Having a Droid myself, I feel like the Moto Z Play gets unfairly underrated. It’s got decent specs, a reasonable price, and includes mods to boot. I’m really surprised that sales weren’t greater than what they were, and that the response to the phone has been so lackluster. That being said, the phone can have some issues, and people are a lot more apt to discuss those than the positives.
Perhaps that’s understandable, because when something is wrong with your Moto Z, it might as well be 100% of Moto Zs out there as far as you’re concerned. Not having a functional phone can feel crippling. But I’m convinced that once we get your phone working like it should, you will feel the same way I do—that this is a device with the best possible combination of performance and price. But first things first, let’s solve your issue.
Problem 1: Issues after Nougat Update
The Android Nougat update is exciting, but really caused some issues on this phone. There have been reports of the Z entering Silent Mode unbidden, and the Hotspot turning off uninitiated. And, like a phone possessed, the volume may automatically lower itself.
Must Read: 9 Problems and Solutions for Android Nougat
Safe Mode/Uninstall App
Try to rule out an incompatible app. Enter Safe Mode to temporarily go back to your default settings to determine if any app is causing the issue. To get there, long-press your Power button until you see the option to Power Off. Now long-press the Power Off option until you see Reboot to safe mode and press OK to confirm. You should see Safe Mode to the lower left of your screen.
Wipe Cache Partition
Go into Recovery Mode by pressing the Volume Down and Power buttons simultaneously when your device is powered off. When the device turns on use the Volume Down key to select the Recovery Mode option, and you should then see the Android robot. Holding the Power button, press Volume Up twice, then release Power. Use the volume buttons to select Wipe Cache Partition and Power to select it.
Set Silent Mode automatically based on time, place, or caller.
Download: Silent Time
Check for 7.1.1 Update
This update was supposed to address the volume problem.
Perform Factory Reset
Backup your data first, or you will lose it all. You will then need to complete setup again, as though you have a new device.
Problem 2: Disappointing Display
Do you have a distorted, blank, or black screen? This can seem very alarming, but it helps to know you aren’t alone and there are fixes.
Set Animations Scales
Go to Settings > About Device and tap Build Number seven times. When you see the announcement that you are a developer, go back to Settings and select Developer Options and you will be able to select each of the three animation settings. Ensure they are set to 1x, or if you really want to make it snappy, go to .05x. Turning these off altogether can have a negative impact on fluidity.
Safe Mode/Uninstall App
Safe Mode allows you to boot into the system in a diagnostic state, without running any third-party software. This is what you can use to determine whether your problem is more app or system-related, because it boots with only those apps that came with your Android right out-of-the-box. If your system functions normally in Safe Mode it’s very likely the issue is with an app you downloaded.
Remove Screen Protector
If your power and everything else seems fine, try removing any screen protector placed on your phone. Dust can accumulate under your protector and cause interference.
Go to Backup and reset from Settings and tap on Factory data reset. Instruct the Android to Reset the Device. This wipes data so you might want to backup what you wish to save!
Send to Motorola/Lenovo
Especially if a hard reset doesn’t fix the issue, send the device to its manufacturer or service provider. If it’s a cracked screen or camera lens, it might not be worth your time and effort to fix, or you might even make it worse.
Problem 3: Volume Low
Whether you are experiencing this after an update (Nougat or otherwise), the problem is appearing randomly, or it has always been there, low volume has plagued this phone. If you aren’t look at your phone, notifications are only useful if you can hear them. It’s the same with ringtones.
Check for Updates
For many phones/carriers, a Fall/Winter update seemed to fix this.
Just in case your case is interfering with the volume or speaker, see if your volume is louder without it.
Run Speaker Test
Go to Apps > Device Help > Fix > Hardware Test > Speakers > Begin Test. Let the troubleshooter know that you did not hear the sound, and then let it run.
Factory Reset without Auto Restoration
Start totally fresh.
Problem 4: Popping, Crackling Speakers
Another audio annoyance comes in the form of popping when users try to watch a video, make a call, switch between apps, or any of a large variety of tasks.
Unfortunately, this fix seems to be only temporary, but it reliably helps for a little while.
