Motorola latest mid-range device, the Moto X Play is the slightly cheaper variant of the soon-to-be-launched Moto X Style.
Motorola had huge success with its Moto G, placing Motorola firmly amidst the ever increasing competition in this range. With the Moto X Play, Motorola clearly seeks to get far ahead of the competition. The main contenders in this range are the One Plus X and the Asus Zenfone 2 Deluxe.
Now, in a way you might consider that Statement Of Intent a little cliched for a device from this segment. But we can help you figure out the main selling points of this device, and we can together establish if the Moto X Play lives up to that mission statement.
Well, there are two big deciders – this device has a bigger battery, which Motorola claims will last you through two days. Add to that the fact that this device comes with a 21 megapixel rear camera which is on the edge of insanity for this segment! This alone can take the game away from other manufacturers.
Add to that, the fact that the camera on this device is simply amazing for the price that you have pay for the package.
Apart from these, there are plenty of other things that are likeable and help Motorola’s cause and make the device a sure-fire bargain for the people who are looking for the best mid-range phone in the market.
The Motorola Moto X Play comes with a 5.5 inch 1080p LCD panel with a 403 ppi (pixels-per-inch). And it’s a good screen!
Having used the X Play extensively, I can honestly say that I am not pining for a QHD screen at all; and if sticking with a Full HD display helps keep the price low then I’m all for it!!
Motorola has previously used AMOLED panels on its devices, but with the X Play, they went for an LCD panel. That’s not a bad thing, despite the fact that the screen is not as vibrant and saturated. But it is much more accurate in displaying colours.
On a different note, the screen is sharp, gets as bright as you need it to be and nice and dark when you need to sooth your eyes down.
Motorola has also included two screen modes, letting you tailor the settings to your tastes. You can pick between ‘Normal’, which should display more realistic colours, and ‘Vibrant’ which enhances vibrancy and colour saturation. I’ve switched between the two on a number of occasions and while there is a minor visible difference, it doesn’t completely change the experience. I’ve stuck with the ‘Normal’ mode, simply because it rids the display of any over-saturation and it makes colours a little more accurate.
A Gorilla Glass 3 protects the screen from shattering but in no way is it scratchproof. A tempered glass protector should do the trick though.
The Moto X Play is an easily recognizable phone, not in the sense that it stands out in such a way but in one that it is so similar to other Motorola devices. It looks essentially similar to the Moto G.
The front is as simple and clean as you can get, a near edge-to-edge 5.5-inch display is flanked by a front facing speaker (at the bottom) and a speakerphone (at the top) plus a camera. There are no ugly brand logos, which is always a bonus.
Motorola has kept it simple with the Play and thus it has plastic rims. On the top the audio jack sits in the middle with the SIM card slot next to it along with the microSD slot. Yes, it does have expandable storage!
Motorola’s big-selling Moto Maker customization tools are limited for the Moto X Play, but not completely out. You can get different back covers but the options are limited.
Now the Moto G had an IPX7 rating which meant that if you dropped your phone in the pool, you can chill for another 30 minutes before HAVING to pick it up. This has not been been cariied on to the Play. What you get here however, is an IPX57 rating wich basically means you do not have to worry about covering your phone up in plastic bags in pouring rain or worrying about it if you have accidentally poured a glass of water over it.
Dimensions wise, the Moto X Play is certainly not compact, coming in at 148 x 75 x .10.9mm. It’s slightly thicker, though marginally smaller overall, than the OnePlus 2, which measures in at 151.1 x 75 x 9.9mm. Motorola’s effort also tips the scales at 6g lighter (169g v 175g) than the Chinese start-up’s effort.
When I say the phone is not compact, in say it in comparison to the standard of comactness Motorola itself has set for its devices. Coming out of that a little and actually holding the phone what realization hits you is that it is an extremely comfortable phone to hold with just one of your hands.
The Moto X Play comes packed with a Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 615 processor, paired with 2 GB of RAM and an Adreno 405 GPU. Well, this is not exactly cutting edge but is more than reasonable for a phone in this range.
