Apple Watch vs Motorola Moto 360 comparison review

We decided to compare the Apple Watch with one of our favourite of the many Android Wear watches that abound - the Moto 360. The Motorola watch is unusual in that it offers Apple-esque levels of design- and build-quality, and it comes with a striking circular watch face. The feature set is broadly the same as that of the Apple Watch, and it is cheaper. So should you throw over your iPhone and go Android? Of course not.

In this piece we look at the best of what Android and Motorola can offer, and compare it to our own beloved Apple Watch. We make no excuses for being biased toward the Apple product. This is, after all, Macworld UK. But we have been truly impressed with this striking Android Wear wearable. For more news about the Apple Watch, read our Apple Watch release date, price and specs article.

Apple Watch vs Motorola Moto 360 comparison: UK price and availability

The Apple Watch Sport Edition is the cheapest on the market, and will set you back £299. Apple's cheapest model is bound to be popular, but prices soon scale up and there are lots of optional extras. You can spend more by opting for the Apple Watch Edition which starts at £479. The most expensive Apple Watch is £13,500.

And that is if you can get them. As I write, there is nowhere in the UK that you can walk into and buy an Apple Watch. People who pre-ordered are still waiting, although that situation will resolve itself soon.

By comparison the Motorola Moto 360 is a far more affordable £199 in the UK, and is widely available to buy from O2, Amazon, Tesco and, we presume, Google Play. So should you go Moto? Let's take a look to find out. (For more detail, see our Apple Watch buying guide and price list and How to buy or pre-order the Apple Watch.)

Apple Watch vs Motorola Moto 360 comparison: Compatibility

If you are an iPhone user, the answer is a resounding no. Unless you're planning on also changing your smartphone and switching from iOS to Android, Android users will be able to use only the Motorola Moto 360 or any other Android Wear-powered smartwatch, while iPhone users will have a choice of the Apple Watch or the Apple Watch. There are plenty of Apple Watch options to choose from, of course.

The Apple Watch works only with the iPhone (including the 5, 5c, 5s, 6 and 6 Plus), and the Motorola Moto 360 works only with devices running Android 4.3 or later. Neither smartwatch works independently of a smartphone, so this is one product type with which you won't get away with dabbling between mobile platforms. (See also: Apple Watch vs LG Watch Urbane smartwatch comparison.)

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Apple Watch vs Motorola Moto 360 comparison: Display

The 49g Moto 360 has a 46mm-high, 1.5in-diameter (320x290, 205ppi) backlit LCD display, protected with Gorilla Glass 3.

The 38mm Apple Watch has a 272 × 340 display, which makes for a 290ppi pixel density. The 42mm Apple Watch has a 302ppi pixel density, with a 312 × 390 display. All are high-quality displays, and we would wager that you struggle to tell the difference between the displays of the Apple Watch and the Moto 360.

Apple Watch vs Motorola Moto 360 comparison: Battery life

The main down side of the Moto 360 is the battery life. At 320mAh, the battery has a smaller capacity than the rival LG G Watch (400 mAh) but a considerably worse life span. While we got a few days out of the G Watch, the Moto 360 will realistically only last one and require charging every night.

Making the situation slightly better and more bearable is the fact that the Moto 360 comes with wireless charging. A docking station is included in the box and we've found the smartwatch charges pretty quickly – from 0- to 100 percent in just over an hour.

In terms of battery life, Apple touts up to 18 hours of varied use which drops to 6.5 for audio playback and just 3 for phone calls. Our testers have found very varied battery life depending on what you do with the Apple Watch. But with reasonable use you should get through the day.

So in both cases we wish for better battery life. But it wouldn't be fair to favour one over the other here.

Apple Watch vs Motorola Moto 360 comparison: Design

We know that the Apple Watch is beautiful and striking, but part of the reason people got so excited by the Motorola Moto 360 is its design. In essence all smartwatches do the same thing, and all can tell the time; the Moto 360 was the first smartwatch you might actually want to wear on your arm. It is almost Apple-like in its prettiness.

Available in light- or dark stainless steel, with a grey-, black- or stone Horween leather band, the round-faced Motorola Moto 360 looks more like a traditional wristwatch than the square-faced Apple Watch. The LCD itself isn't entirely round, with the 30-pixel chunk that's missing at the bottom used to house the ambient light sensor (the Moto 360 supports auto brightness adjustment). Six digital watch faces are supported, including both digital- and analogue options. But that's nothing compared to what's on offer from Apple.

