Best Smartwatches & Wearables
The war for the spot your wrist has been waging over the past few years as more and more smartwatches have hit the market. There have been so many smartwatches hitting the market since last year that it’s easy to get caught up in the paralysis of analysis. But if you know what purpose you’re buying your smartwatch for, the choice is pretty straight forward.
Here you can read all the necessary pointers to make a well informed and reasonable choice and end up with a smartwatch that works for you from every angle.
You can find a smartwatch from 15$ to $400 and you’ll definitely want the one that best suits your needs. In this article, we’re going to help you do just that. Whether you are just fitness oriented or just want notifications or you want to be able to make phone calls from your watch there’s a model that will fit your criteria easily.
You can use smartwatches to quickly check incoming messages, control your music or even watch videos. Switching music tracks is much easier through a smartwatch than taking out and unlocking your phone. You can even monitor your health with the awesome smartwatches that have built in fitness features, such as hearth rate monitors and pedometers. You’ll have to know if you want all of these features or just one. That will naturally influence the price as well.
But if you want to use more sophisticated apps that let you read news, watch videos and do things that you would regularly do on your smartphone, you’ll step into a different realm.
Now, you have to choose between three smartwatch operating systems, which are Pebble, Android Wear and Tizen. These are the three established players right now and each of them offers a different take on it. Android Wear will only work on Android phones obviously and Pebble will work on both iPhone and Android. Samsung’s open source platform Tizen tends to with both of them as well.
Now, let’s see which smart watches are currently the best ones out there in terms of quality, functionality and pricing.
1. Apple Watch
The Apple Watch has been around for about two years now and ever since then it has been the best smartwatch on the market, without any exaggeration. The Apple Watch Series 2 is the first update for the famous Apple watch and it has brought along a lot of new features with it.
The exterior of this apple watch is simple, elegant and very modern. It is available in three different styles, the basic Watch version, the Watch Sport and the Watch Edition. The difference between these is the materials that they’re made of and the materials of their bands, which sets their price as well. These watches also come in two different sizes, the 38mm and the 42mm. There isn’t much of a difference in their size and they’re probably a male size and a female size.
The band on the smartwatch is pretty easily interchangeable and you can always buy a new one from Apple’s expensive bands or from third-party manufacturers.
The series 2 model has two much needed features. It was made completely water resistant and has built in GPS, so users who would take it along for outdoor activities can rejoice.
On the front of the smartwatch, you’ll find the touch screen and two physical buttons on the side. One of them is a nob called the digital crown and the other one is a more tactile button. If you look at the watch’s screen, you can press the digital crown button to quickly gain access to all your apps.
From the watch face, you can swipe down to view all your notifications, where you can also clear one at a time or clear them all at once. If you swipe up, you can see something called Glances. This is a feature that basically gives you glance of the apps you have installed on your watch. You can look through bits of information by swiping left. The apps have to be downloaded to your iPhone and activated there in order to appear on your watch.
The Apple Watch Series 2 comes with a more powerful, dual core processor, making apps load a lot quicker than the previous version. The screen is also much brighter, which makes it a lot better for outdoor use.
In short, the Apple Watch Series 2 looks classy and can adopt to any kind of lifestyle. It lets you handle a lot of useful apps but rather uncomfortably, due to the small screen. It is much better used for a notification and fitness tracking system than typing messages or providing any sort of input.
For more information, check it out through the link we provided.
2. ASUS ZenWatch 3 WI503Q-GL-DB
The ASUS ZenWatch 3 is the third installment of the Android Wear based smartwatch. It has a completely circular screen and a very attractive display that produces a crisp clear image. The design is also very classy and has some smart implementations. It is a feature rich and highly customizable smartwatch. The ZenWatch 3 is available in three models. Rosegold, Silver and Gunmetal.
The watch itself is cased in steel, which gives off a really premium vibe. You can also swap the bands of the watch by using the quick release pins but the leather band looks pretty good and is very comfortable.
The first impressive feature of this classy smartwatch is the inclusion of an ambient light sensor. No matter what kind of lighting conditions you are in, it will adjust the screens backlight accordingly and ensure that you have a clear view at all times.
