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Thread: My review of the Motorola Moto 360 Second Gen

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    My review of the Motorola Moto 360 Second Gen

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    While wearables have been around for years, they've only started becoming popular recently. Part of the reason is because the industry in general has gotten together and come up with a common platform like Android Wear and another is because wearables in general are sleeker and better looking than they used to be a few years ago.

    Motorola's first Android wear, the Moto 360 was popular because it was one of the first wearables with a circular display. Here's the follow up:

    Really this is two tales in one - I used the 360 for over a week with my iPhone 6s Plus and then I give it a whirl with some Android phones. First a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ and then a Motorola Moto X Play.

    Design:

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    Check out the 360ís box.

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    Itís one of the best looking boxes around.

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    It would definitely make a nice gift.

    The 360ís predecessor was one of the first smartwatches which had a round face. A watch with 4 sides maybe more practical, but I find a round face is more aesthetically pleasing.

    I dunno about you but to me a square or rectangular draws the wrong kind of attention. I like the stealthiness of a round wearable. Donít forget, while watches are typically bought and worn for a few years, smartwatches have a limited life. Theyíre also still relatively new - are you going to feel embarrassed wearing something huge and square that draws too much attention in a few years?

    It comes in 3 sizes; 42mm with 20mm band lugs, 46mm with 22mm lugs and a ladies size 42mm with 16mm lugs. Theyíre available in rose gold, black or silver with leather or metal bands.

    Prices start at 379.99 CAN for a 42mm with a leather band up to 499.99 for a 42mm with a metal bracelet.

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    Iím checking out the silver 46mm one with a brown leather band. Depending on what youíre used to, this may seem kind of large. Personally, Iím fine with the larger 46mm 360 as some of my regular watches are similarly sized.

    The round body has stainless steels sides - it reminds me of some of my automatic watches. Thereís a shiney chrome bezel and a raised glass front. I would have preferred it if the bezels finished matched the sides.

    The raised glass also introduces a problem Iíve never thought of, youíll notice that the sides of the glass distort the display if youíre not looking at them straight on. I guess Motorola is hoping the glass will protect the bezel from getting scratched up.

    Itís pretty thin, I have automatic watches which are thicker than the 360 so theyíve solved the thickness problem.

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    Like most wearables, thereís a heart rate monitor on the back which is surrounded by shiny black plastic. Hereís something to think about, while the 360 is water resistant, the shiny black backing on Treatzí first gen 360 actually came off. Itís just stuck on with adhesive. Iím not sure what the lesson to be learned here is. He didnít wear it swimming and never submerges the 360 so maybe sweat will find its way in eventually. Or maybe some of his 3rd party Qi chargers generate too much heat. Hopefully, the second gen 360 is better in this regard.

    The back also houses the charging coil. Like its predecessor, the new 360 is Qi compatible so if already have a Qi charger than you can use it. Motorola includes a nice one in the box.

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    If you planning on sticking a metal bracelet on the 360 note that you probably wonít be able to use other Qi chargers unless theyíre able to fit in the opening for your wrist.

    I kind of wish the back and the side bezel were one piece or if the back was metal like a regular watch but I understand that wireless charging would have great difficulties working through this.

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    Thereís a single button on the right. In terms of feel, itís so-so. It doesnít click like the buttons on a fancy chronograph but itís not devoid of feel either. Anyways, I rarely used it, so my observations arenít terribly important.

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    There is a hole for the microphone on the side.

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    Included with mine is a band made from leather from Chicagoís Horween tannery. Watch nerds will know what this means but basically itís a watch band that made from leather thatís been tanned at the oldest tannery in the US.

    Itís very soft and wraps around your wrist really nicely. Some cheap leather bands are stiff and donít sit on your wrist well until youíve broken them in.

    That said, I personally wasnít a fan of the shade of brown they chose but I guess this is very subjective so you probably have a different opinion.

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    I couldn't capture it but I thought that the sides of the band looked a bit cheap too. A butterfly clasp would have been nice too.

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    Watch affectionados will like that Moto includes quick release lugs so you can remove the band easily without having to hunt for your spring bar.

