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Lenovo Moto Z Play Smartphone Review

Andreas Kilian (translated by Liala Stieglitz), 11/01/2016

The superior Z? As the cheaper sibling of the Moto Z flagship smartphone, the Moto Z Play can also be expanded via Moto Mods. As well as a larger battery, it is also equipped with a higher resolution primary camera at a much lower price. Our test reveals which features it does not have.

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Moto Z Play

For the original German review, see here.

Lenovo offers the Moto Z Play mid-range model to customers who are interested in the manufacturer's new module concept, but do not want to spend 700 Euros (~$774) on a smartphone flagship. It is well-equipped with a modern Snapdragon 625 SoC, 3 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of internal storage, but it costs considerably less, starting at 449 Euros (~$496). Fans of a long battery life will be pleased with the relatively large 3510 mAh battery. The smartphone is available in black with a silver-colored bezel or white with a gold-colored bezel.

We compare the Moto Z Play with Samsung's Galaxy A5 2016Sony's Xperia XA, and Huawei's P9 lite mid-range devices. Honor's 8 and OnePlus' 3 are available for roughly the same price - both being smartphones with high-end components. To clearly illustrate the differences of the review sample to its much higher-priced Moto Z sibling, we will also include this model in the comparison.

Lenovo Moto Z Play (Moto Z Series)
Graphics adapter
Memory
3072 MB 
, LPDDR3
Display
5.5 inch 16:9, 1920 x 1080 pixel 401 PPI, capacitive touchscreen, AMOLED, glossy: yes
Storage
32 GB eMMC Flash, 32 GB 
, 23.1 GB free
Connections
1 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm headset jack, Card Reader: micro-SD max. 2 TB, 1 Fingerprint Reader, NFC, Brightness Sensor, Sensors: accelerometer, Hall, proximity sensor, magenetometer, audio monitor, gyroscope, USB OTG, Moto Mods
Networking
802.11a/b/g/n (a/b/g/n), Bluetooth 4.0, GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz), UMTS/HSPA+ (850, 900, 1700, 1900, 2100 MHz), 4G LTE (B1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 17, 19, 20, 28), SAR head (GSM/WDCMA/LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth): 0.396 W/kg, SAR body (LTE band 8, WiFi, Bluetooth): 1.4 W/kg , Dual SIM, LTE, GPS
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 7 x 156.4 x 76.4 ( = 0.28 x 6.16 x 3.01 in)
Battery
13.3 Wh, 3510 mAh, Battery runtime (according to manufacturer): 50 h
Operating System
Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Camera
Primary Camera: 16 MPix (autofocus f/2.0, 2160p video @ 30 fps)
Secondary Camera: 5 MPix (fix-focus f/2.2, 1080p video @ 30 fps)
Additional features
Speakers: front-sided mono speaker, Keyboard: virtual, power supply, SIM slot tool, Style Shell Nylon, Moto-App, 12 Months Warranty, fanless
Weight
165 g ( = 5.82 oz / 0.36 pounds), Power Supply: 97 g ( = 3.42 oz / 0.21 pounds)
Price
449 Euro

 

Case

The difference in height is probably the most striking difference between the Moto Z and Moto Z Play. While the extremely slim build is still a central design element in the first, the review sample looks rather bulky in direct comparison. In fact, its thickness of 7 millimeters (~0.3 in) is still slimmer than that of the rivals. However, it must be borne in mind that the primary camera protrudes by a significant 2.2 millimeters (~0.1 in). The included Style Shell in a nylon textile design can be attached to the back to even this out. It further increases the smartphone's thickness to approximately 9.2 millimeters (~0.36 in) and the weight from 165 (~5.8 oz) to 189 grams (~6.7 oz).

Generally, the smartphone is compatible with all Moto Mods so that, for example, the Insta-Share Projector or JBL Bass Boost speaker can be connected magnetically to the back. We have described both modules in detail in the review of the Moto Z. We have now had the opportunity to examine the Incipio offGRID power pack more closely. It can be fitted very well to the back, but increases the smartphone's weight to 249 grams (~8.8 oz) and the thickness to 13.4 millimeters (~0.53 in). The module's clearly tapered sides prevent the bundle from looking bulky. It is a shame that the smartphone is needed for recharging the power pack since it - unlike many other Moto Mods - does not have a USB port.

The Moto Z Play is basically on par with its more expensive sibling model in terms of build and choice of materials. Although glass and not metal is used on the back, it also feels high-quality and a pattern under it lightens the looks. The metal bezel's build is impeccable and conveys a very solid impression. Our warping attempts that did not affect the review sample confirm this. Furthermore, it is convenient that the casing has been treated with a water-repelling nano finish.

However, the Moto siblings have a few minor shortcomings in common: When a module is not attached, sensitive fingers can feel a somewhat sharp transition between the smartphone's bezel and back. The glass back of the Z Play also attracts fingerprints just as easily as the metal surface of the Moto Z.

Moto Z Play front
Moto Z Play front
Moto Z Play back
Moto Z Play back
Moto Z Play back with Style Mod
Moto Z Play back with Style Mod
Moto Z Play physical buttons
Moto Z Play card slot
Moto Z Play with Insta-Share Projector
Moto Z Play with JBL Bass Boost speaker
Moto Z Play with Incipio offGRID power pack
Moto Z Play with Incipio offGRID power pack
Moto Z (l) and Moto Z Play (r)
Moto Z (l) and Moto Z Play (r)
Moto Z (below) and Moto Z Play (above)
Power supply with fixed USB Type-C cable
SIM and memory card tray

Size Comparison

Connectivity

While the higher-priced Moto Z was one of the first smartphones without a 3.5-mm audio jack, it is still present in the Moto Z Play. Fortunately, the USB Type-C port supports the USB 3.1 standard so that transmitting our "Big Buck Bunny" video from a PC to the smartphone was performed at approximately 70 MB/s. The available 23.1 GB of the 32 GB internal storage in the state of delivery can be filled quite fast. Furthermore, USB OTG for connecting external devices is supported.

Thanks to dual-SIM support, 2 SIM cards can be inserted alongside a microSD card in our configuration model. Which SIM is to be used for data connections can be selected in the settings. MicroSD cards with the current maximum capacity of 256 GB are supported (theoretically max. 2 TB). Furthermore, it can be formatted as a portable or internal storage. The first option has the advantage that data saved on the card remains readable for other devices, but apps cannot be installed on it then.

In addition to AC Wi-Fi with Wi-Fi Direct functionality, Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC are present for wireless connections. However, it is unfortunate that transmitting a wireless video signal is only possible via Chromecast and not via Miracast or the USB port.

