Featured Review: Moto 360 Sport

December 21, 2015 - Written By Justin Diaz

When Motorola originally launched the Moto 360, they offered one model that came with a couple of different colored cases at launch, and a few options for the watch strap. This year, Motorola launched not just one Moto 360 model, but three including the Moto 360 2nd Gen, the Moto 360 for women which is really just a smaller case size, and the Moto 360 Sport. The Sport model although in many respects is a lot like the two regular Moto 360 watches from this year, it takes on more of an active look as it’s geared towards those with more of an active lifestyle and want their smartwatch to reflect that particular detail. As such, there are a few key details which make the Moto 360 Sport unique in its own right, such as the silicone outer casing and watch strap band, and the fact that watch strap isn’t removable, but is instead one solid piece. It also carries the AnyLight Hybrid display for better visibility in direct sunlight which should come in handy as those who are more active are likely to be outside a lot when the watch is in use. Just like the other Moto 360 models, Motorola is offering the Sport in a few different color options, although there is not nearly as much customization here, which is to be expected given the design. The Moto 360 Sport has still yet to hit store shelves as it goes on sale January 7th for $299, so is it worth waiting for to get a more Sport focused watch as opposed to simply picking up a regular Moto 360? And how does it stack up to the regular model? Let’s take a look.

SpecsAH Moto 360 Sport-4

When it comes to the specs, the Moto 360 Sport offers up a good collection of hardware. It carries the world’s first hybrid screen which Motorola has created to adapt to the amount natural light being picked up the sensors. The screen on the Moto 360 Sport is a 1.37-inch AnyLight Hybrid display protected by Gorilla Glass 3 and it carries 263 ppi. It’s powered by a 300mAh battery which is supposed to last users up to a day, and Motorola states that’s with ambient mode on. We’ll talk about battery life a bit later. Inside is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor which is a quad-core CPU and the same processor which powers the Moto 360 2015 models which we reviewed earlier this Fall, more than enough to drive this device and serve its computing needs. It’s also got 4GB of internal storage and 512MB of RAM, which is pretty standard for most smartwatches. The watch also supports Bluetooth 4.0 which is how you’ll usually keep the watch connected to your device, but WiFi 802.11b/g support is also on board so it can connect up to WiFi for a connection as well if you want to leave your smartphone at home or just in your pocket with Bluetooth off. It has dual digital mics which should be beneficial to the voice functions, and since this is a Sport model of the watch aimed at active individuals it has an IP67 rating making it resistant to sweat and rain. It’s worth noting though that the regular Moto 360 watches from this year are also carrying an IP67 rating. Motorola has included a built-in heart rate monitor so you can check your heart rate at any time during your workouts or exercise, or just throughout the day, and it has built-in GPS which makes it only the second Android Wear watch to come with this feature. With GPS built-in you can better utilize apps like Endomondo or Strava and more accurately track your distance. The Moto 360 Sport weighs 54g and comes in a 45mm size, so it feels rather light and unincumbered on the wrist.

What’s In The BoxAH Moto 360 Sport-23

There’s not much to it when it comes to box contents for the Moto 360 Sport. Inside you’ll find the watch itself, the wireless charging dock, the AC adapter, and that’s it. It’s bare bones, sure, but that’s really all you need for a device like this as it doesn’t require any extras or accessories.

Design And HardwareAH Moto 360 Sport-6

The Moto 360 Sport is designed to be a more sporty looking watch. As such, it comes with a silicone strap and watch case instead of the multitude of options you have for the Moto 360 2015. You also won’t have the option to design the watch to your liking within Moto Maker, however it will be available in a few different colors including Black, White, and Orange. There isn’t going to really be any difference in the design of the Moto 360 Sport from person to person, short of the change in color, and although there is only 3 colors to be available at launch hopefully Motorola will have more options for customers later on. The silicone strap can be rather comfortable so long as you don’t tighten it too much around your wrist, and it feels as if there is less mobility up and down the wrist when the watch is worn tighter than with something like the original Moto 360. Perhaps this is due to the silicone and the way it sticks to the skin a bit more than something like the leather or metal of regular smartwatch bands, and whether or not that’s a good thing is purely up to the wearer. I found this to be a comfortable device to wear. The flipside of the silicone is that it appears to have a heavy attraction to dust, lint and virtually anything else of that nature. Because of this the watch often looks dirty if sat too long as it seems to be a magnet for such things. This is mostly easy to fix though as a couple of quick rubs on the strap or case to remove any dust or lint usually takes care of it, however, if this doesn’t really bother you then you can leave things as is.