On the side, there are three different buttons. The main button has the same function as the home button on your phone. While the other two have default functions as well, they are programmable to fulfill a function you want them to.
It’s a bit of a bummer that the watch doesn’t feature a hearth rate monitor but the customizability of the Android Wear operating system makes up for it. The watch also has an integrated microphone, which lets you make and receive calls.
It is also the first Android Ware model to run on the new Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear processor, which is a quad core chipset backed up by 512 MB of RAM and 4GB of ROM. This processor was designed specifically for smartwatches, so you can expect to use this smartwatch incredibly smoothly.
It boasts improved performance and improved battery life as well. The battery lasts about 2 days on a single charge, which is completely respectable for a full color LED screen. What makes this even better is the feature called hypercharge, which basically lets you charge about 60% of the battery with a 15 minute charge. You can easily get an extra day out of this baby if you plug it in before leaving your home.
If that wasn’t enough, Asus has included an extra battery in the box that you can just snap on the back of the watch. It’s needless to say that this machine was designed to endure long days.
Overall, this watch isn’t exactly the best for users who want to use it excessively for tracking their health or fitness. But it is perfect for those who would want to use many apps and want to push the limits of having such a powerful piece of hardware on their wrist.
Asus developed an excellent smartwatch that won’t disappoint and it also has an outstanding value.
3. Sony Smartwatch 3 SWR50
The Sony Smartwatch 3 is one of the best Android Wear watches ever and it is the best for fitness needs. It is powerful, well equipped and the screen produces a nice image. The great hardware gives way to a smooth user experience and combined with a 2 day battery life, it is a sure winner in my opinion.
This smartwatch doesn’t break any new grounds when it comes to looks. It has a very simplistic design with a rubber-strapped exterior, making it look rather sporty than fashionable. But you can also buy the stainless steel version if you would like to make it more stylish. Having it on my arm is comfortable and feels pretty lightweight.
You can always pop out the entire watch from its casing and switch it for another. Since the strap is non-standard, you won’t find any third party bands for this model.
But don’t let the lightness fool you, because the Sony Smartwatch 3 packs a lot of power with the Arm A7 1.2 GHz quad core processor. Operating it is always smooth and seamless. You can swiftly swipe through the cards presented by your applications and use any feature of the watch. You also have 4GB storage space for storing music or anything else you want.
The display is transfected, which means that you can easily see every detail in sunlight. It produces a clear image, making it a joy to swipe through various contents.
The Sony Smartwatch 3 can do everything a smartwatch was made to do. You can swipe through notification, track your fitness performance, use GPS, listen to music, make phone calls and track your hearth rate with the hearth rate sensor.
Keep in mind though that if you use the GPS it will demolish the battery life. But there isn’t a way around that, no matter which smartwatch you’re using.
The battery is charged via Micro USB, which makes things much simpler. It can last for two days, even if you use it frequently.
My final verdict is that the Sony Smartwatch 3 is easily the best choice for those who want to have a fully featured smartwatch but don’t want to bust the bank with it. The huge processing power, wide range of features and the quality build of this watch make it an excellent device to be had.
4. Emporio Armani Hybrid Smartwatch
For those who are concerned with style and want to have the basic functionalities of a smartwatch, such as notifications, activity tracking and of course, time tracking. You can forget about the geeky look of smartwatches and enjoy a truly exquisite style. The stainless steel and leather combination makes it really stand out among regular watches too. To top it off, this hybrid watch doesn’t ever have to be charged.
The watch is also completely waterproof and splash proof but since the band is leather, it’s not recommended to spend a lot of time with it underwater. You can also replace the band for a silicon one if that bothers you.
The Armani Hybrid Smartwatch has three buttons on the side of it. The top button lets you change whether the small dial shows your step goals for the day or what day of the month it is. With the center button you can change the time zone, which is very useful if you’re traveling a lot or constantly moving between two time zones. The third button is completely customizable and can be set to control music, ring your phone or even control the shutter of your camera.
Notifications on your watch will come in through the Armani application you install on your phone. You can set up which notification’s you’ll receive and from which apps. You can also set it up to notify you when one of your preset contacts are calling or texting you.
You can assign a number (let’s say 2) to one of your friends and the hand on the watch face will spin to the number assigned and then spin back to the time. If a friend calls you, you’ll know who it is.
