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Motorola Moto Z3 Play Smartphone Review

Florian Wimmer (translated by Sabrina Hartmann), 07/05/2018

Return of the modular design. Motorola sticks to the modular principle with its Moto Z series and releases the newest generation of the mid-range model in the form of the Moto Z3 Play. Due to the new processor and a dual camera setup, expectations for this newest model are high. Find out in our review whether these expectations are met.

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Motorola Moto Z3 Play

A possible high-end Moto Z3 smartphone is still not in sight, but at least the mid-range model of Motorola's modular smartphone series is now available: The Motorola Moto Z3 Play is again a very slim phone, now coming with a modern 2:1 display and narrow bezels. The fingerprint sensor has been moved to the side and various Moto Mods can be attached to the rear to augment the smartphone with several new features. For instance, the battery runtime can be increased, or a better camera module or a more powerful speaker can be attached. Together with a battery mod included in the box, the official price for the Moto Z3 Play is 499 Euros (~$582).

After the release of the Moto Z2 Play, we wished for more courageous additions to this series. Let us find out if this new device is any different.

No other manufacturer currently has a comparable concept of interchangeable mods, but there are still several good comparison devices: Other than the predecessor Motorola Moto Z2 Play, these include the OnePlus 6, which delivers high-end performance for a similar entry-level price, and the Huawei P20, which is also available for around 500 Euros (~$584) by now. The Honor 10 delivers high-end performance at an even lower price. As a classic mid-range model, the Nokia 7 Plus also deserves its spot among the competitors.

Motorola Moto Z3 Play
Graphics adapter
Memory
4096 MB 
Display
6 inch 2:1, 2160 x 1080 pixel 402 PPI, AMOLED, glossy: yes
Storage
64 GB UFS 2.0 Flash, 64 GB 
, 46.5 GB free
Connections
1 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, Audio Connections: audio output via USB-C port, Card Reader: microSD up to 2 TB, 1 Fingerprint Reader, NFC, Brightness Sensor, Sensors: acceleration sensor, gyroscope, proximity sensor, compass, USB-C, FM radio
Networking
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 5.0, GSM (850/​900/​1800/​1900), UMTS (850/​900/​1900/​2100), LTE (1/3/4/5/7/8/12/17/18/19/20/26/28/38/40/41), Dual SIM, LTE, GPS
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 6.75 x 156.5 x 76.5 ( = 0.27 x 6.16 x 3.01 in)
Battery
12 Wh, 3000 mAh Lithium-Ion
Operating System
Android 8.1 Oreo
Camera
Primary Camera: 12 MPix f/​1.7, phase detection AF (dual pixel), dual LED flash, videos @2160p/​30fps (main camera); 5.0MP, depth of field (secondary camera)
Secondary Camera: 8 MPix f/​2.0, videos @1080p/​30fps
Additional features
Speakers: front-pointing mono speaker, Keyboard: virtual keyboard, TurboPower charger, USB-C cable, Moto PowerPack, 3.5mm adapter, Moto, Moto Voice, backgrounds, Google Lens, 24 Months Warranty, Gorilla Glass 5; splash-proof; SAR values: 0.564 W/kg (head), 1.436 W/kg (body); max. LTE speed: 600 MBit/s (download), 75 MBit/s (upload)
Weight
156 g ( = 5.5 oz / 0.34 pounds), Power Supply: 82 g ( = 2.89 oz / 0.18 pounds)
Price
499 Euro

 

The case of the Moto Z3 Play is slightly thicker than it was for the predecessor. At 6.75 millimeters, it is still one of the slimmest smartphones available, though. The camera module does not fit into such a slim case, so it protrudes quite a bit. At 156 grams, the Moto Z3 Play also gained some weight, but it remains one of the lighter smartphones of its size class. A modern 2:1 display format allows for narrow bezels at the top and bottom, but the bezels at the sides are still clearly visible. The 2.5D glass at the front and back of the case is new, resulting in a modern appearance that supposedly also leads to an improved received signal quality for the antennas in comparison to the predecessor's metal case. Currently, the only color option available for the Moto Z3 Play in Europe is a dark blue named Deep Indigo. Black variants of the Moto Z3 Play are available internationally, though.

The rear features a prominent port with 16 contact pins for the Moto Mods again. It remains to be seen whether the glass rear is able to withstand the module changes without any scratches in the long run. The case itself is rather robust, but it can be warped slightly under enough pressure. There is no creaking noise when that happens, though. The case can withstand pressure on the front and back. The smartphone's rear has slightly tangible edges, but other than that, the phone sits comfortably in the hand.

Motorola Moto Z3 Play
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
Motorola Moto Z3 Play

Size Comparison

Connectivity - Motorola Smartphone without a Headphone Jack

This smartphone's only available variant in Europe comes with 64 GB of storage space and 4 GB of RAM. Variants with more and less memory are available in other regions of the world. A microSD card can be used to expand the storage, but the user has to sacrifice one of the two dual SIM slots in this case. The microSD card can be formatted as internal storage, but apps cannot be transferred to removable storage.

The 3.5 mm port, which was still available on the predecessor model, has been cut from this model. Instead, a USB-C-to-headphone adapter is included in the box. The USB-C port only works at USB 2.0 speed, but it is able to communicate with external storage media or charge other devices via USB OTG.

Left: standby button
Left: standby button
Right: fingerprint sensor, volume buttons
Right: fingerprint sensor, volume buttons
Top: SIM slot, microphone
Top: SIM slot, microphone
Bottom: USB-C port
Bottom: USB-C port

Software - Pure Android with Update Guarantee

Traditionally, Motorola uses a pure vanilla Android for its smartphones, as the American company used to belong to Google. The most recent Android version 8.1 is installed on the smartphone, with security patches from April 2018, which means they are tolerably up to date. Motorola promises an update for the security patches every 30 to 90 days. An update to Android P, the next-but-one Android version, will supposedly be delivered at a later point, too, but the technical requirements this update will place on the devices are so far unknown, so Motorola cannot provide a guarantee for this.

Motorola devices usually come with a low amount of preinstalled apps, which is another good tradition. The only apps installed on the Motorola Moto Z3 Play are the Moto App, which controls some additional software features, an app to select different backgrounds for the system, and the Moto Z Market, which offers an overview of the available Moto Mods and other accessories.

Software Motorola Moto Z3 Play
Software Motorola Moto Z3 Play
Software Motorola Moto Z3 Play
Software Motorola Moto Z3 Play

Communication and GPS - Finally ac Wi-Fi

The Motorola Moto Z3 Play supports 16 LTE bands, so it is still a reliable companion when traveling far abroad. The maximum LTE download speed is 600 Mb/s, while the maximum upload speed is 75 Mb/s. The Honor 10 and the OnePlus 6 offer far higher LTE speeds and the Moto Z3 Play's maximum upload speed is actually slower than the predecessor's. Using glass in the construction of current smartphones is supposed to ensure better reception. The Moto Z3 Play has at least acceptable reception. Inside a building within an urban area, the reception is decent.