Like its more expensive sister model, the Moto Z fades in the time and the latest notifications on the disabled screen via a hand gesture, but unlike the Moto Z it technically does not have infrared sensors. Consequently, the corresponding gestures are identified a bit less accurately. In any case, this feature functioned impeccably in the review sample. The same applies to the fingerprint sensor as it unlocked the smartphone reliably and quickly. A notification LED is not present.

Upper edge: Microphone, SIM/micro-SD slot
Upper edge: Microphone, SIM/micro-SD slot
Lower edge: USB Type-C port, 3.5-mm headset jack
Lower edge: USB Type-C port, 3.5-mm headset jack
Left: No interfaces
Left: No interfaces
Right: Power button, volume controls
Right: Power button, volume controls

Software

Continuing with the tradition, Lenovo has installed an only slightly modified Android operating system. In addition to various Google apps, we only find the Moto app. It allows configuring various convenience features such as activating the flashlight when it is shaken or launching voice recognition via a personal hot word.

The 32-bit version of Android 6.0.1 with security patches from July 2016 was preloaded on our review sample. This shows that Lenovo does not offer monthly updates, but that they are bundled in larger packages instead. Happily, Android Nougat has been announced for the Moto Play Z, which is due to appear this year.

App drawer
App drawer
Home screen
Quick settings
Recently opened apps
Gesture control options
Moto Mods information (speaker)
Software version

Communication and GPS

As well as the usual GSM and 3G radio frequencies, the review sample also supports communicating via LTE in the bands common in Germany. Although Lenovo does not specify the maximum transmission rates, the integrated Snapdragon 625 SoC theoretically achieves up to 300 Mb/s in download and 150 Mb/s in upload.

In terms of Wi-Fi, some minor compromises have to be made compared with current premium models. The Moto Z Play still transmits via 802.11 a/b/g/n rather than the modern AC standard, and thus the connection supports 150 Mb/s at most. However, it is quite encouraging that the 5 GHz frequency band can be used. It showed an average transmission rate of 121 Mb/s when receiving and 112 Mb/s sending data with our Linksys EA8500 reference router. Thus, the Moto Z Play places itself just ahead of the Moto X Play that uses the same Wi-Fi standard. Nevertheless, these outcomes are far from the performance of the premium range competition in the form of OnePlus' 3 or Apple's iPhone 7. The Wi-Fi range did not give any reason for complaint. The Moto Z Play user can also fall back on NFC and Bluetooth 4.0 for near-field data transmission.

Networking
iperf3 Client (receive) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Apple iPhone 7
A10 Fusion GPU, A10 Fusion, 128 GB NVMe (Klaus I211)
532 MBit/s ∼100% +340%
OnePlus 3
Adreno 530, 820 MSM8996, 64 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
320 MBit/s ∼60% +164%
Huawei P9
Mali-T880 MP4, Kirin 955, 32 GB eMMC Flash
279 MBit/s ∼52% +131%
Lenovo Moto Z Play
Adreno 506, 625, 32 GB eMMC Flash
121 MBit/s ∼23%
Motorola Moto X Play
Adreno 405, 615 MSM8939, 16 GB eMMC Flash
118 MBit/s ∼22% -2%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
Adreno 506, 625, 64 GB eMMC Flash
32.9 MBit/s ∼6% -73%
iperf3 Client (transmit) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Apple iPhone 7
A10 Fusion GPU, A10 Fusion, 128 GB NVMe (Klaus I211)
485 MBit/s ∼100% +333%
OnePlus 3
Adreno 530, 820 MSM8996, 64 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
323 MBit/s ∼67% +188%
Huawei P9
Mali-T880 MP4, Kirin 955, 32 GB eMMC Flash
185 MBit/s ∼38% +65%
Lenovo Moto Z Play
Adreno 506, 625, 32 GB eMMC Flash
112 MBit/s ∼23%
Motorola Moto X Play
Adreno 405, 615 MSM8939, 16 GB eMMC Flash
102 MBit/s ∼21% -9%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
Adreno 506, 625, 64 GB eMMC Flash
31.2 MBit/s ∼6% -72%
GPS indoors
GPS indoors
GPS outdoors
GPS outdoors

The Moto Z Play finds the current location quickly and with an accuracy of 3 meters (~10 ft) both indoors and outside. However, our bike test shows that the smartphone does not log the driven route quite as accurately as Garmin's Edge 500 GPS computer. Clear deviations become visible particularly in the area where we cross the bridge with the Moto Z Play. Overall, the deviations only add up to approximately 2% when looking at the entire route so that the accuracy should absolutely suffice for navigation purposes.

Moto Z Play - route
Moto Z Play - route
Moto Z Play - underpass
Moto Z Play - underpass
Moto Z Play - turning point
Moto Z Play - turning point
Garmin Edge 500 - route
Garmin Edge 500 - route
Garmin Edge 500 - underpass
Garmin Edge 500 - underpass
Garmin Edge 500 - turning point
Garmin Edge 500 - turning point

Telephone and Call Quality

Phone app: Favorites
Phone app: Favorites
Phone app: Keypad
Phone app: Keypad

While the Moto Z is equipped with 4 microphones, Lenovo has reduced these to 3 in the Moto Z Play. However, this does not affect the call quality via the earpiece. Like the higher-priced model, it is very good although a minor noise is audible at both ends. If at all, differences between the Moto siblings are only determinable in a direct comparison. The speaker's balanced sound of the Moto Z Play is pleasing in hands-free mode. However, it should not be turned up too high because the sound could distort slightly - depending on the contact's voice. A few syllables were dropped at sentence endings at the other end, but the Moto user was generally well understood.

Lenovo also relies on an unmodified standard Android design for the phone app. Thus, a screen for favorites, call list, keypad, and direct access to contacts is present. A search bar is also situated in the upper area.

Cameras

Webcam photo (click for orignal)
Webcam photo (click for orignal)
Primary camera photo (click for orignal)
Primary camera photo (click for orignal)

The front-facing camera in the Moto Z Play is identical to that of the one in the more expensive Moto Z. It has a resolution of 5 megapixels and an aperture of f/2.2, which produces decent selfies. The LED flash on the smartphone's front brightens up faces effectively in low-light situations. Videos can be recorded in Full HD resolution and convince with a good image quality that does not decrease too much in the indoors.