It also does a lot of activity tracking and feeds a ton of data to the application on your phone. You can look through a lot of data and graphs and know exactly how close you are to your fitness goals. It also has sleep tracking, but I think few people would prefer having this watch on their wrist while they sleep.
It’s obvious that this Armani hybrid smartwatch was made for those who prefer to wear a stylish and well-built watch and use only the most basic smartwatch features. It has a quality build and the price tag seems quite reasonable right now. For more information, check it out through the link we provided!
5. Polar M600
More and more people are looking for smartwatches that they can use for activity and fitness monitoring purposes and it isn’t easy to find one. Either you find a good fitness watch that isn’t smart or a good smartwatch that does a little fitness. But you can always go to the professionals in the athletic gear business, Polar. It’s the first company in the world that created wireless hearth rate monitoring in 1977. It has since then produced many running watches for athletes.
With the Polar M600 they offer a competent blend between a smartwatch and a fitness tracker, running on Android Wear.
This model is the weapon of choice for many athletes, since it’s truly smart and offers very robust fitness tracking. The reason for this is the fact that it’s very accurate. It is clearly more complete than any other smartwatch out there.
Another benefit of it is that it has been made to be beat up, while other smartwatches are too fragile to take along on long outdoor workouts. It is also completely waterproof and fit for swimming. It pretty much lacks in looks since its simplicity allows it to be so damage proof.
As I said, the Polar M600 is truly smart, so along with its outstanding activity tracking capabilities, you can also do other things with it as well. It gives the possibility to view contextual notifications, make calls, view and send text messages, listen to music or enjoy using Google’s smartwatch goodies. There are thousands of Android Wear apps you can install too.
If hiking or long trips are what you’re into, you can rest assured that this watch can last for a couple of days straight on regular use. If you do endurance running, you can use GPS tracking for 6-7 hours, while listening to music as well. It’s also important to note, that while other smartwatches take forever to lock your location on GPS, this model takes only a few seconds.
For performance, the M600 packs MediaTek’s MT2601 processor which can handle just about everything you would throw at it.
With the Polar Flow application, users can track every bit of their fitness activity and goals. It will show you everything you did, how well you performed and how many calories you’ve burnt and uploads it to the cloud. You can always access your training data, even if you connect the watch to another phone.
In short, the Polar M600 is the perfect training tool and is easily recommended to anyone who is serious about their training and fitness. For more information, check out the link we provided!
6. Garmin Vívoactive HR
Garmin made an excellent fitness tracker with a big screen, GPS and water resistance. It’s a great watch for anyone who puts a reasonable amount of effort into their training and would like to do a little bit of everything with their smartwatch. It is a lot less expensive than most fitness trackers on the market and offers all the features you would want from a smart watch.
The Vívoactive HR has an interesting yet familiar design which complements its big screen really well. It doesn’t have any style elements that would set it apart from most smartwatches and it’s made out of plastic, so I wouldn’t recommend treating it too harshly. The watch bands are easily replaceable, although the default one works pretty well.
The full chroma display is big and beautiful and produces a crisp clear image. You can clearly see every bit of detail regards to your training in bright colors. Everything is perfectly visible in bright sunlight as well. Besides the touchscreen the Vivo has two physical buttons under the screen.
The left button serves as a back button that you can use to go back in menus, lock the screen or turn the watch off. The right button serves as an enter button that you can use to enter the settings or other menus.
Using every feature of this watch is pretty intuitive. After five minutes of use, you can easily figure out how it works.
The heart rate monitor is the second most accurate one we’ve reviewed so far. All the activity tracking features will help you reach your fitness goals and track nearly everything related to your performance. You can also get just about any notification on the screen, let it be Facebook notifications, Hangouts, missed calls or text messages, emails, new voicemails and so on.
Garmin’s Connect smartphone app will give you a lot of detailed information about your performance, once you connect it with your watch.
The battery life lasts about 5 days on average, which is awesome for a smartwatch and the longest one I’ve seen so far.