The Wi-Fi is up to date, supporting 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac. Even the lesser crowded 5 GHz band is supported. The speeds we measured in our standardized test with the reference router Linksys EA8500 were slightly disappointing, though. In everyday use, websites also tend to load at a mediocre speed and the user has to wait for images to show. The reception is at full strength near the router, but at a distance of 10 meters and through three walls, the signal strength decreases by half and pages load even more slowly subjectively.

Networking
iperf3 Client (receive) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Huawei P20
Mali-G72 MP12, Kirin 970, 128 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
637 MBit/s ∼100% +175%
OnePlus 6
Adreno 630, 845, 128 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
609 MBit/s ∼96% +163%
Nokia 7 Plus
Adreno 512, 660, 64 GB eMMC Flash
247 MBit/s ∼39% +6%
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
Adreno 509, 636, 64 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
232 MBit/s ∼36%
Honor 10
Mali-G72 MP12, Kirin 970, 128 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
210 MBit/s ∼33% -9%
Average of class Smartphone
  (43 - 939, n=225)
194 MBit/s ∼30% -16%
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play
Adreno 506, 626, 32 GB eMMC Flash
48.1 MBit/s ∼8% -79%
iperf3 Client (transmit) TCP 1 m 4M x10
OnePlus 6
Adreno 630, 845, 128 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
612 MBit/s ∼100% +158%
Huawei P20
Mali-G72 MP12, Kirin 970, 128 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
397 MBit/s ∼65% +68%
Nokia 7 Plus
Adreno 512, 660, 64 GB eMMC Flash
307 MBit/s ∼50% +30%
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
Adreno 509, 636, 64 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
237 MBit/s ∼39%
Honor 10
Mali-G72 MP12, Kirin 970, 128 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
236 MBit/s ∼39% 0%
Average of class Smartphone
  (46.7 - 703, n=225)
188 MBit/s ∼31% -21%
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play
Adreno 506, 626, 32 GB eMMC Flash
29.5 MBit/s ∼5% -88%
GPS indoors
GPS indoors
GPS near window
GPS near window
GPS outdoors
GPS outdoors

Even inside buildings, the GPS module is able to locate our position relatively well with an accuracy of 12 meters. Near a window, the accuracy increases to six meters and outdoors to about four meters. The localization in Google Maps works quickly and the compass shows our viewing direction rather precisely.

For our practical test, we took the Motorola Moto Z3 with us on a bike ride, alongside the professional navigation system Garmin Edge 520 as reference device. The track measured by the smartphone deviated by only 30 meters, which is a relatively good result. The Garmin Edge 520 was slightly more accurate in the area of the bridge with a curved ramp. Both devices had problems tracking our path near the underpass, but the professional navigation device was a bit more exact again. The Moto Z3 Play's localization abilities are good enough for a mid-range device, though, and it should be sufficient in most everyday situations.

GPS Motorola Moto Z3 Play – Overview
GPS Motorola Moto Z3 Play – Overview
GPS Motorola Moto Z3 Play – Bridge
GPS Motorola Moto Z3 Play – Bridge
GPS Motorola Moto Z3 Play – Underpass
GPS Motorola Moto Z3 Play – Underpass
GPS Garmin Edge 520 – Overview
GPS Garmin Edge 520 – Overview
GPS Garmin Edge 520 – Bridge
GPS Garmin Edge 520 – Bridge
GPS Garmin Edge 520 – Underpass
GPS Garmin Edge 520 – Underpass

Telephone Functions and Voice Quality - Motorola Smartphone with Good Voice Quality

In terms of phone app, Motorola uses the standard app integrated in Android. VoLTE and VoWiFi, meaning calls via LTE or Wi-Fi, are supported.

The Moto Z3 Play's earpiece can be turned to a rather high volume if so desired, so it can still be used in noisy environments. However, people standing nearby might be able to overhear the call at this volume level. The other call participant sounds somewhat far away and less present than with other smartphones, but at least there are no disruptive background noises. The microphone records our voice very well, though, no matter if we are talking loudly or quietly. In hands-free mode, our call partner seems much more present and can be heard loud and clear. However, the microphone records a lot of background noise in this mode, but it is still able to relay our voice clearly, regardless of if we are talking loudly or quietly.

Cameras - Mediocre Performance and 4K Videos

Front camera picture
Front camera picture

For the second time in the history of the Moto Z series, a dual camera system is installed in the circular camera module on the phone's rear - the Moto Z2 Force also had a double lens and a setup similar to that of the Moto Z3 Play: A 12-megapixel lens for the main work and a 5-megapixel camera as support. This allows the calculation of the depth of focus and objects can be cut automatically. However, the latter only works really well with a homogeneous, unicolored background.

The main camera's pictures show very vibrant colors and a good brightness, but very bright areas might exhibit too much bloom. The image sharpness is average, just like the performance in low-light conditions: The brightness is still okay, but at a closer look, objects appear slightly more out of focus than they do with the Apple iPhone X - but that costs almost twice as much. Given the price difference, the differences in image quality are actually rather small. 4K videos can be recorded at 30 fps, Full HD videos at 60 fps. The smartphone warms up slightly during a 4K recording, but that does not go as far as turning off due to overheating. The video quality is good: Details are high, but in opposite to photo mode, the colors could be a bit more vibrant. The exposure adjusts well to changes in light. Slow-motion videos can be recorded, but only in 720p. Afterwards, they can be decelerated partly or entirely via software use.

Motorola is one of the first manufacturers to integrate Google's new object recognition software Google Lens into the camera's software. As things stand at the moment, the recognition is still rather mediocre, but thanks to an adaptive KI, it might improve as soon as more people start using it. For now, the camera does well enough at reading text and subsequently searching for it on Google.

The front camera has a resolution of 8 megapixels. In terms of color, its pictures are relatively good, but brighter areas quickly lose detail. The level of detail in general is quite decent, but the image sharpness is not perfect.

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
click to load images

Under controlled lighting conditions in our laboratory, the main camera is still slightly out of focus and also has some problems with text in front of colored areas. The photo was also slightly too dark, while the color representation tended to be slightly too bright but still good overall.

ColorChecker: The reference color is displayed in the bottom half of each patch.
ColorChecker: The reference color is displayed in the bottom half of each patch.
Photographed reference card
Photographed reference card
Reference card details
Reference card details

Accessories and Warranty - Moto Mod in the Box

Accessories are an especially interesting topic for Motorola's Z series with the existence of Moto Mods, which snap into place magnetically at the 16-pole docking connector on the back side of the device. Some information about this can already be found in our reviews for the Motorola Moto Z2 Play, the Moto Z2 Force, the Moto Z Play, and the Moto Z. We really liked that Motorola already ensured during the first generation that mods will be compatible with future generations as well, which is still true for the Moto Z3 Play. The mods have a tight and secure fit on the smartphone. A lot of different accessories are available as mods nowadays, such as additional speakers, simple style covers, batteries, and better cameras.

