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Moto 360 2nd Gen review: Motorola's round smartwatch

Christopher Minasians Seth Barton
10 Mar 2017
Expert Reviews Recommended Logo
Moto 360 2nd Gen lead
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
229
from (inc VAT)

The new Moto 360 adds a smaller size and lots of customisation options to come out on top

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The original Motorola Moto 360, was one of the standout smartwatches for Android Wear. Now with the watch being compatible with the much improved Android Wear 2.0 smartwatch operating system, the Moto 360 2nd Gen has a breath of fresh air.

Despite complaints about its 'flat-tire' design, Motorola stuck to it, and you'll unfortunately still see it on the newer Moto 360 2nd Gen. Since the original Moto 360, the competition has heated up, with a lot of manufacturers offering smartwatches to complement their smartphones. We're pleased that Motorola addressed some of our major gripes with the 2nd Gen watch and despite its flaws, it's a worthy contender to smartwatches found in 2017.

Moto 360 2nd Gen review: Build quality and display

Most importantly, the Moto 360 is no longer a one-size-fits-all watch. There are now two screen sizes, 46mm and 42mm. The larger 46mm watch is described as ‘Designed for men’ and uses a 22mm band. However, I think most will be happier with the smaller 42mm model. This comes in a ‘Designed for men’ version with a 20mm band and a ‘Designed for women’ model with a slimmer 16mm band (shown here).

Unless you really like a really big watch, the smaller model is the better choice. I didn’t find the smaller 1.37in screen to be any harder to read, or interact with, than the 1.56in screen on the larger model. With both models being 11.4mm thick even the smaller model is still a pretty chunky watch but then the Apple Watch is 10.5mm and the Asus Zenwatch is 9.4mm, so it’s in the same ballpark as its main rivals.

There’s also a Moto 360 Sport, with built-in GPS and a moulded silicone shell, which I’ll deal with in a separate review when samples are available.

Moto 360 2nd Gen review: Design

Motorola has sensibly provided numerous options to customise your Moto 360 to your tastes via its easy to use Moto Maker. As well as choosing the size, you can pick the colour of the case, the colour of the bezel, whether you want that with a ‘micro knurl’ or ‘micro cut’ texture on your bezel, plus there’s a range of leather or metal link bands. All the bands are easily removable thanks to quick-release catches on the rear, so you can easily switch them out.

There’s not the huge range of options that Apple is quickly assembling for the Apple Watch, admittedly, but there’s a lot of choice and prices are fairly consistent too, unlike with Apple. The cheapest watch (42mm, silver, plain bezel, leather strap) costs £229, while even the most expensive (46mm, gold finish, texture bezel, metal strap) only comes to £349.

Moto 360 2nd Gen change strap

^ Changing the strap is really easy

Now of course that’s not a real gold watch, as with Apple’s effort, but at least the Moto's price variations are small enough that you can buy the watch you want, not just the watch you can afford. A stainless steel Moto 360 with link bracelet is £259, while a similar-looking Apple Watch starts at £819.

The new 360 is easily the most customisable Android smartwatch around, with around 300 potential combinations on offer. When you consider that you can easily add any watch strap you like, thanks to the standard lugs, it has more potential for customisation than even the Apple Watch.

Moto 360 2nd Gen review: Durability

The new Moto 360 is as tough as the old one. The screen is protected by Gorilla Glass 3 and there’s IP67 dust and water resistance, so you can wear it on the beach, though not in the sea. My review sample came in the Rose Gold finish and the case stood up pretty well to the roughhousing I gave it over a couple of weeks of testing, with no noticeable marks or scratches.

It’s worth noting that the older Moto 360 has stood up to similar treatment for months now. It even, miraculously, survived a trip through the washing machine at 60C, coming back to life after a day or two of drying out!

The only weak point remains the leather band, which has a pleasingly raw, textured finish, but which means it’s more permeable than a shinier band. I wear a smartwatch all the time I’m awake, and with two small kids that means it regularly gets wet, gets odd splashes of food on it and more besides. The Moto 360’s basic strap is fine for those with a neater life, but it was looking pretty worn, pretty quick for me. There may be a sports version, but a smart plastic strap for this watch would be a nice option. Though you can pick one up online for less than £10.

Moto 360 2nd Gen strap

^ The strap started to see some wear after a few dousings with water

Other than that niggle, the Moto 360 2nd Gen looks and feels great, and is very comfortable to wear. The crown button has been moved around to a more easily accessible position at two O’clock, plus it has much clear feedback than before, with a distinct click when you press it.

Moto 360 2nd Gen review: Performance

The components inside have been improved as well. There’s an upgrade to a more energy efficient Snapdragon 400 processor (along with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage), which alone should increase battery life. In addition the new smaller model maintains the 300mAh battery of the original, while the larger model is upgraded to a bigger 400mAh battery, so both have bigger batteries compared to their screen sizes.

In practice I found that the 42mm Moto 360 2nd Gen easily lasted a day of use (even in the Always-on setting, so that you can always see the time) with around 30% of battery left. Turn this off and you can eke out two days of light use from the device – depending of course on just how many notifications you receive and use the watch to respond to.

There’s now an option to double-click the crown button to put the screen to sleep entirely. This improves battery life, as the watch won’t come to life every time you shake your wrist, you just click the button again to awaken it.

