The first iteration of the Moto 360 was about as well received as any first-gen smartwatch could be. It sustained some criticism for its weak processor and battery life but was praised for its external aesthetics. Like many of the players in the market, it was more focused on making it to the smartphone market than it was making it in the smartphone market.
Form over function feels like it has become the name of the game when it comes to smartphones and the original Moto 360 strove for a good balance between price, power and style. In comparison, however, the second generation hits a lot closer to that sweet spot.
It addresses a lot of the issues where its predecessor fell short and leaves the company on the right foot going forward. It’s a markedly better device than it’s predecessor, even if it does stumble somewhat when it comes to the usual strains of the smartwatch proposition.
Visually, it’s still a refined blend of metal and leather than be customised at both a hardware and software level. It looks sharp on your wrist (and the wireless recharge looks nice on your desk). On most levels, it’s very eye-catching gadgetry.
Again, the Moto 360 supports and is powered by Android Wear. The good news here is that it’s compatible with both Android and iOS smartphones but the bad news is there’s little on the software side of functionality that the Moto 360 can really offer over most of its competitors. Everything is controlled via swipes and taps and while it does definitely save time, the exact value of that time saved is where your mileage is going to vary.
The Moto 360 sits in relative confidence with most Android-based smartwatches. You can remotely view and answer messages and emails. You can pause, play and mess with the music coming out of your phone. You can set alarms and reminders. The watch even has a number of Moto Body health-centric functions.
When it comes to the technical specs of the techpiece, it’s a little thinner and slimmer than Motorola’s previous efforts. The biggest improvements here come on the processor front with the Moto 360 now peddling the 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400.
It feels worlds faster than the first-gen device and a fully charged battery will last you between one and two days before a break is necessary.
It also boasts a slightly higher resolution than the original Moto 360 but the traditional LED back-light at work here feels like it’s holding the device back more than anything else.
There’s a deliberate black bar at the bottom of the screen that constantly made me second guess whether I had ended up with a faulty device. Even in the best of circumstances, it’s quirk of design that worked to mar my experience with the smartwatch.
Whether we’re talking about Apple, Samsung or Motorola – the same caveats always apply. Sure, any smartwatch is a luxury item but if the tech niche wants to fully cement itself it needs to offer more than minor conveniences and half-baked integrations.
No amount of good aesthetics can solve the fundamental problems faced by most smartwatches. You can answer and read notifications without but the tangible value of those improvements is hard to gauge.
With an RRP of $479, the Moto 360 sits at a higher price-point than even the deluxe smartphone being released alongside it and it’s hard to say if the convenience, minor as it is, is worth the expense.
However, 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.
It showcases some strong improvements on Motorola’s end and makes a reasonably strong case for itself – even smartwatches as a whole still have a ways to go on that front.