An additional battery in the form of a Moto Mod is included in the box. More precisely, the included battery is the small Power Pack with 2,220 mAh, but larger variants are available as well. This comparatively lightweight battery already reveals one of the system's flaws, though: The light and graceful Moto Z3 Play quickly turns into a massive and heavy smartphone after adding an accessory. The weight suddenly shoots up to 226 grams with an added battery, which is definitely something one has to get used to over time.

Additionally, a TurboPower charger is included as well. Motorola's own charging technology is based on QuickCharge, but fast charging is only possible with Motorola's power supplies. A simple headset (interestingly enough with a jack plug) and a USB-C-to-3.5mm adapter can also be found in the box.

Motorola offers a warranty of 24 months.

Input Devices & Operation - The Fingerprint Sensor Changed Places

Google's GBoard is used as the keyboard app, and it also includes a feature to use voice typing. Users can swipe their finger over the letters to write a word or directly search for a word or sentence on Google. The operation is easy thanks to many themes and settings.

Even though Motorola installed a mostly pure Android, the manufacturer made some adjustments especially for the operation of the device: As the fingerprint sensor has been moved to the right side of the case, it can no longer be used for gesture control of the Android menu. Motorola offers a replacement: In addition to using the normal menu buttons on the display, gesture control can be activated alternatively. It can be performed by swiping left or right or by pressing a single button at the lower part of the screen to trigger the desired features. This works rather intuitively, but it does not enable the expanded screen, which was another advantage of the operation via fingerprint sensor. The fingerprint sensor is rather convincing in general: It unlocks the smartphone quickly and reliably from standby mode, and it can easily be found by touch.

The fingerprint sensor's new position was chosen well, as it is just in the spot where the thumb is anyway for right-handed users. Left-handed users can use their forefinger instead, which also works relatively well. However, we did not like the position of the standby button very much: It has been placed directly opposite the fingerprint sensor on the left side of the case. This might be fine for left-handed users, but it is rather uncomfortable for right-handed users to send the smartphone into standby mode.

For those interested in using voice control, in addition to the Google Assistant, Motorola's own solution can now be used. It is able to understand natural language and does not have to be activated by a separate command every time and can instead listen permanently, if so desired. Supposedly, the transfer of commands to other apps should work as well, but it transferred wrong spellings in our test with Google Maps, even though Motorola Voice did understand us correctly. Given the fact that the version installed on our smartphone was only a beta release, improvements might be coming soon.

The standby display can be activated optionally when the phone detects movement. It shows the time and notifications. Using gestures, the phone can be muted and a one-handed mode with a downscaled display area can be activated.

Horizontal keyboard
Horizontal keyboard
Vertical keyboard
Vertical keyboard

Display - Good Color Space Coverage, Average Color Accuracy

Subpixel arrangement
Subpixel arrangement

Motorola equipped the Moto Z3 Play with an AMOLED display with a resolution of 2160x1080 pixels. At 452 cd/m², the screen's maximum brightness is good, but it is inferior to the Huawei P20, which has a much brighter LED display. The distribution of brightness is quite even at 93%, so that larger colored areas barely show any differences in brightness.

466
cd/m²
448
cd/m²
439
cd/m²
457
cd/m²
446
cd/m²
434
cd/m²
468
cd/m²
457
cd/m²
446
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 468 cd/m² Average: 451.2 cd/m² Minimum: 6.25 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 93 %
Center on Battery: 239 cd/m²
Contrast: ∞:1 (Black: 0 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 6.58 | 0.8-29.43 Ø6.3
ΔE Greyscale 3.6 | 0.64-98 Ø6.6
147% sRGB (Calman 2D)
Gamma: 2.199
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
AMOLED, 2160x1080, 6
OnePlus 6
Optic AMOLED, 2280x1080, 6.28
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play
AMOLED, 1920x1080, 5.5
Honor 10
IPS, 2280x1080, 5.84
Huawei P20
LTPS, 2240x1080, 5.8
Nokia 7 Plus
IPS, 2160x1080, 6
Screen
24%
3%
25%
59%
9%
Brightness middle
446
430
-4%
434
-3%
555
24%
753
69%
458
3%
Brightness
451
437
-3%
404
-10%
537
19%
748
66%
463
3%
Brightness Distribution
93
87
-6%
81
-13%
94
1%
96
3%
92
-1%
Black Level *
0.39
0.37
0.22
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
6.58
2.3
65%
4.4
33%
2.3
65%
1.3
80%
4
39%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
11.94
4.6
61%
8.6
28%
6
50%
2.3
81%
7.4
38%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
3.6
2.4
33%
4.2
-17%
3.9
-8%
1.7
53%
4.7
-31%
Gamma
2.199 109%
2.28 105%
2.24 107%
2.19 110%
2.18 110%
2.19 110%
CCT
7116 91%
6160 106%
7343 89%
6212 105%
66.76 9736%
7425 88%
Contrast
1423
2035
2082

* ... 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 236 Hz ≤ 25 % brightness setting

The display backlight flickers at 236 Hz (Likely utilizing PWM) Flickering detected at a brightness setting of 25 % and below. There should be no flickering or PWM above this brightness setting.

The frequency of 236 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 10696 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 588200) Hz was measured.

Thanks to its AMOLED screen, the Motorola Moto Z3 Play is able to display absolute black, which in theory means an infinitely high contrast. Colors really look very vibrant on this display. Our measurements with a spectrophotometer and the CalMAN software showed a complete coverage of the sRGB color space. The AdobeRGB color space was covered by 93%. These values make the display suitable for more demanding activities, such as checking the colors in photos. However, the smartphone's color representation should be adjusted first because the standard settings (vibrant-neutral) show a slight blue tint and too much color saturation. The standard-neutral setting has a significantly better color accuracy, but the slight blue tint is still there.

Measurements with our oscilloscope show a distinct flickering below a brightness setting of 25%. Sensitive users should check out the display at low brightness before purchasing the smartphone.