Lenovo uses a larger sensor than in the Moto Z for the primary camera of the Moto Z Play. Thus, the resolution climbs to 16 megapixels without affecting the image quality. The opposite is true: Daylight photos present far more details and show a much lower decrease in sharpness at the corners than the photos made with the high-end model (scene 1). Thus, the inevitable question of why is this camera not installed in the Moto Z arises. Besides the particularly slim build, the lack of an optical image stabilizer in the review sample is probably responsible for this. Photos recurrently blur in low-light situations. Furthermore, an extreme image noise is sometimes noticed in zoomed photos, which is filtered at the expense of details in the rivals. The camera's biggest shortcoming is seen when focusing objects: Despite the combination of laser and phase detection auto-focus, photos regularly blur (scene 2), which often cannot be resolved by determining a focal point on the smartphone's screen. If an impeccable result is required, the sharpness will have to be adapted manually in the camera app's professional mode.

The primary camera records videos at a maximum of 3840x2160 pixels and 30 frames per second. A mode for 60 frames per second is not present in any resolution. The image quality is very decent and can compete with that of the sister model. Although the electronic image stabilizer does not function as well as in the Moto Z, the auto-focus has been placed in a better position.

The smartphone's camera app can be launched directly from standby with a fast rotating motion of the hand. Besides the always preset full automatic, a manual mode is also present. It allows adapting diverse parameters, such as white balance, ISO values, and focal point. In addition it is also possible to record slow-motion videos and panned panoramas.

Image Comparison

Choose a scene and navigate within the first image. One click changes the position on touchscreens. One click on the zoomed-in image opens the original in a new window. The first image shows the scaled photograph of the test device.

Scene 1Scene 2Scene 3

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We test whether the primary camera in the Moto Z Play captures colors accurately by taking a photo of the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport in defined light conditions, which we compare with factual reference colors. The photos are not edited afterward, for example via manual white balance. Here, we see that some gray tones, as well as some colors, are slightly too dark. The bright color tones in the right upper edge of the comparison photo are most accurate.

Our photographed test chart illustrates just how well the lens' reproduction performance and the camera sensor's resolution capabilities are. The Moto Z Play does a much better job here than the Moto Z. The resolution is still quite high at the edges and even fine elements are still quite visible. However, minor elements are seen in some transitions when looking closer.

Screenshot of ColorChecker colors. Original colors are displayed in the lower half of each patch.
Screenshot of ColorChecker colors. Original colors are displayed in the lower half of each patch.
Test photo section
Test photo section
Test photo (click for orignal)
Test photo (click for orignal)

Accessories and Warranty

The Moto Z Play comes with a Style Shell in black nylon design and a 15-watt charger with fixed USB Type-C cable. Various brochures and a tool for opening the card slot are also included in the box. However, a headset is not included. Fortunately, all Moto Mods released to date are compatible with the review sample.

Lenovo ships the smartphone with only a one-year warranty. However, the mandatory legal two-year warranty via the respective seller applies in Germany.

Input Devices and Handling

Google's standard keyboard is installed for entering texts. It is well developed and offers various convenience features, such as word suggestions and swipe inputting, as well as proprietary solutions. Recently, it has been possible to even customize the looks of the keyboard  with different designs. Users who like to use voice control will be pleased with the personal Hotword option in the Moto app for launching the function.

The touchscreen in the Moto Z Play implements inputs very accurately especially since the fingers glide easily over the Gorilla Glass 4 surface. Overall, the smartphone makes a very fast impression in everyday use since apps open quickly and the contents rotate fast when the smartphone is turned. Furthermore, the fingerprint scanner that can also be used for turning off the screen is very reliable and fast. Also convenient: new notifications can be displayed without touching the smartphone; a hand gesture over the screen is enough to display them.

The physical keys are fitted quite firmly into the metal bezel and have a crisp pressure point. They cannot always be reached without repositioning the hand due to their location in the far upper right side.

Keyboard portrait mode
Keyboard portrait mode
Keyboard landscape mode
Keyboard landscape mode

Display

Subpixel grid
Subpixel grid
PWM: 60 Hz at 100% screen brightness
PWM: 60 Hz at 100% screen brightness

With a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels, the 5.5-inch screen in the review sample offers a slightly lower pixel density than the more expensive Moto Z. However, this difference is hardly visible to the naked eye, even in a direct comparison. The visible, thin color edges are at most sometimes more evident at the edges of objects on the smartphone.

Ehen the brightness is set manually, the Moto Z Play remains slightly below its potentials with a brightness of 356 cd/m² on a completely white screen. Enabling the ambient light sensor changes this to a top rate of 532 cd/m² under the same conditions. Up to 422 cd/m² is achieved when dark and bright areas are realistically distributed over the screen (Average Picture Level/APL50) with and without the sensor.

The underlying AMOLED screen technology also results in a black level of 0 cd/m². Consequently, the screen makes a very high-contrast impression. As mentioned in the review of the Moto Z, it is accompanied by flickering that is very perceptible for sensitive users. In the review sample this appears at a frequency of 243.9 Hz in a brightness setting of below 20%. However, flickering is still measurable at full brightness. The amplitude response is very flat so that fewer problems should occur despite the lower frequency of 60 Hz.

532
cd/m²
504
cd/m²
502
cd/m²
526
cd/m²
509
cd/m²
499
cd/m²
528
cd/m²
503
cd/m²
496
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 532 cd/m² Average: 511 cd/m² Minimum: 6.52 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 93 %
Center on Battery: 509 cd/m²
Contrast: ∞:1 (Black: 0 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 2.2 | 0.4-29.43 Ø6.3
ΔE Greyscale 2 | 0.64-98 Ø6.5
Gamma: 2.25
Lenovo Moto Z Play
AMOLED, 1920x1080, 5.5
Samsung Galaxy A5 2016
Super AMOLED, 1920x1080, 5.2
Sony Xperia XA
IPS, 1280x720, 5
Huawei P9 Lite
IPS, 1920x1080, 5.2
Honor 8
IPS, 1920x1080, 5.2
OnePlus 3
Optic-AMOLED, 1920x1080, 5.5
Lenovo Moto Z
AMOLED, 2560x1440, 5.5
Screen
Brightness middle
509
378
-26%
518
2%
505
-1%
451
-11%
419
-18%
485
-5%
Brightness
511
380
-26%
475
-7%
468
-8%
443
-13%
431
-16%
490
-4%
Brightness Distribution
93
91
-2%
81
-13%
88
-5%
93
0%
84
-10%
92
-1%
Black Level *
0.61
0.74
0.4
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
2.2
1.95
11%
6.8
-209%
4.1
-86%
5.4
-145%
4.1
-86%
2.1
5%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
5.8
3.09
47%
11.4
-97%
5.8
-0%
9.9
-71%
12
-107%
5.5
5%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
2
1.86
7%
7
-250%
4.9
-145%
6.7
-235%
3.3
-65%
2.6
-30%
Gamma
2.25 107%
2.13 113%
2.35 102%
2.5 96%
2.33 103%
2.1 114%
2.23 108%
CCT
6768 96%
6376 102%
8151 80%
7116 91%
8262 79%
6550 99%
6843 95%
Contrast
849
682
1128
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
89.38
88.14
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
100
100

* ... smaller is better

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM detected 243.9 Hz

The display backlight flickers at 243.9 Hz (Likely utilizing PWM) .

