With new hardware and software options that continue to get better and better, there’s no time like now to buy a smartwatch. While iOS users essentially only have the Apple Watch, Android users have too many choices to count. Not sure where to start looking? Let’s go over some of the best options…
A note of caution:
The smartwatch market has been pretty much silent for months, but recently it has come back to life. While I love seeing new hardware as much as the next guy, there’s a lot to consider if you’re buying a smartwatch right now. As great as all this new hardware, and even older hardware, may be, there’s something big on the horizon.
Qualcomm is preparing to launch a new generation of wearable processors at an event in September. That’s likely going to mean new hardware and maybe even new capabilities within wearable operating systems. So at least for the next few weeks, it might be best to hold off on buying any new smartwatches, at least those still rocking a Snapdragon Wear 2100…
NEW FROM IFA 2018:
Skagen Falster 2
The strong suit of Wear OS is the various hardware available for it, and one of our favorite designs is last year’s Skagen Falster. At IFA 2018, Skagen updated the internals of that design with some big improvements.
The hardware is now “swimproof” with improved water resistance and there’s also now a heart rate sensor. Those work with the new Google Fit app to improve the fitness experience from your watch. Further, the Falster 2 has built-in GPS and NFC as well. This opens up Google Pay functionality for the watch for mobile payments in-store. Of course, Wear OS is still at the center of the experience, and the whole thing runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100.
Pricing on the Skagen Falster 2 starts at the same $275 as the original with a silicone or leather band. There are also steel mesh bands available at $295, and the watch itself comes in black, silver, and rose gold. The Skagen Falster 2 launches September 12th and we’ll this article with links to buy once it becomes available.
For all of you outdoorsmen, Casio returned to IFA this year with its latest Pro Trek watch. The Casio WSD-F30 takes the same great features of previous generations and slaps them inside of a slightly slimmer body. The 60.5mm × 53.8mm × 14.9mm body is still pretty huge, but it’s considerably smaller than what came before it and still maintains 5ATM water resistance, MIL-STD-810, and even low-temperature resistance.
The watch also has a new 1.2-inch 390×390 display which is a full circle and OLED this time around, providing punchier colors compared to the previous WSD-F20. It also still packs the dual-display technology with a special mode that turns off Wear OS and can provide up to 4 weeks of battery life. Standard usage will last around 1-1.5 days of use on a charge while a new “Extend” mode provides up to 3 days while using offline maps and GPS. Pricing lands at $549 and the watch will be available in January.
Diesel Full Guard 2.5
After launching the original Full Guard in early 2017, Diesel is back with the new Full Guard 2.5. This new Wear OS watch is a huge watch, but brings a unique design and some solid features to the table.
The new Diesel Full Guard 2.5 has a 47mmx56mm casing which is bigger than most Wear OS watches, and there’s a 1.39-inch display at the center of that. This new refresh of the watch also includes NFC for Google Pay support, a heart rate sensor, and built-in GPS. Diesel also says this watch will last two days on a charge from the 300mAh battery. The watch also has 3ATM water resistance.
Diesel hasn’t announced pricing for the watch, but it will be available in October wherever Diesel smartwatches are sold. There are three variants available with a gun-metal grey case with a brown strap, black case with a gun-metal grey strap, and a black case with a black strap. The processor is, once again, a Snapdragon Wear 2100.
NEW FOR SEPTEMBER:
Samsung Galaxy Watch
Alongside the reveal of its Galaxy Note 9, Samsung recently debuted the Galaxy Watch. Like the Gear Sport and Gear S3 that came before it, this watch has a rotating bezel running on top of Tizen OS. It, of course, connects over Bluetooth, but also has LTE options available.
The Galaxy Watch comes in two sizes, 46mm and 42mm, both with an OLED display and an “optimized” chipset that extends battery life. For the larger model, you can squeeze 6 days out of a single charge while the smaller model still offers up to 4 days. As you’d expect, the Watch also includes features like GPS, water resistance, and there’s NFC for Samsung Pay.
As for Tizen, this watch is based on version 4.0, and it packs some new health features as well as a handy “My Day” watchface that integrates with your calendar. Bixby has also replaced the aging (and somehow even more horrible) S-Voice. Corning’s new DX+ glass is also included for better durability and scratch resistance.
Pricing for the Galaxy Watch comes in a bit higher than the models preceding it, though. The 42mm variant will be available from $329 and the larger 46mm lands at $349. Both are available from Amazon, Best Buy, and Samsung.
- Everywhere you can buy the Samsung Galaxy Watch
- Samsung Galaxy Watch (46mm) – Amazon
- Samsung Galaxy Watch (42mm) – Amazon
- Samsung Galaxy Watch (46mm) – Best Buy
- Samsung Galaxy Watch (42mm) – Best Buy
FROM EARLIER THIS YEAR:
Mobvoi Ticwatch Pro
Mobvoi may not be a household name, but the company’s Wear OS smartwatches have quickly become some of our favorites. Now, the Ticwatch Pro has hit the market, and it might be one of the most compelling options to date.