CalMAN Grayscales – standard neutral
CalMAN Grayscales – standard neutral
CalMAN Color Accuracy – standard neutral
CalMAN Color Accuracy – standard neutral
CalMAN Color Space – standard neutral
CalMAN Color Space – standard neutral
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps – standard neutral
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps – standard neutral
CalMAN Grayscales – vibrant neutral
CalMAN Grayscales – vibrant neutral
CalMAN Color Accuracy – vibrant neutral
CalMAN Color Accuracy – vibrant neutral
CalMAN Color Space – vibrant neutral
CalMAN Color Space – vibrant neutral
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps – vibrant neutral
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps – vibrant neutral
CalMAN Grayscales – vibrant warm
CalMAN Grayscales – vibrant warm
CalMAN Color Accuracy – vibrant warm
CalMAN Color Accuracy – vibrant warm
CalMAN Color Space – vibrant warm
CalMAN Color Space – vibrant warm
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps – vibrant warm
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps – vibrant warm
CalMAN Grayscales – vibrant neutral AdobeRGB
CalMAN Grayscales – vibrant neutral AdobeRGB
CalMAN Color Accuracy – vibrant neutral AdobeRGB
CalMAN Color Accuracy – vibrant neutral AdobeRGB
CalMAN Color Space – vibrant neutral AdobeRGB
CalMAN Color Space – vibrant neutral AdobeRGB
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps – vibrant neutral AdobeRGB
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps – vibrant neutral AdobeRGB

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
20 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 10 ms rise
↘ 10 ms fall
The screen shows good response rates in our tests, but may be too slow for competitive gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 17 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is better than the average of all tested devices (26 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
16 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 8 ms rise
↘ 8 ms fall
The screen shows good response rates in our tests, but may be too slow for competitive gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 636 (maximum) ms. » 5 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is better than the average of all tested devices (41.6 ms).

We already noticed during our measurements in the laboratory that the brightness sensor leads to a far lower brightness than manually adjusting the brightness does. This difference is noticeable outdoors, but less so than the measurements suggested. Overall, this smartphone is definitely suitable for outdoor use, but reflections on the screen might pose a problem and the brightness has to be set to high values in brighter environments.

The viewing angles are flawless: The screen content can be seen easily even at flat angles.

Outdoors – minimum brightness
Outdoors – minimum brightness
Outdoors – medium brightness
Outdoors – medium brightness
Outdoors – maximum brightness
Outdoors – maximum brightness
Outdoors – brightness sensor
Outdoors – brightness sensor
Viewing angles
Viewing angles

Performance - Latest Snapdragon with Good Performance

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The Moto Z3 Play is equipped with Qualcomm's cutting-edge mid-range SoC Snapdragon 636, which we already took a look at in the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5. The Moto Z3 Play clearly leaves behind its predecessor, but it cannot compare to high-end devices such as the Honor 10 and the OnePlus 6. We did not notice any stutters in everyday use. Even with several apps running in the background, browsing the menus worked smoothly.

The graphics acceleration is powered by a Qualcomm Adreno 509, which is also much faster than the predecessor's graphics solution, but not on a par with the other comparison devices.

