Last year’s Moto Z2 Play ($360 at Amazon.com) was a genuinely likable phone with terrific battery life. It felt like a really good deal. I’m sorry I can’t say the same about this year’s Moto Z3 Play, which seems to have lost some of its charm — and definitely its headphone jack — despite having some decidedly useful features.
I still like the Z3 Play as a midprice phone. It does the job, but without a whole lot of personality. The promise of Moto Mods, those magnetic add-ons that are designed to enhance and customize your phone experience, has dramatically dimmed. The majority of Mods are now battery packs and cases.
Still, the external battery Mod that comes in the Z3 Play’s box significantly extends the phone’s life. This is one of the top reasons to get the Z3 Play, even if it doesn’t feel great in the hand and leaves you wondering why the phone doesn’t just have a larger battery to begin with.
And at its current cost, the Moto Z3 Play doesn’t stand a chance against the much faster, much more streamlined OnePlus 6 ($529 at OnePlus), or even last year’s LG G6 ($485 at Amazon.com). But it does have a more congenial take on the Android operating system, so don’t completely discount it yet. If the cost drops well below that of the OnePlus 6, the Z3 Play’s value would instantly become much more appealing.
See pricing and a full specs comparison below.
Moto Z3 Play price and where to buy it
The Z3 Play costs $499 at full retail price, which includes a 2,220 mAh Moto Mod battery in the box. Amazon Prime Members in the US can snag the Moto Z3 Play for $450. The Z3 Play sells for £372 and AU$655 in the UK and Australia, respectively.
What’s good about the Moto Z3 Play
Extra battery life: When you snap on the 2,220mAh Moto Mod battery add-on that comes in the box, the phone will easily last you through two days of mixed use. You can set the pack to keep the phone at either a constant 80 percent or 100 percent charge. Go for 80 percent — it’ll last longer.
Fingerprint reader on the phone’s right edge: The unlock button that seems tailor-made for your right thumb looks like a power button, but isn’t. At first, I felt like I was lunging to unlock the phone, but it didn’t take long for the movement to become completely natural. I like that the unlock target is within your line of sight, and you don’t have to fumble on the back to find the reader.
One button navigation, without the button: A now-standard Moto feature, this opt-in setting will convert Android’s three onscreen navigation buttons into a single slider you can use to go Home, go Back, and call up your Recent tabs and Google Assistant. It’s a lot like Android P but smoother, and it worked very well.
Split-screen mode: Another Motorola software feature that’s not exclusive to the Z3 Play, you can open two apps in the screen at once. Samsung phones have this too, and I’ve come to really appreciate being able to copy information from one screen, then paste it into another.