In context: By and large, the promise of a truly modular smartphone was just that – a promise. Arguments can be made that early attempts like Project Ara and PuzzlePhone were simply too expensive, too complex or lacked the necessary consumer interest to justify further development. Truth be told, devices with modular core components never really made much sense financially and at the end of the day, it’s all about turning a profit and creating a sustainable business model.
Not content to give up on the angle entirely, Motorola found a way to make the concept work by creating add-on accessories that enhance the functionality of devices without modifying their core structure. With this approach, they can upsell you on accessories to boost the user experience but if you want a faster phone, you’ll need to buy a faster phone (and that makes business sense).
Motorola is now multiple generations deep into its Moto Mods and the concept is really coming into its own. The new Moto Z3 Play, a formidable mid-ranger, is the perfect example of this.
Powered by Qualcomm’s octa-core Snapdragon 636 chipset alongside 4GB of RAM and either 32GB or 64GB of RAM, the handset features a 6.01-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 2,160 x 1,080 pixels and a 18:9 aspect ratio (no notch here). It runs Android Oreo 8.1 out of the box and packs a 3,000mAh battery.
Out back, you’ll find dual rear-facing cameras – a 12-megapixel shooter with f/1.7 aperture and a 5-megapixel depth-sensing unit – and up front, an 8-megapixel sensor with f/2.0 aperture lens and screen flash. The phone supports USB Type-C charging and has a side-mounted fingerprint sensor (there isn’t room on the rear due to the Moto Mods support and in-display sensors aren’t yet economically feasible on a device in this price range).
Speaking of price, the Moto Z3 Play will set you back $499 which includes a free Moto Mods battery pack. That’s not a bad price but considering the flagship OnePlus 6 starts at just $529, it may prompt some consumers to second-guess the purchase. If you’re already heavily invested into Motorola’s accessory ecosystem, it could be a no-brainer but that won’t be the case for everyone.