AnTuTu v6 - Total Score (sort by value)
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
93813 Points ∼41%
OnePlus 6
230421 Points ∼100% +146%
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play
67578 Points ∼29% -28%
Honor 10
174272 Points ∼76% +86%
Huawei P20
179393 Points ∼78% +91%
Nokia 7 Plus
117165 Points ∼51% +25%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 (92672 - 93813, n=2)
93243 Points ∼40% -1%
Average of class Smartphone (23540 - 230421, n=319)
70861 Points ∼31% -24%
AnTuTu v7 - Total Score (sort by value)
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
115656 Points ∼43%
OnePlus 6
266686 Points ∼100% +131%
Honor 10
205297 Points ∼77% +78%
Huawei P20
200756 Points ∼75% +74%
Nokia 7 Plus
141701 Points ∼53% +23%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 (115654 - 115656, n=2)
115655 Points ∼43% 0%
Average of class Smartphone (42032 - 290397, n=94)
111056 Points ∼42% -4%
PCMark for Android
Work 2.0 performance score (sort by value)
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
5640 Points ∼68%
OnePlus 6
8282 Points ∼100% +47%
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play
4924 Points ∼59% -13%
Honor 10
7046 Points ∼85% +25%
Huawei P20
7002 Points ∼85% +24%
Nokia 7 Plus
6077 Points ∼73% +8%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 (5640 - 5642, n=2)
5641 Points ∼68% 0%
Average of class Smartphone (3210 - 8601, n=183)
4489 Points ∼54% -20%
Work performance score (sort by value)
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
6457 Points ∼67%
OnePlus 6
9630 Points ∼100% +49%
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play
6096 Points ∼63% -6%
Honor 10
8530 Points ∼89% +32%
Huawei P20
8700 Points ∼90% +35%
Nokia 7 Plus
6825 Points ∼71% +6%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 636
6457 Points ∼67% 0%
Average of class Smartphone (4711 - 10264, n=346)
4703 Points ∼49% -27%
BaseMark OS II
Web (sort by value)
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
1052 Points ∼76%
OnePlus 6
1386 Points ∼100% +32%
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play
10 Points ∼1% -99%
Honor 10
1316 Points ∼95% +25%
Huawei P20
1313 Points ∼95% +25%
Nokia 7 Plus
1101 Points ∼79% +5%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 636
1052 Points ∼76% 0%
Average of class Smartphone (7 - 1682, n=421)
674 Points ∼49% -36%
Graphics (sort by value)
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
1625 Points ∼20%
OnePlus 6
7949 Points ∼100% +389%
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play
1006 Points ∼13% -38%
Honor 10
4397 Points ∼55% +171%
Huawei P20
3697 Points ∼47% +128%
Nokia 7 Plus
2298 Points ∼29% +41%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 636
1625 Points ∼20% 0%
Average of class Smartphone (18 - 9248, n=421)
1516 Points ∼19% -7%
Memory (sort by value)
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
2208 Points ∼53%
OnePlus 6
3799 Points ∼91% +72%
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play
928 Points ∼22% -58%
Honor 10
3808 Points ∼92% +72%
Huawei P20
4154 Points ∼100% +88%
Nokia 7 Plus
2503 Points ∼60% +13%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 636
2208 Points ∼53% 0%
Average of class Smartphone (21 - 4423, n=421)
1118 Points ∼27% -49%
System (sort by value)
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
4628 Points ∼56%
OnePlus 6
8228 Points ∼100% +78%
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play
3154 Points ∼38% -32%
Honor 10
5882 Points ∼71% +27%
Huawei P20
5797 Points ∼70% +25%
Nokia 7 Plus
4976 Points ∼60% +8%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 636
4628 Points ∼56% 0%
Average of class Smartphone (369 - 10281, n=421)
2229 Points ∼27% -52%
Overall (sort by value)
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
2044 Points ∼47%
OnePlus 6
4308 Points ∼100% +111%
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play
412 Points ∼10% -80%
Honor 10
3374 Points ∼78% +65%
Huawei P20
3288 Points ∼76% +61%
Nokia 7 Plus
2369 Points ∼55% +16%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 636
2044 Points ∼47% 0%
Average of class Smartphone (1 - 4308, n=424)
1133 Points ∼26% -45%
Geekbench 4.1/4.2
Compute RenderScript Score (sort by value)
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
4501 Points ∼52%
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play
3092 Points ∼36% -31%
Honor 10
8634 Points ∼100% +92%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 (4501 - 4578, n=2)
4540 Points ∼53% +1%
Average of class Smartphone (5672 - 14362, n=119)
3906 Points ∼45% -13%
64 Bit Multi-Core Score (sort by value)
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
4941 Points ∼75%
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play
4471 Points ∼68% -10%
Honor 10
6610 Points ∼100% +34%
Huawei P20
6557 Points ∼99% +33%
Nokia 7 Plus
5867 Points ∼89% +19%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 (4941 - 4943, n=2)
4942 Points ∼75% 0%
Average of class Smartphone (5806 - 10558, n=165)
4042 Points ∼61% -18%
64 Bit Single-Core Score (sort by value)
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
1330 Points ∼70%
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play
907 Points ∼48% -32%
Honor 10
1890 Points ∼100% +42%
Huawei P20
1886 Points ∼100% +42%
Nokia 7 Plus
1646 Points ∼87% +24%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 (1330 - 1339, n=2)
1335 Points ∼71% 0%
Average of class Smartphone (1617 - 4265, n=166)
1202 Points ∼64% -10%
3DMark
2560x1440 Sling Shot Extreme (ES 3.1) Physics (sort by value)
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
2327 Points ∼68%
OnePlus 6
3432 Points ∼100% +47%
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play
2166 Points ∼63% -7%
Honor 10
2582 Points ∼75% +11%
Huawei P20
2795 Points ∼81% +20%
Nokia 7 Plus
2749 Points ∼80% +18%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 (2327 - 2346, n=2)
2337 Points ∼68% 0%
Average of class Smartphone (531 - 3669, n=273)
1556 Points ∼45% -33%
2560x1440 Sling Shot Extreme (ES 3.1) Graphics (sort by value)
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
815 Points ∼16%
OnePlus 6
5212 Points ∼100% +540%
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play
383 Points ∼7% -53%
Honor 10
2993 Points ∼57% +267%
Huawei P20
3040 Points ∼58% +273%
Nokia 7 Plus
1161 Points ∼22% +42%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 (797 - 815, n=2)
806 Points ∼15% -1%
Average of class Smartphone (53 - 5212, n=273)
1066 Points ∼20% +31%
2560x1440 Sling Shot Extreme (ES 3.1) (sort by value)
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
953 Points ∼20%
OnePlus 6
4673 Points ∼100% +390%
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play
469 Points ∼10% -51%
Honor 10
2891 Points ∼62% +203%
Huawei P20
2982 Points ∼64% +213%
Nokia 7 Plus
1332 Points ∼29% +40%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 (934 - 953, n=2)
944 Points ∼20% -1%
Average of class Smartphone (68 - 4732, n=281)
1019 Points ∼22% +7%
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 Physics (sort by value)
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
2337 Points ∼68%
OnePlus 6
3452 Points ∼100% +48%
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play
2167 Points ∼63% -7%
Honor 10
2773 Points ∼80% +19%
Huawei P20
2811 Points ∼81% +20%
Nokia 7 Plus
2734 Points ∼79% +17%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 (2337 - 2379, n=2)
2358 Points ∼68% +1%
Average of class Smartphone (537 - 3642, n=303)
1453 Points ∼42% -38%
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 Graphics (sort by value)
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
1333 Points ∼16%
OnePlus 6
8252 Points ∼100% +519%
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play
724 Points ∼9% -46%
Honor 10
3573 Points ∼43% +168%
Huawei P20
3550 Points ∼43% +166%
Nokia 7 Plus
1895 Points ∼23% +42%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 (1313 - 1333, n=2)
1323 Points ∼16% -1%
Average of class Smartphone (54 - 8252, n=303)
1430 Points ∼17% +7%
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 (sort by value)
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
1474 Points ∼23%
OnePlus 6
6304 Points ∼100% +328%
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play
850 Points ∼13% -42%
Honor 10
3358 Points ∼53% +128%
Huawei P20
3354 Points ∼53% +128%
Nokia 7 Plus
2035 Points ∼32% +38%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 (1458 - 1474, n=2)
1466 Points ∼23% -1%
Average of class Smartphone (68 - 6378, n=311)
1230 Points ∼20% -17%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Physics (sort by value)
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
16939 Points ∼50%
OnePlus 6
34191 Points ∼100% +102%
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play
17204 Points ∼50% +2%
Honor 10
21070 Points ∼62% +24%
Huawei P20
23046 Points ∼67% +36%
Nokia 7 Plus
20085 Points ∼59% +19%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 (16939 - 17471, n=2)
17205 Points ∼50% +2%
Average of class Smartphone (5462 - 36494, n=456)
12127 Points ∼35% -28%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Graphics Score (sort by value)
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
20908 Points ∼26%
OnePlus 6
81269 Points ∼100% +289%
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play
13376 Points ∼16% -36%
Honor 10
32674 Points ∼40% +56%
Huawei P20
34146 Points ∼42% +63%
Nokia 7 Plus
29333 Points ∼36% +40%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 (20908 - 20909, n=2)
20909 Points ∼26% 0%
Average of class Smartphone (2396 - 113380, n=456)
15550 Points ∼19% -26%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Score (sort by value)
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
19873 Points ∼32%
OnePlus 6
62241 Points ∼100% +213%
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play
14072 Points ∼23% -29%
Honor 10
29111 Points ∼47% +46%
Huawei P20
30845 Points ∼50% +55%
Nokia 7 Plus
26610 Points ∼43% +34%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 (19873 - 20033, n=2)
19953 Points ∼32% 0%
Average of class Smartphone (2841 - 64405, n=457)
13436 Points ∼22% -32%
GFXBench (DX / GLBenchmark) 2.7
1920x1080 T-Rex HD Offscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
36 fps ∼24%
OnePlus 6
150 fps ∼100% +317%
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play
22 fps ∼15% -39%
Honor 10
124 fps ∼83% +244%
Huawei P20
125 fps ∼83% +247%
Nokia 7 Plus
50 fps ∼33% +39%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 (35 - 36, n=2)
35.5 fps ∼24% -1%
Average of class Smartphone (4.2 - 177, n=482)
26.9 fps ∼18% -25%
T-Rex HD Onscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
35 fps ∼58%
OnePlus 6
60 fps ∼100% +71%
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play
23 fps ∼38% -34%
Honor 10
59 fps ∼98% +69%
Huawei P20
59 fps ∼98% +69%
Nokia 7 Plus
48 fps ∼80% +37%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 (35 - 35, n=2)
35 fps ∼58% 0%
Average of class Smartphone (7.5 - 120, n=485)
23.5 fps ∼39% -33%
GFXBench 3.0
off screen Manhattan Offscreen OGL (sort by value)
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
16 fps ∼24%
OnePlus 6
66 fps ∼100% +313%
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play
9.9 fps ∼15% -38%
Honor 10
59 fps ∼89% +269%
Huawei P20
59 fps ∼89% +269%
Nokia 7 Plus
23 fps ∼35% +44%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 (16 - 16, n=2)
16 fps ∼24% 0%
Average of class Smartphone (1.6 - 88.2, n=407)
14.3 fps ∼22% -11%
on screen Manhattan Onscreen OGL (sort by value)
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
15 fps ∼26%
OnePlus 6
58 fps ∼100% +287%
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play
10 fps ∼17% -33%
Honor 10
50 fps ∼86% +233%
Huawei P20
56 fps ∼97% +273%
Nokia 7 Plus
22 fps ∼38% +47%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 (15 - 15, n=2)
15 fps ∼26% 0%
Average of class Smartphone (4.1 - 115, n=409)
14.4 fps ∼25% -4%
GFXBench 3.1
off screen Manhattan ES 3.1 Offscreen (sort by value)
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
10 fps ∼18%
OnePlus 6
56 fps ∼100% +460%
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play
6.5 fps ∼12% -35%
Honor 10
39 fps ∼70% +290%
Huawei P20
39 fps ∼70% +290%
Nokia 7 Plus
14 fps ∼25% +40%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 (9.8 - 10, n=2)
9.9 fps ∼18% -1%
Average of class Smartphone (1.2 - 60, n=272)
12.5 fps ∼22% +25%
on screen Manhattan ES 3.1 Onscreen (sort by value)
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
9.8 fps ∼18%
OnePlus 6
54 fps ∼100% +451%
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play
7 fps ∼13% -29%
Honor 10
34 fps ∼63% +247%
Huawei P20
39 fps ∼72% +298%
Nokia 7 Plus
15 fps ∼28% +53%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 (9.8 - 10, n=2)
9.9 fps ∼18% +1%
Average of class Smartphone (2.5 - 110, n=274)
12.5 fps ∼23% +28%
GFXBench 4.0
off screen Car Chase Offscreen (sort by value)
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
6.3 fps ∼18%
OnePlus 6
35 fps ∼100% +456%
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play
3.5 fps ∼10% -44%
Honor 10
23 fps ∼66% +265%
Huawei P20
23 fps ∼66% +265%
Nokia 7 Plus
8.3 fps ∼24% +32%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 (6.3 - 6.3, n=2)
6.3 fps ∼18% 0%
Average of class Smartphone (0.77 - 35, n=203)
8.61 fps ∼25% +37%
on screen Car Chase Onscreen (sort by value)
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
6 fps ∼19%
OnePlus 6
32 fps ∼100% +433%
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play
3.8 fps ∼12% -37%
Honor 10
20 fps ∼63% +233%
Huawei P20
23 fps ∼72% +283%
Nokia 7 Plus
9.1 fps ∼28% +52%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 (6 - 6, n=2)
6 fps ∼19% 0%
Average of class Smartphone (1.6 - 50, n=206)
7.8 fps ∼24% +30%

