Moto Z Play Droid Review
Interface and Functionality
Lightweight and focused (with a smattering of bloat)
The Moto Z Play Droid is back with the very same interface we're acquainted from previous Moto models – which is to say, this is a bit of a welcome reunion. As we saw earlier this summer with the inaugural Moto Z phones, Lenovo's sticking with an Android UI that stays within spitting distance of stock, while adding some of its regular extras: beefing up voice control, doing its screen-off Moto Display thing, and delivering a nice assortment of useful gesture controls.
All that works as well here as it has on existing Moto phones – no surprises.
The Moto Z Play arrives with a fingerprint scanner that's as pleasantly fast and accurate as the units on the Moto Z and Force, and it makes locking and unlocking the phone so seamless that you may find yourself never touching the actual power button again.
Processor and Memory
Dialing things back just enough to hit the right price and power points
Maybe the biggest difference between the Moto Z Play Droid and earlier Moto Z flagship models comes up in terms of the phone's silicon. Not only does the Play arrive with a more budget-oriented processor, but it also scales back on memory speed and capacity.
Rather than the Snapdragon 820 you'll find in the beefier Moto Zs, the Play runs an octa-core Snapdragon 625. And honestly, if you're using the Play mostly for social media, web access, video watching, and some light gaming, you should be fine. More demanding games will choke on the 625's limited capabilities (or maybe more precisely, on the Adreno 506 GPU), but the 625 seems pretty adequate for most of the tasks we thew at the phone. UI navigation is smooth and stutter-free, and those times when you'll find yourself thinking “I wish I went with the higher-end Moto Z” should really be few and far between.
That said, it would have been nice to see Lenovo future-proof the Play with just a little more processing oomph, and going with a chip like the Snapdragon 652.
Compared to the earlier Moto Zs, the Play gets only 3GB of RAM instead of 4GB, and moves from LPDDR4 to pervious-gen LPDDR3. Like the processor change, you shouldn't expect this to have a huge impact on day-to-day operation, and even this much RAM will be sufficient for all but the most demanding workloads.
USB Type-C ... with less compromise
By and large, the Moto Z Play Droid offers the same wireless connectivity options as the other Moto Z phones: rock-solid Verizon support, with a decent assortment of HSPA+ bands for roaming. But much like the design of these phones, there are small differences.
The Play arrives with weaker Wi-Fi support than the Moto Z or Force, lacking ac compatibility and MIMO antenna functionality. We've also got a slightly older version of Bluetooth on board – 4.0 versus 4.1.
Thankfully, the Play returns with the same USB Type-C connector as the other Moto Zs, with the we-couldn't-be-happier addition of a real, built-into-the-phone headphone jack. That's great to see, but we still have one bone to pick with the USB Type-C implementation here, as just as with the earlier Moto Zs, the power adapter has a hard-wired cable – which you can't pop off to use as a USB data cable. Maybe that won't affect your usage any, but we'd love to have the option to easily transfer files with a PC.