The second iteration of the Moto 360 smartwatch – released 15 months after the first generation – scores points over its predecessor in nearly all categories, not least of which is that it's available in two different sizes (42 mm and 46 mm) and one (42 mm) specially marked for women – albeit with a thinner strap. But that’s not all. There’s a fourth variant – the Moto 360 Sport, which has its own quirky little feature-set.
But is the second generation of Motorola smartwatches truly worth your time – not to mention, money? Read on and find out.
Build and design: 9/10
The version we tested was the 42 mm version for men with the natural metal dial, silver case and the rather fancy-sounding, cognac leather band. Weighing around 55 grams (including the weight of the strap), the first impression of the Moto 360 is that it feels like a watch.
This might sound like a very obvious thing to say, but it’s a fact. It wasn’t until the haptics kicked in, and there was a notification about something or the other, that it gave the impression of being a smartwatch. For the rest of the time, it just felt like a very elegant timepiece — one that certainly looked smart, but was not required to do anything apart from tell the time.
The round dial of the watch, with its thin bezel has something to do with this feeling. As does the Moto 360’s relative thinness – 11.4 mm. One notable departure from the look and feel of a conventional watch is the crown, located at the 60° point (or 2 o’clock if you prefer). And while at first, this does look slightly strange, you’ll be grateful when you put your hand down and don’t feel the crown jabbing into the back of your hand — or worse, inadvertently pressing the button.
The presence of numerous holes on the default wrist strap is a small touch, but a nice one nonetheless. It accommodates wearers with thin wrists and rounds off a very aesthetically pleasing piece of wearable technology.
For the most part, the 1.37-inch LCD display with 360 x 325 pixels and the 263ppi offer a crisp visual experience with no sign of pixellation, no matter how closely you examine the screen. There are only two problems with the display, however. The first is the oft-cited ‘flat tyre’ look, i.e. the screen is not a full circle, due to a tiny black strip at the bottom, which serves as the light sensor on the watch. And the second is that when watching videos — yes, some people watch videos on their watches — the image warps at the edges.
The screen itself — Gorilla Glass 3 with an oleophobic coating — is remarkably smudge-proof and scratch-proof, which is handy for a surface that will regularly be exposed to fingertips, dust, perhaps water droplets and the occasional rough surfaces. The photoplethysmographic heart rate detector below the watch — which is increasingly becoming an industry norm — seems accurate when compared with other heart rate-monitoring devices.
The 4 GB of internal storage seems excessive for a watch — particularly considering it doesn’t have a camera with which to click megabyte-hungry photos — but, in time, you’ll find a way to fill it up. The 512 MB of RAM is formidable, but certain issues (more on this later) make you wish you had a bit more horsepower. A positive feature is the presence of Wi-fi connectivity, which means that you are no longer encumbered by the range of Bluetooth. Provided your phone and Moto 360 are on the same network, you can be as far away from your phone as you desire, and miss nothing.
Be warned, if you are planning to use that Runtastic app while you run outdoors, ensure that you have the phone with you. The Moto 360 will not record any data on Runtastic, if it's used stand alone, as we realised the hard way.
The Moto 360 relies on induction charging with a port (provided in the box) that plugs neatly into the power plug with a simple mini USB cable. While this is convenient, and a full charge takes barely 40 minutes — the 320 mAh battery size might have something to do with that, it also means that you have to carry the charger port with you if you plan to be out overnight (more on this later). Plus, if you misplace it or damage it, a replacement costs around Rs 2,000 (at the time of writing), so you'll need to be careful with it.
Compatible with Android 4.3 and above, the Moto 360 supports most Android Wear apps that are easily downloadable on your mobile. Most. There are a few apps out that are not optimised for the Moto 360 (the round screen requires app developers to re-design some apps) and others that simply refuse to cooperate with the smartwatch. That said, there’s a rich variety of apps available — from health and fitness ones, to sports trackers, weather apps, music apps, even apps that help you perfect your golf swing and lots and lots of watch faces (more on this later).
Performance and usability: 6/10
Setting up the smartwatch is simply a case of following the instructions on the watch, logging in with your Google ID, downloading the Android Wear app from Google Play and you’re ready to go.
If you are familiar with the Android interface on mobile, getting the hang of the Moto 360’s user interface is a snap — it’s just smaller and rounder. Notifications can be checked by swiping up and dismissed by swiping down. Or if you prefer, flicking your wrist outward to check notifications and flick inward to dismiss them. Warning: This starts to take its toll on your wrist after a while.
Moving away from the home screen, a swipe left takes you to a miniature version of Google Now cards. Another swipe takes you to a vertical list of all your apps. What is notable however, is that you don’t need to undertake more than two (or three, at the most) gestures to go from the default watch screen to whatever it is you want to do.
The lack of an in-built speaker is a small (very small) drawback, but the presence of a microphone means you can use Google search and reply to emails, WhatsApp messages and SMSes by simply talking at the screen — no matter how foolish it makes you look. The quality of voice recognition is above average.
The ability to customise the watch face is a major draw for smartwatches, and the Moto 360 ups the ante, allowing you to — if you choose not to opt for one of the downloadable weather-based or sensex-based or currency converter-based watch faces, and there are thousands of variants — change everything from the colour of your watch face to the specific reading you wish to track, be it weather, temperature, heart rate, steps taken, etc.
The smooth integration of the heart rate monitor with the onboard gyroscope and dedicated fitness apps means that fitness data can not only be measured, but also tracked over time and graphically displayed. All that data just becomes more meaningful when displayed as a graph!
The acid test of a smartwatch however should be — if it isn’t already — how much it reduces your phone usage. The fact that you can read messages, reply to them, run a Google search and dismiss calls without having to even unlock your phone is a major bonus (the only hitch is when you actually want to answer a call, at which point, it’s over to your phone).
And now onto the problems.
The first of which is that the Moto 360 is slow right out of the box. Whether it was an issue with the unit reviewed or a trend across these smartwatches, we don't know. It takes around a second for screens to transition to the next, and up to two or three seconds for apps to load up. While not significant, this does disrupt an otherwise fluid experience. Google Maps, however, is a major disruption. After taking up to 10 seconds on occasion to load up fully, zooming in and zooming out is a chore with added loading times while the screen renders all the elements.
Another problem — that is less a defect or bug than a design flaw — is the inability to revisit messages or emails once they've been swiped away. You’ll simply have to look at your phone for that.
Battery life: 7/10
A 320 mAh battery that should last you at least 24 hours in theory, lasted only 15 hours or so (with medium to heavy use) after the first charge. Curiously, the Moto 360’s battery life seemed to expand over time with subsequent charges and leveled off at around 20 to 22 hours per charge. Considering the reasonably slim design, fitting a battery with a larger capacity would be detrimental, design-wise, but this is probably not the smartwatch to take on a camping trip in the wilderness.
It can be argued, however, that despite lasting less than a day, the amount of battery life you conserve on your phone levels things out, but that is a slightly tenuous argument.
Verdict and Pricing in India
At a shade below Rs 20,000, the Moto 360 is a premium smartwatch in terms of build and utility, as well as its price tag. The real question you need to ask yourself before procuring one is how much you truly want a smartwatch, because at that price tag, it’s possible to buy a very high-quality watch of the conventional variety.
If it’s a micro version of a mobile phone — and one that greatly reduces the time you spent idly checking your phone — that you seek, the Moto 360 is definitely worth consideration. It probably wouldn’t hurt to mention that it is an attention magnet, which is a downside or upside (depending on how you see it) because this smartwatch will attract all sorts of stares, gazes, queries and compliments.
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