Legend

 
Motorola Moto Z3 Play Qualcomm Snapdragon 636, Qualcomm Adreno 509, 64 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
 
OnePlus 6 Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, Qualcomm Adreno 630, 128 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
 
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play Qualcomm Snapdragon 626, Qualcomm Adreno 506, 32 GB eMMC Flash
 
Honor 10 HiSilicon Kirin 970, ARM Mali-G72 MP12, 128 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
 
Huawei P20 HiSilicon Kirin 970, ARM Mali-G72 MP12, 128 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
 
Nokia 7 Plus Qualcomm Snapdragon 660, Qualcomm Adreno 512, 64 GB eMMC Flash

As mentioned previously in the section about communication, browsing the web is not one of the Moto Z3 Play's strong points because websites load slowly. This is also noticeable in the benchmarks: There is a clear speed boost in comparison to the Moto Z2 Play, but other devices render websites much faster. More-demanding HTML 5 applications such as Google's Interland stutter noticeably.

JetStream 1.1 - 1.1 Total Score
OnePlus 6 (Chrome 66)
87.695 Points ∼100% +97%
Honor 10 (Chrome 66)
56.506 Points ∼64% +27%
Huawei P20 (Chrome 66.0.3359.126)
56.188 Points ∼64% +26%
Nokia 7 Plus (Chrome 60)
53.89 Points ∼61% +21%
Motorola Moto Z3 Play (Chrome 67)
44.587 Points ∼51%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 (44.3 - 44.6, n=2)
44.5 Points ∼51% 0%
Average of class Smartphone (10 - 224, n=340)
34.4 Points ∼39% -23%
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play (Chrome 59)
32.796 Points ∼37% -26%
Octane V2 - Total Score
OnePlus 6 (Chrome 66)
17026 Points ∼100% +100%
Huawei P20 (Chrome 66.0.3359.126)
11468 Points ∼67% +35%
Honor 10 (Chrome 66)
10965 Points ∼64% +29%
Nokia 7 Plus (Chrome 60)
10945 Points ∼64% +28%
Motorola Moto Z3 Play (Chrome 67)
8519 Points ∼50%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 (8422 - 8519, n=2)
8471 Points ∼50% -1%
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play (Chrome 59)
5204 Points ∼31% -39%
Average of class Smartphone (1506 - 35255, n=476)
5024 Points ∼30% -41%
Mozilla Kraken 1.1 - Total Score
Average of class Smartphone (718 - 59466, n=495)
11857 ms * ∼100% -146%
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play (Chrome 59)
7667 ms * ∼65% -59%
Motorola Moto Z3 Play (Chrome 67)
4820 ms * ∼41%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 (4740 - 4820, n=2)
4780 ms * ∼40% +1%
Huawei P20 (Chrome 66.0.3359.126)
3978.9 ms * ∼34% +17%
Nokia 7 Plus (Chrome 60)
3937.3 ms * ∼33% +18%
Honor 10 (Chrome 66)
3899 ms * ∼33% +19%
OnePlus 6 (Chrome 66)
2445 ms * ∼21% +49%
WebXPRT 2015 - Overall Score
OnePlus 6 (Chrome 66)
252 Points ∼100% +64%
Huawei P20 (Chrome 66.0.3359.126)
182 Points ∼72% +18%
Honor 10 (Chrome 66)
182 Points ∼72% +18%
Nokia 7 Plus (Chrome 60)
168 Points ∼67% +9%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 (154 - 158, n=2)
156 Points ∼62% +1%
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
154 Points ∼61%
Average of class Smartphone (27 - 362, n=237)
98.3 Points ∼39% -36%
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play (Chrome 59)
85 Points ∼34% -45%

* ... smaller is better

In terms of memory access, the Moto Z3 Play is much faster than its predecessor again, but other devices with UFS are miles ahead. The Moto smartphone performed decently when accessing our reference microSD card Toshiba Exceria Pro M501. In fact, with a look at our table, it seems to be a special feature to be able to expand the storage at all.

