Moto 360 (2014) review

Motorola's first smartwatch has looks, but lacks longevity

Moto 360 review

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Moto 360 is compatible with all Android smartphones that run Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, Android 4.4 KitKat and the not-yet-delicious-named Android L beta. The requirement is in place due to the fact that Google introduced Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy support in its July 2013 update. You'll find this is demanded by almost all modern smartwatches and fitness trackers.

Android 4.2 Jelly Bean users are out of luck as are loyal iPhone owners. Neither the iPhone 5S nor the flashy new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus can sync with the Moto 360, as much as Apple fans may envy the round smartwatch that outclass the newly unveiled Apple Watch. So far, no Android Wear watch is compatible with iPhone.

Moto 360 review

Sorry, iPhone owners, Motorola's smartwatch isn't for you.

As for its compatibility with water, Moto 360 isn't completely waterproof, but it did receive an IP67 water and dust resistance rating. It can be worn in the shower, rain and when you sweat, and can survive one meter down for about 30 minutes before you run into trouble. Keep in mind, none of these scenarios will bode well for the default leather strap.

Our first week of Moto 360 battery life tests always gave us a few hours shy of a full day per charge. Its 320mAh battery is better than the 300mAh battery found in Samsung Gear Live, yet it actually lasted less time than the Samsung's smartwatch.

Three weeks in, a Moto 360 firmware update extended the battery life and we became more diligent at turning off the screen and ambient light sensor sometimes. We didn't quite see the two days that others have reported, but the battery finally bested previous its 24-hour mark with a solid day-and-a-quarter of moderate use. Better, but still not good enough.

The LG G Watch leads the Android Wear lineup with a still-unacceptable day-and-a-half of battery life, and LG may retain that honor with a 410mAh battery in the LG G Watch R. Pebble Steel and the original Pebble remain the overall smartwatch kings of longevity with up to seven days between charges.

At least there's a novel way to recharge the Moto 360. It comes with a Qi charging dock that is perfect for resting the watch on a nightstand and instantly turning it into a small bedside clock. It dims the display so that you can still see both the clock in the dark and the energy ring that completes the battery's circle of life by reaching 100%. This takes about two hours before the Moto 360 is ready for another 24-hour day.

Moto 360 review

Battery life is terrible, but the fancy Qi charger helps a little bit

Our tests have found that Moto 360 is compatible with other chargers like Google's own Nexus Qi charger meant for the Nexus 5 smartphone and Nexus 7 tablet. The included Qi charger is small enough to tout around in a backpack, but its major drawback is that you have to remember to pack it. Spontaneous daytrips will often leave you without a way to juice it up again and, in effect, turn Moto 360 into a paperweight that can't even tell you the time of day.

It doesn't have the more practical micro USB port that the newly announced Sony Smartwatch 3 is going to have, but the Moto 360 charging method is much more futuristic and cool. That better fits the stylishing theme that Motorola is going for with its watch.

Matt Swider