My final verdict is that the Garmin Vívoactive HR smartwatch is well suited for any fitness and sport enthusiasts out there. It’s an excellent fitness and sleep tracker, GPS sport watch and smartwatch. It can measure every bit of your activity accurately and can also fulfill the basic functions of a smartwatch such as controlling music and viewing notifications. For more information, check out the link we provided!
7. Samsung Gear S3 Frontier
Samsung’s famous smartwatch is big, bold and brilliant in a lot of ways. It is one of the finest digital timepieces out there, but it comes with a handsome price tag. It is an excellent tool for activity tracking and the always-on super animated display is pleasing to the eyes. It is made of stainless steel so you’re getting a very durable watch that also looks casual. The Gear S3 is one of the sturdies smartwatches out there, thanks to the Gorilla Glass coating and the stainless steel case. It is also water resistant, making it able to spend about 30 minutes under 5 feet of water.
Yet the watch felt comfortable on my wrist and most of that is thanks to the 12cm long silicon band that comes attached with the watch. They also included a smaller one for anyone with a smaller wrist. Being 12.9 mm thick gives it a very manly look, which shouldn’t be a problem for men, obviously.
One of its unique features that I loved the most is the rotating bezel that lets you scroll through apps and settings with absolute ease. It is one of the most convenient and intuitive ways of navigating through a smartwatch I’ve seen so far.
Thanks to the super AMOLED display, just about everything looks a lot sharper than we’re used to on a smartwatch. It’s easy to see even outdoors, as it gets really bright under the sunlight.
When it comes to performance and usability, few smartwatches outmatch the Gear S3. As I said, few smartwatches could rival the clearness that the 1.33 inch Super AMOLED display provides. It also has a heartrate monitor on the usual place. Other fitness watches have more accurate heartrate monitors but the Gear S3’s is still very decent.
The 1GHz dual-core Exynos processor and 768MB of RAM running with Samsung’s Tizen operating system creates a truly smooth experience. You can spend a lot of time and have a lot of fun with customizing this watch, since it’s hard to get enough of all the cool watch faces. You can enjoy some crazy and stylish designs that look simply awesome on its high-quality display.
Otherwise it does all the things we know and love about smartwatches. You can make good quality phone calls, control your music, get notifications, and monitor your sleep, fitness goals and activity and a lot more by installing various apps.
The battery lasts about three days and I used it pretty extensively for 31 hours before putting it up for its first charge.
Overall, I’ve found the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier to be an amazingly well composed smartwatch that checks in all the right places. It provides everything I would want from a smartphone but comes with a heftier price tag than others.
For more information, check out the links we provided!
8. TomTom Spark
The TomTom Spark is an activity and sleep tracker, Sports Watch, GPS Watch, Heart Rate Monitor and Music Player packed into a nice moderately sized watch. It’s excellent for people who require extensive fitness and GPS tracking throughout their workouts but don’t want to bust the bank.
The design of the Spark is very likeable. The screen is big and easy to read in most conditions, but it is black and white though, which might be a turnoff for some. But it’s not that big of a deal if you only require it for basic fitness functions.
The bands are very comfortable and they are just the right size to fit men’s hands well, while not taking up too much space on a woman’s wrist. But you’ll get two bands right out of the box anyway, one for larger wrists and one for smaller ones. It’s also completely waterproof so you can take a swim with it as well.
One of the Spark’s most amazing features is the 4+ day battery life on a single charge. If you’re not using more battery-demanding features like the music player, fitness tracking or GPS tracking, it can last for more than a week on a single charge.
It has built in Bluetooth, so you can send all of the information gathered from your workout to the TomTom smartphone app. Also using Bluetooth, pairing wireless speakers is seamless and easy. Keep in mind though, that the Spark doesn’t offer any phone notifications, since it is a fitness watch in and out.
It’s important to mention that the Spark does pretty accurate heart rate monitoring and fitness tracking if you take it for a run, cycling or any other cardio exercise, but it won’t track your heart rate as you sit or walk. But it does track the distance you’ve walked, the number of steps you’ve taken and calories burnt in the process. You can also set daily goals based on these variables.
The spark basically works as a regular sport watch and it has profiles for various sports, such as pool swimming, cycling, running, and gym workouts and so on.
Overall, the TomTom is one of the easiest to use and most low cost fitness watches on the market right now.