Motorola Moto Z3 PlayOnePlus 6Lenovo Moto Z2 PlayHonor 10Huawei P20Nokia 7 PlusAverage 64 GB UFS 2.0 FlashAverage of class Smartphone
AndroBench 3-5
57%
-21%
111%
111%
-12%
3%
-45%
Sequential Write 256KB SDCard
62.7
58.71 (Toshiba Exceria Pro M501)
-6%
62.31
-1%
46.6 (33.3 - 62.7, n=3)
-26%
43 (20.8 - 87.1, n=253)
-31%
Sequential Read 256KB SDCard
83.7
79.69 (Toshiba Exceria Pro M501)
-5%
82.21
-2%
64.3 (36.8 - 83.7, n=3)
-23%
61.4 (36.5 - 96.5, n=253)
-27%
Random Write 4KB
84.1
21.8
-74%
47.9
-43%
163
94%
161.49
92%
19.62
-77%
37 (13.6 - 84.1, n=6)
-56%
13.3 (0.14 - 164, n=529)
-84%
Random Read 4KB
60.6
137
126%
38.2
-37%
145.88
141%
147.04
143%
54.65
-10%
97.6 (60.6 - 138, n=6)
61%
34 (1.59 - 173, n=529)
-44%
Sequential Write 256KB
182.5
201.4
10%
137.5
-25%
192.12
5%
193.56
6%
211.6
16%
165 (135 - 194, n=6)
-10%
70.4 (2.99 - 216, n=529)
-61%
Sequential Read 256KB
271.7
725.6
167%
245.6
-10%
827.69
205%
826.76
204%
283.12
4%
458 (272 - 687, n=6)
69%
209 (12.1 - 832, n=529)
-23%

Games – 60 fps Gaming Possible to Some Extent

The smartphone does well with more complex games such as Arena of Valor even in 60 fps mode. However, games that really push the hardware, such as PUBG Mobile, cannot be displayed fluently at high details and they show fps drops repeatedly. The game no longer poses a problem at low settings, but it cannot be played with 60 fps on the Moto Z3 Play.

For users who are not planning to download the most recent smartphone games, the Moto Z3 Play should be sufficient. Users with higher demands will have to choose the OnePlus 6 or an even more expensive device.

The Moto Z3 Play does a great job with controls via touchscreen and position sensor, though: Everything works precisely and quickly.

PUBG Mobile
PUBG Mobile
Arena of Valor
Arena of Valor
Arena of Valor
 SettingsValue
 min59 fps
 high HD59 fps
  Your browser does not support the canvas element!
PUBG Mobile
 SettingsValue
 Smooth30 fps
 HD30 fps
  Your browser does not support the canvas element!

Emissions – Warm Case, Good Speaker

Temperature

GFXBench battery test
GFXBench battery test

The case of the Moto Z3 Play warms up to a maximum of 38.7 °C on the rear. For such a slim device, this value is quite good. The temperature rise is noticeable but not critical, and it is locally restricted.

GFXBench's battery test Manhattan 3.1 proves that the Motorola smartphone is able to keep up its performance even under a protracted load: There are no major frame rate differences between the first and the 30th iteration.

Max. Load
 31.7 °C
89 F
33.5 °C
92 F
34.1 °C
93 F
 
 32 °C
90 F
33.5 °C
92 F
36.8 °C
98 F
 
 31.7 °C
89 F
33.7 °C
93 F
36.5 °C
98 F
 
Maximum: 36.8 °C = 98 F
Average: 33.7 °C = 93 F
33.4 °C
92 F
34.8 °C
95 F
32.8 °C
91 F
37.5 °C
100 F
35.2 °C
95 F
32.9 °C
91 F
38.7 °C
102 F
35.2 °C
95 F
32.8 °C
91 F
Maximum: 38.7 °C = 102 F
Average: 34.8 °C = 95 F
Power Supply (max.)  34 °C = 93 F | Room Temperature 22 °C = 72 F | Voltcraft IR-260
Heat map rear
Heat map rear
Heat map front
Heat map front

Speakers

Pink noise graph
Pink noise graph

The Moto Z3 Play's front-pointing speaker sits at the position of the earpiece inside the case. This is a good position and the sound is quite decent as well. The speaker does not have a very high volume, but the sound is rather balanced. The highs are barely overemphasized and some lower mids can be heard. The speaker is sufficient for the occasional song or video, but more-demanding users might want to use USB- or jack plug headphones instead. A USB-C-to-3.5 mm adapter is included, as the smartphone does not have an audio jack. The sound transmission is good, as it is also via Bluetooth.

dB(A) 0102030405060708090Deep BassMiddle BassHigh BassLower RangeMidsHigher MidsLower HighsMid HighsUpper HighsSuper Highs2029.527.12526.929.83129.328.14029.829.45033.731.4632324.38023.125.510024.223.512516.92516017.131.220016.841.625017.746.33151549.440014.956.250017.555.463014.854.480014.258.2100013.960.3125014.661160013.459.3200012.855.9250013.362.4315013.265.9400015.363.5500012.364.9630012.157.5800011.856.21000011.6601250011.656.51600011.547.5SPL25.954.273.4N0.7930.7median 14.2Motorola Moto Z3 Playmedian 56.2Delta1.96.731.62725.426.225.331.132.930.533.627.731.626.928.425.32725.520.830.42240.121.347.720.849.721.256.919.460.919.564.217.767.517.972.317.876.317.376.917.477.116.774.117.272.718.274.917.972.617.674.317.773.517.874.517.978.818.177.818.270.43086.81.368.2median 17.9Lenovo Moto Z2 Playmedian 72.61.39.5hearing rangehide median Pink Noise
Frequency diagram (checkboxes can be checked and unchecked to compare devices)
Motorola Moto Z3 Play audio analysis

(±) | speaker loudness is average but good (73.4 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(-) | nearly no bass - on average 20% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (11.1% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(+) | balanced mids - only 2.1% away from median
(+) | mids are linear (5.9% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(±) | higher highs - on average 5.3% higher than median
(±) | linearity of highs is average (8.9% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(±) | linearity of overall sound is average (18.9% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 7% of all tested devices in this class were better, 4% similar, 89% worse
» The best had a delta of 14%, average was 25%, worst was 44%
Compared to all devices tested
» 37% of all tested devices were better, 6% similar, 57% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Lenovo Moto Z2 Play audio analysis

(+) | speakers can play relatively loud (86.8 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(-) | nearly no bass - on average 30.9% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (9.6% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(+) | balanced mids - only 4.9% away from median
(+) | mids are linear (5.3% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(+) | balanced highs - only 1.9% away from median
(+) | highs are linear (3.6% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(±) | linearity of overall sound is average (19.5% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 10% of all tested devices in this class were better, 4% similar, 86% worse
» The best had a delta of 14%, average was 25%, worst was 44%
Compared to all devices tested
» 40% of all tested devices were better, 6% similar, 54% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Battery Runtime - High Power Consumption of the Motorola Moto Z3 Play

Power Consumption

In terms of power consumption, the Moto Z3 Play cannot compete with its predecessor Moto Z2 Play: Even while idling, it has a significantly higher consumption than its predecessor. In general, its idle consumption values are rather high. The power consumption in standby mode is also relatively high at 1 watt, but this can be easily explained by the info display popping up repeatedly. It can be deactivated to lower the power consumption in standby mode.

