Motorola Moto X Play Review
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Moto X Play

Motorola Moto X Play Review

I have been using a Motorola Moto X Play for the past week and I must say it is an impressive big phone. I say big because with a 5.5 inch screen it is a handful..but not quite as big as some phones of the same screen size because of the extremely narrow bezel.

Moto X Play

Design wise it is unquestionably Motorola..a little Moto G a little Moto is a solid feeling plastic phone that on first look is similar to every other black slab out there. The back..mine is a grippy textured plastic with a nice curve that makes it more comfortable in the hand..and it is removable not that there is anything of importance behind it but this case is one of the cool design features of this phone..replacements are available in a variety of colours and there are folio cases in a bunch of colours too.

Moto X Play backs

Turn the power on and you see a pretty decent screen. Motorola decided to go with an LCD IPS panel this year, instead of the AMOLED screen in the 2014 Moto X. You lose the perfect blacks and  saturated colours but, the IPS panel provides improved brightness, sharpness and viewing angles. The display is a brilliant 5.5in 1080p Full HD screen, The pixel density of 403ppi is pretty impressive for a mid-range phone and looks good with movies and games. At first I was disappointed with the brightness because the adaptive brightness is off by default..once I turned it on I had no trouble with brightness outdoors in full sun.

Moto X Play in Sun

Under the hood is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 615 processor, paired with 2GB of RAM and an Adreno 405 GPU. Not exacting bleeding edge, the processor is a 64-bit octa-core chipset comprised of dual quad-core Cortex A53 processors and it provides plenty of power for this big screen. Scrolling is smooth, apps open quickly and run without a hiccup and most games run smoothly. The Moto X Play is driven by a monster 3630mAh battery…I was easily able to go two days on a charge. Really heavy users should have no trouble getting a full day…if not, there is the optional turbo charger that will give 8hrs of use in just 15 minutes and a full charge in two hours.

The Moto X Play come with Android 5.x Lollipop and is a pure Android experience out of the box with no additional crapware cluttering it up. Motorola does however include a collection of features in a Moto folder than allow you to customize the experience: Motorola’s notification icons, for example, mean you can glance at your smartphone to see whether you have any emails or missed calls and waking up the phone with a distinctive phrase which provides a Moto style interface with Google Now. Efficient but no personality like Siri or Cortana.

Now, Motorola has not been known for its cameras except that they have been not especially great..The 21-megapixel rear camera is a massive step-up from the usual 13-megapixels that are common in this price-range, and the f/2.0 aperture should in theory make for better low-light pictures. Under the camera is a CCT (colour correlated temperature) two-tone flash for capturing softer skin tones.

Starting the camera on the Moto X Play is pretty fast. Shaking the phone takes you straight into shooting mode and focus was accurate almost instantaneous. I did take a few strange shots tapping the screen to focus until I discovered taping the screen anywhere takes the picture..I guess I should have read the manual. The camera features auto HDR (high dynamic range) mode, which intelligently switches mode depending on your surroundings. This means you don’t get strange results if you accidentally leave it on under the wrong conditions.

Moto X Play Camera App

The camera app is pretty basic and simple to follow and is not overloaded with extra real manual features so essentially it is a point and shoot that does well in good light but, despite the f2.0 aperture it struggles in low light conditions and the night setting seems to introduce quite a bit of noise. Flash shots even from only a metre away look pretty good..the lighting of the background would indicate about 2 metres to be the maximum range for a flash picture.

Shot with Moto X Play

Shot with Moto X Play

Shot with Moto X Play

Shot with Moto X Play

Flash shot with Moto X Play

Flash at 1m distance

Dusk shot with Moto X Play

Dusk shot at normal setting

Dusk shot with Moto X Play

Dusk shot at night setting






I’ve always liked Motorola phones and the Moto X Play provides good value for the money. A good but not elaborate feature set, a pretty good camera for the price and a big bright screen in a easy to hold nicely priced can even get a shocking pink back for it so who really needs a flagship phone at twice the price?

In Canada the Moto X Play sells for about $50 with a two year plan. Without a contract it is  $399 at SaskTel and Videotron, $410 at Koodo, $420 with Telus and $449 from Bell. In the US it will be the  Droid Maxx 2 and sell for about $300. Isn’t the exchange a killer! You can also expect to soon find it unlocked at Staples/Bureau en Gros for a little over $400.

Bob Benedetti

Former RCAF Fighter Pilot Bob worked for CTV Montreal as a Reporter, Producer and Executive producer for 35 years retiring in 2004. Bob started reporting on personal technology in 1995 at CTV and continues today at Home Technology Montreal

1 Comment
  • Debbie

    Hey been wanting this phone for sometime is it worth it and what’s in the box headphones

    March 17, 2016 at 4:45 pm Reply
    • Bob Benedetti

      No headphones..charger, USB cable and tool to eject nano sim

      March 17, 2016 at 11:45 pm Reply

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