Moto Z3 Play review: 2018's MotoMod Starter Pack

Full, in-depth review

Motorola Z3 Play
  • Motorola Z3 Play
  • Motorola Z3 Play
  • Motorola Z3 Play
  • Expert Rating

    3.50 / 5

Pros

  • Surprisingly good battery life
  • Larger display with thin bezels

Cons

  • Lacks waterproofing and headphone jack
  • MotoMod ecosystem seems to be stagnating

Bottom Line

The Moto Z3 Play is yet another MotoMod-enabled smartphone, with all the strengths and shortcomings that title implies.

Would you buy this?

  • Price

    $ 799.00 (AUD)

Camera - How Does It Compare To The Competition

To its credit, the camera on the Moto Z3 Play is a definite improvement over the previous Moto Z2 Play.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

Shots taken with the Moto Z3’s Play look decently detailed and colorful enough. It also boasts a dedicated portrait mode - which its predecessor lacked.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

Still, it lags behind when considered alongside other devices by brands like Huawei, Nokia and Oppo who are all competing for attention in the mid-tier space that the Moto Z3 Play occupies.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

As far as low-light goes, the Moto Z3 Play is competent but falls within the norm of what you’ll get from most mid-tier smartphones like it.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

When combined with the Hasselblad TrueZoom MotoMod (that Motorola are currently bundling the Z3 Play with), you also get access to an impressive 10x zoom. Credit where it’s due, not even Huawei’s P20 Pro is capable of this degree of zoom.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

Unfortunately, the limited capabilities of the sensor involved - plus the lack of sufficient image stabilization - meant that the utility offered by this accessory was limited. The Hasselblad MotoMod also gives the Moto Z3 Play an added bulkiness that really works to offset any extra utility that the zoom function adds.

Performance - Specs, Software and Battery Life

As with cheaper fare like the Moto E5 and the Moto G6, the Moto Z3 Play runs on a super skim-lite version of Android. It’s not Android Pie (yet), which is disappointing. However, it’s still very light on bloat and even uses the same ‘drawer’ design you’ll find in Google’s Pixel hardware.

When it came to benchmarks, the Moto Z3 Play held its own. Unfortunately, when it comes to the price range the device plays in, that’s not really good enough. If you’re after better performance, it’s not difficult find it in options like the Oppo R15 Pro and Nokia 7 Plus.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

As for battery life, we came away pleasantly surprised by the Moto Z3 Play. Despite the smaller sized battery, it managed to deliver admirable results.

We’d make it through the usual 9-5 work day pretty consistently but did need to make the time for a top up if we planned on doing anything afterwards. We’re talking eleven or twelve hours of use here, though - as always - your mileage may vary (especially if you watch or film a lot of video content).

The Moto Z3 Play has no support for wireless charging. Not unless you shell out for a MotoMod that adds it.

The Bottom Line

If you don’t take the usual spec-bumps and display changes into account, the Moto Z3 Play is arguably a worse device than the previous Moto Z2 Play was. It’s more expensive, and it lacks waterproofing and a headphone jack to boot.

If you’re looking for a more modern-looking entry-point to the MotoMod ecosystem, the Moto Z3 Play fits that mold. But if you’re looking for a reason to invest in that ecosystem, you’ll struggle to find it here.

The Moto Z3 Play is yet another MotoMod-enabled smartphone, with all the strengths and shortcomings that title implies.

Credit: Motorola

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Read more on these topics: Moto Z3 Play, MotoMods
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