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The $250 Motorola Moto 360 – the Incredible Hulk of the Android Wear ecosystem – smashes its way into the wearable tech world with a circular screen and non-proprietary wireless Qi-charger, features unique among its peers. The smartwatch fuses beautiful and sleek design with functionality. But does it beat the $199 LG G Watch or the $199 Samsung Gear Live?

Another question that I pose toward our readership: Should you wait for the upcoming avalanche of Android Wear products this holiday season?

Feel and Aesthetic Design

The Moto 360 comes with two possible bands, depending on what you buy – although users can swap out the default wrist strap for another 22mm band. The default, Horween leather band comes into two colors: Stone grey and black. The leather feels more like a synthetic rubber – smooth, textured and like a second skin. After strapping it on several dozen times, the leather begins wrinkling. Also, it quickly picked up a permanent water stain. In the long-run, the band would not stand up to much abuse, water exposure or perspiration. The metal band seems a better bet for longevity.

Note: Reports emerged suggesting that while the Moto 360 physically supports 22mm bands, only the thinnest straps will actually work.

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Regarding the watch’s body, its circular stainless steel metal shell crushes its square and blocky competition in design quality. It features clean lines, a brushed texture and a sloped bezel. A single button rests on the side, providing a faint hint of design from analog watches. Despite its primarily metal composition, it retains the light-weight of a plastic build (somewhere in the ballpark of 150 grams). The rear housing, where the sensors are located, possesses a plastic, high-gloss construction.

Hardware

The Moto 360 offers a blend of archaic and cutting edge specs. Its TI OMAP 3 chipset, according to iFixit, yields good-enough performance at the cost of power efficiency. It’s believed that Motorola sat on older stock of TI’s chip and realized that wearable devices didn’t require the latest hardware to run smoothly. It also includes a heart-rate sensor and a custom designed wireless Qi charger, slimmed down to fit inside of a smartwatch.

Specifications

  • Texas Instruments OMAP 3 45nm manufacturing process (via iFixit)
  • 320 x 290, 205 pixels-per-inch semi-circular LCD screen;
  • Wireless Qi Charging Dock;
  • The Leather Band with metal band upgrade for $79.99;
  • Heart rate sensor;
  • 300-310 mAh battery;
  • Gorilla Glass 3.

The Moto 360’s hardware isn’t much different from the older LG G Watch (our review of the LG G Watch LG G Watch Review and Giveaway LG G Watch Review and Giveaway Does the LG G Watch suck or does it manage to justify its $229 price tag? Read More ) and the Samsung Gear Live. Compared to the Gear Live, the only additional feature offered by the 360 is wireless charging and an ambient light sensor. Stacked next to the LG G Watch, the 360 offers wireless charging, a tiny battery, a weaker chipset and an ambient light sensor.

The aesthetic quality of the 360 eclipses those on comparable Android Wear devices – at present, only two other devices exist: The LG G Watch and the Samsung Gear Live. The Moto 360’s circular screen packs 320 x 290 pixels. Unlike on square screens, the 360’s corners are cut off. Users can simply scroll to view the cut-off portions of a screen. In comparison, the 360 screen doesn’t stack up to the Samsung Gear Live’s 279 PPI, 320 x 320 resolution OLED screen, except in daylight readability.

The 360 — like most Android Wear devices — offers a lot. However, its only display feature that distinguishes it from its competition: Ambient light sensor. Enabling the ambient light sensor allows the 360 to adjust brightness to environmental conditions. This improves daylight readability and battery life in low-light conditions.

Software Features

Like all Android Wear devices, the centerpiece of the 360 is its access to Google Now. Activating Google Now just requires switching the screen on. Once activated, users can input the following voice commands:

  • Take a note
  • Remind me later
  • Show me my steps
  • Show me my heart rate
  • Send a text
  • Email
  • Agenda
  • Navigate
  • Set a timer
  • Start stopwatch
  • Set an alarm
  • Show alarms

These software features — with the exception of the heart-rate monitor — are standard on all Android Wear devices. My impression: Google Now is amazing. But the majority of these features already exist in the Android ecosystem. If you want perpetual access to Google Now, both the 2013 and 2014 editions of the Moto X offer touchless controls for it.

