The Motorola Z3 Play is the first of the new 3rd generation Z series that fits Moto Mods – the clever way to expand the phones functionality.

While the Motorola Z3 Play is a good smartphone in its own right, Moto Mods are, in my opinion, more important than the phone itself. For example, you can magnetically attach a Hasselblad True 10X optical zoom camera that offers amazing detail and clarity over digital zoom found on most smartphones. Or amp up the sound with a JBL SoundBoost speaker with 10-hours extra battery life. My favourite is the 10W Qi Wireless charging mod that adds wireless fast charging to all the Z series.

Moto Mods were the first true innovation that GadgetGuy has seen over the past five years of smartphone ‘glass slab’ evolution. The others are OPPO’s Find X pop-up camera and ZTE’s Axon M dual screen foldable smartphone. Although I expect to see Samsung, LG and Huawei improve on that this year.

To be fair glass slab smartphone innovation has been under the hood. Faster processors and more ram/storage allow better post-processing of camera images and AI allows better scene recognition. Machine learning allows smartphones to anticipate our needs. Software like Google Assistant and Google Lens adds new functionality. Evolution, not revolution.

What is the Motorola Z3 Play?

All the specifications are at the end of the article. The ‘Play’ is the mid-range, entry level with a 6” AMOLED screen, a Qualcomm mid-range 636 SoC, 4/64GB, 12/5MP rear camera and 12MP front camera. It runs pure Android 8.1 meaning it will get an upgrade to Android P and all security updates and patches as quickly as Google can roll them out.

Motorola Z3 Play

The Z-series are the same shape/size to fit the Mods that magnetically snap onto the back and connect via pogo pins.

To be blunt while the Z3 Play (and later the Z3 with a Qualcomm 845) you buy the Z-series if you are prepared to invest in the unique Mods ecosystem.

That is not to say you should not buy it as is, but competition in the <$799 space is fierce. There are too many options like the OPPO R15 or Pro, Samsung A7 or Samsung Galaxy S8, Huawei mate 10 (or whatever supersedes that soon), Nokia 7 Plus, Sony XZ Premium or my outright favourite bargain the LG V30+ ThinQ. Within weeks we will see Google Pixel 2 drop into this space when the 3 is released.

So, Mods it is!!!

moto mods Incipio offGRID Power Pack $79/99 Up to 22 hours of battery life (2200mAh); sleek design; wireless charging version available
JBL SoundBoost Speaker $119 Stereo speakers; integrated kickstand; 10 hours of extra battery
Insta-share Projector $379 Project and view pictures; videos and shows up to 70”; pair with a Bluetooth speaker; ultra-thin, pocketable design; an extra hour of battery life
Hasselblad True Zoom Camera $329 10x Optical Zoom; Xenon flash; physical shutter and zoom; raw format option
Wireless Charging Shell $49  10W fast charge rates; double the standard wireless charging speed; 3.25mm slim and lightweight design; Qi and PMA compatible
360 Camera $319 360° and 180° image capture: 2 x 13MP wide-angle cameras; 360 spherical panorama; a 4-mic solution for surround audio
Gamepad $119 Full physical controller: realistic gameplay experience with full access to on-device games; no BT pairing, no wires; dual speakers and HSJ for immersive audio experience; a built-in battery for up to 9 hours longer
Polaroid Insta-Share Printer $129 Snap, print, share – anywhere: print instantly with zinc paper; print from Instagram, Facebook or phone gallery; integrated design for instant capture and print with the phone camera; edit photos to add borders, shapes, and filters
Car Dock $109 153 x 74 x 6.2mm; up to 15W Turbo power charging while you drive; mod pins, USB-C for power; Bluetooth, built-in 3.5mm aux connector or phone speaker for audio support; voice control
Motorola Z3 Play and Moto Mods

Key features of the Z3 Play

Specifications Display 6” 18:9 max vision, Super AMOLED. 2160 x 1080p, Corning Gorilla Glass 3, 77.9% S-T-B-R
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor with a 1.8 GHz octa-core CPU and 850 MHz Adreno 509 GPU – 30% faster than the Z2 Play
Connectivity 4G: DL: Cat 11 (600 Mbps, 256QAM) UL: Cat 5 (75Mbps, 64QAM) B1, B3, B4, B5, B7, B8, B12, B17, B18, B19, B20, B26, B28, B38, B40, B41 3G: B1, B2, B4, B5, B8, B19, 2G: B2, B3, B5, B8
Operating System Android 8.1, Oreo includes Google Assistant and Google Lens. Also adds Moto Experiences and Moto Actions
Camera Front 8 MP, f2.0, 1.12um, wide-angle 84° lens, screen flash
Camera Rear 12 MP, f1.7, 1.4um + 5 MP depth, Dual Autofocus Pixel (pDAF), Colour Correlated Temperature (CCT) dual LED flash, Zero Shutter Lag (ZSL)
Memory 4GB LPDDR4, 64GB UFS dual lane, microSD up to 2TB
Battery 3000mAh, 15W TurboPower
Wireless Charging via Wireless Charging Mod
Sensors Fingerprint (side), NFC, sensor hub, accelerometer, gyroscope, ambient light sensor, barometer, AOD, gesture sensor (acoustic)
Audio Four mics, Dual Stereo Speakers
USB USB-C
Bluetooth® technology 5.0
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/ac/b/g/n 2.4 GHz + 5 GHz
Water Protection Splash-resistant P2i
Sim Support 1 x Nano Sim + MicroSD or Dual Nano Sim supporting 4G/3G
ID / CMF 2.5D glass front and back, 6000 series polished aluminium frame
Dimensions and weight 76.5 × 156.5 × 6.75 mm x 156g
Colour Deep Indigo
Website https://www.motorola.com.au/products/moto-z-play-gen-3
Price and Availability A$799 from 4 October