Moto Z3 Play vs. Honor View 10: Which midrange phone should be in your pocket?

If you’re looking to find a powerful phone that doesn’t hit your wallet too hard, then it’s a safe bet you’re looking to get yourself a midrange phone. The Moto Z3 Play is Motorola‘s latest entrant into that market, and the industry veteran has revealed a phone that’s razor-thin, powerful, and has access to Motorola’s full complement of Moto Mods.

But it’s not the only phone in the market vying for your attention. Honor has a solid record with midrange phones, and the Honor View 10 is another great example of a phone that balances power, looks, and costs. But which is better for you? We took a look to find out.

Specs

Moto Z3 Play Honor View 10
Size 156.5 x 76.5 x 6.8 mm (6.16 x 3.01 x 0.27 inches) 157 x 75 x 6.97 mm (6.18 x 2.95 x 0.28 inches)
Weight 156 grams (5.50 ounces) 172 grams (6.07 ounces)
Screen size 6.01-inch Super AMOLED display 5.99-inch IPS LCD display
Screen resolution 2,160 x 1,080 pixels (402 pixels per inch) 2,160 x 1,080 pixels (403 pixels per inch)
Operating system Android 8.1 Oreo EMUI 8.0 (over Android 8.0 Oreo)
Storage space 32GB, 64GB 128GB
MicroSD card slot Yes, up to 2TB Yes, up to 256GB
Tap-to-pay services Google Pay Google Pay
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 HiSilicon Kirin 970
RAM 4GB 6GB
Camera Dual 12MP and 5MP rear, 8MP front Dual sensor 16MP & 20MP rear, 13MP front
Video Up to 4K @ 30 frames per second, 720p @ 120 fps Up to 4K @ 30 frames per second
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 4.2
Ports USB-C 3.5mm headphone jack, USB-C
Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes
Water resistance Splash-resistant coating No
Battery 3,000mAh

TurboPower charging

3,750mAh
App marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Network support Sprint, U.S. Cellular T-Mobile, AT&T
Colors Deep Indigo Navy Blue, Midnight Black
Price $500 (with battery mod) $500
Buy from Motorola HiHonor
Review score Hands-on review 4 out of 5 stars

Performance, battery life, and charging

Honor View 10 review in hand
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Moto Z3 Play’s Snapdragon 636 is a good midrange processor, and we didn’t have any issues with performance during our initial tests on the device. It should hold up well for most people, with the exception of power users. However, it’s not going to be the equal of the View 10’s flagship-level Kirin 970, which will deliver tons more power and similarly fantastic performance. While both phones are fast and smooth, the Honor View 10 is simply more powerful.

It’s a tougher call to make in terms of battery. The Z3 Play comes with a 3,000mAh battery, but the battery mod adds another 2,200mAh, so it’s capable of two days’ worth of battery life, much like the Z2 Play. The View 10 is equipped with a 3,750mAh monster, and it’s possible to get it to last for two days — though the Z3 Play will have an easier time reaching that goal. There’s similarly fast charging on both devices, with Motorola promising a day’s worth of power in half an hour, and Honor promising a 50 percent charge in 30 minutes — roughly the same.

It’s a tough call to make here, and though the Z3 Play edges out the Honor View 10 in terms of battery life, the View 10’s powerful processor takes the day.

Winner: Honor View 10

Design and durability

moto z3 play back against plant
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Despite all its power, the Honor View 10 is something of a “plain Jane”. The metal body has a matte finish, and something of a minimalist design, but it’s lacking in any real character, especially when compared to other Honor phones. On the other hand, the Moto Z3 Play has a real Motorola-style design, and between the two, we think most people will find the Z3 Play to be more attractive.

There are significant camera bumps on both of these phones, and the Z3 Play’s is positioned so that the phone rocks when laid on its back. Not great. The View 10 is the only of these two phones to come with a headphone jack, and though the Z3 Play comes with an adapter, the lack of the port may be worth keeping in mind if you like your wired headphones.

You’ll want a case for both these phones, due to the slippery nature of the View 10 and the fragile glass on the Z3 Play. There’s no real water-resistance on these phones either, though the Z3 Play does boast a “water-resistant coating”.

For two phones with highly differing designs, these two have a lot in common — and though the Z3 Play is the better-looking of the two, we’re partial to the View 10’s minimalist design and headphone jack. This is a tie.

