Where the Moto Z3 Play shines is in its band 41 HPUE output. Not only bumping up conducted power to better than 400 mW (26 dBm) as expected from HPUE Power Class 2 but also adding +2.0 dBi antenna gain makes a potent combination that peaks at over 700 mW EIRP on band 41. This level of band 41 power and positive antenna gain is basically unprecedented and ostensibly should make the Moto Z3 Play a stellar performer on Sprint. Almost all other antenna gain, however, is negative, even exceedingly negative -- all low band antenna gains run below -5.0 dBi. High band antenna design, in this case, may have come at the cost of low band antenna optimization. Questions arise how well the Moto Z3 Play will respond in low signal rural areas where low band or "Extended Range" LTE is supposed to be the coverage saving grace.
Before moving on to the graphs, let us run down the standard boilerplate. RF power figures below represent best averaged and rounded estimates of maximum uplink EIRP test results provided to the FCC OET in individual device authorization filings. Or in the case of ERP low band test measurements submitted in the filings, that ERP has been converted manually to EIRP for level comparison purposes. Caveats about lab testing versus real world capability and uplink versus downlink always apply. And for better visual comparison purposes, the vertical scale heightened to 800 mW needed to display Moto Z3 Play EIRP remains consistent across follow up EIRP graphs, too.
We would be remiss not to include at least a cursory juxtaposition with the VZW exclusive Moto Z3 (model variant XT1929-17, FCC ID IHDT56XJ1), which shares the very same external design with the unlocked Moto Z3 Play. Note even the same basic model number between the two. But, internally, the Moto Z3 carries a higher end Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 with X16 LTE modem chipset, and as the FCC OET lab testing figures show, it also offers more mundane yet consistent RF output across its disclosed bands. Clearly, some internal RF hardware has been changed and/or radio software tweaked in the transition from the Moto Z3 Play to the Moto Z3. This is corroborated by the many additional LTE bands that the Moto Z3 supports but are not similarly present in the Moto Z3 Play nor disclosed in the FCC OET documents -- because those bands are downlink (i.e. reception) only or software disabled for US operation on VZW. Absent from the Moto Z3, though, is band 71 capability, and perhaps its inclusion in the Moto Z3 Play antenna design is at least partly responsible for that model's low band challenges.
For additional comparisons, look at two of my favorite Motorola handsets of the past year, both with which I have had ample user experience and both of which are compatible with MVNO Project Fi, the Moto X4 (model variant XT1900-1, FCC ID IHDT56WK1) and Moto G6 (model variant XT1925-6, FCC ID IHDT56XD1). Neither has HPUE, yet each still manages to pump out some solid band 41 EIRP by way of positive antenna gain. The Moto X4 provides superb +2.80 dBi antenna gain on band 7/38/41. And my experience has been similarly positive -- the Moto X4 has an above average affinity for band 41. Beyond that, the Moto X4 is about average.
On the flip side, the Moto G6 offers above average EIRP across most other bands, too. And that is achieved not through conducted power inflated above 200 mW (23 dBm) but mostly good old fashioned positive antenna gain. In particular, the low band antenna gain of +1.36 dBi for band 12/17 is impressive.
That covers the lab tested RF figures for the Moto Z3 Play along with several related or recent handsets from Motorola. If you have requests for analysis of other devices, feel free to submit them in the comments.
Source: FCC OET