6. Moto 360
Hands and wrists down, Motorola makes one of the best Android Wear smartwatches. Its Moto 360 is defined by a 1.65-inch circular display, stainless steel frame and premium leather band.
This was the first Google watch that could pass itself off as a stylish designer timepiece. Everything else before it was square and plastic.
Moto 360, like the slightly newer LG G Watch R, doesn’t come off as an overt computer strapped to your wrist. It analog watch faces really blend in.
Its Google Now integration seamlessly beams SMS, email alerts and every other smartphone notification to your wrist. Sure, Moto 360 has an inefficient processor that sometimes stunts swiping through these Android Wear menus, and battery life is a day at best.
That’s why the LG G Watch R jumps a few posts ahead. But on its face – it’s beautiful, beautiful face – Moto 360 is one of the best-looking smartwatches to date and comes with a nifty Qi wireless charger to make up for those all-too-frequent charges.
The Kickstarter favorite that started it all is still relevant among its smartwatch imitators. That’s because the plastic Pebble watch has functionality that’s identical to the Pebble Steel and a lot of the same specs too. It’s just in cheaper, bulkier plastic housing with more color options.
Offloading texts, email alerts and every other smartphone notifications to the wrist has never been easier thanks to Pebble’s black-and-white 1.26-inch e-paper LCD. It’s also both iOS and Android compatible. Any Apple or Google smartphone with Bluetooth 4.0 syncs just fine. Water, at a shallow enough depth, is also compatible with this 5ATM resistant smartwatch.
It’s never been easier to slip on a smartwatch. Pebble’s new price is $99 (£99, about AU$114), making it cheap among computerized watches. No one is going to mistake it for the classic timepiece, but Pebble delivered on its Kickstarter promise and is up to 4,000 apps, something that gives Android Wear and Apple Watch a real challenge.
4. Samsung Gear Fit
First things first – just like the Gear S, you’ll need a compatible Samsung device in order to use the Gear Fit, of which there are currently 18 including the new Galaxy S5. It’s frustrating but Samsung’s probably not going to open it up any time soon, so we’ll just have to suck it up.
Also like the Gear S, the Gear Fit is one of the larger screened smartwatches out there. It’s more of a band like the Sony SmartBand Talk but with more pizazz thanks to that beautiful, curved 1.85-inch Super AMOLED screen.
For the serious runner, the Gear Fit doesn’t offer enough yet, nor does it feel accurate enough to rely on as your sole exercise device. But the trade off is the included set of smartwatch features that do give the Fit more of a day-to-day-gadget appeal.
At $199/£180 (around AU$212), it’s a on the higher end of the wearable pricing scale, but still a lovely device if you want something in between the best fitness tracker and best smartwatch.
3. LG G Watch R
The LG G Watch R has got one thing right, it’s one of the few Android Wear smartwatches that actually looks like a watch. It may not appear as fancy as the Moto 360, but it still has a sporty look that many might actually prefer.
In terms of specs the G Watch R is relatively well equipped with a 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage and a 410mAh battery.
Compared to the Moto 360 that’s a better processor and larger battery, plus you also get a barometer, heart rate monitor and 9-Axis (which includes a gyro, accelerometer and compass).
The display is also worth shouting about. While the Moto 360 had a larger screen which made text a little larger and easier to read, the higher resolution display of the G Watch R is easier on the eye, while the P-OLED screen delivers strong colors.
It’s still a bit pricey at $300 (£200, about AU$280) but remains one of the top smartwatches out there.
2. Pebble Steel
The best non-Android Wear smartwatch you can strap to your wrist right now is the Pebble Steel. It’s the more grown-up version of the plastic original that gained fame on Kickstarter a year ago. The 2014 edition sports a smaller, less boxy face and a stainless steel frame for the 1.26-inch LCD.
Pebble Steel’s silver or matte black casing choices comes with a matching metal band to complete to sophisticated look and, if ordered from, a leather band is included. You get all of the same texts, emails and notifications at a glance, all for the new price of $199 (£179, about AU$228).
Missing, however, is the brilliant color display that makes Android watches shine and a way to get around Pebble’s annoying eight installed apps limit. Of course, Pebble Steel doesn’t have the battery life issues of the Moto 360. It can last up to seven days between charges and is compatible with both iOS and Android phones. It’s for everyone and, with swappable bands, for every stylistic situation.
It’s also for pretty much everywhere you go considering its 5ATM water resistant rating. This means it’s waterproof enough for swimming in shallow water and even has real-time swim tracking software among its list of 4,000 apps. That’s something you won’t find on many rival smartwatches, which typically top out at IP67 or IP68.
Pebble’s second iteration of the smartwatch is very much focused on being a watch first and a smartwatch second. That’s the proper order many others smartwatches manufacturers fail to realize and Pebble has successfully delivered on twice.
1. Sony Smartwatch 3
It seems like Sony learned a thing or two making the Sony SmartWatch 2. The latest Sony SmartWatch 3 actually has Android Wear, despite the fact that the company has its own ecosystem.
Its 1.2GHz quad-core processor and 512MB of RAM leave it packed with power and with GPS built in it’s a more fully-functional fitness accessory than most other smartwatches. Of course all that power doesn’t come cheap, as the Sony SmartWatch 3 retails for $250 (£189.99, AU$299.99).
If you’re not fond of the strap design, Sony unveiled a Pebble Steel-esque band called the Sony SmartWatch 3 Stainless Steel edition during CES 2015. It looks pretty nice compared to its rubbery counterpart, but the guts remain the same.
Ultimately, the SmartWatch 3 has proved that third time’s a charm (at least in Sony’s SmartWatch series). It puts function ahead of form, delivering one of the best user experiences yet but with minimalistic style.