9. Motorola Moto 360 2nd Generation
The Moto 360 smartwatch was Motorola’s first Android Wearable and first smartwatch to introduce a circular design. It’s a distinctive smartwatch that looks much more like a timepiece than a gadget. The sequel, the 360 2nd gen model has a more powerful processor and a new line of features to make it even better.
In terms of design, the Moto 360 has a very classy look that was made to appeal more to watch users. The model is available in two sizes a 42mm one and a 46mm one. The watch has a big, bold and manly feel to it, whichever one you choose.
It has a very sturdy build and it is completely dust and water resistant. I wouldn’t expose that leather band to too much water if I were you, but the metal ones will hold out well in any environment. You can also swap the band to other third party bands if you want, thanks to the simple mechanism.
It has one button on the side, which has a satisfying click when you press it to unlock the screen.
To make sure that the watch has all the necessary horsepower, Motorola has built it around a Snapdragon 400 processor and 512 MB of RAM. It also has 4GB of storage space. An AMOLED display would look much better, but the Moto 360 works well with a simple LED display too. The screen can be constantly on, so you can just glance at it when you want to see the time. It also has an ambient lighting sensor that adjusts the screen’s lighting according to the amount of light it is exposed to.
Notifications follow a similar system that most of the other smartwatches have. It uses a card system in which notifications pop up and can be swiped through as you look over everything you’ve received from your apps. You can read texts and give short preset responses like Ok, No, Hehe, or any other specified by you. You can also draw emoticons or text, which isn’t really useful but can be fun. With the PocketNow app, you can record a message and send it back to your friend. You can also make phone calls as well!
Overall, the Motorola Moto 360 2nd Gen manages to accomplish what it has set out to do. It has the good looks of a classy timepiece and offers all the benefits of the Android Wear technology. In my opinion, the Moto 360 is one of the most good looking and functional smartwatches out there.
Be sure to check out the updated price tag through the link we provided!
10. Pebble Time Steel
Pebble has made a few smartwatches and their products are feature rich and have prices that are very reasonable, compared to other brands on the market. One of their most prominent features is the battery life that few smartwatches match up to.
The design is what makes this Pebble watch the Time Steel. It has a stainless steel case which is completely dust and water resistant. If you use it with a leather band and expose it to water, it will degrade quickly just like other leather bands. If you want a stainless steel band, it will cost a little extra or you can replace it with any other third party strap.
On the sides there are 4 buttons for navigation. There’s three on the right side and one on the left. It doesn’t have a touchscreen so you’ll be pressing those buttons quite a lot if you use this watch.
The operating system isn’t Android Ware but it’s really easy to get used to. It isn’t as app-rich as other smartwatches but it does have the key features you would buy a smartwatch for. You can view notifications, listen to music or monitor your health or activity, but it has no heart rate monitor.
You can also view messages and send back preset messages as well. You can also record voice messages or make phone calls pretty easily too. The watch face is customizable, so you can download plenty of watch faces to make it have the look that you want.
The 1.25 inch color e-paper display is very power efficient and is always on. One of the benefits of an e-paper display that it’s easily readable, even in the sunlight.
As I mentioned, the battery life is one of the finest aspects of the Pebble Time Steel, as it can easily last 7 days or even 10 days if you only use it to view the time.
My final verdict is that the Pebble Time Steel isn’t the most outstanding smartwatch out there but it provides excellent value for your money. It is great for anyone who doesn’t require the fancy features of the Android Wear and just wants to get notifications, listen to music, make phone calls or track their activity.
Without further ado, let’s see how you can choose the perfect smartwatch for yourself.
How To Choose A Smartwatch That Works Best For You
Just like any other piece of technology, either a smartwatch has the right features and specs to suit you or it doesn’t. A thorough read through this article will help you sort that out.
But first, read through a few pointers:
- Make sure it’s compatible with your phone. Some devices feature a wide range of compatibility but they differ in features.
- Use a watch that will constantly show you the time even if it’s not in use.
- Consider the battery life before buying. Make it as long as possible.
- Make sure that the buckle fits your hand well and is easily adjusted or swapped.
- Be sure it’s water resistant if you want to swim with it.
Let’s see the other aspects of a smartwatch.
