The world of Android Wear devices is very different to that of Android on phones. With the vast majority of the user interface and the user interaction model locked down by Google, Android Wear makers are left to differentiate on hardware, companion apps and perhaps watch faces. In this world, you could think that there would be little difference between Android Wear devices, but that’s not what we’re experiencing.
Today we are taking a closer look at the Moto 360 Sport, Motorola’s latest device in their Moto 360 line. One thing to get straight now, yes it has a flat tyre. We know that many people see that as an instant failure, and if you do, great, but please remember that others who may not feel so strongly about it are entitled to their opinions.
Motorola has positioned the Moto 360 Sport as their active/ fitness-focused smartwatch, with an all-silicone construction, excellent display both indoors and out, inbuilt GPS and optical heart rate monitoring. The 360 Sport offers the full Android Wear package with a few differentiating features.
The Moto 360 Sport – we’re going to call it the 360 Sport from here on out – is not officially available in Australia, and those wanting to grab one will have to either buy it from a 3rd party vendor or go down the grey import route. With that in mind, how did the 360 Sport fair?
Moto 360 Sport Hardware
The all-silicon construction of the band and housing will be immediately polarising for some. I’ve been using the black model and have to admit that as a “metal watch guy” I haven’t found the styling unappealing. I do however prefer a metal or leather band; I found the silicone hot and “rubbery” on my arm at times.
The 1.37” (35mm) LCD hybrid display makes the watch an average size, with an overall diameter of 45mm and 11.5mm thick and weighing in a 54gs. The device is almost proportioned like a traditional watch, just little thicker. Overall the styling is unapologetically ‘active’ whilst being minimalist unlike some more bulky active wear devices on the market.
Like the majority of currently available Android wear devices, the 360 Sport comes with the standard, Snapdragon 400 processor, 512 GB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. If you’re looking for reliable performance these specs seem to cut it for Android Wear 1.5 and below.
|Operating System||Android Wear 1.5 build on Android 6.0.1|
|Display||1.37” AnyLight Hybrid display (360 x 320, 263dpi)|
|Battery||300 mAh (non-removable)|
|Weather protection||IP 67|
|Microphone||Dual digital mics|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g, Bluetooth 4.0 LE|
|Sensors||Barometric Altimeter, Accelerometer, Ambient Light Sensor, Gyroscope, Optical heart rate monitor (PPG)|
Accepting that the 360 Sport is an active device how is the build quality? When comparing it to the original Moto 360 which was marred broken rear cases and difficult to swap bands the 360 Sport is a breath of fresh air, on a side note you can not swap the bands on the device.
Overall the silicon housing and is precisely made with smooth interchanges between design elements. The rubbery feel is beautifully offset by the bezel, with its soft etched pattern, and the single angular metal button and metal clasp. The glass rear housing fits well into the band and has thus far managed not to become a grime trap.
Whilst, not a ‘dress’ watch the black model is subtle enough to blend in with business attire, casual evening wear or at the gym, I have to admit I may not have tested that last location. Most of the time the watch is comfortable to wear, the only time when I found it wasn’t was when I was little hot, that said I’ve preferred breathable metal bands for a long time now, so this could just be personal preference.
If the Moto 360 stands apart from the crowd in one particular space it would have to be the display. Yes, it’s LCD, yes it has a flat tyre but the hybrid AnyLight display is a standout feature if you ever find yourself outdoors or in a situation where your wrist in the sun then this is the display for you.
Along with the light sensor to automatically adjust the display to suit the lighting the hybrid display also includes a reflective layer that reflects ambient light. So if you’re in a bright lighting situation where a typical display just can’t emit enough light to make the screen viewable this is where the reflective layer comes into play.
Even in direct sunlight you can still see and interact with the watch face and apps. Amazing right? I’d say yes but it does come with one trade off, the display is understandable washed out. Colours are not vivid and low contrast areas of the screen may well be hard to see. To be clear being able to see a slightly washed out display is a massive improvement over not being able to see anything.
While not the only implementation of these sorts of ‘transflective’ displays we have seen it is still a great benefit to a watch that has to be usable in any and all situations, especially one target at the ‘active outdoors’ crowd. And if you were wondering if it lasts a full day with ambient mode on, the answer is yes.
Moto 360 Sport Software
Android Wear, on the whole, gives you a consistent experience. Android Wear 1.5 on one device is going to be essentially the same as it is on another, assuming they both have all the hardware to take advantage of the same features. At present the lack of microphone is really the only ‘feature’ the 360 Sport is missing as LTE connectivity is still very niche, and sadly NFC is still a pipe dream.