The frequency of 243.9 Hz is relatively low, so sensitive users will likely notice flickering and experience eyestrain at the stated brightness setting and below.

In comparison: 54 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 8882 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

Display Response Times

Display response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
       Response Time Black to White
4 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 2.4 ms rise
↘ 1.6 ms fall
The screen shows very fast response rates in our tests and should be very well suited for fast-paced gaming.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 1 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is better than the average of all tested devices (25.9 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
4 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 2 ms rise
↘ 2 ms fall
The screen shows very fast response rates in our tests and should be very well suited for fast-paced gaming.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 636 (maximum) ms. » 0 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is better than the average of all tested devices (41.4 ms).
Color mode options
Color mode options

The screens of the Moto Z Play and Moto Z look absolutely identical at first glance when placed directly beside each other. Thus, it is not surprising that our CalMAN diagrams present similar rates. The average DeltaE deviation (grayscale) is 2 and (colors) 2.2 in the standard color mode - both are very good results that are within the ideal range (<3). The color temperature of 6768 K is also increased only slightly (ideal: 6500 K). The reproduction shifts marginally into the blue range when switching to the intensive mode, which results in a color temperature of 7210 K. The DeltaE deviations increase at the same time.

Although the screen in the Moto Z Play can hardly be discerned from the considerably more expensive Moto Z, there is a difference in direct comparison. The review sample's screen absorbs dark image details at a low screen brightness much faster than is the case in the sister model.

Grayscale (standard, target color space: sRGB)
Grayscale (standard, target color space: sRGB)
ColorChecker (standard, target color space: sRGB)
ColorChecker (standard, target color space: sRGB)
Saturation Sweeps (standard, target color space: sRGB)
Saturation Sweeps (standard, target color space: sRGB)
Colorspace (standard, target color space: AdobeRGB)
Colorspace (standard, target color space: AdobeRGB)
Grayscale (intensive, target color space: sRGB)
Grayscale (intensive, target color space: sRGB)
ColorChecker (intensive, target color space: sRGB)
ColorChecker (intensive, target color space: sRGB)
Saturation Sweeps (intensive, target color space: sRGB)
Saturation Sweeps (intensive, target color space: sRGB)
Colorspace (intensive, target color space: AdobeRGB)
Colorspace (intensive, target color space: AdobeRGB)

The screen's brightness is high enough to recognize the contents well, even in sunlight when the brightness sensor is active. However, as with all touchscreen devices, reflections will have to be avoided.

Outdoors direct sunlight
Outdoors direct sunlight
Outdoors shade
Outdoors shade

As expected from the underlying AMOLED screen technology, there are no significant restrictions when looking at the Moto Z Play's screen from the sides. Neither the color deviations nor the brightness losses are too great.

Viewing angles
Viewing angles

Performance

A highly advanced Snapdragon 625 SoC with eight power efficient Cortex A53 cores that clock at up to 2 GHz is inside the Moto Z Play. Its technical base is thus comparable with the Helio P10 in Sony's Xperia XA and the Kirin 650 in Huawei's P9 Lite. Since these two processors are still built in a structure width of 28 and 16 nanometers, the performance of the Snapdragon 625 (structure width: 14 nanometers) will be slightly better due to the potentially lower temperature development. An Adreno 506 GPU is responsible for video output in the review sample.

The Moto Z Play clearly outperforms the models from SamsungSony and Huawei in most benchmarks. The devices from OnePlusHonor, and the Moto Z that are equipped with high-end components, however, usually have an uncatchable lead. An exception is seen in PCMark, though: The review sample can even reach the score of the strong Honor 8. Furthermore, the Xperia XA manages a slight lead on the Moto Z Play thanks to its screen's lower resolution in the onscreen graphic benchmarks.

