No. 1 launched their first smartwatch fairly recently, called the G2, and is essentially a clone of Samsung’s Gear 2 watch that was launched last year. Even though they share the same overall looks there are quite a few differences between the Samsung Gear 2 and the No. 1 G2. The biggest of which is software, as Samsung runs their own Tizen OS on the Gear 2 and No. 1 uses MediaTek’s LinkIt OS with a custom skin. To connect these watches to your phone you need a companion app that handles all the specific commands that are to be sent to the watch. Samsung uses the Gear app built in to TouchWiz, and No. 1 uses a free app called MediaTek SmartDevice, which resembles the Android Wear app in quite a few ways. Given that Samsung hasn’t released a regular Gear smartwatch in close to a year, and the Gear S capabilities far exceed any other smartwatch on the market, we’re going to end our Gear comparison here.
Where the real comparison lies is in similar products, so for 2015 that’s going to be the Android Wear platform and the upcoming Apple Watch. Since the Apple Watch isn’t out yet availability is probably the easiest place to start the comparison. Apple has been hush on when the Apple Watch is actually going to be released since they announced it in September, but the latest rumors all point toward a March release date. Meanwhile you can purchase a slew of Android Wear watches from the Google Play Store or any number of electronics retailers, or grab the No. 1 G2 from No.1’s website for about $80.
This pricing structure is also a big difference between all of these watches, as most Android Wear watches sell for between $200-300, and the cheapest Apple Watch is going to start at $350 without any customizations. This sort of outrageous pricing structure is very much Apple centric, as they even require you to purchase watch bands specifically made for the Apple Watch, whereas Android Wear watches in general and the No. 1 G2 allow you to use any standard 22mm watch band out there. This not only gives you infinite possibilities when customizing your watch, but it also keeps the cost down as plenty of places are competing for your dollar.
Since the watch band is only part of the design of the watch, let’s take a look at the overall look of the watch. If you’ve ever seen the Apple Watch before you likely thought it looked like something familiar that you may have owned in the past. There’s no doubt Apple designer Jony Ive enjoyed the styling of the iPhone 3G and the 3rd generation iPod Touch, as the Apple Watch looks almost identical to that product. The No. 1 G2 takes after Samsung’s hard square design with curved top and bottom edges, but is still a square watch in the end. Square watches inherently eschew the look of a smartwatch, and you’re likely going to turn more heads with a square watch instead of a round one just because of that. However the round styling of the Moto 360 and the LG G Watch R will more than likely wow your fellow compatriots much more in the end once they realize you’re wearing a smartwatch in the first place.
Let’s also take a look at functionality, which is likely the real reason you’re buying a smartwatch anyway. No.1 uses MediaTek’s LinkIt OS which comes with an app store featuring quite a few apps to choose from. MediaTek has also been very open about getting apps developed for its platform, and has been featured on XDA how-to sessions a few times. Android Wear on the other hand specializes in companion apps for existing phone apps, so while you’ll be able to find calculators and the like that are built specifically for the watch Google tries to discourage these sorts of apps as they aren’t exactly easy to use on a 1-inch screen. There are also thousands of Android Wear apps at this point, which is a big selling point for the platform.
Obviously since the Apple Watch isn’t out yet there aren’t any apps available for a nonexistent product, but you know once it launches there will be lots to choose from. Apple has chosen a rather terrible app launching interface, however, and it seems that they aren’t differentiating apps made for a watch versus ones made for a phone in terms of functionality. Going on Apple’s reveal presentation from September they basically want you using the Apple Watch as a phone, and given how difficult it can be to use a small screen like that we’re really not sure what Apple is thinking here, but it doesn’t seem very Apple-like at all. The digital crown adds yet another layer of complexity to the watch that seems wholly unnecessary and confusing to the average user.
Lastly is connectivity, which is always an interesting question when dealing with smartwatches. Android Wear works for any Android powered phone running Android 4.3 or higher. The Apple Watch will only work for iOS devices running iOS8 or higher. The No. 1 G2 works with all iOS and Android powered devices regardless of version number, although you’re going to get better battery life out of newer devices since they support Bluetooth 4.0. You’ll have to add all the things up here yourself and see which one is best for you, but there are some pretty clear choices depending on platform compatibility and price alone, much less the other factors we’ve gone over.