You’ll be carrying your smartwatch around with you almost all day, so it’s needless to say that you should find one that best suits your style.
Better smartwatches offer a selection of straps for them and the possibility to swap them for third party ones as well. You can either choose these with the base model or buy them separately. A lot of them are compatible with the standard 16mm, 20mm and 22mm bands which you can buy and use on your watch. You can buy wooden, leather, rubber or stainless-steel bands or just about any kind that best suits you and your lifestyle. Flexible silicone bands are a good choice if you intend to use it for fitness-related activities.
Comfort counts a lot so be sure to choose a band that has the material, face color, size and finish that suits you well.
Android Wear and Tizen are both operating systems that have been optimized for the small touch screens on smartwatches. Notifications on Android Wear systems can be easily dismissed thanks to its card system. Choosing a touch screen is pretty much given, since we’re using them on our phones. But it would still be wise to consider having buttons.
Some icons and functions might be hard to get at on such a tiny touch screen. Having buttons provides a lot more functionality and will help you navigate through menus quicker.
Still, touch screens pretty much win the game on the smartwatch playing field, but if you want to have more simplicity and old-school buttons, you have a number of choices.
Today, almost every smartwatch has a colorful LCD screen or even an AMOLED display, which provides a crisp clear image. You can easily view photos and enjoy the colorful content of apps. These displays are also a lot brighter but end up making the device have a much shorter battery life since color displays consume more power. They often turn off their screens while they’re idle, so you won’t be able to see the time with some of them. This kind of defeats the whole purpose of having a wrist watch
Find a model that has at least 2 days of battery life so you don’t have to recharge it every night. You should also confirm that it can be set up to constantly show the time even if it’s idle.
If you want something with a more extensive battery life and a less impressive display, there are other options as well.
Compatibility and OS
Since smartwatches are designed to be companions to smartphones, you’ll have to choose a device that actually works with your phone. To get that sorted as easily as possible, you can check out one of Google’s awesome services. Just visit this page with your smartphone and you can see whether your smartphone is compatible.
Samsung’s Tizen-powered devices work well with Android phones or iPhones as well. Android Wear Watches work with any Android phone that features Android 4.3 or a higher version of the operating system.
Almost every smartwatch can handle basic features such as showing notifications and providing control over music. A lot of them offer heat rate monitors, GPS, pedometers for tracking steps and other activity monitoring functions as well. Some smartwatches can even let you make phone calls with them. How well and how effectively it can use these features and how many more features it offers defines the category.
How many extra features you want to have on your smartwatch will set its price as well.
The Apple Watch is one of the most feature-rich smartwatches out there. It has effective heart tracking, a retina display, Siri integration and a lot of apps. You can also navigate its interface more easily with the Force Touch feature and you can use it as a speaker phone as well. If you want, you can actively share your heartbeat with anyone else.
A decent smartphone will alert you to emails, text messages and incoming calls as well, but you can also have social network notifications from sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Smartwatches are getting better and better as most of them offer a wide range of apps. Some have hundreds if not thousands of apps you can use. The Apple watch for example has more than 20,000 available. It lets you do most of the things that you would do on your smartphone.
A smartwatch with a LED color screen will normally last a day or two, so you’ll have to be okay with charging it every day or every other day. Naturally, those watches that have voice capabilities and are used as phones will last about 18-20 hours.
It’s best to find a smartwatch that supports a micro USB for charging, so you won’t have to carry a wireless charger around with you. But sadly, most smartwatches only support those.
Most decent devices cost between $200 and $600 but they can go up to even $1,500. There are some “no name” budget smartwatches out there as well that can cost anywhere between $15 and $100, but we’ll skip those in this article.
The smartwatch market is booming and is getting better and better each year, with new models coming out. Manufacturers have quickly come around to understand what most users would prefer and have built some awesome products around those Ideas. You can easily find a good looking and feature rich watch, even if you have a fine taste in time pieces, yet you want to use every bit of the awesome tech you can wear on your wrist. Whether you require a durable watch for fitness and activity tracking or a classy looking one for productivity purposes or even if you’re looking for both, you’ll find it.
I hope that you’ve found this article fun and useful and I hope you’ll visit the following one!