Customizable Watch Faces

The seven default watch faces range between analog and digital. Users can install alternative watch faces, but Google specifically recommends against this – these aren’t designed with the 360 in mind.

Pairing With Your Smartphone

Connecting the Moto 360 to your smartphone — like all Wear devices — doesn’t require much effort. Just install the Andoid Wear app on your Android device, switch on Bluetooth, and initiate the pairing process. The Android Wear app will walk users through its set up and configuration. A major advantage of the 360 is its physical button, which can switch the 360 on, or off, depending on your needs.

Android Wear requires the following:

  • Android 4.3+;
  • You must accept the pair on both the Moto 360 and the smartphone/tablet;
  • Bluetooth

Making Use of the Moto 360

As a reviewer, I focus on the practical applications of smartwatches. I tried all of the Moto 360’s features – of those not provided by Google Now, none justified the $250 price tag. While the 360 drips in design quality and beauty, its real-world value gives only scant improvement over the LG G Watch and the Samsung Gear Live – both watches which I’ve come to dislike for their frail battery life. That said, like its competitors, the 360’s most practical features: Navigation, notifications, app-access and heart-rate monitoring.

Navigation

The navigation feature of the 360 embeds itself within Google Now. It functions similar to navigation using Google Now on a smartphone. Simply use the command word “navigate to” and add your destination. The watch syncs with your smartphone, vibrating as each turn arrives.

Most users will love the ability to change destinations on the fly while driving — and not even touching their smartphone. While the most useful feature, touchless navigation just doesn’t justify its price-tag by itself.

Notifications and Apps

Your paired smartphone will push notifications out to the smartwatch. Pushed notifications cause the watch to vibrate. There’s a lot of flexibility in the Wear platform. Users can whitelist which apps push out notifications. Notifications can be turned off. Users can even manage which apps run in the background on the 360. Even so, I’ve yet to see an app for the Wear platform that justified a purchase. Why?

Because most smartphones can handle the same, or similar, functions as a smartwatch.

Heart rate sensor

The heart rate sensor is housed on rear portion of the Moto 360. It suffers from serious problems. First, the sensor won’t work while in motion. Second, rather than reading your data all day long, you must periodically activate the sensor. Overall, the vast majority of users won’t get much value from the heart-rate sensor. It’s gimmicky, and bordering useless.

There’s a lot of other devices that offer better health metrics than the Moto 360. My favorite: The Basis B1 Health Tracker (our review of the Basis Basis B1 Health Tracker Smartwatch (2014) Review and Giveaway Basis B1 Health Tracker Smartwatch (2014) Review and Giveaway Want to lose weight and think clearer? You might find help from the Basis B1 Health Tracker smartwatch. Read More ).

Battery Life

I tested the Moto 360’s battery longevity and found several factors that drain battery life. In particular, ambient screen, navigation, idle-state battery performance and Google Now activations were tested. While these numbers lack a rigorous methodology, they do give an idea of how much up-time the 360 offers.

I found that the screen itself drains — by far — the most amount of battery. With ambient light turned on, in a well-lit room, the Moto 360 drains about 48% per hour (estimated, based on 10 minutes of screen-on-time). The next most drainy feature: Navigation. Turn-by-turn directions consume about 10% per hour, or more. Idling consumes around 3% per hour, which connected via Bluetooth. And 10 Google Now activations use about 3-4% battery.

  • Ambient screen idle: 8% drain per hour;
  • Ambient screen + navigation: 13% drain per hour;
  • Navigation: 10% drain per hour;
  • Idle: Roughly 3% drain per hour;
  • 10 Google Now activations: around 3-4% battery drain;
  • Screen-on time: 48% drain per hour.

There’s likely a number of factors that drain battery. For example, I can’t explain why having the ambient screen on while navigating only drains 5% more than ambient screen alone. Or why navigation drains 10% per hour, while using the ambient screen while navigating takes only 3% more.

