What Phone should I get? Moto Z VS. Moto Z Play

We recently added the super cool Moto Z and Moto Z PLAY to our BYOP lineup and to our online store. Both of these phones have some really awesome features, like my personal favorite, Motorola’s new MotoMods. Now you can easily pop on different accessories whenever you want them. We’ll talk more about MotoMods later after we go through the general specs of each phone.

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Design

Both the Moto Z and the Moto Z Play have the familiar Motorola look and feel, but also have a couple of different features. One of the new features is a USB-C charging port, which is unique to the Moto Z line. At this time, the other Moto phone lines use micro-USB. Another is a change in the location of the power button. While the power button is still located on the right side of the phones, it is now below the volume buttons, which took us a while to get used to. Check out the photo below to see what it looks like.

Moto Z / Right: Moto Z Play. Both phones’ power buttons are below the volume buttons.
Left: Moto Z / Right: Moto Z Play. Both phones’ power buttons are below the volume buttons.

 

Looking at the photo above, you can see that the Moto Z is actually quite a bit thinner than the Moto Z Play. This is because the Moto Z Play has a killer battery. Also, the Moto Z does not have a headphone jack. But don’t worry! It comes with an adapter that you can plug into the charging port, so you can still use your traditional wired headphones no problem. You can also use wireless Bluetooth headphones if you prefer.

Left: Moto Z / Right: Moto Z Play with 3.5mm headphone jack. Both phones have fingerprint sensors located below the screen.
Left: Moto Z / Right: Moto Z Play with 3.5mm headphone jack. Both phones have fingerprint sensors located below the screen.

 

Moto Z with headphone adapter plugged into the charging port
Moto Z with headphone adapter plugged into the charging port

 

The Moto Z and Moto Z Play both have fingerprint sensors on the front, so you can easily unlock the phone with just the tap of your finger (or thumb). They can store multiple fingerprints, so if you want to use different fingers to unlock your phone, or share your phone with friends and family, you’ll be able to easily give them access.

The glass screen on the Moto Z is more flexible than the glass screen on the Moto Z Play, which prevents it from shattering as easily, but since it’s a little bit softer, it will show scratches easier. This shouldn’t be a problem if you put a screen protector on it (as we suggest for any phone you have). The Moto Z display is also slightly sharper than that of the Moto Z Play because it has a higher-resolution screen. So, while the Moto Z has more pixels-per-inch, the difference is not noticeable to most people on a 5.5-inch screen.


Specs

Here is a breakdown of the specs for both phones, side-by-side:

Moto Z

  • OS: Android 6.0 (Marshmallow)
  • Chipset: 1.8 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor
  • Display: 5.5 inch Quad HD display with Corning Gorilla Glass 4
  • Rear camera: 13 MP, f/1.8 dual-LED flash
  • Front camera: 5 MP, f/2.2, flash
  • Memory: 4GB RAM, 64GB internal storage (up to 200GB SD storage)
  • Battery (not removable): 2,600 mAh battery

Moto Z Play

  • OS: Android 6.0 (Marshmallow)
  • Chipset: 2 GHz octa-core Snapdragon processor
  • Display: 5.5 inch Full HD display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • Rear camera: 16 MP, f/2.0 dual-LED flash
  • Front camera: 5 MP, f/2.2, flash
  • Memory: 3GB RAM, 32GB internal storage (up to 200GB SD storage)
  • Battery (not removable): 3,510 mAh battery

Camera

The Moto Z and Moto Z Play have fantastic cameras. They use dual-pixel technology for high-quality photos. This means that your phone takes two photos at once (one in black and white, and one in color) and then combines the two images so that the color contrast really pops.

moto-z-play
Photo taken with Moto Z Play

 

moto-z
Photo taken with Moto Z

 

The Moto Z has optical image stabilization, which reduces blurriness, making it great for action shots. It also has a lower aperture than the Moto Z Play, making it better at taking brilliant photos in low light. The Play will take higher resolution photos. This means the general image quality will be better than that of the Moto Z. The bottom line? Both of these phones are going to take excellent photos no matter your photography experience. The camera app on both phones makes it easy to adjust to motion, low-light, and portrait scenarios. If you take a lot of action or low-light photos, you’ll want to go with the Moto Z.

Photo taken with Moto Z
Photo taken with Moto Z

 

Photo taken with Moto Z Play
Photo taken with Moto Z Play


Battery

The Moto Z touts up to 30 hours of mixed usage battery life, and the Moto Z Play boasts up to 50 hours of mixed usage battery life! This is a crazy amount of battery life! While test driving this phone a few weeks ago, the battery lasted from a Friday afternoon to a Monday afternoon before needing a charge. It’s amazing! Not to mention, both phones have TurboPower™ charging capabilities, meaning they charge at lightning speed, too.


MotoMods

MotoMods might be the coolest thing about the Moto Z and the Moto Z Play. Both of these phones have magnetic backs to help you, as Motorola says, “transform your phone in a snap.” You can easily snap on different mods whenever you want, without the hassle of screws or clips. Your first official MotoMod will come in the box of both phones, and it’s called a Style Shell. Style Shells are backplates that you can pop on the back of your Moto Z or Moto Z Play. There are a handful of different Style Shells you can buy from Motorola – one to fit every mood!

The Style Shell that comes with the Moto Z and Moto Z Play
The Style Shell that comes with the Moto Z and Moto Z Play

There are currently five different MotoMods you can get for your Moto Z or Moto Z Play:

  • Style Shells, or backplates, that come in different colors and textures to accommodate any outfit. You can snap ‘em on whenever you want!
  • Power Pack Batteries for extra battery life. These come in different colors as well, including styles by Kate Spade and TUMI. You can also use this mod to charge your Moto Z/Moto Z Play wirelessly!
  • JBL SoundBoost Speaker for high-quality JBL stereo sound. It comes with a built-in kickstand and doesn’t require any pairing. Snap it on and you’re ready to go!
  • Moto Insta-Share Projector so you can easily project your photos and videos on any flat surface! It comes with a kickstand (so you can project at any angle) and an integrated battery.
  • Hasselblad True Zoom, a camera mod to significantly enhance your photo-taking experience.
JBL SoundBoost Speaker and a Power Pack Battery (wireless charger sold separately)
JBL SoundBoost Speaker and a Power Pack Battery (wireless charger sold separately)

Which one should I choose?

The Moto Z is slimmer, has a better overall rear camera, and has twice the amount of internal storage. It’s also lighter and sleeker than the Moto Z Play. If you’re really looking for a premium phone, the Moto Z is the way to go.

The Moto Z Play has incredible battery life and comes with a built-in headphone jack. The rear camera is still great, but not quite as good as the Moto Z. If you’re looking for a more affordable modular phone option that has some great features, the Moto Z Play could be right for you.

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  • undisclosed location

    could you do a comparison to the moto-x 1st gen camera for those of us on the fence about upgrading to the new moto Z phones?

  • http://delmarvaprogressive.wordpress.com Ron Pagano JD

    How is the Moto Z with VR Headsets?? Does it have a gyroscope built in? Also, is Motorola providing free upgrades to Android 7.0? Thanks!

    • Anna C.

      Hey Ron! This article can give you a little more info about Moto Z and VR headsets: https://www.cnet.com/news/motorola-z-and-z-force-now-work-with-daydream-vr/

      Looks like once the Moto Z receives the Android 7.0 update, they’ll be compatible with the Daydream VR headset. It’s important to note that at this time, the Moto Z Play is not compatible with that VR headset.

      The update to 7.0 is free 🙂 all OS updates are, so no need to worry about that!