There was once a time when people thought watches with calculators were ridiculously geeky. Turns out that those geeks who had them on might just have been the segment of people marketing studies call “early adopters”.
Now, with the “wearable” wave sweeping the tech world, smart watches are the next go to high-tech purchase today. Below, we have briefly compared and reviewed what we think are the best 5 smart watches available in the market today.
These recommendations are heavily weighted on the following criteria.
- How much of your smartphone functionality can your smart watch handle?
- How well does your smart watch handle your smartphone notifications?
- How stylish is it?
Of course, the below given recommendations are all Android wearables. Let’s not forget the Apple Watch. We wrote a post about the Apple smart watch here.
With a resolution of 144×168 pixel e-paper display, Pebble steel renders excellent clarity and contrast. The metal case wrap around the watch provides a good grip and looks stylish. It also provides better viewing of your text, emails and notifications.
Pebble steel is water resistant. It has 5ATM waterproof rating. You can swim and take shower with it. It’s been tested in salt and fresh water submerged up to 165 feet and has come victorious.
Apps on your smartwatch are an important criterion to review before you make a decision. The apps on smartwatches help you monitor your health, track work load and improve performance. Pebble has roped in some big partnerships to provide built-in apps from Yelp and ESPN.
The Yelp app has an effective “discovery mode” which pops up a nearby suggestion with a flick of the wrist. Isn’t that cool?
Good thing about Pebble is that it doesn’t try to pack features for the sake of it; Pebble’s winning formulae has been simplicity and its ability to grow its apps count. Pebble Steel goes well with the Pebble app store and it indeed creates an interesting combination.
Steel will certainly interest those who like its simple nature vis-à-vis the money you spend on it.
- Good Battery life
- Robust build quality
- Incompatibility with other straps in market
- Notification interface
- Not ideal for fitness purpose
Unlike Pebble Steel, Moto 360 stays rather featureless, round and large. But it does capture your imagination and looks wonderful for a smart watch, especially if a purist who thinks a watch should have a circular dial. Moto 360 is definitely light for the dimensions it carries – 0.45 inches thick, oversized diameter, 1.56 inch Gorilla Glass display.
It has one day battery life which will pull you down if you are the type who likes a lot of unplugged time. The watch is not water proof which is a huge downside. Moto 360 connects well to any Android device running Android 4.3 or higher. Set up is quite simple and it’s all about downloading the free Android Wear app onto your smartphone and following the steps to link it with 360.
Though it might be a little too big for some users, Moto 360 is one of the best smart watches around.
- Large display
- Standard Qi wireless charging technology
- Not water-proof
- Poor battery life
- Limited apps
LG G Watch
This round shaped watch does look smart and good. Once a serious contender for the best smartwatch, G watch makes best use of Android Wear system; works on Android 4.3 or higher.
G Watch goes further and uses Android Wear’s voice recognition, phone connectedness and ability to expand for future app support pretty well. While the design doesn’t create a big lasting impression, it appeals to users who like its price tag.
The down side will make you think for a while. Battery life will disappoint you. So will the display which fails to live up to your expectations in bright sunlight. With a missing heart rate monitor, you’ll tend to go for G watch only if you’re keen to exploit Android Wear and it’s connectivity with your smartphone.
- Large screen
- Light-weight with solid build
- Dust and water resistant
- Poor visibility in sunlight
- Poor battery life
- No auto-brightness
Samsung Gear Live
The square faced Gear Live from Samsung hasn’t done anything different on its display compared to Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo and Galaxy Gear. It boasts a 1.63-inch touch screen display and a 320 x 320 resolution providing a bright 278 pixels per inch picture.
Gear Live’s screen differentiates easily as compared to LG G Watch (with an inferior display) and Pebble Steel (with an e-paper screen without a touch screen). Unlike the G watch, Gear Live has its heart rate monitor on the opposite side of the watch face.
With Accelerometers, compass and Gyro fitted into this interesting instrument, Gear Live seems to leverage of Android 4.3’s (or above) capabilities to the fullest.
A power button is hidden on the top side of the watch enables you to change the screen mode from either ‘on’ or ‘off’ or ‘dim’. Tapping the screen or a flick of the wrist would wake up the display
A prominent microphone near the power button picks up ‘Okay Google’ initiated commands. Every night charging is a must as you’d experience the screen brightness going down through the day – thanks to a not-so-good battery life.
Being one of the phones using the Google powered Android Wear, Gear Live definitely scores better than LG G Watch.
- Heart rate monitor
- Fitness friendly
- Bright display
- Live voice commands using ‘Okay Google’
- Average battery life
- Polarizing design
- No speaker for alarms
Sony Smart Watch 2
Well, the Sony Smart Watch 3 is just out and we will be writing a review about it pretty soon. Meanwhile, the Sony Smart Watch 2 is still a pretty strong contender for best smart watch, especially when you consider that it will be significantly cheaper than the 3rd version.
Sony SmartWatch 2’s high compatibility with any Android smartphone running version 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) allows you to work with any smartphone and not just a Sony phone. Sony has been conservative in its design with the unimpressive square block of glass, metal and plastic; but it is quite solid.
With its camera, calling capability, email and social network updates, Sony justifies its solid looking SmartWatch 2. Compared to Samsung Galaxy Gear Live, SmartWatch 2 is much more comfortable to wear and gives you choice of colors.
A wonderful feature comes alive with Sony – you can check on your SmartWatch 2 for time and notifications at a glance without powering up the backlight.
Of all the smartwatches that we’ve discussed, Sony gives the best display even in bright sunlight. Three capacitive buttons – ‘back’, ‘home’ and ‘sort’ are lined up below the screen giving you the control to navigate.
Sony takes you to a high with all of SmartWatch 2’s excellent features and drops you dead with the bugs and issues with its software. A good buy for those who love gadgets that come loaded with multiple apps but, be patient with the bugs.
- Incredible build quality
- Bright and clear display
- Long battery life with easy micro-USB charger
- Simple menu
- Limited watch faces
- Known bugs
There you have it, 5 great smart watches that you can slap on your wrist, if you have the $100 to $200 to spend on it. Personally, I love smart watches and wear the Apple Watch myself. I love how you can log calories, sleep, phone activity and various other events all by just wearing something on your wrist. It can definitely help you make a lot of great lifestyle changes for the better, if you really want to take advantage of the data that a smart watch is able to give you.