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Moto Z3 Play vs Moto Z2 Play: An in-house competition

07 June 2018 5

The Lenovo owned Motorola finally announced the third generation of the Moto Z Play lineup. Those who are aware Motorola's Z Play lineup smartphones are known for their top of the line mid-range specs sheet and superb battery life. Apart from great battery life the Moto Z3 Play smartphones also support Moto Mods. Being the latest member of Moto Z Play lineup, the Moto fans hopes are quite high regarding the device because most likely it will be the last gen of smartphones to support Motorola Moto Mods.

Like always whenever a new smartphone is announced we put it in head-to-head competition against its competitors as well as the predecessor to know in detail how the latest smartphone is different from the predecessor and also in what aspects the new smartphones brings upgrade over the last year's model. So if you already own the last year's Moto Z2 Play, the first question in your mind will be related to whether you should upgrade to the latest Moto Z3 Play or not.

The good thing is Motorola didn't change the overall aesthetics of their smartphones from last three years so that if you own Moto Mod since Moto Z Play, you can use the same Mod for the third gen as well. This is certainly a relief for many Moto customers who own Moto mods. Let's find out how the latest Moto Z3 Play stacks up against the Moto Z2 Play. We are hopeful this comparison will help you better decide whether the upgrade is worth it or not?

76.5 x 156.5 x 6.7 mm
6 inches - 2160x1080 px
76.2 x 156.2 x 5.99 mm
5.5 inches - 1920x1080 px
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Both the Moto Z3 Play and Z2 Play support same Moto Mods as the pin configuration is same on both the devices. Motorola needs to make sure they don't deviate from the basic design that's why you will find both have almost similar dimensions. The Moto Z2 Play features thick bezels around the display but this year Motorola brought a refreshing change by trimming the bezels to fit in 2:1 display. In terms of overall looks and design the Moto Z3 Play certainly takes lead here.

The Moto Z3 Play features an aluminum chassis with glass covering the front and rear side. On the other hand, the Moto Z2 Play is featuring a unibody metal design. So in terms of durability, the Z2 Play is better device and less to prone to scratches. The Moto Z3 Play glass rear is protected with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 so you can't expect top-level resistance against accidental drops.

Both the devices don't have any official IP-ratings but the company claims both are splash resistant due to a special coating. The fingerprint scanner is also repositioned, the Moto Z2 Play has the scanner on the front below the display whereas the Z3 Play has the scanner on the right edge. The side edge was the only option for Motorola due to full front-facing display.

The Moto Z3 Play dimensions are 156.5 x 76.5 x 6.75 mm and weighs 156g whereas the Moto Z2 Play is 156.2 x 76.2 x 6 mm and weighs 145g. The Z3 Play is the company's first Z Play lineup smartphone without 3.5mm headphone jack.


Usually, the manufacturers try to cut cost by putting average display panels on their mid-range smartphones but that's not the case with Motorola Z Play lineup devices. The company is using the Super AMOLED display panel since the first gen. Being an OLED panel it is not only vivid but also the colors accuracy and sharpness are pretty awesome.

As mentioned above the Z3 Play comes with trimmed bezels to fit a fairly large display panel of 6.01-inches with a Full HD+ screen resolution of 1080 x 2160 pixels. The display aspect ratio is 18:9 and the pixels density is 402 pixels-per-inch. On the other hand, the Moto Z2 Play comes with a display panel of 5.5-inches with a Full HD+ screen resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels. The display panel aspect ratio is 16:9 and the pixels density is 401 pixels-per-inch. So with the naked eye, you won't find any difference between the quality of both the display panels.


As both the devices fall in the budget-friendly segment that's why you can't expect top of the line hardware. The Qualcomm's Octa-core Snapdragon 600 chipsets fall in the mid-range category that's why Motorola is using this series chipsets for their Z Play lineup devices. The Moto Z3 Play is powered up by the Snapdragon 636 which is significantly faster than the Snapdragon 626 which was running the Z2 Play. According to Motorola, the new Z3 Play performs 30% better than the predecessor.

Both the devices have 4GB RAM on board. The base variant has 32GB storage whereas the top of the line model has 64GB storage. Both the devices support memory expansion via MicroSD card. As a daily driver both the devices is pretty good at handling daily routine tasks. If you want a better performing device the Z3 Play is certainly a better choice due to having the latest hardware straight out of the box.

Specs Moto Z3 Play Moto Z2 Play
Display 6.01-inches 5.5-inches
Screen resolution 1080 x 2160 pixels 1080 x 1920 pixels
Chipset Snapdragon 636 Snapdragon 626
Storage 32,64GB Expandable 32,64GB Expandable
Rear cameras 12+5MP 12MP
Front camera 8MP 5MP
USB Type-C Type-C
Battery 3,000mAh 3,000mAh
OS Android Oreo 8.1 Android Nougat 7.1.1
IP-ratings None None


The battery life of Moto Z Play series is one of its main selling aspect that's why the company pays special attention to the battery life of Z2 Play and Z3 Play as well. The original Z Play was packed with 3,510mAh battery which works extra-ordinary with a Full HD+ display panel.

