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Hands on: Moto 360 review

A new Moto 360, four years after the last one

What is a hands on review?
(Image: © Future)

Early Verdict

The Moto 360 is a great showcase for Wear OS, which is snappy and easy to use on the watch, and we're also fans of the minimalist design. However, despite Motorola having had four years to perfect its new device, the Moto 360 has some of the same problems as the brand's older devices.

For

  • Snappy UI
  • Lightweight design
  • Sized for all wrists

Against

  • No wireless charging
  • Poor battery life
  • Body is a little thick

When the Moto 360 (2014) landed more than five years ago it was one of the first smartwatches to feature a circular body, and it was followed in 2015 with the second-gen Moto 360, which built on many of the original's features.

Now, four years after that second-gen smartwatch, Motorola has introduced a third device, with the new Moto 360 signaling its return into the wearable market in 2019.

What’s prompted this new wearable? Well, we’re not entirely sure, but it’s an intriguing decision given how populous the smartwatch landscape is these days, with Garmin, Samsung, Apple and many others boasting impressive devices.

It’s clear that Motorola couldn’t just bring out a rehash of its last device if it wants to remain competitive in the new world of smartwatches. So what's new here? And does the Moto 360 see Motorola returning to the wearables market in a blaze of glory?

(Image credit: Future)

Moto 360 price and availability

The Moto 360 price is $349 / £339 (about AU$520), so it’s not the most affordable smartwatch out there. It’s a little cheaper than the Apple Watch 5, which starts at $399 / £399 / AU$649, but if you’re looking for a ‘traditional’ circular smartwatch the Samsung Galaxy Watch, which currently tops our list of the best smartwatches, launched for a more affordable $329 / £279 / AU$499, and costs even less now.

In terms of the Moto 360 release date, all we know at the moment is that it’ll be available in late December 2019, just in time for Christmas. Pre-orders will open from mid-November 2019 at moto360.com.

Design

The Moto 360 comprises a circular body and replaceable strap. Our review unit came with a stainless steel silver body and leather strap, but Motorola has confirmed that the body will be available in Black and Rose Gold too, and that a silicone strap will also be available.

When it comes to circular, ‘traditional-looking’ watches, the metal Moto 360 design seems rather minimalist. There’s a low bezel around the edge, but there’s also another black ring bezel between that and the screen, so the body of the watch is a fair bit larger than the display.

(Image credit: Future)

The screen itself is a 1.2-inch display, and there’s no 'flat tire' effect at the bottom, as on previous versions of the Moto 360, as Motorola has gone for a fully circular display here. The dimensions of the watch itself are 42.8 x 42.8 x 11.68mm, so it’s pretty thick.

There are two controls on the right-hand edge of the watch. One is a rotating crown that you can spin with your finger to scroll through menus, while the other is a button that can be mapped to a variety of functions.

The body feels fairly light, so it’s not an overbearing presence on the wrist, and it’s also pretty comfortable, partly because the bottom of the body is plastic, so you haven’t got cold metal against your skin.

As mentioned, the Moto 360 comes with leather and silicone strap options. There are no alternative straps for sale at the time of writing, but it’s likely Motorola will offer a selection of straps online in the future.

(Image credit: Future)

The strap has plenty of perforations, so whether you have a dainty wrist or a thick one it should be easy to get a comfortable fit. Both the buckle and the lugs feel secure, so you won't have to worry about the Moto 360 flying off your wrist when you're running or working out.

The Moto 360 is a little thick compared to similar devices, and has more bezel than feels strictly necessary, but it’s also lightweight and feels secure, and its relative chunkiness help it to feel robust. We’re fans of the minimalist look too, although of course that's a matter of personal taste.

Display

The new Moto 360 comes with an AMOLED display that has a resolution of 390 x 390 pixels. 

The display quality is great for a smartwatch, and whether you're viewing a photo you’ve been sent or using the various apps, you’re never left struggling to make out details.

In our short hands-on time with the watch we've felt that colors on the display could look better, as some seem a little muted – it's not a huge issue for a device of this type, but if you choose a colorful watch face it is more noticeable.

(Image credit: Future)

One of the standout features of the new Moto 360 is the always-on display. This means that without having to wake the watch you can see a barebones version of the watch face, showing your active minutes, and, of course, the date and time.

It’s a useful feature, enabling you to check that info at a glance, without having to purposefully raise the watch towards you in order to wake it, although we sometimes found the screen was a little too dim to make out clearly.

There’s also, of course, a knock-on effect in terms of battery life, but turning it off didn't help with the broader battery life issues, which will get to shortly, so we’d recommend keeping the always-on display active.

