“Although expensive, the second-gen Moto 360 brings forth a classy design, good performance and decent battery life”
Google introduced its wearable-centric platform Android Wear in May last year, and partnered with a handful of hardware manufacturers. Within less than a year and a half, the market is filled with Android Wear-powered smartwatches from several brands, spanning across price bands. You can get the Alcatel One Touch Watch for as low as Rs 7,999, and prices go all the way up to Rs 20,990 if you want to splurge on the LG Watch Urbane (first impressions). The period also saw the entry of Apple in the wearable space with the Watch, which is available in the upper-end segment with the price tag of Rs 30,900.
Amidst all these options, the original Moto 360 (first impressions) from Motorola has been able to stand out with its focus on the design aspect. Now, the brand is back with a sequel, which doesn’t seem to be much different from the first-gen device. But dig deeper, and you’ll find several useful upgrades. Let’s talk all that and much more in our review.
With the new Moto 360, Motorola seems to be bringing the customisation aspect from its smartphones to smartwatches as well. Its phones in the Moto X range could be purchased with different back panels, and in fact, users in the US can also choose colours of accents, etc. The feature dubbed as Moto Maker, is also available for the Moto 360 in the US, but sadly it’s not available in India.
However that doesn’t mean that the Indian consumers don’t get any choices. The second-gen Moto 360 (first impressions) can be purchased in two sizes, with choice of two different straps between metal and leather, and users can also choose strap colours for the leather model. Unlike the previous Moto 360, which was only available with a 46mm dial, its successor is available with dial size of either 42mm or 46mm, with the former being an ideal choice for women. Not just the dial size, the watches also differ with the width of the straps. In all, the watch can be purchased in five versions, with the costliest being the 46mm dial with a metal band.
The unit we’re reviewing offers a 42mm dial with a brown leather strap, which looks quite stylish. It wraps around the wrist nicely and can be worn comfortably for the whole day.
Other than the difference in size, the models are very similar, though their weight varies. Their thickness is almost the same too.
The Moto 360 was among the first smartwatches to feature a round dial, and same is the case with its successor. The round dial is encased in a metallic body, which has slightly changed design elements than the original model. The crown position has been moved to the 2’o clock position, ensuring that it doesn’t get pressed inadvertently. The microphone has also been moved slightly on the left edge. The Lenovo-owned brand has also made it easier to replace the bands, thanks to what the brand is calling quick-release bands.
The Moto 360 uses the standard strap-buckle clasp mechanism for the leather variant, while the one with metallic strap comes with push-button deployment.
At the rear, the Moto 360 sports a heart-rate sensor. Just like its predecessor, the watch is impervious to the dust and water, thanks to IP67 certification. It can be dunked in a water of depth of up to 3 metres for up to 30 minutes.
Since the Moto 360 is available in two sizes, the display panels also differ in size. While the larger 46mm model features a screen size of 1.56-inches, the smaller sibling sports a 1.37-inch display. Both the models feature similar resolutions – 330 x 325 pixels (330 x 330 pixels, in case of the 46mm variant), but owing to the smaller display, the 42mm has better pixel density. The IPS display on our review unit sports nice colours and decent sharpness. Viewing angles are also impressive, and the good part is that it’s legible outdoors. If the sunlight is too harsh, then you can turn on brightness boost, which maxes the brightness levels. For added durability, the display comes protected with a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass.
Motorola is also offering an always-on screen option, available in Android Wear, instead of the ambient mode in its predecessor.
While the first-gen Moto 360 received praise for its design language, one thing which acted as a proverbial thorn in its bush was the fact that it didn’t sport a completely circular display. Towards the bottom, there was a strip, popularly referred to as flat tyre, which looked quite odd. Sadly, the same is the case with its successor. While Motorola has hidden an ambient light sensor underneath this strip, we think it could still have managed to offer a circular display considering devices like the LG G Watch R and Huawei Watch have round screens.
Within an year, Android Wear has received quite a few updates. The latest Moto 360 runs v1.3.0.
