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Moto 360 (2015) review: A better (but pricier) Moto smartwatch

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Typical Price: £199.00
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The Good The Moto 360 is stylish and comfortable to wear. It's offered in two sizes, can be personalized through Motorola's Moto Maker website, and is one of the few smartwatches to include an ambient light sensor for automatically adjusting brightness.

The Bad Battery life is short for a watch. Android Wear software feels awkward. The round display isn't a complete circle -- there's a black bar at the bottom.

The Bottom Line Improved performance and unique customization options make the Moto 360 a worthy successor to last year's smartwatch, but it has the same limitations as other Android Wear watches on the market.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.1 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Battery 6
  • Performance 7
  • Software 6
  • Features 7

Review Sections

A watch is a personal device. Some people have a specific watch to go with a certain outfit, while others may swap out straps to match how they are feeling on a given day. Many of the smartwatches available today let you swap bands, and some are even offered in different colors and sizes -- but no device has felt as personal as my Moto 360.

Motorola's latest Android Wear watch can be customized to your liking using the company's Moto Maker website. You can choose the color of the bezel, the bezel treatment, case color and band type. Want a two-tone watch? No problem. Maybe one with a textured bezel? Why not? All of this is possible with the new Moto 360. According to Motorola, there are more than 300 options to choose from.

But here's the problem: while the new Moto 360 is better than last year's, it does little to stand out in the growing Android Wear watch world. There aren't any cool added features like NFC for mobile payments (Android Wear doesn't allow that yet) or GPS (for that, you have to wait for the Moto 360 Sport model). And some competing smartwatches even have better-looking screens, like the sapphire crystal display in the Huawei Watch.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Moto 360 now comes in two sizes: a 42mm model with 20mm or 16mm strap, and a 46mm with a 22mm band (slightly larger than last year's 45mm model). I wore the larger 46mm model, which starts at $350 in the US. There is also a special "women's collection" that features a 42mm face and a slim 16mm strap.

Prices range depending on what model you pick, but they're all more expensive. They start at $300 for the 42mm model -- a $50 premium over what last year's original went for -- and go up to $430. In the UK the 42mm for men costs £229, for women it's £259, and the men's 46mm is £269. Motorola has confirmed that the watches are heading to Australia, but hasn't supplied even a ballpark date yet. The UK prices convert to AU$480, AU$540 and AU$560, respectively.

The Moto 360 is better, but it's also less distinctive.

Hardware and design

The first thing you notice with the Moto 360 is that it has almost no bezel -- it's stunning. But then you notice the display isn't a complete circle, like the Huawei Watch or LG Watch Urbane . There's still a black bar at the bottom of the screen. Just like last year.

The black bar, which many jokingly refer to as the "flat tire," is home to the ambient light sensor, which automatically sets display brightness. It's convenient, but not at the cost of a cut-off screen.

Motorola claims most users don't notice the bar. I did. I notice it when the circular watch face I have installed is cut off at the bottom, and I notice it with any background that isn't black.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Motorola opted for an LCD display rather than AMOLED. To me it looks less crisp, more pixelated. The 42mm Moto 360 features a 1.37-inch display with a pixel resolution of 360x325, while the display on my reviewed 46mm model is 1.56 inches and 360x330 pixels (263 pixels per inch and 233 ppi, respectively). The Huawei Watch has a sharper a 1.4-inch 400x400-pixel resolution display. Not by much, but enough to matter.

The Moto 360 screen is also slightly raised up from its steel casing, with a slight angled bevel on the edge. It might make for easier swipes, but weirdly warps the edge of watch faces.

The new Moto 360 does look more like a real watch, though, largely because it now has traditional watch lugs. These look great, make it easier to swap out the strap for a new one, and make the watch more flexible and comfortable to wear. The crown button has also shifted to the top right, around 2 o'clock. But it's still just a basic button, unlike the spinning digital crown on the Apple Watch . You can't use it to scroll through apps: it only dims the display and accesses the app menu.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Some of the changes in the new Moto 360 are ones you can't see. The processor has received a significant boost, which improves overall performance. But I still notice some lag when the watch screen "wakes up" to full brightness from the dim power-saving mode.

Inside is a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage for apps and music, which is pretty standard for Android Wear watches. There's also Wi-Fi on board, so you can use the watch even if your iPhone or Android smartphone is left behind. It's just like what's in other recent Android Wear watches from LG and Huawei.

Sarah Tew/CNET
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