Moto Z Play review hands-on: Has Moto made the perfect camera phone?
The LG G5’s modular design was a big hit with us at MWC 2016, but with little news about new modules and sales which haven’t matched Samsung, it’s fair to say that the highly lauded “do anything” phone hasn’t taken off in the way LG would have wanted.
That’s not an encouraging picture for Lenovo’s new modular Moto Z family, due to launch this September in the UK, but the company isn’t deterred. And with good reason, because I think the Moto Z Play, which Lenovo just announced at its IFA press conference, shows just how modular phones should be done.
Take its new Moto Mod – also announced this evening at IFA. Built-in collaboration with legendary optics manufacturer Hasselblad, the Hasselblad True Zoom harks back the good old days of Samsung’s K Zoom smartphone, adding a huge 10x optical zoom onto the back of the phone with a proper textured camera grip and physical zoom button.
The beauty of the Moto Z and the Moto Mods is that you can just snap each individual module onto the back of the phone and remove it again just as simply. This leaves you with a beautifully slim smartphone without any added bulk. Yes, you have to pay extra for it (the True Zoom will cost £200 in addition to the cost of the smartphone itself), but it’s still an extremely elegant solution, making your phone instantly more powerful and useful. Admittedly, the Hasselblad True Zoom does require you to dig your nails in a bit in order to take it off again, but it’s definitely a lot more useful than LG’s rather measly and poorly conceived £80 Cam Plus attachment.
For instance, it has a 12-megapixel sensor built in as well as a 10x optical zoom and xenon flash. It adds a sizable amount onto the phone – particularly the Moto Z Play, which is thicker than the regular Moto Z anyway – but it uses the same grip material as Hasselblad’s own X1D camera, so it feels incredibly comfortable to hold one-handed. The shutter button and zoom ring are incredibly quick, too, so it feels fast and responsive when you’re trying to capture a moment.
You also get the ability to capture in RAW and JPEG using Hasselblad’s integrated software. However, you only have the option to capture pictures at 12 megapixels, as the True Zoom will automatically disable the phone’s own camera sensor. That might sound like a bit of a downgrade, but remember – megapixels aren’t everything, and the increased size of the True Zoom’s sensor will allow more light to hit the lens, so it should, theoretically, produce superior pictures. Of course, we’ll have to wait and see how they all fare once we get them in for review.
The Moto Z Play itself, on the other hand, should definitely be on your radar, as Motorola claims it has the company’s best ever battery life. Touting an astonishing claim of 50 hours on a single charge, the Moto Z Play looks like it will have a serious amount of stamina, potentially rivalling even Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 when it comes to overall longevity. Even better, Motorola says its TurboPower technology can give it an incredible nine hours of charge in just 15 minutes, giving you a full working day’s battery in no time at all.
In a way, it’s a shame Motorola hasn’t married this kind of battery power with the regular Moto Z’s stunning looks, as the Moto Z Play isn’t just considerably fatter than the Moto Z, but it’s also a lot less powerful, as it only has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 chip inside it rather than a flagship Snapdragon 820.
Its 5.5in Super AMOLED display only has a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution rather than 2,560 x 1,440, but it does have a 16-megapixel camera with laser and phase-detect autofocus (up from the Z’s 13-megapixel snapper) and it still has the Z’s fingerprint reader and water-repellent case design. It’s compatible with all the same Moto Mods as the regular Moto Z as well.
There’s no word on UK pricing just yet, but expect it to cost less than both the Moto Z and Moto Z Force. We’ll bring you our final verdict on each phone as soon as review samples are available.