Moto 360 review: An elegant modern timepiece that keeps me updated all day long

The Moto 360 was one of the most anticipated smartwatches of the year and after using it for a week, I am convinced it is the best available Android Wear watch you can buy.

Moto 360 review: An elegant modern timepiece that keeps me updated all day long

There is a clear leader in elegant design when it comes to smartwatches and it comes from one of the pioneers in mobile phones. The Moto 360 lives up to the hype surrounding it and after a week of daily usage I am ready to purchase one for myself. Actually purchasing one is tough at the moment since Motorola reportedly sold out of the watch on the first day.

The smartwatch category is still quite new and even Apple is taking its time getting the Apple Watch out on the street. Motorola captured everyone’s attention when it announced the round Moto 360 at Google I/O and Motorola delivered a serious contender last week.

Hardware

Prior to my visit to Chicago last week I only saw the Moto 360 in images online. My very first thought after picking one up was that it was extremely light. My Eco Drive weighs in at 191 grams while the Moto 360 is only 49 grams. I honestly do not even feel it mounted on my wrist.

Besides the weight, the high quality Horween leather band, I am testing a gray model, is extremely comfortable and attractive. The band may not look like it, but you can change out the bands and in the future metal band options will be coming to the 360. I personally prefer the leather that is on there now, but won’t be using the 360 to workout unless I get a rubber band on the watch.

The beveled metal edge makes the Oreo-shaped stainless steel watch look more premium. The Gorilla Glass also has a beveled edge and the bezel around the viewable display is minimal.

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There is a small flat part at the bottom of the display where the ambient light sensor is found. While some watch faces may have cut off numbers, it really doesn’t bother me and if the sensor helps with battery life I think it is a worthy trade-off.

There is an optical heart rate monitor on the back that seems to match what my workout heart rate monitor reads. It does not constantly capture your heart rate, but it is easy enough to initiate the measurement with a quick voice command.

I love that Motorola uses standard Qi charging on the Moto 360. It is frustrating when your smartwatch dies and you have to hunt for some proprietary cable or dongle to charge it up. With the Moto 360 you can simply drop it on the included cradle or another Qi charging pad you may have lying around.

There is one physical button on the right side that you can use to toggle the display on or off or press and hold to access the settings area. The display is a touch screen and it is easy to swipe up, down, left, and right to take different actions.

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The Moto 360 has a 320 mAh battery and for most days I was easily able to go 20+ hours before killing the battery. This was with the ambient screen setting turned to off. I have no need to have the display on all the time and as long as the display lights up when I lift my wrist to look at the Moto 360 then I am happy. Battery life will decrease with the display on all the time and it seems to only be useful if you partially glance at your watch. I also kept the display on auto brightness and found it was perfectly viewable all the time.

Software

The Moto 360 runs Android Wear and it honestly took me a little time to get used to how this OS functions. The Moto 360 presents a tutorial when you first setup the watch and after a day of regular usage you quickly pickup on the functionality. I do not like how deeply buried third party apps are though and hope Google figures out a way to make them more accessible.

At this time, you tap to start Google Now and then slide your finger up all the way to the bottom of the menu where it shows Start… and then select your app. You can also just use the voice functionality to speak the name of the app you wish to start.

There are cool Motorola watch faces, Google Now voice search, and plenty of notifications available to make the Moto 360 a smartwatch. Within the Android Wear app on your Android phone you can setup apps for specific functions, such as note taking, ordering a car, and viewing other available Android Wear apps in the store.

There is also an updated Motorola Connect app where you can connect your computers, Moto 360, and even the Moto Power Pack Micro battery with Bluetooth connectivity. For some reason I cannot get the Motorola Connect app to work on the new Moto X, Moto G, or an HTC One M8. It works perfectly fine on my first generation Moto X so that is what I used to test it out.

The Motorola Connect app lets you choose and customize your watch faces (I love the Rotate face with orange highlights), setup your wellness profile, and even find the watch on a map in case you lose it. The wellness profile works with the heart rate monitor and pedometer on the Moto 360 to track, monitor, and celebrate your activity.

Usage and experiences

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Motorola doesn’t call the Moto 360 a smartwatch and likes to refer to it as a modern timepiece. A couple years ago my wife purchased a Citizen Eco Drive for me as an anniversary present and that watch was priced at about $600. The Moto 360 does more than the Eco Drive, but is priced quite a bit lower at $250 and I personally find the Moto 360 much more functional for my daily needs.

The Moto 360 is extremely comfortable, looks fantastic, always comes on when I flip it up to look at the time and interact with it, and easily lasts me a full day. Given the standard Qi charging feature I can always top it off if I need to. I typically wear a watch when I get up until I go to bed. On the weekends I tend to wear a watch less as I work on house projects and play sports. The Moto 360 meets my daily usage needs and is one of the most attractive smartwatches I have ever tested.

As a mobile writer I tend to try out a lot of smartphones. Unfortunately, Android Wear currently requires that I reset the smartwatch to connect with another phone so I spent a lot of time resetting and viewing the tutorial on the Moto 360. Android Wear is quite functional, but still needs some work and I think it will get there soon.

Pros and cons

To summarize my experiences with the Moto 360, here are my pros and cons.

Pros Cons
Beautiful hardware, watch and leather band One day typical battery life
Large, clear display Limited apps at the moment
Reasonable price for high end timepiece  
Standard Qi wireless charging technology  

Pricing and availability

The Moto 360 is sold for $249.99, but is currently out of stock. I do not know how many Motorola made or when they might be available again. You may have luck at local retail stores like Best Buy.

The competition

Android Wear competitors are starting to appear with the closest option to the Moto 360 being the LG G Watch R, launching sometime later this year. The G Watch R has a huge bezel with a display in the middle and I personally much prefer the look of the Moto 360. Asus, Sony, and others are launch Android Wear devices too.

LG and Samsung were first to launch their Android Wear devices at Google I/O, but these are fairly basic smartwatches priced at $179 and $199, respectively.

Apple Watch is not scheduled to launch until sometime in early 2015 with a starting price of $349. Until that time, the Moto 360 is clear the modern timepiece to purchase and enjoy.

Specifications

  • Processor: TI OMAP 3
  • Operating system: Android Wear
  • Display: 1.56 inch LCD with 320x290 pixels at 205 ppi
  • RAM: 512MB
  • Internal storage: 4GB
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • Sensors: Pedometer and optical heart rate monitor
  • Battery capacity: 320 mAh
  • Dimensions: 46mm diameter and 11.5mm thickness at 49 grams

The Moto 360 is IP67 water resistant, has dual microphones for the Google Now voice functionality, and Qi standard wireless charging capability.

Conclusion

My smartwatch usage started many years ago with the Microsoft SPOT watches, there are still many in my collection, and last year I was a Pebble Kickstarter backer. I love that the Pebble lasts for a week, but since I do not sleep with a watch on if a high end timepiece with serious functionality can last me a full, long day (typically 4:30 am to 10:00 pm) then that is perfectly fine with me.

The Moto 360 performed flawlessly for me all week with a Moto G and two Moto X units. I get constant comments on how attractive the Moto 360 is and when I show people what it can do they are thoroughly impressed. If you want a smartwatch now, I can easily recommend the Moto 360.

Contributor's rating: 8.5 out of 10