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Moto Z2 Force vs Moto Z2 Play: What’s the difference?

We compare the new Motorola Moto Z2 Force Edition with the Moto Z2 Play, to see what new specs and features this tough, premium model offers compared with the cheaper Play handset.

Motorola recently launched the rather good Moto Z2 Play mid-range mobile here in the UK, offering the same great Moto Mods experience of previous Z-series phones for an affordable price tag.

Although you might expect the new ‘Force Edition’ model of Motorola’s Moto Z2 to simply be a rugged, hardy version of the original handset, you’d be very wrong. The Moto Z2 Force actually boasts significantly upgraded specs compared with the Z2 Play, including a sharper screen, seriously improved performance and a new dual-lens camera for snapping your life.

Both phones of course support the Moto Mods, and will suit different user types based on your personal needs. Here’s our full Moto Z2 Play vs Moto Z2 Force comparison, to explain which might be best for you.

Read next: What are the best Motorola phones in 2017?

Moto Z2 Force vs Moto Z2 Play: Specs

Phone Moto Z2 Play Moto Z2 Play Force Edition
Screen size 5.5-inches 5.5-inches
Screen resolution 1920×1080 2560×1440
Moto Mods? Yes Yes
Water resistant? No No
OS Android Nougat Android Nougat
Fingerprint sensor? Yes Yes
Processor Snapdragon 626 Snapdragon 835
Memory 4GB 4GB
Storage 64GB 64GB
microSD? Yes Yes
Battery 3000mAh 2730mAh
Rear camera 12MP f/1.7 Dual 12MP f/2.0
Front camera 5MP 5MP

Moto Z2 Force vs Moto Z2 Play: Design

Although both of these handsets are 5.5-inch phones, you’ll find that the construction is slightly different.

The Moto Z2 Play is impressively slender considering its size and that’s something that translates over into the design of the Moto Z2 Force. Both are made of aluminium, although the Z2 Force’s build is tougher than the Play, as you’d expect given that name. In fact, the Z2 Force is made of 7000 Series aluminium, which is apparently 80 percent more resistant to damage than the metal used in the Play.

You also get a Moto ShatterShield screen on the Force Edition, which is ‘guaranteed not to crack or shatter’. Motorola has guaranteed the display and camera lens against shattering and cracking for up to four years from the original date of purchase, although is also keen to point out that the Moto Z2 Force is ‘not shockproof or designed to withstand all damage from dropping’.

Neither is the Force Edition water resistant. Rather, the Moto Z2 Play and Force are merely splash resistant, so you’ll want to avoid dunking them in a body of liquid.

Of course, both of these blowers support Moto Mods, so you can slip off the rear cover and snap on one of Motorola’s add-on accessories. These include speakers, battery packs and plenty of other cool additions, some of which are well worth checking out.

Moto Z2 Force vs Moto Z2 Play: Screen and media

When it comes to media chops, the Moto Z2 Force is again the better handset. While both Motorola phones here sport a 5.5-inch display, the Moto Z2 Play makes do with a Full HD resolution. This is perfectly fine for kicking back with a high-def movie of course, although the Moto Z2 Force’s Quad HD display offers incredible detail levels.

Both of these mobiles rock an AMOLED panel, which can produce bright, vibrant colours. Sadly there’s no support for HDR playback in the new model, or the original Play. For that kind of media functionality, you’ll have to look to the LG G6, Sony’s Xperia XZ Premium or the Samsung Galaxy S8.

Moto Z2 Force vs Moto Z2 Play: Performance and battery life

Likewise, the Moto Z2 Force is superior for overall performance. Qualcomm’s rather excellent premium Snapdragon 835 chipset is on board, which offers buttery smooth running at all times. You can enjoy up to 1Gbps peak download speeds (theoretically), as well as full support for the latest and greatest mobile VR experiences.

In comparison, the Moto Z2 Play offers up a more basic Snapdragon 626 chipset. This is still a perfectly capable smartphone platform, offering smooth everyday performance, although you don’t get the future proofing or serious reliability of the 835. Both phones pack 4GB of RAM.

So what about battery life? Well, this is one area that the Moto Z2 Play can most likely claim superiority. We’ve managed to get around two days of life per charge in our testing, while the Moto Z2 Force is unlikely to stretch that far. After all, there’s a Quad HD screen to power, and a smaller cell to do it.

That said, the 835 is a very energy efficient chipset, so we might be surprised when we come to review the Moto Z2 Force.

Moto Z2 Force vs Moto Z2 Play: Features and OS

When it comes to the general user experience, we’re expecting next to no difference between these Moto handsets.

The Moto Z2 Force and Z2 Play both use a vanilla version of Android Nougat, complete with the Moto Assistant which adds some handy gesture controls and one-handed operation. You do however get more storage with the Force Edition; 64GB compared with just 32GB on the Play. Both feature microSD support for memory card expansion, however.

Moto Z2 Force vs Moto Z2 Play: Cameras

The Moto Z2 Play sports a dependable single-lens 12-megapixel camera on its rear end, with an f/1.7 aperture lens. The result is crisp, clear photos packed with detail under pretty much any conditions, including when the lights get low.

However, the Moto Z2 Force updates this camera arrangement to a new dual-lens setup. Both of these lenses use 12-megapixel sensors, although the aperture has been narrowed to just f/2.0. One of the Force’s lenses is monochrome, while the other is full colour – just like the OnePlus 5’s dual-lens snapper.

What does that mean in normal speak? Well, the Moto Z2 Force should be able to produce even more detail in its photos, as the lenses combine to craft a single image. You can also expect better depth-of-field in your snaps; in other words, a sharp finish for your subject, while the background is pleasingly blurred to help them stand out.

Of course, the smaller aperture might also hamper low light photography, when compared with the Play model. Stay tuned for our in-depth Moto Z2 Force camera review to see for sure.

Around the front of both of these Moto phones you’ll find a 5-megapixel camera for your selfie needs.

Moto Z2 Force vs Moto Z2 Play: UK price and release date

You can buy the Moto Z2 Play in the UK right now, direct from Motorola. The phone costs £379.

We’re yet to discover the UK price of the Moto Z2 Force, although you can expect a much more premium cost when it hits these shores. We’re expecting a minimum asking price of £499, similar to the OnePlus 5, although the Force Edition is more likely to cost from £549.

Check back soon for our full Moto Z2 Play review and Moto Z2 Force review.


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