Tech

Motorola Moto Z3 Play Review – More gimmicky than practical

I’ve always said that there are two ways to build a phone in the mid-tier phone market – either add all of the latest design features (top notch, back fingerprint sensors, etc) or just focus simply on performance. The Moto Z3 Play broke my system… there’s a third way. This phone aims to be so different than everyone else that it’s almost a sale point.

The good

  • Moto Mods allow you to do some groovy things.
  • The 6-inch AMOLED display is quite nice.

The bad

  • The design is outdated and ugly.
  • Left-side power button is surprisingly frustrating.
  • The thick camera is entirely unnecessary for the quality it produces.

The verdict

Retailing for $799 the Moto Z3 Play is the type of phone that would do really well if it were $200 cheaper. It doesn’t look or feel like a phone out of this year but still performs relatively well. If the Moto Mods don’t interest you, steer clear – they’re the entire reason to buy it.

AESTHETIC

Visually speaking, the Z3 Play is outdated. It looks like something out of 2012 with the bulky camera and thick top/bottom bezels. The 6-inch AMOLED display is undoubtedly the most beautiful part of the phone, it’s bright and really nice to look at.

The fingerprint sensor is located on the right hand side of the phone, underneath the volume keys which I found a lot more practical than originally anticipated. But for one reason or another Motorola have put the power button on the left hand side… It’s an incredibly inconvenient position for the button IF you’re right handed.

For the same reasons I stated above, Motorola are trying to be different – that’s a simple fact. So why not be completely different and make this phone easier for the lefties out there? That’s my best guess anyway. It’s far too inconvenient to be used for absolutely anything else.

Another visual aspect of the Moto Z3 Play are the Moto Mods. As you can see, there are 16 gold pins on the back of the phone – this is the connection point. Mods are attached to the back of the Z3 Play and connect to those pins in order to carry out their specific tasks. I’ll list out all of the mods further down but without a case or mod attached, the pins look real weird and out of place.

PERFORMANCE

As far as the actual daily use of the Z3 Play is concerned, I never had any real dramas. It has 4GB of RAM and a Snapdragon 636 at 1.8Ghz, which is more than enough for the type of user that will find themselves with this phone.

However one thing I was relatively unimpressed with is the battery. It’s quite small even by comparison to other mid-range phones and in a ‘gimmicky’ phone like this, something Motorola really should have got right. I haven’t picked up a phone in recent times with less than 3330mAh battery – so to see a 3000mAh model in the Z3 Play was a little disappointing. They attempt to either solve or up-sell your battery life with Moto Mods but that’s no excuse.

You’ll also not want to pick up the Z3 Play if you’re a keen photographer – it doesn’t match that of a typical phone in it’s price range and is more reminiscent of some of the cheaper Nokia phones floating around at the moment. On this though, there is a Moto Mod (to be listed below) that prints the photos straight from your phone, the resolution of the shots from the phone would be more than adequate for this purpose!

CUSTOMIZATION

And now for the part you’ve all been waiting for… Moto Mods. As you have gathered by now these are the whole reason the Z3 Play will sell even a single model – they’re kinda cool. Connecting to the golden pins located on the back of the phone, each mod has a unique and in most cases useful ability to add. Here’s the list;

  • 5G – A mod that will allow your phone to connect to the impending 5G network.
  • Stereo Speaker – This mod is self explanatory and comes with a little kick stand to give you a better sound quality.
  • Insta-Share Projector – One of the most expensive mods, this projector claims to push visuals up to 70-inches. Now we know it won’t be great quality, but for the kids? Quite cool.
  • Insta-Share Printer – Another very self explanatory mod, this one makes the phone act like an old Polaroid camera. We’re entirely unsure how much the refills for this accessory cost but I can’t imagine they’re cheap.
  • Amazon Alexa Smart Speaker – A speaker mod with Amazon’s Alexa assistant built-in.
  • JBL Soundboost 2 – It’s a speaker.
  • 360-degree camera – This one we actually got to try out! While I can’t properly demonstrate that camera in this review, it actually worked really well.
  • Gamepad – This mod adds physical buttons and joysticks to the Z3 Play.
  • Power Pack – Adds an additional 16-hours of battery life to the relatively poor stock battery.
  • Hasselblad True Zoom – 10x optical zoom for the camera and a xenon flash.

There are also a few more but they get a bit repetitive. Ultimately while some of these features are cool – they’re expensive. Unless you really need them, don’t buy them.

The Moto Z3 Play retails for $799 online at Motorola.com.au and I know I’ve said it again and again but the only reason to buy this phone is if one of the Moto Mods really does intrigue you!

Motorola Moto Z3 Play Review – More gimmicky than practical
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