Motorola launches $250 smartwatch; revamps Moto x, Moto G

Motorola launches $250 smartwatch; revamps Moto X, Moto G

05 SEP 2014

In the week that leading device manufacturers gathered in Berlin to showcase their latest wares at IFA, Motorola chose a Chicago-based event to launch its much-anticipated Moto 360 smartwatch (pictured, above) and announce revamps of its flagship Moto X smartphone and the more budget-friendly Moto G.

Based on Android Wear, Moto 360 has a built-in pedometer and heart rate monitor and is available (with black leather bands) for $249.99 in the US. It has a day’s battery life. There’s also a limited grey leather edition.

Two metal options (silver and black) will become available in October and cost $299.99. Moto 360 will arrive in the UK in early October carrying a £199 price tag, and Canada in the autumn ($279).

Jan Dawson, chief analyst at technology consultancy Jackdaw, applauds the stylishness of the Moto 360, pointing out that Motorola has positioned the device first and foremost as a watch rather than a smartwatch.

He nonetheless has misgivings. “With a $249 price point and single-day battery life, the Moto 360 suffers from the same shortcomings as other smartwatches already in the market,” says Dawson. “They fail to meet the basic criteria for a successful product in a market for which there isn’t much demand to begin with. It will probably sell better than most Android smartwatches, but that isn’t saying much in a category that’s been underwhelming from the start.”

motoxThe new Moto X (although the name stays the same) has a metal frame and a 5.2-inch amoled full-HD display. It (pictured, left) runs on Android 4.4.4 KitKat (and has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 2.5GHz processor and an Adreno GPU). It’s also capable of capturing 4K video. It retails, unlocked, for $499.99.

Moto G gets an upgrade too (and, like Moto X, sees no name change). It has a larger 5-inch display with 1280×720 resolution and Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor (1.2GHz). It runs on Android 4.4 with a guaranteed update to Android L when that becomes available. It has both single SIM and dual SIM variants, with 8GB and 16GB storage options, and a brand new removable microSD slot which supports cards of up to 32GB. It retails (unlocked) from $179.99.

motog“Motorola’s new smartphones build on the success it has had with its smartphones over the past year, particularly that of the Moto G (pictured, left), which has been Motorola’s best-selling device in years,” says Dawson. “The Moto X, which was previously awkwardly positioned at a premium price point without specs to match, has received a significant upgrade. At least on paper, it now seems worthier of the company it keeps in the premium category, while receiving a price cut to make it significantly cheaper than comparable devices.”

Motorola also announced Moto Hint, a discreet wireless ear plug that users can tap to answer or end calls. It can work with any smartphone, but fits well with the new Moto X since it can recognise the new Moto Voice. With Moto Voice, users can control the likes of WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube by using their voice, as well as creating a command that turns the phone off.

“Where Motorola is really beginning to set itself apart is in adding value to the generic Android experience across these devices, and in making them work together particularly well,” adds Dawson. “The sensibly renamed Moto Voice, Moto Assist, Moto Display and Moto Actions are real value-adds on top of Android, and will help to set the phone apart. But the Hint will extend these functions in a useful way and set the headset apart in a category which has become positively stale.”

In which direction China’s Lenovo will take Motorola following its acquisition of the US firm’s mobility unit is, for Dawson, the biggest question that remains unanswered. “What’s clear is that Lenovo sees significant value in the Motorola brand and carrier relationships outside of China, but what’s less clear is how much it will embrace the strategy exemplified by the Moto X and Moto G,” he says.


Ken Wieland

Ken has been part of the MWC Mobile World Daily editorial team for the last three years, and is now contributing regularly to Mobile World Live. He has been a telecoms journalist for over 15 years, which includes eight...More

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