Over a 24 hour period, assuming the device isn’t used for eight hours (approximately 24% drain), expect around 3 hours of navigation (30% drain), forty Google Now activations (12-16% drain) and around 30 minutes (24% drain) of screen-on-time. If you use the always-on screen, expect a lot less of everything.

Moto 360 Battery Life Tips

  • Don’t use the ambient screen feature. It leaves the 360’s screen on, which magnifies its battery life issues.
  • Using auto-brightness will increase drain when in direct sunlight.
  • The lowest brightness setting is still visible while inside of a car and even while outdoors — although users may need to squint to see the screen.
  • Some apps will increase battery drain on your 360. It seems that Android Wear is going through the same difficulties as Android. Unoptimized apps may increase drain. Be careful what you install.

Criticisms

Battery Life: With light (to moderate) use, I can get a maximum of two days of battery life out of the LG G Watch – which offered a slightly larger (400 mAh) battery compared to the Moto 360’s 310 mAh. Unfortunately, the Moto 360 barely squeezes in a full 24-hours of battery time. During testing, I hit full charge around 4:22 PM and the battery began to fail at around 5:30 PM the following day. I used the watch for 2-hours of navigation, a heart-rate check, over 20 Google Now activations and about 15-minutes of screen use. When I tested each function by itself, unfortunately, I received different battery life measurements.

This might be because I received a firmware update in the middle of my tests.

Always-on Touchscreen: Motorola doesn’t allow users to disable the always-on touchscreen. This exacerbates the 360’s drain problems. Also, the touchscreen makes accidental screen activations all too easy. A light brush against one’s skin turns the screen on. While users can alter the setting for screen-on time, even a few seconds will cost the user precious battery life. A dozen accidental activations leaves the user with less up-time – perhaps causing the user to miss a crucial text message or navigation turn.

Android Wear: While Android Wear offers the most visually pleasing interface out of all wearable operating systems, it suffers from numerous shortcomings – first and foremost, battery life. Prior to the advent of Wear, smartwatches featured embedded operating systems and more efficient internal hardware. With Wear, devices went from 3-7 days of battery life to 1-2 (if you’re lucky).

Aside from battery life, Android Wear isn’t really open-source, as Google maintains control over the heart and soul of the operating system: Android Wear. Users expecting a fully open source system will suffer disappointment.

Chopped-off Screen: Many reviewers don’t mind the chopped off bottom of the Moto 360’s otherwise circular screen. I suspect this design choice emerged from tight deadlines to capture the early adopter market. I believe it is a sign that the device has other production flaws.

Overall, the chopped-off screen won’t bother users too much — most Wear apps don’t rely on having a full screen. Also, the screen often is completely black, which blends in with the chopped off portion of the screen.

Cheap Internal Components: Think about it. The Moto 360’s $250 retail price, in a smartphone package, would cost tens of dollars. The chipset and weak internal components — by Internet standards – look like a budget smartphone from two years ago. It uses an open-source operating system, without (not entirely sure) licensing fees. While manufacturers absorb start-up costs in releasing a new product, I doubt it justifies the $250 price of the 360. Crowdfunded wearables tend to cost about the same with smaller production runs. It is with poisonous vitriol that I reject early adoption.

Final Thoughts

Android Wear as a platform isn’t ready for mainstream use. Early adopters may love the constant access to Google Now – but a day of battery life crushes Android Wear smartwatches as daily-drivers. Had the Wear platform made room for lower-powered chipsets, such as Cortex M, MIPS or other low-drain chipsets, users could get days of battery life. If manufacturers included reflective or daylight readable technologies – such as the sublime Mirasol or Pixel Qi The Best Four E-Paper Displays Coming To Your Smartphone and Tablet The Best Four E-Paper Displays Coming To Your Smartphone and Tablet Looking for months of reading time from your smartphone or tablet? E-paper display technology may soon satisfy your needs. Read More technologies, week-long battery lives could emerge. As it stands, the platform will require constant recharging. Combined with a non-user replaceable battery, the 360’s longevity remains in question.

