Review: Moto Z2 Play and Moto Mods

The bolt-on extras turn this Android phone into a top creative tool.

Our Verdict

Using a truly innovative approach, mods can quickly transform the Z2 Play smartphone (and others in the Motorola range) into a top optical zoom camera or a rather nifty projector. We love the idea and the execution.

For

  • Innovative modular system
  • Wide range of mods
  • Slick and stylish

Against

  • Mods are relatively expensive
  • Screen not amazing

Why you can trust Creative Bloq Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Moto Z2 Play specs

Display: Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colours, 1080 x 1920 pixels | Dimensions: 156.2 x 76.2 x 6mm | OS: Android 7.1.1 | Internal memory: 32GB, 3GB RAM or 64GB, 4GB RAM | Card slot: microSD, up to 256GB | Camera: 12MP, f/1.7

The Moto Z2 Play (opens in new tab) is a smartphone with a difference, with plenty to interest creative professionals. 

It’s an innovative modular smartphone that enables you to clip on different ‘Moto mods’ that turn your phone into something a bit different – with additions including a Hasselblad zoom lens, a projector and extra battery pack.

Moto Z2 Play overview

The Moto Z2 Play itself is a mid-range Android handset, so don’t expect the build quality or screen of a Samsung Galaxy S8 (opens in new tab), say. That said, it feels great in the hand, with an all-metal design that’s only 6mm thick. It’s also extraordinarily light.

For a £380/$410 handset, the Z2 Play undoubtedly feels like a premium phone.

Screen-wise, the Moto Z2 Play has a 5.5-inch AMOLED Full HD (not Quad HD like say, the Galaxy S8 or Google Pixel) panel that is bright and crisp.

The Moto Z2 Play has a bright and crisp screen

The Moto Z2 Play has a bright and crisp screen

And the phone is fast, too – Adobe’s mobile apps ticked along perfectly and were great to use on the large screen.

The phone charges – like many modern Android handsets – via USB-C, and will charge to 80 per cent in around half and hour thanks to Motorola’s rapid charging tech. 

And we easily got a day from the battery, even when using the Hasselblad mod (discussed below) quite a bit.

Moto Z2 Play and Moto Mods

The Moto Mods are where the Z2 Play really innovates and will interest the creative professional. Moto Mods are essentially snap-on devices that connect to the back of your phone (they will attach to any phone in the Moto Z range) via a strong magnet.

They cost extra – significantly extra in some cases – but do genuinely transform your phone into something very different indeed. And when you consider the fact that the phone itself is only £380/$410, you can beef it out with a few add-ons for less than a Galaxy S8 or iPhone 7 Plus (opens in new tab).

Moto Z2 Play and the Hasselblad True Zoom

Let’s look at the Hasselblad True Zoom mod (opens in new tab) first. A few manufacturers have tried to merge smartphones and high optical zoom phones, but none have really succeeded, mainly because of the bulk it adds to a pocketable device. 

The True Zoom, by clipping on the back of the Z2 Play, turns your smartphone into a 10x optical zoom snapper. Coming from Hasselblad – a company with its traditions in medium format photography – you'd expect the optics to be good. And they are. And it shoots in Raw format photos.

The Hasselblad True Zoom is a very good camera app

The Hasselblad True Zoom is a very good camera app

Not only does it take great shots – the camera app recognising the mod and giving you further options – it also feels great in the hand. Our one criticism would be that the shutter feels a little mushy – it needs to be a bit more defined in its action. 

Oh, and there’s no built-in battery, so it will drain your smartphone’s if you use it too much. But if you are looking for an excellent camera with the ability to zoom without losing any quality, it’s a good add-on at £135 (opens in new tab)/$250 (opens in new tab).

Moto Z2 Play and the Moto Insta-Share Projector

The other mod we got to test was the £151 (opens in new tab)/$299 (opens in new tab) Moto Insta-Share Projector (opens in new tab). Now, we know what you’re thinking – a projector clipped onto a smartphone can’t be any good. We thought the same, but we were wrong.

Sure, it’s only 480p, and it’s not the brightest, but we were able to project a 70-inch version of our Photoshop Sketch file onto our wall – and the quality of image was great.

We got around three hours’ of projecting time with the Moto Insta-Share Projector

We got around three hours’ of projecting time with the Moto Insta-Share Projector

You probably wouldn’t use it for important client presentations – your laptop is a more obvious tool for that – but for quickly demoing projects and showing off images on your mobile device, it’s a cool gadget to have. (You could use it for full-blown presentations though if you wanted.) 

And of course it’s great for viewing photos or movies stored on your phone: just project onto a white wall. 

It’s got a 1,100mAh battery built in, so won’t drain your Moto Z2’s battery too quickly – we got around three hours’ of projecting time (with the built-in battery quoted as one hour). But you can plug your phone in to charge while projecting.

Other mods include a battery pack to keep your phone juiced for longer, and a speaker by JBL. But the two above are by far the most interesting to us. 

Moto Z2 Play performance

With its bolt-on extras, the Moto Z2 Play is a creative tool to be reckoned with

With its bolt-on extras, the Moto Z2 Play is a creative tool to be reckoned with

The Moto Z2 Play isn’t a top-end smartphone with the processing power of the Galaxy S8, for instance, but its approach is truly innovative. 

No other manufacturer is pushing the boundaries in design or functionality – and that’s what makes this worth a look.

Also read: iPhone 8 price, release date, news and rumours (opens in new tab)

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

The Verdict
8

out of 10

Review: Moto Z2 Play and Moto Mods

Using a truly innovative approach, mods can quickly transform the Z2 Play smartphone (and others in the Motorola range) into a top optical zoom camera or a rather nifty projector. We love the idea and the execution.

Rob is editorial, graphic design and publishing lead at Transport for London. He previously worked at Future Publishing over the course of several years, where he launched digital art magazine, ImagineFX; and edited graphic design magazine Computer Arts, as well as the Computer Arts Projects series, and was also editor of technology magazine, T3.