The claim to fame on the Ticwatch Pro is battery life. The Pro offers up to 30 days of battery on a single charge. Of course, that all depends on how you use it. Mobvoi’s trick to improve battery life comes with the addition of a layered screen that acts as two displays. One is designed for use when the watch is idle, only showing crucial information such as the time to sip power. Under that is a standard OLED display that delivers the full Wear OS experience.
In “Smart Mode” the watch lasts about 2-5 days on a charge, all depending on if you slip it into “Essential Mode.” We’ve got a lot more details about that in another post, but it’s a pretty cool setup that seems to work well.
Aside from its display, the Ticwatch Pro is a pretty standard offering in the Wear OS world. It’s powered by the same Snapdragon Wear 2100 chipset, has a 400×400 1.39-inch OLED display, and has a 45mm casing. There’s also a 415mAh battery inside which charges with a magnetic charger. There’s also IP68 water/dust protection, and NFC for use with Google Pay.
Pricing on the Ticwatch Pro lands at $249, a pretty good deal if you ask me. The watch is available on Amazon in black, or black/silver.
Fossil Q 4th Gen
Fossil is one of the biggest players in the Wear OS space, and the company offers a lot of different models. Currently, we’re on the fourth generation of Fossil’s lineup, and the Q Venture HR and Q Explorist HR deserve your full attention.
These new smartwatches build on a pretty familiar package. Both are powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor and run on Wear OS. Both also get GPS, NFC for Google Pay, and heart rate sensors as well. The Venture is the smaller of the two, measuring in at 40mm with an 18mm band. The Explorist, on the other hand, is a 45mm watch with a 22mm band.
Pricing starts at $255 for the Q Venture HR and $275 for the Q Explorist HR. Several variants of each are available on Fossil’s online store.
Fitbit may not be the first name that comes to mind for a proper smartwatch, but over the past year the wearable company has really stepped up its game. Most recently, that’s resulted in the Fitbit Versa. This compact smartwatch works with Android or iOS and brings a lot to the table for its $199 price tag.
The device has a 1.34-inch rectangular display with a lightweight frame made from metal. Instead of using Google’s Wear OS, though, the Versa runs on top of Fitbit’s latest wearable OS which carries improvements since the launch of the Ionic including better notification handling, new apps, and improved workout tracking.
The Versa might not be the most feature-packed smartwatch out there, but it’s going to be one of the better options for many, especially when workouts are a point of consideration. Pricing starts at $199 for the base model, a $229 option is also available with NFC for mobile payments.
Samsung Gear Sport
Samsung is pretty good at wearables, but one of the biggest complaints about the Gear S3 is its size. Now, Samsung has an offering that fits everyone (literally). The Samsung Gear Sport takes the best of its older, larger brother and trims the fat for a sleek, fitness-first smartwatch.
The Samsung Gear Sport has a 1.2-inch AMOLED display and runs on top of Samsung’s own Tizen OS with its latest update. Like on the Gear S3, you’ll get two tactile buttons along the side and a touchscreen, but the standout navigation feature here is that rotating bezel.
The watch ditches MST payments, but still supports Samsung Pay over NFC in its compact 42mm body. It’s available in black and blue and ships with a silicone band to match. It promises all-day battery life, has a new and allegedly more accurate heart rate sensor as well as 5ATM water resistance.
Pricing lands at the same $299 you’ll pay for a standard Gear S3, but we’ve already seen discounts. The watch is available now on Amazon, Best Buy, and pretty much anywhere else you can buy a smartwatch.
Mobvoi Ticwatch E/S
A lot of smartwatches on the market today are pretty expensive, and there’s where Mobvoi comes into the picture. Its Ticwatch Pro is one of our favorites thanks to its killer battery life, but the groundwork was laid out by the company’s Ticwatch E and Ticwatch S.
The Ticwatch E is built entirely from plastic, but it’s certainly not a bad looking wearable in any of its 3 colors — black, white, or yellow. On your wrist, the E has a 44mm diameter, but it still looks pretty good on smaller wrists.
As for specs, you’ve got a 1.4-inch 400×400 OLED display, MTK MT2601 dual-core processor, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of storage, and IP67 water/dust resistance. That runs Wear OS and with a 300 mAh battery, you’re getting a day of battery life no problem. That all arrives for just $159, which is a pretty killer price if you ask me.
Alternatively, Mobvoi’s Ticwatch S offers a lot of the same benefits as the E, but with a sportier design. The Ticwatch S comes in at 45mm and is a bit chunky at 13mm thick. Packed inside there’s a 300mAh battery for a full day of battery life, heart-rate monitor, and built-in GPS thanks to the band.
The Ticwatch S also has a 1.4-inch OLED display at 400×400, MTK MT2601 dual-core processor, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of storage, and of course, Wear OS. Retail pricing for the Ticwatch S lands at $199.
Samsung Gear S3 Frontier/Classic
My personal favorite watch for Android on the market today actually isn’t an Android Wear device, rather coming from Samsung and running atop Tizen. The Samsung Gear S3 Frontier is all the smartwatch you’ll ever need, with a sporty, circular gray design with a 1.3-inch Super AMOLED display that is the best I’ve personally ever used and is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass SR+.
