While Google already rattled off a list of manufacturers we’ll be seeing making Android Wear smart watches (with two of those already having announced their products earlier today), the future is undoubtedly much brighter than it already is. We’re going to talk about 20 of the best smart watches available now, available in the future, and even those which haven’t even been made official as of yet.
Smart watches available right now
So where are things today? Well, the smart watch scene is already chock full of options that you can get your heads on right now. Let’s take a quick stroll down recent memory lane to see which devices have helped shape this exciting new category of technology.
This unique device included the first Mirasol display for a smart watch, which is a color-based non-LCD technology that gives you a vibrant watch face without sacrificing battery life. It debuted at a bit of a steep price — $300 — but it’s certainly one that stood out from the rest of the pack.
Sony took the gold home for having one of the best looking smart watches out there, as well as providing a nice set of features for users to sink their teeth into. Our favorite thing about the Sony SmartWatch 2? You don’t need a Sony smartphone to use it. Other manufacturers should definitely take note.
Pebble and Pebble Steel
Pebble was a very interesting story to follow, with its multi-million dollar Kickstarter success story culminating in a spot on major retailers’ store shelves and a follow-up product. This e-ink device might be inherently limited due to the lack of a touch screen and color, but its open nature has allowed developers to build a ton of apps that many users have grown to love. Oh, and it’s also on the more affordable side compared to most devices on this list, which definitely awards it extra brownie points.
Tbe original Galaxy Gear received a lot of flack from the community, mainly due to its unattractive price tag and looks and slim support for devices outside of the Galaxy range. Still, it caught our attention with several unique features such as a camera mounted on the side. The Galaxy Gear has been antiquated at this point, but whether you liked it or didn’t, it did its part to help move the smart watch scene forward.
This smart watch was cool before making smart watches was cool (2012, in case you’re wondering). The I’m Watch enjoyed a long history of being one of the only Android-based smart watches out there, and was quite exciting when it finally launched. Unfortunately its makers got a bit behind on production early on, and the industry began catching on at that point. Still, I’m Watch deserves to be credited for its significant role in introducing Android into the then-budding world of smart watches.
For all that the MOTOACTV was hyped up to be, it ended up being a bit underwhelming once it finally made its way to the forefront. We can’t fault Motorola too much, though, considering they were entering uncharted territory in a time where smart watches were still new. With only one other major competitor to deal with, the MOTOACTV was outshined and eventually laid to rest, but it wouldn’t have been the last we’d heard of Motorola in the wearables space.
Smart Watches on the horizon
So we just talked about what’s out, now it’s time to talk about what’s not. These devices are just outside our reach, though their official status means they should be heading to store shelves at some point soon. Let’s take a look!
Moto 360 by Motorola
Just announced earlier today, the Moto 360 is one of the first smart watches that will take advantage of Google’s new Android Wear platform. Motorola certainly stepped their game up in the design department with their second attempt at a smart watch, with the use of premium metal and quality wrist straps being among the long list of reasons why they’ve grabbed our attention.
LG G Watch
LG didn’t reveal many details about their smart watch. Hell, the photo they used to show it off barely gave us anything concrete to look at. But the fact that it’ll be running the newly-announced Android Wear platform instantly awards it a spot near the top of our list of smart watches to watch. One exciting detail LG sought to point out was that their watch would work with a wide range of Android devices, so it’s nice that they’ve quelled fears of brand exclusivity early on.
Samsung Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo
These follow-ups to the original Samsung Galaxy Gear don’t run Android, but they don’t need to. They still support communicating with Android devices, and they’re filled to the brim with features. Unfortunately they are still only compatible with select Samsung Galaxy devices, though the company tells us they’re still exploring the possibilities of opening it up to more users. (PS: these two devices are nearly identical, except the Neo doesn’t have a camera.) See our hands-on from Mobile World Congress here.
Samsung Gear Fit
This little strip of wonder is more focused on providing a capable fitness, sleep and activity tracker for those who need it, but its curved AMOLED display gives it a leg up on other products in its category. The rectangular aspect ratio of the display doesn’t lend itself well to traditional smart watch applications, but it shouldn’t be a hindrance to the basic needs of most users. You’ll still be afforded the ability to tell time, for instance, as well as get instant access to new messages and notifications, and music controls. Learn more in our hands-on.
This Kickstarter sensation is going to be introduced at $300, but it’s doing a lot of things that other smart watch makers can’t seem to get quite right. For starters, it has a charging solution that doesn’t suck. It’s also one of the only smart watches that can work independently of other devices, so you won’t have to have a compatible smartphone to tether it to if you don’t need it. Anything more is just a nice cherry on top.
LG LifeBand Touch
Less of a smart watch and more of an activity band, this thing won’t do much more than give you a quick look at the time, some light workout information and give you the ability to change tracks in your music player. If that’s all you need, though, then the LG LifeBand Touch will be a nice addition to your wrist once it’s finally made available.
ZTE only revealed this device as a prototype back at Mobile World Congress, but it looked pretty decent for something that supposedly isn’t ready for retail. The device relies on e-ink technology to display all the useful bits of data you’re interested in, but that’s all we know for the time being. We’ll have to see if ZTE will look to bring this out to consumers at some point, or if they’ve decided to go back to the drawing board in light of recent developments.
Rumored and Beyond
This list largely comprised of Motorola, LG and HTC, but those three — among other names — were wiped off once they were confirmed to be in cahoots with Google for smart watches with Android Wear. So what’s left?
HTC, Samsung and ASUS?
These three were among Motorola and LG’s names in the Android Wear press release, so we know they have something coming… we’re just not sure what yet. Regardless, their involvement in the early days of Android Wear will certainly be well-documented, so it’s a good idea to add them to your radar right now.
Nexus smart watch
When rumors of a Nexus smart watch first started swirling, we had no idea it could evolve into a full-fledged open platform that any OEM could join in on. That said, there is still some evidence that Google could be looking to make an actual Nexus smart watch. Whether it’s a modified version of one of today’s announcements remains to be seen, but we’re certainly still holding onto hope that it exists.
Rumors that Apple would be launching an iWatch have been longstanding. In fact, it’s likely one of the reasons Samsung admittedly rushed the original Galaxy Gear out to market. It looks like the bitten fruit company decided to take their time, though, and won’t be releasing a product until they can do it just right. Let’s hope “just right” happens to include a healthy dosage of Jony Ives.
Nintendo QoL Platform
While Nintendo has never been specifically rumored to launch a smart watch, they have discussed wanting to introduce a platform that would help improve people’s quality of life. One of their original goals was to leapfrog smartphones and tablets, and even wearable technology (which would include the very topic we’re currently discussing). Their classification of “non-wearables” for this platform doesn’t make much sense right now, but we imagine it could still feature some form of a smart watch whenever it’s all said and done.
That’s a wrap!
This brings us to the end of a large list of the smart watches that have defined, and are continuing to define, this growing platform. Things aren’t fully mature yet, but the Android Wear platform and some of the latest smart watches announced from top manufacturers certainly have brought things a full leap forward. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for the future, but for now let us know what you think of everything available or soon to be available in the comments section below!
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- Check out the Samsung Galaxy Gear forums, see the specs, or find news and reviews.