The wireless charging dock remains largely unchanged from the original, except it has a couple of extra lumps on the bottom to help hold the smaller model in the correct place. The watch, if placed carefully, will work on any Qi wireless charger, so you might get away with taking a single such charger with you on holiday. Most people, though, will have to pack the little charging stand when they go away.

There’s no NFC here, so the Moto 360 2nd Gen won’t benefit from any future efforts to push Android Pay to Android Wear (as Apple Pay works with Apple Watch). There are dual microphones so you can use voice commands to control Android Wear, or dictate text messages, but you can't use it to answer calls by chatting to your wrist.

You do get a heart-rate monitor, which could be handy for those who like the sense of achievement provided by achieving ever-escalating goals set by your watch. I’ve never understood how these are set or what relationship they have actual medical advice on activity levels; they are always very pleased with me at the outset, as I walk pretty much everywhere, and then become nagging when I refuse change my behaviour to meet the next target up. Continues on page 2.

Moto 360 2nd Gen review: Display

The screen resolution has been bumped slightly from the previous model's 320x290, but not so much you’d notice with 360x325 and 360x330 producing a respectable 263 and 233 pixels per inch, on the 42mm and 46mm models respectively. The LCD screen is bright enough to read in strong sunlight, with the ambient light sensor adjusting brightness to match the conditions.

That sensor is housed at the bottom of the screen, where the new Moto 360 2nd Gen still has the black section that so infuriated some in its first iteration. Many thought this was just sloppy design, but it appears it’s a necessary evil in order to make a round smartwatch with such a thin bezel - after all there aren’t any others on the market that can match it.

Moto 360 2nd Gen passive screen

^ Bright lighting, at an angle, in passive screen mode, and still no problems reading this display

Whatever the reason, that dark slice at the bottom will continue to aggravate some and I can see why. Personally, I stopped noticing it a while back, though I do tend to use digital time displays as I find them more convenient, rather than analogue layouts which arguably fit the design better, but which clash with the screen shape more. It may be a little mad on a round watch, but I last had a wristwatch with hands around 25 years ago and I have no plans to return to one.

Moto 360 2nd Gen review: Android Wear

The Moto 360 2nd Gen is compatible with Android Wear 2.0, where you'll receive a free update to the new operating system.

Unsurprisingly, given Google’s iron rule over what manufacturers can do with Android Wear in terms of customisation, the 2nd generation Moto 360 feels very similar to the original watch in everyday use. Notifications still appear as they arrive on your phone, and you can interact with them or dismiss them with a swipe, or hide them for later. Apps are still on the right, accessible with a swipe, and everything is integrated with Google Now.

Motorola’s only major change is the addition of ‘Live Dial’ watch faces, which can be set to display battery levels, step counts or app shortcuts without obstructing the time, or any visible notifications. This is just another degree of the deep customisation available, but it’s also a welcome way to make at-a-glance information more useful to your personal preferences.

Because the Moto 360 runs the latest version of Android Wear, it will play nicely with iOS devices as well as Android smartphones. You still pair with a phone over Bluetooth, but Wi-Fi is also available so you can get notifications even when you’re out of Bluetooth range, handy around the home.

In use it feels responsive, with inputs being acted upon instantly and animations looking smooth. The new hardware is a help but looking at the Android Wear 5.1 update on the original Moto 360, we can see that Google’s improvements to its operating system are largely to thank.

Moto 360 2nd Gen review: Verdict

Android Wear is coming along nicely, but smartwatches haven’t yet become a must-have accessory for all smartphone users but for those who like to keep their phone tucked away, while getting all their notifications hassle-free, they’re a great buy. The Moto 360 2nd Gen isn’t about to change that, but it keeps it at the top of the Android Wear pile.

Its longer battery life, more powerful hardware and slightly sharper screen are all welcome additions to this new Moto 360, but none of them are dramatic improvements. Instead, it’s the new 42mm screen size and great variety of styling options that are the real boon here, whatever your gender or aesthetic preferences there’s something here for you - and at a reasonable price.

Despite Android Wear now working with iOS, I still think an Apple Watch is the best choice for iPhone owners. Although if you must have a stainless steel watch and just want basic notifications to your wrist then the £560 price hike for the Apple device will push some towards the 360 - although the steel version of the Pebble Time at £230 is a strong contender too.

For those with Android devices, the Moto 360 2nd Gen is a more straightforward choice and is my new favourite smartwatch. If you like the look, then the Asus Zenwatch is a bargain alternative for around £150 but it’s not quite as impressive looking with its big screen bezels, it doesn’t have a convenient to use a heart-rate sensor, buit most importantly it lacks the customisation options of the Moto 360. Buy Now from Amazon.



Hardware
ChipsetQualcomm Snapdragon 400 1.2GHz
Memory512MB
Storage4GB
PedometerYes
Heart-rate monitorYes
GPSNo
WaterproofYes (IP67)
Other featuresVibration motor, dual microphones
Display
Display size1.37in or 1.56in (circular)
Resolution360x325 or 360x330
Display technologyLCD
Smartphone connection
OS supportAndroid 4.3+
WirelessBluetooth 4.0, 802.11g
Battery
Battery size300 or 400mAh
Battery life1-2 days
Buying information
Price including VATFrom £229 inc VAT
WarrantyOne-year RTB
Supplierhttps://www.motorola.co.uk/products/moto-360
Detailshttps://moto360.motorola.com
Part code360S

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