Motorola's new Moto 360 smartwatch comes in two sizes and a Sport version

The new models will start shipping in September and cost from $299

moto360
The second version of Motorola's Moto 360 smartwatch was launched in September 2015 at IFA in Berlin. Credit: Motorola Mobility

Motorola Mobility is upgrading the Moto 360 smartwatch by releasing four new variants: two case sizes, a Sport version with on-board GPS, and one aimed at women.

The second generation of the company’s Android Wear-based Moto 360 smartwatches was launched on Wednesday in Berlin, which this week hosts the IFA trade show.

The company has kept the basic round design from its first watch, but made a couple of improvements. 

First, it added lugs to improve fit. Lugs are the four parts that stick out from the case and to which the wristbands are attached. The lugs on the new Moto 360 models have a quick-release mechanism.

The crown has been moved from the three o’clock to the two o’clock position because users of the previous models often press the button by mistake. The change is also an attempt to differentiate the product from other smartwatches.

One controversial feature that was kept from the original design is the black strip at the bottom of the display. That was a conscious trade-off made early on to maximize the display size of the overall design. The strip conceals additional parts, like a light sensor, that the company would have had to leave out or put somewhere else. At less than 3 millimeters, the Moto 360 bezels are thinner than on competing products, the company said.

The watches still have 4GB of integrated storage and 512MB of RAM. But the processor has been upgraded to a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400. Wi-Fi connectivity has also been added.

However, the biggest change is the availability of two sizes. One model measures 46 millimeters across and has a screen size of 1.56 inches with a 360 x 330 pixel resolution. The other model measures 42 millimeters across with a screen size of 1.37 inches and 360 x 325 pixel resolution.

Motorola said its internal research shows that users are split down the middle when it comes to which version they like the best. One advantage with the bigger version is a larger 400mAh battery, which is enough to last two days between charges with the ambient light turned off. The smaller version has a 300mAh battery. The original Moto 360 has one with 320mAh.

The version for women also has a 42-millimeter case. Design changes include smaller lugs and additional customization options. Motorola’s Moto Maker, an online tool to configure the smartwatch, lets buyers first choose between different styles, which include the different sizes and the versions for men and women. After that it’s also possible to choose between different cases, bezels and bands.

The main colors are black, gold and silver plus a rose gold version for women, which Motorola has high hopes for. The bezel options let users pick a two-tone look, for example. There are metal and leather bands, including a double wrap version for women. 

Consumers in the U.S., Mexico, U.K., France and Germany can initially use Moto Maker to customize their watches.

Another big change is the introduction of the Moto 360 Sport, which was developed to let users go on a run without having to bring their smartphone. The smartwatch has a silicon unibody design, onboard GPS and can play music.

Motorola has also developed a new screen technology for the Sport called AnyLight, which is an LCD display that combines a traditional backlit transmissive screen with a front-lit reflective technology. The smartwatch can switch between the two as lighting conditions change, for example like when walking out of a dark movie theater to a street during the day. The drawback is that the screen isn’t as bright as the screen on the main models, Motorola said.

On the software side, Motorola added what it calls live dials. They are visible on the watch face, and show information such as weather and steps taken. Motorola is also working with third-party app developers, including Shazam, which has developed a live dial. The aim is to provide the user with more information upfront instead of having to flick through the user interface.

With the exception of the Sport model, the new models will start shipping in September and are now available for pre-order. Prices range from US$299 to about $429. The Sport will also cost $299, but Motorola didn’t reveal when it will ship.

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