The market for the smart watches really has come a long way since the original Pebble exploded the Kickstarter records back in 2012. So today it’s finally possible to make an informed decision about buying the right smartwatch for you, due to how many of the models and brands have delved into this industry since…
Fast-forwarding those four years between the Pebble’s year of 2012 and the Apple Watch’s year of 2016 makes things loo drastically different by now.
If we mean the most recent time frame, than the Apple Watch has certainly led the effort and sales, but it’s not without its downsides… Now the fashion world has jumped on board, with Fossil, Michael Kors, Mondaine, Tag Heuer, Nixon and Casio all throwing their weight behind this brand new trend…
In theory (and not always in practice, like Casio showcases us with their smart watches lineup) a perfect smartwatch should work effortlessly. It’s pros and upsides must be offering you the right mix of features, without making things complex with too many bells and whistles.
Even more than that, many devices are being designed towards certain types of people, which means that while there’s likely to be a perfect candidate for your needs, there are also going to be a real variety of choice…
Here we’ll give you the definitive countdown of the main things you need to focus at when spending your cash on a smart watch purchase…
Long story short, most of the smartwatches on the market are specifically designed to be just an accompanying accessory to a connected mobile phone.
Which limits your current choice of handset and is going to have a big weight in which watches you can pick from (or vice versa).
The Apple Watch mostly works in a great compatibility with (surprise, surprise) iPhones, as you might imagine.
But that doesn’t mean that iOS users are limited only to the Cupertino’s offering. Android Wear based watches are now finally able to work with iPhone, as well as Pebble and a range of other companies.
Samsung smartwatches are powered by the company’s own Tizen OS:
most of its older devices (like the Gear 2 Neo) only work with a limited number of Samsung phones, although the new Gear S2 is compatible with a much longer list of recent Android developed handsets.
Android Wear watches, which is surely surmising from their name – have for a long time only been built to work with Android phones An additional restriction was that the phone should have run an Android OS version 4.3 or newer… Google has added iPhone compatibility to the OS, which should mean most future Android Wear devices are iOS-friendly as well, but not vice-versa.
As with smartphones, Google works on the software – which is based on Google services such as Google Now. But right after the job is done, they will leave you to a will and diligence of the manufacturer, like Motorola, LG, Sony, Samsung and HTC to build the watches.
However, the tech giant gets brushed aside, and Android Wear has been the go-to OS for some exciting and unreleased watches.
Tag Heuer and Fossil have chosen the software for its smartwatch, but so have New Balance, Nixon and Michael Kors, which are entering the market later this year with their own designed and manufactured smartwatches.
Theoretically, all Android Wear devices are made equal, but that’s not the case anymore.
New architecture updates from Google are highlighting differences under-the-hood and now there’s actually a vast abyss in a range of functional and technical features if different watches by different brands get compared. Reading a side by side best Android Wear smartwatches review will be probably the only option left to untangle all the mystery.
Still, the long-established, and almost pioneering Pebble brand incidentally has its very own mobile OS.
That OS luckily can communicate with apps on either Android or iOS, giving it a huge potential market, and the same goes for the Vector Luna, Olio, CoWatch and a good number of upcoming smartwatches. If you’re the kind of person that doesn’t want to be tied to iOS or Android forever, then buying a “non-canonic, agnostic” device could be your option…
What apps can it run?
Though in a majority of situations a smartwatch runs intact with your smartphone, they still have app stores which enable you to add to the default features of the watch – just like a smartphone.
Apple’s the leader here and it currently has over 8,500 compatible apps in its store at the last count (you can expect this number to adjust considerably over time).
What’s more, as its apps can be merely extensions of iPhone apps, it’s easy for developers to make them converted – and they’re doing so in droves. Now that watchOS 2 has added support for native apps we will get quality apps, not just quantity apps from the App Store.
Samsung’s Tizen is also showing good numbers with its Tizen OS, and there are over one thousand apps as of now.
The Pebble watches have a decent array of apps made by their loyal fans and enthusiastic developers who backed their effort well since the Kickstarter campaign kicked off the whole smartwatch frenzy thing… But those usually lack the quality of the Apple selection. There’s just a smattering which takes advantage of the Time’s color e-paper screen or Timeline functionality. The same way, Android Wear also has a up-and-coming store, but like the early days of Android smartphones, it still lacks new solutions and ideas, just as well as competitive quality over a year after Wear’s launch.
Get the right mix of features
They don’t look amazing, but they do the job.
If you want bright pin-sharp visuals, such as those which the Apple Watch and Android Wear devices, have, then your smartwatch will last two days at best. It’s a simple choice about what are your priorities.
Probably it will also be a bright idea to see the kind of features each smartwatch champions.
Most will act as a watch firstly, and then on par will notify you of messages from your smartphones, such as calls and emails.
Some Android Wear smartwatches can exploit their Wi-Fi support for connecting on the go when you don’t have your phone but devices like the original ZenWatch miss out.
However, some smartwatches go even bigger with their features… Many are aimed at fitness, like the Garmin Vivoactive HR, though it is a bit of a different smart wearables industry of its own. Anyways, while its long battery life might seem like a good option, a lot of the features might be useless for you if you not a runner, golfer or a cyclist.
Similarly, if you’re loving sports, you need to check out the hardware included.
The Sony SmartWatch 3 and the Moto 360 Sport are the only current Android Wear devices with GPS, and therefore capable of accurately tracking running, so don’t expect all devices under the Google umbrella to do the same. The Nixon The Mission, expected later this year and features GPS, as well as a humungous build for outdoor explorers. It’s very similar to the Casio WSD-F10, which is on sale now, but shuns GPS.
All in all, it is definitely worth it to buy a smartwatch.
You just need to see through which one and for which purposes will be the best pick for you!