If battery life and daylight readability fall among your chief concerns, check out our Pebble Watch Steel review Pebble Steel Smartwatch Review And Giveaway Pebble Steel Smartwatch Review And Giveaway If you have good memory, you might remember that we weren't too excited with the original Pebble. So will the Pebble Steel, retailing at $250, be any different? Read More . It may not offer the 360’s myriad features, but it does offer notifications.

Conclusion

Before buying, everyone should ask themselves: Do they really need a smartwatch? Should You Buy A Smartwatch Now, Or Wait? Should You Buy A Smartwatch Now, Or Wait? Everyone is talking about smartwatches and other wearables as "the next big thing." So, should you buy a smartwatch today, or wait for the smartwatches to come? Read More  If you do, then the Moto 360 might satisfy, since it’s currently the best Android Wear device. But don’t let that fool you — better devices will drop this holiday season.

So while the Moto 360 offers beautiful design and solid performance it fails in two key areas:

  1. The platform’s poor daylight readability.
  2. Android Wear fails to offer more than a day or two of battery life.

Unfortunately, the Moto 360 – as highly polished as it is – just doesn’t cut it. However, I must applaud Motorola for working wireless Qi-charging into the 360. By using a non-proprietary technology, Motorola pushes us toward a future in which wire-free charging is the standard, rather than the exception.

MakeUseOf recommends: Don’t buy it. While the Moto 360 offers the most elegant and polished of the Android Wear smartwatches, it suffers from teething issues, bad battery life and weak hardware. Early adopters, who don’t mind problematic hardware, should at least wait until the holiday season, when a flurry of smartwatches will storm onto retailers’ shelves. Everyone else should wait until the second generation of devices becomes available in 2015.

How Do I Win The Moto 360?

Motorola Moto 360 Android Wear Smartwatch

The winner will be selected at random and informed via email. View the list of winners here.

Send your products to be reviewed. Contact Jackson Chung for further details.

  1. Evan Cox
    August 13, 2015 at 3:09 am

    With 5.1 battery life is slightly better - combined with the new price of $150 and this became a buy for me. I absolutely love mine. I installed an aftermarket launcher and it absolutely rocks. I still don't get more than a day out of the battery, but since it charges overnight that's not an issue for me. There are now companies that make adapters that allow for aftermarket watch bands which sweetens the deal even further. A cool face, new band, and google NOW functionality!?!?!? That pushed me over the edge.

  2. Aaron
    January 11, 2015 at 12:14 am

    Fair enough..
    I still couldn't wait and love it.

  3. Jerry
    November 9, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    congratulations stan L for winning

  4. Luong Nguyen
    November 9, 2014 at 11:39 am

    Congrats Stan L for winning!

  5. P. Lyles
    November 9, 2014 at 12:00 am

    This watch is the best of all.would love to possess it.

  6. Lander Pereira Fernandes
    November 8, 2014 at 10:30 pm

    Great Giveaway! Hope to win! Good luck to everyone else though!!!!

  7. Lander Pereira Fernandes
    November 8, 2014 at 10:30 pm

    Great Giveaway! Hope to win! Good luck to everyone else though!!!!

  8. Nick
    November 8, 2014 at 8:19 pm

    Wish I win that thing :)

  9. Vaibhav
    November 8, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    Hoping for the best. Good luck all :)

  10. Markus Dietz
    November 8, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    cool

  11. Poonam
    November 8, 2014 at 11:08 am

    Impressive giveaway..fingers crossed! :)

  12. Nathanael
    November 8, 2014 at 6:09 am

    I want this SO BADLY to review for my site, and to use. It'd be my first win! ;)

  13. Betty Shoemaker
    November 7, 2014 at 11:24 am

    would love to win this

  14. Ashwin Parmar
    November 7, 2014 at 5:19 am

    I think MakeUseOf is a great thing to have on any phone. I really like it.

  15. Ali tajiri
    November 6, 2014 at 9:22 am

    Hope a good chance to all of you :)

  16. Turkey Barry
    November 6, 2014 at 3:24 am

    Too bad this is on facebook, I don't think anybody ever wins facebook sweepstakes or contests. I've never heard of anybody winning them.

