When we reviewed the 2nd generation Moto 360 smartwatch last month, we said “if you’re looking to dip your toes into the smartwatch game and don’t want to shell out for something high-end like an Apple Watch, the Moto 360 makes itself easy to recommend.”
Now, Motorola have released a follow-up to the Moto 360 with the fitness-focused Moto 360 Sport. According to the company, “Moto 360 Sport has all the tools you need to hit the road and push for your personal best.” The smartwatch packs built-in GPS and seamless integration with popular fitness apps including MapMyRun, Under Armour Record, Strava, Google Fit and Fitbit. The short version of this spiel is that the 360 Sport can do more or less everything that the 360 can, with a few extra health and fitness functions thrown on top. It feels like an attempt to strike a balance between what you’d want out of something like a FitBit and a more-dedicated smartwatch like the Samsung Gear.
Overall, the Moto 360 Sports showcases some improvements on Motorola’s end and like it’s predecessors it makes a reasonably strong case for itself – even if our concerns that smartwatches as a whole still have a ways to go remain relevant. However, unfortunately, it does feel like it’s a case of one-step-forward-two-steps-back for Motorola here.
Available in white, black and orange colour variations, the Moto 360 Sports features a more bulky, rubber design that its predecessors. There’s a tactice metal ring around the screen that’s a nice touch but overall the product has a notably less appealing form factor. Taking the watch on and off doesn’t really feel very elegant – and given the reduced battery life – it’s a problem that rears its head quickly.
On top of this, the rubber material also tends to be a major magnet for dust and grime. As a result, the 360 Sport doesn’t look as sharp as it should and often feels like it falls short of its asking price. While this rubber does added resilience towards sweat, it also comes at the cost of customizations. Previous Moto 360 offerings allowed you to customize the straps. Here, you’re pretty much stuck with whatever color you choose upfront.
There are some silver linings to be found here: mostly in the form of the 360 Sports’ hybrid AnyLight display. As Motorola have been quick to emphasize, the AnyLight display makes it easy to read off in both indoor and outdoor environments in addition to helping the 360 Sport do a better job of prolonging battery life. The former makes more gains than the latter here but, to be honest, I think the impact of the AnyLight display might be too subtle for its own good. Technically, it’s a inspired addition to Motorola’s smartwatch formula but in practice, I doubt most users will even note the way the 360 Sport fluidly adapts and adjusts screen lighting to suit different environments. While the AnyLight display is absolutely something I hope rolls over into future iterations of the product, it falls short of the game-changer the Moto 360 Sport needs it to be.
On the other side of things, the Sport still suffers from the same black-bar issue as the Moto 360. Again, it’s not exactly a deal-breaker for the wearable but anything that makes you second-guess whether or not your device is faulty can’t really be called a good thing.
Though the unique strengths of the 360 Sport have to be considered, it doesn’t do quite enough to alleviate the same-issues we had with the Motorola’s last offering. The 360 Sport might offer genuine utility for sports-nuts but at its $450 pricepoint, it’s still difficult to recommend over more dedicated devices from companies like FitBit.