News
Pros

- Crisp 1080p display
- Full-day battery life
- Premium-feeling design
- Moto Maker support
- Solid camera performance
- Simple, functional software experience

Cons

- No wireless charging
- No included Turbo Charger
- Poor front-facing speaker quality

Rating
Our Rating
Battery
9.3
Display
8.0
Camera
8.0
Performance
7.8
Software
9.0
Design
8.6
Bottom Line

The Moto X Play is a solid smartphone at a cheap price. The camera is great, the screen is crisp, and Motorola's added software features provide just the right amount of functionality without getting in the way. If you can get past the poor speaker quality and lack of included Turbo Charger, you might want to consider picking up a Moto X Play for yourself.

8.5
Our Rating
You have rated this

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Mid-range smartphones are becoming more and more appealing to consumers around the world. Especially now that numerous smartphone manufacturers are choosing to forgo the carrier partnerships and sell their flagship devices off-contract, users aren’t as willing to pay +$600 on a new phone anymore. One of the most popular phone makers leading the charge on this front is Motorola, specifically with the company’s recently-announced 2015 Moto X line.

Alongside the flagship Moto X Style (or Pure Edition if you live in the U.S.), the now Lenovo-owned company unveiled a slightly less expensive device that still brings some killer specs, design and software features to the table. Dubbed the Moto X Play, this device couples premium features with a cheap price point – but does it fall short in any key areas? We aim to find that out, and more, in our full review of the Motorola Moto X Play!

The latest from Motorola

Design

Taking a look at the Moto X Play’s design, it’s instantly clear that this is a Motorola device through and through. The speaker grills and inconspicuous front-facing camera sensor are the only two features adorning the phone’s front, aside from the big 5.5-inch display. A 5.5-inch screen may seem too big for some users, but the device actually seems quite small thanks to the thin bezels on the left and right sides.

Moto X Play Hands on review-2

The right side houses a textured power/standby key and volume rocker. Unlike the Motorola-made Nexus 6, these two buttons unfortunately feel cheap and plasticky. Up top sits the 3.5mm headphone jack and Nano SIM card tray – which doubles as a microSD card slot – that sits slightly to the left.

The back of the phone houses the signature Motorola dimple that sits in a metal strip beneath the camera module. This is a nice and simple design touch, though there’s no real use for the metal strip.

Motorola Moto X Play 2015 -1

Overall, the phone feels really great in the hand, and it’s pretty difficult to notice that it’s slightly thicker than the average smartphone. This is thanks in part to the phone’s curved back, which is removable should you feel the need to try out other back plate colors through Moto Maker. Moto Maker is by far one of the biggest draws to purchasing a Motorola device. Not only can you choose between 14 different back plate colors, 7 accent colors and 2 front colors, you can also get an engraving on your Moto X Play, and even a custom greeting when you turn on your phone. This provides a sense of personalization that you just can’t get with other smartphones.

Display

one of the best 1080p panels we've ever seen on a smartphone

The Moto X Play features a 5.5-inch TFT LCD display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and a pixel density of 403 ppi. Even though it doesn’t feature the highest resolution display on the market, we don’t really think that matters much in this case. This is one of the best 1080p panels we’ve ever seen on a smartphone.

Motorola Moto X Play 2015 -24

With that said, though, Motorola’s decision to include an LCD panel instead of an AMOLED display is certainly an odd one. One of Motorola’s most innovative and interesting features is Moto Display, which definitely doesn’t look as good on an LCD panel. Other that this gripe, though, the display is quite good.

Screenshot_2

Performance and hardware

Under the hood, the Moto X Play features an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor clocked at 1.7GHz, backed by 2GB of RAM and an Adreno 405 GPU. Even though the device only sports 2GB of RAM, that hasn’t really been a problem for us on the performance front. It’s perfectly capable of performing everyday tasks without a hitch, so you shouldn’t run into many issues when gaming or multitasking. With that said, it’s not the most powerful processor on the market, so if you’re a power user, you may run into a few more issues than we did.

On the storage front, the Moto X Play comes in 16 and 32GB variants with microSD card expansion up to an additional 128GB. As always, we’d prefer to see the base model of storage bumped up to 32GB, but a base of 16GB is par for the course when it comes to mid-range devices.

