Sep 09 AT 4:30 PM Sean Riley 28 Comments

Moto 360 early impressions


Battery Life

This seems to be the biggest question circulating about the Moto 360 at the moment and understandably so as your smartwatch is pretty well useless if it runs out of power midway through your day.

Some of the early reviews have suggested less than 12 hours of battery life and in my testing that is unfortunately true for the Ambient (always on) mode. As you can probably guess with this option switched on the display is always active, it merely drops to a very dim black and white version until you interact with the watch. I have done a run down on the watch twice in Ambient mode so far and I saw approximately 11 hours the first time through and 11 and a half hours the second time through. Basically unless you have a really short “day” or you have a charger available to you at all times the ambient mode isn’t a tenable option for most users.

Now with the Ambient mode turned off, meaning that the screen is completely off unless you move to view something on the watch, the battery life is a much different story. So far I have seen between 17-21 hours of battery life in this mode, which is plenty to get me through most days. I don’t personally find using this mode to be a problem as the watch reliably turns the screen on whenever I move to look at it and it is unquestionably worth that additional battery life for me.

Also worth nothing the battery charges to full in a little over an hour from completely dead, so you aren’t out of the game too long if you do manage to discharge the watch completely. The dock is also the best I’ve used so far in terms of just letting you drop the watch on it and not really have to worry about whether things are lined up properly.


Where the battery is a bit of a disappointment the design of the 360 is if anything better than I imagined it would be. It iswithout a doubt the most comfortable and best looking wearable I’ve used to date and Motorola put a lot of thought into that (hence abandoning those early square designs).

Many pictures of the watch make it appear bulky and that simply isn’t the case if you are comparing it to most standard men’s watches. It is approximately the same size or smaller than most of the watches I have compared it to and is considerably lighter. I can easily forget that I have anything on my wrist until I feel the watch vibrate or I glance at it. I had my wife try it on as well and while it is certainly a better fit for a man’s wrist it didn’t look ridiculous on her by any means.

Fashion is naturally subjective, but this is also the first smartwatch I’ve had that didn’t scream that it is a gadget, it looks like a nice (not luxury level, but nice) watch and I wouldn’t feel out of place wearing it in an office or to a formal event.


The screen is perfectly acceptable to me, but we are a bit spoiled by the insane pixel count on our phones these days and it is apparent that this is a step below current standards. Considering I’m not relying on the watch to look at pictures or video this doesn’t particularly bother me, but it is noticeable nonetheless.

My only other complaint regarding the screen is more properly directed at the UI and that is that text will sometimes push all the way to the edge of the display and will be cut off or at least distorted by the beveled edge of the display. This needs to be fixed on the software side and it’s a bit surprising that it wasn’t already corrected given that this was always one of the display types supported by Wear.


moto-360-bandsSomeone asked in the questions post whether I would recommend running/exercising with the 360. You can certainly do it, the 360 is IP67 certified so it can handle being submerged in water for up to 30 minutes, your sweat isn’t going to cause it any problems. With that said I’m not sure how the leather band would hold up to that long term. The watch bands are removable, but are unfortunately custom sized to the Moto 360, so if you want something that is going to fit perfectly you’ll need to wait and see what additional options Motorola will bring to the table in the coming months.


Another question from yesterday was simply what sensors are in the 360.

  • Pedometer
  • 9-Axis (Accelerometer, Compass, Gyro)
  • Optical heart rate monitor
  • Light sensor


Overall my first few days with the Moto 360 have definitely been a mix as I’m blown away by the design and feel of the watch, but the battery life is something I’m continuing to look out for. There are quirks and issues with Wear like the text not adjusting properly for the circular screen and others that could be attributable to the 360 like losing connectivity with the phone 5-6 times throughout the day. This is all tolerable to me as an early adopter, but could be a tougher pill to swallow for the average user.

I’ll have a lot more to say in the full review, but if you do have any questions about the 360 just let me know in the comments and I’ll respond there if it’s something I can answer quickly or add them to my full review if it’s something more in depth.

Sean has been with Android and Me for over 8 years and covering mobile for the last 9. He occasionally muses about gadgets and tech outside of the Android universe at Techgasms.

    Most Tweeted This Week

  • Martina Wheeler

    Apple Watch will maul this toy. Android is done, 360 is done. Apple Pay will be incredibly successful.

    • SGB101

      The Apple watch won’t launch this side of easter, it nothing but vapour wear.

      It looks to be a very powerful, smooth running device with a great ui, high res screen, all wrapped up in a nice small package

      So to me the rumours are true about the serious battery issues with the Apple watch . Let’s be genorius and say they have the same space as moto to fit a batter. Do you see my point? How do they power all the goodness, when moto can’t do 13 hours, and the Samsungs and LG badly scrape a day?