Avoid Using Moto Voice & Bluetooth Together
These two just don’t seem to get along with each other.
Disable Touch Sounds
Go to Settings > Sound & Notification > Other Sounds > Touch Sounds.
This option does remove everything you have added to the phone.
Problem 5: Performance Lag and Freezing
There have been problems with the touch screen freezing and even the Power button being unresponsive.
Safe Mode/Uninstall App(s)
Third-party apps can cause conflicts, and can also run in the background, affecting performance. To enter Safe Mode, long-press the Power button until you see the Power Off option appear. Now long-press the Power Off option until the Reboot to Safe Mode option appears.
Power cycling reboots your device. To do so, long-press your Power button until your phone turns off, and long-press it again until it turns on again.
Clear App Cache
This can also help if your Z is crashing. From Home, go to Apps > Settings > Apps, touch any app that you think might be causing problems, and then tap Storage. Select Clear Cache.
Download Task Killer
This app works to improve your phone’s performance by killing any app that is hogging the CPU and/or battery. Manually killing apps is still recommended.
Download: Advanced Task Killer
Navigate to Backup and reset from Settings and tap on Factory data reset. Tell your Android to Reset the Device. This wipes data so you might want to backup what you wish to save!
Problem 6: Wi-Fi Woes
Wi-Fi problems are not unheard of on this device, especially after an update to Nougat. Connections may not be reliable.
Toggle Wi-Fi/Reset Device/Router
Turn the Wi-Fi feature off and back on again. Do the same with your phone and router if necessary.
Turn Off Bluetooth
If you can live without it, some swear by turning off Bluetooth for the sake of your Wi-Fi.
From your Home screen, visit Apps > Settings > Wi-Fi. Long-press the network and choose Forget network. You will have to set it up again. Or go to Settings > Backup and Reset > Reset Network Setting > Reset Setting.
Change Frequency to 5GHz
Navigate to Settings > Wi-Fi > three dots > Advanced > Wi-Fi Frequency Band.
Check Power Saving Mode
Go to Settings > Battery > Power Saving Mode. Make sure these settings aren’t affecting your Wi-Fi.
Ensure you have the latest update for your phone. This largely depends on your carrier. Do the same for your router.
Problem 7: App Issues/Bloat
Verizon, especially, likes to load its phones up with bloat you don’t need or want. It can be hard to get rid of.
Use Safe Mode
If your issue goes away in Safe Mode, it’s highly likely that a third-party app is to blame for it. Once you’ve identified it, uninstall it.
Disable Unneeded Apps
From your Home screen, go to Apps > Settings > Apps and search for these apps. If they aren’t visible, try click on the three dot Menu icon and select Show System. If necessary, tap on Force Stop. Press OK and then Disable. Confirm by hitting Disable App.
Remove App Via Google Play
Go to Apps > Play Store > Menu > My apps & games. Select the app you wish to remove. Touch Uninstall, then OK.
Get rid of them once and for all. From Home, go to Apps > Settings > Apps > Manage Applications. Select the app you don’t want. Click on Uninstall, and OK to confirm.
Root/Flash Custom ROM
Rooting this phone is a bit tricky, as the normal SuperSu files don’t work. You will also have to unlock the bootloader before you do anything. After that you can boot into fastboot mode, connect to a PC, install a custom recovery like TWRP. You will have to allow TWRP permission to mount and make modifications. You will also have to go to the Advanced menu and open a terminal to enter the following code:
echo “SYSTEMLESS=false” > /data/.supersu
echo “BINDSYSTEMXBIN=true” >> /data/.supersu
You can then install SU using TWRP and subsequently flash other zips, like the custom ROM of your choice. Once you are done you will need to reboot. If this seems like Greek, you might want to take a moment to read up on rooting before you do anything risky with your phone.
Hopefully, now you can fall in love with your Moto Z Play again. Some of these problems stem not so much specifically from Motorola itself, but from having one of the latest updates—Nougat—for which some issues have had to be ironed out and still continue to be. We also have articles for basic troubleshooting of Android phones. If you have a serious problem, especially involving hardware, the best solution might be to contact support from the the manufacturer or retailer for your Android.