After months of teasing, Motorola has officially launched the Moto 360. This Android Wear-powered smartwatch joins a crowded market, as Asus, Samsung, LG and others have also announced their own wrist-based smartphone companions running the same software. Now available for $249, we went hands-on with the Moto 360 to see if its time has come.
I'm glad to see style becoming an important aspect of smartwatch design. Like the Meta M1 watch, the Moto 360 looks like a premium timepiece, not a geeky appendage. Where other smartwatches are all dials and buttons, the Moto 360 takes a minimalist approach: A simple round face with one physical button on the side. It reminds me of the Withings Activite, which is aimed at the fitness market.
The watch case is made of machined stainless steel, giving it a sleek look. The straps seem to disappear underneath the face, adding to its streamlined look. The Moto 360 will first be available with leather straps, but stainless steel bands will go on sale later this fall for $50. I suggest waiting--they're much more attractive.
The most distinguishing feature of the Moto 360 is the circular display. Measuring 1.56 inches in diameter, it felt a little big on my somewhat skinny wrists, but is about the same size as most men's watches.The 320 x 290-pixel LCD display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3, and is IP67 rated, meaning you can splash water on the watch--just don't dunk it.
Like the Gear Life, on the underside of the Moto 360 is a heart rate monitor that's not meant for runners per se, but rather to give you a general picture of how active you are during the day. Inside is a TI OMAP 3 processor with 4GB of storage and 512 MB of RAM.
The expected battery life of the Moto 360's 320mAh battery is only 1 day, which makes it much shorter than, say, the Pebble Steel, which lasts about 3-5 days on a charge. Also, the Moto 360 uses inductive charging to replenish its battery, which means you'll need to bring its bulky wireless charger with you if you're going on a trip.
The Moto 360 uses the same Android Wear software as the Gear Live, G Watch and similar smartwatches. Overall, we like having the contextual intelligence of Google Now on our wrists, but the interface requires too much swiping. On the plus side, you can add additional watch faces with the Motorola Connect app.
That's a quick look at the Moto 360, available today for $249 at Motorola.com and Best Buy. Stay tuned for our full review of this classy smartwatch.