If you flip the watch over you’ll find the heart rate sensor along with a list of the different sensors which are included, and that’s about it. The back is rather unassuming, as it should be, and since this uses wireless charging you’ll find no connector pins or anything of that nature. When worn, because of the design make up your wrist gets an ample amount of ventilation  on the sides where the strap meets the case. This helps to keep the sweat from building up too much in between the band and the skin, and although there is no way to stop the sweat completely, because if you’re exercising like you should be you’re going to sweat, the side ventilation helps keep your wrist cool.

Other than the new silicone used for the outer part of the strap and case, the display has a silver ring around it similar to what you’ll find on the Moto 360 2015 models although those can be switched out for different colors via Moto Maker, as well as the new location for the button which sits at the 2 o’ clock position this time around instead of at the 3 o’ clock position like on last year’s watch. The button serves only a few different functions which is to either bring up the display or put it to into theater mode, or to kick you back to the home screen if you’re in an app, and you can also press and hold down on it to open up your list of installed apps.

DisplayAH Moto 360 Sport-display

It might not seem like it, but the display on the Moto 360 Sport is a big deal here, as it features Motorola’s AnyLight technology, making it the first smartwatch to feature a hybrid screen which can adapt to the amount of natural light around it. What this does is allow the screen to reflect natural light so that the screen becomes easier to see when in direct sunlight. Although you may not be using the watch for hours at a time out in the sun, those few moments where you need or want to stop and check something are going to be much easier with a display like this one. The AnyLight technology will essentially make the screen appear white and black when outdoors which should be easier to view (most of the time, as this didn’t end up happening when I took the main image photo) and when indoors it’ll appear with color. Paired with the ambient light sensor to adjust the brightness automatically as needed, the screen should be quite visible in just about any situation. I personally never found any issues with visibility in the time that I’ve had it.

The display is also protected by Gorilla Glass 3 which means you shouldn’t have to worry too much about scratches and scuffs, although I wouldn’t recommend purposely banging it up against stuff or being careless with it. It’s not extremely fragile but you aren’t going to get a ShatterShield experience here so you’ll still want to try and avoid knocking it or subjecting it to unnecessary damage.

Software & UIAH Moto 360 Sport-5

The software experience won’t be much different here than with other Android Wear devices, and Google has always intended it to be that way. Having said that there are a couple of key experiences within the Moto 360 Sport you won’t find in most other Android Wear watches, like the Moto Body Heart Rate and Moto Body Running apps. The use of these should be pretty self-explanatory as Moto Body Heart Rate works in conjunction to read and display your continuous heart rate anytime you request it, and Moto Body Running helps users  stay up to date on important information like distance, pace, and time passed during a run, as well as the ability to swipe over one screen and display the beats per minute of your heart rate as you exercise.

Since this is Android Wear, the usual things can be expected like various different watch faces preinstalled on the device, like the Sport face for example, which can be customized with a few different options like the dark and light backgrounds, digital and analog clocks, date and time or start button widgets, etc. Past the Motorola specific apps you won’t find much of a difference in software from any other device running the Android Wear OS, and that’s mostly a good thing as you’ll know what to expect each time you move to a new device.

Moto Body Heart RateAH Moto 360 Sport-18

With a built-in heart rate sensor to continuously track your heart rate, the Moto 360 Sport has an added layer of usefulness for anyone who is interested in knowing this information while exercising. The Moto Body Heart Rate app is already pre-installed on the watch so access to it is immediate, and its functions are fairly simple in that one piece of it tracks your heart rate allowing users to request a reading at any point while the other feeds you heart activity details.

Moto Body RunningAH Moto 360 Sport-19

As stated up above Moto Body Running feeds users important information during their runs, letting them glance quickly at the screen while things like beats per minute and distance traveled are displayed. Users can choose whether or not they’ll be running indoors or outdoors before they start the app, and right afterward there’s a screen to set goals for caloric burn, time spent running and distance traveled. If you don’t want to go so in depth with things you can simply tap the “quick start” button instead to initiate tracking. Once this is done you can allow the watch’s built-in GPS to find your location or you can simply tap the start button to begin. After you’re finished with your exercise the app will save your stats and present you with a summary screen that displays all the stats from the run you just finished.

Voice Commands & MicrophoneAH Moto 360 Sport-20

This particular function of the Moto 360 Sport or any Android Wear watch is an important once since many of the features and usability can utilize your voice to initiate anything from messages to navigation, and it works well on the Sport. It has dual digital microphones just like the Moto 360 2015 which in my personal experience helped the watch understand clearly what I was telling it. There was much less inaccuracy with the Moto 360 Sport compared to my time with the original Moto 360 last year so voice functions felt much more improved.

