2nd gen Moto 360: Pretty but not perfect

BASIC: The new Moto 360's display comes with a black bar serving as an ambient light sensor at the bottom of the screen and internally, the device has been upgraded to only match other Android smartwatches.


    Dec 18, 2015

    2nd gen Moto 360: Pretty but not perfect

    THE original Motorola Moto 360 was one of my favourite smartwatches of last year. With its minimalist round design and stainless steel and glass build, it was one of the few smartwatches that didn't make you look like a total nerd.

    This year, there's a new Motorola 360. But is it worth shelling out the extra cash for the latest model?


    The Moto 360 (2015) now comes in three editions: a black 42mm model, a rose gold 42mm "ladies" edition and a silver 46mm version.

    All three versions are made from stainless steel. The 42mm black version was tested for this review.

    Whichever version you opt for, they're all relatively expensive, coming in at $479 (42mm black), $499 (42mm rose gold) and $549 (46mm silver).

    The new model basically looks like last year's, with a chunky round case that looks fine on the larger 46mm version, okay on the black 42mm version but a bit too thick for the ladies' 42mm rose gold version.

    The new Moto 360 now has lugs on the top and bottom that make it look more like a watch than last year's disc-on-a-strap style. The lugs mean that you can replace the straps with any regular watch strap but make sure you choose the correct width.


    The 42mm Moto 360 has a 1.37-inch display with a 360 x 325 pixel resolution (or 263 pixels per inch), while the 46mm model has a 1.56-inch display with a 360 x 330 pixel resolution (233ppi).

    That's a slight improvement from last year's 1.56-inch display with a resolution of 320 x 290 pixels (205ppi).

    The displays look decent enough on this year's Moto 360, but aren't as bright and don't offer the same contrast as the Amoled displays on the Asus ZenWatch 2, Huawei Watch or Samsung Gear S2. As a result, legibility, especially under bright light, just isn't as good.

    Those other watches have higher resolution screens too.

    Once again, the Moto 360's display isn't a complete circle like other round smartwatches - there's a black bar at the bottom of the screen. The bar, which many Moto 360 users call the flat tire, houses an ambient light sensor.

    This sensor helps to automatically adjust the display's brightness according to your surroundings. It sounds convenient but it's not worth cutting out part of the screen.

    I also found the auto brightness adjustment to be a little slow and it generally sets a lower brightness level than I'd like.

    Motorola says the flat tire is needed but since other round smartwatches don't include it, I really don't think it is. It's also a real eyesore on light-coloured watch faces and makes any non-black watch face look bad.

    Motorola has upgraded the fitness-tracking features in the Moto 360. It can now count your steps, read your heart rate and estimate the calories you burned. There's also a dedicated smartphone companion app called Moto Body to help you track your progress.

    But it's still quite basic and probably won't replace your third-party fitness apps.

    The app is available for only Android, so iOS users are stuck with tracking their fitness on the watch itself.


    The Moto 360 has been upgraded internally but to only catch up with other Android Wear smartwatches.

    That means you get the standard 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage for apps and music. While this is a nice improvement over last year's plodding processor, it doesn't give the new Moto 360 any advantage over the competition.

    As for battery life, the 42mm Moto 360 has a 300mAh capacity battery, while the 46mm version has a 400mAh battery.

    On our 42mm version, the watch lasted about 15 hours on moderate usage before needing a recharge.

    Honestly, battery life on the Moto 360 isn't the best and we suspect this is due to the always-on LCD display. Many smartwatches use more power efficient Oled and Amoled displays. The first generation charging dock is incompatible with this year's model and vice versa.

    VERDICT: 7/10

    I loved the original Moto 360 for its stylish, stand-out design. But now that there are similar round-faced smartwatches out there, the 2015 model doesn't have quite the same appeal.

    It's still a gorgeous watch but it comes with too many compromises.

    The Moto 360 (2015) is pricey too. The original sold here for $380, which is just about right for what it offers.

    With the 2015 version starting at $479 and not offering much more than the original, there's no real compelling reason to seek it out.

    While the new Moto 360 can be cheaper than the also overpriced Huawei Watch (starting at $549), there are better options out there for less money.

    The Samsung Gear S2 is a much better round smartwatch and starts at $31 cheaper ($448). There's also the Asus ZenWatch 2, which costs just $229, has a nicer Amoled display and comes with a lot more functionality.