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Moto 360 (2019) review: A good watch on a so-so platform

Motorola’s Moto 360 smartwatches made their mark on the Wear OS ecosystem as two of the first fully circular smartwatches available. Just about when we were hoping for a third-gen Moto 360, Motorola said it would put its smartwatch efforts on hold until there was a good reason to bring another one to market. Apparently, that time is now, but Motorola is doing so with a little help.

A Canadian company called eBuyNow has licensed the Moto 360 brand from Motorola to create the new Moto 360 (2019). It’s very much a continuation of the Motorola smartwatches we’ve grown to love, with updated specs and a modern (if not a little chunky) design. For a Wear OS watch in late 2019 it doesn’t push many boundaries, though it delivers on the basics — something most other Wear OS watches don’t do.

Read our full Moto 360 (2019) review to find out why you might (and why you might not) want to buy this great Wear OS watch.

Moto 360 (2019) review notes: I’ve been using the Moto 360 (2019) for five days, running Wear OS version 2.11 with build number 9PXDI.191031.0015979985 on the October 1, 2019 security patch. It was paired with my Google Pixel 4 XL for the duration of this review. This review unit is running pre-production software, so I wasn’t able to use Google Pay during my testing. There were also a few software bugs present that eBuyNow claims will be fixed prior to the watch’s launch date.Show More

Moto 360 2019 review on table watch face display 4
Moto 360 2019 review side buttons case
Moto 360 2019 review leather strap on wrist

eBuyNow and Motorola got a lot right with the new Moto 360. A lot of that has to do with the hardware. The watch is made of stainless steel and feels solid and well-made. I know using the word “premium” is a little tired these days, but I’d say everything about the Moto 360 is premium.

The case isn’t huge and only houses a 1.2-inch display. It is a little chunky compared to its overall size, though, so it may look bulky on smaller wrists. The circular AMOLED display gets plenty bright and has nice viewing angles, and no, there’s no “flat tire” here. It isn’t as pixel-dense as other smartwatch displays at 390 x 390, so expect things to look a little grainier than the latest Apple Watch or Galaxy Watch Active 2.

Oddly enough, there’s only one Motorola-made proprietary watch face preloaded on the Moto 360. None of them are ported over from the old watches. (I was really looking forward to using the Rotate watch face again.) Instead, Ustwo’s Looks watch faces come preloaded on the device. There’s a good variety of styles available, and all nine of the preloaded faces are customizable.

Moto 360 2019 review vs fossil gen 5 smartwatch

Left to right: Fossil Gen 5, Moto 360 (2019)

The watch is available in three color options: Steel Grey with a brown leather/black silicone strap (our Moto 360 (2019) review unit), Phantom Black with a black leather/black silicone strap, or Rose Gold with a white silicone and brown leather strap.

Performance and battery life are the Achilles heel of Wear OS watches, but the new Moto 360 handles both in spades. eBuyNow packed all the latest, high-end specs into this watch: the Qualcomm Snapdragon 3100 chip, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of onboard storage, and a 355mAh battery. Performance-wise, this watch is just as quick as the Fossil Gen 5 or Galaxy Watch Active 2. The only lag I noticed throughout the review period was when launching Google Assistant voice commands, but every Wear OS watch lags when that happens.

Fossil Gen 5 Smartwatch review | Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 review

Battery life is good, too! I kept the always-on display turned on at all times, and at bedtime after a 16-hour day I found it still had about 40% left in the tank. That’s good enough to wear it through the night for sleep tracking. Considering other Wear OS watches are running on fumes at the end of the day, I have to give Motorola and eBuyNow credit here.

The watch will also charge from 0-100% in an hour, which is quicker than many other smartwatches you can buy today.

Moto 360 2019 review on table watch face display 5

Moto 360 2019 review charger charging puck 3
Moto 360 2019 review charger charging puck 2
Moto 360 2019 review charger charging puck 1

The charger is bad, though. For those hoping for one of those cool desk mount chargers from the original Moto 360s, you’ll be disappointed. The watch charges via two connection pins on a puck charger, which sits flat on a table. Well, it’s supposed to anyway. The charging cable runs along the bottom of the charging puck but doesn’t ever sit flush. It’s a weird design. I expected a better charger at this price point.

