The Moto 360 and Fossil Q Founder were not announced at the same time, or even in the same week, but both have a few things in common. First, the Moto 360 and the Fossil Q Founder are Android Wear smartwatches – meaning that they run on Google’s wearables platform. For those who are interested in Android Wear and want something to match the luxurious experience they’ve had in Android, Android Wear is the best option, and both the Moto 360 and Fossil Q Founder are proud Android Wear devices.
Both devices also have 1.5-inch displays: the Moto 360 has a 1.56-inch display for men who want to order the 46mm wrist bands, and the Fossil Q Founder has a 1.5-inch display for all its users (no distinction between male and female devices or wrist band sizes). As for battery sizes, the Moto 360 (for the men’s 46mm) and the Fossil Q Founder have 400mAh batteries, not to mention the 4GB of storage and IP67 water and dust resistance so that your smartwatch can survive the elements.
Aside from these shared traits, however, the Moto 360 and the Fossil Q Founder have one other thing in common: they both have the dreaded “black tire” at the bottom of their displays (the black bar at the bottom of the watch that stands out when using a white or light background). It’s a flaw that shouldn’t be overlooked, since all other flaws on all other smartwatches are pointed out and rightly criticized.
Motorola responds to its second-edition “flat tire”
Motorola has answered the questions about its black tire on the display when it launched the first-generation Moto 360 Android Wear smartwatch, and tech site VentureBeat conducted its own interview with Motorola consumer design executive Jim Wicks about the dreaded black tire on the second-generation Moto 360 in an interview just three months ago. In the interview excerpt below, “VB” is VentureBeat and Jim Wicks is himself:
VB: How do you react to criticism of the shelf? Through the leaks, people have reacted negatively about what you’re calling the shelf at the bottom of the watch.
Jim Wicks: We could move the shelf out. You’d have a round display and you’d have a thicker bezel or a bigger watch, and we don’t want to do that. We could have done that in the first one and we chose not to. Um, so we really think this 46mm diameter and the 42mm are really important. That shelf, what it’s doing is it’s hiding some really important sensors – the proximity sensor and other sensors; it’s also where we fold over the display, the display drivers, and by doing that we can keep a very simple, very thin bezel…you see, some designs that are rectangular, or have some metal coming out, that are really to cover that. We didn’t do that, for the reasons I said. We wanted to have the best fit. The most display for the body…So we look at all of that, we decided that having the shelf was the best design decision.
Motorola’s Moto 360 flat tire response is rather flat
Wicks would know more about design than myself, but I do know that creating the perfect or ideal circle for a smartwatch can be done – and many a manufacturer has done it. Take LG, for example: the Korean manufacturer has created three smartwatches that have perfectly circular displays: the G Watch R, Watch Urbane, and Watch Urbane LTE. The second-generation Watch Urbane LTE would have been a fourth smartwatch to boast an ideal circle if LG hadn’t pulled the productive due to hardware issues, but it just goes to show that LG can create a perfectly circular smartwatch without trouble.
Samsung has gone on to create a perfectly circular smartwatch in the Gear S2, without a flat tire. No matter the watch face, you’ll get a gorgeous and beautifully round circle to sport all the time. There is no flat tire in Samsung’s latest smartwatch, and the Gear S2 is the first circular smartwatch Samsung’s ever made. Samsung didn’t need a second or third attempt to create the idealistic, circular shape.
With that said, however, it could be that Jim Wicks is right to some extent: Motorola wanted more body for less bezel, but even if that’s what Motorola wanted, did the company believe that forsaking the “perfect circle” was the way to achieve it? If you ever wonder why Motorola utilizes black watchfaces in its promo content instead of white ones, it’s because of the dreaded “flat tire.” When it comes to more display and a flat tire that makes the Moto 360 guilty of “displaygate,” who would choose more body over the perfect shape? I don’t think too many smartwatch makers would make the gamble Motorola made (if the company’s claims are true).
Why the Moto 360’s flat tire is something to inflate
There is the question though, of why would anyone bring this up? I’ve read recently that some consumers would be content with the flat tire, understand its significance, and move on, but that hasn’t been the case with other manufacturers. If someone doesn’t like Samsung’s Tizen software on the Gear S or Gear S2, he or she doesn’t say, “Oh, I can ignore it and still have a great experience”; rather, the person will either complain, sell it, or never buy it to start with if they are using someone else’s device. If the back of the Apple Watch starts peeling off in just three weeks of use, consumers do not say, “Oh, it’s fine; it’s the Apple Watch, that’s nothing to complain about, I can live with it.” No; instead, the consumer will return it and ask for a new one that doesn’t have the defect.
If you’ve been paying attention to tech news lately, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5 has been accused of a “Pengate” scandal because the S Pen locks into the device and disables the detachment sensor if you insert the pen incorrectly in the phone. Many consumers have been extremely vocal about this issue, so vocal that there’s almost an incessant echo of voices in every article about Samsung’s latest smartphone. Those consumers haven’t just said, “Oh, well, I guess I’ll learn how to insert the stylus right because I’m an idiot if I don’t.” No; those consumers believe that, no matter how many instruction manuals Samsung provides on the subject, the company is wrong for creating the Note 5 in such a way that the S Pen can be inserted wrong. And they’re calling it a defect or manufacturing flaw without regret.
And yet, some of the same individuals who can’t live with the Pengate scandal of the Note 5, or the logogate issue of the Apple Watch, or what they think is a bad software experience from the Gear S2’s Tizen OS, are the same ones that seem to be accepting of the Moto 360’s “flat tire.” It’s almost as if these same individuals love the Moto 360 so much that they’re willing to do anything except say, “the Moto 360 is great but it has one major flaw.” They can’t concede that Motorola’s device is as imperfect as every other out there – simply because it has a round shape and looks good for formal occasions.
The Fossil Q Founder deflates on the same course
You’d expect Fossil, a new Android Wear manufacturer, to examine the mistake of Motorola’s Moto 360 and learn from it, but Fossil missed the memo too about just how important it is to get design right in a watch in which design is king. According to a recent unboxing, picking between the Moto 360 and the Fossil Q Founder is a case of selecting the “least” flat tire, or the lesser of two design “evils”:
The flat tire is unfortunate – I’m in the camp of foks who believes round watches should have circles for watch faces, ambient light sensor be damned – but it is what it is.
So, there you have it. Fossil’s Q Founder has come from the line of the Motorola 360 and borrowed some good traits from it, but we really wish Fossil’s Q Founder had never imitated the flat tire.