AnTuTu v6 - Total Score (sort by value)
Lenovo Moto Z Play
61345 Points ∼27%
Samsung Galaxy A5 2016
41676 Points ∼18% -32%
Sony Xperia XA
48331 Points ∼21% -21%
Huawei P9 Lite
50366 Points ∼22% -18%
Honor 8
94671 Points ∼41% +54%
OnePlus 3
142090 Points ∼62% +132%
Lenovo Moto Z
129197 Points ∼56% +111%
Geekbench 3
32 Bit Multi-Core Score (sort by value)
Lenovo Moto Z Play
4792 Points ∼15%
Samsung Galaxy A5 2016
3607 Points ∼12% -25%
32 Bit Single-Core Score (sort by value)
Lenovo Moto Z Play
925 Points ∼20%
Samsung Galaxy A5 2016
692 Points ∼15% -25%
64 Bit Multi-Core Score (sort by value)
Huawei P9 Lite
3768 Points ∼10%
OnePlus 3
5645 Points ∼15%
Lenovo Moto Z
5450 Points ∼14%
64 Bit Single-Core Score (sort by value)
Huawei P9 Lite
883 Points ∼18%
OnePlus 3
2398 Points ∼49%
Lenovo Moto Z
2080 Points ∼42%
Geekbench 4.0
Compute RenderScript Score (sort by value)
Lenovo Moto Z Play
2465 Points ∼19%
Honor 8
3101 Points ∼24% +26%
OnePlus 3
7085 Points ∼56% +187%
Lenovo Moto Z
6326 Points ∼50% +157%
64 Bit Multi-Core Score (sort by value)
Lenovo Moto Z Play
2525 Points ∼9%
Honor 8
5481 Points ∼20% +117%
OnePlus 3
4097 Points ∼15% +62%
Lenovo Moto Z
3946 Points ∼14% +56%
64 Bit Single-Core Score (sort by value)
Lenovo Moto Z Play
795 Points ∼14%
Honor 8
1726 Points ∼30% +117%
OnePlus 3
1754 Points ∼30% +121%
Lenovo Moto Z
1480 Points ∼26% +86%
PCMark for Android - Work performance score (sort by value)
Lenovo Moto Z Play
6767 Points ∼66%
Samsung Galaxy A5 2016
4008 Points ∼39% -41%
Sony Xperia XA
4685 Points ∼46% -31%
Huawei P9 Lite
5339 Points ∼52% -21%
Honor 8
6735 Points ∼66% 0%
OnePlus 3
7101 Points ∼69% +5%
Lenovo Moto Z
7637 Points ∼74% +13%
BaseMark OS II
Web (sort by value)
Lenovo Moto Z Play
649 Points ∼38%
Samsung Galaxy A5 2016
741 Points ∼44% +14%
Sony Xperia XA
717 Points ∼42% +10%
Huawei P9 Lite
765 Points ∼45% +18%
Honor 8
994 Points ∼59% +53%
OnePlus 3
1112 Points ∼66% +71%
Lenovo Moto Z
959 Points ∼57% +48%
Graphics (sort by value)
Lenovo Moto Z Play
1013 Points ∼11%
Samsung Galaxy A5 2016
488 Points ∼5% -52%
Sony Xperia XA
669 Points ∼7% -34%
Huawei P9 Lite
818 Points ∼9% -19%
Honor 8
1703 Points ∼18% +68%
OnePlus 3
4813 Points ∼52% +375%
Lenovo Moto Z
4321 Points ∼47% +327%
Memory (sort by value)
Lenovo Moto Z Play
795 Points ∼17%
Samsung Galaxy A5 2016
554 Points ∼12% -30%
Sony Xperia XA
1076 Points ∼22% +35%
Huawei P9 Lite
1346 Points ∼28% +69%
Honor 8
2556 Points ∼53% +222%
OnePlus 3
2052 Points ∼43% +158%
Lenovo Moto Z
2190 Points ∼46% +175%
System (sort by value)
Lenovo Moto Z Play
2069 Points ∼20%
Samsung Galaxy A5 2016
2153 Points ∼21% +4%
Sony Xperia XA
2289 Points ∼22% +11%
Huawei P9 Lite
2438 Points ∼24% +18%
Honor 8
3952 Points ∼38% +91%
OnePlus 3
3537 Points ∼34% +71%
Lenovo Moto Z
3398 Points ∼33% +64%
Overall (sort by value)
Lenovo Moto Z Play
1019 Points ∼24%
Samsung Galaxy A5 2016
810 Points ∼19% -21%
Sony Xperia XA
1043 Points ∼24% +2%
Huawei P9 Lite
1197 Points ∼28% +17%
Honor 8
2034 Points ∼47% +100%
OnePlus 3
2496 Points ∼58% +145%
Lenovo Moto Z
2356 Points ∼55% +131%
GFXBench (DX / GLBenchmark) 2.7
1920x1080 T-Rex HD Offscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Lenovo Moto Z Play
23 fps ∼1%
Samsung Galaxy A5 2016
14 fps ∼1% -39%
Sony Xperia XA
18 fps ∼1% -22%
Huawei P9 Lite
19 fps ∼1% -17%
Honor 8
41 fps ∼2% +78%
OnePlus 3
89 fps ∼5% +287%
Lenovo Moto Z
77 fps ∼4% +235%
T-Rex HD Onscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Lenovo Moto Z Play
23 fps ∼5%
Samsung Galaxy A5 2016
14 fps ∼3% -39%
Sony Xperia XA
28 fps ∼6% +22%
Huawei P9 Lite
19 fps ∼4% -17%
Honor 8
43 fps ∼9% +87%
OnePlus 3
60 fps ∼13% +161%
Lenovo Moto Z
53 fps ∼12% +130%
GFXBench 3.0
off screen Manhattan Offscreen OGL (sort by value)
Lenovo Moto Z Play
10 fps ∼2%
Samsung Galaxy A5 2016
3.8 fps ∼1% -62%
Sony Xperia XA
7.2 fps ∼1% -28%
Huawei P9 Lite
7.8 fps ∼1% -22%
Honor 8
19 fps ∼3% +90%
OnePlus 3
47 fps ∼9% +370%
Lenovo Moto Z
41 fps ∼7% +310%
on screen Manhattan Onscreen OGL (sort by value)
Lenovo Moto Z Play
10 fps ∼3%
Samsung Galaxy A5 2016
3.8 fps ∼1% -62%
Sony Xperia XA
15 fps ∼4% +50%
Huawei P9 Lite
8.4 fps ∼2% -16%
Honor 8
19 fps ∼5% +90%
OnePlus 3
46 fps ∼13% +360%
Lenovo Moto Z
26 fps ∼7% +160%
GFXBench 3.1
off screen Manhattan ES 3.1 Offscreen (sort by value)
Lenovo Moto Z Play
6.2 fps ∼1%
Sony Xperia XA
4.8 fps ∼1% -23%
Huawei P9 Lite
4.5 fps ∼1% -27%
Honor 8
10 fps ∼2% +61%
OnePlus 3
31 fps ∼6% +400%
Lenovo Moto Z
27 fps ∼5% +335%
on screen Manhattan ES 3.1 Onscreen (sort by value)
Lenovo Moto Z Play
6.7 fps ∼4%
Sony Xperia XA
11 fps ∼6% +64%
Huawei P9 Lite
4.9 fps ∼3% -27%
Honor 8
11 fps ∼6% +64%
OnePlus 3
30 fps ∼17% +348%
Lenovo Moto Z
15 fps ∼9% +124%
3DMark
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 Physics (sort by value)
Lenovo Moto Z Play
1631 Points ∼45%
Samsung Galaxy A5 2016
1479 Points ∼41% -9%
Sony Xperia XA
1259 Points ∼35% -23%
Huawei P9 Lite
1373 Points ∼38% -16%
Honor 8
2587 Points ∼71% +59%
OnePlus 3
1789 Points ∼49% +10%
Lenovo Moto Z
1828 Points ∼50% +12%
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 Graphics (sort by value)
Lenovo Moto Z Play
725 Points ∼9%
Samsung Galaxy A5 2016
275 Points ∼3% -62%
Sony Xperia XA
525 Points ∼6% -28%
Huawei P9 Lite
473 Points ∼6% -35%
Honor 8
1112 Points ∼13% +53%
OnePlus 3
4633 Points ∼56% +539%
Lenovo Moto Z
3718 Points ∼45% +413%
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 (sort by value)
Lenovo Moto Z Play
827 Points ∼13%
Samsung Galaxy A5 2016
336 Points ∼5% -59%
Sony Xperia XA
603 Points ∼9% -27%
Huawei P9 Lite
554 Points ∼9% -33%
Honor 8
1273 Points ∼20% +54%
OnePlus 3
3424 Points ∼54% +314%
Lenovo Moto Z
3023 Points ∼47% +266%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Physics (sort by value)
Lenovo Moto Z Play
15923 Points ∼20%
Samsung Galaxy A5 2016
9495 Points ∼12% -40%
Sony Xperia XA
12138 Points ∼15% -24%
Huawei P9 Lite
13676 Points ∼17% -14%
Honor 8
15531 Points ∼20% -2%
OnePlus 3
21771 Points ∼28% +37%
Lenovo Moto Z
20948 Points ∼27% +32%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Graphics Score (sort by value)
Lenovo Moto Z Play
13437 Points ∼3%
Samsung Galaxy A5 2016
7542 Points ∼2% -44%
Sony Xperia XA
10916 Points ∼2% -19%
Huawei P9 Lite
11318 Points ∼2% -16%
Honor 8
22157 Points ∼5% +65%
OnePlus 3
34023 Points ∼7% +153%
Lenovo Moto Z
26659 Points ∼6% +98%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Score (sort by value)
Lenovo Moto Z Play
13920 Points ∼7%
Samsung Galaxy A5 2016
7903 Points ∼4% -43%
Sony Xperia XA
11156 Points ∼5% -20%
Huawei P9 Lite
11769 Points ∼6% -15%
Honor 8
20235 Points ∼10% +45%
OnePlus 3
30241 Points ∼14% +117%
Lenovo Moto Z
25135 Points ∼12% +81%

