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

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:

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.


For me, it’s not a deal breaker, but for many it’s a 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 to 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 is pretty identical to the men’s except for smaller, different band designs. There’s also a third model called the Sport, which is also based on the 42mm men’s watch. However, unlike the normal watch, it comes with built-in GPS and a non-removable 18mm rubber band in white, grey, or orange.


The Sport’s claim to fame is what Moto is calling an AnyLight display, which combines a transmissive and reflective display so whether you’re inside or outside in bright light you should still be able to see the watchface. We weren’t able to test that because Moto only had early mockups on hand. The Sport will be shipping after the other two models, anyways.


Overall, the men’s watch feels way comfortable and at Moto Maker—Motorola’s online DIY design studio—you can choose from more than 300 different combinations, so not getting the exact look you want is almost impossible. The only major downside is this thing is still really thick for a normal watch. At 11.4mm, it’s 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 for $300-$430, depending on style and materials. The Moto Sport availability has yet to be announced.


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 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: $300-$430

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