While Beats, laptops, tablets, and smartphones are going to be the top gifts this year, another one that’s going to join that list is smartwatches. But which one do you buy? Everyone but the most tech savvy probably doesn’t even know where to start. At least when buying a smartphone, you know that a lot of people have “iPhones and Galaxies,” and when buying a laptop, you know that “Macs are pretty cool,” and “HPs tend to be better that Dells.” But no one is standing around, saying: “Man, I want a Moto 360 so much this Christmas!!”. Rather, it’s more along the lines of “one of those phone watch things seems like a convenient thing to have.”
So, what’s the best of the best in this market? What should you be freaking out over?? That’s what we’re going to get cleared up in this article.
The Best Of The Best
There are three main mobile platforms; iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. And these are the best of each of them.
The Apple Watch hasn’t come out yet, but it’s been fully announced and revealed by Apple, and is highly anticipated for an early 2015 launch. When it comes out, it will simply be the best smartwatch for iDevices, period. There will be absolutely no competing with it whatsoever.
Being made by Apple itself, it will have a deep level of integration with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch that simply no other smartwatch will be able to compete with. Third party applications available from the App Store will have more features and will be more plentiful than on any other smartwatch compatible with Apple devices, and the live watch faces look amazing, the user interface is intuitive, the interaction with other watches is an insanely cool gimmick, and to top it all off, the design of both the hardware and software is just boss, and if the Apple Watch were platform-neutral, I’d say it has the best software features of any smartwatch. It’s elegant in almost every respect, and as much as you might want a smartwatch by Christmas, I highly, highly suggest that you wait until this is released to purchase a smartwatch if you’re an Apple user. You can get more details on this device here or here.
The Moto 360 is enough to make those who aren’t paying attention dribble on their shirt a little bit. The Apple Watch is elegant, but the 360’s rounded off, metal laced design still manages to destroy Apple’s offering in that respect. If the 360 is a 10/10, the Apple Watch 2.5/10, If you think it looks good in the picture, you’ll be surprised to find that it looks even better in person.
But that’s not what a smartwatch is all about. It’s also about telling the time and looking good, like conventional watches, and being a good companion for your smartphone that significantly reduces how often you need to pull your daily driver out of your pocket, and don’t worry, it excels in that department as well. The watch is loaded with Android Wear, which gives you your notifications in a simple yet attractive card-based interface, and you can do things like reply to messages and talk to people using voice dictation, and in addition to that, it has Google Now, for whenever you have a question to ask.
Now, Android Wear is virtually the same across all watches that run the operating system and there are cheaper ones, but, like I keep constantly reiterating, the Moto 360, like the Apple Watch, is so, so elegant, and that round display, which no other reasonably priced smartwatch offers, makes for a nice experience.
The Microsoft Band unlike the other watches on this list, is not elegant, nor does it have any special features. It’s actually relatively ugly, and has a very small selection of 3rd party apps as of yet. So why should you be excited? Because it’s a smartwacth for Windows Phone.
Windows Phone simply doesn’t have any other real smartwatches available for it. It sucks, but it’s true, and if you’re a Windows Phone user, what you should be excited about is that a high profile company (Microsoft) has released a fully fledged smartwatch for your platform,
That’s not to say the Microsoft band is bad. It still looks good in it’s own special way (BTW, you can tell I’m really making a big deal about design, but that’s important for wearables), and, Microsoft also has easily the best fitness tracking functions available out of all three watches as well, and it’s third party software options are growing slowly but surely. All in all, like I said in the video: “The Microsoft Band is a good option, and that’s good, because if you’re a Windows Phone user, it’s your only option.”
These aren’t the only three options though, so let’s talk about some honorable mentions.
For the outer ones, you pay a premium. The inner ones are budget oriented.
The Pebble Steel is the best option for those who just can’t wait for the apple watch, and are on iOS. It’s basically just a toned down version of the Apple Watch. It does have support for third party applications, and it is pretty good looking, but it’s not up to the same level as Apple’s offering in any aspect. The screen is even black and white and lacking touch capability, but for $250, it has great functionality and is an overall good deal.
The Gear Live at $180 is essentially a budget version of the $250 Moto 360. The design is great, just not as great as the 360’s, and it’s literally coming with all of the exact same software features, since it has Android Wear. It even has one great advantage: it’s battery life.
The Gear Live has enough battery power to turn on a feature called “ambient” that allows the time to always stay on the screen like a normal watch, making it much easier for the watch to do what it’s supposed to do; give you the time at a glance. Even with this feature turned on, you’ll make it through the entire day. No such luck on the Moto 360.
The Pebble is the steel in a less attractive package in a far less expensive $99 price tag. No more explanation is really required.
The Gear S is for anybody who doesn’t see the point in spending hundreds of dollars on something that’s just meant to pay a compliment to your smartphone. I can see where these people are coming from, as all of these devices need a consistent smartphone connection to perform most of their respective functions. For someone who wants a completely new, independent device on their wrist, this is your dream device.
You need a compatible Galaxy smartphone to activate the device if you want to use it as a phone, as well as install the apps you want, but after that, the Gear S works completely independent of any other device. It run’s Samsung’s Tizen OS, and not being very popular, it has a pretty limited selection of apps, and in addition to that, its $350, but if you want a watch that works completely by itself, it’s your best option right now.
The smartphone market is new, and as result, constantly changing, even faster than the relatively mature smartphone market, and this list will obsolete by the spring. But for the period December 2014 – March 2015, this should be a good guide to follow in buying a smartwatch. I hope you find this helpful! – Click here for the companion video