Legend

 
Lenovo Moto Z Play Qualcomm Snapdragon 625, Qualcomm Adreno 506, 32 GB eMMC Flash
 
Samsung Galaxy A5 2016 Samsung Exynos 7580 Octa, ARM Mali-T720 MP2, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Sony Xperia XA Mediatek Helio P10 MT6755, ARM Mali-T860 MP2, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Huawei P9 Lite HiSilicon Kirin 650, ARM Mali-T830 MP2, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Honor 8 HiSilicon Kirin 950, ARM Mali-T880 MP4, 32 GB eMMC Flash
 
OnePlus 3 Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 MSM8996, Qualcomm Adreno 530, 64 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
 
Lenovo Moto Z Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 MSM8996, Qualcomm Adreno 530, 32 GB eMMC Flash

The same order is seen in the browser tests as in the benchmark apps: The Moto Z Play is faster than smartphones from the same performance category, but it does not come close to the high performance level of the Honor 8, the OnePlus 3, and the Moto Z rivals that are equipped with high-end processors.

However, this is not relevant subjectively. Browsing with the Moto Z Play is very smooth and does not involve long waiting times.

Mozilla Kraken 1.1 - Total Score (sort by value)
Lenovo Moto Z Play
8168.9 ms * ∼14%
Samsung Galaxy A5 2016
11887 ms * ∼20% -46%
Sony Xperia XA
9609.8 ms * ∼16% -18%
Huawei P9 Lite
9396.5 ms * ∼16% -15%
Honor 8
2979 ms * ∼5% +64%
OnePlus 3
2920.7 ms * ∼5% +64%
Lenovo Moto Z
3154.7 ms * ∼5% +61%
Octane V2 - Total Score (sort by value)
Lenovo Moto Z Play
4979 Points ∼10%
Samsung Galaxy A5 2016
3611 Points ∼7% -27%
Sony Xperia XA
4046 Points ∼8% -19%
Huawei P9 Lite
4756 Points ∼10% -4%
Honor 8
10692 Points ∼22% +115%
OnePlus 3
9155 Points ∼18% +84%
Lenovo Moto Z
7771 Points ∼16% +56%
WebXPRT 2015 - Overall Score (sort by value)
Lenovo Moto Z Play
83 Points ∼10%
Samsung Galaxy A5 2016
64 Points ∼8% -23%
Sony Xperia XA
72 Points ∼9% -13%
Huawei P9 Lite
67 Points ∼8% -19%
Honor 8
138 Points ∼17% +66%
OnePlus 3
122 Points ∼15% +47%
Lenovo Moto Z
112 Points ∼14% +35%
JetStream 1.1 - 1.1 Total Score (sort by value)
Lenovo Moto Z Play
31.8 Points ∼10%
Samsung Galaxy A5 2016
22 Points ∼7% -31%
Sony Xperia XA
27.5 Points ∼8% -14%
Huawei P9 Lite
29.03 Points ∼9% -9%
Honor 8
64.046 Points ∼19% +101%
OnePlus 3
54.4 Points ∼16% +71%
Lenovo Moto Z
47.5 Points ∼14% +49%

* ... smaller is better

The internal storage in the Moto Z Play is not bad at all. All comparison devices, except for the Moto Z sibling, are outperformed especially in random write. However, the review sample also surpasses many mid-range models in the other tests. Only in sequential write can it hardly outpace these, but it still achieves a good outcome with 254.78 MB/s. Furthermore, the memory card's interface is the best in the comparison field together with that of the Moto Z. We determine a read rate of 74.58 MB/s and a write rate of 50.57 MB/s with our Toshiba Exceria Pro M401 (THN-M401S0640E2, UHS-I Class 3, max. read: 95 MB/s, max. write: 80 MB/s) reference card.

Lenovo Moto Z PlaySamsung Galaxy A5 2016Sony Xperia XAHuawei P9 LiteHonor 8OnePlus 3Lenovo Moto Z
AndroBench 3-5
-38%
-22%
-27%
-11%
91%
77%
Sequential Write 256KB SDCard
50.57
50.68
0%
25.1
-50%
23.59
-53%
45.64
-10%
Sequential Read 256KB SDCard
74.58
72.87
-2%
60.81
-18%
53.68
-28%
78.51
5%
Random Write 4KB
45.58
11.2
-75%
10.6
-77%
15.35
-66%
31.5
-31%
18.23
-60%
74.93
64%
Random Read 4KB
38.78
22.9
-41%
22.05
-43%
38.22
-1%
34.16
-12%
137.62
255%
117.15
202%
Sequential Write 256KB
73.14
60.4
-17%
68.64
-6%
46.24
-37%
119.25
63%
153.3
110%
168.32
130%
Sequential Read 256KB
254.78
209.4
-18%
240.43
-6%
283.55
11%
247.46
-3%
408.71
60%
439.66
73%

Games

An Adreno 506 graphics unit takes care of gaming fun in the Moto Z Play. Thanks to the now almost moderate Full HD resolution, the performance is enough even for displaying smooth images at high graphics quality in hardware-driven games such as "Asphalt 8" or "Dead Trigger 2".