Moto_X_Play_Moto_MakerRelated: Moto X Play announced: great specs, budget-friendly pricing37

When it comes to sound quality, listening to music or podcasts with headphones through the Moto X Play is quite nice. We tested out multiple pairs of headphones with this device, and overall, we really liked what we heard.

Moto X Play Hands on review-8

With that said, externally speaking, the phone could use some work. Although there looks to be two front-facing speakers, only the bottom one works, which means listening to music or watching videos in landscape mode makes for an oddly unbalanced audio experience. Coming from the Nexus 6, which features some of the best speakers we’ve used on a smartphone, the Moto X Play just doesn’t stack up.

Battery

One of the biggest selling points of the Moto X Play is the battery, which is gigantic. It’s a non-removable 3630mAh cell, which is much bigger than what you’d normally get on a mid-range device. In our experience, it’s been really easy to achieve upwards of four to five hours of screen-on time. We had no problems getting through an entire day on a single charge.

With that said, not all is great in the battery section. The device features quick charging functionality, which Motorola says can get you up to 8 hours of usage in just a 15 minute charge. Sounds great, right? Unfortunately Motorola doesn’t include a Turbo Charger in the box for some reason, so you won’t be able to quickly charge the phone unless you purchase one separately.

Camera

Motorola says the camera on the Moto X Play is the best the company has ever made, and they’re right. The rear-facing camera comes in at 21MP and sports a dual-LED flash. In great lighting conditions, the rear camera can really shine. It consistently produces a ton of detail in each shot. Color reproduction is on point with just the right amount vibrancy and saturation, and it does a great job at bringing out details in shadowy areas. Camera quality quickly degrades when moving into poorly-lit areas, though. Low light performance isn’t terrible by any means, but it still could use some work.

Oh, and there’s also a 5MP front-facing camera for all of your selfie-taking needs.

Motorola’s camera interface is very easy to use, but it might be a bit too simple. You won’t find any manual controls here, and it’s not the most efficient when you’re quickly looking for a particular setting. With that said, taking a quick photo is pretty easy. Simply tap anywhere on the viewfinder to take the photo, and swipe left to review any photos that you’ve taken. You can also swipe right to make adjustments to the camera settings. There aren’t a lot of settings, but you can choose from a few standard modes like HDR, Night mode, panorama, 4K video recording, and a few others.

Software

One of the most appealing features found in Motorola devices in recent years is the near-vanilla Android experience, and this time it’s no different. The Moto X Play runs Android 5.1.1 Lollipop and very minimal customization from Motorola, meaning the device will likely get quicker updates than most other phones on the market. Plus, it’s being sold completely free of carrier intervention, so there’s no additional bloatware to get in the way. This is the closest phone to a Nexus device in terms of software, save for a few of Motorola’s own additions.

Moto Display is an innovative and convenient way to get quick access to notifications when the phone is asleep. Plus, Motorola now gives you the ability to control music from Moto Display, making this feature even more handy.

Moto Voice has also made its return this time around. This feature lets you dictate voice commands to the device even when it’s asleep, which is really convenient if the phone is sitting on the other side of the room. You can even customize the experience a bit by creating your own key phrase to wake the device. We found this feature most handy when using it for navigation, as you won’t need to wake the phone by touching it while you’re driving to tell it navigation instructions.

The Moto X Play also offers Moto Assist, which lets the phone read text messages out loud if it senses that you’re driving, and it can even keep your phone quiet if you’re in a meeting or simply need to get some sleep.

Moto-X-Play-AA-(8-of-12)Don't miss: Two weeks with the Motorola Moto X Play21

Moto Actions are also available with the Moto X Play, which is one of our favorite software features. With Moto Actions, you can do a double twist with the phone to activate the camera in an instant, or even chop twice to start up the phone’s LED flashlight.

Related: The best Moto X Play cases

All in all, these software features provide a ton of extra functionality without being intrusive in any particular way, which is just the way it should be.