The Apple Watch comes in two sizes, for men and women, and in three collections. The Apple Watch collection has a polished silver or black case made from a custom alloy of stainless steel; the Apple Watch Sport collection has a 60 percent stronger anodised aluminium case in silver or space grey, with strengthened Ion-X glass; and the Apple Watch Edition collection uses 18-carat yellow- or rose gold, and features equisitely crafted straps and closures. Then there are six strap options: Link Bracelet, Sport Band, Leather Loop, Classic Buckle, Modern Buckle and Milanese Loop.

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In terms of watch faces (or 'complications') the Apple Watch has 11, yet Apple claims to offer more than two million ways to tell the time through various customisation options. There's everything from Astronomy and Solar to Modular, Timelapse, Utility, Motion, Photo and even Mickey Mouse.

Both watches feature a crown. Apple uses this 'Digital Crown' to let you interact with the watch without obstructing the screen, and it also operates as the Home button. Touch is also supported on the Apple Watch, although you'll primarily use this crown to navigate the device.

The Motorola Moto 360 will automatically wake when you raise your arm, but for times when this in inconvenient the crown acts as a power button. It can also be used to access the Settings menu.

Both are very good-looking watches, but with the Apple Watch you're far more likely to find a design that suits your taste. However, if you like the Moto 360 we suspect you will love it. Kudos to Motorola for making a stunning device.

Apple Watch vs Motorola Moto 360 comparison: Features

While the Motorola Moto 360 runs Android Wear, and the Apple Watch runs Apple's own iOS-based software, in essence both do similar things. On either watch you can install apps, make calls and send texts, call up the voice assistant (Google Now with the Moto 360, or Siri with the Apple Watch), check your email, control-, store- and play back music, display photos, view notifications from social media and more.

The Apple Watch has a few extras, including Glances (swipe up from the bottom of the screen to see at-a-glance information on whatever you choose to have there), and Digital Touch. The latter lets you connect with your friends with a single touch. Pressing the button under the Digital Crown brings up thumbnail images of your friends, which you can use to call or message them. You can also send them your heartbeat (odd), or to let them know you're thinking of them send them a physical tap (odder still), thanks to the unique 'Taptic Engine'.

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Both support haptic feedback, although Apple's Taptic Engine takes things a step further. Not only is the Apple Watch able to distinguish between a tap and a press, allowing it to support a range of gestures, but it can also provide differing amounts of vibration for specific notifications. For example, in the Maps app the amount of vibration differs depending on whether you need to take a left- or right turn.

Both smartwatches are primed for health- and fitness tracking, with a heart-rate sensor and pedometer inside. The Apple Watch also has an accelerometer to measure body movement. Both will track your daily activity and encourage you to hit exercise goals.

The Apple Watch is accurate to within +/-50ms; Motorola makes no such claims for its Moto 360.

Read: Apple Watch versus Apple Watch Sport

Apple Watch vs Motorola Moto 360 comparison: Hardware and performance

As always with Apple, what a product does and how it looks and behaves are more important than what is inside. For once we agree: while we want the battery to last at very least a full day and we don't want a smartwatch to show any lag when scrolling through menus and launching apps, we're hardly about to whip out Geekbench 3. In the case of a smartwatch, looks and functionality - not speed - are key.

Apple uses its own S1 chip and has double the amount of storage at 8 GB. However, as it stands you can only use 2 GB for music and just 75 MB for photos. As usual, Apple doesn't quote RAM. It supports Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, too.  There's a heart-rate sensor, an accelerometer, a waterproof speaker and support for wireless charging, although the Apple Watch depends on a companion iPhone for GPS. A digital crown is used alongside touch input to interact with the Apple Watch.

Don't expect anything other than premium performance from either of these devices, however.

Motorola is more than happy to discuss what's inside the Moto 360. It runs on a 1GHz TI OMAP 3 single-core processor, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. The Moto 360 has a heart-rate sensor, a pedometer, Bluetooth 4.0 and dual-mics. It also has IP67-certified waterproofing, and its 320mAh battery also supports Qi wireless charging, so you can use any compatible wireless charger. (See also: Apple Watch vs Huawei Watch smartwatch comparison.)

OUR VERDICT

If you are an iPhone user the Apple Watch is the smartwatch for you. And a fine device it is too. But the Moto 360 is a very nice smartwatch, well priced and with a great design and feature set. If you are an Android fan, you would be well advised to give it a second look.

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