The idea of Modular smartphones is indeed very fascinating. It’s the customers who decided what added functionality they want on their phones and it also enables your phone to don different hats and to do a lot more. But as an Android enthusiast, if money weren’t a limiting factor, will the Moto Z/ Z Play be the phone I would buy? Or recommend? Let’s discuss.
Lenovo Moto Z and Moto Z Play Specifications:
|Lenovo Moto Z Play
|5.5 inch, AMOLED, QHD (2560×1440), Gorilla Glass 3
|5.5-Inch, AMOLED Full HD Display
|2.15 Quad-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset , Adreno 530 GPU
|2GHz octa-core Snapdragon 625 processor, Adreno 530 GPU
|4GB LPDDR4 RAM
|32GB/ 64GB, MicroSD card support
|32GB with MicroSD card supported
|Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
|Android 6.0 Marshmallow
|13MP, 1.12µm pixels, f/1.8, Laser AF, OIS, Auto HDR, dual-color LED flash
|16MP AF, F/2.2 lens
|5MP, 1.4µm pixels, f/2.2 lens, LED flash
|5MP, F/2.2 lens, LED flash
|2600 mAh non-removable
|3510 mAh, removable, no fast charging
|4G LTE, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1 LE, GPS, USB Type-C, Moto Mods, Fingerprint sensor
|4G LTE, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, MotoMod Accessories, Fingerprint sensor, 3.5mm audio jack
Design and Build
Both the Moto Z and Moto Z Play have a solid metal side frame flanked by glass on front and rear.
The Moto Z is decidedly premium and astonishingly slim, but that svelte figure comes with a battery penalty. We won’t be writing it off just yet, but a 2600mAh battery coupled with Snapdragon 820 doesn’t inspire much confidence.
The Moto Z Play, on the other hand, is a bit thicker but employs a much more power efficient SoC (Snapdragon 625) and a much bigger 3510mAh battery.
Since most phones that we have been testing lately have backs that curve around edges to facilitate easy handling, the utterly flat glass back of the Moto Z and Z Play feels, well, peculiar. But this isn’t even mildly off-putting. Somehow the flat back feels like a refreshing change of pace. Besides, the curved side metal frame ensures that the phone doesn’t dig into your hands even when you are using it without a Moto Mod clipped to it.
The rear camera juts out rather excessively, but the Moto Mods and amazing wooden finish back shells that Motorola is offering can even out the camera hump. We spotted minor scratches on more than one demo unit and thus would recommend that you immediately invest in a Moto shell or a protective case.
Another peeve point is the Moto G4 Plus like fingerprint sensor that looks like a home button, is placed exactly where a home button should be, and yet isn’t a home button. Oh, and yes, there is no 3.5mm audio jack either on the Moto Z.
At the same time, the flat tire design on the camera module the convex dual LED flash complimenting it, the graceful texture below the glass and even the gold pogo pin – All add up to a refreshingly unique and perky design, which is exactly what we expect from the Moto brand.
Lenovo is using AMOLED displays on both, the Moto Z and Moto Z Plus. The one on the Moto Z is sharper with QHD resolution and the difference in sharpness for both is easily noticeable.
By default, both displays are targeting NTSC color gamut, which translates to Blue-ish whites and a bit oversaturated color tones. Thankfully a standard color mode with more realistic colors is also present under display settings.
Now let’s talk about the modular accessories or Moto Mods.
Clipping them to the Moto Z and Moto Z Play is supper convenient (Something LG’s implementation upsettingly lacked). Fortunately, Lenovo has got this crucial part right. These Mods magnetically hinge to the handset and communicate with it via the set of 16 golden pogo pins placed on the bottom.
When the Mods snap to the phone, they are automatically recognized. You don’t have to configure them or access them using any particular app. An on/off button is however present on all mods.
These modular accessories include Style shells, Instashare projector, JBL SoundBoost speakers, Hasselblad True Zoom Camera (10x Zoom) and a Power Pack (2200mAh).
Once again, Moto Mods are well designed, but we will need to test these in our own space to know if they are worth their price. They do make the handset bulky and thus you will most probably be carrying them in your travel gear. For the same reason, the Moto Z is the one that is best suited if you are primarily interested in these Mods. A slim profile is kind of indispensable.
Performance Expectations and Software
The Moto Z has Snapdragon 820, 4GB RAM, and 64GB storage. Performance shouldn’t be an issue here. The battery is something we are not very sure of, but hey! You can always invest in the battery pack. That’s the whole point of the story.
The Moto Z Play on the other hands should deliver great battery backup and mid-range performance (which should suffice for most of us).
We can’t comment on the camera quality as of now, but a good thing is that Lenovo an elaborate manual mode in the camera app that works for both the front and rear cameras. The selfie shooter also benefits from a LED flash.
Both handsets are running Stock Android Marshmallow software and should be getting the Android 7.0 Nougat update in the near future. The handsets we experience today also had the full suite of Reliance Jio apps pre-installed. Which hints that Lenovo might bundle a Jio SIM card as part of the launch day offer.
The Moto Z and Moto Z Play are definitely unique and exciting smartphones. Those of you who like to flaunt offbeat stuff would surely love them. For now, we are eager to test the camera quality (which is what primarily defines 2016 flagships) and how well the standard quality display mode works before we make up our mind.