    • James Bruce
      November 6, 2014 at 9:38 am

      It's not "on facebook" per se - Facebook is used (as one option of three, I should add) to authenticate and get your email address. All our competitions have winners which you can view here (though not everyone supplies a photo) - http://www.makeuseof.com/winners/

  17. Helena
    November 5, 2014 at 6:00 am

    Thank you for this fantastic giveaway!
    Fingers crossed!
    R.usernameJens Ken lundstrom
    Email:melodie10@gmx.fr

  18. Helena
    November 5, 2014 at 6:00 am

    Thank you for this fntastic giveaway!
    Fingers crossed!
    R.usernameJens Ken lundstrom
    Email:melodie10@gmx.fr

  19. Ashwin Parmar
    November 4, 2014 at 4:45 am

    Wish to have one but its hard time going on

  20. Ashwani Parmar
    November 4, 2014 at 4:44 am

    Wish to have one but its hard time going on

  21. Teri
    November 3, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    OMG what a great christmas gift. Love it

  22. Deedee
    November 3, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    I sure could use this to keep up with my busy life. Thanks for the opportunity

  23. Alyssa Flamand
    November 3, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Christmas gift!

  24. Mary
    November 2, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    great prize!

  25. bianca roman
    November 2, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    youtube name: bianca roman/yobonks@gmail.com
    google + name: bianca roman/yobonks@gmail.com

    there wasn't a spot on the form for these!

    thanks!

  26. Phil Fabro
    November 2, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    Good Luck!

  27. kenny
    November 2, 2014 at 11:54 am

    I hope I win and that is awesome amazing I've been wanting one of them that would be great if I can win good luck to everyone god bless you all

  28. lam
    November 2, 2014 at 10:06 am

    i should have this device because i want to actively participated in android wearable development

  29. Bons
    November 2, 2014 at 7:50 am

    I'd love to have this watch.

  30. Luong Nguyen
    November 2, 2014 at 2:42 am

    This looks too awesome!

  31. Sadhik
    November 1, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    Count me in too guys,

  32. antonella togato
    November 1, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    finger crossed!

  33. sachin
    November 1, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    i want 2 win

  34. Max
    November 1, 2014 at 9:31 am

    Great giveaway! Great Moto 360.

  35. maria cristina
    October 29, 2014 at 10:16 am

    great giveaway good luck to all

  36. MARYANN Eidan
    October 29, 2014 at 4:22 am

    MUO has the Best prizes. I so want to win this!!!!!!!!!!!!*************

  37. Heather NC
    October 28, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    would love to win!

  38. Nancy Gass
    October 28, 2014 at 1:58 am

    This watch is great!!!

  39. Edmond
    October 26, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    Wow, motorola-moto-360-android-wear-smartwatch is fab. & splendid. 2 fingers snap. It is tight, fly & off the chain. Thank you for the awesomeness, the contest, and generosity. Dear Santa: I’ve been nice. My X-Mas wish this year is to win this contest.

  40. rosana
    October 25, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    o sorteio é internacional?

  41. Marcus Freudemann
    October 25, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    Got mine and within 24 hours, it's packed up to be returned - don't like it!

    • Kannon Y
      October 25, 2014 at 7:32 pm

      That's exactly how I felt about the Moto 360. Another issue that complicates wearables -- particularly those with short battery lives -- is device longevity. Frequent recharging and constant complete discharging literally destroys small batteries in short order. I don't imagine these things will last much longer than a year or two for the average user.

  42. Satish Sahu
    October 25, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    lets see who's the luckiest!!

  43. Kshitiz
    October 25, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    makeuseof provides the best way to find good softwares and good tech objects. This is the also a good reason for me to love makeuseof: giveaway.

  44. Caidan
    October 25, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    I want to win

  45. Wallace
    October 25, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    Would love to beat my kids to the latest technology by winning this.

  46. maria cristina
    October 25, 2014 at 11:41 am

    i love thisssssss

  47. Michael Mehsling
    October 25, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Please send me my watch as soon as possible.

  48. Amrou
    October 25, 2014 at 9:35 am

    this smart watch is just awesome !!

