Beyond that, there's a surprisingly fast 12-megapixel camera around back. Most of the test shots I've taken so far have turned out well, with crisp detail and accurate colors, but this seemingly decent performance comes at a cost: The camera module dramatically juts out of the phone's back. I've used the Moto Z series for a while now, though, so the hump barely registers anymore.
The Z2 Play runs the latest version of Android Nougat, and you can talk to Google's Assistant whenever you need a fact check. Moto also cooked up a new approach of its own. Just say "Show me my calendar" or "show me my settings" and the phone will respond, usually by giving you an icon you can slide down to access your info. Sometimes it's quicker to respond than Google Assistant, and other times I'm left wondering why we have two different approaches for a set of similar problems. Don't get me wrong: Moto's idea is clever and well-executed. I'm just not sure if it's worth using over Google Assistant all the time yet.
All of your Moto Mods still work here, too, and Motorola has a few new ones, like an updated JBL speaker and the gamepad the company teased at its MWC press conference. (The latter isn't quite done yet, and frankly needs a bit of work.) There's also a like a Turbo-charging battery pack that's meant for super-fast recharges, which is more important than you might think. See, the single best reason to buy last year's Moto Z Play was its awesome battery life, but this year's model doesn't stack up as well because of its smaller 3,000mAh cell. Don't get me wrong: It's not terrible by any stretch. It's just a far cry from the truly excellent battery life we saw last year.
It's no wonder why the battery had to take a hit: The Z2 Play is much, much thinner than the model it replaces. With that being the case, I doubt that Motorola plans to do another standard Moto Z this year. After all, the Z Force was the Moto I recommended last year; the only advantage the regular Z had over it was its incredibly slim waistline. The thing is, the Z2 Play sits in between the original Z and Z Play in a way that doesn't feel really feel as fulfilling. Sure, it's sleek -- but it also lacks the horsepower that usually made the first Moto Z such a joy to use. In any case, it won't be long until the fate of the Moto Z line is fully revealed. In the meantime, stay tuned for our full Z2 Play review.