You know smartwatches are ready to become the next best thing, when even Apple has its own model down the pipeline. Their increasing popularity is understandable – what’s not to like about a device that brings all your phone’s notifications at your fingertips or, better said, on your wrist, without requiring you to connect any handsets. Most models give you control over your music playback and even spice things up by managing to function like fitness trackers as well. There are three things you have to pay attention to when buying a smartwatch. Firstly, it sounds redundant, but it has to show the time, of course. Secondly, the notifications appearing on the LEDs should be easy to read and access. And finally, it has to look aesthetically pleasing, because there is no point in owning a smartwatch if you feel embarrassed to keep it on your wrist all the time. To help you out, here is a selection of some of the best smartwatches on the market.
1) Pebble Steel
Everything about this smartwatch screams sophisticated. Apart from the matte black and brushed stainless variants, you can also opt for a leather band, to reinforce the classy look. But it’s not all about looks, since the technology underneath is up to the standards, with a great UI and a solid E Ink display, which makes reading a lot easier. Pebble even has its own app store, offering great variety (for instance, you can install an app to order your Starbuck coffee) and it’s compatible with both iOS and Android systems. The Pebble counts your steps, works as a compass as well and The LCD is well-lit, making it easily readable even in the dark, thanks to the backlight technology. At a fair price, you will also get a battery lasting around 7 days; all in all, this is the smartwatch to have, combining both style and substance.
2) LG G Watch R
It looks like a watch, but it behaves like a smart one. Combining a sharp screen with a resolution of 320 x 320 and a pixel density of 348, and a design easy on the eyes, the LG G Watch R is a keeper. Thanks to the ever-reliable Android Wear platform which is constantly updating itself with hundreds of apps, the G Watch R is capable of displaying all the important notifications from your phone, keeping track of your schedule, without even having to take it of your pocket. You can play your favorite tunes, send messages and even monitor your heart rate – all this with a battery lasting up to two days on a single charge.
3) Motorola Moto 360
It’s similar to the LG G Watch R in design, but it might have the edge for those who consider the G Watch R to be a little bit too clunky. The Moto 360 runs solely on Android Wear, meaning that if you have a smartphone running on a different operating system, like the iOS for instance, you won’t even be able to see the time. But then again, the Android Wear means access to hundreds of apps and customization options. You can use voice commands without using your phone and even order things, like a drink or a taxi. The 360 has a round, easy-to-read display and it looks great on the wrist, thanks to the steel strap or leather band that Motorola has available. However, unlike the Pebble, the 360 requires a more hands-on approach, since the display sometimes shuts down and you have to put in some extra effort to check the time or notifications. The battery life is not particularly remarkable, but at least you can charge it on most QI wireless chargers.
4) Samsung Gear Live
Finally, Samsung released a Smartwatch not running on their own operating system; they succumbed to Android, which means that they are able to be paired with any Android-running smartphones. Its curved body design is quite appealing and comfortable; unlike other models on this list, it also has a heart-rate monitor. The Android Wear OS allows voice commands and the Google Now option, which ensures that you only get the notifications that matter. The plastic strap comes both in black or white and it’s not swappable.
5) Sony SmartWatch 2
The SmartWatch 2 is almost all screen and no body, but this is not a complaint at all. It looks modern and the strap designs which come in black (plastic or stainless steel) or colored leather only add to it. It uses the Android OS and it has NFC and Bluetooth connectivity, so that you can make phone calls without even touching your smartphone and get every notification. The OLED color display makes it easy for reading even in bright sunlight. Setting up the smartwatch takes a bit more time, since you need to download a bunch of extensions if you want to get the complete set of notifications. Also, if you don’t have a smartphone running on iOS, in which case, you can forget about it, you will absolutely love the easy NFC wireless connectivity and its many functionalities.
BONUS: Apple Watch
You can mock its design and the fact that Apple came late to the party, but everybody will line up to buy it or at least have a look. What we know so far about it is that it will be one of the most expensive smartwatches around, it will come in two sizes and four cases and navigating through its touch screen with circle-like interface will be done with the help of a digital crown. Steps and heart rate will also be monitored, while a NFC system will allow you to make payments right from your wrist – something of a breakthrough, although we still don’t know how it will fare in terms of security. Running on iOS, it has Siri there to help you out, as well as a nice feature facilitating sharing your activity or files with your contacts. It’s still too early to tell if it’s worth the hype, but we’re eager to find it out in 2015.