    It has standard 22mm lugs so finding other bands should be a piece of cake.

    You get a round 360 x 330 display. Of course since the display is circular its actual resolution is lower than this. You lose about 25% of the pixels lopping off the corners. The smaller 42mm size comes with a 360x325 display.

    I often talk about screen resolution, DPI and whether this spec is relevant to a phone. In the case of the larger 360 and its 233DPI, itís very important. Typcially 230ish DPI is close to the threshold where things go from ďkind of sharpĒ to ďdownright dirtyĒ. This problem is exasperated by the fact that youíll tend to hold a small display closer to your eye.

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    You do get used to it but youíll always notice that itís not super sharp. The watch nerd in me also finds that many nicer analog watch dials faces tend to use really skinny arms.

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    The lower PPI mean the arms look positively ragged at some angles.

    To make matters worse, the screen turns down to save power when youíre not looking at it. It lowers the brightness, renders the watch face as wire frame and drastically reduces the resolution so it looks absolutely terrible.

    Iím used to looking at the sharp crisp lines when I look at a real watch so this is really disappointing.

    The smaller 42mm size is a little better in this regard because its 260ish PPI is a bit sharper looking.

    Thereís also the issue with Motorolaís inclusion of an IPS LCD with the 360. Resolution aside, itís actually a very nice display just check out the view angles.

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    But I noticed that while they're truly excellent for an LCD display, the blacks are never truly black. Thereís something really weird about having a watch that glows whenever youíre looking at it.

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    However, the worst thing about the 360 display isnít actually the display itself. The bottom half of the display has a light sensor which occupies the space from 5 to 7 oíclock. It's been nicknamed a "flat tire".

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    Itís not that noticeable when you have a black background but it looks terrible if youíre trying something that isnít totally black.

    Since weíre talking about the sensor, I noticed that it doesnít work all that well outdoors when it's bright. Itís terrible about gaining up the backlight to make it easier to see.

    The 360 has the right ingredients to be a stealthy, great looking watch but thereís something about the execution that leaves the watch nerd in me wanting.

    They really should have used OLED display with 350+ PPI, gave it a more expensive looking bezel and moved the brightness sensor somewhere less noticeable.

    Usage:

    Battery life is not bad - for a smart wearable. It will make it through a long day with about 30 or 40% left. If you forget to charge it, it will start to use less power and maybe even make it through a second but really, the idea is to make it through the day without any range anxiety and Motorola has nailed this with the 360.

    It takes about an hour to charge the battery halfway. I have no idea how long it takes to fully charge the battery because I never got it down to zero.

    Inside is a Snapdragon 400 with four 1.2Ghz Cortex A7 cores - youíll find something similar inside a Moto G.

    That said, the 360 isnít as fast as youíd think. While I wouldn'tí say itís laggy, apps can sometimes take a while to launch. Transitions are also not as butter smooth as they would be on a flagship.

    Still I was satisfied with the performance most of the time.

    Now letís talk about how it works with your phone.

    The Moto 360 and an iPhone:

    Iíll be blunt, the 360 sucks when I use it with my iPhone. To be fair, this isnít really the 360ís fault. Itís just that it runs Android wear and Android wear on the iOS leaves something to be desired.

    In the context of Android wear and competitors, there are 2 types of wearables. First off, thereís proprietary devices like a Fitbit or a Jawbone Up. They might deliver some notifications and that sort of thing but theyíre mostly used for health reasons or something like that. They have long battery life and typically try to stay out of the way.

    Then there are smarter wearables like an Android wear or Apple watch. You buy them because you want something more extensible that can run apps.

    The problem is that Android wear on iOS is incredibly limited and using it on iOS basically relegates it to the class of a fancy proprietary device.

    Remember when the first iPhone came out? Back then it didnít have any 3rd party apps so all you had were the core applications. It was fine for everyday use but it wasnít a terribly interesting device either. Thatís what the 360 is like on iOS.

    When you search for ďAndroid WearĒ in the app store you only get 1 relevant hit. Thereís just nothing for it on iOS.

