Motorola's new Moto 360 gets more customization, keeps the "flat tire"

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Metal and leather bands are easily swappable(Credit: Motorola)

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Motorola's Moto 360 was one of the first smartwatches that strived to look like a traditional watch. Today the company announced the second generation Moto 360 with a bigger collection of customizable bands, bezels, colors and materials that continue to draw inspiration from the old-school wristwatch world, and probably also from the wearable elephant in the room, the Apple Watch.

There are plenty of small, iterative but still important upgrades in the new Moto 360, like improved battery life estimates and slightly sharper display resolution, but the real theme with this new smartwatch collection is choice and customization.

In keeping with Motorola's "design your own" ethos first introduced with the original Moto X and its Moto Maker platform a few years back, the new Moto 360 can also be customized through the online Moto Maker design studio and delivered in a few days.

Just a few of the many options to personalize what's essentially a peripheral include a choice of easily-swappable bands (choose from different hues of metal, leather and even a "blush double wrap"), bezel style, bezel color, case color and even watch size (46 or 42 mm).

But that's just the beginning. There's also now a men's and women's edition of the Moto 360 – the 42 mm women's watch (though there's also a men's option in the 42 mm size) has smaller lugs and a peaked bezel that the company says provides a better fit and a more elegant and sophisticated look.

In addition to the new gender-specific Moto 360, Motorola also introduced Moto 360 Sport, which is water and dust-resistant, comes with a silicone band and its own built-in GPS and something the company calls an "AnyLight" display designed for readability in bright sunlight. The idea behind the Sport model is that it can work independently, allowing you to leave your phone at home when you go for a run or bike ride but still be able to track your location, speed, heart rate and other vitals.

Another key improvement in this second generation is the aforementioned battery life, which, in the larger model, Motorola now says should get you two days of use out of each charge (with the ambient display mode turned off). That's a big jump from the original, which often struggled to get through a single day. In the smaller models, the battery life estimate (also with ambient off) is a bit lower, at one and a half days.

The ambient mode also now lines up with other Android Wear watches' always-on displays, (where the clock face dims, but never turns off) rather than the "sometimes on" ambient display we saw in the 2014 Moto 360.

Speaking of displays, the larger 46 mm model has the same 1.56-inch screen size we saw on the original, though it does have sharper 360 x 330 resolution (233 PPI). The 42 mm Moto 360 has a 1.37-inch display with 360 x 325 resolution (263 PPI).

... and yes, the original Moto 360's "flat tire" (cut-out portion at the bottom of the not-quite-round screen) is back in all versions of the 2nd-gen Moto 360.

Like most Android Wear watches, the new models have Wi-Fi connectivity, so you don't have to be within Bluetooth range of your phone to get notifications from all your Android Wear apps (the original Moto 360 also received Wi-Fi functionality earlier this year via a software update). And the wearable platform's newly announced iOS compatibility means you don't even need an Android phone to use a Moto 360 anymore.

It's hard not to note that the expanded collection of Moto 360 models seems designed to compete with the choices offered to potential Apple Watch buyers, and the addition of "Live Dials" (a door opened to developers via Google's latest Android Wear update). They're essentially widgets/app-shortcuts that live on the watch face, and strike us as a direct mimicking of the Apple wearable interface.

But the area where the new Moto 360 is perhaps most competitive with Apple's offerings is the price. The new watch will cost between $300 and $430, depending on the options you choose in Moto Maker. The original Moto 360 started at $250 when it launched last year, and, as retailers clear out stock, is currently sold for as little as $150.

Pricing and availability for the Moto 360 Sport have not yet been announced, but the regular Moto 360 can be pre-ordered online in the U.S. starting today. It will ultimately be available across the American hemisphere, Europe and Asia.

Product page: Motorola

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