The Cracked Back of the Motorola Moto 360
Ever since its first unveiling in early 2014, the Motorola Moto 360 has been a greatly hyped device. Even though availability and price were initially unknown, it was the smartwatch to talk about. Its sleek design and the (at that point) unique round screen with tiny bezels appealed to a wide range of potential customers.
However, things changed once the watch was released in the US, as early reviews attested an abysmal battery life and apparently the performance also left a lot to be desired. Initial reports mentioned the need to charge twice per day and a lagging UI all over the OS. At that point, many people faced the truth that the Moto 360 never had the chance to deliver as much as some had hoped, the expectations were simply ahead of our time.
In a turn of events Motorola reacted quickly and issued a couple of OTAs, which fixed most of the complaints. The majority of users finally achieved a usable battery life of one work day and the company did its best to remove as many lags as possible. Unfortunately the story is not over here, there are still issues with the smartwatch, issues that should not pass any serious QC department of a large company.
The Moto 360 has a disc-shaped, plastic backside which features two little lips right where the watch bands join the watch itself. Apparently these little plastic pieces are meant to press down the device on the user’s arm to prevent a look roughly resembling a hockey puck strapped to your wrist. While in theory this is a good idea and works fairly well, it has one big drawback. As soon as you apply stress on the watch bands, a significant amount of force is absorbed by the two lips and therefore by the plastic backside. The issue usually expresses itself in deep dents in the leather bands that ship with the Moto 360, only hours after wearing it for first time.
To make matters worse Motorola didn’t ship any 360 with metal bands for months. The company warned its customers that switching to non-Motorola metal watch bands might impact the Bluetooth functionality of the watch, but considering the noble look of the watch, many owners decided to switch the stock leather bands with third party metal ones anyway. While enhancing the overall appearance, the metal bands weren’t able to absorb any of the force implied by the odd backside shape, leading to various cracks in the plastic material. Depending on wrist size, how and where the watch is worn, these cracks could vary in size and count. Some users didn’t have any issues at all while others even reported that parts of the back had to be secured by tape to prevent them from falling off completely. The picture below shows two pretty severe cracks in the backside of the Moto 360 (Thanks to XDA Senior Member osmosizzz for the original image).
Motorola did somewhat admit to the problem by replacing watches with cracked backs with new ones, but later on, when Motorola started to sell their own metal bands, there was another hint that the manufacturer was aware of the problem the whole time. Their proprietary bands include a plastic connector piece which fits right into the groove where usually the watch band belongs. This piece of plastic acts as fixed anchor for the actual metal band. The connector spreads the force applied via the watch band and therefore lessens the stress on the plastic lips.
Even though this might seem like a good idea, it doesn’t completely fix the problem. There are still reports of cracked backs with the original metal band and some users also complain about the look of the attached band (since it doesn’t directly connect to the watch, it creates an “unfinished” look, some users say).
Motorola should have spotted this flaw when stress testing their devices and should have fixed it with a permanent solution (such as a different design or a stronger material for the backside). But as always in the modern tech world, early adopters (especially of a first generation device) are paying the price for being the first to have the newest and greatest gadgets.