Last year Lenovo took one of the boldest and most unique approaches to smartphones to date with the Moto Z series. A regular smartphone in most respects, the phones also added a connector that allows you to snap on modular backplates to customize and accessorize your handset. Today the company announced the 2nd-gen version of the budget Moto Z series, the Moto Z2 Play.
The Moto Z Play series is the mid-ranged alternative to the flagship Moto Z – the one to get if you like modularity and battery life, but don't need cutting-edge specs in other areas.
The Z2 Play continues that focus with a Full HD (1080p) 5.5-in display and less-than-flagship-level Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 CPU. And while rivals like Samsung, LG and Essential have lined up 2017 flagships with skimpy bezels, the Z2 Play offers another reminder of its mid-ranged status with substantial extra space above and below its screen.
Compared to its 1st-gen Z Play predecessor, though, Moto says the Z2 Play gets lighter and thinner with faster performance. It also switches to an all-metal design.
Perhaps more interesting than the phone's upgrades are the new Moto Mods that Lenovo is launching alongside of it. The one that caught my eye first is the Moto GamePad, which gives you physical game controls protruding from the side of the phone. (It looks similar to GameVice controllers, and perhaps with a hint of Nintendo Switch.)
Other new Moto Mods include a 2nd-gen version of the JBL SoundBoost speaker, which turns your phone into mini boombox. The SoundBoost 2 has water resistance, and ships in different colors with a more premium build. The Moto TurboPower Pack adds a twist on the battery mods from last year, now giving you the choice between long-lasting uptimes while attached to the phone ("an extra day") or quick charging the phone when you'd rather take the mod off quickly.
Rounding out the new mods, the new Style Shells (purely cosmetic in the first generation) now add a little functionality too: They give your phone wireless charging capabilities.
Moto Z2 Play launches today in Brazil starting at R$1,999; a global rollout starts this month. The Z2 Play will launch as a Verizon exclusive, though Motorola says it will also launch on its website for US$499 later this (Northern) summer. The new Moto Mods should release around the same time, with the Moto TurboPower Pack starting at US$80, Moto Style Shell with Wireless Charging at $40, and JBL SoundBoost 2 and Moto GamePad ringing up for $80 each.
While Motorola has yet to announce it, we'd expect to hear about a follow-up to the higher-end Moto Z (Moto Z2 and Moto Z2 Force?) before long.