Hands on Moto X Play review: Motorola's new handset wants to bring the fun

It looks fantastic, but is this phone good value for money?

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Motorola has just put out the new Moto X Play handset, which as the name suggests is a device that aims to put good times at the forefront. Of course, there's always a fear that anything that tries too hard to be fun ends up being a bit of an embarrassment, so does Motorola manage to be life of the party, or will it just end up an embarrassing drunken uncle pulling off some outdated moves on the dance floor?

The Moto X Play certainly seems to have stamina on its side, with Motorola boasting of a two day battery life that will keep it entertaining you long after most other handsets give up the ghost.

If the Moto X Play really wants to beam entertainment into our gawping faces for 48 hours, then it'll need to have a decently sized battery, and with a capacity of 3,630mAh, it has a decent shot of lasting through that sometimes all too elusive second day.

When the battery does finally conk out, it shouldn't take too long to get it back up and running again, with Motorola's new Turbo Charge technology included, which can add 8 hours of battery life in just a 15 minute charge.

This is all music to my ears, as a smartphone is only as good as its battery life. Once that's gone, you've got a nice expensive door stop in your pocket until you reach a power socket.

The big screen is a pocket bothering 5.5-inches, which makes it a good size for binge watching shows on Netflix, with an edge-to-edge design that keeps the body size of the handset to a minimum.

This means it doesn't strain the hand as much as other large screen smartphones have a habit of doing, and the curved back makes it even easier to hold. Still, if you're used to tapping away on a 4-inch phone, the larger screen will come as a shock.

The display is 1080p, so videos look great, and although the Moto X Play is a fair bit cheaper than the iPhone 6 Plus, because it has the same screen size and resolution, the display keeps up with Apple's supersized flagship.

I tried out a few websites with the Moto X Play and they all looked fantastic, and I loaded up the graphically impressive Real Racer game to see if the handset could live up to its “Play” name.

The good news is that it does indeed, with the game looking great on the large full HD screen. It's a pretty intensive game that gave the hardware (a 1.7GHz Snapdragon 615 Octa-core processor and 2GB of RAM) a decent workout, but the Moto X Play kept up admirably, with no frame rate drops that I could tell.

This means it's a smooth and responsive gameplay experience, so if you're a keen mobile game player, you won't be disappointed.

Motorola was keen to big up the Moto X Play's camera at the launch event as well, and it's not hard to see why. It's got a 21 megapixel main camera that puts the snappers of more expensive phones to shame, and although a high megapixel count isn't the be all and end all of image quality, Motorola has packed in plenty of other cool features.

These include a blue glass filter over the lens which filters out infrared interference, leading to more natural colours. I got to try this out myself, and I was impressed with the results – especially in low light conditions where small light sources can cause problems.

The dual LED flash also has a cool trick up its sleeve; by adjusting itself to the ambient light it ensures that colour reproduction is as close to reality as possible. Again I saw this in action and was impressed – it could mean the end of washed out, brightly lit, indoor shots when using the flash.

All in all the Moto X Play is shaping up to be an excellent smartphone with a great screen and even better camera. If battery life lives up to its promises we could have a very compelling device on our hands, especially considering the competitive price that Motorola has slapped on it.

The Moto X Play goes on sale in August in Europe, Latin America, Australia and Canada – though not the US – and will cost a rather respectable £299.