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Moto 360 Sport review

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The 2015 Moto 360 is an excellent Android Wear smartwatch to use with Android and iOS. The Moto 360 Sport is the same watch with a few optimizations for those who want to use their smartwatch to track running sessions.

Since I am a runner I was hoping the Moto 360 Sport would be a smartwatch that I could use to track my runs with GPS, measure my heart rate, and stream music wirelessly to my Bluetooth earbuds. It satisfied two of three, but failed miserably when it comes to streaming music.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 1.2 GHz quad-core
  • Display: AnyLight hybrid 1.37 inch (35mm) diameter, 360 x 325 pixels resolution (flat tire bottom), Gorilla Glass 3
  • Operating system: Android Wear 1.3.0.x
  • RAM: 512MB
  • Water resistance: IP67 dust and water resistant rating
  • Storage: 4GB internal
  • Radios: Bluetooth 4.0 BLE, NFC, and 802.11 b/g WiFi
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, gyroscope, optical heart rate, barometer, ambient light, GPS
  • Battery: 300 mAh battery
  • Dimensions: 45 x 11.5 mm and 54 grams

The Moto 360 Sport matches the Moto 360, and most all other new Android Wear devices, with the addition of GPS. The only other Android Wear device with GPS is the Sony SmartWatch 3, but that device lacks an integrated heart rate monitor.

HARDWARE

Unlike the customization options of the Moto 360, you need to choose from a watch with black, white, or orange band and that is what you will have for the life of the watch. The band is not interchangeable and there are no customization options with the watch face. I tested the white silicone band watch with silver bezel.

The AnyLight hybrid display is a first for Android Wear and it worked very well. It is designed to adapt automatically to the level of natural light. When you are indoors then the full color LCD will appear, but when you are outside running in bright light then the display will change to reflect the natural light and make it very readable. I even found running at night to be a great experience as the display was fully readable in the darkness without being so bright that it messed up my vision while running on dark roadways. I was very pleased with the color and performance of the display and would love to see this technology on more running watches.

The bezel on this white test unit has a flat portion in brushed silver with the angled part of the bezel having the Motorola micro knurl finish. It looks great and adds a bit of style to the front of the watch.

At the 8 o’clock position you will find a silver opening in the silicone band where the microphones can be found. A raised textured button is positioned at 2 o’clock and is easy to find and press. The back is all black with a soft matte edge and glass back with the heart rate sensor positioned in the center.

The rest of the watch around the face and the band is all silicone material. The white one is a dust, hair, fuzz, and dirt magnet and collects anything flying in its vicinity. I personally would not buy the white one as it just shows too much of this collection to the naked eye. The silicone on the band is thicker than what I’ve seen on other bands, but it is very malleable and stretchy so it is comfortable when you have it strapped on. The slots for the clasp are angled so that it stays on your wrist in a very secure position.

The Moto 360 Sport is definitely focused on running and it looks like a sport watch. You may be able to wear the black one in the office without calling much attention to it, but the white and orange are too bright and bold for the boardroom.

GPS is included and in my testing over the past two weeks I compared its performance with a Polar V800 GPS sport watch, a Samsung Gear S2 3G, and a Microsoft Band 2. The Moto 360 Sport matched the V800 closely in most situations and I trust it for running. There does not appear to be any way to auto-pause with the Moto Body Running app so some of my minor differences could be in regards to my stops at traffic lights that the V800 picked up.

The Moto 360 Sport always showed far fewer calories burned that the V800. However, my V800 external heart rate strap exhibited some issues, so I think the Moto 360 Sport was more accurate for calories. The heart rate of the Moto 360 Sport closely matched that of the Microsoft Band 2 and I was satisfied with its performance. I am not a runnner who focuses on heart rate levels during my run though, but there is a display in the app focused on heart rate zones and performance that I will discuss in the software section.

The battery will get you through at least one full day in smartwatch mode, but drops significantly when running. With music and GPS active during my 45 minute runs I saw the battery drop 38 to 42 percent. Thus, the Moto 360 Sport would get me through a half marathon, but not a full marathon. It’s a good device for the recreational runner, but if you run at night after work like I do then you will have to throw it on the charger as soon as you get home and get it charged up before you run.

Just like other Moto 360 devices, a wireless charging dock is included in the package. Connect your microUSB cable and charge it at night.

I enjoy listening to music when I run most of the time as it has proven to increase my pace due to the distraction from the pain and beat of the music. The Sony SmartWatch 3 set the bar for Android Wear music support and I was hoping the Moto 360 Sport would match it. Music is managed from your phone in Google Play Music. Way down the list of settings is an option for managing your music on Android Wear. Music on Android Wear appears to be a low priority for Google as the management of playlists and music is very limited.

You sync music to the Moto 360 Sport via a Bluetooth connection with the Moto 360 Sport on the charger, thus allow yourself plenty of time to load up music before you go running. After loading up music, I connected my BlueAnt Pump HD Sportsbuds and launched Google Play Music on the watch. The music only played clearly and consistently when I held the Moto 360 Sport about a foot from the earbuds without any part of my body blocking the signal. When I ran the music cut out each time my arm swung and it drove me absolutely crazy. This happened on all of my test runs with the Moto 360 Sport attached to both my right and left wrists.

By comparision, the Apple Watch and Samsung Gear S2 3G play back the same music with the same earbuds flawlessly no matter where I mount the watches. It seems to me the Bluetooth radio is weak or not tuned properly to offer a good music experience. It’s so terrible that I would never recommend the Moto 360 Sport if you are a person who wants their smartwatch to play music while you workout.

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