Battery LifeAH Moto 360 Sport-3

Those expecting exceptional battery life with the Moto 360 Sport should probably look elsewhere, or at the very least come to terms with the fact that longevity is not going to be a strong area for the Sport. Like most smartwatches these days it’s going to require a daily recharge. In my personal experience I was able to get a little more than a day on a single charge, but I was still having to throw it back on the charger a couple of hours into the next day so charging it every single night is really a must. Some users, albeit very few may be able to get a couple of days out of the battery if they don’t use it much, but as Motorola boasts, the Moto 360 Sport is good for a day’s worth of battery life with average use and ambient mode on. So, if you’re planning on wearing it all day and getting use out of it, expect to toss in the charging dock when you get home from work or wherever else. Having said that, the Moto 360 Sport is still in line with most smartwatch batteries, so it isn’t handicapped here in comparison. The GPS is also something to factor in as every other Android Wear device except for the Sony Smartwatch 3 has no GPS at all, and when in use this is going to drain the battery even more. It’s quite likely you’ll end up getting less than a day if GPS is one of the main features you plan on using.

PerformanceAH Moto 360 Sport-22

Those who have used the original Moto 360 from last year will immediately see the difference between it and this year’s Moto 360 Sport. Although it still carries 512MB of RAM, the processor being used has been upgraded to the Snapdragon 400 processor from Qualcomm which provides a much smoother experience. There is virtually no lag to speak of at least in my own personal experience with the watch as moving through menus felt nice and fluid. This was a major issue with the original Moto 360 in which I encountered hangups every day during use, albeit in a low capacity, slowness was still happening daily.

Motorola obviously took note of this complaint from their users, and opted for a CPU inside the Moto 360 2015 models and the Moto 360 Sport that could handle the computing needs, which is all the more apparent as a need due to the animations laced throughout the software. Apps like Moto Body heart rate and Moto Body Running performed just fine with no issues too, so overall the performance of the Moto 360 Sport was great and left little if anything to be desired.

Heart Rate SensorAH Moto 360 Sport-21

The heart rate sensor makes the Moto 360 Sport the go-to option for those that consider themselves more health conscious. It continuously tracks your heart rate just like with devices such as the Fitbit Charge HR and Fitbit Surge, and of course, the Moto 360 2015, and the app to check your beats per minute is already installed on the watch as soon as you take it out of the box. It’s also extremely easy to access if you’re using the Sport’s unique watch face, appropriately named “sport,” which has quick access widgets to various features including checking your current heart rate at any time. This makes it simple to check without having to open up the app list and scroll to it, but should you find yourself wanting to use a different watch face it’s still easy enough to get to. The Moto Body app on the Sport also allows you to check other heart-related stats like how much time you have spent in different heart rate zones throughout the day. The sensor worked well and it was quick enough to kick back results in just a few seconds.

The Good

Water Resistant making it ideal even in rainy conditions

AnyLight display is easy to see in direct sunlight

The focus on health and fitness made it simpler keep up on exercise activities

Integrated heart rate sensor

Built-in GPS

More lightweight than the regular Moto 360

The Bad

The watch will require a daily recharge if you actually use it

No customization options other than color will turn some people off

Final ThoughtsAH Moto 360 Sport-13

With so many different smartwatch options out there to choose from it can feel a little overwhelming to pick the one that’s a right fit. What Motorola have done here with the Moto 360 Sport feels like a focused approach to offering something to consumers who live a more active lifestyle and want a watch reflective of that lifestyle. While a good number of the features in the Sport model are also available inside of the Moto 360 2015 like the heart rate sensor, the IP67 rating, and the Moto Body app, things like the built-in GPS, and the silicone strap/case design make this a smartwatch which feels more comfortable to wear during exercise and other like-activities. It’s lighter weight too which only adds to the overall appeal if you plan on wearing this for multiple hours at a time when you run, bike, hike etc. The AnyLight display is another useful trait of the Moto 360 Sport that makes this ideal for those who exercise, especially outside as the direct sunlight won’t have as much of an effect on the visibility of the content on the display at the time. Having the ability to adapt to the natural light makes for a great viewing experience pretty much anywhere and that can be extremely useful outdoors. Although there is very little in the way of customization with this model, Motorola does offer three different colors which will be plenty to choose from for most people.

The bottom line is, if you need or want something that looks and feels more sporty but can still deliver all the things that generally any other Android Wear watch can, the Moto 360 Sport should be your watch of choice. It looks great, feels great, and runs great, so there’s not much to be disappointed about here. Should you buy it? That all depends on if you want something with a sport-like design or not. If you do, then this is an excellent choice for a smartwatch, and it’ll only set you back $299 once Motorola launches these on January 7th.