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Cameras are a big deal when it comes to smartphone one-upmanship these days, and Motorola seems to have taken this on board, introducing some big changes for the rear shooter this time around.
The Moto X Play features a 21MP sensor that can take photos up to a resolution of 5248 x 3936 with its HDR feature on – it's a big upgrade on the 13MP which still managed to impress on 2014's Moto X.
I have to admit I was really taken aback by the camera on the Moto X Play. I thought the large sensor was going to prove to be all about the numbers, but it actually delivered exactly what I wanted, whenever I needed it.
There's an autofocus mode that works better than I'd expected – at one point I was trying to take photos of a parked van when it started to move, and the camera managed to keep it in focus until it disappeared out of sight. Here it is stood still…
And here it is moving – there's barely any blur at all.
I found that all the pictures I shot were incredibly clear, with excellent detail. Image brightness wasn't particularly great to start with, but after a while I found the control focus and exposure tool, which enables you to decide how light you want images to be.
Here's a 'standard' shot…
And the same scene with the brightness turned up...
Images might not be as high quality as from the cameras on the Galaxy S6 or iPhone 6S, but bear in mind that this isn't a high-end device. Getting a 20MP sensor on a phone at this price would have been unthinkable two years ago, and it's a big plus for the Moto X Play.
The front-facing camera is a 5MP affair, and that's really all you need to know. All the same shooting features are available as for the rear camera, and the quality is good enough to enable your narcissistic tendencies.
Images aren't anywhere near as clear as from the rear camera, but they're fine for the odd Snapchat message or Facebook profile update.
The interface on the camera is irritating on the Moto X Play. It's meant to be simplistic, and I can see what Motorola was trying to achieve here, but instead it feels unnatural and muscle memory meant I ended up taking a lot of photos in the process of trying to get the perfect shot.
Just tapping on the display will get you to take a new photo. It sounds good - but it just feels unnatural when a lot of other smartphone cameras get you to do that to focus the image.
You can swipe left to get a new selection of features pop in which include low-light mode, flash, video and HDR. But it just took some getting used to using this menu rather than having the options already waiting on the screen.
When you've figured it all out though, it's quite simple to switch the different features on and off.
As for video, here you've got two choices. You can only really record normal video in 1080p at 30fps, which could be a bit of a problem if you're pushed for storage space, and I can't understand why Motorola hasn't included a 720p option.
There's also a slow-mo video mode that enables you to shoot footage at 540p. You'll be presented with a simple interface that allows you to decide which part of the video you want in slow motion by moving two markers, and you can save the clip from there.
This does mean you're not able to speed up the video in between and then slow it down again, or choose which speed you'd like for the whole clip, but that's not something you'll necessarily need.
James is Managing Editor for Android Police. Previously, he was Senior Phones Editor for TechRadar, and he has covered smartphones and the mobile space for the best part of a decade bringing you news on all the big announcements from top manufacturers making mobile phones and other portable gadgets. James is often testing out and reviewing the latest and greatest mobile phones, smartwatches, tablets, virtual reality headsets, fitness trackers and more. He once fell over.
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