Both the touchscreen and internal sensors function impeccably in gaming routine, and the front-sided speaker entertains with its appealing sound backdrop.

"Asphalt 8"
"Asphalt 8"
"Dead Trigger 2"
"Dead Trigger 2"
Asphalt 8: Airborne
 SettingsValue
 high30 fps
 very low30 fps
Dead Trigger 2
 SettingsValue
 high56 fps

Emissions

Temperature

The Moto Z Play stays cool even during permanent load. With surface temperatures of at most 34.5 °C (~94 °F) in the speaker's area and 27.7 °C (~82 °F) on the back, it hardly heats up. This places it at the top position among the rivals, which all exceed 40 °C (~104 °F) except for Samsung's Galaxy A5 2016.

The GFXBench battery test reveals whether this great performance is due to the efficiency of the Snapdragon 625 SoC or whether Lenovo has decided to throttle the performance at an early stage. It performs the Manhattan test thirty times in succession and logs the achieved performance as well as the battery state in every run. Fortunately, the frame rates are very stable so that the minor temperature increase is not accomplished via throttling.

GFXBench Manhattan: Performance
GFXBench Manhattan: Performance
GFXBench Manhattan: Frametimes
GFXBench Manhattan: Frametimes
GFXBench Manhattan: Battery consumption
GFXBench Manhattan: Battery consumption
Max. Load
 33 °C
91 F
33.8 °C
93 F
32.7 °C
91 F
 
 34.5 °C
94 F
32.2 °C
90 F
31.2 °C
88 F
 
 32 °C
90 F
31.6 °C
89 F
31.3 °C
88 F
 
Maximum: 34.5 °C = 94 F
Average: 32.5 °C = 91 F
31.4 °C
89 F
32.6 °C
91 F
32.7 °C
91 F
30.9 °C
88 F
31.3 °C
88 F
32.4 °C
90 F
30.5 °C
87 F
31 °C
88 F
27.9 °C
82 F
Maximum: 32.7 °C = 91 F
Average: 31.2 °C = 88 F
Power Supply (max.)  31 °C = 88 F | Room Temperature 21.5 °C = 71 F | Voltcraft IR-260
Heat map Moto Z Play front
Heat map Moto Z Play back

Speaker

Speaker characteristics
Speaker characteristics

As known from the Moto Z, the speaker in the Moto Z Play is also incorporated in the earpiece. In line with its name, the review sample plays music in good quality and at a fairly high volume. We measure up to 88.13 dB(A) in the Pink Noise test, which is considerably more than in the higher-priced sister model. Furthermore, tones ranging from 200 to 400 Hz are rendered somewhat better, which results in a relatively balanced sound for smartphone conditions. If this is not adequate, the user can attach the JBL Sound Boost module to the Moto Z Play's back. It is much louder at up to 95.2 dB(A).

The 3.5-mm jack transmitted an impeccable audio signal without static in the test.

dB(A) 0102030405060708090Deep BassMiddle BassHigh BassLower RangeMidsHigher MidsLower HighsMid HighsUpper HighsSuper Highs2031.635.72525.434.63125.329.34032.928.45033.637.16331.634.78028.429.51002729.712520.8331602243.220021.349.625020.85631521.257.440019.459.350019.566.563017.768.580017.974.4100017.875.1125017.377.3160017.478.3200016.778.4250017.278.2315018.278.2400017.976.1500017.675630017.773.5800017.873.71000017.9741250018.175.21600018.269SPL3088.1N1.372.7median 17.9Lenovo Moto Z Playmedian 73.7Delta1.39.231.638.525.446.325.34832.945.933.646.631.650.728.449.12756.720.862.22268.421.373.620.876.421.276.919.476.519.580.817.778.917.981.817.883.317.38417.484.916.784.417.284.618.280.617.979.217.685.317.785.217.882.517.980.518.180.118.278.13095.21.3120.9median 17.9JBL-Speaker Moto-Modmedian 80.51.34.431.636.225.430.625.328.532.928.133.638.231.633.328.428.4272620.825.82230.921.336.420.844.721.248.919.453.719.56117.763.717.969.817.872.817.37317.472.816.773.317.274.418.27317.973.117.670.817.770.517.870.917.971.918.166.618.261.43083.91.356.8median 17.9Lenovo Moto Zmedian 69.81.312.8hearing rangehide median Pink Noise
Lenovo Moto Z Play audio analysis

(+) | speakers can play relatively loud (88.13 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(-) | nearly no bass - on average 28.9% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (8.3% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(±) | reduced mids - on average 5.2% lower than median
(+) | mids are linear (4.7% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(+) | balanced highs - only 1.9% away from median
(+) | highs are linear (1.4% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(±) | linearity of overall sound is average (18.3% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 5% of all tested devices in this class were better, 4% similar, 91% worse
» The best had a delta of 14%, average was 25%, worst was 44%
Compared to all devices tested
» 33% of all tested devices were better, 6% similar, 61% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

no name audio analysis

(+) | speakers can play relatively loud (95.16 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(±) | reduced bass - on average 11.4% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (7.4% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(+) | balanced mids - only 2.7% away from median
(+) | mids are linear (2.6% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(+) | balanced highs - only 2.4% away from median
(+) | highs are linear (3.8% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(+) | overall sound is linear (7.7% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 1% of all tested devices in this class were better, 0% similar, 99% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%
Compared to all devices tested
» 1% of all tested devices were better, 0% similar, 99% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Lenovo Moto Z audio analysis

(+) | speakers can play relatively loud (83.9 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(-) | nearly no bass - on average 34.4% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (8.2% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(±) | reduced mids - on average 5.4% lower than median
(+) | mids are linear (6% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(+) | balanced highs - only 2.3% away from median
(+) | highs are linear (1.8% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(±) | linearity of overall sound is average (23.2% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 33% of all tested devices in this class were better, 12% similar, 56% worse
» The best had a delta of 14%, average was 25%, worst was 44%
Compared to all devices tested
» 61% of all tested devices were better, 7% similar, 32% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Frequency diagram in comparison (checkboxes above can be turned on/off!)

