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Motorola: why giving the Moto 360 a “flat tire” was the right decision

As much as we were thrilled to see the Moto 360 (2015) at IFA 2015 we couldn't help but be a little disappointed to see the return of the so-called 'flat tire'. We asked Motorola about it and were surprised to find that the company thinks it was the right decision to keep it.

For the uninitiated, the flat tire refers to the small black section at the bottom of the screen on both the original and new Moto 360. It is widely regarded in tech circles as an eyesore on an otherwise beautiful device. It does serve a valuable purpose – it houses the ambient light sensor and display drivers – but many people dislike it and think it should have been done away with in the Moto 360 (2nd generation).

Moto 360 2nd gen 08
Motorola didn't want to push components into the lugs. / © ANDROIDPIT

According to Motorola, there are three reasons for the flat tire's reappearance: design integrity, keeping the ambient light sensor intact and consumer preference. As far as the first is concerned, Motorola clearly places a lot of value on maintaining the simple 'puck' design of the Moto 360.

As Kouji Kodera, Motorola's product management lead, told me: “It is possible to do round ones, like the competition is doing, but things will stick out.” So rather than push components into the lugs, or even worse, do away with the ambient light sensor, Motorola chose to keep the puck.

Moto 360 2nd gen 11
While we like the Moto 360, we could live with bigger lugs in order to lose that that 'flat tire'. / © ANDROIDPIT

“The design and the form factor are very important. This shape and design also allow us to provide possibilities for giving choice on different colors, different materials and different bezel designs. We thought that was more important than this tiny black slit at the bottom,” said Kodera, who told us that Motorola's customers agree.

“Customer feedback showed that people wanted more choice, not just black or silver, so the decision was made to focus more on customization than on removing the flat tire.” This is also why there are now two different size options, including a 'ladies'' version that uses the smaller puck in conjunction with a finer strap.

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Darker watch faces can camouflage the 'flat tire', but we know it's there. / © ANDROIDPIT

Kodera assured me that work had been done on removing the 'flat tire' over the last year but that in the end, “the value added by going this direction was outweighed by the alternative”. As much as we appreciate the new Moto 360 (2nd gen), we can't get the thought out of our head that there's a fully circular Moto 360 in a drawer somewhere at Moto HQ that will never see the light of day.

What do you think about the 'flat tire'? Does it bother you? Let us know in the comments


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  • As a former Moto 360 wearer (I'm still an owner, it just sits in its charging dock while my Urbane is my gadget of choice!) I believe Motorola will soon see in sales how important that dark little sliver is to the average smartwatch buyer. When the 360 first came out, there was no competition for round beautiful watches. And then even after the G watch R the Moto dropped in price which was when I finally got one. Now round and stylish is the norm, and the new Motos are attractive but why spend the same amount of money when I can get an equally attractive watch with a fully circular display? If you say the light sensor - from experience I can tell you it only worked about half the time anyway, to the point I turned Auto off and went with 1 brightness. It was far less hassle as I didn't have to shake it trying to get it to realize the room was dark and needed to dim, or the room was bright and it was too dim! Maybe it will be more responsive in the new ones, but t me it's not worth losing the entire "6" area of analog watch faces. I was really hoping Moto would dazzle us with their 2nd gen seeing how they took the world by storm with the original Moto, sacrifices and all. Sadly the most obvious flaw - literally - is the one thing they did nothing about! Stick the light sensor in the side of the puck between the lugs facing away from the user, another teeny hole a bit bigger than the mic would hide the sensor, allow them to keep the puck design, a full circle face and everyone would be happy! As it is, the average buyer balks at the unsightly region, cares nothing for their excuses or reasoning and will buy one from the competition, like Huawei who apparently had no issue with "display drivers" interfering with a thin bezel (no light sensor, but an OLED display that's far easier on battery life). Come on Motorola, don't ruin your beautiful body designs with a stubborn insistence on a feature only a few use, or even better, truly offer choice and make a Moto 360 True (get it? Truly 360?) edition that uses a full circle OLED! Offer it as well as the LCD flat tire models and let the sales speak for which model option is truly the preferable one!

  • moto really did not do enough research on this... bad decision... (i'm not surely looking at the s2... from samsung)

  • I had a first gen 360, wasn't a big fan. Performance wise it was frustrating and I couldn't get over the flat tire. Now have a GWR and it's far from perfect but I can tell you I don't miss that ambient light sensor in the slightest and am happy to have a round face.
    Also, how can they call it a 360 if they refuse to actually make it truly round? Analog faces look awful.

  • Honestly i'm sure that most moto 360 owners would have rather not have had the ambient light sensor, thus all the complaints on the OG and now on the up-coming replacement!

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