Fitness tracking

As the Moto 360 is running Google’s Wear OS it links with Google Fit to track your day-to-day activity, as well as workouts.

Well, it should, but we had an issue in that our review unit didn’t track our steps, heart rate, or fitness points. We’re assuming this was an issue with our specific model, but it meant we weren’t able to test the accuracy of the step counter or ‘active minutes’ tracker.

We’ll be sure to check that this is fixed before we test the Moto 360 for our full review.

(Image credit: Future)

The usual selection of common workouts are available through the Google Fit Workout app that comes preloaded on the watch, such as walking, running, biking and strength training, but the huge list also includes some fairly niche activities like paragliding, polo and sand running (and the seriously niche activity, at least in terms of fitness, of flossing); so however you like to work out, the Moto 360 has you sorted.

We’ve tested a few of these modes briefly, but will make sure to do so more fully for our full review.

As well as Google Fit and Fit Workout, there’s Fit Breathe, a breathing exercise that's as much a mindfulness tool as a meditation app, and it’s similar to apps on other smartwatches and fitness trackers.

While the Moto 360 presents a great range of fitness tracking tools, the thickness of the device meant we wouldn’t choose to use it for some sports, such as bouldering or boxing, but your mileage may vary.

Features and performance

Powering the Moto 360 is Qualcomm’s Wear 3100 chipset. The main advantages of this chip are battery life optimizations, and more fluid dynamic complications on the wrist. We’re not too sure how useful the chipset is in helping with battery life, but the latter bonus is useful for certain faces that display notifications and more.

The Moto 360 feels effortlessly snappy and easy to navigate, and this is likely the thanks of the chipset, since it’s the most premium offering from Qualcomm right now, and the 1GB of on-board RAM. This is paired with 8GB of storage space, so you can load the Moto 360 up with apps without it breaking a sweat.

(Image credit: Future)

The operating system here is Google's Wear OS, as we’ve previously mentioned, but it’s hard to overstate how useful this is if you’re already invested in Google's Android ecosystem. Features like Google Pay for NFC payment, Google Fit for fitness tracking, Google Maps for navigation from your wrist, and more, all make the Moto 360 act more as an extension of your smartphone than as a separate device.

One of the key features of a smartwatch is notification handling, and Wear OS stores these in a menu that you can access easily by swiping up on the main watch face. Notifications are brought in and displayed from your paired smartphone, and you can reply using Google’s recommended suggestions, although you're generally limited to ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘ok’.

This is only for certain apps, like messaging apps, and it’s often easier to reply on your phone if you’ve got a longer response in mind.

(Image credit: Future)

Battery life

One of our problems with the original two Moto 360 smartwatches was that their battery life were a little on the short side, and that’s still an issue with the new Moto 360.

Generally, you’ll get about a day of use from a full charge, so if you remember to charge the watch every night you’ll be fine; however, overnight charging doesn’t fit with everyone’s schedules or lifestyles though, and there’s no way you’re getting through two days here, so you may find yourself carrying your charger around with you.

(Image credit: Future)

There is a Battery Saver mode, which reduces the Moto 360 to its bare time-telling functions. We don’t know how much this extends the battery life by, but the feature automatically kicks in when the battery level is critical, and Motorola suggests the watch can last for three days in this mode.

Charging is via a dock that you plug into a USB port, and the Moto 360 clips to the dock magnetically, so it’s easy to use. There’s no wireless charging here, unlike in the older Moto 360 devices, which is an odd omission for a new and 'rebooted' device.

We found that charging was pretty snappy; Motorola suggests the watch can go from flat to fully charged in an hour, and this seems accurate, although if you’re plugging the watch in overnight speed won’t matter to you too much.

Early verdict

(Image credit: Future)

The Moto 360 is a useful smartwatch in the same way many Wear OS devices are, with a plethora of fitness activities and access to the wider Google app ecosystem. It’s quick to respond and easy to use, and it feels as much like a wrist-mounted smartphone as it does a smartwatch.

We’re fans of the minimalist design of the Moto 360, although some people might prefer the look of other smartwatches. The thick body and wide bezel leave a bit to be desired too.

Our main issue with the Moto 360 is that it doesn’t do enough to justify the reboot of the line. There are features missing here that were on previous Moto 360 watches, like wireless charging, and not enough innovation to make it clear why Motorola has resurrected the device.

Saying that, many don’t need masses of innovation in their smartwatch – and if you're one of those people the Moto 360 may suit you just fine.

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.