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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Specifications

Details
SAR Value 1.4 W/kg (body), 0.74 W/kg (head)
Integrated Components FM radio
Body Color Deep Indigo
Cellular
Technology CDMA2000 1X / GSM / WCDMA (UMTS)
Type smartphone (Android OS)
Integrated Components FM radio
Navigation A-GPS, GLONASS, GPS
Band WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM 850/900/1800/1900 / CDMA2000 1X 1900/850
Mobile Broadband Generation 4G
Phone Form Factor touch
Service Provider Verizon Wireless
Operating System Family Android
Intelligent Assistant Google Assistant
SIM Card Type nano SIM
SIM Card Slot Qty single-SIM
Input Device Multi-touch
Phone Features
Phone Functions Speakerphone, voice control, call timer, conference call, flight mode, voice dialing, vibrating alert
Sensors Accelerometer, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, magnetometer, gyro sensor
Additional Features Face Unlock, Dual microphones, Moto Actions, Quick gestures, Google Lens
Security Devices Face recognition, fingerprint reader
Messaging & Internet
Messaging Services MMS, SMS
Miscellaneous
Compliant Standards HAC (Hearing Aid Compatible)
Sensors accelerometer, ambient light sensor, gyro sensor, magnetometer, proximity sensor
Communications
Data Transmission EDGE, EV-DO, FDD-LTE, GPRS, HSDPA, HSPA+, HSUPA, TDD-LTE
Wireless Interface Bluetooth 4.2 LE, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth Profiles Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP), Audio/Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP), HID Over GATT Profile (HOGP), Hands-Free Profile (HFP), Health Device Profile (HDP), Human Interface Device Profile (HID), Message Access Profile (MAP), Object Push Profile (OPP), Personal Area Networking Profile (PAN), Phonebook Access Profile (PBAP)
Display
Technology IPS
Display Format HD+
Pixel Density (ppi) 294
Diagonal Size 5.7 in
Diagonal Size (metric) 14.5 cm
Smartphone Diagonal Size 5.7 in
Aspect Ratio 19:9
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 3 (scratch resistant glass)
Color Support color
Features Max Vision display, Moto Display, attentive display
Processor
Clock Speed 1.8 GHz
Type Qualcomm Snapdragon 632
Manufacturer QUALCOMM
Processor Core Qty 8-core
64-bit Architecture Yes
Media Player
Supported Digital Audio Standards AAC, PCM, MP3, FLAC, AAC +, MIDI, AMR-WB, AMR-NB, Vorbis, AAC-ELD, WAVE, AAC+ Enhanced
Multimedia
Graphics Accelerator Qualcomm ADRENO 506
Memory
Supported Flash Memory Cards microSDHC, microSDXC - up to 512 GB
Battery
Run Time Details Mixed usage: up to 40 hrs
Standby: up to 1260 hrs
Digital Camera
Special Effects Spot Color
Header
Brand Motorola
Product Line Motorola MOTO
Packaged Quantity 1
CE Input Device
Type touch sensitive screen (multi-touch)
Features
Sensors accelerometer, ambient light sensor, gyro sensor, magnetometer, proximity sensor
Phone Functions call timer, conference call, flight mode, speakerphone, vibrating alert, voice control, voice dialing
Additional Features Dual microphones, Face Unlock, Google Lens, Moto Actions, Quick gestures
Android Enterprise Recommended Yes
Digital Player (Recorder)
Supported Digital Audio Standards AAC, AAC-ELD, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, FLAC, MIDI, MP3, PCM, Vorbis, WAVE
RAM
Installed Size 2 GB
Flash Memory
Internal Memory Capacity 32 GB
Max Supported Size 512 GB
Supported Flash Memory Cards microSDHC, microSDXC
Graphics System
Graphics Accelerator Qualcomm ADRENO 506
Service & Support Details
Type limited warranty
Full Contract Period 1 year
Front-facing Camera
Sensor Resolution 8 Megapixel
Lens Aperture f/2.2
Service & Support
Type 1 year warranty