The Z2 Play and Z3 Play both have 3,000mAh battery cell which is enough to last more than one day on single charge. One of the reasons behind the reduction of battery cell has Motorola slimmed down the Z2 Play, Z3 Play and also the company wants to sell their Battery Mod. The Z3 Play has an advantage of not only latest power efficient chipset but also it is shipped with Battery Mod which means the device can easily last two days on a single charge.

Both the devices lack support for wireless charging but you can get wireless charging feature by putting the Mod on the Z3 Play. Both the devices have TurboPower fast charging tech which quickly recharges the device in no time.


As far as camera sensors are a concern the Z Play lineup devices were never amongst the best nor amongst the worst. So we can claim the Z Play lineup is packed with a mixed bag of cameras setup. The Z2 Play was capable to capture good shots in daylight conditions but it wasn't an extraordinary camera as you can expect in this price range. The low-light capturing capability was not up to the mark.

This year Motorola brought a refreshing change by introducing dual cameras setup on the rear side. The primary sensor is 12MP module whereas the secondary sensor is a depth-sensing 5MP sensor. The dual sensors bring support for bokeh effect. Most likely the camera setup will perform pretty good in daylight conditions but the results won't be stellar in low-light conditions.

Both the front and rear cameras of the Z3 Play brings support for portrait shots. A new feature Cinemagraph is introduced with the Z3 Play which will allow users to creates GIF images. Google recently released Google Lens feature for non-pixel smartphones, the Z3 Play has native support for Google Lens.

Up front, the selfie camera on the Z3 Play is an 8MP sensor as opposed to 5MP of Z2 Play. Both the devices support 4K video recording at 30 frames per second and also slow-motion HD videos at 120 frames per second. In the camera section, the Z3 Play is certainly a better option.

Special Perks

For sure if you are looking forward to grabbing the Moto Z smartphone, you are well aware of Motorola's modular design language with Moto Mods. The Moto Mods are certainly one of the key aspects which distinguish Moto Z-lineup smartphones from other devices in the market. If you want to boost audio you can use JBL soundpost, Moto Battery pack for amazing battery life, Hasselblad camera mod is also a treat for camera lovers. All Moto Mods brings new functionalities on board, however, all these luxuries come at a cost.

Moto Actions are certainly quite special as it brings a number of gestures on board. You can perform a number of tasks with simple gestures. Moto voice is a new addition which allows the user to access apps with your voice commands and also have Google Assistant on board. All these goodies are on both the devices so both are on the same level.


Despite having a number of new features from Motorola, the good thing is overall UI is quite close to the stock version of Android OS. So if you want a clean interface with near-vanilla version experience you will find Motorola's UI quite slick and clean. The Z3 Play is pre-installed with Android Oreo 8.1. The Z2 Play was announced with Android Nougat 7.1.1 and the Oreo update yet to hit all the markets. Surprisingly the original Z Play is already upgraded to Android Oreo when its successor is still on Nougat.

The company confirms to roll out at least two major updates for the Z3 Play which means we can expect the device will receive Android P later this year. The Z3 Play has an advantage of being the latest and will receive updates for a longer period than Z2 Play.


The Moto Z3 Play will be available from all major retailers later this summer as an unlocked variant for $499. In the US, only Sprint and US Cellular will be offering the locked variant but the exact release time is still in dark. The package includes free battery Mod. Motorola Z2 Play is widely available from Verizon, Amazon and Motorola online store. If you purchase the device from Motorola, the company will give Moto Mod Projector free of cost. The device is available for $400.


The Moto Z3 Play is a refreshing change not only in terms of specs but also in design and cameras. So far we were witnessing somewhat similar two gen of Moto Z Play smartphones because the company can't bring change to basic design language to retain the Moto Mods support. This year Motorola not only brought 2:1 display but also dual cameras setup on the rear side. The Z3 Play takes lead in design, hardware, cameras, and software. The Z2 Play is pretty much on par in display and price section.

Overall the Z3 Play is a worthy upgrade over its predecessor. Feel free to share your thoughts regarding the Moto Z3 Play vs Moto Z2 Play in the comments section below. Stay tuned for more comparisons and previews.

  • The Motorola Moto Z3 Play isn't still available online. To be notified when it becomse available click here.
  • The Motorola Moto Z2 Play isn't still available online. To be notified when it becomse available click here.



Moto Z3 Play vs Moto Z2 Play: An in-house competition
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