Published On: Mon, Oct 3rd, 2016

Moto Z Play Review The Best Battery Life

The Moto Z Play from Lenovo has the best battery life of any smartphone I’ve ever used. It’s so good and so superior to the competition that this — the third member of the Moto Z family — just became my top recommendation if battery life is your most important criteria in choosing a smartphone. Smartphone makers have claimed again and again that their devices can last for “up to two days” on a single charge. It’s almost always braggadocio and overpromising. Inevitably you find yourself reaching for a charger by 6PM or, in the case of phablets, at the end of the night. But not this time.

Moto Z Play

Lenovo found an approach that allowed the company to make a phone you can charge up overnight, unplug the next morning, and use for two days straight. No asterisks. No buts. It’s been such a refreshing thing to experience over the few weeks I’ve spent with the Moto Z Play. And it turns out the formula is pretty simple! You combine a big battery, a new, mid-range Qualcomm processor that slowly sips power, and then “settle” for a 1080p screen and 3GB of RAM.

You could probably argue that the Z Play feels slightly more premium than the flagship Moto Z; the glass looks a little classier than the pinstriped metal that’s on back of the regular model and Z Force, and fingerprints are much easier to wipe away. One odd thing I’ve observed is that the glass on front and back of the Z Play scratches more easily than other phones I’ve used recently. Also, I somehow wound up with a little tiny crack near the front-facing camera on my review unit, so don’t expect this to be anywhere near as durable as the Moto Z Force.

The ugliest thing about this design is the MotoMod connector pins, which are lined up in a rounded rectangle near the bottom of the phone’s backside. It’s much more of an eye sore than the subtler rows of dots on the other Zs. But since you’ll almost always have a case, style shell, or one of the MotoMods attached, you’ll never really have to look at it. Interestingly, MotoMods don’t latch onto the Moto Z Play quite as tightly as they do the other phones; they’re still not going to fall off unexpectedly, but you can wiggle them a little bit. I’m not going to spend much time on MotoMods here. They’re fun and “just work” as the old tech adage goes, yes. But the speaker remains the only one I’d maybe consider buying. The Moto Z Play is your cheapest option for checking MotoMods out, but “modular” attachments aren’t a convincing reason to buy this phone.

Inside the Moto Z Play is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 625 processor. It’s not the Snapdragon 820 used in top-tier smartphones — and it benchmarks accordingly. But in day to day use, it’s extremely difficult to pinpoint any performance issues. The Moto Z Play does just about everything briskly without noticeable hiccups. This is a dramatic difference from the Snapdragon 617 processor used in other midrange devices like the Moto G4 and BlackBerry’s DTEK50, where lag can become a frequent source of frustration.

For 90 percent of tasks, the Moto Z Play feels like a flagship-class device. The main exception is gaming, where the phone will struggle and stutter if you’re playing the latest titles, since the graphics horsepower just isn’t there. Stuff like Pokemon Go, The Room, Monument Valley, Two Dots, and Lara Croft Go is certainly playable, if not always perfect. The phone’s memory (3GB of RAM) means that background apps will need to reload more often when you return to them in multitasking, but it rarely stood out to me as an issue.