Moto 360 repair report

UPDATE: I’ve had TWO other Motos since this post. The first refurbished Moto would not sync with Google play music — it kept getting a ‘Watch disconnected’ error from the Google Play app on the watch, and the new 5.1.1 feature on the Google Play phone app would never resolve for “Manage Wear downloads.” So I complained about that, and they RMA’d it. That got me a new watch (not a refurb), which got stuck in a “Gapps failed” error loop on first initialization. That went back, and now I have another new Moto360. Turnaround was quick, from the time I sent the old one back to getting the new one was 12 days. This one appears to be back to the original error with Google Play, so obviously there is something in software that is screwy there.

In my recent post about Android Wear (my field test), I mentioned some damage noticed at the end of the trip. Here’s my experience with Motorola in fixing my watch.

Moto360 containment broken!

Moto360 containment broken!

When I returned from New York, I took off my watch to recharge and noticed there were two cracks across the back. These were not minor cracks, the backing was split completely through (photo). I was wondering what might have caused this and checked the forums at Android Central. Apparently the problem is common and there are a couple theories about what causes them: Either third-party bands are too thick and thus press up against the backing, or the cracking is caused by heat during recharge. Certainly, some third-party bands are thicker (the Moto will take a standard 22mm band). Well, I was using a third party band, the Tylt (review here), but the Tylt is advertised as being designed specifically for the Moto 360.

So what’s next? Now I have a replacement, I’ll stick with the stock (leather) band for some months and report back. Meanwhile, what about how the problem was handled by Motorola?

First off, I dove deeper into the forums. There was a reference on the Moto 360 thread in Android Central about an AMA on Reddit (here). In that AMA, the product manager for Motorola stated:

“We’ve investigated this extensively and found that it was occurring on a fraction of a percent of devices. Still, we want to make it right. We designed Moto 360 to take all sorts of damage, from banging to dropping to water and dust damage. We have seen that the users that have experienced a cracking issue have generally had this issue around the band attach points.”

So, if you have this issue (cracks around the band attach point) please return it! It’s covered under warranty. We don’t think people should have to wear Moto 360 one way or another to prevent this from happening – just wear it like you normally would and we’ll cover you for the rest.

The Tylt band; better looking than stock, more comfortable.

The Tylt band; better looking than stock, more comfortable. But will Moto cover using it? (Yes)

Thus reassured, I used the chat interface on the Motorola service site mentioned in the AMA (here). This was a Sunday yet they took care of me almost immediately. The first time I was connected to ‘Danica’ who seemed real helpful and said, sure, we’ll take care of this. She first asked if the watch had water damage. I had heard in the forums, if you have water damage, they won’t cover that under warranty. Does not seem fair since the back being cracked would obviously affect the IP67 rating for water-proofing, but I can see their point of view. They can’t cover it if you’ve gone scuba diving or something crazy.

The next questions was, did I prefer giving them my credit card info to get a quick replacement (they send a replacement, and I send the old one in when it arrives)? That option means, they have to examine the watch when it arrives at their depot and then determine whether the damage is under warranty or you’re going to owe them $$. The fact is, their replacement cost (if they determine I wrecked the watch out of warranty) is $200, and you can buy a Moto 360 new on Amazon for $150, so that was a no-go for me. I chose the other approach: they email me a sticker to print, and I return the watch and wait for a repair or replacement.

Moto 360 replacement

Moto 360 replacement

I waited for the email; it never came. Back into chat a few hours later, I got ‘Monica.’ (I wonder if I contact them again, who answers — Veronica?) and this time I get the email with the sticker (Fedex ground) and instructions. So, you’re wondering, what happened next?

I sent in the watch on the 22nd of July, with original band but nothing else. On the 27th, I got a response that they’d received the watch. Two days later they send a shipment notice — the replacement was on the way. By 4 August, the box was in my hands, and as you can see in the photo alongside, they do you pretty well, returning the watch in a 360-style box with a cable and nightstand charger (used, it appears) and a brand new band.

The Moto 360 and refurb packaging

The Moto 360 and refurb packaging

As you can see, the watch itself looks brand new. It came with not one but two tear-offs on the back, which I imagine means it was never used, so when it came back for refurb they slapped another sticker on over the original. The watch is in perfect shape. So, kudos to Moto for that. Also, they take the care to maintain the ‘high touch’ feel to their customer interactions by sending it out in a nice box, the same as the original save for the blue ‘Refurbished’ label.

One small run for man, but stepless for moto. Sigh.

One small run for man, but stepless for moto. Sigh.

However, the watch doesn’t quite work like the other. On the down side, the step counter is wonky. It does pretty well when I am walking, but I’m definitely not getting credit for my runs. In the next photo you can see the result after wearing it on a run. My TomTom is showing three miles, and the ‘360 is at a disappointing step count. Zero! I checked Google Fit as well (zero) as I found Moto Body and Fit often come up with different results (Body being more accurate). I rebooted the next day just before my run and got 1800 steps, whereas it should have been about 5K. So that sucks.

But the watch is much better at pairing with my phone. The original watch was paired with a 2013 Moto X and they stayed in sync very reliably. With the new phone, an HTC One, if the old watch was taken out of range, it would not reconnect — I always had to bounce the Bluetooth setting on the phone. The new watch always reconnects, so that’s a plus.

Both behaviors are important; I like to keep track of my activity (that’s why I got this and dumped the FitBit) but getting zero (or half) steps credit for a run is less motivating. OTOH, staying connected is great. I wonder if I can get both to work with the 360, or should I wait for its successor? Time will tell. (Pun intended.)

Refurbished, back

Refurbished, back

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About H.W. MacNaughton

Technologist and communicator. Into technology, jazz, Formula One, sci-fi and any good writing about real stuff.
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