The Moto 360 was supposed to be the one. The watch that would rule all other watches with their pitiful square screens and plastic housings. I was excited for the Moto 360, but I couldn't help thinking the hype was out of control. We were expecting too much, and indeed, when I reviewed the Moto 360, the verdict was okay, but not amazing. At the time it was the best Android Wear watch, but that was due largely to the aesthetics. Now after three months and a handful of other watches, I have some more to say.
Major Wrist Bling
Something I noticed immediately after getting the Moto 360 is how others also noticed I had gotten a Moto 360. This watch is just different enough from other wrist accoutrements that people's eyes will naturally drift to it. They furrow their brows, waiting for an opportunity to ask what you've got on your wrist. Basically, you tend to get into conversations with people while wearing the Moto 360. This happens more than with any other Wear device I've used thus far.
Even a few months on, I still love the overall design of the Moto 360. It's striking, which is why people notice it. LG made great strides with the G Watch R, especially considering the last watch was the stupendously unimpressive G Watch (Classic). However, the GRW looks like a watch. The Moto 360 looks somehow futuristic.
So it's pretty, but a few possible issues have cropped up with the design and construction of the 360 since release. Some owners report that the plastic back plate has a tendency to crack around the band attachments, but I have yet to see that happen. The band itself is still quite comfortable, but the leather does get heavily creased from fastening the buckle everyday. I wish Motorola had gone with a collapsing clasp to limit that kind of wear. And it's not like you can (easily) swap one in. The Moto 360 has an oddly shaped recess for the band with a small plastic bar that prevents most straps from fitting. This still annoys me.
I've also gotten to spend a little time with the official metal band for the 360, and it feels every bit as high-quality as you'd expect. It has a collapsing hidden clasp and the links feel sturdy. The watch looks fantastic and sophisticated with the metal band, but I'm not sure that the $299 asking price is entirely realistic.
Battery Life Is Still Just Okay
Even after the Android 5.0 update, the Moto 360 continues to lag behind the rest of the Android Wear crowd when it comes to longevity. When I first reviewed the Moto 360, I found it was able to pull in roughly 18-20 hours with the ambient mode disabled (there are people who say they get much more, but I just don't see how). The 360 today is still very close to that, but maybe a little better. Any hopes that Android 5.0 would magically turn the 360 into a multi-day device have been dashed to bits, at least in my experience.
The above figure is, of course, with the screen off unless you have the device fully awake. Turning on ambient mode sends battery life into a comparative tailspin. From my testing following the 5.0 update, ambient mode is about the same as it was before. I'm maxing out at 13-14 hours. It's still in the same ballpark as before, but it's still not practical to use the 360 with ambient mode. That's kind of a bummer because I've become quite used to ambient mode on other Wear smartwatches. The 360 simply can't hack it in always-on mode.
So, you can definitely still get by with the 360 if you are okay without ambient mode. It'll last through a day, as long as you don't use it too heavily. However, there's not much wiggle room. If you head out someplace for the evening, you'll need to juice the 360 up before you go. At least it's compatible with Qi chargers. That's still a great feature to have, and good on Motorola for sticking to a standard.
I Still Don't Hate The Flat Tire, But Motorola Probably Does
The missing slice at the bottom of the Moto 360's screen has been affectionately referred to as the "flat tire." This is where the display drivers connect and the ambient light sensor is mounted. It was a necessary sacrifice to make a round LCD with such thin bezels work. You really do get used to it, but I still find myself using dark watch faces most of the time simply because the lighter ones make it stand out a bit too much.
It's funny how renders of the 360 keep sneaking out that lack the flat tire. It's almost like Motorola's designers are trying to will a completely round screen into existence. I'm sure that Motorola will do away with the flat tire in future versions of the 360, but it's a forgivable design decision this time.
If you're a little bothered by the not quite round screen, just know that it's a great display. The pixel density is a little lower than some other devices—it's a 1.56-inch LCD (320 x 290, 205 PPI). Still, it's gapless, very crisp, and the colors are excellent for an LCD. With virtually no bezel, it's very easy to swipe back and forth across the 360's screen. The G Watch R, for example, has a taller bezel around the screen, which can get in the way. The price of having a truly round screen, I guess.
We already went over the battery life question separately, but how about performance? That was one of the sticking points for the 360 at launch, though a minor one. As a likely result of choosing to go with an older TI OMAP chip, Motorola set itself up for a rough time. Even after the 5.0 update, there's a small hesitation in the 360's software compared to other Wear devices. However, it's not the sort of thing you'd notice unless you're really looking for it or have another Wear device to compare.
Android 5.0 brought a number of great features to the 360, but it also delivered those features to all the other Wear smartwatches out there. That's great for us, but maybe not so much for Motorola. The Moto 360 was clearly ahead of the game in software when it launched. The Connect app could be used to customize watch faces and check your battery, and the included watch faces were so, so good. Now that 5.0 has beefed up the Wear app and added true support for custom watch faces, some of Motorola's software advantages are no more.
I will say that the Moto 360 has been far and away the best supported by developers and amateur watch face designers. If you want to get your hands dirty with the newly upgraded Facer app, for example, you'll find many of the watch faces are designed with the Moto 360 in mind. App developers are even mindful of the flat tire, sometimes to the detriment of other devices.
Is The 360 Still Worth Considering?
To be clear, the Moto 360 is better than it was at launch, but so are all the other Android Wear watches. I haven't seen dramatic improvements in battery life or performance after 5.0, but I've only had a few cycles to test. If I find anything is different, I'll update with details. For now, I think the Moto 360 is still an incredibly attractive device with a few issues you'll have to take into account.
If you want an Android Wear device, I think the 360's time has come and gone. If you can get one on sale or used, sure, go for it. In a few months we're probably going to start seeing second-gen round watches that will be better options. The older hardware and middling battery life will quickly make this watch obsolete. It sure is pretty, though.