To clarify, I see this as a good thing. If I want the 360 Sport or any watch for that matter, for one of its features or design elements I know I won’t be sacrificing any features and that any app “bloat” will be minimal or user controllable. Plain and simple, I wish there was a range of Android phones from multiple OEMs simultaneously that worked like this, Android Silver anyone?
The device brings with it all of Android Wears normal 1.5 functions; notifications, voice control, gesture control, companion apps and oh yeah the time. With the Wi-Fi support, it can also survive away from your phone, as long as you are near a familiar Wi-Fi network you’ve already paired with.
I’m a fan of some of the stock Moto dials watch face – being an OG Moto 360 user – but like all Android Wear devices you can simply head on over to the Play Store if you want to mix it up.
Moto 360 Sport Performance and Battery
Having the Snapdragon 400 and 512 MB inside the Moto Sport provides an experience consistent with most other Android Wear devices, and simply outperforms the OG Moto 360 by an order of magnitude in every possible way.
The screen is responsive to movement and is easy to wake from the ambient mode, although I have managed to raise my wrist and have it stay in ambient mode a few times, not a deal breaker. Most apps load as quickly as they do on other Wear devices, which is to say not that fast.
The screen was always responsive to touch and voice input worked well if I had a good data connection on my phone (or WiFi). Overall Android Wear devices are still lagging – pun intended – behind our much more powerful phones in terms of performance, and you’ll notice that, on any Wear device.
Coming from an OG Moto 360 I came into my time with the 360 Sport with exceedingly low expectations. My expectations have been well and truly smashed. I’ve seen many criticisms of the device’s battery, I simply can’t agree.
I never finished off a day (0500 to 2130 typically) with less than 30% left in the tank. That’s with ambient on, full notifications and intermittent Pocket Casts control at a minimum. For me that’s more than enough, I don’t wear a watch to bed, so lasting a full day with a healthly reserve to then get recharged at night is all I’ve ever wanted from an Android Wear device, and the 360 Sport delivers.
As is the signature of the Moto 360 range the watch charges via the included Qi Dock. Powered by a standard USB a to Micro USB you can hook the charger up to whatever USB power source you have. The use of Qi makes charging a breeze, no fiddly snap on connectors, no bad contacts resulting in a flat watch, just drop and charge.
Whilst charging the Moto range have a great feature, a night clock. Seriously my 360 has completely replaced my bedside clock, I could only image how good it would be with an AMOLED screen to reduce the screen bleed and light leakage.
Moto 360 Sport Connectivity
The Sport 360 comes with the standard Android Wear array of connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g and Bluetooth 4.0 LE. From a reliability perspective, I experienced no connection issues with the device during my two weeks with it. Unlike other Wear experiences I have had, the 360 Sport remained in constant contact with my phone, even on the Android N developer build.
I did experience occasional loss of “sync” for lack of a better description between my phone and Pocket Casts, however, I think this may have been an Android Dev Preview issues based on other issues I was experiencing.
Moto 360 Sport Conclusion
The Moto 360 Sport is a well put together Android Wear device and unfortunately make me like my own OG Moto 360 a lot, lot less. I found the slightly smaller size more than acceptable and had absolutely no issues reading or interacting with the screen.
I’m not an ‘active wear guy” but the subtle black styling of the device was still simple and elegant if a little outside of my personal style. Being used to the ‘flat tyre’ I hardly even notice it, however, if it’s an issue for you it’s there, front and centre.
The inclusion of a good Heart Rate monitor and dedicated GPS is definitely a bonus for those who want to get out and about without having to take their phones with them. Paired with a pair of Bluetooth earphones and you’ve got a portable media centre, activity tracker and GPS for your workouts.
Unfortunately, it is still uncertain if the Moto Sport 360 is getting the upgrade to Android Wear 2.0, Motorola has been cagey on the devices upgrade path. Even on Wear 1.5, the device provides all the core Android Wear functionality in a reliable package.
Overall the question of would I recommend the Moto 360 Sport comes up, and my answer is I don’t want to give this one back. While my bar may be lowered by my own device, the Moto 360 Sport delivers everything I initially wanted out of an Android Wear Device; always on screen, all day battery life, notification, voice control and media controls, and that’s for starters.
The Moto 360 Sports is a great option for anyone looking at jumping into the Android Wear space who doesn’t mind if they don’t take the next leap in Android Wear when it comes.
Our review unit was provided by Expansys, they offer the Moto 360 Sport from $309 AUD with free shipping.