Specifications

 Motorola Moto X Play
Display5.5-inch display with 1920 x 1080 resolution
403ppi
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Processor1.7GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor
Adreno 405 GPU
RAM2 GB
Storage16/32 GB
expandable via microSD up to 128GB
Camera21 MP front-facing camera with dual LED flash
5 MP front-facing camera
Connectivity
Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth 4.1
NFC
GPS+GLONASS
Battery3630mAh, non-removable
Wireless chargingNo
SoftwareAndroid 5.1.1 Lollipop
ColorsCustomizable via Moto Maker - 14 back plate colors, 7 accent colors

Gallery

Pricing and final thoughts

So, should you buy the Moto X Play? Yes! This is a great phone at a great price. The camera is solid, the screen is crisp, and Motorola’s added software features provide just the right amount of functionality without getting in the way. If you can get past the poor speaker quality and lack of included Turbo Charger, you might want to consider picking up a Moto X Play for yourself.

You can purchase the Moto X Play from Motorola’s website, Amazon and various other online retailers starting at £279.00.

What are your thoughts? Are you a fan of Motorola’s latest mid-range offering, or do you have your eye on something else? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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  • nebulaoperator

    Ash, what’s going on in the room? Why is it so dark?

  • Oli72

    Great phone all around. But if you are a specs whores this phone isn’t for you.

  • V-Phuc

    why only the bottome speaker works when listening to music? Defective random phone you tested or is it a general glitch all across the board? I thought I read somewhere a lot of users complained about the same issue. Just weird, especially when you have 2 front-facing speakers. Kind of defeat the purpose.

    • nebulaoperator

      Only single front facing speaker on X Play

    • Rakoto

      the other “speaker” is for phone calls.. yup

  • Peter

    Next Moto X Play needs to be 4.7″ amoled display.

    • nebulaoperator

      You haven’t seen that display. It’s truly amazing IPS panel. I had this phone for 1 day.

      • Sanjay Madhava

        Yes, but Breathing Display sucks on IPS LCD. And Breathing display/Active notification was one of the main features that makes Moto x stand out from the rest of the crap

        • nebulaoperator

          Honestly, I had Moto G 3 Gen with IPS and Breathing display/Active notification works like a breeze. That’s my persona view.

  • David Onter

    > AndroidAuthority has a new Video Player.
    > It’s Flash-based.

    What a joke.

  • Johan Fourie

    Great review. Thinking of going Moto with my next upgrade.

    PS: Please go back to embedding Youtube as the video player of choice on your site. The current one is horrible.

  • Rakoto

    Been 2 weeks since I have it and it’s just great ! The battery life is amazing and it takes great pictures. ANd even with a 615, in day to day usage it’s butter smooth :)

    Oh and there seems to be a mistake in the review, there is no double chop to turn on the flashlight on the X Play

    • drifter77

      How is the phone’s temperature? Does it heat up with simple tasks / web browsing or only with intensive gaming? I read a lot of reviews concerning the SD615 overheating.

      • ToastedWaffles

        On games it gets warm but not hot. That was the only time i noticed the temperature go up.

      • Rakoto

        During intensive games and when I first downloaded all my apps successively. But even then it stays reasonable

      • Ankan Singhal

        well yes. My device is heating us with simple browsing also.

    • Nealworld

      You are right … its mistake here .. actually thats a feature of flashlight in Moto G3 .. not present in Xplay..

  • The Pure version has Stock Android with a few Motorola Apps.
    Interesting that the Moto X has 5.1.1 because my Droid Turbo has 5.1 and the Droid Turbo comes with Turbo charger and his similar specs to the Moto X

    • David Onter

      :o

      /s

  • IronLiver

    Moto is great if your in the us brazil india but if your in europe or asia then I dont recommend having it. WHY?????? update will take a long time before it come to your phone support aint knowledgeable about your phone. sad to say but the moto i have will be my last.

    • Sanjay Madhava

      I have always owned a Moto device (Razr i, Moto X 2013, Moto x 2014 and motox play) and i live in Germany. The update is always on time except for razr i(but it had an intel processor).

  • Major_Pita

    Pricing is wacked on Amazon. 459.99 vs. 474.99 for the Moto 32GB Pure with Prime shipping.

