Motorola has announced the Moto Z Play, which is supposed to be a slightly cheaper alternative to the high-end Moto Z series at Berlin ahead of IFA 2016. Moto Z Play is part of the semi-modular smartphones, where a Mod or a special module can be attached to the back of the device for an added functionality like extra battery, a speaker or even projector.
Moto Z Play was first unveiled at Lenovo’s Tech World conference in San Francisco, which included the new Moto Z and Moto Z Force smartphones, and three mods. At IFA, Motorola has added a new Mod to the family: The Hasselblad True Zoom Mod to boost the camera on these smartphones; the Mod offers 10X optical zoom capability. Motorola says the current Mods are future-proof and will continue to work with the next three generation of Moto Z devices.
At Lenovo’s product launch in Berlin, we had a chance to see the Moto Z and Moto Z Play smartphones, along with the new Mods. The Moto Z Play is slightly thicker than the Moto Z, which is a really thin smartphone. Moto Z is one of the thinnest around, if you consider the specifications and premium pricing.
Both Moto Z, Moto Z Play have a 5.5-inch display, but in case of the Play it is an 1080p resolution on a Super AMOLED display, while the more expensive Moto Z has a 2K display. There’s also a Moto Z Force version with ShatterProof display, but this one is so far exclusive with Verizon in the US.
Moto Z Play in some ways adds to what is missing on the Moto Z. The phone is slightly thicker, but with a bigger 3,510 mAh battery, compared to the 2,600 mAh one on the Moto Z. It also has a 3.5 mm headphone jack along with the Type-C USB port, unlike the premium devices which only have the latter. The last bit might matter to users who are yet not ready to give up their regular headphones.
In case of the Moto Z Play smartphone, the processor is a lower end Snapdragon 625, compared to the 820 on the Moto Z phone. It will come in 3GB RAM+32GB storage version (expandable to 2TB); the more expensive Moto Z has 4GB RAM+64GB storage. The camera on the Moto Z Play is 16MP compared to the 13MP on the Moto Z.
However, both phones have a similar design play: The full metal body with rounded edges, the camera bump jutting out bang in the rear of the phone, and the square-shaped fingerprint scanner on the front, similar to the one we’ve seen in the Moto G4 series.
Both phones have 16-magnetic pins at the bottom of the rear cover, where the Mods get attached. Motorola says when you strap on the Mod, the experience is seamless; say if you are watching a video and decide to add the JBL speaker mode, the audio should switch to the speaker without a pause.
Attaching a Mod is relatively easy, and the magnetic pins make it an instant process. Of course, this also means your phone is suddenly a lot bulkier. For those using, the projector mode, they have to find the right position and wall space to project their content. The battery mode which adds an extra 2,200 mAh of juice to the phone will appeal to a lot more users, given this is a crucial area for most smartphone customers.
But Motorola also announced a new Hasselblad branding Mod where the focus is on the camera. The 10x optical zoom, ability to shoot RAW images, are the highlights of this Mod. It has its own 13 MP image sensor, although Motorola says the lens has not be supplied by Hasselblad, and the company has collaborated with them on the RAW image format, etc.
Strapping on the Mod, turns the phone into a digital camera of sorts, at least from the back thanks to the big lens. The regular camera app is needed to take pictures, but the Mod has a Zoom-in/out button, which can be used to take advantage of the optical zoom feature.
In the demo zone, we tried zooming in via a Moto Z Play, and it is a process that requires steady hands. It took quite a few attempts to get the focus locked in, but the results are quite something when it does work out. The kind of details we got are impossible to achieve with any other smartphone camera.
While the Hassleblad Mod appears like a great addition, it is an expensive one; costs $299, which is nearly Rs 20,000 for a camera module. At that price, many users in India might buy a whole new smartphone, but for now it looks the Moto Z with their mods are targetted at a niche audience, one that okay attaching extra modules to their phone for some new functionality.
The pricing of the Moto Z Play is also not exactly budget; at $449 for the unlocked version in the US this is nearly Rs 30,000, so it will be interesting how this gets priced in India. Motorola has indicated in the past the Moto Z series will come here in the October time frame, which is also the crucial holiday period in India. This could include the Moto Z and Moto Z Play; the Force version is still US exclusive. But for now, it looks like pricing won’t exactly be budget at least by India’s standards.