Review roundup: Motorola's Moto 360 is the best smartwatch yet, but poor battery life is unacceptabl

Posted:
in General Discussion edited September 2014
Motorola has finally released its Android Wear-powered Moto 360 smartwatch --?wisely or not, just days before Apple is expected to debut its "iWatch" -- and early reviews say that the device is a fine standard bearer for Google's wearable operating system, though it could benefit from some more time in the lab.

Android Wear concept
Motorola's Moto 360 Android Wear-powered smart watch | Source: Google

Joanna Stern of the Wall Street Journal

Calling the Moto 360 "a big step in the right direction," Stern praised the device's design and build quality. The stainless steel and leather construction make the watch "look and feel like something you'd find at Tourneau rather than Best Buy," while she appreciated the ease with which the numerous watch faces could be read outside --?an area where other smart watches fall down.

One factor working against the Moto 360 is its size, Stern said. Its 1.8-inch round display "almost looks like I grabbed a clock off the wall and strapped it to my arm." Combined with its relative thickness, the wearable looks outsized on all but the largest wrists.

Stern also panned the Android Wear software, saying that sheer volume of notifications --?with little ability to control them -- and the lack of an available app ecosystem overshadowed its otherwise useful features. She was impressed by Google Now's ability to help her avoid traffic on the way to her next meeting, for instance, and said that the Moto 360's voice recognition worked well for setting reminders or checking the weather.

The biggest knock on the device, however, is its battery life. Stern was forced to charge the Moto 360 as much as twice a day, and there is no mechanism for using it as a watch --?smart or dumb --?once the battery runs dry.

Overall, Stern was impressed, but stopped short of recommending that everyday consumers purchase one. "The Moto 360 tells the time better--and looks better--than any other smartwatch," she wrote. "But right now it's telling me that it's not the time to buy one."

David Pierce of The Verge

Like most others, Pierce complimented the Moto 360's design above all else. "The Moto 360's most impressive feature is that I stopped noticing it almost immediately," he wrote, saying that it felt far more like a watch than a smart watch on his wrist, if not a little thick.

The 320-pixel-by-290-pixel display could be better, Pierce believes, as its low resolution and the cut of its Gorilla Glass cover make it somewhat difficult to read. Like others, Pierce did praise the display's outdoor readability.

Once again, Android Wear proved to be the Moto 360's most glaring weakness, providing "constant confirmation that this operating system was designed with rectangles in mind." Images and text were occasionally cut off on the Moto 360's round screen, Pierce noted, saying that the watch is "at its most basic, just a much more attractive way to see all the same notifications on your phone."

Battery life continued to be a concern as well. Pierce was able to get a day's use from the Moto 360, but lamented that "watch now dies before my phone does, and that's unacceptable."

"If you're buying a smartwatch today," Pierce concludes, "spend $249 and buy the Moto 360. That's an easy call."

Nancy Blair of USA Today

"Make no mistake, this is a BIG watch," Blair wrote, but "the Moto 360 does a great job of feeling more like a wristwatch." She found that the large display made notifications easier to read, and was impressed by its outdoor visibility.

In what is a common thread in early looks at the device, Blair blasted the one-day battery life, calling it "not so charming" in relation to the Moto 360's convenient wireless charging features.

"Overall, the Moto 360 is an appealing take on a smartwatch," Blair believes. "The big question is whether it will stand the test of time amid tough competition."

Others

CNET's Scott Stein found the Moto 360 "really impressive to behold," but panned its rather large size in his early look. He, too, took the one-day battery life to task, but did call the device "absolutely the most exciting looking Android Wear smartwatch I've seen, and the best showcase hardware for Google's Android Wear."

David Gilbert of the International Business Times said that the "Moto 360 stands out from the rest of the smartwatch bunch because it doesn't immediately strike you as a smartwatch," and called the screen "bright and responsive to touches." He came away underwhelmed, however, slamming the battery life and saying that with "the iWatch's release imminent, Motorola could have a challenge to convince people that the Moto 360 is the modern timepiece."
«1345

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 97
    I guess Apple really is needed to show the Android camp how to do things. I want to see who copies Apple the fastest!
  • Reply 2 of 97
    So, what makes this watch "smart?" Something that needs to be charged twice a day sounds like a dumb buy. I wonder if one of the notifications is, "Okay, I'm gonna fade to black for a few hours while you charge me up... and I don't care how many notifications you set, I'm not notifying nobody until I'm done getting my twice a day juicing!"
  • Reply 3 of 97
    I guess Apple really is needed to show the Android camp how to do things. I want to see who copies Apple the fastest!

