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Motorola Moto 360 (2019) hands-on: Moto's 3rd gen smartwatch is a real looker

Price when reviewed 
340
inc VAT

The first Moto 360 for years touches down and it’s looking good

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Motorola was one of the first companies to jump in with an Android Wear smartwatch when they first began to appear back in 2014. But after releasing four models in the early years, Motorola went cool on the whole smartwatch concept. Finally, though, it has returned with the heavily leaked third-generation Moto 360 (2019), after a hiatus of four years.

Much has changed in the world of Google-based wearables since the dark days of Android Wear, however. Google rebranded in 2019 to Wear OS and the wearable OS has gone through several overhauls in the intervening time. The problem with Wear OS remains the same as ever, though: it’s tough for manufacturers to differentiate because the software experience is so similar.

Motorola Moto 360 (2019) review: Specifications, price and release date 

  • 1.2in 390 x 390 AMOLED always-on display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 chipset
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8GB storage
  • Heart rate, GPS/Galileo/GLONASS/Beidou, accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer, light sensor
  • NFC, Bluetooth 4.2, 801.11n Wi-Fi
  • Microphone
  • 355mAh battery (recharges from 0-100% in one hour)
  • Price: £340
  • Release date: UK pre-orders from Moto360.com from mid-November

Motorola Moto 360 3rd gen (2019) review: Hardware and design

So what about the hardware? Well, that looks pretty good to me. As you’d expect of a smartwatch released in 2019, the third-gen Moto 360 (2019) has every sensor going. There’s an optical heart-rate sensor on the rear for gauging your effort. You get GPS, GLONASS, Beidou and Galileo positioning support so you can track your pace without having to rely on your phone’s GPS chip. It has an accelerometer and gyroscope for detecting steps and other motion, plus there are barometer and ambient light sensors for setting the display brightness automatically.

Inside, the Moto 360 is powered by the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 chip with 1GB of RAM to back it up and a healthy 8GB of storage for downloaded music and apps. Plus, there’s NFC for Android Pay, Bluetooth 4.2 and 802.11n Wi-Fi support. The third-gen Moto 360 is at the cutting edge of Wear OS tech, in other words, and there’s nothing it misses out on apart from, perhaps, a speaker for making calls.

The design is lovely, though. It’s constructed from stainless steel with a matte finish on the bottom portion of the body and a polished finish on the bezel. It’s available in three colours – steel grey, rose gold and “phantom black”, with matching leather and silicone rubber straps included in the box – and it’s topped off with a colourful, sharp 1.2in 390 x 390 resolution AMOLED display. As we’ve seen with other Wear OS watches in recent times, this display can be set to always-on, meaning you can see the time without having to turn it fully on.

Our favourite part of the design, however, has to be the rotating crown. Positioned on the right side of the watch body above a customisable button, this allows you to scroll through lists of notifications and menu options without obscuring the screen by swiping with your finger. You can press it, too, to bring up the watch’s list of apps or go back to the home screen.

Motorola Moto 360 3rd gen (2019) review: Performance 

The device I was supplied for review was a pre-production model, running a slightly early software version so you can take some of my comments with a small pinch of salt. I’d hope, for instance, for an uplift in the speed and responsiveness of the UI and Google Assistant once the final firmware drops. At the moment it’s a tad on the sluggish side.

I’d also like an improvement in battery life from the 355mAh internal battery. So far, I’ve seen the watch last up to a day and a half with minimal GPS use and just short of a full day with a couple of hours of GPS use. I’m not sure how much this is going to improve in the future, though: Motorola's claims of day-long battery life are fairly conservative.

The good news, however, is that it doesn’t go entirely dead when the gauge hits zero. Like other recent Wear OS devices, it will show the time for up to three days after that and it charges up pretty quickly, too, so you should be back up and running in no time. Motorola says the 360 will go from empty to 100% in 60 minutes.

As far as the GPS and heart rate accuracy is concerned that appears to be fairly decent, too. Tracked distances on a bike ride differed from the same tracked on my phone by only a tiny amount. Heart rate readings were out by a bit more, with an average heart rate reading 10bpm below that produced with my Bluetooth MyZone chest belt. However, I haven’t had the opportunity to test it more extensively on a single hour-long cycle ride so these findings may well change once I have time to test it out more thoroughly.

Motorola Moto 360 3rd gen (2019) review: Early verdict

There’s nothing inherently wrong with the Motorola Moto 360, which appears from all evidence to be a perfectly decent Wear OS device. It has all the sensors you’d expect of a premium smartwatch, includes the latest Snapdragon Wear 3100 chipset and battery life, although not amazing, isn’t all that much different from the Wear OS competition.

The problem the Moto 360 is likely to face is that it’s pretty pricey at £340 and, in the Wear OS arena, there’s a lot of competition from firms like TicWatch offering smartwatches in the same category but at significantly lower prices. Add sports tracking experts such as Garmin into the mix and the outlook doesn’t look wholly positive for the new Moto 360.

Still, this is as good-looking a smartwatch as we’ve seen lately and it’s good to see Motorola finally get back on the wearables bandwagon after a few years out in the cold. Those two factors may well be enough to secure it some sales when it’s available for pre-order in the UK from mid-November.

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