Moto 360 (2015) Hands On: Design First, Tech Second

By Darren Orf on at

The Moto 360 was one of the first wearables that got us thinking, “Yeah, this whole smartwatch thing just might work.” It had some flaws, sure, but it was a functioning computer on your wrist and it wasn’t completely terrible. Now, Motorola is taking another stab at with the new Moto 360—cleaning up the design but leaving behind a few problems.

Last year, Motorola set out to make a wearable, that is, a wrist-puter. This year, the company focused on making that wearable actually wearable. Instead of a one-size-fits-all solution. The new Moto 360 comes in 46mm and 42mm, a separate women’s collection (pictured above), and the Moto Sport collection (which we’ve already heard so much about.)

Starting with what Motorola’s calls its “fashion” devices, the company’s made some key changes in design that makes the Moto 360 better—just probably not in the one way you care about. Motorola’s moved its one hardware button, which used to be station at the “3” position, to the “2” position. This is so that little devil button doesn’t jam into your hand when you flex back or get caught up in other bracelets or arm accoutrements you may be wearing. The design team also moved the lugs out, which makes the band waaay more easy to remove but also makes more room in the casing for a bigger battery and lets the watch sit more snug on your wrist rather than looking like a bulbous piece of tech. Here, a comparison:

Moto 360 (2015) Hands On: Design First, Tech Second

So yeah, it looks like a watch now. So that’s good. What’s not good is The Shelf. Also popularly known as the “flat tire,” it’s the small black bar at the bottom that makes the circular display on the 360 distinctly less circular.

Moto 360 (2015) Hands On: Design First, Tech Second

For me, it’s not a particular deal breaker, but for many it’s a tech pain point and it will be returning on the second generation Moto 360. As to why Motorola decided to stick with this OCD nightmare design (and believe me, they know it’s not well-loved), it’s too keep screen-to-body ratio at a maximum. Motorola also has to fold the screen and pack in important sensors in that little black bar and by doing so create those ultra-thin bezels. Love it or hate it, it’s here to stay for the time being.

The women’s collection has almost the same everything as the 42mm men’s except for smaller, different band designs. The upcoming Sport, which we were only able to see a current mock up since it’ll be shipping later than the first two models, is also based on the 42mm men’s watch. However, unlike the normal watch, it comes with built-in GPS and a irremovable plastic 18mm band in either white, grey, or orange. Motorola’s also included what they call an AnyLight display, which combines a transmissive and reflective display so whether inside or outside you can see the watchface whenever.

Moto 360 (2015) Hands On: Design First, Tech Second

Overall, the men’s watch feels way comfortable and Moto Maker, Motorola’s online, DIY design studio, you can choose from more than 300 different combinations, so not getting the exact watch you want is almost impossible. The only design downside is this thing is still really think for a normal watch. At 11.4mm, this makes it one of the thickest smartwatches out there, including the new Huawei Watch which is also very bulky. Tininess will come with time, I suppose.

You can pre-order one starting today at Motorola’s store with prices starting at £229, depending on style and materials. The Moto Sport availability has yet to be announced.

Moto 360 (2015) Hands On: Design First, Tech Second

The new Moto 360 doesn’t drastically improve the smartwatch experience, but it does make it something you actually want to wear. It’s more of an actual watch and a design statement rather than a chunk of tech on a strap of leather.

Moto 360 (2015) Hands On: Design First, Tech Second

Moto 360 Specs

  • OS: Android Wear 1.3
  • CPU: Snapdragon 400 (1.2GHz)
  • Display: 42mm mens and womens: 1.37 LCD 46mm; mens: 1.56-inch LCD
  • Resolution: 360x325 and 360x330
  • PPI: 263-233ppi
  • Memory: 512MB
  • Storage: 4GB
  • Battery: 300mAh on 42mm mens and womens; 400mAh on 46mm mens
  • Thickness: 11.4mm
  • Wireless Charging: Yes
  • Wifi: Yes
  • Sensors: Gyroscope, accelerometer, optical heart rate monitor, haptics engine, ambient light
  • Waterproof: No
  • Price: From £229