(Pocket-lint) - Motorola was one of the first to launch a compelling smartwatch in the Moto 360. The original timepiece appeared back in 2014 on Android Wear - as it was known then - and a flat tyre at the bottom of the display but it was a lovely device in its hay-day.
The company followed the original up in 2015 with a a second generation model that ditched the flat tyre display, as well as a sportier model in 2016, but following those, Motorola just vanished from the smartwatch category and brands like Fossil, Apple and Samsung took over.
Fast forward half a decade since that delightful first Moto 360 and you have yourself the third generation of the Motorola Moto 360 smartwatch. With three years out of the game and an entirely different sector to what Moto left behind, can the third generation Moto 360 compete?
We've been playing with it for the last week but as the one we have isn't a final model, we won't be scoring the Moto 360 until we get the retail device in for review.
- Premium build quality
- Leather and silicone straps
- Three colour options
The Motorola Moto 360 (2019) model hasn't completely forgotten its roots in its new design, but it is certainly bulkier and more substantial than the previous models. That's not necessarily a bad thing though. The Moto 360 third generation has a lovely premium finish with a solid and weighty build quality. Certainly less toy-like than the previous generations.
On the right hand side of the brushed stainless steel model we had in for review are two polished hardware buttons. The top button - which rotates - has the signature "M" branding we saw on previous Moto 360 devices, while the second button is new for the Moto smartwatch. The previous models of the Moto 360 all only offered the one button.
There's a polished ring surrounding the casing at the top, adding to premium finish of this device, and there's a polished buckle fastening too, also featuring the signature "M" logo. Our Moto 360 smartwatch had a genuine leather strap and while it was comfortable to wear, the leather is a little more plasticky looking than the rest of the device deserves.
On the underside of the third generation Moto 360, there are the charging pins - our model has four but the retail model will have two - along with a heart rate sensor. The heart rate sensor is almost flat on our model with only a slight bump, though we have been told the final model's bump will change slightly to improve heart rate quality.
- Fully round AMOLED
- Always On Display
- Adaptive brightness
The Motorola Moto 360 (2019) model has a fully round AMOLED display on top of the solid stainless steel casing. It's a responsive and crisp touchscreen that performs well based on our experience with it and is much the same as the other latest Wear OS devices.
Thankfully, the flat tyre from the original Moto 360 is long gone and while there is a still a bezel between the screen and the edge top ring, it's no larger than what you'd find on the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active, for example. The Moto 360 (2019) doesn't make as much use of the screen space as the Apple Watch Series 5 does though.
An Always On display means the Moto 360 won't just display a black screen on your wrist if you don't want it to and while there are five brightness settings, allowing you to select which one you want, there is also an automatic setting. We didn't come across any issues of the screen not being able to handle bright conditions and the auto brightness feature is useful and performs well, as is the case on other Wear OS watches.
Hardware and performance
- Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100
- 1GB RAM, 8GB storage
- Fast charging
Under its hood, the Motorola Moto 360 (2019) runs on Qualcomm's Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor, supported by 1GB of RAM. This is the same as other smartwatches like the Fossil Gen 5 and the Michael Kors Bradshaw 2. It's the same processor as the Michael Kors MKGO too but double the RAM and this is obvious when in use as the Moto 360 delivers a smoother experience.
Day-to-day use, we didn't experience any lag from our Moto 360 model and the battery appeared to perform reasonably well too, even if it isn't up there with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Watch.
As we mentioned, our model wasn't a final retail model and according to Motorola, there will be battery and charger improvements before the device goes on sale, though we didn't find any glaring issues with the battery life as it stands. It got us through the day but not into the next, which is pretty much the same story for most smartwatches.
There's fast charging on board for the days that the Moto 360 runs out of steam before you do, delivering a full battery life in an hour, and there's 8GB of internal memory on board too - again like the Fossil Gen 5.
- Google Wear OS
The Motorola Moto 360 (2019) runs on Google's Wear OS platform - which is what Android Wear is now called. It's a significantly better experience than what Android Wear offered back when the Moto 360 smartwatch first appeared and while Apple's WatchOS is still better in our opinion, Wear OS is good.
As with all of the latest Wear OS smartwatches, the third generation Moto 360 has Google Pay, Google Fit, Google Assistant and Google Play Services on board. It means you get an identical user experience to the likes of the Michael Kors smartwatches or the Fossil Gen 5 smartwatch, with only really the watch faces varying by brand.
Wear OS smartwatches are all packaged differently in terms of design, but ultimately, they largely deliver the same performance and experience across the board. Accessing apps is achieved with a push of the top action button on the Moto 360, while the bottom button can be customised to whatever app you choose.
A swipe from left to right pulls up Google Assistant but there is no speaker on board the Moto 360 so any results will appear on the screen and phone calls will transfer to your phone. A swipe right to left launches Google Fit, where you can keep track of your activity, while a swipe from the top offers access to quick settings. Swipe up from the bottom of the display and you'll find your notifications.
If you want more tips and tricks for using Google's Wear OS platform then head to our Wear OS complete guide feature for the run down on how to get the most out of this watch.
The Motorola Moto 360 (2019) model is pretty much everything you would expect it to be. It offers a solid build quality, a premium finish, good display and decent performance with very little lag. Overall it's a nice smartwatch to wear and use and it's far superior and more substantial than the four-year old model it replaces.
The biggest criticism we'd have of the Moto 360 third generation is that it doesn't do anything to stand out from the crowd. It's another Google Wear OS smartwatch but without a unique selling point so there is nothing to entice you to buy the Moto over the Fossil Gen 5, one of the Michael Kors options or the Diesel option for example - all of which have strong brand names in their favour too.
The Moto 360 has been out of the game for four years and in that four years, its competition has got significantly fiercer. The Moto 360 is a charming smartwatch - as its predecessors were - and it performs well with a decent design but it follows the crowd rather than leads them.
Fossil Gen 5 Smartwatch
The Fossil Gen 5 offers pretty much the same hardware as the Moto 360 but in a different package. It's larger than the Moto 360 but there are several designs to choose from and performance is good.
Michael Kors Access MKGO
The Michael Kors Access MKGO drops the RAM and internal memory compared to the Moto 360, but it offers a sportier finish for those after a watch to suit a more active lifestyle. It's also cheaper than the Moto and has some great MK watch faces on board.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active
The Samsung Galaxy Active is smaller than the Moto 360 but it's a lovely smartwatch with a solid build quality, great fitness tracking and good performance. It runs on the Tizen OS however so apps are more limited than on the Moto 360 and there is also the second generation model to consider with more features.