Moto Z3 Play

Motorola unveiled its Moto Z3 Play today, giving its battery-friendly smartphone line much of what it needs to stay current in 2018. You’ll immediately notice a few hardware and aesthetic changes over last year, all of which improve the phone’s caliber and bring it more up to speed with modern flagships. The mid-range device features a dual rear-facing camera system, a new side-mounted fingerprint sensor, thinner bezels, and a glass back with an aluminum body.

The Z3 Play, just like the previous Z phones, is built around the Moto Mods concept. This means it accepts all existing Moto Mods and as such is rather limited when it comes to design. The Z3 Play has a thin aluminium frame and Gorilla Glass 3 panels for both the front and the back.

Moto Z3 Play

Moto Z3 Play Specifications

  • Body: Gorilla Glass 3 front and back, aluminum frame; p2i water repellent nano coating Display: 6.01-inch, 18:9, FHD+ 2160×1080, Super AMOLED, MAX Vision
  • OS: Android 8.1
  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 636, 1.8GHz octa-core Kryo 260 CPU, Adreno 509 GPU, 4GB RAM
  • Storage: 32/64GB internal, microSD expansion
  • Rear Camera: 12 megapixels, f1.7, dual pixel PDAF, two-tone LED, 4K video
  • Front Camera: 8 megapixels, f2.0, 1080p video
  • Connectivity: 4G VoLTE, Dual SIM (optional), Bluetooth 5.0, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, A-GPS/GLONASS, NFC, USB-C port, 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Battery: 3,000mAh non-removable, Motorola TurboPower fast charging support
  • Misc: Fingerprint sensor, Moto Display, Moto Mod support

Detailed Specifications of Moto Z3 Play

Moto Z3 Play

The Z3 Play has a few new notable features, but it’s mostly the exact kind of upgrade you’d expect from last year’s Z2 Play. For you spec hounds, it has a Snapdragon 636 processor that Motorola says is about 30 percent faster than the Z2’s 626, an extra gigabyte of RAM (giving it a grand total of 4 GB), and the new Android Oreo (8.1). Battery life should remain around a day and file storage is still 32GB, though you can still upgrade it with a MicroSD card.

Spotting the design in phones is sometimes like examining a Where’s Waldo book, but there are some visible differences between the Z2 and Z3 Play. Motorola has added more microphones, two of which you’ll notice on the bottom of the phone’s face. They’ll let you talk to Google Assistant and Alexa from far away, and help cancel noise out when you’re talking on the phone. The rear of the phone is also covered in Gorilla Glass, though aluminum still adorns the edges.

It also did away with its front-facing fingerprint sensor in favor of new positioning on the right side. I haven’t held the phone yet, but this side positioning worked decently well on older Sony Xperia phones that used it.

The reason that fingerprint sensor had to move is simple: Motorola wanted more screen space, but didn’t want to make its phone bigger. The display now stretches 6 full inches diagonal, with slightly more pixels than before (2,160 x 1,080). Competing phones pack more pixels these days, but the HD AMOLED screen on last year’s Z2 looked plenty beautiful and clear. It’s a good bet that the Z3 Play will, too.

To appease fans of its handy fingerprint sensor gestures on previous Z phones, Moto has crafted an on-screen gesture slider on the bottom of the screen that will let pro users save some real estate. There’s also an odd feature that lets you animate parts of your photos and save them as .gif files for maximum meme-ability. In the demo we saw, the feature wasn’t enthralling, but we’re hoping it will work better in the real world. Regardless, the 12-megapixel rear camera does have some minor upgrades from last year and the selfie cam has gotten a boost from 5 to 8 megapixels. Google Lens also replaces some of Moto’s similar image-recognition features in the camera app.

There’s still no headphone jack on the Z3, though Motorola will include an adapter in the box. It’s also not waterproof, just splashproof, but Moto reps assured me it should be able to handle an accidental toilet drop, if that’s your chief worry.

Rumours about the Moto Z3 Play has also suggested that the smartphone will be fuelled by a 3200mAh battery with Motorola’s TurboPower charging support. Connectivity options are expected to include 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth v5.0, USB Type-C, 3.5mm headphone jack, and NFC support.

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Moto Z3 Play Camera

Moto Z3 Play

We remarked on how some of the camera features are reminiscent of Nokia’s old Lumia Windows phones. The design of the manual settings in the Camera app is remarkable similar to the Lumia Camera app, and the Selective Black and White feature is just like the Color Pop feature from Lumia Creative Studio.

Those features are still there, but now Motorola is adding a new feature: Cinemagraph. And yes, it works exactly like Lumia Cinemagraph, allowing you to keep the motion from certain parts of an image, and not others. Once you’re done, you can export it as an animated GIF.

One key difference from Lumia Cinemagraph though is that this is all done from within the Moto Camera app. You might recall that with Windows phones, all of these features required a separate app to use them.

Motorola also put portrait mode in the front camera, which only requires a single lens. While you’ll get the bokeh effect, you can’t edit it in the same way that you can with one shot with the dual rear cameras, so there’s no Selective Focus or Selective Black and White.

The rear camera sensor is a dual 12-megapixel configuration, with an f/1.7 apertue. The front is 8 megapixels, with an f/2.0 aperture.