      I can’t see this actually coming out at all, well it will, they can’t back down now, but sometimes will have to change.

      As they are ‘wall huggers’ they may not mind charging their watch with their phones 3 times a day. He he he.

      • Nigel Healy

        I’ve got a Nexus 5 phone and it suffers from having too-small a battery for its display but at least with the QI I can place it down when not using it plus I can plug in a slim battery towards then end of the longest days.

        For a watch, these techniques for too-small-battery won’t work as you’ve having to take it off your wrist to charge it, silly requirement for a watch. All these watches need to get to 18 hours of decent usage which is really a tuned platform with 400mah from what I’m seeing.

        I can’t invest in this version of the watch, it is below minimum realistic requirements, and don’t need a heap of nice-to-haves, it just needs to be a paired notification with my phone.

      • Idiot

        “The Apple watch won’t launch this side of easter, it nothing but vapour wear.”

        Really? Then what’s this?

        • Floorman63

          They said that it wouldn’t be available till spring 2015!

        • SGB101

          Lol dickhead.

  • dukenilnil

    Can you turn off vibrate? Wondering if you turn off vibrate with ambient on if one can squeeze a few extra hours out of it. Also wondering impact of a lot of notifications vs very few on battery life w/ and w/o ambient light on. when I get mine, will probably try running it w/o any notifications but ambient on to see how long it lasts. Could be an option as battery is running down to disable notifications and just use it as a watch until a charger is found

  • Jay

    I thought the Moto 360 was compatible with any 20mm watch band…

    • Jay

      I meant a standard 22mm, not 20mm.

  • BlazeHN

    Maybe an AMOLED screen with something like the Ultra Power Saving Mode of the Galaxy S5, you know where individual black pixels are totally turn off while the white ones are on and actually looks pretty cool for the blacks.

  • Nigel Healy

    They need to tune it to 400mah really. The successor will be so much better.

    • Sean Riley

      I do feel that way as well, much like the original Moto X this is a stunning piece of design that needs just a little boost to the internals.

  • republican_pride_white

    I rather wait for the new megaseller apple watch

    • jamal adam

      Good luck because by then we might have version 2′s of Android Wear devices and even some from different companies also that ridiculous price tag is a no-no especially for me. I still think that the Moto 360 is by far the best designed smartwatch of them all and the the Apple Watch is pretty much similar to all the square Android Wear watches except with better materials and perhaps easier and more replaceable straps.

  • Floorman63

    They said that it wouldn’t be available till spring 2015!

  • Andy Hewitt

    So… In eco mode, with the screen “off”, if I arbitrarily wanted to glace the time (I know! How old fashioned! Wanting to use a watch….like a watch). How would I activate the screen? Is there a gesture? Button press?

    • Luke Hopkins

      Lifting your arm to look at the watch turns on the screen.

      You can also touch the screen or the button on the side.

      • Sean Riley

        Luke has it, if you just twist your wrist to bring the screen into view it powers on. The only time this would present an issue is if you already have the watchface pointed at your face, but I haven’t found that to be a common situation.

  • jamal adam

    I feel that the battery life of the Moto 360 and any other smartwatch, for that matter, will determine whether I will buy one or not. If I have to charge it every evening then its going to be a pain but then again these are 1st editions and so there are likely to be a lot of areas which will be improved on come next year.

    Also, for early impressions, Sean, how is the performance of the 360 especially since it is using an old and pretty much outdated TI OMAP 3 processor instead of say the newer Snapdragon 400? I feel that could be an area which is impacting battery life.

    • Sean Riley

      I haven’t had any complaints with the performance, but I don’t have a G Watch or Gear Live to compare it to at the moment. I’m working to correct that before I post my full review as I know it’s a concern. With that said most people aren’t going to be looking at any of these watches side by side so the fact that I don’t notice it stuttering or anything like that means I doubt most people would be bothered by the performance.

      • jamal adam

        That’s good to hear. I can’t wait for your full review.

  • Giuseppe Hesse

    Buy it. Be the coolest kid in town for like a month. Sell at few bucks less, due to stock shortage, to the average guy.

  • Cary A

    How does the watch get an internet connection?

    • Sean Riley

      It has to be paired with your phone via Bluetooth. No wifi in Wear watches yet, but the support is coming.

  • Brett B

    What phone are you testing it with? Motorola or other?

  • cv

    Since the watch is paired with a phone via bluetooth, have you seen any impact of the all-day pairing on the phone’s battery life?

  • Alex J.

    I feel like setting up an IFTTT or something else to make it so that when it hits say 25-35% battery while in Ambient mode, it automatically flips to OFF mode would have me get around 15-18ish hours out of it, which would be pretty much within my average “day.” That way it would be generally the functionality that I’d like while I’m wearing it save for the last little bit when I’m trying to save juice.

  • kelly smith