Winner: Tie

Display

Honor View 10 review wallpaper
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Both phones are running 2,160 x 1,080-pixel resolutions on 6-inch displays with 18:9 aspect ratios, and it’s just the actual screen tech that differentiates the two. The View 10’s display is an IPS LCD, and it’s bright and colorful enough — but it’s just not capable of beating the Super AMOLED display on the Z3 Play. While the View 10 has a good-looking screen, it just can’t match the deep blacks and rich colors that the Z3 Play’s AMOLED screen is capable of. This one’s clear.

Winner: Moto Z3 Play

Camera

moto z3 play camera app landscape
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The Moto Z3 Play is packing a 12-megapixel and 5-megapixel lens around the back, and an 8-megapixel selfie lens on the front. The camera has always been something of a weak point in Motorola’s past midtier offerings, but the addition of an extra lens means that the Z3 Play is offering a pretty capable main camera. We haven’t had a chance to test it fully, but it has performed well in our initial tests, and we’re looking forward to seeing how it holds up in other circumstances.

We’re not sure it’ll be able to beat the Honor View 1,0 though. You’ll find 16-megapixel and 20-megapixel lenses on the back of the View 10, accompanied by a 13-megapixel selfie shooter around the front. Simply put, the View 10 takes great photos. The Kirin 970 helps out here too, and there’s a specific part of the processor dedicated to A.I. assistance that selects options based on your subject. We’re still not sure how big of an impact it has, but it doesn’t change the fact the View 10 is an excellent all-around performer.

The video capabilities of each phone are similar, and you’ll be able to capture footage in 4K regardless of the phone you pick. The Moto Z3 Play has slow-motion capabilities too, but we’re not letting that weigh too heavily on the outcome. The Honor View 10’s camera is likely to be the stronger performer.

Winner: Honor View 10

Software and updates

Honor View 10 review apps
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

You’ll find Android Oreo on both of these devices, but you might not realize it. The Z3 Play runs Android 8.1 Oreo, and it’s mostly stock Android, with a few Motorola additions. In terms of updates, Motorola has promised that the Z3 Play will receive at least two major Android updates — so that’s Android P and Android Q. You may have to wait for it, though — the Moto G5S Plus is still waiting for its upgrade to Android 8.0 Oreo.

The Honor View 10 is different. It’s still running Android 8.0 Oreo, but with Huawei’s Emotion UI (EMUI) laid over the top. EMUI has improved a lot, and the look isn’t as divisive as it once was — but it still divides opinion. If you’re a fan of stock Android, EMUI might come as something of a shock. In terms of updates, Honor hasn’t dedicated itself to any number of Android updates, and it’s not much faster than Motorola when it comes to update schedules — but it has succeeded in updating the last generation of phones.

There’s a lot to differentiate the two phones here, but it’s tough to pick a winner. While the Z3 Play wins points for stock Android, Motorola’s update speed is too slow compared to Honor. This is another tie.

Winner: Tie

Special features

moto z3 play home bottom
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Despite running stock Android, Motorola has crammed some great special features into the Moto Z3 Play. First is the new navigation bar, which uses directional swipes to perform actions, similar to the planned navigation method in Android P. There’s also the usual suite of Motorola apps, including Moto Actions to access certain apps and Moto Voice to trigger device-specific actions, and the integration of Google Assistant and Google Lens into the camera app. Lest we forget — the Z3 Play also has support for the entire range of Moto Mods, which can boost the speaker, revamp the camera, or just boost battery life.

The View 10 has similar Google Assistant functionality built in, but the star for Honor’s phone is the Kirin 970’s NPU processing unit, which handles on-device A.I. it’s not something you’ll be able to point to much though, as it generally speeds up tasks in the background, processing images faster, running Microsoft’s Translator app, and handling the A.I. functions in the camera app.

The Moto Z3 Play runs away with this, thanks to the strength of its Moto Mod offerings.

Winner: Moto Z3 Play

Price

The Moto Z3 Play is making its way to U.S. Cellular and Sprint in the summer, and it’ll cost $500 — though that price also includes a battery mod. The Honor View 10 is currently available for $500 too, and it will only work with T-Mobile and AT&T, thanks to a lack of CDMA network support.

Overall winner: Honor View 10

It’s a tough battle, and both phones have a lot going for them. If you’re really into the idea of the Moto Mods, then the Moto Z3 Play is a great choice for you. However, if you value a solid camera and high performance, then the Honor View 10 wins every time. It’s not perfect — the display isn’t as nice as the Z3 Play’s and the design is lacking — but it’s a fantastic phone that will serve you well.

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