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Moto 360 Sport Review

The 2nd generation Moto 360 is currently one of our favorite smartwatches — so much so that even the iPhone users around here prefer it to the Apple Watch. But, the Moto 360 isn’t the only smartwatch Motorola has out on the market. The Moto 360 Sport is more than just a stock smartwatch with an exercise-friendly silicone band — Motorola added a separate GPS chip and a display better suited for direct sunlight to make this a watch that can be used to record running stats without the help of a smartphone. For those that could do without the weight of a (probably large) smartphone while running, that’s a nice promise, but a limited feature set and a comparatively high price inevitably hold the Moto 360 Sport back.

Software

You can check out our review of the 2nd generation Moto 360 for more about how this watch works with Android Wear — suffice it to say that getting notifications and using it for navigation and Google Now is terrific, but it still suffers from the somewhat clunky interface of Google’s smartwatch OS. On the Moto 360 Sport, the main app you’ll want to look at is Moto Body. While the Moto 360 Sport can push fitness stats to most major fitness apps, Moto Body is designed around this watch’s feature set — for better or worse. The app records steps taken, calories burned, distance traveled, and time spent active. You can also use it to take your heart rate, or have the watch record your heart rate periodically throughout the day. The companion smartphone app allows you to view all of this information over time in graphs and charts, but you can look at basic stats directly on the watch.

Fitness Tracking

Whereas a lot of fitness trackers can record many activities, like cycling and swimming, the Moto 360 Sport can only track running and walking. It doesn’t track sleep, either, which is probably OK because we’ve ended up pretty skeptical of just about every device that has claimed to do that in the past. Unlike the 2nd generation Moto 360, the Moto 360 Sport has its own GPS chip for the purpose of run tracking. This allows the watch to track distance traveled and calculate your average pace, although it can’t track more advanced stats like cadence or custom intervals.

The pedometer is accurate enough and doesn’t seem to rack up false steps as much as a lot of other trackers do, which is nice. The GPS tracking is also implemented nicely — on all of my runs, my routes were accurately mapped and the distance was consistently in agreement with what I got from Google Maps. The only problem I had was that there was no real way to account for having to stop at traffic lights while running, which affected my average pace.

The optical heart rate monitor works pretty well when checking your resting heart rate, but it was hit or miss after exercise. I had plenty of experiences with the readouts going up and down by about 10 bpm when testing the heart rate monitor several times in rapid succession. The general range still seems to be accurate, but if you want precision, there are a lot of more specialized fitness trackers on the market that are worth looking into.

Build

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Physically, the watch is tough, with a metal case and a hardy silicone band. It’s pretty big at 45 mm, and the silicone band makes it feel bigger and bulkier. It’s still comfortable enough to wear — once I got the right fit, there were times I forgot I even had it on — but it looks bigger than it is. And, although there’s no reason to pair this with a metal or leather band, we would have at least liked the opportunity to swap in different colors of silicone bands. Unlike the very customizable Moto 360, the Moto 360 Sport doesn’t have an interchangeable band, so you’re stuck with whatever color you buy. If you’re considering white, take note — the silicone on this band will attract any lint, hair, dust, or any other small particles around you, and it’s not the easiest band to clean.

Besides the GPS chip, the other big part of the Moto 360 Sport’s pitch is the AnyLight display, which combines an LED-backlit LCD with some measure of front lighting. The whole point was to make the display more readable in direct sunlight, and that’s true. It’s a great display both indoors and out.

The Moto 360 Sport also isn’t water resistant, although we suppose that’s no big loss in this case — it’s not meant to be a 24/7 tracker that you’d wear in the shower and it can’t track swims, so just being splashproof to protect against rain is good enough.

Battery

Motorola estimates that you should get a day’s worth of battery life from mixed use of the Moto 360 Sport. That’s true, but mixed use isn’t really the intended use case. This is a watch that’s designed to take on long runs, and with GPS and fitness tracking, that’s exactly what taxes the battery the most. If you go on a two- or three-mile run, you’ll probably be OK for the rest of the day, but any longer and there’s real danger of the watch dying before you can get back home to charge it.

Read on for the verdict…

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