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The Moto Z Play shows its rivals the meaning of efficiency in power consumption: It is superior to the comparison devices in all subsections. The low average load rate is particularly impressive. The SoC's modern manufacturing process in the 14-nm LPP technique pays off here.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.03 / 0.17 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 0.51 / 0.87 / 0.9 Watt
Load midlight 1.69 / 4 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy
Lenovo Moto Z Play
3510 mAh
Samsung Galaxy A5 2016
2900 mAh
Sony Xperia XA
2300 mAh
Huawei P9 Lite
3000 mAh
Honor 8
3000 mAh
OnePlus 3
3000 mAh
Lenovo Moto Z
2600 mAh
Power Consumption
-74%
-69%
-98%
-108%
-104%
-62%
Idle Minimum *
0.51
0.96
-88%
0.72
-41%
0.73
-43%
0.78
-53%
0.57
-12%
0.66
-29%
Idle Average *
0.87
1.64
-89%
1.5
-72%
2.09
-140%
1.89
-117%
1.24
-43%
1.01
-16%
Idle Maximum *
0.9
1.71
-90%
1.57
-74%
2.11
-134%
2.02
-124%
1.36
-51%
1.09
-21%
Load Average *
1.69
2.98
-76%
3.48
-106%
4.15
-146%
5.28
-212%
5.92
-250%
3.97
-135%
Load Maximum *
4
5.08
-27%
6.04
-51%
5.05
-26%
5.44
-36%
10.53
-163%
8.34
-109%

* ... smaller is better

Battery Runtime

Combining a large 3510 mAh battery with very low power consumption rates result in impressive battery runtimes. The Moto Z Play ideally (minimum brightness, read script in the browser) achieves up to 42 hours and 20 minutes of screen-on time. However, it gives up after a generous 13 hours and 44 minutes, even during load - a Sony Xperia XA shuts down after just approximately a quarter of this time.

The battery life is also extremely good when playing our "Big Buck Bunny" video. The review sample played this for 19 hours and 50 minutes at a screen brightness of roughly 150 cd/m² - a rate that we would normally expect in the idle test. The outcome of the realistic Wi-Fi assessment is also very good: The Moto Z Play is hardly behind OnePlus' 3, which occupies the first place , but easily outruns all other rivals.

Although the review sample does not really need an energy-savings mode, it is on-board. It can be activated either manually or automatically at a specified battery state and limits the background syncing of apps, as well as the processor's performance. Additionally, the vibration function is disabled.

The smartphone's non-removable battery can be recharged fully in approximately one hour and forty minutes with the included power supply.

We also had the opportunity of testing the Incipio offGRID Power Pack with the Moto Z Play. When enabling the efficiency mode that keeps the smartphone's battery at a capacity of 80% for as long as possible with the 2220 mAh secondary module, the review sample's Wi-Fi battery life of an already good 13 hours and 44 minutes increases to a fantastic 20 hours and 52 minutes. It is, however, too bad that the power pack does not have its own USB port and can only be recharged via the smartphone.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
42h 20min
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3 (Chrome 53)
13h 44min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
19h 50min
Load (maximum brightness)
10h 52min
Lenovo Moto Z Play
3510 mAh
Samsung Galaxy A5 2016
2900 mAh
Sony Xperia XA
2300 mAh
Huawei P9 Lite
3000 mAh
Honor 8
3000 mAh
OnePlus 3
3000 mAh
Lenovo Moto Z
2600 mAh
Battery Runtime
-26%
-65%
-46%
-49%
-33%
-47%
Reader / Idle
2540
2323
-9%
775
-69%
1404
-45%
1487
-41%
1338
-47%
1371
-46%
H.264
1190
672
-44%
460
-61%
568
-52%
526
-56%
847
-29%
724
-39%
WiFi v1.3
824
626
-24%
353
-57%
604
-27%
499
-39%
840
2%
407
-51%
Load
652
483
-26%
170
-74%
272
-58%
255
-61%
268
-59%
320
-51%

Pros

+ solid, high-quality build casing
+ expandable via Moto Mods
+ no bloatware preloaded
+ fast USB Type-C port
+ micro-SD card can be used as internal storage
+ good phone features
+ accurate touchscreen
+ high-contrast AMOLED panel
+ reliable fingerprint scanner
+ smooth handling
+ Quick charger and Style Shell included
+ very long battery life
+ low temperature development
+ decent speaker

Cons

- primary camera's unreliable autofocus
- no Miracast support
- screen with PWM flickering
- headset not included
- non-removable battery

Verdict

In review: Lenovo Moto Z Play (XT1635-02). Review sample courtesy of Lenovo Germany.
In review: Lenovo Moto Z Play (XT1635-02). Review sample courtesy of Lenovo Germany.

As with the Moto Z, one of the main features of the Moto Z Play is its expandability via Moto Mods. According to Lenovo, these modules will be supported for at least three device generations. However, buyers have to dig deeper into their pockets first. Even if this might be considered senseless, looking at the Moto Z Play is recommended: With its power efficient and yet sufficiently fast Snapdragon 625 SoC, it achieves a very long battery life, the screen convinces with high contrasts and good viewing angle stability, and the casing made of a metal-glass composition feels first-rate. Furthermore, the review sample offers almost everything that smartphone buyers desire with dual-SIM functionality, NFC, USB Type-C port, and fast fingerprint scanner - even a 3.5-mm jack is integrated. One of the few real shortcomings of the review sample is the primary camera's unreliable auto-focus.

In view of the big price difference of over 200 Euros (~$222) between the Moto Z and Moto Z Play, the minor deficits of the cheaper model in some aspects are surprising. Buyers who can forgo the last bit of screen sharpness, an extremely slim design, and high power reserves in favor of almost twice the battery life will be well-advised with the Moto Z Play.

An interesting alternative based on a Snapdragon 625 SoC would be Asus ZenFone 3. The device's build is high-quality and it comes with an extensive software bundle ex-factory. However, unlike the Moto Z Play, it does not feature NFC or modular expandability. Buyers who want high-end power at mid-range prices will be curious about our review of ZTE's Axon 7 coming soon.

Lenovo Moto Z Play - 10/27/2016 v5.1
Andreas Kilian

Chassis
93%
Keyboard
70 / 75 → 93%
Pointing Device
94%
Connectivity
51 / 60 → 85%
Weight
91%
Battery
98%
Display
89%
Games Performance
32 / 63 → 51%
Application Performance
50 / 70 → 72%
Temperature
93%
Noise
100%
Audio
69 / 91 → 76%
Camera
72%
Average
77%
88%
Smartphone - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Lenovo Moto Z Play Smartphone Review
Andreas Kilian, 2016-11- 1 (Update: 2018-05-15)