We’ve already taken a deep-dive look at Android Wear, and most things remain the same. However, Google has added some useful features along with several performance improvement behind the scenes. It has also made several of its apps compatible with the smaller screen of the smartwatches. You can use Google Maps for navigation (relies on GPS signal from the connected smartphone), translate via Google Translate, etc.
Live Dials is a nice feature from Motorola. While you can use standard watch faces, or download some designer ones off the Play Store, the device gets two dials that display more than just time. You can choose up to three things to be displayed along with the clock. This is quite useful, since you are able to track steps, weather status, heart activity, or calories, without opening any app.
For tracking your fitness, Motorola has offered its own app dubbed Moto Body. Setting it up is simple, and it gives you complete overview of your stats – steps taken, calories burned, and heart-rate.
Another interesting app is called Together, that lets you send messages directly to users who have Android Wear smartwatches.
However, the software isn’t well-polished, as we ran into app crashes quite often.
The first-gen Moto 360 was powered by an entry-level TI OMAP processor and it wasn’t able able handle the performance duties well. However, that’s not the case with the latest Moto 360, thanks to the 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor. The CPU enables a fluid usage, and there was rarely a lag while switching screens, swiping away notifications or launching apps. The smartwatch comes with 512MB RAM, which also helps in the zippy performance.
While the smartwatches aren’t meant for gaming, there are quite a few titles developed specifically for these wrist-based devices, and perhaps they are the best ways to gauge the hardware capabilities. We played a few titles such as Repulsion and Flopsy Droid, and the Moto 360 handled them beautifully.
The Moto 360 also comes with 4 gigs of storage, which can be utilised to install apps or even store music files. Yes, the watch can be used to listen to music when paired with a Bluetooth headset.
In terms of sensors, the Moto 360 tracks the steps and heart rate. You can also use wrist gestures to read notifications, which means that you scroll through them without even using the other hand. It takes some time getting used to, but it works really well.
The new Moto 360 supports Wi-Fi, which is a good thing. Even if your smartphone isn’t connected with the watch, you will be able to use it for searching something on the internet or doing basic things.
You can also use the watch for accessing basic info, opening apps or searching the web via Google, thanks to the microphone. However, in our usage, it’s a hit-and-miss affair and there were times when it didn’t recognise our voice even in normal surroundings.
Battery life is perhaps one of the most disappointing things about a smartwatch. Most require charging in a day or two, and the original Moto 360 also suffered with this issue. To alleviate the problem, Motorola supplied a larger 400mAh battery with the 46mm model, while its smaller sibling comes equipped with a 300mAh battery. Sadly, the battery life is still not promising. With the display always turned on, the new smartwatch just manages to last about a day. If your turn off the display, then it fares slightly better and can roughly last a day and a half. The Theater mode is effective in extending the battery life.
Just like its predecessor, the new Moto 360 comes bundled with a wireless charging dock for juicing it up. The dock makes a nice bedside accessory, since the watch shows the time along with battery status while charging. However, on the downside, it also means that you would need to carry the dock with you for juicing up the smartwatch.
If you’re thinking that Motorola is providing a revolutionary upgrade with the second iteration of its smartwatch, then you might be in for a disappointment. However, the Lenovo-owned company has certainly worked on improving the issues with the first version to offer a more refined Moto 360. The fact that the watch is available in a variety of models also works in its favour.
Having said that, problem isn’t necessarily with the second-gen Moto 360, but the software platform and more importantly, wearables as a category. The segment is still in nascent stages, and hasn’t been able to showcase a killer feature of smartwatches. Android Wear too fails to show any potential use-case for the watches.
Then, the pricing of the Moto 360 is another issue. With the starting price of Rs 19,999 – the price tag at which you can get a fully-loaded smartphone – it’s difficult to recommend the Motorola’s offering. That said, if you’re looking for a smartwatch, and price is not much of a concern, then the Moto 360 (2nd-gen) is probably your best bet, as it brings forth a classy design, good performance and a decent battery life.
Photos by Raj Rout