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.
Design wise it is unquestionably Motorola..a little Moto G a little Moto X..it is a solid feeling plastic phone that on first look is similar to every other black slab out there. The back..mine is black..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.
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.
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.
The camera app is pretty basic and simple to follow and is not overloaded with extra features..no 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.
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 package..you 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.