Moto 360 Sport review: Best Android Wear smartwatch for recreational runners – ZDNet
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.
- 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.
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.
The Moto 360 Sport is an Android Wear device so everything you expect in Android Wear is present here as well. One thing that bothers me with Android Wear is the way the list of apps is presented on the watch. Standalone and companion apps appear the same in the list so it can lead to some confusion. For example, Strava appears in the list so I was excited to go out to run without a phone using Strava. It turns out Strava is just a companion app that does nothing without a connected phone. I would love to see Google include some kind of small icon or two separate lists for those apps that work without a phone and those that work with a phone connection.
In addition to the typical Android Wear apps, Motorola includes a special default Moto Body watch face, Moto Body app, and Moto Body Running app on the Moto 360 Sport. The watch face reminds me of the Simon game with four quadrants and different colors showing a step counter, seconds of the time, calories burned, and daily heart rate activity progress. Tapping on the line around the bezel in each quadrant launches a different utility.
Tapping the step counter takes you to two displays showing current steps and your goal on one screen and your step progress over the past week. Tapping the seconds line opens up the stopwatch app. Similar to the two screens for steps, tapping the calorie progress line shows you daily and weekly calories burned status reports. Tapping the heart rate progress, set to 30 minutes per day by default, shows you two options for your heart rate; Moto Body heart activity and Moto Body heart rate. You can view your history or actually have your heart rate measured manually.
The Moto Body app on the watch is a very basic app that shows you your heart activity, steps, calories burned, running activities, last read heart rate, and analysis in list form. Tapping each takes you to the same screens described above. The analysis requires that you wear the watch for 14 days before your averages will be shown. These can then be used to adjust your goals and improve your results.
Back on the Moto Body watchface you will also find the word Start below the time. Tapping on Start launches the Moto Body Running application. Here you then choose to run indoors or outdoors, followed by options for quick start, timed run, distance run, or calorie burn goal run. If you chose outdoors and then one of these options you will see the watch search for the GPS satellite. In my experiences it took between one to two minutes for the watch to obtain a GPS signal. If you choose indoors, then the GPS search step is skipped.
There are four displays that appear in Moto Body Running as you run. Each is accessed by swiping right or left during your run. The left most display has two buttons for end and pause/resume. The next display, actually the default that appears when you raise your wrist while running, shows you the distance ran at the top, your elapsed time in the bottom left, and your current pace in the bottom right. The next display to the right shows you your current heart rate and which zone (1 through 5) you are currently in, along with how long you have been in that zone. The final display shows your lap time.
The available data on the watch in Moto Body Running are useful and the distance, elapsed time, and current pace are key indicators I use when I run. However, I also like to view my average pace. There are no options to customize the displays in Moto Body Running. You can also use apps like RunKeeper and Ghost Racer if you want to track and view other run data though so there are options for runners.
In addition to these apps on the Moto 360 Sport itself, there is a Moto Body application available for your phone. This app provides much more detail than the watch app and is also where you will find all of your run data synced from the watch. The Moto Body app has a left menu that lets you jump to the dashboard, heart activity, steps, calories burned, running, and settings areas.
The dashboard shows you heart activity, steps, and calories burned for each day with a colored time line. Swiping from right to left then shows your weekly progress for each of these metrics with colored circles.
If you ran on the day you are viewing, then this run data will appear in a summary below the daily progress bars. The summary shows the time of day of your run, duration of your run, distance, and average pace. Tap on the run and a display with all of the details appears. This screen shows your GPS plot in Google Maps, charts of your pace, heart rate, and calories, detailed stats and records, heart rate zone details, splits, and more. It is actually an excellent app and I found lots of value in the available data on my phone.
One fantastic aspect of the Moto Body Running app is that you can share the data captured by your watch with Fitbit, Strava, MapMyFitness, Under Armor Record, and Google Fit. I recently moved to Strava for all my run data and love that I can use the Moto 360 Sport and then have the data in the Moto Body app also synced automatically to the Strava website. Sharing of data like this is key and the closed nature of fitness data on the Apple Watch and Gear S2 3G is what keeps me looking for the perfect fitness smartwatch.
Pricing and competition
The Moto 360 Sport is priced at $299. This is a bit lower than some other Android Wear devices and similar to other GPS sport watches. The Moto 360 Sport only captures running data, while most other competing GPS sport watches capture bike rides, hikes, and other fitness activities. You can install other Android Wear apps to capture other activities, but the Moto Body app is currently limited to running.
The lowest priced Apple Watch is the Sport edition at $349 (38mm) and $399 (42mm), but it does not include GPS. The Fitbit Surge is priced at $249 and has GPS and an integrated heart rate monitor, but its GPS can be a bit inaccurate at times. The Garmin Vivoactive doesn’t have an integrated heart rate monitor, but covers many sports and has an accurate GPS with a price of $249.
Questions and answers
I listed several things I wanted to check out in detail in my first impressions article and readers had questions to add to my review plan. Here are my findings after further testing with the Moto 360 Sport.
- Running displays: Covered in detail in the software section.
- Running performance with music: Absolutely terrible for playing back music to a reliable Bluetooth headset. GPS tracking was great, but skip the music.
- Using other running apps: I used RunKeeper and Ghost Racer and they both performed well with the Moto 360 Sport.
- Other Moto Body stats: Covered in detail in the software section.
- Ability to export data: Moto Body is fantastic for this and one reason I find it the best app to use for running with the Moto 360 Sport.
- Performance as an Android Wear smartwatch: As good as any other Android Wear device with a display that is easily viewable in all lighting conditions.
- Will it last for 5 hours with GPS, HR, and music? Nope, you will get just over two hours with all of this on. You may turn off music though since playback is terrible.
- Is heart rate sensor consistent? It seemed to be, based on the data I viewed from my runs. I don’t track and watch every minute, but the HR tracking seemed to match my other devices.
- How is it for indoor gym workouts? The Moto 360 Sport is focused on indoor and outdoor running only. You will need to find other Android Wear apps for other activities. It should be called the Moto 360 Run and not the Sport.
- How is it for a bike ride? There is no option for cycling. I don’t cycle much, but maybe there is an Android Wear app for cycling that may work. Strava doesn’t work as a standalone app so that doesn’t help.
- How does it compare to Gear S2 couple to Note 5? Android Wear still offers more push notifications with Google Now and more apps than the Gear S2. The 3G aspects, GPS, and flawless music playback make the Gear S2 3G more compelling than the Moto 360 Sport for my usage needs.
Contributor’s rating and wrap-up
The Moto 360 Sport is a solid Android Wear device for recreational runners who don’t listen to music when they run and I award it an 8.0 rating.
If it played music as flawlessly as the Apple Watch, Samsung Gear S2 3G, or Sony SmartWatch 3 then I would consider buying one as my running watch. However, if you don’t care about your heart rate and want an Android Wear device to run with and enjoy music then the older Sony SmartWatch 3 is the watch to buy.
You can use the Google Fit Challenge app to do more than run and I found the Moto 360 Sport tracked these activities fairly well. There are also other apps for Android Wear for other activities so you can make the 360 Sport even more capable for your fitness needs.
If you don’t run or care about tracking your run with a smartwatch, then there is no reason to buy the Moto 360 Sport instead of a standard Moto 360 or other smartwatch. This watch is primarily for recreational runners who run for two hours or less. The Samsung Gear S2 3G is a better device for me personally, but it also needs better running apps with shareable data like the Moto 360 Sport.
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