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Motorola Moto X Play review

 Review: October 2015  

Rating: 4 stars

In a nutshell: The Motorola Moto X Play is a big-screen Android smartphone with customisable backs and accent colours. It's a very well-specified, balanced phone with a good processor, Full HD display, excellent camera, and very strong battery life, but is larger and heavier than most phones. If you don't mind the size, this is a truly impressive phone.

Today's best buy: Motorola Moto X Play UK SIM- ... from Amazon (£299.99)


Design and build

There's a trend in 2015 for smartphone manufacturers to release mid-range phones with screens larger than those of flagship smartphones, but with reduced specs. The Moto X Play is typical of this trend - it's recognisably a mid-range product, but it has a huge screen - very nearly phablet-sized.

It's really quite a large phone to handle, with a depth of 10.9mm at its thickest point. The curving edges help to make it more manageable, but at 169g it's one of the heavyweights of the smartphone world. The surface of the phone is coated with a water-repellent layer that will protect it from splashes and drops, and the screen is protected by heavy-duty Gorilla Glass 3. The back has a rubberised feel to it, so the phone is easy to hold and feels tough and rugged.

The Moto X play has a game that it would like to play with you. Although it normally comes in sensible Black or White, it would really love to dress up in a colour that reveals your true personality, and maybe even unleash your creative skills with a laser-engraved custom design on the back cover. It's optional though - you can stick with Black or White if you're feeling shy.

Did we mention the big screen? Let's talk about that in more detail. At 5.5 inches, it's a great size for doing whatever it is you like to do with your smartphone. Games look good on this screen, and video even better. Text is crisp too. This is a Full HD display too, with a high pixel density of 403ppi, so you can watch hi-def content in full detail and appreciate photos at their best. It's a bright LCD display with good colours. The screen is obviously a key selling point of this phone, and Motorola has done a good job here.

8 core processor

The key to a phone of this class is that as well as a big screen it has to offer an all-round superior experience to an "ordinary" phone. To that end, Motorola has equipped the Moto X play with an 8-core Snapdragon 615 processor. Although it runs at a modest 1.7GHz, this is a good mid-range processor that's a cut above the quadcore that you get with most products at this price. With 2GB of RAM, it's a good choice for multitasking and multimedia. You can play some quite demanding games on this platform, even with the Full HD display, and you'll find that apps load quickly and respond instantly.

The phone is available in a choice of 16GB or 32GB versions, and both have a memory card slot that will take cards up to 128GB, so memory is not at all restrictive. We'd opt for the 32GB version to avoid capacity problems.

Android Lollipop

This is a phone for those who like their Android vanilla-flavoured. Motorola has resisted the temptation to customise the OS and bundle bloatware. Instead, the phone runs an almost pure version of Android 5.1.1, which should ensure that an upgrade to the next version is made available at the earliest possible date.

There are a couple of additions though. The Moto Assist feature adapts the phone's behaviour according to whether you're at home, in the car, etc. For example, in the car it will read your texts aloud. At night it can silence the ringer automatically. It's a useful feature that adds functionality without ever becoming annoying.

The phone also has voice recognition.

21 megapixel camera

You read that right. The rear camera has a 21 megapixel sensor. This gives you loads of detail if you zoom in and enlarge your image. The camera is surprisingly good at capturing vivid images in fact, thanks to a particularly large f/2.0 aperture, fast autofocus and automatic HDR. The two-tone dual flash with auto colour correlation is handy after dark, and overall this camera does a great job.

In video mode, it can record 1080p HD video, which is perfect for watching on the Full HD screen. Usefully it incorporates video stabilisation to keep your video sharp and smooth, and it can also record in slow motion.

The front camera is a more ordinary performer, but with 5 megapixels, it can capture more detail than many front cameras.

Overall, the Moto X play is an excellent camera phone.


Motorola has covered all the bases here, with a wide range of 4G bands, plus 3G HSPA and GSM. It also includes fast Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, USB, a headphone jack and NFC.

Battery life

The Moto X Play was keeping perhaps its best feature to last. Its battery life is really quite something. We moaned earlier about how heavy the phone is, but one of the reasons for this is that it packs an exceptionally large 3630mAh battery. This is probably the largest battery in any phone we've reviewed.

The upshot of this is that moderate users will easily get a full 2 days of use from this phone. That's seriously impressive.

Conclusion - very impressive

The Motorola Moto X Play has surprised us with its all-round excellence. Although it has very much a mid-range look and feel, its sturdy, chunky design is practical and rugged. We can't however get away from its overall size and weight, and this is the reason it gets 4 stars instead of 5.

In terms of performance, the phone isn't lacking in any area. The 5.5 inch screen pops, the 8-core processor vrooms, the unadulterated Android is to our taste, and the camera sparkles. Oh, and the battery? It's indefatigable.

Rival big-screen phones also worth a look at this price include the ultraslim Huawei Honor 6+ and the Vodafone-exclusive Smart Ultra 6.

Motorola Moto X Play features include:

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Motorola Moto X Play UK SIM- ...
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Motorola Moto X Play user reviews

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Average rating from 1 review:

Reviewed by Cris from UK on 7th Oct 2015
This phone is definitely the best phone I have had. I owned a Note 2, Note 4, iPhone e 4,5,5s,6,6 plus, Z3, S3, and many more. I love buying phones and play with them.

The battery life on this phone is fantastic. Battery is a deal breaker for me when it comes to choose a smartphone.

I use the phone for business and it works great. I really don't see the point in spending so much money on any other phone.

Yes, the camera might not be the best out there but it is definitely good enough.

The reception is great and will push emails and calls in most places where my old iPhone 6 Plus wouldn't.

The software is easy to use and the widgets are really useful, specially the calendar widget.

If you need a phone that is:

good for calling,
reception is great,
has a decent camera,
is fast,
the battery definitely lasts all day
Isn't expensive to buy, 269 from Argos
Screen is clear and bright outside



I hope this review helps you.

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