Motorola Moto G7 Play, hands on: Good value, unless you need NFC

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There are no fewer than four handsets in Motorola's Moto G7 family: The 6.2-inch G7 Plus, G7 and G7 Power, and the 5.7-inch G7 Play. I've already looked at the Moto G7 Plus, and Jason has reviewed the Moto G7. The G7 Play is the baby of the pack: it's smaller than its three siblings, and has a lesser specification. But it's also the most affordable at £130 ($200 in the US).

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The Moto G7 family (L to R): G7 Power, G7, G7 Plus (6.2-inch screen) and G7 Play (5.7-inch screen).

Image: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

The Moto G7 Play is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 632 chipset with 2GB of RAM. It would have been nice to see more RAM: its Geekbench CPU scores of 4235 (multi-core) and 1195 (single-core) are nothing to shout about (the same chipset with 4GB of RAM in the Moto G7 Power managed 4566 and 1253). With 'play' in its name, you might think this is a gamer's handset, but in fact the Snapdragon 632 isn't really up to handling the most demanding games.

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There's not much internal storage: 32GB is installed, 10.79GB of which is used out of the box, leaving just 21.21GB free. At least there's a MicroSD card slot for adding more. You can't boost the 3000mAh battery, so it's good that it delivered 9 hours 17 minutes of life under the Geekbench battery benchmark, for a score of 5088. This is pretty good for such a low-cost handset.

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The 5.7-inch Snapdragon 632-powered Moto G7 Play measures 71.5mm wide by 147.3mm tall by 7.99mm thick and weighs 149g.

Image: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

The screen is reasonably large at 5.7 inches, and while its resolution of 720 by 1,512 pixels (294ppi) is nothing special I was perfectly happy reading websites and watching video. The 19:9 aspect ratio is welcome, but there's a large notch, which is more intrusive than those on the 6.2-inch models.

The camera system is rather old-fashioned by today's standards. There's just one 13MP camera with an f/2.0 lens at the back, while the front camera has an 8MP sensor and an f/2.2 lens. The main camera takes decent enough outdoor shots, but I found it rather poor in low light conditions. Still, considering the price it's probably unreasonable to expect fancy camera features.

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The look and feel, and build quality is typical Motorola, and fits in with the rest of the G7 range. The chassis is plastic, and the backplate is soft-touch and grippy. It's nice to see a fingerprint sensor on the back, but Motorola has elected to leave NFC out of the mix. That's a shame, as it rules out any use for contactless payments. Also, in the UK and Europe, the wi-fi is just 802.11n on the 2.4GHz frequency band, as it is on the Moto G7 Power (the G7 and G7 Plus have dual-band 2.4/5GHz 802.11a and ac respectively). We tend to take dual-band wi-fi for granted these days, and the restriction might show itself in slow connections that could frustrate longer term. In the US, the Moto G7 and G7 Power both have dual-band 802.11a wi-fi.

The Moto G7 Play runs Android 9, so it's fully up to date. Motorola adds in its custom gestures, which allow you to do a 'karate chop' to get the LED torch going, twist the handset to open the camera, make the screen smaller with a single swipe, flip the phone over for 'do not disturb' mode, and much more. It's nice to see a handset maker add personalisation features to such a low-cost phone.

The Moto G7 Play is a pretty decent handset for £130. Make sure you don't require NFC before taking the plunge, while European buyers should think about whether single-band wi-fi is workable. Those are probably the two key issues with what's otherwise a very good-value smartphone.

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