Motorola Moto 360 review

Owning a smartwatch has always been a dream of mine ever since they hit mainstream with the release of Pebble, Samsung Gear, Moto 360 and then Apple Watch. While Pebble didn’t appeal to me enough in term of design, I got myself a Samsung Gear smartwatch 2 years ago. Suffice to say I didn’t give it a shining review, it was just not good enough. And then Motorola’s Moto 360 came out followed shortly by Apple Watch and a few other Android Wear wearables. Sure Apple Watch is cool and being a self-professed Apple fan I can’t say I’m not dreaming of getting one, someday. But then as with any new Apple devices, they’re expensive and beyond my budget at the moment. Plus I didn’t like the square design of the Apple Watch much. I prefer the classic rounded design of the Moto 360 more compared to the Apple Watch and other Android Wear wearables who were mostly square/rectangle at the time of writing.

Hence why a year after it came out and I finally can afford a second hand smartwatch, my heart is set on the Moto 360 and nothing else. Priced at nearly a thousand ringgit for a brand new watch, I got a second hand one for 550 ringgit. Quite a bargain for a quality Android Wear smartwatch in an almost mint condition. I said almost because the Horween leather band is slightly wrinkled due to wear and tear. In the box I got the charging cradle and a wall charger. The watch show charging progress as well as time while charging at the cradle and I must say it looks damn good sitting on my desk at night.

So how does Android Wear works? You basically swipe your way top, right, left and bottom to go settings, features and apps. The UI features cards that fills the entire screen and it changes with every swipe. I must say the swiping is pretty smooth, no visible lag and I can’t remember experiencing any apps freezing. The screen will turn off after a few seconds when you’re not using or looking at it and of course you can set it longer or make it always on. Bear in mind battery life will suffer if you turn that feature on. There’s only one button on the right side which you press to turn on the screen or to turn on the watch or force off by pressing slightly longer (~6 seconds). You can also turn on the screen by turning the watch naturally to your face or touching the screen with your finger. Somehow I feel that the screen delays a bit before turning on when you rotate your arm, there’s like 500 milliseconds of lag although small but fairly noticeable. I expect to see the time immediately when I look at my watch but the Moto 360 falls short in this department.

A year after its debut, there a now Android Wear apps for both Android and Apple smartphones. However the iOS app is clearly lacking in features compared to its Android counterpart. The iOS version is only capable of showing notifications, Google Now cards and incoming calls, that’s about it. Basically every notifications from your iPhone will show up on your Moto 360 including emails, messages, Whatsapp, music playing, everything. It’s basically an extension of your iPhone’s notification alerts. You can control music from the Moto 360, search for websites using Google Now and that’s about it. You can change the settings from the iOS app, change watch faces (they are quite limited) and there’s no Google Play store to browse from. Compare that to the Android version - you can reply texts and emails fromt the watch, browse, download and use many third party apps, play music offline from the watch and much-much more. To be honest, I didn’t get to test my Moto 360 with the Android version for long because I switched to the iOS version shortly after getting the watch. All those features that I just said, I read them from review blogs he he (what kind of review is this?).

That said although there’s only so few things you can do with Moto 360 and iOS, I mainly use it for wait for it.. to look at the time! And read notifications from my iPhone of course. With the Moto 360 on my arm, I no longer need to fish my phone out of my pocket to take a look new Whatsapp messages, incoming emails and pretty much every other new notifications there is. My Moto 360 will beep and vibrate a little and with a little twist, I’m up to date. Sounds rather lazy/silly you might say but with dozens of emails and messages every day, some of them important, the rest are not so, it’s so convenient to filter them out just by glancing at my wrist. I have the option to dismiss the notifications on my watch or I could just let it pass and replaced by new ones. And although I said the watch faces are limited to the default few installed by Motorola (now Lenovo), they are pretty good and most of the time I only use the pretty minimal red, black and white watch face anyway. I’m simple like that.

So what else can I do with the Moto 360? It features an optical heart rate monitor which worked well enough although I think it’s more of a novelty than a necessity. I mean how many times a day would you want to check your heart rate anyway? If you’ve been running it should be high and if you’ve been sitting on your ass all day it should be pretty low. I like how Google Now steadily give me new updates like traffic condition, latest football score and weather forecast.

Design wise, I simply love the circular watch face. It’s the main reason I chose it over Apple Watch. I must say the watch is a tad too thick for my liking and it sometimes feel bulky on my wrist. It will look alright on my manly arm but definitely too big for the ladies. The screen is bright and crispy although I could do without the ‘flat tire’ visible at the bottom of the screen. Motorola said they had to make it that way to put the proximity, ambiance and other sensors for the watch and to avoid making the bezel thicker. Whatever, I say their engineers is not good enough because as of now, newer Android Wear watches came out with the unsightly flat tire design. Another gripe that I have about the Moto 360 is the sorry battery life. I know other Android Wear wearables don’t excel so much in this department as well but using the Moto 360 heavily during the day, it would barely last the entire day at work and completely drained by night. So I practically had to charge it every day at night or whenever the battery gets low (duh). Wearing a smartwatch with the anxiety of it running out of battery is not exactly ideal for me hence why I only managed to stick with it for 2 months before selling it online. Aside from short battery life and thick and bulky frame, the Moto 360 is the perfect smartwatch for me. I looked at the 2nd gen Moto 360 watch that came out earlier this year but they still retain pretty much the same design and size and I doubt the battery life will be any better. Make it smaller, get rid of the flat tire and improve the battery life and I will definitely switch back to Moto 360 in no time.

Would I recommend the Moto 360? Only if you don’t mind all the tiny shortcomings that I mentioned above. Otherwise go for the other slimmer Android Wear wearables, Pebble or even the Apple Watch.

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