Moto X Play review

It's time for Motorola to entertain you

Moto X Play
Moto X Play

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We liked

The Moto X Play comes with a nice design and feel, and the option to customise the look of your phone is always welcome. It feels like a solid device, it's substantial in the hand without being too fat.

The metal rim around the edge makes the phone look a little more premium than, say, the Moto G, and I quite like the look of the back of the handset.

Moto X Play

The display is very good too, although it would have been nice to see an upgrade to 2K resolution.

The battery is the standout feature, and it's nice to see a company dedicating itself to maximising battery life, and to getting you up and running again quickly after you've run out of juice. Not having the TurboPower feature on other phones will be a big loss for me in the coming weeks – I've all but forgotten how slow some phones can be to charge.

Compared to other manufacturers, Motorola has nailed the software experience by keeping things as simple as possible, and if it stays on the ball when it comes to keeping the phone updated then the Moto X Play will be the perfect Android playground.

We disliked

Customisation on the Moto X Play isn't all it could be, and not having alternative material options is a major letdown. I wasn't expecting a leather option on an 'active lifestyle' phone, but it would have been nice to have different options for the back, even if they're just different versions of the plastic.

I really feel that the Moto X Play should be a fully waterproof device. If water resistance is going to be a major selling point then there seems to be little point in not making it entirely waterproof.

It also bugs me that Motorola uses the TurboPower charging feature to help sell the Moto X Play, but doesn't include the required charger in the box.

The lack of wireless charging may also be an issue for some in the months to come – it's not all that widely available right now, but it's set to become a much bigger deal fairly quickly.

It's also a shame that Motorola hasn't included a fingerprint sensor on the phone. I'd expected a fingerprint sensor to enable the Moto X Play to support Android Pay – but the company may have something else up its sleeve to ensure that payments can be authenticated.

Final verdict

Moto X Play

The Moto X Play is clearly an experiment for Motorola – and I'm not sure if it's succeeded in the areas the company was targeting when they were originally looking at the drawing board.

It straddles a strange middle ground between Motorola's successful budget Moto G and the impressive Moto X range we've seen before. The Moto X Style takes the high-spec and, well, stylish concept and runs with it, while the Moto X Play takes some elements and lags behind a little.

The idea is obviously to offer a slightly cheaper price point for the phone, but I'm not sure the slight drop in price is worthwhile when you can go out and spend a little bit more on a vastly better phone.

There's a lot going for the Moto X Play, but not quite enough when you compare it to its more impressive stablemate. It's still a very good smartphone, and it's pretty good value given the spec list, but it feels a bit like a phone that doesn't know quite what it wants to be.

Motorola should have gone the whole hog with this phone, and made it a durable masterpiece that offered high-end specs, plus a durable yet customisable design. And it should be waterproof, not 'water resistant' – and ideally blood, sweat and tear-proof too.

James Peckham

James is the Editor-in-Chief at 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.