It’s been an interesting couple of years for smartwatches, with Google getting involved last year with Android Wear, Samsung upping their game and increasingly better-looking hardware coming from all corners of the market. Android Wear is now an established platform, and there have been new releases from Pebble, Samsung and a host of others looking to offer something different. Android Wear has spread to devices from ASUS, Sony and even Huawei and these watches work with whichever Android device you own (so long as you’re running Android 4.3 and above) and even Samsung have followed suit. Not of all these fancy little computers are the same of course, and there can be only one winner for our 2015 award for the Best Smartwatch.
3rd Place – Samsung Gear S2
Samsung has been in the smartwatch game for some time now, having launched the Galaxy Gear a couple of years ago now. With the Gear S2 however, Samsung went back to the drawing board, designing a fully-circular watch with an all-round display and a fresh, more minimal design that looks great in a number of different colors and different strap designs. There’s a lot on offer with the software here, and the interface is a joy to use, with some compelling features that even Android Wear doesn’t have on offer. Still, all of this can’t escape a higher price tag and while the Gear S2 does work with more phones outside of the Samsung gang, it’s not as instantly accessible as something running Android Wear. For fitness users however, this is a great option to go for, and if you’re a Samsung fan or of the new modern design, then this is something you should enjoy. For a classier looking piece of hardware, the Gear S2 might be a little “too modern” in its approach to pair with a suit, but there are leather straps available and look is certainly something down to personal preference. For more on the Gear S2, you can take a look at our full review here.
2nd Place – Moto 360 2nd-Gen
Last year there was one Android Wear smartwatch that everyone was waiting for; the Moto 360. When it launched, it was plagued by battery life issues and a questionable “flat tire” look at the bottom of the display. Throughout 2014 it remained the Android Wear watch to beat, and they’ve managed to turn that flat tire into a design feature, rather than a bug. For 2015, they followed-up their original design with well, more. More choices, including 42mm and 46mm choices for size, a women’s option and different face designs with the option for some micro-knurl texture around the bezels. More importantly, this year’s model runs a Snapdragon 400 CPU, instead of the ageing TI OMAP the original ran, which means much better battery life and better performance. Motorola did everything they needed to in order to make a better watch this year, and they did so without sacrificing what people loved about the original. A great watch for well, practically anyone with an Android – or iPhone – smartphone, the new Moto 360 is whatever you want it to be, while still offering a unique take on the idea of what a smartwatch should look like. We reviewed their second Moto 360 earlier on in the year and were happy with what they achieved this time around.
Winner – Huawei Watch
Huawei is a name that some of you might not have ever heard of, but they’re definitely more known for their affordable smartphones out of China than they are anything else. Which is why the Huawei Watch is even more surprising than it otherwise would have been, it’s a smartwatch from a Chinese manufacturer that manages to “out-watch” others looking to make a watch-first, gadget-second. It’s definitely on the larger side of things, but with some really nice strap options and a few color options the Huawei Watch is a real-looker. With a fully-circular display with a high-resolution, it looks nice and sharp, and Huawei added quite a few custom watch faces to their first Android Wear device. In fact, Huawei seems to be one of the few manufacturers that took watch faces seriously, even Fossil and TAG Heuer had 3 or 4 to offer buyers of their expensive smartwatches running Android Wear. We reviewed the Huawei Watch not too long ago, and the only gripe that we had with it was that the charger could be better for something at this price point. Overall though, the Huawei Watch is a well-presented piece of hardware that runs Android Wear nice and smoothly. With all the features that you’d expect, and a build that goes against what we’ve come to expect from Huawei their first Android Wear watch is the best of the year. It might not be one of the best where sports are concerned, but then again considering all these watches are similarly priced would you want to risk breaking such an investment? Where all-round performance, battery life, good looks and even value-for-money are concerned, the Huawei Watch nails it and people shouldn’t be disappointed by what Huawei have put together.