We’ve always been big on the idea that wearables can only find mainstream success if they become fashion statements first, gadgets second. Seems like Lenovo and Motorola agree — at Lenovo’s IFA press conference tonight in Berlin, the second generation of the Moto 360 was unveiled. It’s light on hardware upgrades and new features, but that’s not a complaint — instead, Lenovo rolled out a redesigned smartwatch with new sizes, bands, and other customization options.
The best way to think of the new Moto 360 is like any other wristwatch — they don’t do anything different, but they change up the looks to try to fit existing trends or start new ones. The new Moto 360 tries to do this first by adding a new, smaller size mainly for women. The new 42 mm Moto 360 will be made for both men and women, the difference being that the women’s watch will support thinner watch bands. When we got hands-on with the smaller version, it still seemed a little large for its stated purpose, but it’s a good direction for Lenovo to be going in if they want to really lock in the Moto 360 as a fashion statement.
There are loads of watch bands that will be available in materials including metals and leather, but the most welcome change to the bands (aside from the slimmer bands for women) is the quick-release switch, which allows you to pop off a band and stick a new one on in seconds. It’s a nice addition for anyone who might want to switch watch bands on the fly, say if they’re heading from the office to a formal dinner.
There have been changes made to the watch face, too, but they’re subtle. The bezel is smaller this time around, small enough for Lenovo to claim that it’s the thinnest in the smartwatch world. The flat edge on the bottom of the display is still there, but is less pronounced, while the crown button has been moved to the two o’clock position on the side of the watch face. The 46 mm men’s watch will come in silver, gold, and black, while the 42 mm women’s watch will come in silver, gold, and, yes, rose gold — can’t be trendy if you don’t have the in-color for 2015.
There’s been a slight bump in specs, with the new Moto 360 running on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 SoC with a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor — something we would usually see in budget smartphones from this year and last. Lenovo also claims that battery life has been improved across the board. The previous generation used a 320 mAh battery — this year, the 46 mm watch contains a 400 mAh battery that should last up to two days, while the 42 mm watch uses a 300 mAh battery that should last up to a day and a half. If true, both would top last year’s model, which had a projected battery life of up to one day. Not much else has changed — there’s still an LCD display protected by Corning Gorilla Glass and IP67 water resistance, and there’s still the full suite of fitness tracking sensors, including the optical heart rate monitor for continuous heart rate tracking.
Because it runs the latest version of Android Wear, the new Moto 360 will also be one of the first Android smartwatches to work with iOS, although there isn’t much reason to get excited about that feature. The only other major new feature is the addition of Live Dials. Live Dials are tiny active dials you can put on custom watch faces that give you instant, continuously updated information — this could be used for weather or battery life. Lenovo has opened up Live Dials to third parties with an SDK, and at launch, those development partners include Shazam and Ford, whose Live Dials will act as ways to use their apps’ functionality without actually diving into their apps — for example, tapping the Shazam Live Dial will automatically prompt your Moto 360 to listen to and identify a song playing in the background.
Lenovo also announced one completely new version of the Moto 360, called the Moto 360 Sport. Taking cues from the Apple Watch of the same name, the Moto 360 Sport features a silicone band that completely encases the watch face. It also includes a GPS chip for mapping cycling and running routes and features a coating on the LCD screen that helps with readability in daylight.
The new Moto 360 can be customized using the Moto Maker and preordered today in the Untied States, with shipping varying by the customization options you choose — for the most part, it sounds like you’ll get yours before September is over. It will also appear in stores sometime this month, starting with Nordstrom, Best Buy, and Verizon. Prices will range from $300 to $430, although that doesn’t include the Moto 360 Sport — Lenovo didn’t have anything to say about pricing or availability for that one yet.
If you already have a Moto 360, the new version is by no means a must-have. Whether or not you want one depends on why you’re in the market for a new smartwatch — if you’re buying your first smartwatch, the new Moto 360 looks to be one of the best and most stylish Android-friendly smartwatches out there. If you’re looking to get a stylish new watch and really dig rose gold, you might be interested, too. Otherwise, no need to make a switch. This is probably how it will go year in and year out, too. We don’t really want smartwatches to add more features — they’re supposed to excel at staying out of the way. Introducing new yearly styles, on the other hand, we could totally get behind.