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Featured Review: Moto 360

September 13, 2014 - Written By Alexander Maxham

“It’s Time.”

That was Motorola’s slogan for the Moto 360 with all the teasers they did this year. And we got more and more excited with each teaser, leak and rumor that came out about the Moto 360. We got our hands on the Moto 360 back at Google I/O, but it was still kept under tight wraps with it only showing certain screens. You couldn’t really interact with it. But last week, at Motorola’s event in Chicago, we finally got hands on a real Moto 360, that we could interact with, and they sent us home with the black leather version. So I’ve been using it for about a week now, and feel I can do a complete review on the Moto 360.

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Specifications

  • Processor: TI OMAP 3
  • Operating system: Android Wear
  • Display: 1.56 inch LCD with 320×290 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

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Hardware

This is the big story of the Moto 360. The hardware. It’s a lot different than the LG G Watch’s hardware. For one, it’s not plastic, and is made of leather and metal. Which looks amazing and feels great on the wrist. I’ve been wearing the Moto 360 for about a week now and I’ve gotten more questions from random people about this one, when compared to the LG G Watch. So it’s a really great looking smartwatch.

The Moto 360 does have interchangeable bands, and right now only leather is available. Although we will see the metal bands available later this year which you can switch too. The watch itself is metal on the sides and bottom with a glass front. Now there is that section of the display that has a “black bar” but it really isn’t a big deal after using it for a while. The picture below shows what the Moto 360 would have looked like without that black bar, and I’m glad they added it for that reason.

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The display on the Moto 360 is actually quite nice. Everyone was going nuts over it because it’s a round display, but it’s clearer and brighter outdoors than the LG G Watch was/is, which is what makes me love it so much. With the LG G Watch, it was sometimes a bit difficult to see the display outside. But with the Moto 360, I haven’t had any issues.

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Motorola also stuck in Qi Wireless charging on the Moto 360. And they are the first ones to do that for their smartwatch. The LG G Watch and G Watch R both use a cradle with magnets, while the Samsung Gear Live uses a cradle that snaps on. Neither of which are terrible, but we need some kind of standard here. Because the Moto 360 can use any Qi Wireless charger, while the LG G Watch, and Samsung Gear Live cannot. This is where I think the Moto 360 wins.

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Software

There’s not much to say here as it is running Android Wear and OEMs cannot customize Android Wear. Well they can, but not like they can their phone. The only real customization that Motorola has done here is they’ve built on the Heart Rate sensor. So now you can track your heart activity, which it wants you to be active for about 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Which isn’t hard to do, unless you’re like me and work at home. It’s a pretty neat feature for those that are into health and fitness stuff. Speaking of fitness, it appears that the Moto 360 is a bit more accurate with steps than the LG G Watch. I take a walk every day, that the LG G Watch says is about 7,000 steps. However the Moto 360 says it’s around 5,000 steps, which is closer to what my Fitbit Flex said it was. So I think it’s a bit more accurate for some reason. Not quite sure why.

There is a heart rate monitor on board. It doesn’t track your heart rate automatically, you have to do that yourself, but that’s not too hard to do. There is also the Ambient Light sensor. Which everyone was so excited about. But it’s not all that great, at least to me. You probably saw those that did their reviews the day they got the Moto 360, say that they had to charge it twice a day. Well that is true if you have Ambient Display turned on. Which keeps the display as always on, and uses that Ambient light sensor. I was able to get about 12-13 hours on the Moto 360 with Ambient Display on. With it off, I was able to get through my 15 hour day with about 40-45% left, depending on my use. Which is plenty for me, as I have always put my charger on at the end of the day.

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Battery Life

I know I talked about this a bit already, but it’s time to go into more details. With Ambient Display turned off, you can probably get around 25-30 hours. However, all of this varies by the amount of notifications you get. Now I get a ton of emails, Tweets, Google+ notifications, etc., everyday. So others can probably get more than that out of their Moto 360. With Ambient display turned on, I was able to get to about 12 hours before it hit 15%. So it’s not terrible, but not the best either. Hopefully a software update can help fix the Ambient Light sensor stuff.

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Pricing & Availability

Right now the Moto 360 is in available/unavailable situation. Where Motorola is getting so many people ordering the Moto 360 they can’t keep up. Reminds us of a Nexus launch. But the Moto 360 is technically available now from Motorola.com, Google Play Store, BestBuy.com and select Best Buy stores. Right now it’s sitting with a $249 price tag for the leather bands, and the metal bands will be $299. The Metal bands will also be sold separately, but no pricing on that just yet.

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Final Thoughts

I really, really like the Moto 360. It looks great, and feels great on your wrist. Not to heavy and not to light. I’d say all the bad things about the Moto 360 probably go back to the TI OMAP processor, but then again, Motorola has been using these TI OMAP processors for years, so perhaps that’s not the issue. I would have liked to see a larger battery in there. But otherwise I’m satisfied with the Moto 360. However, if you are not satisfied with reviews of the Moto 360 yet, I’d say wait. At the rate that smartwatches are coming out, it’s better to wait unless you have the cash to burn on them.