Motorola Moto X Play review: Excellent value for money
One of the best mid-range phones on sale today
- Large 5.5-inch screen with front firing speaker
- Commendable 21MP and 5MP cameras
- Water repellent coating
- Well priced
- Long lasting battery
- Back cover isn't attractive
- Non interchangeable battery
- Could only be purchased outright for a limited time
Price$ 528.00 (AUD)
Motorola has broken away from custom by releasing two versions of its Moto X. The Moto X Style, reviewed here, is the company’s 2016 flagship as it wraps Motorola’s most powerful technologies in its most ambitious design. Then there’s the Moto X Play, a mid-range smartphone that discounts hardware and model good looks for better usability and prolonged battery life.
The design of the Moto X Play unequivocally stems from the same gene pool. The smartphone's body curves to the most benevolent of shapes for an easier fit in the palm. An aluminium accent rounding the frame provides a sense of durability and robustness. The inkling is reiterated by a removable back cover, rubbery in texture, that wears treads common to a car tyre. The end result is a smartphone that looks practical, like a sports shoe. Or a torch.
Retained is a distinctively minimalist front packing a 5.5-inch, Full HD display. Its 403 pixel-per-inch density puts it on par with the best screen from Apple, only Motorola’s recipe goes one further by adding a front-firing speaker for stellar music and video playback.
Other features trickle down from the flagship to the benefit of the X Play. A water-repellant coating protects it against sink splashes, pesky rain drops and wet hands. Every smartphone should have such an IP rating, but the reality is the X Play is part of an exclusive club.
Perhaps the most notable commonality has to do with the X Play’s cameras. Both are high in resolution at 5MP for the front camera and 21MP for the primary camera. And both will record videos in Full HD resolution.
Photos snapped with the primary camera benefit from bright colours, balanced exposure and plenty of detail. Motorola’s camera interface, as simplistic as it is, causes the occasional photo to be blurry, as a single tap both focuses the camera and takes the photo. Overall its performance exceeds that of its rivals, the Huawei P8 and Oppo R7.
Google’s mobile operating system, Android, first entered the market in 2008. Today 1.4 billion devices globally run the software. At one stage or another, an Android user would’ve wished the version running on their phone wasn’t spoiled by an aftermarket overlay.
Herein is the beauty of a Motorola smartphone. The former Google-owned company is more concerned with pushing out software updates first, as opposed to redesigning the already comprehensive Android experience.
The Moto X Play being reviewed runs Android 5.1.1. It was the first smartphone handled by this reviewer to feature the vertical application dock. Motorola does not tamper with the software so that its customers benefit from prompt software support. Odds are the X Play will be upgraded to Android 6.0 Marshmallow ahead of its competition, if history is to repeat itself.
Working behind the scenes is less powerful hardware. The Snapdragon 615 chipset houses two quad-core CPUs: the first running at 1.7GHz and the second running at a flat 1GHz. Graphics are handled by an Adreno 405 GPU and it shares 2GB of RAM with the processor. The 16GB of internal storage can be augmented with microSD cards 128GB in size, making it theoretically possible to have a total of 144-gigabytes of storage.
Running a test designed to measure computing and graphic performance, 3DMark’s ice storm unlimited, the Moto X Play returned results best described as mediocre. Its top score of 8709 sits higher than Oppo’s R7 (7,775) and below Huawei’s P8 (9137), though it is well below the standard set by flagship phones, including Apple’s iPhone 6s (28,348) and Motorola’s X Style (19,509).
These scores provide context on the X Play’s place among its competition. No matter, this still is a smartphone with eight computing cores. Using it in the real world is characterised by fluid animations, quick performance and commendable multitasking abilities.
The only carrier offering the X Play on a 24-month contract is Vodafone, with pricing starting at $5 a month on a $40 plan. We loaded the phone with a Vodafone SIM card and ran Ookla’s Internet speedtest from our North Sydney offices. Speeds maxed at 27.9Mbps for downloads and 44.2Mbps for uploads. Downloading a 700MB movie file at this speed would be over in a spiffy three and a half minutes.
Integrated into the body is a large 3630 milliamp-hour battery, which Motorola claims can power the Moto X Play for up to two days. During a week of testing, we recorded results ranging between 27 hours and 30 minutes, to 39 hours and 30 minutes. This is a lot longer than its Oppo and Huawei competition, and frankly, among the best performing battery life results.
All of the basics are covered and covered well by the Moto X Play. It’s ripe for people who cannot stop surfing the web, listening to music or streaming videos. The cameras are above par for its price bracket and it has the kind of battery life that will make it home to the charger.
Many phones are designed to be beautiful, like delicate design pieces. The Moto X Play is less concerned with looking like anything other than a phone. It is too playful to care if it is smeared with fingerprints or scuffed after a day well spent.
Join the newsletter!
Apple iMac Pro
Cartier Calibre de Cartier Diver Watch
Samsung QLED 8K TV
Bang and Olufsen Beoplay A9 Speaker
Toys for Boys
Naztech Xtra Drive Mini + 256GB microSD Card
SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3
Ikea RIGGAD work lamp with wireless charging
Logitech Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth Speaker
TimeFlip Magnet Simple Time Tracking Device
So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Samsung Galaxy Watch review: Brilliant but not quite a breakthrough
- 2 HP Omen 15 (2018): Full, in-depth review
- 3 HP Envy x360 13 (Ryzen): Full, in-depth review
- 4 Moto G6 review: A solid mid-tier effort with few compromises
- 5 Dell G5 review: Easy to live with
Latest News Articles
- Optus acknowledge and act to remedy Mate 20 Pro 'green tint' issue
- Samsung to put a time limit on free custom Android themes
- Google's Pixel smartphones get Night Sight in new update
- Samsung's next flagship processor comes with a NPU
- Forget the foldable, Samsung's One UI overhaul is the real big news here
PCW Evaluation Team
It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!
The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.
I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.
If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.
If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.
Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category
- Oppo R17 Pro review: Full, in-depth, Australian review
- The Best Australian Black Friday Tech Deals That Aren't On Amazon
- Google Pixel 3 XL review: Ghost in the machine
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies