The New Moto 360 Might Be the Prettiest Smartwatch Yet
In just the past two days, we’ve seen a telling trend in the next generation of smartwatches. As their capabilities improve, they’re looking a lot less like wrist-computers. They’re actually starting to look like fashionable timepieces that just happen to have built-in computers.
The round ones, at least.
On Monday, Samsung uncorked its new lineup of Gear S2 timepieces, which included the slick and masculine Gear S2 Classic. With its leather straps and not-too-big 1.2-inch screen, it looks surprisingly like a normal watch—even if it does make calls and run apps.
Now, about a year after its initial launch, Motorola has revamped its Moto 360 smartwatch, and the new aesthetic looks more refined. New to the Moto 360 are a set of lugs—those miniature towel racks that hold the watchstraps—and a quick-release mechanism that helps you swap them fast. Those may seem like small changes, but they really do make the Moto 360 look a lot more like a regular watch. A nice-looking regular watch, at that.
Fresh size and style options help with that, too. The original Moto 360, with its strap-disappearing-into-the-body design, was only available in a 46mm case. The newer version of the Moto 360 will come in two sizes with different lug styles: a 42mm for women, a 42mm for men, and a 46mm for men. They’ll also have a slew of new customization options through Moto Maker. Those include leather, metal, and gold bands, different case materials, and even a fancy double-wrap strap.
According to Motorola Head of Design Jim Wicks, the new Moto 360 has the thinnest bezel of any smartwatch available right now, which means that the watch has a big screen for its physical size. Wicks refers to that balance as a screen-to-body ratio, and it was also an important part of his design for the Moto X and Moto G smartphones as well. During the redesign process, the team decided to move the watch’s button “from the 3 o’clock position to the 2 o’clock position” to lessen the possibility of accidental presses.
While aesthetic changes may be the most important ones for a smartwatch trying to crack the mainstream, there’s more to the Moto 360 update. Motorola says the device’s battery life is now rated at around two days, up from one, and has a new “Live Dials” interface to show fitness progress, weather, and other customizable info as little “complications” on the watch face. The company also says the new Moto 360s have more-accurate heart rate and step sensors as compared to the previous version.
Alas, there’s one unwanted holdover from the last Moto 360: “the ledge,” which is what Motorola calls the disruptive band of black across the bottom of the screen. It essentially clips the pixels in the display from showing a perfect circle. Wicks says it’s a necessary evil due to the sensors and display drivers underneath the screen, a sacrifice made to optimize that screen-to-body ratio. Still, it’s an OCD nightmare.
Both watches will be able to connect via Wi-Fi. That means you won’t need a Bluetooth-paired phone to feed your apps and other info, although you will need a paired phone to make calls through the watch. They’ll run the latest version of Android Wear and have Google Now-enabled voice commands; Motorola says there are now more than 4,000 apps available for Android Wear. As for the other key details, Motorola had not released a full spec sheet at press time.
There’s also an entirely different version of the watch, the Moto 360 Sport, that has built-in GPS, the ability to play music directly from the device to a pair of Bluetooth headphones, and a hybrid reflective/transmissive display to make viewing it easier in bright sunlight. Pricing, customization, and availability options for the Moto 360 Sport will be announced at a later date, according to Motorola.
As for the more fashion-minded Moto 360 watches, they will range in price from $300 to $430 depending on the materials and bands. They’re available for preorder and custom-design today on Moto Maker, and they’re both slated to ship in late September.
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