Moto 360 review

We review the Moto 360, Motorola's entry in the smart watch space

  • One of the most attractive smart watches around Bright screen
  • Short battery life Poor voice recognition Brightness sensor takes up valuable screen space

As one of the first smart watch manufacturers, Motorola should have a lot of experience making wearables and the Moto 360 doesn't disappoint.

Moto 360 design

Breaking away from smart watch stereotypes, the Moto 360 is round rather than square. This alone makes it feel like more of a watch than a digital obscenity and is one of our favourite features of the device.

The build exudes quality too, with neat edges, a smart strap - whether you buy the black or silver model - and some equally as sleek watch faces, whether you fancy a digital look, traditional analogue or something more fancy, downloaded from Google Play.

There's not really much we can fault here. It's easily more attractive than any of the smart watches out there and we're so pleased Moto decided to break away from the norm.

Moto 360 screen

The 1.56in screen looks beautiful and it's solid too, made of Corning's Gorilla Glass 3, so it'll remain protected even if you bash your wrist on the table accidentally.

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Its 320x290 pixel resolution is sharp and bright enough to be pleasing on the eye, even if you're outside in the sunshine. You shouldn't need to manually change the brightness, because the sensor at the bottom of the screen does a pretty good job of doing this for you. It's just a shame that sensor takes up a random strip at the bottom of the display though - it would have been much better positioned on the side or top of the hardware rather than taking up precious screen space.

Although colours aren't as vibrant as they are on Samsung's range of wearables, it isn't essential because, after all, the Moto 360 is a watch, not a smartphone or tablet, but the one downer here is that Motorola opted to use LED technology rather than OLED, which unfortunately has a knock-on impact on battery life, as we'll discuss later in our review.

Moto 360 firmware

The Moto 360 runs Google's Android Wear wearables OS, so it works pretty much the same as all Android watches on the market right now. That isn't necessarily a bad thing though, because it ensures everything is of the high quality you'd expect from Google's tech expertise. Navigation is via swiping and tapping through the interface, with notification cards making it easy to find out what you've missed.

Voice recognition is supported for doing other tasks, such as setting an alarm, adding a meeting into your calendar or finding a route via the inbuilt navigation. But if you're hoping to use voice to craft text messages, you may want to be a little careful, because it's certainly not accurate, often mishearing everything you say.

We love the gesture detection, so if you move your wrist, the screen will spring into life, saving vital battery and it's surprisingly intuitive - how often do you keep your wrist still when checking the time, realistically?

Moto 360 performance

Texas Instruments' OMAP 3 processor powers the Moto 360 and although it's fine for swiping between functions and viewing or reacting to notifications, it's nowhere near as power-efficient as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 found in the LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live, once again meaning battery life takes a direct hit.

Moto 360 features

As you'd expect from a smart watch, there's a heart rate monitor built into the device, although it won't continuously measure your heart rate as you train - a bit of a disappointment. It will, however, detect when you're partaking in an activity and measure your heart rate now and again, so you can track how it changes when you go for a run, or hit the gym, for example.

However, the induction charging is definitely a bonus, because it means there's no annoying ports damaging that beautiful design we spoke about earlier.

The Moto 360 is tough, with an IP67 rating, meaning you'll be able to go swimming with it wrapped around your wrist (although it's only good for swims above 1m and only for 30 minutes).

Moto 360 battery

As we've hinted at throughout this review, battery life really is where the Moto 360 takes a big hit and runs behind its competitors, with just 24-hours battery life for average usage.

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The reason for such bad performance? Bad hardware choices by Motorola. Sure, you can turn the brightness of the screen down and switch the watch to ambient display mode so the screen isn't always on, but this won't fix processor inefficiencies and it really shouldn't be such a challenge to get a few days out of a watch's battery.

Verdict

The Moto 360 may look beautiful, but it’s nowhere near the most impressive smart watch functionality-wise. For starters, the battery life is awful because Motorola neglected to use efficient components. Android Wear works well, but some aspects - such as voice recognition - leaves a lot to be desired. The screen is great, but why did Moto put the brightness sensor at the bottom of it? It’s important to maximise space on such a small-screened device, but Motorola did not take this into account, it would seem and it’s now wasted space.

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