Moto 360 (2014) review

Motorola's first smartwatch has looks, but lacks longevity

Moto 360 review

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Moto 360 is the Google-powered smartwatch that early adopters have been holding out for, and it has finally started ticking. Motorola is just in time too. Less than a week after it launched, the fabled iWatch turned into the real 2015-bound Apple Watch. The full-circle LG G Watch R also went into production for a fall release.

But now that it's here, Moto 360 is the best Android Wear smartwatch next to the slim pickings from Samsung and LG. Its cut-off bottom that houses the screen tech doesn't bother us, and we kind of like the fact that this pushes the pixels out to the edge in place of an ugly bezel. It's a nice effect that compliments the overall design that's fashion-forward, specs last.

Moto 360 review

Moto 360 voice commands are good for sticky situations

We liked

Moto 360's circular display is attractive, and it outclasses every other smartwatch with more than just that thanks to its premium build. Stainless steel casing and genuine leather straps really contrast with the plastic and rubber-constructed Gear Live and G Watch. The ambient light sensor, a first for an Android Wear watch, gives its almost full circle screen an edge too.

Its Qi inductive charger is leagues better than the proprietary Pogo pin chargers used by both Samsung and LG. Rounding out its attributes, Moto 360 is lighter, more comfortable and has better fitness tracking capabilities for a price that isn't much higher than its rivals.

Moto 360 review

Moto 360's second home is my wrist. Its first is this charger.

We disliked

It's clear that the later-than-expected Moto 360 release date wasn't enough time to perfect the first circular Android Wear smartwatch. Battery life is often 18 to 24 hours with normal use and the LCD isn't as crisp as the Super AMOLED displays found in Samsung's never-ending lineup of smartwatches.

The Texas Instruments OMAP 3 processor doesn't do it any favors either. It's underpowered in terms of performance, yet requires more actual power than the efficient Snapdragon 400 chips used by Samsung and LG. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

The small Qi charging dock, while a step in the right direction, may leave you stranded without a way to charge and leave you out of luck. Completely missing the boat are envious iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus owners, as even the new iOS 8 isn't compatible with the stylish Moto 360.

Moto 360 review

Never miss important messages

Final verdict

Moto 360 has been on our wrists for a week and, unlike its short battery life, it has become an undying source of questions from tech-savvy and fashion-focused admirers alike. It's not always functional to show off to these folks. That constantly draining battery and archaic processor means the watch occasionally fails to respond. Nevertheless, its round design really does bridge the gap between geeky smartwatches and traditional watches.

That's to be expected. Motorola's marketing team likes to tell a story about how the company asked a group of children to draw a watch. Almost every youngster drew a circular watch. It's the iconic watch design that Samsung and LG didn't tackle, and Apple Watch misses entirely. Motorola, of all companies, comes through with a real winner. It's ready for the Apple Watch vs Moto 360 watch face-off.

Matt Swider