Moto 360 2nd gen. smart watch review
Another work-in-progress Android Wear smart watch
- Improved strap lugs and button placement
- Flat tire screen still present
- Questionable waterproofing
- Australian options are limited
There are noticeable improvements over the first generation, but still some issues. The leather strap gets worn out very quickly and the flat tire screen is still there. It still feels like a work in progress.
The first Moto 360 was the first round-faced Android Wear watch that seemed to get a nod of approval from most reviewers. The 2nd generation version isn’t a huge departure but some of the foibles are still very present.
Firstly, the “flat tyre” face is still there – sensors are placed on the face at the bottom of the screen preventing it from being a fully, er, 360-degree watch face. We’re told this is to prevent the watch being more chunky with sensors round the outside. While many will shrug at this design decision, to us it still smacks of half-arsed, interim technology. Are we really supposed to believe that Moto, along with parent company Lenovo, aren’t able to solve this problem? We don’t. And every time we look at this permanent blemish on the watch face we stare at mild disappointment. Not everyone will agree, but this is the main standout feature of this watch.
Other changes are more practical. The lugs where the straps attach are now on the exterior making strap switching much more practical and freeing up space on the insides. The crown has moved up from the centre which means people won’t be accidentally pressing it when they rest their hands on the tables.
There are a variety of styles to choose from and a great online mix and match selector which you can play with right here. It’s actually quite fun right up until you realise that this is for overseas-only models and that the Australian choices are limited to just a couple of pre-made choices.
Here we get to choose between a metal link bracelet or a “cognac” saddle leather strap. The latter is an improvement on the previous model whose cheap leather stretched and looked ugly very quickly. However, this fraying issue still remains. Frankly, the leather on the new model doesn’t last long at all before it starts looking very beaten up and aged so we’d avoid it and either choose the metal or a third-party strap.
There are three different sizes – Mens’ 42mm and 46mm cases (requiring 20mm and 22mm straps) and a women’s 42mm variant which uses a 16mm strap. The female variant will please ladies wanting a small smart watch and who have shied away from Huawei’s glitzy but chunky smart watches.
As with other smart watches, you get about a day out of it. You can stretch that towards two by turning off WiFi (which connects to a local network when your phone isn’t around to connect via Bluetooth) and the ambient sensor which keeps the watch face on at different brightness levels depending on whether you’re, erm, watching it or not.
It charges "wirelessly" in a smart-looking induction cradle (which uses a regular micro-USB cable). You’ll have to charge the watch every night, which can be quite a rigmarole after a while, so be prepared to take it off a lot.
If you’re not familiar with Android Wear, don’t expect to be blown away by it. There’s not really a killer feature. Getting notifications without looking at your phone is a highlight – the wife likes this when carrying around a baby as she usually stuffs her phone into her handbag, but that’s just one example.
The heart rate monitor works reasonably well but still takes a while to give you a reading.
Check out the available apps before purchasing to see if there’s anything you actually want.
The TI chipset of the previous model led to lag in some applications but the new unit uses SnapDragon 400 technology and things tick over very smoothly. There’s 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage for music and the like. The screen is regular LCD – AMOLED would have been brighter and more colourful - and while this is far from plain-looking, colours could have been more vibrant. The screen is slightly higher resolution at 360x325 (42mm) and 360x330 (46mm) than the previous model.
You get a choice of various, customisable, Moto-specific backgrounds and dynamic features. There’s also a 'Together' app to let you send messages and doodles to other Moto 360 users. A built-in GPS means you can go running and track everything without your phone.
Everything is controllable by the swipe screen and push-button.
And here’s a potentially major problem. No smart watch is properly waterproof – nothing like a Rolex Sea-Dweller (or any other kind of normal watch for that matter). But we do expect them to work in the shower.
Our first gen Moto 360 died within a week after getting wet when bathing the kids. The second gen is rated at IP67 dust and water resistance which means, “Withstands immersion in up to 3 feet of fresh water for up to 30 minutes. Not designed to work while submerged underwater. Do not use while swimming, or subject it to pressurized streams of water. Avoid exposure of leather band to water. Not dust proof.”
Ours once again died within a week just from being in the shower. After that it just sat on our desk vibrating periodically like a dying fly.
We can’t say for sure that the 360 is less waterproof than its competitors but that’s two for two that have died in environments they should easily survive. No other smartwatch we've tested has done that.
The choice of watches in the US is dramatically better to Australia’s. At least there’s not a huge price hike for Australians though - US$299 translates to $430 AUD in today’s money with GST – so $479 isn’t a huge increase. But it’s still a lot of money for a (to our mind) fragile watch, with intrinsic design issues (the flat tyre and non-durable leather strap).
As such, if you want an Android Wear smart watch, we’d still recommend the Huawei Watch which has been on the market long enough to be bought at a similar price now. It does the same thing and is available in a variety of different styles. There’s also the Samsung Gear S2 which can sometimes be had for a similar price – it uses a heavily-tweaked, bespoke version of Android Wear but it does more. The watch itself has a punchier screen and the command dial might be more useful to some.
But Android Wear is still a long way off Apple’s Watch offering. While the prices are barely comparable the functionality is leagues ahead and Android still has a lot of catching up to do. That’s ultimately how we feel with the Moto 360 gen.2 - it’s still a work in progress and that’s not really acceptable for around $500.
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