  49. Roy Sell
    October 25, 2014 at 7:42 am

    'Make use of' are cheating us with the infinity approach making the unsubscribe link unreachable.

    • Kannon Y
      October 25, 2014 at 5:44 pm

      Hello Roy, what are you trying to unsubscribe from?

      If it's the email newsletter, the unsubscribe link is within the email itself. If you seek to hide certain kinds of articles from the front-page, I don't think we've rolled that capability out yet. But it's a great idea. I'll mention this to our website designer.

  50. Robin H
    October 25, 2014 at 2:11 am

    Why would you ever want to disable the touchscreen? Are you expecting them to put a physical switch for the screen on the device? That's the only way to make that work, and it would be really ugly and cumbersome. Also, that "chopped off" screen is what gives the 360 the *unique* ability to have contextual screen brightness, thanks to the ambient light sensor in that area. Personally, I'd much rather have an auto-brightness feature and give up a tiny sliver of screen.

    • Kannon Y
      October 25, 2014 at 5:42 pm

      Hey Robin, thanks for the comment, those are all great points. As a reviewer we're often forced to prioritize features based on personal preference. My first preference is for value, my second is for utility. Dead last is aesthetics. Not everyone is likely to agree with that philosophy and if you value aesthetics above all, the 360 is definitely worth your money.

      Touchscreen: I wish they would allow the disabling of the touchscreen while off, since I use touchless controls 90% of the time. The touchscreen runs even while the watch is turned off, which resulted in more accidental triggers than intentional. I think, in short, having fewer options is worse than having more options.

      Ambient light sensor: It's a nice touch, but the wearables without ambient light sensors last longer than the Moto 360. This is partly because the light sensor itself sucks up power while active, which offsets whatever battery power it saves while in dark environments. It's looking like a firmware update may have made the ambient light sensor more battery friendly though.

      Also, it looks like Motorola could have embedded the ambient light sensor in the bezel. Some of the latest light sensors are really small -- it doesn't make sense to me that Motorola chose to use up around 1/6 of the Moto 360's limited screen real estate to embed a component that required much less space.

      Again, I value .. uh.. value and utility the most and aesthetics the least. At least two people in public (strangers) were really wow'd by the 360. One person even asked if it was the new iWatch -- in truth, the 360 looks a lot better than the Apple Watch. But does it offer value? Is it actually useful? Based on my core two criteria, I can't recommend this to anyone.

  51. John
    October 25, 2014 at 1:14 am

    Nice watch, better than some others I have seen.

  52. Suresh K. Volam
    October 25, 2014 at 12:29 am

    Let's see if I win it this time.

  53. Mike Brattain
    October 24, 2014 at 11:43 pm

    I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to win this!

  54. Fakepramotion
    October 24, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    hey guys forget about this....you will never gonna win any item from this contest. this is just for publicity. they are trying to promote their website and they will announce a winner at the end only people who know them, please don't waste your time here and don't mess your facebook, google+, twitter and YouTube pages.
    note: you will loose your chance by sharing this promotion on your walls. think!andSmart

    • Kannon Y
      October 25, 2014 at 5:51 pm

      A separate group handles the giveaways (not the authors), but everything I've seen indicates that the selection process is handled fairly and without prejudice. If you have any evidence, I'd love to hear it.

  55. Tim
    October 24, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    I have a 0.2% chance of winning! I've got this in the bag guys, you should all just give up now...

  56. david thoman
    October 24, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    I would love to have this watch

  57. Prabhath Lokuge
    October 24, 2014 at 5:50 am

    I also just hope I have the opportunity to be the lucky winner..

  58. Ashwani Parmar
    October 24, 2014 at 5:16 am

    I think, i have no more reason than others to win, I just hope I have the opportunity to be the lucky winner..

  59. Ashwin Parmar
    October 24, 2014 at 5:15 am

    I think, i have no more reason than others to win, I just hope I have the opportunity to be the lucky winner

  60. Julian
    October 24, 2014 at 12:01 am

    bacon bacon baaaaaacoooooon!

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