The Moto Z Play impressed us last year for many reasons, and much of that had to do with its striking balance of a well-rounded feature set and affordable price point. Rather than waiting a full year for a proper refresh cycle, Motorola decided to take the wraps off the device’s successor, the Moto Z2 Play, just a few weeks ago. We’ve spent a short amount of time with the device so far, and we’re excited to share with you our first look at Motorola’s latest mid-ranger.

The design of the Moto Z2 Play is more akin to a flagship of sorts – mainly because of its ultra-slim chassis and sturdy aluminum unibody frame. It feels substantially better than last year’s model. However, since the device is designed with Moto Mods in mind, it doesn’t stray too far from the familiar design language we’ve seen countless times from other Motorola phones. Still, the Z2 Play looks like it was meticulously crafted and can easily stand toe-to-toe with other flagship designs out there.

The headphone jack is back again, even though the Z2 Play sports a thinner body than its predecessor

One reason why last year’s Moto Z Play was able to somewhat outshine its higher-end siblings was because it featured a 3.5 mm headphone jack. And you know what? It’s back again, even though it now sports a thinner body than its predecessor. Another notable design change here with the Moto Z2 Play is found with its fingerprint sensor, which is now more oval in shape and recessed. Beyond that, the phone has access to the slew of Moto Mods that have been released – turning it into a portable projector, music boombox, versatile long-zoom camera, and much more!

If you need a refresher, we’ve attached the full list of Moto Z2 Play specs below:

 Moto Z2 Play
Display5.5-inch Super AMOLED
1920 x 1080 resolution
401 ppi
Processor2.2 GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 626
GPUAdreno 506
RAM3/4 GB
LPDDR3
Storage32/64 GB
MicroSDYes, up to 2 TB
UHS-I
CamerasRear: 12 MP Dual Autofocus Pixel sensor, 1.4 μm, ƒ/1.7 aperture, laser autofocus, phase detection autofocus, dual LED flash

Front: 5MP sensor, 1.4 μm, ƒ/2.2 aperture, wide-angle lens
Battery3,000 mAh
Non removable
TurboPower charging for up to 8 hours of use in 15 minutes (50% charge in 30 minutes)
Water resistanceWater repellant nano-coating
ConnectivityMoto Mods connector
USB Type-C port with USB 3.1 support
3.5 mm headset port
Bluetooth 4.2 LE + EDR
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n 2.4 GHz + 5 GHz
NFC
SensorsFingerprint sensor
Accelerometer
Ambient light
Gyroscope
Magnetometer
Proximity
Ultrasonic
NetworkCDMA (850, 1900 MHz)
GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
UMTS/HSPA+ (850, 900, 1700, 1900, 2100 MHz)
4G LTE (B1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 20, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, 38, 41, 66)
SIMNano
SoftwareAndroid 7.1.1 Nougat
Dimensions and weight76.2 x 156.2 x 5.99 mm
145 g

If you remember, last year’s model offered exceptional battery life thanks to its 3,510 mAh cell. The Moto Z2 Play’s skinnier chassis means the company needed to make some sacrifices in terms of battery capacity, with the Z2 Play now sporting a much smaller 3,000 mAh unit. Who knows how this is going to impact the phone’s longevity, but if that’s a concern, the quick solution that’s available here is to pick up the new Turbopower Pack Moto Mod, which snaps onto the back of the phone and features an equally spacious 3,490 mAh battery. And if you prefer wireless charging, there’s a Moto Mod for that too – so the options are endless here.

The 5.5-inch 1080p AMOLED display won’t raise too many eyebrows, but we’re happy to report that it does feature some eye-catching qualities so far. Details are sharp, colors are vibrant, and viewing angles maintain solid clarity. The only question we have is how it’ll perform under the scrutiny of the sun when it’s outdoors.

We've been quite happy with the 1080p AMOLED display thus far

Under the hood lies a Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 processor with 3 GB of RAM, which enables it to respond with a fair amount of finesse. Out of the box, it should suffice for most consumers when it comes to the usual processes, but it’s questionable when it comes to gaming performance – since chips of this caliber don’t produce the same fluid performances seen in other flagships.

As far as cameras are concerned, the Z2 Play sports a 12-megapixel dual-autofocus pixel rear camera with an f/1.7 aperture lens, laser autofocus, phase detection auto focus, CCT dual-LED flash, and up to 4K video recording. Meanwhile, the front-facing camera stands in at 5 megapixels and features a wide-angle f/2.2 lens and a CCT dual-LED flash.

Those interested in what the Moto Z2 Play has to offer will need to be directed towards Verizon Wireless in the US, since the carrier has an exclusive on it… at least for now. However, an unlocked version of the phone will go on sale later in the summer for $499, which is a $50 increase from last year’s starting price. Indeed, the pricing is a bit high considering it’s in the mid-range category, so it’ll be intriguing to see if that’ll have a huge impact on consumers’ decisions.

Stay tuned for our full review, which will arrive in the next couple weeks!

John Velasco
Storyteller, ongoing health nut, persistent complainer of running, & religious flosser.