In real world usage, device can handle low to mid-level CPU and graphics-intensive tasks very well with no lags whatsoever. Though the benchmark scores were pretty ordinary, the phone actually handled some CPU intensive tasks unexpectedly well. In fact, even playing games like Real Racing 3 and Dead Trigger 2 presented no problems at all.
That isn’t to say everything that performance is consistent or brilliant. The chipset does lag sometimes and multitasking does cough up some anomalies – sometimes. The bigger issue is when the keyboard refuses to show up in the Messaging app. But then iOS too seems to be having that issue these days. God telling us to get off WhatsApp? Hmmm.
The performance of this device is very good. I say this, of course, keeping in mind that you will should not be expecting an 18K purchase to perform like a something three times it’s cost!
The Moto X Play runs a near Stock Android 5.1.1 Lollipop UI. There is just a little extra in terms of apps that can actually improve what Google originally has to offer.
The best addition is Moto Display – an updated lock screen that lights up with incoming messages and lets you quickly scan through multiple notifications without unlocking the device. It has been one of Motorola’s standout features in recent years and while the lack of an AMOLED panel does reduce the battery saver benefits of the feature, I’m glad it’s been kept around.
Moto Voice makes a return with this device. It is not as highly built as in the previous devices but it works more or less on the same lines as them. You teach the phone your voice by saying a number of phrases and then it should respond only to you when you call out, for instance, ‘Hey Moto X’.
There is Motorola’s suite of services, which are bundled up together under in the single Moto app. It is rounded off with a handy Migrate tool to transfer data from your old phone and Assist, a sort of powered-up profile switcher. Stock Android’s current lack of a decent ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode makes this all the more necessary. You can set the phone to automatically alter settings depending on the time or what you have in your calendar. This lets you do things like turn off all sounds and notifications off between midnight and 6am or when you’ve labelled something in your Google Calendar as a meeting.
Apart from these few additions the software on this phone is quite like what you would get on a Nexus device. And that is always a good indicator of a device’s pedigree!
The camera on this phone is what Motorola expects will give it the edge over the competition. It carries a whopping 21 megapixel rear shooter and it looks performs well enough to provide the X Play with an the edge over all of the competition.
To start with, the camera is insanely fast. And its supported very well by the OS that the phablet rides on. You can quickly jump straight into shooting mode simply by shaking the phone (no matter where you are in the OS). Focusing is accurate and locks on to the subject of the photo almost instantly.
Another handy addition is the Auto HDR (High Dynamic Range) mode, which intelligently switches mode depending on your surroundings. This means you don’t need to either leave HDR on all the time (which can lead to blown-out and oddly coloured shots when the conditions aren’t right), or manually toggle it on and off every time you take a shot.
Now the well-lit shots are truly amazing on this phone, filled with details and colour and you can zoom in without any sort of distortion. The only problem that lies with this camera is slicking photos of things that are in motion. I found even the slightest hint of movement threw the sensor off and the results were more often than not out of focus.
Apart from this, the low-light shots also are not too good and can be considered only average.
The camera on this phone despite two little flaws is sincerely the standout feature; not only in this device but in the whole segment of mid-range phones.
We have to consider what kind of a device we are dealing with and how deep does it dig into your pockets. With this camera you certainly get more than what you can bargain for.
Worthwhile entertainment can be expected out of this device mainly due to the fact that it has the best speakers in this range.
Even though it’s a single speaker, it has plenty of oomph and gets quite loud, but… I found that distortion kicking when I jacked it up to full volume; keeping it down to a mid-way point gave it plenty of clarity and while I wouldn’t recommend ditching your Bluetooth speaker, it’s certainly good enough for the odd internet clip.
There isn’t a phone out there, even HTC’s well regarded BoomSound, with speakers that are good enough to listen to music through, and to consider a replacement for a specialist speaker.
Motorola understands that and does not over-promise and under-deliver. It provides a decent speaker, but for regular/full-time audio enjoyment, it expects you to spring for a decent external speaker(s).
Coupled with a decent display, watching media and listening to music is a good enough experience.