    I think Apple's gonna be hard to copy this time... Lots of leading edge hardware and software melded together to make something never before imagined.
  • Reply 4 of 97

    The modern day Casio. Best worn with long sleeves.

  • Reply 5 of 97
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,615member

    I don't understand the attraction to 'round'. Isn't round the least practical shape for displaying digital info that often is required to be laid out in a grid? 

  • Reply 6 of 97
    roakeroake Posts: 668member
    Battery life has been my biggest concern with regard to Apples forthcoming smartwatch offering. I will be pretty shocked if they don't have some degree of solution for this issue, but how much battery life can be achieved in such a tiny form-factor device? Hopefully, Apple has been think outside the box on this issue: not just "let's make the battery bigger". While nothing is wrong with that, it won't help that much. Apparently, the did not get solar charging to work to their satisfaction. Maybe it will trickle-charge from movement, ambient heat, magnetic fields on the coils, etc., which could work out to substantially increased battery life.
  • Reply 7 of 97
    roakeroake Posts: 668member
    paxman wrote: »
    I don't understand the attraction to 'round'. Isn't round the least practical shape for displaying digital info that often is required to be laid out in a grid? 

    A grid watch is fine if you're one of those types that enjoyed calculator-watches when you were younger (or even now), but square watches are ugly. I like the idea of a watch that doesn't scream, "nerd toy!" I prefer a watch that no-one would recognize as a smartwatch at first glance. I want their second glance to be in admiration of a stylish timepiece rather than for an internal chuckle at someone with what amounts to a modern-day nerd badge on their wrist.

    If I want higher-powered computing on the go, I'll pull out my iPhone. I guess, for a watch, I prefer form over function, although I imagine there will be plenty of function the offering from Apple.
  • Reply 8 of 97

    Very interested to see how Apple gets around the battery life issue.  Motorola is actually very good at battery life (speaking of their smartphones) - and yet, their smartwatch is a dud when it comes to this subject.

  • Reply 9 of 97
    I'm interested to see what Apple does with smart watches. I really like moto's ethos on the smart watch category that these devices aren't smartphones on your wrist. Rather they are to analog watches what smart phones were to flip phones.

    Also, rumors had the moto 360 lasting 2.5 days on a charge, but most reviews are hitting 12ish hours %u2013 I think that's probably more to the "new car effect" where you find excuses to drive all over the place the first few days/weeks you own a new car just because you enjoy using it. Also, at least one reviewer admitted to using the white background watch face one the AMOLED screen: a black background on AMOLED doesn't use battery, while white backgrounds use a lot of it... Anyway, it'd probably go morning to night with your average usage; however, once those batteries hit one or two years old, they're not going to last half a day. THAT is the real problem. If these started out lasting 2.5 days, in a year or two, it'd be a single day with battery capacity loss.

    If Apple can't hit 2 or more days on a charge on a new iWatch, you will be stuck at or less than a day's charge a year later. At the prices we're expecting to see for the iWatch, these are competing with $300 to $700 analog watches that are lifetime-level purchases. They literally can last your lifetime, and if you're truly wanting a WATCH, consumers expect them to last much longer than cell phones, especially for the price... I don't expect these smart watches are going to be a yearly upgrade for consumers, so that battery better be something special/replaceable, or I can see a lot of people balking. Maybe not for the first generation, but when their iWatch / Moto 360 battery can't last a full day and the only option is buying a new watch; they/you/I will balk.

    As and aside %u2013 This article, being on AppleInsider, really does cherry pick a lot of the negative statements from the sources, so if you actually want to know what's opined out there in neutral-land, I'd suggest a good read from these places and from places slanted towards like it for a full review.
  • Reply 10 of 97

    The easy solution to battery life is dumber phone, and bluetooth to phone or other device for any hard work.

     

    Monochrome screens tend to be many times less power than color ones of similar cost/resolution and work better in bright sunlight.  Monochrome may be good enough for a watch.

