In arguably one of the biggest smartwatch surprises of the year, there’s a new Moto 360 smartwatch in town. Running on Wear OS and priced in at $350, it features a familiar design upgraded to the latest technology.
This new Moto watch isn’t exactly made by Motorola though. It’s been built by a company called eBuyNow, a partner brand of Motorola that has licensed the Moto 360 brand to bring it back to life.
The last time we had a Motorola smartwatch on our wrists was 2015, when the tech company launched the second generation 360. We were still calling Google’s OS Android Wear and we had to live with smartwatch screens featuring flat tyres.
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Motorola discontinued the 360 in 2017 and then it all went quiet on the wearables front. As big Wear updates arrived, the company opted against rolling out the new software to its watches, seemingly signalling a decision to back away from the space altogether.
We’re happy to say there is no flat tyre this time around. It’s still got an always-on display, as well as new, beefed up storage for your apps and music, all running on Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon Wear 3100 chipset.
We’ve spent a considerable time getting to know the new Moto 360 to find out it was worth reviving one of the first great smartwatches. Here’s our full verdict.
New Moto 360: Design and build
When Motorola launched the original Moto 360 in 2014, it’s fair to say that it was a decent-looking, albeit chunky, smartwatch. It came in two style options, had that stainless steel case and felt like a smartwatch made for men.
The second iteration gave us a smaller size option that was a better fit for women, and, with this new version, well, it doesn’t feel like the watch has come on leaps and bounds from its predecessor.
It’s available with steel grey, rose gold or a black stainless steel case with a range of different color leather and silicone straps to choose from. All measure in with 42mm watch cases and include 1.2-inch, 390 x 390 AMOLED touchscreen displays with a 327ppi pixel density. Crucially, as we say, there is no flat tyre.
You also get two physical buttons instead of just the one, like the old Moto watches. That second button essentially functions as a shortcut for your most frequently used app. So, in our case, it was defaulted to Google Fit Workouts.
Original Moto 360 (left) and new Moto 360 (right)
We’ve had a mixed response from people who have spotted the watch on the wrist. Some have said it looks like a really nice watch, others who’ve seen the previous Moto 360 watches actually think the older generations looked nicer. To us, it still feels like a tech brand making a watch, not a beautiful watch with smarts that lie inside.
When you look at what Fossil has managed to achieve on this front with its many partners, it’s hard not to feel like this a smartwatch that’s stuck in the past.
From a build quality point of view, it feels like a nice watch to wear, and the black leather strap and grey stainless steel case combo does create the look of a dressy watch.
There’s also a more gym-friendly silicon band included, with the little pins on the back of the strap making it pretty easy to switch between the two. Not a lot of smartwatches bundle two types of bands, so it’s always refreshing when you find one that does.
Somehow, it actually seems a tad thicker than the previous versions, and, ultimately, it just lacks the character and uniqueness that you’ll find on other smartwatches right now.
The touchscreen display, though, is a solid one and is the kind of bright, vibrant screen we’ve come accustomed to seeing on most Wear OS smartwatches these days.
It’s not a best-in-class smartwatch screen, but it’s certainly not going to let you down viewing your notifications or your fitness tracker data. It’s also has an always-on mode just like a certain Apple Watch, if you want that screen on all of the time.
New Moto 360: Wear OS
Even with its drawbacks, hardware has never really been the biggest issue for the Moto 360. Instead, it’s been the software that we’ve really had to battle with.
The new Moto 360 runs on Google’s Wear OS operating system. So, you can expect to see dedicated watch faces for Google Fit and the new Tiles (widgets) that are designed to make it easier to glance at the information you care about most.
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There’s NFC onboard to enable Google Pay for contactless payments and it’s a feature that’s thankfully easy to get up and running.
The onboard microphone means you can chat to the 360 to use Google’s Assistant smart assistant and to respond to messages. You don’t have a speaker, so you can’t hear responses to your Assistant queries or take calls from your wrist.
Powering performance is Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon Wear 3100, while RAM has been beefed up to 1GB with a 8GB of storage. We expected a ramp up in the overall feel of interacting with Wear, and that’s what we got. Swiping through screens has a nice zip and there’s no signs of lag in performance.
