Motorola Moto 360 2 review: The most attractive Android Wear smartwatch
The Motorola Moto 360 2 is Motorola’s second smartwatch, and as updates go, there surely cannot have been one as sorely needed as this. The first Motorola Moto 360 smartwatch was, and remains, among the most attractive wearables around, but it suffered from poor battery life and sluggish performance thanks to its outdated core hardware. It had huge potential, but was undermined by those two key failings.
The Moto 360 2 fixes both problems in one fell swoop, by replacing the ageing 45nm Ti OMAP 3 processor of the original with a 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400. It’s a more efficient unit and that shows in the watch’s stamina. Even the smaller Moto 360 2, which has a relatively low-capacity 300mAh battery, lasts longer than the original 2014 Moto 360.
With the screen set to Always-on mode, the 42mm Moto 360 2 comfortably made it to the end of every day I used it, with room to spare. With the screen set to off, except for when I raised my wrist to check notifications, it lasted two days solid, and the larger 46mm Moto 360 should provide even longer battery life. It has an even bigger 400mAh battery inside.
This is surely helped by the fact that Motorola has kept the ambient light sensor in place, even if it impinges on the watch’s elegant lines somewhat. Embedded in a small black segment at the bottom of the watch face, this ensures you don’t have to adjust the brightness up and down manually as you do with so many other Android Wear devices.
Motorola Moto 360 2: Design and features
In that respect, the Moto 360 2 looks very similar to last year’s model; in every other respect, it’s all new. In fact, the revamped Motorola Moto 360 represents not one, but a whole family of new devices.
Dubbed the Moto 360 Collection, there are now two different sizes of Moto 360 to choose between and several varieties of strap. The cases measure 42mm and 46mm in diameter, and these come with 20mm width standard wristbands. There’s also another “Designed for women” model with a 42mm housing and a narrower 16mm wristband.
Not content with that, Motorola has also added a fitness-focused model to the line-up – the Moto 360 Sport – you can read the full review of this here. This has an embedded GPS so you can track your runs and rides without having to take your phone out with you, a transflective colour screen that’s easier to read in full sunshine, and a brighter, more colourful silicone rubber housing and strap, designed to be sweat and moisture resistant.
Significantly, Motorola has gone big on customisation, too. Buy a Moto 360 2 via the Moto Maker website and you’ll be able to set the size and strap type, the colour of the watch body and bezel independently from one another, and even add a “micro knurl” texture to the front bezel for extra bling.
Motorola claims there are more than 300 possible combinations and, unlike the Apple Watch, going for a metal strap won’t leave you bankrupt. The stainless-steel straps do come at a premium, but they only add £30 to the price.
Better still, changing straps is now easier than ever. Motorola has added a small quick-release tab to the straps’ spring bars (the bits that attach the strap to the watch body), which allow you to chop and change as the mood takes you.
I was sent the smallest model, complete with slim strap and the smaller 42mm body, and apart from the disturbing flesh-tone leather wristband, I rather liked it. The smaller housing is the perfect size for my delicate wrists, and I suspect that it will be for many people, male or female. Motorola has really got its design spot on this time around.
Motorola Moto 360 2 review: Software and other features
There isn’t all that much to say about the rest of the Moto 360, other than it’s more of the same. The watch still has a PPG heart rate monitor, and it still can’t do continuous heart rate monitoring. Instead, it’s set up to carry out spot checks throughout the day and report back via the watch’s accompanying Moto Body Heart Activity app.
The Moto 360 still doesn’t use an AMOLED screen, which would seem to make more sense from the point of view of battery life than the backlit IPS panel in use here, but there’s nothing wrong with its brightness levels, colours or sharpness. It’s topped with Gorilla Glass 3, which is still pristine on my review sample, and the whole shebang is dust- and water-resistant to the IP67 standard.
One thing worth noting at this point is that the resolution and pixel density of the screen varies depending on the model you choose. The smaller 42mm watch has a slightly sharper display (at 360 x 325 and 263ppi) than the 46mm model (at 360 x 330 and 233ppi), but that’s not a huge difference, and you’ll struggle to tell the difference between the two at normal viewing distances.
Perhaps more importantly, the 360 retains that most useful of smartwatch features: inductive wireless charging. It supports the Qi standard, so not only can you set the watch down on the bundled cradle to charge it, but also any other wireless-charging plate that supports the same standard. You can even use one of Ikea’s wireless-charging bedside tables if you like. It’s such a good system that you wonder why more smartwatch manufacturers aren’t taking advantage of the technology.
As for software, you still get the Motorola Moto Body apps, which record your heart rate, steps and calories, plus there’s an expanded selection of Motorola watch faces, with three new ones added this time around. And of, course, it all runs on Android Wear, Google’s wearable OS, which continues to improve and mature as time wears on.
I think Wear’s Google Now-based, voice-driven UI really suits the whole smartwatch concept, and given that it’s now possible to use some of the features of Android Wear on iOS as well, the OS has broader appeal than ever. What Google needs to do next is to improve the way apps present and bundle together notifications. While the Google apps work perfectly, presenting lists of individual notifications that can be expanded and read in full at a tap, the experience becomes far more inconsistent once you step outside those boundaries to third-party apps.
Slack and Outlook, two apps I use heavily on a day-to-day basis, are examples of this, bundling up multiple notifications into hard-to-read lists on single notification cards that can’t be expanded or read fully. It needs sorting out, and it needs sorting out soon.
Motorola Moto 360 2: Verdict
Still, there isn’t much that Motorola can do about that, and what it has done with the Moto 360’s hardware is to be applauded. The Moto 360 2 is a much more attractive, refined and practical smartwatch than last year’s model, with different sizes and strap widths that mean it will appeal to a far broader spectrum of buyers. That fact that battery life is better helps as well.
It’s a shame Motorola hasn’t seen fit to specify an AMOLED display this time around – that might have pushed the Motorola Moto 360 2 up above the LG G Watch R and Watch Urbane at the top of the Android Wear tree – but all in all this is a very fine effort from Motorola.
Got an iPhone? You probably want an Apple Watch instead. It’s very, very good.
Motorola Moto 360 2 specifications
|Water resistant||Yes (IP67)|
|Other features||Ambient light sensor|
|Display size||1.37in / 1.56in|
|Resolution||360 x 325 / 360 x 330|
|Display technology||IPS LCD|
|OS support||Android 4.3+, iOS 8.2+|
|Wireless||Bluetooth 4.0 LE, 802.11bg|
|Battery size||300mAh / 400mAh|