  • Andrew Hill

    The Onetouch Idol 3 is almost the exact same device for half of the cost….(sans the gigantic battery and the 21MP camera the Hardware is the same) with dual speakers that work very well

  • CMitchell

    I just got the Moto X Play and I’m loving it..No more awful bloatware like I had with my Samsung..it took a few minutes to get used to having the go back icon on the left because it is on the right on my other phone but got used to it quickly enough..the display is very nice..no complaints from me and also no complaints about the front facing speaker as I was used to having a crappy back speaker that sounds muffled when it’s in a case…and the sound quality on calls is way better than on my other phone as well…so I can say it was definitely worth it for me to get the Moto X Play..and btw my phone came with a turbo charger..and it is the best thing ever.. when it can be totally drained and it is fully charged in less than an hour you can’t beat that..I’m used to it taking 3 or more hours for my other phone to completely charge when it is totally drained..So if you’re looking for an excellent mid range phone you can’t beat the Moto X Play in my opinion.

    • Sanjay Madhava

      Lucky you. In germany we get a bundled charger that was made for the Moto X 2013. Which region do you live in?

  • Pan Szym

    Moto X Play doesn’t support double chop gesture.

  • vipin

    Hi Friends My Name is
    Vipin, and I would like to share some WORST experience about MOTO X Play
    and Flipkart Executives:-

    I booked Moto X Play
    16GB version on 18.09.15 wich I received on 24.09.15, they email me invoice on
    24.09.15 where as invoice date was 18.09.15.

    Just after using only
    two days, I found that:-

    1) The touch pad
    specially main screen and number dialing pad is very slow and taking too much
    time for performing the action (takes a lot of time while dialing the nos).

    2) The battery is
    3630mah but it is lasting hardly 8-10 hrs.

    For the above problems
    I call Motorola customer care centre and they replied that I should call
    flipkart for replacement of the same and I did the same.

    But when I called
    flipkart, their representatives again gave me nos of Motorola customer
    care for resolving the problem, and when I told them several time that I have
    already call Motorola customer care they replied:

    1) On 01.10.15 I spoke
    to three flipkart customer care persons (Deboshish, Santosh Kumar Singh
    and Monika) they told me that I should reset and reboot my phone,
    (start in safe mode and again reboot the phone) after that reinstall all the
    apps and update the phone, and even after doing so if problem is
    not resolve then only I should call them back AND AFTER THAT they will replace
    the phone (MOTO X Play) . Well I did the same and even after doing every thing
    still its touch pad and number dialing pad is WORST and performing WORST than a
    phone of 4000/-

    On 03.10.15 again I
    called flipkart customer care after doing Factory Reset and reinstalling all
    the apps but the problem was same. I spoke to Mr. Sayed (flipkart
    customer care representative) He again asked all the story and after wasting
    around 35 minutes he told that form his side there is no problem in the phone,
    AND HE WILL NOT PUT ANY REQUEST FOR REPLACEING THE PHONE.

    and on my
    request he transferred the line to Mr. Abhay, Floor Supervisor and again he
    gave me again A LOLLIPOP and told that there is no problem from their
    side in the handset given to (MOTO X Play) and I should go to Motorola Service
    Centre for further checking and if they say that the phone is not ok then only
    Flipkart will replace the same.

    It was just like a
    talking to buffalo since he was not at all agree to take any complain until the
    set is checked by Motorola service centre. And the guarantee given by Flipkart
    of replacing product with in 30 days is just a rubbish / fraud / a lollipop to
    the public for attracting the customers.

    2) For battery they
    told that if I am using 3G / WiFi the battery will last long only till 8-10
    hrs, and I am using it only for calling then only it will give the backup up to
    one day or as shown in the advertisement. Also they told that I should use only
    Motorola charger for charging the same. You tell me please that after
    purchasing a phone of 3630mah battery should I walk with charger also ?

    Now you tell me what
    should be done in this stage after spending 18500/- I got a phone which has a
    worst working touch and number dialing key pad. And a battery back up wich is
    good only if I use this phone as normal Rs. 1000/- ph. (only for calling) mean
    3630mah battery is useless.

