We’ve spent a few months with the Android Wear platform now, and out of the six Wear smartwatches on the market today, only two of them have round displays. The first of which is Motorola’s Moto 360, announced way back in March earlier this year. Customers couldn’t actually buy the watch until it was made available alongside the new Moto X in September. Even after the long delay, Moto still managed to get the first round smartwatch to market. Soon after the 360 was made available, LG announced their round smartwatch, the G Watch R, and released it towards the end of October. This gave everyone a big decision to make.
Which is the best round-faced smartwatch on the market? We’ve spent months with both watches, and we’re ready to help you decide which one is better for you. Let’s dive right in.
Design is one of the areas both of these watches really stand out. The 360 and the G Watch R are both water and dust resistant, both feature a heart rate monitor, and are both made out of generally the same type of materials. Both watches feature a metal chassis, though they’re very different in design. The Moto 360 takes more of a minimalistic approach, offering a smooth stainless steel outer shell with only one button on the right side. The screen is almost perfectly round, except for a small cut out on the bottom to house the ambient light sensor.
The G Watch R is a bit more busy when it comes to design, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. LG’s offering features big brackets on the top and bottom where the watchband connects, and a big bezel around the edges, complete with minute markers. The G Watch R’s display is perfectly round, yet smaller, likely because of the bigger overall size of the device.
Both of these watches are available with leather bands, though the 360 can also be purchased with a metal offering. Motorola made a big deal out of the type of leather they used with the watch band, and for good reason. Genuine Horween Leather is used in the 360’s band… the same leather Moto is using on the back of the Moto X. It’s soft, flexible, and so far, has held up overtime. As for the leather on the G Watch R, it’s very nice as well. It’s a bit less soft, a bit more rigid, but nonetheless feels like it will hold up overtime.
When it comes to charging, the Moto 360 uses Qi wireless charging, and ships with a handy dock that can double as a nightstand clock. The G Watch R uses hardware connectors around the back of the device, and fits in a magnetic charging cradle. In terms of charging, we much prefer the wireless charging route Motorola has taken.
As for design, If you want a minimal watch that’s sleek and smooth, the 360 is for you. On the flip side, LG’s offering is more suitable for someone with an active lifestyle. It’s much more rigid and looks like it can survive a bump or two.
So, we’re all aware that these two watches have circular displays. But how do those displays fair in everyday life? Let’s start with the 360. Motorola’s watch has an IPS LCD panel with 320 x 290 resolution. The odd resolution is thanks to the black bar towards the bottom of the display. Many people have made a big deal out of the black bar, but if you own a 360, you’d know that bar is almost unnoticeable after a few days of using it. Also, being that it’s an LCD display, leaving the watch in ambient mode is a huge battery drain. This means the entire display must be lit up, even though it’s in low-power mode.
The G Watch R features a completely round display, and it’s a bit sharper than the 360’s. The P-OLED technology allows for better battery life when using ambient mode. Instead of the entire screen lighting up while in ambient mode, only the active pixels consume power, making for less battery drain.
Both displays are good, but we’d have to say the G Watch R is a bit clearer, and colors are more accurate. It’s smaller, but sharper.
Motorola took an interesting approach when they were building the 360. The 360 has a slightly old TI OMAP processor backed by 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. It’s a bit sluggish when swiping away cards, but only every once in awhile. Google pushed out an update that largely fixed many of the lag problems, but we still witness it from time to time.
The G Watch R houses more modern internals, as it uses a Snapdragon 400 processor and 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. We haven’t noticed anything wrong with the LG watch when it comes to performance.
It may have taken the Moto 360 a few software updates to perform as well as the G Watch R, but now the differences between these two are very slim.
Google is taking a slightly different approach when it comes to software on Android Wear. They’re not allowing any OEMs to skin the Wear platform. With that said, the most manufacturers can do is add custom watch faces and a few small software enhancements.
LG offers a few more watch faces than the Moto watch, but Motorola offers a companion app, allowing users to customize each and every watch face. We’re not faulting LG in any way when it comes to software. Google has largely limited the way OEMs can customize Wear, but we would have liked to see LG take a more bold step with their software experience.
The Moto 360 offers a 320mAh battery, while the G Watch R features a 410mAh offering. Both watches have very similar battery life, despite the difference in battery capacity and the 360’s use of an older (less efficient) processing package. If you asked us a few months ago what we thought of the battery life, the G Watch R would have been the clear winner. However, multiple software updates later, and the 360 can perform almost as well as LG’s watch.
Sure, the G Watch R may get a few more hours, but both should be able to provide around 2 days without ambient mode, 1.5 days with it on. Obviously factors like brightness level and how much you check the watch for notifications will make a big difference, and so your mileage may vary.
Both of these smartwatches are available through either Google Play or multiple other retailers. The leather-band Moto 360 is available for $250, while the Moto 360 with the metal band will run you $300. Additional leather bands cost $30, and additional metal bands run $80. The 360 comes in dark, light, or champagne stainless steel casings, with Stone or Black leather bands, dark or light metal bands, as well as two different sized metal variants. The G Watch R is available in black, with only one type of leather band for $300.
With similar software, performance and battery life, you may be wondering which one you should choose. If you value customization, minimalism and watch band options, the Moto 360 is the one for you. However, if you don’t mind spending a bit more for a watch you can take out to go rock climbing, you may want to consider the G Watch R. Either way, these are both great Android Wear devices, and you’ll likely be happy with whichever you choose.