     

    You can also go dual processor similar Tegra 4 where you have one core that is extremely power efficient and use it 99% of time and only for short bursts.

     

    I personally would be tempted if a big company to make a $50 watch...  lower resolution mono screen, memory in megabytes rather than gigabytes, etc....  you can do very fancy stuff on a mac or pc from 14 years ago, everything really needed for a watch and 10x that, and old mac/pc only had 250 mb ram or less.  These days that sort of power and ram fits on single tiny "system on a chip".

  • Reply 11 of 97
    amazing that battery life is so terrible!! i am in berlin and seeing the choices up close displayed, they do not make me want to buy.

    who will accept such poor design / battery life ? - color and touch are fine but not at the expense of not making it thru a day/night!

    pebble is distinctive in being great at what it does and for many days in a row without charging..
    it is the first watch i have worn in years - i am interested in apple's offering.. the moto and other android ones are rather disappointing.
  • Reply 12 of 97
    Ha ha ha ha ha. If this is the best Android can do then Android watch stinks.

    Go ahead, strap a hockey puck to your wrist.

    Anything less than a one week battery life on the wrist is junk.
  • Reply 13 of 97
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sog35 View Post

     

    Its a POS like I thought.

     

    12 hour battery life?  POS.


    nonsense

    easy solution, add a couple of wires to this....

  • Reply 14 of 97
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    allenbf wrote: »
    Very interested to see how Apple gets around the battery life issue.  Motorola is actually very good at battery life (speaking of their smartphones) - and yet, their smartwatch is a dud when it comes to this subject.

    I'd think step 1 is not to make a wrist-worn CE mirror features that are better served by a smartphone.
  • Reply 15 of 97
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    The downfall of smart watches to date: you EITHER have the always-on display to make it a real watch, not a black blob awaiting awkward shakes or gestures. OR you have good battery life. Nobody has beaten that trade-off.

    The Moto 360 ends this dilemma: your watch is a dead black circle most of the time, AND it still dies before dinner!

    I like the Verge's advice to get this if you want a smart watch "today." Not, you know... wait 4 more days to see whether the Apple device everyone's chasing might appear and be less of a waste... :p
  • Reply 16 of 97
    davendaven Posts: 548member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by leavingthebigG View Post



    I guess Apple really is needed to show the Android camp how to do things. I want to see who copies Apple the fastest!

    After that happens, the Fandroid crowd will chime in saying that the Android watches were first on the market (even though they sucked).

  • Reply 17 of 97
    muppetrymuppetry Posts: 3,328member
    nagromme wrote: »
    The downfall of smart watches to date: you EITHER have the always-on display to make it a real watch, not a black blob awaiting awkward shakes or gestures. OR you have good battery life. Nobody has beaten that trade-off.

    The Moto 360 ends this dilemma: your watch is a dead black circle most of the time, AND it still dies before dinner!

    I like the Verge's advice to get this if you want a smart watch "today." Not, you know... wait 4 more days to see whether the a Apple device everyone's chasing might appear and be less of a waste... :p

    On the issue of battery life versus display, Pebble has, for the most part, succeeded. The display is always on, easily readable outdoors and indoors, and the battery life is 5 days. It does have far fewer functions than those anticipated for the iWatch, however.
  • Reply 18 of 97
    Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

    The downfall of smart watches to date: you EITHER have the always-on display to make it a real watch, not a black blob awaiting awkward shakes or gestures. OR you have good battery life. Nobody has beaten that trade-off.



    Well, no... All you have to do is have an accelerometer that will turn the display on when it registers the watch being moved from right=down (left for lefties) to back=down. Boom.

  • Reply 19 of 97
    allenbf wrote: »
    Very interested to see how Apple gets around the battery life issue.  Motorola is actually very good at battery life (speaking of their smartphones) - and yet, their smartwatch is a dud when it comes to this subject.

    Easy, peasy ... as you pleasey.

    The watch, itself, has the largest battery consistent with good design/function ...

    The watch band(s) each contain auxiliary batteries -- which provide most of the battery power.


    Or, the iWatch contains a pCell which can receive power over the air to charge the battery continuously.
  • Reply 20 of 97
    Bought a pebble watch. Screen kept going static break up. Battery life was pretty good. About 5 days. I hated it locking up n the screen going all static. Took it back after two days.
Sign In or Register to comment.