Moto Z3 Play LAUNCH

Moto Z3 Play is expected to be launched by Motorola today. As mentioned, Motorola had sent out invites for an event in Brazil on June 6, and the Moto Z3 Play is largely expected. The Lenovo owned smartphone manufacturer has a June 6 event scheduled, but so far, it has not shown any official details regarding the upcoming smartphone. However, there have been several leaks and rumours about the mid-range Moto Z3 Play floating on the internet for quite some time now.

Price of Moto Z3 Play 

Motorola is launching the Z3 Play in Brazil today for R$ 2,299. The US will get it soon – the Moto Z3 Play will be bundled there with the Battery Mod and will cost $499 for the unlocked version. In India, Price of Moto Z3 Play roughly Equals to 40,000 Rupees.

Opinion

Motorola promised that the first wave of Mods – a.k.a. the current one – will serve three generations of Moto Z phones and just as expected the Moto Z3 Play supports all existing Moto Mods. And you bet Motorola will probably introduce some new ones to the already rich Mods lineup.

Moto Z3 Play

Back to the Moto Z3 Play – it’s a glass phone with metal frame, just like the Moto Z2 Play. The Z3 brings similar Super AMOLED screen, but adds some extra rows of pixels to achieve the trendy 18:9 ratio. The Snapdragon chip got an update, too, it’s now the 636 model with more powerful processor and graphics.

The camera department had a boost as well – there is a second snapper on the back for depth information, while the selfie shooter has a new 8MP sensor.

The fingerprint scanner has moved to the side, just like plenty of Xperia phones used to have it. We guess this was the only place for it, as the back should be clean for the Moto Mods, while the growth in the display didn’t leave any room to spare at the front. Anyway, it looks promising.

The Moto Z3 Play is available in Brazil as of today, while the global rollout should begin in a few weeks. And if you are eager to know more, our hands-on impressions start right after the break.

Motorola promised all Moto Mods to be compatible with three generation of Moto Z phones. That’s an admirable approach in this ever-changing Android market. But it also means all phones from this 3-year cycle to look rather identical, as the Mods specs won’t allow for much design and even camera innovations.

That’s why the new Moto Z3 Play looks like all the Moto Z to come before it. The phone is very thin, with flat Gorilla Glass 3 pieces shielding its screen and back. A thin frame made of Series 6000 aluminum glue the said glasses together – and that’s pretty much it.

The Super AMOLED screen at the front has grown from 5.5″ to 6.01″ in diagonal since the Z2 Play. It’s of the new tall kind with 18:9 aspect ratio, which means the resolution is now 1,080 x 2,160 px. The extra 240 rows of pixels didn’t increase the Z3 Play footprint (which is limited by the Mods), Motorola just trimmed the bezels.

We are fans of the thin bezels, but we also like the front fingerprint scanner which is now gone on the Moto Z3 Play. Now the Moto Z3 Play relies on a single virtual key for complete Android navigation, while the fingerprint sensor has been placed only place it could fit – the right side. Sony has a long history with putting the sensors there and we liked how those worked on those Xperia phones, and we found it pretty neat on the Moto Z3 Play, too.

And in case you were wondering why the sensor wasn’t moved on the back, we once again would like to point the Moto Mods compatibility issue.

The Moto Z3 Play has upgrade the selfie camera with an 8MP sensor and new f/2.0 lens, but the front LED flash is gone. You can use the screen as flash, and the Z3 Play seems to be having a rather bright one, but we have yet to confirm that with our review tests.

The back is all glass, as we said, and the camera hump is where it has always been – centered at the back – the Moto Mods compatibility demands it there.

The Z2 Play’s 12MP main sensor is here to stay with its 1.4µm big pixel, bright f/1.7 lens and dual-pixel autofocus. But it also got a secondary 5MP helper for depth information – read portrait mode.

The dual-tone LED flash has made it to the Z3 Play intact.

Just like on the Moto G6, the Moto Z3 Play supports native Portrait shots with the option to adjust the blur strength in real time.

Spot color is available – it lets you capture only a certain color from the spectrum, leaving the rest of the photo black and white.

There is also the cutout mode, which isolates a subject based on the depth detection and superimpose it on a different photo.

The numerous contact pins on the back are quite disruptive but unavoidable. That’s why it’s probably a good idea to opt for a Mod, maybe even one that’s just a cover – like the Nylon or Wooden ones.

Motorola has a very rich Moto Mods portfolio with plenty of options – 360-degree camera, battery, gamepad, JBL speaker, Polaroid printer, Hasselbad camera, among others including decorative panels.

The Moto Z3 Play is compatible with all those Mods released so far, so if you are migrating from a first or second-generation Moto Z – you will be able to use all of those.

Amazon Alexa Mod is here to stay, too. If you are keen on using Amazon’s voice assistant, you can spare yourself a new device and just grab this Mod.

Conclusion

The Moto Z3 Play seems like a nice modern smartphone. It will be sold at $499 in the US bundled with the battery Moto Mod. We are just not sure if it’s smart to invest into new Mods if you are a newcomer to the series, as all Mods will be rendered incompatible with the Moto Z4 series next year.

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