A new modular phone from Motorola is on its way. The $499 Moto Z2 Play arrives later this summer, bringing another bunch of attachable accessories known as Moto Mods to the mix.
Though the phone won't be available unlocked or through Verizon until July, some reviewers have already gotten their hands on the Z2 Play. And they're generally impressed by what they've seen, even with some noticeable compromises from the original Moto Z Play.
Here's what the critics are saying about the Moto Z2 Play.
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Dan Seifert of the Verge believes that Motorola's new phone is better than the original, except in one key area — battery life. That's a concession Motorola made to make the Z2 Play lighter and thinner than its predecessor. And Seifert seems to think the trade-off was worth it, as the Z2 Play is still a long-lasting phone, even if it's not the multiday powerhouse that the original Z Play was.
"Z2’s battery life is still excellent. I’m able to use it for a full day of heavy use — up to five or six hours of screen on time — without having to plug in for a charge in the middle of the day."
"Motorola has also upgraded the camera hardware with a faster lens and much faster focusing systems. [The Z2's camera] is a better camera than last year’s version, but even though the spec sheet is very good, the image processing doesn’t keep pace with the Pixel, iPhone, or Galaxy S8 cameras."
"It’s a very well-executed device that gets all of the basics you need in a phone correct without spoiling the recipe with gimmicks or an unreasonable price."
"I’m less enthused by the new swiping gestures for the fingerprint scanner that are designed to replace the on-screen home, back, and recent apps buttons."
"It’s a lot more expensive than true budget phones and not that far off from the actual flagships that offer better displays, better cameras, and more forward-looking designs."
Jessica Delacourt presents her CNET review of the Moto Z2 Play as a good news/bad news proposition: the battery life on the new phone is very good, though last year's was much better. Still, the latest modular phone from Motorola gets a thumbs up overall, thanks to its still-powerful battery and improved camera.
"In real life, you should be able to easily go a day and a half or even two days with some heavy use."
"The Z2 Play's 12-megapixel camera took bright, colorful, detailed photos. Colors aren't as rich as on premium phones like the Galaxy S8, especially those taken indoors and in low-light situations, but they're good enough to share."
The promising Moto Voice feature with its "Show Me" command "doesn't consistently work. Sometimes it leaped to action in a loud bar. Other times it ignored me, even in my quiet office."
"Photos from the 5-megapixel front-facing camera are totally decent, but not as crisp and detailed as they are on some other phones."
For Todd Haselton, the Moto Z2 Play is all about the Moto Mods. His CNBC review takes a look at the four new mods announced with the phone, including one that adds a game pad to the device. And more Moto Mods are on the way.
"Motorola, to its credit, has done a much better job offering a larger choice of modular components that are easier to pop on and off its smartphones."
"The Moto Z2 Play costs $499... $50 more than last year's model, but I think there's enough here — a thinner design, great battery life, an improved camera — that it's a great option for folks who don't want to spend the roughly $800 for a flagship such as the Galaxy S8 or iPhone 7, while also looking for something unique."
"There's a bright and large display on the Moto Z2 Play, though it isn't as sharp as other options like the Galaxy S8, and it doesn't run from edge to edge, like on more expensive phones."
"It doesn't support Google Daydream VR, which is a bummer in my book because I dig what Google is doing in that space."
In his Android Central review, Daniel Bader calls the Moto Z2 Play a great phone, though not a great sequel. Despite the reduced battery life and higher price tag, he's a fan, declaring that he loves the new phone.
"The front fingerprint sensor is now rounded, and much wider, making it easier to find and activate."
"Performance... is demonstrably improved over the Moto Z Play, particularly in app load speeds."
"In low light, the Moto Z2 Play really impressed me: it managed to find the right exposure and focus in even the most challenging of lighting situations."
"I don't anticipate anyone will really find much use from this extremely limited and poorly-implemented [Moto Voice 'Show Me'] feature, and it's worrisome that something so ham-fisted and half-baked was included on a Moto device.
"While I would not say that the Z2 Play disappoints when it comes to [battery] uptime, I would quickly follow up by saying that it no longer impresses, either. It's just good, and in 2017, that's not good enough."
"The problem with the Z2 Play's camera is its speed: its aging image signal processor just can't keep up with the latest-generation stuff from Qualcomm."
For AJ Kumar, the decision to get the Moto Z2 Play comes down to how you feel about modular phones. If you like the idea of snapping on accessories to expand your phone's capabilities, Motorola's device is a good option; otherwise, Kumar says ZTE's Axon 7 "gets you a bit more power for less money."
"Don't worry if you already have previously released Mods—the Z2 Play is fully compatible with them."
"The camera handled reasonably well in low lighting."
"On its own, [the Z2 Play] offers respectable performance, long battery life, and compatibility with all major US carriers. It pulls ahead of some of the competition when you start snapping on Moto Mods."
"[Moto Voice] doesn't provide much extra functionality beyond what Google Assistant already offers, and I prefer using the latter for its deeper Google integration and AI-assisted capabilities."
"The Z2 Play doesn't have the fastest processor or the highest-resolution screen you'll find in this price range."
Image Credits: Motorola
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Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.