AH Sony Smartwatch 3-1-1

Top 10 Best Smartwatches Buyers Guide: January 2015 Edition

January 15, 2015 - Written By Tom Dawson

10. Pebble

 

Pebble Smartwatch

The Pebble is arguably the device that convinced a lot of users that they even wanted a smartatch in the first place, and as a result it has been around for a long while. While the Pebble has far more color options than anyone else out there, the plasticky build and questionably large footprint can be offputting when there are watches like the Moto 360 and of course the Pebble Steel out there. Sure, the Pebble has a fantastic ecosystem of watch faces, apps and utilities available for it, now including 24/7 fitness tracking, but having to push all those buttons is pretty inconvenient. Recently, Pebble have added much to love to their software, including Android Wear support for notifications

09. Samsung Gear Live

AH Samsung Gear Live 1.3

For the Gear Live gets you a heart-rate monitor, a sleek modern look and fairly reasonable battery life last all day and night thanks to the AMOLED display that looks nice to boot. It is a little on the bulky side, but it’s fairly classy and if you’re a Samsung fan in the first place, you’ll be right at home here. Sadly though, Samsung went with what has to be one of the most ridiculous charging adapters we’ve seen, but if you’re careful you shouldn’t come across and issues, and there are replacements available from the Play Store, too. The Gear Live, along with the G Watch, is a basic entry into the world of Android Wear, and we’re all waiting to see something better from Samsung with Android Wear.

08. LG G Watch

G Watch AH-14

While I’m currently happy with the G Watch as it is I’m becoming increasingly jealous of better designs like the G Watch R and the ASUS ZenWatch. I’ve tied mine with a nice black and red leather strap and the G Watch is great for this sort of thing, you can attach whatever 22mm watch band to it you want in a fairly traditional manner, but the blocky face still stands out. It also comes in a fetching white gold color, too. As far as Android Wear watches goes, this has a 1.6-inch display like most (but it’s just 280 x 280, not the nicer, more common 320 x 320) and a Snapdragon 400 running the show. That’s about it, there’s no ambient light sensor, no heart-rate monitor or anything like that.

07. Sony SmartWatch 3

SmartWatch3_Stainless_Steel

 

I was initially quite harsh on the overall look and feel of the SmartWatch 3, but since then Sony now offer a much classier metal version as well as an adapter of sorts that allows for any 24mm band to be used. Those two things makes the SmartWatch 3 instantly more appealing, and in my opinion better-looking. The metal version of the SmartWatch 3 looks nice and sharp to me, but in our review we weren’t overly impressed with the overall package. Of course, Sony’s latest is a nice choice to have, especially if you were looking for a sportier Android Wear alternative as those silicon bands are definitely designed for those that are more active. The SmartWatch 3 is also available from the Play Store now.

06. Samsung Gear S

Samsung Galaxy Gear S AH-41

Ah yes, the Gear S. S for Standalone, as the Gear S is a souped-up version of the Gear 2 with its own cellular radio, this is one smartwatch can stand on its own two feet…if it had feet. Either way, this is great for those that want something not reliant on their smartphone, but it can get a little confusing. Never mind all that though, the Gear S is one chunky smartwatch, it’s more of a cuff than it is a timepiece, but it is loaded with technology and that curved AMOLED display is certainly going to be a talking point at the bar. We recently reviewed the Gear S, and while we’d recommend it to Samsung users, we’d advise waiting for that price to drop a little.

05. Samsung Gear 2

08-Gear-2-orange-2-730x504

Samsung’s Gear 2 was announced at the same event as the Galaxy S5 and while it’s a real pain that the device doesn’t work with anything other than a Samsung smartphone, it’s a decent offering nonetheless. With a camera, heart-rate monitor and some other interesting features, the Gear 2 is a great watch for die-hard Samsung fans. However, the ecosystem is a little all over the place and there isn’t as many apps as you’d be able to get on Android Wear or say a Pebble or Pebble Steel. A decent offering, the Gear 2 is great, but there’s a barrier for entry that we really wish didn’t exist.

04. Pebble Steel

Pebble Steel

 

You wouldn’t really want to wear a G Watch or a Gear 2 with a suit, at least not without some modification. The Pebble Steel on the other hand, will fit right in. If you liked what the Pebble had to offer but really didn’t like the look of it (a common complaint) then the Pebble Steel is for you. The same three-button operation is here and while that is a little fiddly compared to touch and voice, these are great in sunlight and there’s a massive ecosystem out there to plug into. One of the classiest watches available, the Pebble Steel is one wo tlook for if you need to look the part during your 9-to-5, or you just want a good looking watch, rather than another gadget.

03. ASUS ZenWatch

ASUS ZenWatch-01

There’s nothing wrong with a square smartwatch, but the G Watch and Gear Lives aren’t exactly the best-looking devices available, are they? During IFA 2014 ASUS announced what has to be best-looking square smartwatch yet and it oozes class. The brushed aluminum frame is paired with a leather strap that come together to deliver a classy look that you could pair with a suit and tie or whatever you want. This, like the Moto 360 looks like a timepiece instead of a gadget and there’s some interesting features that ASUS have bundled in, too. Still, if square isn’t your thing then you’ll need to look elsewhere but ASUS have done a good job at creating a good-looking middleground.

02. LG G Watch R

LG-G-Watch-R-AH-4

So, you want a circular display on your next smartwatch and you also want a watch that looks like well, a watch. While it’s still inching its way to market, the G Watch R could be what you’re looking for and it’s starting to become available. With a circular display that’s fully circular, a heart-rate monitor and the same simple-yet-reliable charging mechanism from the original G Watch, the R looks great. It’s the same device on the inside, but with these smartwatches the outside is arguably more important than the smartphones they depend upon. We recently reviewed the G Watch R and found it to be a pretty great device.

01. Moto 360

AH Moto 360 -1

 

Despite some worrying battery life reports that seem to have been fixed in its latest update, the Moto 360 is the Android Wear watch to sell smartwatches to everyone else. Sure, it’s not perfect, but it’s arguably the best smartwatch available today and it’s not just about it being round; it’s the whole package here that counts. The straps are made of high-quality leather, the charger doubles as a bedside clock with a dedicated watch face for said purpose and it looks stunning. While its internals are questionable, using a practically ancient TI OMAP CPU, the Moto 360 holds its own and this is one watch you won’t feel silly talking to in public. While the G Watch R is a close second to this, the Moto 360 is arguably the smartwatch that anyone would feel comfortable wearing on their wrist, and that speaks wonders for a new technology like this. Our review can be read here.