Moto 360 Sport Review: A Smartwatch Fitness Tracking Hybrid

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Hardware: Design, Comfort, and Battery Life

Motorola didn't go to any great lengths to reinvent the proverbial wheel here. The Moto 360 Sport has every typical marking of a fitness-minded wearable, down to the rubberized silicone band (available in either black, orange or white), an included GPS and optical heart rate monitor. The round display is still here, and yes, the famed "flat tire" is as well. For those unaware, all Moto smartwatches to date have a small black cutout sensor are at the screen's bottom, which prevents the LCD from taking up 100 percent of the circular screen area. We've grown accustomed to it, frankly, and it's really not much of a detractor or otherwise.

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The watch feels solid and weighted correctly. In many ways, it's the Android Wear equivalent of the Apple Watch Sport. It offers a mid-sized 35mm display, weighs 54 grams, and has a band that's resistant to sweat, dirt, and grime. Interestingly, Moto has opted to build the watch band right into the casing. In other words, you won't be swapping bands out here unfortunately. This is curious given Motorola's excellent Moto Maker service and site, which is a full-on customization store available to those who want to personalize a standard Moto 360.

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Internally, almost nothing has changed from the second-generation Moto 360. The same 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 is powering Android Wear, and system memory (512MB RAM) as well as storage (4GB) remain unchanged. Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy and Wi-Fi radios are here, as are a pair of digital microphones for the occasional Dick Tracy-style conversation. The 300mAh battery also remains the same, which otherwise may not be an issue but one thing that's new is the Moto 360 Sport's GPS module. 

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The upside, of course, is that runners can lean on the unit's internal GPS module to accurately track distance without having to carry their phone around for miles on end. The downside is that GPS consumes power in a big way, and it's not like the Moto 360 had stellar battery life to begin with.

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Other new amenities include a barometric altimeter and Moto's AnyLight Hybrid Display. The company claims that the panel is now more intelligent when it comes to recognizing conditions, and in our testing, we found that to be a fair claim. The panel was perfectly readable both indoors and outdoors, and many fitness-minded wearables struggle under direct sunlight. We suspect AnyLight will be the default display for all Moto 360 products going forward.

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Wireless charging is also standard, utilizing the same dock as found with the company's standard Moto 360. The singular hardware button, which sits at the 2 o'clock position along the right edge, is beefed up and bolstered. It's designed to be easily toggled even as you're running, and indeed, we never missed the mark with this control.

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Comfort-wise, it's our favorite Moto 360 yet. We're perhaps rare fans of silicone bands. It's a no-nonsense band that doesn't require maintenance; you just wear it and forget it. It's also fairly light, enabling you to forget that it was dangling on your wrist. The mid-sized face is also suited for average arms, and there's some degree of relief in the absence of screen size options. Rather than hemming and hawing over a 42mm watch or a 45mm watch, for instance, the Moto 360 Sport is available in just one size. This can make for easy decision-making or limit you, depending on your perspective

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Now, for the kicker: battery life isn't great. And it's especially borderline for a sport-minded watch. In our outdoor run testing, the unit's life dropped from 100% to 63% in an hour. That's with GPS on for the entire time, but almost no other interaction with the watch. If you run for for well over 30 minutes per day, you'll may struggle to make the watch last until bedtime. This is a real problem for a true fitness watch, where in some cases people might be active all day long, hiking or skiing, for example. For comparison, the $329 Garmin Forerunner 235 can last over 10 hours with GPS active, and up to 9 full days with just basic activity tracking engaged. These are two different animals though admittedly, with the Moto 360 Sport having the benefits of a full featured Android Wear device as well.

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