    Please Think around
    thousand times before purchasing MOTO X Play because no one will (neither
    Motorola nor Flipkart) listen you if there is any problem with the handset.

    I am helpless
    Friends.

  • Jonas Hendrickx

    In your review you said the Moto X Play has 4K video recording capabilities. Can you confirm this? It is not supported by the Snapdragon 615.

  • Brian Stewart

    yep great device – only slightly let down by occasional performance issues (also i agree about the screen… soo good!)

  • qwyjibo

    I have the one touch idol 3 with pretty much the same specs. I wish it were buttery smooth. I don’t have much on the phone and it’s rooted with my usual apps that usually help speed up phones so I’m skeptical about buttery smooth on this one. I know idol 3 has a skin on top but it’s pretty light

  • coltieboy

    How does the SD 615 perform though? I had an Alcatel One Touch Idol 3 which had the 615 in it and it was so freaking laggy and choppy. The phone wasn’t slow by any means, but web pages lagged and scrolling was super choppy, that really turned me away from this chip. This was coming from a guy with a Huawei Ascend Mate 2 with a snapdragon 400 CPU. I mean, that was not a fast chip, but it felt fluid. Pages took another second or so to load, but once they were loaded I didn’t notice the stuttering and choppiness that I did with the 615 in my Idol 3. Maybe this was just Alcatel’s software, can anyone tell me? I currently have a Oneplus One, and the 801 has been a champ, but I know the 615 is a little more battery friendly and I really like how this phone has a massive battery and apparently great battery life. That’s why I used the Mate 2 for so long.

  • Tanuj Chokshi

    Outstanding review Ash

  • Simon Besharah

    I went from a laggy POS Note 4, to this phone. I really like it so far. No more lag when I text, games actually run better some how, decent camera, battery isn’t performing as I expected, but I have only charged it a few times so far, so I bet it gets better. The display is nice and crisp, and it’s pretty darn close to pure android. All that with micro sd support, made me choose this phone over the new nexus line. Did I mention the phone doesn’t lag? It really does run buttery smooth. It also feels like a quality phone in the hand. Plus it isn’t gigantic like my Note was. Can’t stand huge phones. This one fits perfectly in my hand.

  • Dont buy this phone. i bought it and after three days the bottom grille fell off.

    i searched the internet and found that they have this problem in the moto x pure too

  • Daniel

    Do you think that 2GB RAM is future proof? I actually use an Galaxy S3 with 1 gig of RAM with Cyanogenmod and it has become horrible slow and keeps nothing in memory.

  • dhanji shah

    friends i buy moto x play . last night battery is totaly low and it swich off, and now i cant swich on my phone… after charging all night
    suggest me what to do

    • Gandalf

      Please go kill yourself. That’s the best option.

  • Silentghost1979

    had this phone for a little while now and love it, motorola stepped up and hit the ball out the park. camera and battery are out of this world

  • jash

    in India now giving option to buy with an turbo charger..moto listening to customers…and i saw many reviews they did not mention abt the bad frnt speaker….

  • sanket baweja

    One of my worst experiences ever… I bought the Moto X Play in Oct 2015 and just after 45 days of use the camera stopped working. I gave it for repair in the service center in Delhi on 12 Dec 2015. They gave me a tentative time of one week for repair….can you believe it??? ONE WEEK??? I’ve always been using a samsung phone and they provide walk-in repairs even in small/ middle class towns….and MOTO…ONE WEEK… And that was not the end of problem…it was rather the beginning…Its been more than TWO MONTHS and there is still no sign of me getting my phone back… On calling the service center or the toll free customer care, the only answer I get is that the phone is pending for repair for the want of spares… Can someone tell me does it take two months to make spare parts available in Delhi??? VERY DISAPPOINTED WITH WHOLE EXPERIENCE… So friends kindly do not buy any motorola product ever…

  • Sarath Mohan K S

    Not Water Proof…

  • Sarath Mohan K S

    Not water proof. I have lost this phone in a light rain splash and as per support it is “Beyond Economic Recovery”. Do not Buy!!!!

  • Sarath Mohan K S

    Do Not Buy!!!! Not water resistant