank.
The phone can become a home cinema
While the battery pack is by far the most useful Mod, the real toy for the Moto Z Play is undoubtedly the Insta Share Projector. This Mod will turn your phone into an impressive home cinema by projecting your phone’s screen onto the wall.
The picture quality is actually really good, particularly if you have a blank, light-coloured wall to hand.
If like me, however, all of your wall space is filled up with posters, pictures and shelves, simply point the projector skyward and you can project your films and shows on the ceiling. So, you can just lie back and watch without having to tilt your head awkwardly, or drop your phone on your face when you're lying in bed.
It also comes with a handy dial to focus the picture and a little fold-out stand so you can put the phone down while you’re watching it, leaving your hands free to reach for the popcorn.
And as if all that wasn't cool enough, your cat will love it too.
When I was trying the projector out at home, my cat started running at the wall and chasing everything on the screen. The sharp picture quality and strong colours certainly weren’t lost on him as he tried in vain to catch the projected images on the wall.
If you have a cat, you'll both get hours of entertainment out of this.
Fancy turning your Moto Z Play into a home cinema? But the Insta Share Projector.
Decent camera for the price
For a mid-range phone, the Moto Z Play has a pretty impressive camera. The rear 16-megapixel camera comes loaded with autofocus to make your photos really sharp and there is an LED flash to help you take good snaps even in low light.
The 5-megapixel selfie camera also comes with a flash, so you can still capture memories after dark. Even better, the front-facing camera has a wide-angle 85-degree lens to help you cram everyone into your selfies.
If you really like photography, however, you might want to consider the Hasselblad True Zoom Mod. Hasselblad is famous for building photographic tech that’s responsible for some of the world’s most iconic images, from the first photos of man on the moon, to the cover of the cover of the Beatles album, Abbey Road.
The True Zoom Mod comes with a Xenon flash, 10x optical zoom, RAW format support and automatic backup, making it better than many dedicated cameras on the market.
Simply slap the add-on to the back of the phone and your handset will be instantly transformed. It won’t feel like a smartphone with a great camera anymore. It will feel like a great camera.
It gives the phone that sturdy, professional feel of a real camera and its usability mirrors that of a real camera. You zoom in and out by using a dial on top of the camera, rather than using the touchscreen on your phone, and to take photos, you click the shutter at the top.
While this may sound a bit old school for the modern-day smartphone user, this Mod also adds a 10x optical zoom, so you can take stunning snaps at long-range.
It’s worth noting that this Mod doesn’t improve the actual specs of the camera though, so if you’re not an avid photographer, the regular camera on the phone should be more than sufficient.
Want to take really professional photos with your Moto Z Play? Get the Hasselblad True Zoom Mod.
Meant for music-lovers
Like most music-lovers, I’m very particular about my headphones. Therefore, I am rather unsettled by this new wave of flagship phones being released without the traditional headphone jack.
Luckily, the Moto Z Play lives up to its name by including a headphone jack, so you have the option to plug in your headphones rather than being forced into using wireless ones.
Quite apart from that, however, the actual sound quality of the phone is really good for a mid-range device. Whether you’re listening to music or having a phone interview, you’ll be able to hear it loud and clear.
To really pump up the volume though, there’s always the JBL SoundBoost Mod. As with all the other add-ons, just put the Mod on the back of the phone and the speakers will start working instantly.
While wireless Bluetooth speakers are probably more practical if you want to listen to music and use your phone at the same time, the JBL SoundBoost is still a great, faff-free way to turn the music up.
Want to party with your Moto Z Play? Buy the JBL Soundboost Mod.
Things we didn’t love
So, there’s loads to love with the new Moto Z Play. But, like everything, there are a few things about this handset that we didn’t love.
It’s a bit of a brick
We love a phablet as much as the next tech team. But with a 5.5-inch display surrounded by a pretty chunky bezel, it can feel a bit unwieldy, particularly if you try to use it one-handed.
It’s also pretty thick as well, possibly to make room for the headphone jack. In short, it’s not going to fit in your pocket comfortably and it will take two hands to use it.
The add-ons are expensive and heavy
Not only is the handset itself a bit of a beast, the Mods will add considerably to the size and weight of the phone. And while the Mods work really well and add a whole new dimension of usability, they are undoubtedly heavy to carry around.
Still, while they will definitely make your bag heavier (and believe me, you will need a bag to carry these round in), they will offset this by making your wallet considerably lighter.
The Mods range from £60 for the battery pack to £250 for the projector, with the speakers and camera coming in somewhere in between. So, while the phone is fantastic value, the add-ons will quickly make this quite an expensive purchase.
Of course, you don’t have to get any Mods but we would definitely recommend getting the battery pack and projector at least, if you want to get the most out of the Moto Z Play.