The Smartwatch is finally starting to hit the big time. With the Apple Watch on the scene, Android Wear now on seven devices and indie developers using crowdfunding to craft some inventive timepieces, wearables are everywhere.
Whether they’re keeping you updated with all your notifications, feeding you information from apps, making sure don’t spend too long sat down or just, y’know, showing the time, this latest crop of clever timepieces are far improved over the last generation.
With the Apple Watch finally on the market, there’s three main smartwatch operating systems you can plump for. Google’s Android Wear, Watch OS on Apple’s wearable and Pebble OS. The latest version of Android Wear, which ships on the LG Watch Urbane but is coming to all other watches soon, brings in a bevy of new gestures, support for wifi and more.
We’ve used Pebble’s first version of its operating system on the original watch and the sleeker, chicer Steel, but that will get a complete overhaul when the Pebble Time and Pebble Time Steel launch in the summer. A new Timeline feature should help organise all the buzzes and notifications into something vaguely manageable.
Apple’s Watch OS is the new kid on the block. It looks a whole lot different than iOS, with a spherical app grid, mini bursts of information called Glances and customisable watch faces.
What smartphone sits in your pocket will also have a rather large bearing on your pick. Android Wear, currently, only works with Android blowers and the same goes Apple Watch and iOS. Pebble works across both Android and iOS, though you’re out of luck if you’re rocking Windows Phone.
There are some we’ve listed that run on completely separate operating systems. Fitbit’s Surge, the Garmin Vivoactive and Cogito's collection, for example.
- Looking for a more classic style of watch? Check out our best watches round up.
Yes, it's finally here and no, it's not called the iWatch, it's the Apple Watch. But what has Apple added to revolutionise the smartwatch? Well, let's take a look. First off is the Digital Crown - a twisty button on the side that acts as the main mode of navigation. There's heaps of customisation options too, with three models in two sizes and a load of straps to give you that personal watch feeling. The Apple Watch will run apps, show notifications, track your fitness levels and it'll charge wirelessly with a MacBook style Magsafe charger. Protecting that Retina display is sapphire glass, so scratches should be few and far between.
LG Watch Urbane
LG is aiming the Watch Urbane is the perfect alternative to the Apple Watch. It’s face is constructed from metal and definitely has a whiff of the traditional timepiece about it, it’ll run two days without needing to be juiced up and the P-OLED delivers inky blacks and plenty of detail. It’s also the first Android Wear toting watch to run Google’s latest software update - letting you connect directly to wifi hotspots, send emojis by drawing them and using the power of a wrist flick to move through your notifications.
But, even though the price is only slightly less than Apple’s £299 Watch Sport version, the Urbane is still pretty much just like every other Android Wear smartwatch so far on the inside. You’ve got a Snapdragon 400 processor, 4GB internal storage and 512MB RAM.
£259.99 | LG
Sony Smartwatch 3
The third iteration of Sony’s Smartwatch is the first to ditch the proprietary software and run with Android Wear, making it much more likely to attract a larger audience. The display is 1.6-inches, it is IP68 rated for water resistance, there’s 512MB RAM and 4GB of internal storage and it’ll connect to your device through Bluetooth LE and NFC. GPS is also a bonus, in fact it's the first Android Wear watch that's capable of tracking your run without a phone connection.
Price: £189 | Sony
Rather than going all out smartwatch, the Cogito Classic keeps the typical wrist watch look, complete with familiar clock face, but brings things up to date with a couple of nifty connected features. Once linked, via Bluetooth, to your smartphone, the display will light up if you get missed calls, texts or an alert on Facebook. It'll also keep you updated with your next calendar appointment and how much juice is left in your phone, so you don't accidentally run out half way through the day.
£129.99 | Cogito
Similar to the Cogito Classic, the Pop is a slightly toned down version of the watch/smartwatch hybrid. It ditches the display, instead specific icons will light up when you get a notification and it has a less sleek, more playful build. Unlike many other wearable devices though, the Pop doesn't require charging, as it runs on a user replaceable battery that'll last a few months. It's waterpoof too, so will happily join you in the shower.
£79 | Cogito
Easily the best looking Android Wear smartwatch we've seen so far, Motorola has introduced a circular face boasting clever time-piece that features completely custom-made parts. Running Android Wear, it takes many aspects of Google Now and puts them on your wrist.
£199 | Moto 360
Entering the wearable market for the first time, Asus has just announced the ZenWatch, an Android Wear toting smartwatch that features a sleek design, premium build and a couple of nifty software additions. There’s a 2.5-inch display, with a load of customised watchfaces and a leather strap, plus the usual assortment of fitness features. A handy Remote Camera App is also included.
£199 | Asus
Even though most smartwatches we’ve featured on this list boast some sort of fitness features - basic step tracking, calories counting and so on- if you’re serious about your regime, you’ll want something a whole lot more dedicated.
With the Surge, Fitbit has combined a capable smartwatch with an impressive sports tracking device. There’s GPS onboard, a vital addition for runners and something we’ve only seen so far on Sony’s SmartWatch 3 and it’s been omitted from the Apple Watch, so your stats will be much more accurate. You’ll also be able to leave your phone at home and run solo and it continually monitors your heart-rate throughout the day.
Notifications from your phone will pop up on the watch, while you can switch up adrenaline pumping playlists from the touchscreen.
£199 | Fitbit
A new Timeline features lets you easily see what you've got coming up and apps integrate better with the system, so you're not endlessly scrolling through menus. It's compatible with all of the existing apps built for Pebble, should last around a week on a single charge and it's water-resistant too. The regular Times comes in a plastic shell, while the Time Steel adds a premium metal finish.
From $179 (Time) $250 (Time Steel) | Pebble Time Kickstarter
If you’re looking for a fitness watch that isn’t just for the times when you’re pounding the pavement, Garmin’s Vivoactive is a great pick. It’s packing all the notification features we’d expect from a clever watch, but it’s varied sports modes are what sets it out from the pack. There are dedicated running, golf and swimming tracking apps, plus GPS and a sharp touchscreen that that shows all your daily stats.
£199 | Garmin
Samsung Gear S
Samsung officially went smartwatch crazy in 2014, releasing countless wearable items running all manner of operating systems. Unlike the Gear Live, which runs Android Wear, the Gear S is back to Tizen - though it does have a few tricks up its sleeve. The key feature is the sim card slot, which lets you use the watch even without a phone connected. Samsung has also taken inspiration from the Gear Fit, bringing that curved display to the Gear S. Here it’s a 2-inch screen, with a 360x480 res that curves round your wrist.
Price: £329 | Samsung
LG G Watch R
LG's second Android Wear toting smartwatch takes a cue from the Moto 360 and comes packing a circular face. Unlike the 360 though, the G Watch R has a 320x320 display that's a full circle, no black bar at the bottom here. It's also the first smartwatch that has the most in common with a regular wrist watch, even though it's still quite bulky. The internals are the same as the first G Watch, with a Snapdragon 400 processor, 4GB storage and 512MB RAM, while you should get a full day of use before having to reach for the charger.
£225 | LG
Montblanc TimeWalker Urban Speed e-Strap
Not entirely a smartwatch in itself, more of an accessory to inject some clever abilities into your old watch, but we felt Montblanc’s entry deserved an honourable mention. Once attached to your no doubt snazzy timepiece, the e-strap will sync up with a smartphone and beam across notifications, letting you preview emails and texts right from the strap. There’s the ever-present step tracking too, plus a quick way to snap a photo. There’s no word on pricing yet, or even release for that matter, so we’ll to keep an eye on this one.
£TBA | Montblanc