Phone Comparisons: Google Pixel vs Moto Z Play

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Do we have a good one for you today – The Moto Z Play goes up against the new Google Pixel. The all-new glass-backed Z Play with its Moto Mods goes up against the new Pixel with its polished glass and metal backing. Google nixed their much-loved Nexus series and replaced it with a new Google Pixel and Pixel XL. Things began changing with the arrival of the larger and more expensive Nexus 6 and continued last year with the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P. The Google Pixel series is the beginning of Google’s ecosystem – connecting their Smartphone to their Home products, so the user has total control. Both the Google Pixel and the Moto Z Play are receiving some very favorable reviews. Let’s look at just what these two devices have in common, if anything, and then we will take a closer look at each one in hopes that we can determine a winner of this comparison.

These two devices do have a few things in common, but not in their physical size as their screens are one-half inches apart. Their displays both use an AMOLED technology and the same Full HD resolution. To protect their screens from abuse, the Z Play, and the Google Pixel use Gorilla Glass 4. They both use a Snapdragon processor – 821 versus 625 – and they both use an Adreno GPU for their graphic needs. Both devices are packing 32GB of UFS 2.0 internal memory, but only the Moto Z Play is expandable via a microSD card. The camera areas are both excellent, but they achieve those excellent results with different sized lens and electronics. They both use non-removable batteries and offer rapid charge capabilities, and they both provide splash and dust resistance. They both pack a fingerprint sensor for unlocking the device as well as authorizing mobile payments. They have the usual suspects – WiFi, Bluetooth (v4.2 on the Pixel and v4.0 on the Z Play,) GPS, NFC, and the Type-C reversible port for charging and data transfer.


Please take a thoughtful look at the detailed Specifications Comparison chart below and here you will see just how these two great devices stack up against one another – click on the “View Full Comparison” link at the end of the chart to expand the details. After that, we will look at each device in greater depth and point out some of its pros and cons. From all of this information, we will try to determine the winner based on specs and execution of design and functions.



Google Pixel

Google, always willing to make changes or drop a project, did just that in 2016 by axing the Nexus name and starting fresh with their new Google Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones. The new Pixel phone is one of the pieces of Google’s ecosystem and is the first smartphone to have Google Assistant built-in. The new Pixel devices integrate a polished glass and metal back, offering a great feel in your hand. Let’s see how this newly designed Pixel with its polished glass and metal construction holds up to the Moto Z Play design and specifications.

The Google Pixel sports a smaller 5.0-inch AMOLED FHD display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels with 441 pixels-per-inch (PPI.) It is using the newest 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 quad-core processor, with a dual-core clocked at 1.6GHZ and a dual-core clocked at 2.15GHz. It packs 4GB of DDR4 RAM and either 32GB or 128GB of faster UFS 2.0 memory with no means to expand. It uses a 2770mAh non-removable battery for power and has rapid charge capabilities.


Ever since the Nexus 6P, Google has gotten serious about its cameras, but they went out of their way to design a great camera with their Pixel models. On paper, the specifications do not seem that impressive, yet the Pixel camera was tested by DxOMark and received a score of 89 – the highest yet for a smartphone. The Pixel devices use a 12.3MP sensor for their primary camera along with an aperture of f/2.0, phase detection autofocus (PDAF), and laser autofocus, and a dual-tone LED flash. There is a large 8MP front-facing camera (FFC) that comes with a f/2.0 aperture, a 1.4µm pixel size, and 1080p recording. This setup offers excellent selfies and video chatting.

The Pixel comes running Android 7.1 Nougat out of the box, although it is upgraded to Android 7.1.1. The Pixel has a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor that will allow you to unlock your device or authorize mobile payments, including Android Pay. It is IP53 rated splash and dust resistant. The Google Pixel measures in at 143.8 x 69.5 x 8.5mm and weighs in at 143 grams. It comes in Quite Black, Very Silver, and Really Blue (limited edition color) and the standard 32GB Google Pixel will cost you about $650.

Moto Z Play


We are comparing the most affordable Moto Z Play, but that does not mean that you are getting some bargain basement phone. It has an FHD Super AMOLED display, an excellent 16MP camera, and comes with a large battery, Moto’s Turbo Charger, and the ability to use Moto Mods. The Moto Z Play is metal trimmed with a glass backing rather than a metal one like the other Moto models, the Moto Z, and Moto Z Force. It has a solid build with a 7mm thickness and is the only one of the Moto Z family that has a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The Moto Z Play uses a 5.5-inch AMOLED Full HD display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and 403 PPI. Lenovo chose the Snapdragon 625 octa-core processor clocked at 2.0GHz and coupled with an Adreno 506 GPU to handle the graphics. The Moto Z Play packs 3GB of DDR3 RAM (a limitation of the processor) and offers 32GB of the faster UFS 2.0 internal memory that is expandable via a microSD card.

The primary camera uses a 16MP sensor along with a large aperture of f/2.0, both PDAF and laser autofocus, and dual-tone flash. For its FFC it uses a 5MP lens with a f/2.2 aperture and Moto even included its own LED flash for selfies and video chatting. The Moto Z Play uses a large 3510mAh non-removable battery and comes with the fast Moto Turbo Charger that can charge the Moto Z Play battery up to 50-percent in only 20 minutes. Like the other Z series, there is an $89 Moto Mod that will increase the battery capacity by another 2200mAh and the Mod even adds wireless charging capabilities to the device.


The Moto Z Play keeps the convenient 3.5mm earphone jack and can utilize the Moto Mods that not only adds features to your device but also allows you to use customized covers on the back to help personalize its looks. The Z Play started out as part of the Droid series that is exclusive to Verizon, but an unlocked Moto Z Play is available for everybody to use. It has a nano-coating for water resistance, measures in at 155.9 x 75.8 x 7mm and weighs in at 163 grams. It comes in two colors – Black or White with pricing at $408 on Verizon’s website.

…And The Winner Is…


The Final Word

This decision was a tough one for me to make – the Pixel does have a better processor/GPU, a slightly better camera, and one GB more of RAM, but it lacks memory expansion, has a smaller display, and cannot use the Moto Mods. So which one has the better specifications? I am picking the more versatile Moto Z Play as the winner of this comparison.

Unless you would rather have pure Android or need to have Google Assistant on your device, then, by all means, pick up the Google Pixel. However, it will cost you over $240 more than the Moto Z Play.


The Moto Z Play offers a larger display, memory expansion, terrific camera, and the ability to expand your device’s capabilities via Moto Mods. In our testing and review, the Z Play ran quickly and smoothly as Moto does an excellent job at optimizing their software to the hardware. At $408, you are getting yourself a solid device.

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