I returned my Moto 360 and here’s why

I felt fortunate when I received an email from Motorola inviting me to be an early purchaser of a Moto 360 smartwatch. Thrilled is more accurate. In my opinion the 360 is probably the best looking of  all the new Android Wear watches. I jumped at the opportunity.

Moto 360

My watch arrived well ahead of schedule, and I couldn’t have been happier when I opened the box. The watch was everything I hoped it would be. It’s well designed, great looking, and light weight. I had read reviews saying that the watch was too large, but that’s simply not the case. I compared it up against several of my other “regular watches”, and it fell somewhere in the middle in terms of size. The Moto 360 wasn’t the largest watch in my collection, nor was it the heaviest.

I wore the watch every day for about two weeks, including a four day trip to New Orleans for The unSUMMIT. Here are my thoughts:

  • Love the round face. Just looks right.
  • I set the Moto 360 to notify me of emails, text messages, Tweets that mentioned me, and other little Google Now tid-bits. Works great. I really like not having to pull my phone out of my pocket to look at a message. With the Moto 360 I looked at my wrist, and if I didn’t need to respond I just swiped the notification away. It’s odd, I never realized how often I don’t have to respond to a message.
  • The step counter was quite inspirational. I found myself trying to reach 10,000 steps every day. When I was short a couple thousand steps in the evening I found myself leaving the hotel for a short walk. Peer pressure.
  • Some have complained about the small bottom black cut-off area. Never bothered me.
  • I tried all the stock watch faces and settled on “Digital” as my face of choice.
  • Speaking about watch faces, there are some really great designs out there. I downloaded a few watch face apps from the Play Store as well as side loaded a few from a Reddit thread where users drop their work for others to try. Awesome.
  • There’s no shortage of information on the Moto 360. As mentioned above there’s a Reddit thread, a Google Plus community, etc. Very helpful.
  • Battery life was much better than expected. After reading reviews I was expecting problems making it through the day. Not the case. Typical day for me while on the road was about 16 hours. I still had between 15-30% when I put the watch on the charger at night. It never died on me.
  • Love the wireless charger. Being Qi wireless enabled is certainly a plus. One could even get a Qi-enabled portable battery if the need arose.
  • Decided on ambient mode off. Ambient mode seems to eat up more battery and I don’t see the benefit.
  • It’s just so cool to see the watch sitting on its charger at night. When docked, the watch makes a great dresser clock.

Moto 360 night

My entire experience with the Moto 360 was positive. I think there’s definitely a niche for this type of wearable device, and I can think of several use cases specific to healthcare. So why did I send it back? As soon as I connected the Moto 360 to my Galaxy S5 the battery life took a big hit. Yep, my phone started draining at a much faster rate. I originally thought it was the Bluetooth connection, but that never made the top five on my list of items impacting the battery. For whatever reason “Android System” doubled its impact on my phone’s battery profile. It went from 20-22% to nearly 50%. During my travels to New Orleans I was charging my phone two to three times per 24 hour period. Unacceptable.

I thought the problem might have to do with a setting or an update so I took to Google to find an answer. I found reference to others that were having the same issue with the S5, but no one had a solution. Several people recommended that turning off the GPS, turning off location reporting, turning off auto screen rotation, turning off auto brightness, etc. Initially I started following all the recommendations, but they I decided against it. My phone has become important for all the things I do, and I want a no compromise solution. I use all those things that people were recommending that I turn off. In fact, some of those things like location reporting, make Google Now the awesome feature that  it is.

The battery drain doesn’t appear to happen with all phones. I’ve talked with those using non-Samsung devices and they don’t seem to have the same problem. I thought about buying a new Moto X to pair with the Moto 360, but I simply can’t justify a cost like that. So for now I’ve sent the watch back. I’ll try again with the next generation Moto 360, or if I break down and pick up a new Moto X.

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