Moto 360 Review: Android Wear-Powered Time Piece

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Introduction and Specifications

Not long ago, the battle for consumer dollars occurred on a field littered with ultralight notebooks. A few years later, that transitioned to smartphones and tablets. Today, the next major tussle is occurring on one’s wrist, in the red-hot "wearables" market in general. Motorola’s Moto 360 made waves by being the first major smartwatch to actually look like a watch - a real timepiece, not just a gadget. Most of its primary rivals are more akin to something Dick Tracy would wear, but Moto zigged when everyone else zagged. Instead of selling a computer with a band, the 360 is a timepiece that just so happens to run Android Wear.

Motorola Moto 360 Android Wear-Powered Smartwatch

Despite being on the market for a few months now, the Moto 360 is still more interesting and dynamic than ever. A variety of bands are now available for the fashion conscious, and Android Wear 5.0 has retooled the user interface. The world as a whole is now a lot more comfortable with the concept of a smartwatch, but the Moto 360 still has a fair amount of competition. In fact, one could argue that the coming months will be the most pivotal of all. The Android Wear landscape is largely defined, but with the Apple Watch hitting the market, we’ll soon find out just how large the wrist-worn wearables market really is.

The Moto 360 runs Android Wear (5.0.2 at the time of this review), which enables it to sync with any Android phone running v4.3 or higher. Unfortunately, it’s incompatible with every other phone at this time. That means that even basic Bluetooth functionality is barred when trying to pair with BlackBerry, Windows Phone, or iOS. It’s a shame, really, as one could easily envision the Moto 360 catching the eye of those who rely on phones that operate on a mobile OS other than Android.

Back side of Moto 360 smartwatch
Find the Moto 360 on Amazon for $209 - $280, currently.

The base model has an MSRP at $250 (though street pricing can be lower), which is on the lower end of the price spectrum, and somewhat impressive given that it remains one of the only round faced smartwatches on the market. In a nutshell, this device is designed as a conduit for notifications and other information from your Android phone. If your phone isn’t in range, or your phone is without a live data connection, the watch does little beyond display the time, remind you of upcoming appointments it already knew about, and track your steps. There’s no internal SIM card, which means that the Moto 360 is entirely reliant on a smartphone being nearby to act as the brain. Samsung, for example, offers a watch that can act independently using an on board SIM card, but Motorola currently doesn’t offer a 360 model with this capability.

In terms of its specs, the Moto 360 boasts a 1.56-inch circular LCD (though there’s a small chunk removed from the bottom, giving it a “flat tire” look, as it has been referred to occasionally. The screen itself is topped with Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3, which is great for keeping scuffs and scratches from showing up. The panel is built with capacitive touch technology and there’s also an internal pedometer, optical heart rate sensor, ambient light sensor, and dual microphones. There’s also a Bluetooth 4.0 radio within, a 320mAh battery, wireless Qi charging support, a 1GHz Cortex A8 processor, 512MB of LPDDR memory, and 4GB of storage. All of this technology is packed into a device that weighs just 49 grams or 1.72 ounces.

The stylish Moto 360 Android Wear watch

In sum, it looks like a watch, but within, the Moto 360 far more advanced. In the pages ahead, I’ll dive into the particulars of the design, the user experience, and how it stacks up in the nascent smartwatch sector currently.

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