For $350, we should expect a better charger than this.

Two buttons sit on the right side of the case. The top button is a rotatable crown and acts as the home button. It feels about as nice as the Fossil Gen 5’s rotatable crown, which is a good thing. The bottom button is simply a shortcut button.

As noted, I’m used pre-production software on my Moto 360 (2019) review unit, so there are some bugs. The rotatable crown doesn’t scroll through Google Assistant or Google Fit pages, though it does scroll through the notifications page. The Moto 360 PR team has been notified of the bug and says it’s working with Google to fix this issue by the time the watch ships.

Moto 360 2019 review google assistant

As good as the hardware is, it’s missing a few features you can find elsewhere in the smartwatch ecosystem. It doesn’t have a built-in speaker, so you can’t hear Assistant voice responses or take phone calls. There’s also no LTE model, so Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are all you get.

Other non-Wear OS watches are consistently adding new fitness and health features to their watches. The Moto 360 has a heart rate sensor and GPS, but there aren’t any advanced features like an ECG or pulse oximeter. However, these are more niche features only found in fitness-focused wearables like Garmin and Apple watches, so I can’t really fault the Moto 360 for being too simplistic.

Moto 360 2019 review heart rate sensor

Speaking of fitness, the Moto 360’s heart rate sensor actually held its own against my Garmin Forerunner 245 Music and Wahoo Tickr X chest strap. During a 27-minute treadmill run, each device reported a max of 163-165bpm. While the Motorola watch did report my average heart rate to be on the high side compared to the other two (~153bpm vs ~145bpm), it was able to pick up on major heart rate trends like a short walk break and a sprint towards the end.

The Moto 360 also reported a similar step count to my Forerunner 245 just about every day.

A smartwatch is only as good as the software it runs, and Wear OS is still clunky. I don’t think it’s as bad as bad as everyone makes it out to be — I like having the Google Assistant just a tap away, and the Tiles feature makes launching apps easy.

Wear OS is as wonky as ever, but the new Moto 360 makes the best of it.

Google doesn’t instill much confidence in its smartwatch platform, though. Wear OS rarely receives big feature updates, and the company takes its time to issue performance and bug fixes. (I still can’t use Google News on my watch.) Other smartwatch platforms, like watchOS or Samsung’s Tizen, get updated far more frequently. Between Google’s concerning comments at Google I/O and its shoddy update track record, I wouldn’t fault anyone for staying away from Wear OS until the fruits of Google’s Fitbit acquisition start to come into play.

Moto 360 2019 review wear os phone call

I think the new Moto 360 is one of the best Wear OS watches to launch this year. It delivers on the basics — battery life and performance — which is something most other Wear OS watches don’t do. Those basics come at a price, though: the new Moto 360 (2019) costs $350, which is more than double what our other favorite Wear OS watch is selling for right now.

The new Moto 360 is a delight to use, and provides one of the best — if not THE best — Wear OS experiences you can get today.

If you have money to spend, you’ll be really happy with the new Moto 360. It’s a great smartwatch. But $350 is a lot to spend on something that’s powered by Google’s oft-neglected Wear OS platform.

Wear OS is not the dumpster fire everyone says it is, but it still has enough major issues lingering around that make me unconfident in the platform as a whole. That wouldn’t normally be the Moto 360’s fault, but because of Google’s neglect, it unfortunately is. Motorola took a punt with resurrecting the Moto 360, and eBuyNow delivered. I just wish it wasn’t running on such a wonky platform.

Moto 360 (2019)
One of the most beloved Wear OS watches, resurrected by a company called eBuyNow

Many thought the Moto 360 smartwatch line was dead, but a company called eBuyNow swooped in to save the day. The Moto 360 (2019) is a beautiful Wear OS smartwatch with top-notch specs.

  • $349.99 at eBuyNow

That’s it for our Moto 360 (2019) review. What are your thoughts? Are you still interested in buying one? Sound off in the comments.

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