Under load, the power consumption is also higher than it was for the predecessor, but at least it is still considerably lower than for high-end devices.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.1 / 1 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 1.3 / 2 / 2.7 Watt
Load midlight 3.7 / 5.1 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
3000 mAh
OnePlus 6
3300 mAh
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play
3000 mAh
Honor 10
3400 mAh
Huawei P20
3400 mAh
Nokia 7 Plus
3800 mAh
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 636
 
Average of class Smartphone
 
Power Consumption
12%
55%
-16%
-12%
-1%
-11%
12%
Idle Minimum *
1.3
0.6
54%
0.45
65%
1.12
14%
0.67
48%
0.65
50%
1.15 (1 - 1.3, n=2)
12%
0.86 (0.2 - 3.4, n=557)
34%
Idle Average *
2
1
50%
0.78
61%
2.26
-13%
2.05
-3%
1.76
12%
2.3 (2 - 2.6, n=2)
-15%
1.694 (0.6 - 6.2, n=556)
15%
Idle Maximum *
2.7
1.6
41%
0.84
69%
2.3
15%
2.11
22%
1.78
34%
2.8 (2.7 - 2.9, n=2)
-4%
1.934 (0.74 - 6.6, n=557)
28%
Load Average *
3.7
4.3
-16%
1.69
54%
5.14
-39%
6.15
-66%
4.47
-21%
4.35 (3.7 - 5, n=2)
-18%
3.97 (0.8 - 10.8, n=551)
-7%
Load Maximum *
5.1
8.6
-69%
3.79
26%
7.89
-55%
8.09
-59%
9.13
-79%
6.65 (5.1 - 8.2, n=2)
-30%
5.59 (1.2 - 14.2, n=551)
-10%

* ... smaller is better

Battery Runtime

The high power consumption takes its toll on the battery, which is rather large in comparison to the predecessor with a capacity of 3000 mAh. In our test, this sufficed for roughly 10 hours of Wi-Fi web browsing. Not a bad result, but the competition in this price range is tough: The OnePlus 6 and the Huawei P20 manage significantly longer runtimes, while the Honor 10 still offers one hour more. The battery runtimes of the Motorola Moto Z3 Play certainly still suffice for a workday. When used sparingly, the phone might even last two workdays. After this, the phone has to be plugged in urgently, though, as low battery levels will not last as long as they do for other smartphones. 

A remedy for this comes in the form of Moto Mods, one of which is even included in the box: The Power Pack with 2220 mAh expands the battery capacity noticeably, resulting in an overall runtime of 15 hours in our Wi-Fi test. Battery mods with an even higher capacity are available, so the Moto Z3 Play can be upgraded to be a real long-distance runner. However, this increases the device's weight drastically and makes it clunky, while also preventing the use of other Moto Mods.

Using Motorola's TurboCharge technology, the internal battery is fully charged after slightly over 1 h 30 m.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
20h 45min
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3
9h 55min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
10h 48min
Load (maximum brightness)
3h 19min
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
3000 mAh
OnePlus 6
3300 mAh
Lenovo Moto Z2 Play
3000 mAh
Honor 10
3400 mAh
Huawei P20
3400 mAh
Nokia 7 Plus
3800 mAh
Battery Runtime
30%
60%
4%
41%
10%
Reader / Idle
1245
1806
45%
1589
28%
1162
-7%
1888
52%
1703
37%
H.264
648
791
22%
946
46%
662
2%
810
25%
706
9%
WiFi v1.3
595
762
28%
749
26%
663
11%
818
37%
672
13%
Load
199
246
24%
477
140%
216
9%
295
48%
158
-21%

Pros

+ stylish, high-quality case
+ good software expansion
+ decent GPS accuracy
+ expandability via mods
+ good AMOLED screen
+ no throttling
+ decent speaker
+ battery mod included

Cons

- no audio jack
- screen-flickering at low brightness
- high power consumption
- low battery runtimes without mods

Verdict – Mid-range Smartphone with Expandability Options

In review: The  Motorola Moto Z3 Play. Review unit courtesy of Motorola Germany.
In review: The Motorola Moto Z3 Play. Review unit courtesy of Motorola Germany.

There is barely any other manufacturer offering a modular concept similar to Motorola's: LG withdrew from the market for modular smartphones after a single attempt with the LG G5, and the Fairphone 2 is more based on the ability to exchange individual components when they are broken or outdated. In contrast, Motorola's Moto Z series enables the user to attach any components from the available range of accessories to the smartphone's rear. Even just the ability to change the style covers, creating a different back side, might be an important aspect to many users.

The Moto Z3 Play remains compatible with all earlier Moto Mods, which is another advantage of this series. The device offers an updated mid-range performance and even comes with a battery mod as an additional goodie in the box. This mod increases the battery capacity and the battery runtimes of the Moto Z3 Play significantly. However, it should be noted that the runtimes without the mod are really low, strangely enough even in comparison to the predecessor. The Moto Z3 Play's high power consumption is mostly to blame here, but maybe Motorola can improve on this aspect in a future software update. Currently, the power consumption is far too high, though.

The vibrant display, the high-quality case, the decent GPS, the pure Android with an update guarantee, and passable cameras complete the package.

The Moto Z3 Play is a slim mid-range device with short battery runtimes. It stands out mostly because of its mods.

The shorter battery runtimes in comparison to the predecessor model are contrasted by the higher performance and the more advanced communication options. Given the much lower price, the Moto Z2 Play might be a good alternative for those looking to try out the Moto Mod system.

Motorola Moto Z3 Play - 07/02/2018 v6
Florian Wimmer

Chassis
85%
Keyboard
65 / 75 → 87%
Pointing Device
92%
Connectivity
44 / 60 → 73%
Weight
92%
Battery
92%
Display
81%
Games Performance
45 / 63 → 71%
Application Performance
60 / 70 → 86%
Temperature
91%
Noise
100%
Audio
60 / 91 → 66%
Camera
67%
Average
75%
85%
Smartphone - Weighted Average

Pricecompare

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Motorola Moto Z3 Play Smartphone Review
Florian Wimmer, 2018-07- 5 (Update: 2018-07- 5)