Moto 360 Review: Possibly 2014’s Best Smartwatch

MOTO 360

Motorola makes top-notch phones. But at Google I/O they announced the Moto 360 alongside Google’s Android Wear. It’s the world’s first circular smartwatch display, apart from a little notch a the bottom for display drivers and light sensors. It also has the best design of a smartwatch, with a full stainless steel body. I got to use one for a while; here’s what I think.

MOTO 360 2

Design

I’m a huge design freak, and I’m in love with this watch. Besides having a round screen, it’s on of the first wearables that actually looks good. I’ve never been one for gaudy gear, and my black version offers a welcome sleek, minimalist design. The all-metal design, with a Horween leather strap is gorgeous and really sharp. It definitely looks like a gadget as opposed to a watch, and I’m cool with that.

The screen is probably one of the most interesting features of the watch. It’s nearly bezel-less, and interestingly enough, it actually goes past the chamfered edge of the glass, creating a weird effect where you can see distorted pixelation through the edge. Something people won’t like is that the display isn’t totally round. It’s got a little sliver cut out of the bottom for light sensors and display drivers. I really didn’t notice, but you might care. Anyway, the round face creates a device that looks a lot like a real watch.

That being said, the 360 still feels like a gadget as opposed to a watch, but I don’t think as many people will be staring at your wrist as opposed to something like a G Watch or Gear Live. With a circular watch, you have a circular body. There’s a textured crown on one side with a brass ring around it. On the other side is a microphone, but no speaker. Personally, I’d like to have some form of internal audio.

On the bottom of the 360  is an awesome holographic backing with a grille containing a heart rate monitor and the inductive charging receiver. Interestingly enough, the watch never seemed to read my pulse. Believe me, I’ve tried, but it took forever.

MOTO 360 4

Hardware

The hardware isn’t super-new, but on a watch, specs don’t matter. Us nerds check below to see the specs, but Android Wear is super-smooth and responsive. It brings in notifications, and interactions are all fluid, with no lag.

Moto X
Price $249
SoC TI OMAP 3
Display 1.56-inch 320 x 290 IPS LCD
Battery 300 – 320 MaH
RAM 512 MB DDR3
Storage 4GB

MOTO 360 3

Software

I’ve already done a full review of Android Wear, so I won’t go super in-depth with this bad boy. It’s simple: a single press of the crown takes you to your watch face and notifications and a long press on the crown takes you to settings. But I will say, that after a while, the newness of this system wore off and it began to feel kind of limited. Notifications come in alright, and that’s fine, but I wouldn’t say navigation is fluid, and there aren’t that many apps and watch faces.

Luckily enough, Motorola decided to drop their Motorola Connect software into the mix. It allows you to tweak watch faces provided by Motorola with background and accent colors. My favorite is face is Basic. It’s super simple, and I think it matches the body perfectly.

Also worth noting is that the circular screen offers a far better experience than a square one. For example, the screen actually has more real estate than a square device because screen size is measured in diameter, not diagonal width. Diagonal is the longest measure of a device, but with a circular display, every way is the longest measure. The circular display also just feels fun, magical.

MOTO 360 5

Performance

Pure graphics and computing performance was great on the Moto 360, easily handling everything I threw at it. Google Now responds almost instantly (my only gripe being no audio feedback) and launching apps is fluid. There is one problem – the heart rate monitor. It doesn’t actually work, or at least, not quickly. It took about 6 minutes to get a reading out of my unit.

Finally, battery. For most people, this is usually the deal maker or breaker. The battery was definitely iffy on this device. For most people, you’ll be seeing your watch to sleep with about 10% each day. Battery seems to improve over time, though, so whatever you get is going to change. Charging is super fast, and super cool. Just drop it on the bundled Qi charger and see the super slick animation progress toward 100%.

Final Thoughts

Rating: 8 – Great


The Moto X seems to be alright, but battery has some issues. At first, you’ll be ending the day with about 10% capacity. After a week, it’ll increase to around 25%. The device seems to perform alright; scrolling, swiping, and general interactions are all fast and fluid.

The design is beautiful and slick. The chamfered circular glass, milled steel body, and leather band all make this watch a gorgeous timepeice. Although Android Wear isn’t there yet, this wearable definitely is. The only gripes that I have are the battery and yes, the OS. The little sliver from the display doesn’t bother me, but I can see why it would.

So if you want Android Wear now, the $249 Moto 360 is the best wearable around.

Posted in Featured, Mobile, Reviews.

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