Moto Z2 Play :: A modular smartphone

by Volker Weber

IMG 0084

Yesterday, I had total gadget overload. Moto sent a big box with the brand new Moto Z2 Play and alll these Moto Mods. And here is the good news. This is a 2017 smartphone and mostly 2016 Moto Mods. I like backwards compatibility.

I was very sceptical when Moto announced the Moto Z series last year. They had three models: the high end Z, the midrange Z Play and the Verizon exclusive Z Force. They were the top line Moto phones and shared the Moto Mod design. Moto Mods snap to the back of the phone via magnets, held in place by the camera hump and a protruding pin between the two rows of pogo pins which connect phone and Mod. The top row shows the Hasselblad 4116 zoom camera, a JBL speaker, and a Moto pico projector. Bottom row is an Incipio external battery, a Moto wireless charging plate and a simple plastic backplate that came with the Z2 Play. In Germany Moto is bundling a second generation JBL speaker with the Z2 Play for an initial 519 €.

The initial Z Play earned its place as a long distance runner. 3500 mAh battery which held up for two days. Add a battery pack to the back and you have an ultra runner. The new Z2 Play has an all metal body and improved components. It is thinner and the battery is slightly smaller with 3000 mAh. Since it runs on Android Nougat, which is more aggressive putting background apps to sleep, it is probably going to last as long as the original.

Since the Moto Mods concept has survived the initial year and is being expanded on, I have become less sceptical about them. Adding a battery pack to the back maybe more expensive than a power bank, but you don't have a dangling power cord, the phone charger will top off the phone first and then battery without needing two wires. A wireless charging plate can add inductive Qi charging for daily use. The pico projector and the speaker show the limits of the concept. You can't use both of them at the same time but they would compliment each other. Those are the only two you need to charge via USB C.

The Hasselblad camera is the odd one out. I provides a 10x optical zoom and turns your Z phone into a point&shoot camera. Frankly, a separate p&s camera is cheaper than this Mod and with a f/3.5-6.5 lens the Hasselblad needs lots of bright light. Since it does not have its own battery, you can just leave it in your backpack and whip it out when you need it. It will always be ready. I am including a few samples zoomed out and zoomed in below the fold.

This post is more about the modular concept than the phone itself. My initial experience has been great. Almost stock Android with some great additions from Moto. No bloatware at all. Moto wants to publish monthly security updates for the Z series but they aren't quite there yet. This phone runs on 7.1.1 Nougat with a May patch.

The Z2 Play will most likely not be the only model in this range. Leaks have shown there will be higher end version later this year, probably with the shatter proof display technology of the original Z Force, a model that was never sold here. If I had to pick three of the mods, those would be the charging plate, the external battery and of course the Hasselblad.

IMG 20170715 081104480 (1)

IMG 20170715 081113933

IMG 20170715 081208091

IMG 20170715 081215520

IMG 20170715 082346971

IMG 20170715 082356001


Having bought a Z Play first as POC for my change to Android and knowing it as well, I agree. It is a great device which is especially loved in the household for its long running capabilities. The SD625 is proving to have enough power while being most efficient. Also the price is good - not too cheap, not too expensive. I only ever saw it on Nougat, which might have helped the running times. Plus the (at least) frequent updates - done deal.

Hubert Stettner, 2017-07-15

*its* to both of you, *its* (spellingpolice off ;)

Frank Quednau , 2017-07-15

Use the Z Play with the battery pack and do NEVER worry about power anymore, 16 hours flight, a day of meetings, conferences with long nights ... it is always powered. I do still like iOS way better, but as my business phone (disclosure working for Lenovo) it’s perfect.

Martin Hiegl, 2017-07-15

Also very happy with my Moto Z. Love the lack of crappy vendor software addons.

Fredrik Malmborg, 2017-07-17

Old archive pages

I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.


Paypal vowe