Apple Watch 2 vs Moto 360: Is either a watch you need in your life?

Apple Watch 2 and Moto 360 at a glance

2017 has seen the release of the second generation of smartwatches, The Apple Watch 2 and Moto 360. Both Apple and Motorola have released new versions of their original watches, updated with new displays and operating systems.

With their Apple Watch Series 2, Apple has focused on resolving the gripes people found with the original Apple Watch. Now, we have a waterproof watch that can withstand submersion in swimming pools or the sea. The battery life has also been extended – quite a feat considering the size of the watch has remained the same.

Motorola has updated the Moto 360 2nd Generation smartwatch to the Android Wear 2.0 system and included a Snapdragon 400 processor. As a result, the watch is compatible with iPhones and has a battery life that almost (but not quite) matches Apple’s. They’ve also released a second, smaller watch face, to the delight of those of us with slimmer wrists.

Smartwatch design

Both watches have kept similar designs to their original versions. The Apple Watch 2 sports the well-known square-shaped watch face with curved edges. You can buy the watch case in a cheaper aluminium, or upgrade to stainless steel. There are two sizes available: 38mm or 42mm, but the change is slight and barely noticeable.

As with most Apple products, you have a range of colours on offer: white, space grey, space black, midnight blue and rose gold. There’s also the Milanese loop band – a textured strap that makes for a classier looking wrist strap – available with the stainless steel case.

Apple Watch 2 Design

Apple Watch 2

Many will prefer the design of the Moto 360 due to its rounded face. Also, there is a range of straps available, with several third-parties offering straps that fit the design. Unlike the Apple straps, these are easily switched on and off using the quick-release catches.

As with the Apple Watch 2, the watch face is available in two sizes: 34.8mm and 39.9mm. The smaller size will be a more natural fit for most people, as it feels much less chunky.

Moto 360 Sport

Moto 360 with sports strap

 Battery life & Display

Apple has upgraded the battery life on its latest smartwatch, and the results are impressive. Even when using the smartwatch’s GPS to track a run, the battery life only shortens by a fraction every half an hour.

Apple has also improved the display on its second smartwatch. The curved OLED design is clear in bright sunlight. The display also turns on much faster when you raise your wrist to check the screen – on the first Apple Watch there was a noticeable delay.

The latest Moto 360 has a better battery than its original version, but can’t compete with Apple. Even without a built-in GPS, the watch struggles to run for a full 24 hours when you use it regularly.

The Moto 360’s display is also disappointing. Although the resolution is again better than the original smartwatch, you can detect some pixelation. The so-called ‘flat tyre’ bezel – the black line that cuts into the bottom half of the display is also irritating, especially if you’re using an analogue screen.

 Sports activities

The Apple Watch 2 is waterproof, which makes it perfect for swimmers. Underwater the screen will automatically lock, but the smartwatch will continue to track your movements. When you step out of the pool or sea, the watch plays music to clear water from its speaker grilles.

Apple Watch 2 sport

The smartwatch is also good for runners. The GPS is accurate and will automatically record your runs when it senses your pace quicken. There’s also a heart rate monitor, although be warned that this isn’t so accurate. Neither does the heart rate monitor give you any meaningful medical insights, such as alert you if your heart rate is abnormal.

The Moto 360 is water resistant, but won’t survive in deep water or in the sea. Its heart rate monitor is also unreliable. However, the Moto 360 does trump the Apple Watch 2 when it comes to integrating with third-party apps. It will please fitness fanatics who want something more thorough than the native Apple and Motorola fitness apps. For example, the Strava app, which gives a more detailed breakdown of your workout and syncs it with your Strava feed.

Is the Apple Watch 2 or Moto 360 a must-have?

The Apple Watch 2 has ironed out many of the issues experienced by its original version. The design is very Apple and very stylish, while battery life is excellent. Some problems remain. For instance, limitations around syncing the watch to third-party apps. Also, the heart rate monitor fails to add much to the device, partly because it’s not accurate and partly because it comes with no medical insights.

Overall, the second-generation Moto 360 doesn’t perform as well as the Apple Watch 2. That said, the smartwatch has a lot going for it, not least of all its affordability. The Moto 360’s design is more ‘grown-up’ than Apple’s. Its sophisticated look could make the smartwatch appealing for professionals, who want the watch for convenience rather than to look cool. What’s more, by integrating the smartwatch with third-party applications you can do more with it.

Both are good devices, but neither has done enough to move smartwatches from a novelty to a necessity. They’re handy for alerting us to calendar events and helping us keep fit, but the size of a watch continues to limit how useful these gadgets are. Specifically, limitations around how much tech you can pack into the tight space and what you can display on a wrist-size screen prevent these watches doing more for us. These challenges mean that, for the time being, smartwatches will remain a luxury item rather than a mainstream commodity.

 Apple Watch Series 2Moto 360 2nd Gen
Price£269.00 (Sport)
£269.00 (Aluminium)
£549.00 (Steel)
circa £299.00
Weight28.2g - 52.4g depending on size and case type
Length38mm or 42mm 42mm or 46mm
Resolution272 x 340 pixels (38mm)
312 x 390 pixels (42mm)
360 x 325 pixels (42mm)
360 x 330 pixels (46mm)
ProcessorDual core processor
Built-in GPS
Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 400 with 1.2 GHz quad-core CPU (APQ 8026)
Power and battery
Battery lifeRechargeable lithium ion battery
Up to 18 hours battery life
Magnetic charging cable and USB power adapter
Mens 42mm and Womens: 300mAh - Up to 1.5 days of mixed use with Ambient off.

Mens 46mm: 400mAh - Up to 2 days of mixed use with Ambient off.

Wireless charging with charging dock included
Additional featuresBuilt-in GPS
Water resistant 50 meters1
Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz)
Bluetooth 4.0
Heart rate sensor
Ambient light sensor
Ambient light sensor (adjusts to surrounding brightness)
Heart rate sensor
Water resistant
Vibration/Haptics engine