Moto X Play compared to Moto X (2nd gen)

Moto Play and Moto X

Let’s skip to the punch: the Moto X Play is in some ways a successor to last year’s Moto X and in other ways a regression. But in lieu of the more expensive and powerful Moto X Style, which comes to the U.S. in September, Canadians must settle for the Moto X Play, which is remarkable in quite a few ways.

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The most stark improvements to last year’s model are where it was most viciously criticized: battery life, and camera quality. The former improves by mere force: it has been upgraded from 2,300mAh to a whopping 3,630mAh, the largest cell we’ve seen in a smartphone this size.

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As for the camera, the Moto X Play has a 21MP Sony sensor with an F2.0 lens, and the results are drastically and dramatically improved over the 13MP F2.25 combo from last year.

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Similarities come in form of the design, build quality and software, which are largely identical. The Moto X Play has a nice back cover replacement mechanism that allows for custom colours and snap-on cases without diving into Moto Maker, while the extra-large SIM slot has space for a microSD card this time around. The minimal line of the camera and dual-LED flash harken back to the original Moto X, doing away with the rather garish ring light found on the second-generation version.

There are some minor regressions, though. The metal frame of last year’s Moto X has, for cost-saving reasons, been replaced by a plastic frame with vacuum-metalized paint covered with a hardened resin. In practice the differences are subtle, but there’s an overt change in texture over the second generation model. 

Internally, the Snapdragon 615 chip inside the Moto X Play performs about the same as the Snapdragon 801 in last year’s model. Apps and games that take advantage of multi-core processing will benefit slightly from the four extra cores, but in theory the 801 should be faster in some real-world applications that require more power clock.  

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And make no mistake: at 5.5-inches, the Moto X Play is no longer even close to the realm of one hand-friendly. Anyone hoping Motorola would return to that world will be more than a little disappointed here.

Lots more to come with the Moto X Play in the coming days and weeks!

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