    If youíre a watch nerd like me and were hoping to download tons of 3rd party watch faces to the 360, youíll be disappointed. While the 360 itself comes with a couple of faces from Motorola - some of which are quite good and a handful from Google I wish there were more.

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    As for apps you get the basic Android wear functionality including the Google Now voice assistant which isnít a bad start.

    It can show you notifications plus you can read your email. Thereís calendar functionality.

    You also get Moto Body which allows you to track your fitness. It includes a pedometer and a heart rate monitor.

    The weather app sounds useful but itís easier to just check it on my phone.

    Google Now sound useful but itís not really on iOS. Hereís an example, I had to meet Andrew the other day. I was running late and decided to use it to text Andrew that Iíd be late since I was drive. It recognized my command perfectly but all it did was run a Google search on ďtext Andrew Iím going to be 5 minutes lateĒ. How useless.

    That said, I did like how you can set timers with Google Now. It was nice to say ďset a timer for 5 minsĒ when I was barbecuing and didnít have a free hand.

    In the end, the 360 is a big waste if you have iOS because it just doesnít offer enough extensibility given its price tag. I mean it works but itís not much smarter than a regular wearable.

    Itís just a fish out of water on iOS.

    Moto 360 on Android:

    Next up I tried the 360 on a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ and then a Moto X Play.

    Now the 360 becomes much more interesting. You get many of the same watch faces that you do on iOS but there are tons more on Google Play or if you want something even more interest you can find 3rd party faces elsewhere using watch maker.

    There are also a bunch of other apps which makes the 360 a lot smarter and more fun to use.

    This is a much better pairing than using it on iOS. Fish, meet water.

    Closing Thoughts:

    To me, a smart wearable has 3 main functions; it should help us when we canít reach for our phone, it should make our lives easier and it should look good enough that Iíll actually want to wear it.

    Does the 360 help when you donít have a free hand? Sort of. Sometimes itís nice to use to read notifications to help me decide if I should whip out my phone out. I also glanced at it a few times when I was driving plus theyíre useful in meetings.

    Does it make my life easier? Sort of. The extra battery life keeps me from worrying about it running out of juice. The built-in wireless charging also makes it much easier to charge. I donít have to mess around with any magnetic pogo plugs or anything like that. That said, part of me is still annoyed that now I have to worry about keeping another device charged.

    Still, the big problem with the 360 and wearables in general is that a) it takes 2 hands to interact with it if youíre not using voice. Once my phone is out of my pocket, I can do an awful lot with just one hand. b) once I have to spend more than a few seconds on it, Iím better off taking my phone out of my pocket.

    The last point is a stickler for me. As far as wearables go, the 360 is one of the more photogenic examples but ultimately, itís not quite good enough that Iíd want to wear it all the time. While itís true that all my automatic watches stopped once I started wearing the 360, I really do want to start wearing them again and give the 360 a rest (and to let Andrew have a go with it).

    Then thereís the cost. The 360 is a bit too expensive. Consider this; when you spend $400 on a regular watch chances are youíll still be wearing it in 10 years. When you drop this much on a wearable chances are it youíll only be wearing it for 3 years tops.

    They may look the same and while both fight for space on my wrist, theyíre very different value propositions. They fulfill very different needs.

    I've been using the 360 for almost 2 weeks. In that time all my automatic watches have stopped working because I haven't touched them. Let's just say that I look forward to wearing them again.

    3.5 Howies out of 5.

    Pros:
    • 3 different sizes
    • 3 different colors
    • usable battery life


    Cons:
    • Expensive
    • Could look better

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    This is an incredibly well written review of the Moto 360 smartwatch!
    I have the same watch (with stainless steel band) and love it. I crashed my motorcycle while wearing it and although it's scuffed up, it still works perfectly.

    Is it safe to use an aftermarket charger cradle with these?

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    I also have a Gear 2 smartwatch from Samsung and I do miss the camera on the Moto 360 but they each have their benefits. I love the fact that you can change the display and style of the screen. Pretty cool! I'll do some more searching to see if these aftermarket charging cradles are okay to use or not before I order one. Thanks for the awesome article Howard!

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