Moto 360 2nd Generation: Adding Great Style to A Good Smartwatch
Moto 360 2nd Generation is the follow up to one of the most hyped Smartwatches in 2014. The first Moto 360 was teased months before its release, with the round display one of the biggest things people looked forward to. For a first generation smartwatch, it was good. There was an admirable effort to create a great user experience. But as most first attempts go, this one had a lot of flaws.
In the second edition, the Moto 360 2, Motorola tries to fix the shortcomings in the first attempt. At the same time, it tries to stand out in a field crowded with competition including Apple Watch, Samsung Gear and LG Watch Urbane. Is the Moto 360 2nd Generation a hit or miss? Follow us along as we find out.
Moto 360 2nd Generation – Quick Overview
For those short on time, here is a quick recap of what Motorola has changed and kept around from the first Moto 360. If you have more time on your hands, then just jump over this overview to the design section where we begin a comprehensive review of Moto 360 2.
Motorola has made some appreciable improvements on the first smartwatch. They have used a modern processor (Moto 360 had an old timey processor from year ago), improved the battery life and added many more customization options. But this is not the big leap that puts the Moto 360 2nd Generation at the number one position in the smartwatch market. While Moto 360 2nd Generation is still one of the best Android Wear Smartwatches you can get, there is still a long way to go before we can deem ourselves sufficiently awed.
In terms of design, the Moto 360 2nd Generation is much sleeker with a stylish build. This time around, you can even choose from gender-specific designs. One of the best developments is the availability of numerous customization options. Through Moto Maker, you can create your own design combinations.
If you hated the black strip (the ambient light sensor) at the bottom of the first Moto 360, we have bad news; it is still there in Moto 360 2.
For those planning get an Android Wear smartwatch, we highly recommend the Moto 360 2nd Generation. It still has its flaws but at least it has made a strong improvement from the first edition. It will not blow you away but the experience is decent. If you want something really good you could look at options outside Android wear, such as Samsung Gear 2, or wait for Moto 360 third generation. In the meantime, the Moto 360 2nd Generation still has some work to do.
Design – Bulky, With Stylish Options
The Moto 360 2nd Generation remains quite thick and may be a bit of a shock if you were expecting something sleek and slim. If you had bought the Moto 360, you will be disappointed to find it still bearing the same chunky look. But there are a few good things they have done, resulting in a gadget that looks more like a watch you would wear to the office or an important function.
The bezel remains thin, with the display occupying almost the entire watch face. This gives the display a nice expansive look. There are also a few tweaks on the buttons and the two ends where the straps are attached. The result is a watch with an unmistakably luxury look and feel.
Generally, as you will find out later, Motorola has paid a lot more attention to the style this time round. Even the technology itself seems to have taken a backseat, with the focus being on creating a wearable that people actually want to wear. This is understandable considering that with wearables, unlike other tech gadgets, style is a huge concern. This is after all something you are going to be wearing on your body and showing off.
With style in mind, Motorola decided to give users a bigger plate of customization options to choose from. The first Moto 360 came in two styles only; stainless steel and black. This time around, the options are varied. Using Motomaker you can choose the size, bezel, case, band and face style. With a bit of mixing and matching, you can come out with a really unique smartwatch.
Even better, you do not have to pay astronomical amounts of money for the customization. Of course you may have to pay a little bit more for certain options but it will not get to the thousands of dollars range like some Apple Watch variations. The watch starts at $299 and reaches a maximum of $450 depending on how you decide to deck it out. It is affordable customization; one of the best things Motorola could gift its loyal customers.
The one sticking point that has appeared in both watches is the distracting black strip at the bottom. That is actually an ambient light sensor, used to automatically dim or brighten the display depending on the amount of light in the environment. We are going to talk about it later but for now, let’s just say that it does not add to the design. It is especially frustrating when you choose a white watch face which contrasts sharply with the black sensor. If you hated it in the Moto 360, you will still hate it in the Moto 360 2nd Generation.
Maybe they are not sensing any pressure at the moment (with the smartwatch industry still emerging) but Motorola does not seem so intent on making the best display for their Moto 360 watches. The standard for Smartwatches is an AMOLED display that results in a bright and sharp display. For the Moto 360, the display was basic LCD. For the Moto 360 2nd Generation, the display is still standard LCD.
Without comparing it to displays on the Samsung Gear or Apple Watch, you might not notice the difference. But if you put them side by side, it is obvious that the Moto 360 2 is lacking in something in terms of color brilliance and sharpness. As you use the watch with more apps, you will start feeling the limitations in display. For now, this is not a big issue for most users but it is something that Motorola needs to work on in generation three of the Moto 360.
2. OS and Processor
When the Moto 360 was released in 2014, it was powered by a Texas Instruments (TI) OMAP 3 processor, an old processor that was used years ago in some Smartphones. This was at a time when most Smartwatches were powered by a Snapdragon. The major downside of using old technology was not a lag in performance (for Smartwatches, unlike Smartphones, the processor does not really make a big difference) but rather a drain in battery life. In other words, old technology did not make for an energy efficient watch.
