The added GPS and impressive display on the Moto 360 Sport don't justify the high-price.
This weekend, I will be running a 10-mile road race. It will be my first in nearly five years. To prepare for it, I've been running regularly for the past few months with an assortment of gadgets: the Garmin Forerunner 235/630, TomTom Spark, Fitbit Surge and Polar M400.
All of these watches include GPS for tracking pace and distance. Some, like the Forerunner 235/630, Polar M400 and Fitbit Surge, even display notifications for text messages and emails from your smartphone, but I wouldn't consider them full-blown smartwatches.
That's where the Moto 360 Sport comes in. It's the activity-centric sibling to the second-generation Moto 360 that debuted in late 2015. The watch runs Android Wear, so it can display notifications from your iPhone or Android device and includes personalized cards with information on the weather, traffic, sports scores and more. It's also one of the few smartwatches to feature GPS (the others being the Sony Smartwatch 3 and Samsung Gear S2 3G).
I compared the Moto 360 Sport to traditional running watches from Garmin, Polar and TomTom, and was a bit surprised how well it did. Motorola's fitness-focused smartwatch includes an optical heart-rate sensor and provides ample amount of post-run data. Best of all, this didn't require a separate app like Runkeeper or Strava. Motorola's built-in MotoBody app handled it all, in addition to daily activity tracking.
But the Moto 360 Sport suffers from poor battery life, and the single-button design isn't ideal for running. It's also too expensive. The Moto 360 Sport costs $299 in the US and £219 in the UK. You're better off buying a dedicated running watch from a company like Garmin or Polar for the same or a little more cash.
As the name implies, the Moto 360 Sport features a more active design than the standard Moto 360. Gone are the leather straps from the baseline model, replaced instead with a non-removable silicone band. It's comfortable to wear, but the watch still isn't designed to be worn in the shower or the pool. Competing watches from Garmin, TomTom and Polar tend to carry water resistance ratings of 5ATM.
While the normal Moto 360 is capable of tracking steps and distance throughout the day, it's fitness features end there. The Sport, on the other hand, is equipped with GPS, an essential tool for runners to help measure pace and distance in real-time without requiring a smartphone.
Otherwise, the Sport isn't too different from other Android Wear smartwatches. It does, however, utilizes a technology Motorola calls "AnyLight Hybrid Display." It's the first display to combine a traditional backlit LCD screen (like those found on smartphones) with a front-lit reflective one. This helps the display remain visible even in direct sunlight. It's quite impressive: It was bright and vibrant when indoors, while remaining clear when I moved outside. Nice work, Moto.
But the display isn't perfect. There is a weird warping effect along the edges between the display and the casing. This is a problem I mentioned in my review of the earlier Moto 360.
I ran more than 100 miles with the watch. It's relatively simple as far as running watches go, and reminds me a little of the Fitbit Surge. I used the preinstalled MotoBody app for my testing, but Android users have the option of downloading apps from RunKeeper, Strava and others. (Android Wear for iOS doesn't support third-party apps).
The built-in app will automatically record each mile as an individual lap, but you can't manually record one or change the distance at which it is automatically recorded. There is no interval training whatsoever. The watch also doesn't include Auto Pause, which will pause the watch automatically when you stop running, a useful feature for routes with frequent stop lights.
While testing the GPS can be difficult in New York City, I found the results to be on par with other watches I've been using. It generally took anywhere from 30 seconds to a couple of minutes to acquire a signal. The watched performed better in the suburbs of New Jersey, locking onto a signal within seconds on a day without significant cloud cover. You likely won't run into GPS problems, weather permitting.
After you complete a run, the watch displays plenty of data -- time, distance, average pace, best pace, average BPM (heartbeats per minute), max BPM, calories burned, calories burned per minute, different heart-rate zones (along with how long you were in them) and lap splits. It doesn't estimate cadence (steps per minute) or measure elevations, which is odd given that the specs sheet lists an altimeter.
A map of the run and various charts (heart-rate, calories burned and pace) can be viewed in the MotoBody app on Android (it's not available on iOS). Workout data from the app can also be shared with Google Fit, Under Armour Record, MapMyRun, Strava and Fitbit.
A 30-minute run with the GPS dropped the battery down to 85 percent. After an hour run it was down to 60 percent. That's a problem. Motorola hasn't said how long the Moto 360 Sport would last with a continuous GPS signal, but I am quite certain it wouldn't be over four hours.
The Garmin Forerunner 235, which costs $30 more than the Moto 360 Sport, lasts 11 hours with an active signal, and up to 9 days with activity tracking, smartphone notifications and heart rate enabled.
The Moto 360 Sport will have to be charged daily. Period. The watch wouldn't even last 12 hours on days I went for a run, which is unacceptable. If you don't use the GPS you could squeeze out 24 hours of usage, but you shouldn't get this watch if you don't need GPS. Get the Huawei Watch or regular Moto 360 instead.
Last year's Moto 360 was a perfectly good smartwatch for those interested in an Android Wear device. Unfortunately, the Sport model falls short, and there is no part of me that can recommend it in its current form.
If you are interested in a GPS running watch with smartphone notifications you should check out the Fitbit Surge or the Garmin Forerunner 235. Both are equipped with GPS, optical heart-rate sensors, and can display notifications for texts, emails and calls. They aren't full-blown smartwatches, but they will deliver a more enjoyable experience both when running and during all-day wear.
Don't need smartphone alerts? The Garmin Forerunner 225 is still my top choice.