Like other Wear OS watches, the Moto 360 plays nice with Android and iPhone devices, though we encountered issues pairing it with a Pixel 2 XL smartphone.
We had no problems doing the same with a newer iPhone, though, and the issues with our Android device could be down to the fact it was a pre-production unit (we were warned there would be some bugs).
Aside from one instance where we couldn’t swipe back to the watch face, it’s been a relatively bug-free experience using it. Notification support works well, and the addition of Tiles makes a world of difference and is something Google should’ve done a long time ago.
Google Fit still feels like a bit clunky and unintuitive and it’s still something Google needs to do a better job of when it comes to implementing it on a smartwatch.
New Moto 360: Health and fitness tracking
Sticking with all things health and fitness related, you do have good array of features if you want to workout with the 360.
There’s an optical heart rate monitor, built-in GPS along with satellite support for GLONASS, Beidou and Galileo systems to give you plenty of outdoor mapping coverage. The accelerometer handles indoor tracking and you do also get a waterproof design that has apparently been tested for 10,000 swim strokes.
As a fitness watch, the new 360 just does an okay job. If you’re more concerned about tracking your daily step counts, Google’s Fit watch face is a great way to keep track of that at a glance.
The Google Fit Breathe app offers some useful guided breathing exercises to help you de-stress, but it’s similar to what we’ve seen on other smartwatches. If you want this to be your go-to running or sports watch, it’s not really up to scratch.
GPS accuracy compared: New Moto 360 (left) and Garmin Fenix 6 Pro (right)
When we put it to the outdoor run test using the Google Fit Workout app, it was generally fine on the accuracy front for shorter runs around 5 miles or less. Any longer and the watch tended to overreport distance covered, which inevitably had a knock-on effect on the accuracy of other running metrics like average pace.
A bigger problem though is the GPS sensor itself. If you are running with your phone, the watch will look to latch onto your phone’s GPS first. There doesn’t appear to be a setting to stop this from happening. We had to leave our phone behind to stop that, which often meant a painfully long waiting time to pick up signal. Sometimes it simply didn’t lock on.
The heart rate monitor performance feels very similar to what we’ve found with many other Wear OS watches. It’s not really fit for high intensity workouts. A 20-minute interval indoor rowing session proved that as the 360 struggled to keep up with the spikes in heart rate during the workout.
Another problem is simply trying to do simple things with Google Fit like finding your workout history and the whole emphasis Heart Points and Move Points makes a lot less sense for proper sports tracking.
This is no Garmin or Polar, but if you can live with that and don’t go heavy on the exercise, there’s probably enough for you here.
New Moto 360: Battery life
The new Moto 360 packs in a decent-sized 355mAh battery designed to give you all-day battery life, and, in short, it delivers exactly that.
On a full charge in the morning, it was usually down to about 40% at the end of the day. If you are a little less liberal with how you use it, you can eke out around a day and a half.
The inclusion of Qualcomm’s Wear 3100 Wear processor also brings new battery modes to the fold, in a bid to improve performance, though it’s not enough to really push things to anything like you’d get from a Fitbit.
Comfortably, though, you’re going to get what is pretty much the battery norm for Wear OS watches right now. There’s the promise of getting you from 0-100% battery from just a single hour of charge, and it definitely lives up to that claim too.
0-100% in 60 minutes
0-100% in 60 minutes
Moto 360 2019
The new Moto 360 is an improvement on the one that launched four years ago. It does more, has been given a performance boost and has the best that Wear OS has to offer. But in many ways it doesn’t do anything out of the ordinary to makes you feel excited to put it on. Then there’s the price. It’s only slightly cheaper than an Apple Watch Series 5 and most Fossil smartwatches that offer more in the looks department. For those that wished Motorola stuck it out with Wear, the new 360 may well have appeal. But when you consider how much more it costs than the last 360, and what you can get for less, this is a comeback we could’ve lived without.
- Improved internals
- Formal and sporty bands both included
- Nice, bright display
- Design doesn’t excite
- Thicker than previous Moto 360
- The price