Motorola is in its third generation of Moto devices and it has already launched the entry level Moto E and the mid-range Moto G earlier this year. But unlike the previous two generations where it launched only one Moto X model, this time around Motorola has brought out two variants of the Moto X - the Moto X Play and the Moto X Style. Motorola had every one impressed when it announced the Moto X Play at a sub Rs 20,000 price point on its launch day in India. The Moto X Style has also been announced starting from Rs 29,999. So let us check out how the Moto X Play performs.
Build and Design: 8/10
The Moto X Play is beautiful to look at, although you will notice design changes as compared to the Moto X second generation. For instance, the camera section is placed on a rectangular strip of plastic with a minimal dimple, as opposed to the prominent Motorola dimple on second gen Moto X. Also the top portion of the phone has the tray for the dual nano SIM cards and microSD card slot as well.
The phone is easy to hold thanks to thin bezel on the sides and the slight curvature on the rear side, but one handed use is not comfortable thanks to the 5.5-inch display. The rear textured cover feels nice in the hand and gives a good grip. But we noticed that the rear cover has a habit of attracting cloth fibres, when you place it in your jeans pocket. These fine fibres which are stuck on the cover can at times be tricky to remove.
The left hand side of the Moto X Play is clean, whereas the right hand side has the power/ standby and volume rocker buttons. While the buttons have a good feedback, Motorola could have done with a better build on them. The rear cover is removable, but the battery is concealed. Just like the Moto G 3rd gen, the Moto X Play also comes with the water resistance chops.
The Moto X Play comes with Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 SoC with an octa-core processor with one-quad core cluster clocked at 1.7GHz and the other quad-core cluster clocked at 1GHz, along with Adreno 405 GPU. This is paired with 2GB RAM. The phone comes in two storage variants, 16GB and 32GB, we tested the 32GB variant which gives you around 24.45GB usable space. Both variants give you the option to expand the storage by using a microSD card slot to upto 128GB.
As we have seen with previous Moto devices launched this year, the Moto X Play also comes with the latest Android 5.1 OS with barely any custom skin. The phone comes with a 21MP rear camera along with a 5MP front camera.
On the connectivity front you have a dual 4G nano SIM card configuration, Wifi 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS with A-GPS. The phone is powered by a 3,630mAh battery which is non-removable.
As we have been seeing in the last couple of generations, Motorola has not added any skins on the Moto branded phones. With the Moto X Play you get a stock Android 5.1 OS. However, Motorola has some software flourishes in the form of proprietary apps such as Connect, Help, Migrate and Moto. Motorola Migrate lets you transfer content from or to the phone wirelessly. The Moto app lets you customise your phone according to your preferences by using Assist, Actions and Display. For instance, giving out voice notifications when you are driving, glance notifications when you are in a meeting, activating your phone with a phrase and so on.
Motorola has also added in gestures such as Moto Display, Quick Capture and Chop Twice. Moto Display lights up only that portion of the display that is needed, Quick capture lets you shoot a quick photograph by just flicking your wrist and activating the camera. Chop Twice is a new feature which has been introduced with this phone and it basically lets you activate the torch light by making a chopping gesture – this is quite a nifty gesture to activate torchlight.
The Moto X Play comes with a 5.5-inch full HD display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection. The display looks crisp and we did not notice any backlight bleeding. Thanks to the thin bezels the Moto X Play has a respectable body to screen ratio. The video output on the display looks gorgeous and the phone can be quite bright if you want it to. The contrast ratio on the Moto X Play, although not as great as the one seen on AMOLED displays is still quite respectable. All in all, the display on the Moto X Play has minimal flaws.
We were impressed with the Moto G (3rd gen) user experience despite it sporting the Snapdragon 410 SoC. The Moto X Play repeats the story when it comes to user experience. There were barely any moments when we faced any kind of slowdown or lag with the phone. The phone turned out to be good at multi-tasking. The Snapdragon 615 SoC paired with 2GB of RAM handled multi-tasking, app switching, app loading as well as gaming with elan. One of the best features about the phone is that there is minimal heating. Only on heavy gaming did we notice the phone warming up, but nothing close to the experience we’ve had with the Sony Xperia Z3+ or the Xiaomi Mi 4i.
Watching videos with the onboard speaker is a good experience as the front-firing speaker is loud. There is only one speaker near the mouthpiece on the Moto X Play, so those expecting stereo speakers will be disappointed. In terms of music, the phone is most responsive to the mid-range frequencies.
Camera performance on the previous generation Moto X was a hit and miss, specially with HDR shots. The camera on the Moto X Play has been bumped up to 21MP on rear side. The Sony backside illuminated sensor is the highest megapixel count camera we have seen on a Moto device till date and this comes with an f/2.0 aperture lens. On the front, you have a 5MP selfie camera. You can also create a Highlight Reel by selecting your preferred images and videos. The phone does its on its own as well at regular intervals.
The camera output on the Moto X Play was impressive. Daylight shots are packed with details and even zooming in on a landscape photograph, gives you enough resolution and definition on fine objects such as leaves. HDR mode was well controlled as compared to 2nd gen Moto X. The focussing is generally quick in daylight but takes time in low light. The chromatic aberrations were well controlled. Photographing after sunset does give a lot of patchy areas. For instance, in the photographs of the BMC building below, the clarity isn’t that great at 100%. The video camera is capable of shooting full HD videos and SloMo videos at 540p. Unlike last generation Moto X, this iteration does not shoot UHD videos.
PS: Image samples have been resized here. To check the full resolution, please click on the images
Battery Life: 8.5/10
The Moto X sports a non-removable 3,630mAh battery. That’s a high capacity and Motorola claims a 2 day battery life with this phone. In our regular use case scenario which involved surfing, messaging, calling, watching videos and playing some casual games, the phone easily lasted over a day. On intense days when we would be covering events which involves live blogging, writing, shooting videos and capturing images, the Moto X Play still lasted over a work day with 20% battery still left to go for the second half of the day. PC Mark for Android benchmark gave an onscreen time of 8 hours 17 mins.
Verdict and Price in India
Motorola Moto X Play builds upon the legacy that has been set up by the Moto X family. The great overall user experience, good camera, good battery life and a wonderful display; clearly make this phone one to consider if you have a Rs 20,000 budget. The Moto X Play is priced at Rs 18,499 for the 16GB variant and Rs 19,999 for the 32GB variant, which is very sensible pricing for the performance you are getting.
Sure, there is competition in the form of Chinese players such as Xiaomi Mi 4 and the OnePlus One / OnePlus 2, which are more powerful, specs-wise. But with the kind of user experience you are getting with the Moto X Play and the wonderful battery life, and the fact that you can buy the phone without any hassles of invites or flash sales, the Moto X Play comes highly recommended!