Day 1 – first impressions
Since the launch of the Moto trinity last week, I’ve been itching to get my mitts on the newest generation of the X series, the X Play.
As with most Motorola handsets, it’s said the X Play promises to pack in a lot of features contrary to its affordable price tag (sub-£300 SIM free), and that certainly seems to be the case at first glance. It feels very sturdy, fronted by a 5.5-inch Full HD display, and the 21MP camera on the back is great spec for the price.
The finger dimple on the rear has shrunk and is now embedded in a metal plate, which extends down from the camera’s lens. And, the rubbery rear cover is removable, opening up a world of customisation possibilities.
The other big news is that the Play has turbo-charging on board, which is a step up from its predecessor, and more inline with last year’s Nexus 6. The giant 3,630mAh battery will support eight hours of use from just 15 minutes plugged into the wall - which really is the cat’s pyjamas if you’re running low on charge shortly before you’ve got to head out.
Day 2 – a little water-shy
After using the new Moto G (check out our unboxing video here), I was a bit disappointed to discover that the X Play didn’t host the same resilience against water. The G has received a rating of IPX7, which means it’s good in one meter of the wet stuff for up to 30 minutes, but sadly the story isn’t the same here.
It can, however, survive the occasional spillage. Motorola says it has an ‘advanced nano-coating technology, which creates a water-repellent barrier to help protect against moderate exposure to water, such as accidental spills, splashes, or light rain.’ It’s comforting to know that it won’t be the end if I need to consult Google Maps in the driving rain, but an IPX rating would have been nice.
Day 3 – it’s all in the wrist
Just like the second generation of the Moto X, the Moto X Play has functions to launch its camera with a quick double flick of the wrist. And now, a secondary double flick will flip the camera to face you. This means you can have your shot saved while everyone else is still fiddling with their lock screens.
Speaking of lock screens, the Moto X’s is pretty special. In the interest of discretion and battery longevity, you can view your lock screen by casting your hand over the screen. And to view more detail, you simply swipe up from the desired notification to open it on the phone.
If all that doesn’t sound like enough, you can also double karate chop for an instant torch. And yes – that description is verbatim from Moto controls. It’s pretty much what it says on the tin, and even works from the camera screen. So, if you need to brighten up a picture, light is just a chop away.
Day 4 – standout camera
The X Play features the most impressive camera to have ever appeared on a Motorola handset. The camera’s 21-megapixel count outclasses the likes of Samsung, LG, HTC… basically all the big dogs*. It’s worth noting that it isn’t always about the amount of megapixels a camera has, but it certainly doesn’t do any harm.
The camera app is very intuitive, and as I said earlier, can be launched with a flick of the wrist. Scroll your finger up and down the screen to control the zoom, move the focus point with one finger, and roll around it to alter brightness.
A quick tap anywhere on the screen will take your shot, which leaves a lot more available space on the 5.5-inch display to make sure you’re getting everyone in the frame.
Day 5 – pure admiration
Over the past week, it hasn’t been hard to forget that the X Play is largely positioned as a mid-range handset.
As I write this, I’ve got to constantly remind myself of the price tag, and the fact that the Play’s competitors come in the shape of the Samsung Galaxy A3, HTC Desire 620 and LG G3. They’re all standout smartphones in their own rights, but they’ve got nothing on this thing.
If you think the Moto X Play sounds like your bag, check out our deals here, and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
*At time of writing, Sony hadn't released the Xperia Z5 series which all feature 23MP cameras. Check them out here.