The Gear S3 also offers a dual-core Exynos 7270 processor, 768MB of RAM, and 4GB of storage. The watch also features sensors such as GPS, NFC, and even optional LTE. The standout features, though, include Samsung Pay (on any smartphone) and the rotating bezel. The Gear S3 is a pretty big watch, though, coming in at 12.9mm thick with a 46mm diameter.
The Gear S3 also has dozens of useful features and very well-thought out software. It’s really just an excellent smartwatch at the end of the day, offering everything I could ask for. More information is available in our full review, and the Gear S3 Frontier and Classic are available now at various retailers, including Amazon, for $349 (or less).
Huawei Watch 2/Classic
The original Huawei Watch is one of the most beloved Android Wear devices on the market thanks to its gorgeous design. Unfortunately, many were disappointed to learn that the second generation model wouldn’t keep up the same looks, instead opting for something a bit chunkier and rugged with the standard and “Classic” models.
The Huawei Watch 2 and the Huawei Watch 2 Classic both offer familiar specs with a 1.2-inch AMOLED display, Snapdragon 2100 processor and a 420 mAh battery. There’s also 768MB of RAM and 4GB of storage in each device.
Both smartwatches feature 45mm casings with compatibility with 20mm bands on the standard model and 22mm on the Classic. Both also feature two buttons for navigation and accessing app functions such as Android Pay, as Huawei has included NFC.
The primary differences with the Classic versus the standard include, first off, that this model lacks LTE. That, however, does mean that the Classic is built from a more premium “Titanium Grey” shell which has a bit less sporty look. A leather band is also installed out of the box rather than the silicone one found on other models. Pricing on the Huawei Watch 2 Classic is a bit higher than the standard model, asking $369 from retailers such as Amazon and Best Buy.
Android Wear hasn’t had too many affordable options in the past several months that have impressed us, but one we’ve been looking forward to has been the Misfit Vapor. Now, the $200 wearable has hit the market and it has a ton of pros, especially for those who are active.
The Misfit Vapor was originally launched with a proprietary operating system, but that was ditched for Android Wear 2.0. The Vapor has a 1.39-inch AMOLED display, Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor, 4GB of storage, 512mb of RAM, and a heart rate sensor. Those specs are fairly standard for Android Wear, but the Vapor also includes 5ATM water resistance which is a huge plus, and an assortment of software features added by Misfit.
As far as pricing goes, the Misfit Vapor lands at a reasonable $199. That’s a solid deal especially considering the fitness features and appealing circular design of this watch. If you’re interested in picking one up, it’s available now in an assortment of colors from Misfit, Best Buy, and Amazon.
Michael Kors Access Grayson/Sofie
Most of today’s Android Wear devices aren’t the most stylish, but two of the latest watches from fashion brand Michael Kors aim to change that. The Grayson and Sofie watches are designed to suit the style of men and women respectively, and both start at around $350.
Like most other watches on this list, these both feature Android Wear 2.0, a Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 chipset, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of storage, and IP67 dust and water resistance. The differentiation of these watches really comes down to the hardware.
The Grayson is designed for men and is clearly inspired by a traditional watch. It has a stainless steel casing at 47mm wide with a 1.39-inch 454 x 454 AMOLED display.
The Sofie, on the other hand, is designed for women with jewelry inspired accents. It has a smaller 1.19 inch 390×390 AMOLED display, and a smaller casing at 42mm. As mentioned, pricing starts at $350 for either variant and goes up depending on options. Sales are available from MichaelKors.com (Grayson — Sofie) and also from outlets such as Amazon. (Grayson — Sofie)
If you’re into premium smartwatches, the Montblanc Summit is the latest option hitting watch shops around the world. Out of the box, it runs atop Android Wear 2.0 with the standard specifications — Snapdragon Wear 2100, 512mb of RAM, and 4GB of storage. There’s no NFC or LTE on board, but the watch does feature a heart rate sensor and premium materials.
The base model is crafted from polished stainless steel with a premium calfskin leather band. Other models are available with a titanium casing and alligator leather straps, but they do up the cost quite a bit. All models have a 46mm casing that is 12.5mm thick. Battery life is rated at a day and the watch is IP68 water/dust resistant.Pricing for the Summit starts at a lofty $870 and goes well up from there. Currently, the only place to buy the watch online is via the outlet Mr. Porter, but it’s also available anywhere Montblanc smartwatches are sold in retail locations.
If you’re looking for the best design out there today, one watch that should be on your list is the Movado Connect. Powered by Android Wear, the Movado Connect offers up a minimalistic design, but quite a few feature you’d want.
First and foremost, the Movado Connect runs on top of the standard Android Wear specs package — a Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor, 512mb of RAM, and 4GB of storage. It also includes a 1.39-inch 400×400 AMOLED display, 300mAh battery, and a typical array of sensors including an accelerometer and gyroscope. There’s also an ambient light sensor here and support for NFC, meaning you’ll be able to use Google Pay with this watch.
If you ask me, this is one of the more classy watches you can buy with Android Wear today, but it comes at a cost. You’ll need to fork over $595 to get the Connect on your wrist, and it’s available from Movado’s website as well as Kay Jewelers.
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