Moto 360 review: the best smartwatch so far?

Moto 360 review: the best smartwatch so far?

So far, smartwatches haven't quite delivered the connected future that they promised, but could the Motorola Moto 360 be set to change that? First unveiled back in March 2014, Moto's techie timepiece intially impressed with its good looks and gave itself a lot to live up to on its arrival. One of the first wave of devices sporting Google's watch-centric Android Wear interface, can it take on rivals like the Pebble, Samsung Gear S and incoming Apple Watch?

Motorola's Moto 360 (Yahoo News UK)
Motorola's Moto 360 (Yahoo News UK)

Price: £199
Release date: October 2014

Moto 360 specs

  • Works on smartphones running Android 4.3 or higher

  • 1.56in LCD screen, 320x290, ppi 205, Gorilla Glass 3

  • 46mm diameter

  • 11.5mm high

  • 49g (leather band model)

  • TI OMAP processor

  • IP67 water resistance

  • Bluetooth 4.0

  • 4GB storage, 512MB RAM13:47 02/10/2014

Moto 360 verdict

The Moto 360 is the best-looking smartwatch so far, and the only one with a round watch face apart from LG's upcoming G Watch R. We were initially surprised at how chunky it is, but at 49g it's perfectly comfortable to wear, while the stainless steel chassis and 'Horween' leather strap give it a distinctly premium look.

Motorola's Moto 360 (Yahoo News UK)
Motorola's Moto 360 (Yahoo News UK)

Unlike some of its rivals, Motorola has wisely cottoned onto the fact that watches are primarily fashion items for many, so they need to look good. The 360 even uses a standard sized watch strap fitting so you can team it with your own choice (if you're willing to stump up extra cash after the initial £199 outlay).

The LCD screen is a little disappointing as graphics and text look slightly soft, unlike the AMOLED displays on rival Samsung watches, which are pin-sharp. The selection of six diffently styled watch faces is a nice touch, though the white options show up the ambient light sensor which takes up the bottom portion of the watch face, ruining the circular effect. We stuck to a black watch face, which Motorola has also cleverly done on its promotional website.

Motorola's Moto 360 (Yahoo News UK)
Motorola's Moto 360 (Yahoo News UK)

The light sensor is designed to adjust the brightness of the watch face according to the light around you, but turning it off and only firing up the screen when you need it will save you a lot of battery power.

Like most other smartwatches, the 360 is designed to light up when you flip up your wrist to read it. And like most other smartwatches, it only works some of the time, and often only with with a comically exaggerated gesture. It's hard to subtly check the time when you're wearing a smartwatch.

Pairing up the watch with an HTC One M8 was very straighforward - you just need to connect via Bluetooth then download the free Motorola Connect app which gives you a few customisation options.

[iPhone 6 and 6 Plus review roundup]

Notifications pop up on the watch screen when you receive a text, call or social media notification, and can be easily dismissed by swiping right. There's a limit to what you can actually do on the device though - for example if you get a Facebook notification, the watch will give you the option of opening up the full app on your phone rather than responding from the watch.

Motorola's Moto 360 (Yahoo News UK)
Motorola's Moto 360 (Yahoo News UK)

You can use voice control to carry out basic commands and while this works well in a quiet room, the slightest bit of noise makes it completely unusable.

Having easy access to Google Now is good news, as the service is designed to tell you what you need to know based on your location, including weather, train times and directions.

The built-in pedometer is useful for keeping track of your daily step count, although the heart rate monitor isn't terribly accurate or reliable.

[Apple Watch vs Android Wear]

The device sports a 320mAh battery, which Motorola says will give you a day's use. We found that if you turn off the ambient light sensor, you can just about get two days out of it before you need a recharge. When placed in the supplied wireless charging dock, the watch face flips to an alarm-clock style face which includes its charging status.

The 360 will work with any handsets running Android 4.3 or higher - if you're not sure, you can check which phones work with the Moto 360 on the Android site.

Overall, it's a great first effort from Motorola and certainly the best-looking smartwatch we've tested so far and the only one that we've been happy to wear all day. However, it's still a long way off being a must-have gadget. Hopefully the next wave of Android Wear products will benefit from a larger app offering, while a boost in processor power wuld also be welcome and could well extend the battery life.

Motorola's Moto 360 (Yahoo News UK)
Motorola's Moto 360 (Yahoo News UK)

It's almost a shame that Moto decided to go with Android Gear - which still has plenty of kinks to iron out - rather than using it's own interface that could work with both Android and iOS.

If you're a die-hard gadget fan then this is the best smart watch you can buy right now, but we'd recommend waiting a little while longer for the next-gen kit to come along. We're also hoping that Motorola brings out a smaller female-friendly version, in the same way that Apple will be offering two different sizes of its smartwatch.

Rating: 3/5