Things are much better in Moto 360 2nd Generation. The watch runs on Qualcomm Snapdragon 400. The operation is smooth with a much better energy performance.
As for the operating system, the Moto 360 2 comes with an updated Android Wear. The Google powered OS for wearables has come a long way with features such as iPhone compatibility, Wi-Fi capability and easier connectivity to other Smartwatches through Together. While it is better than most proprietary systems on some Smartwatches, there are still some kinks that Google needs to work out.
The Moto 360 2nd Generation has the same memory specs as the first Moto 360; 4GB of internal memory and 512MB of RAM. The internal memory is big enough for several apps and maybe your favorite playlist.
4. Ambient light sensor
Though annoying when it comes to design, the ambient light sensor plays a big role in how well you experience the watch’s display. Depending on the light conditions around you, the sensor will automatically adjust the brightness of the display. This means that you can clearly see what is on the display even in the glare of sunlight.
This auto brightness feature is not found in most Smartwatches and makes quite a big difference. You do not have to squint when in the sun to see the display and you do not have to shade your eyes from too much light when indoors. The watch adjusts the lighting level perfectly. If only they would find a more discreet way to include the ambient light sensor without marring a perfectly round display.
5. Health and fitness
It is a basic expectation that Smartwatches have health and fitness features. Even for watches not dedicated to fitness, we expect the basics such as a pedometer and a heart rate sensor. The Moto 360 second generation smartwatch is by no means a fitness gadget. But that is because it was released alongside Moto Sport, the fitness-dedicated smartwatch. The Moto Sport watch has all fitness features packed – GPS, heart rate sensor, water resistant and a variety of fitness apps including a dedicated running app.
As for the Moto 360 2nd Generation, the main fitness feature is an optical heart rate sensor. You can connect the watch to various apps such as Google Fit to keep track of your health and fitness. Some apps will even allow you to log in your diet and can calculate number of calories burned every day.
Even for the amateur fitness enthusiast, the Moto 360 2 is not enough. So do not buy it with big fitness tracking expectations. Even the Moto Sport is not exactly the best fitness tracker. For serious fitness tracking or athletic training we would recommend a fitness-dedicated Fitbit, Garmin or one of the other top brands.
The main point of connection is Bluetooth 4.0. You can connect with your Smartphone to receive messages and other notifications and to sync fitness data with other apps. With the updated Android Wear, you can also connect to an iPhone though with limited functionality. For instance, the voice commands feature can only be used with Google services.
Moto 360 2nd Generation also comes with Wi-Fi compatibility. This frees up the watch to do a few things on its own without having to always connect to your Smartphone.
7. Battery life and charging
The 300mAh (or 400mAh depending on watch size) battery is not much different from the one on the Moto 360. But there is a slight battery life improvement thanks to a more energy-smart processor. With the ambient light sensor in use, Motorola says that the battery will last around one day. With the sensor off, it could get to one and a half days. This is certainly an improvement over the Moto 360 that barely lasted a day even with the ambient light sensor off.
With the Moto 360 2nd Generation, you can go into town and spend an entire day going about your business without worrying about the watch dying on you. When the battery dies, the watch recharges using a wireless dock. It is simple and efficient to use and you can easily stuff it in a travel bag when on the road.
Both Smartwatches and Smartphones have a long way to go when it comes to battery life. It would be great if Smartphones could last an entire weekend and Smartwatches at least a workweek. But until then, leave your Moto 360 in the wireless dock when you turn in for the night.
- 42MM and 46MM models available. 42MM and 46MM men’s watches and 420MM women’s watch.
- Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi connectivity options.
- Compatible with both Android and iOS (with limited functionality).
- Ambient light sensor for automatic brightness adjustment.
- Optical heart rate sensor.
- IP67 water and dust resistant rating.
- Wireless charging.
- LCD display technology
Developments in the smartwatch industry have been rapid. Numerous big players have entered the fray, all intent on dominating the emerging industry. Moto 360 has made a name for itself as one of the best Android Wear Smartwatches. They did well with the first Moto 360, considering it was the first generation watch. They have done even better with the second generation Moto 360.
The Moto 360 2nd Generation is not a big leap forward from its predecessor, especially in terms of tech features. They just made small incremental gains. As mentioned earlier, it seems Motorola was more focused on style this time round. For wearables, the style is just as important as the technology within.
To answer our very first question, we think the Moto 360 2 is a hit, albeit one that still needs some work.
Motorola is expected to release the third generation of Moto 360 in 2016. This one will likely pack a lot more tech features with a similarly heavy focus on style and customization. Some things to expect include a better display and more sensors.
What do you think of the Moto 360 second generation? If you already have it, what is your experience? Leave your comments below!