Best Smartwatch 2015
With a glut of new next-gen smartwatches landing on the market, we’ve added our top 5.
1. Sony Smartwatch 3
“What’s this doing at number one?” we hear you ask. Well let us tell you, the Sony Smartwatch 3 offers the best balance of price versus features from the range of smartwatches currently available.
It can now be snapped up for just £127, $188 (around AU$240), which makes it surprisingly affordable. You get the relatively standard Snapdragon 400 processor, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage, but the Smartwatch 3 also packs Bluetooth, GPS, NFC and Wi-Fi giving it great connectivity options.
This means it can double as a running watch, while its dust- and water-resistant body means you can jump in the shower without having to take it off.
Sure it’s not as nice to look at as the Apple Watch or LG Watch Urbane, but for your money it’s very difficult to knock.
If you’re not fond of the strap design, Sony has the Pebble Steel-esque band called the Sony Smartwatch 3 Steel – it looks pretty nice compared to its rubbery counterpart, but the guts remain the same.
Ultimately, the Smartwatch 3 has proved that third time’s a charm (at least in Sony’s Smartwatch series). It puts function ahead of form, delivering one of the best user experiences yet with minimalistic style.
2. Apple Watch
It’s finally here. The smartwatch we’ve been waiting for with bated breath, the one we’d hoped would change the faces of the wearable revolution – and the best iPhone-compatible smartwatch and, at the same time, it’s pretty much just OK.
It’s a thing of beauty but comes at a high cost when it simply can’t deliver on all the fronts. Starting at $349 (£299, AU$499) and peaking at an exorbitant $17,000 (£13,500, AU$24,000), this lightweight wristwatch is meant for patient early adopters and boutique store regulars.
There are plenty of iPhone features that are and aren’t carried over to the wrist. It makes calls, but it can’t add new contacts. It listens to dictated texts and sends them as an audio message or transcription, but it doesn’t have any sort of edit function. It tracks basic fitness goals, but not it’s GPS-enabled, doesn’t track sleep and third-party workout apps require an iPhone close by. Likewise, it can name songs through the Shazam app, but it listens with the iPhone microphone, not its own.
For iPhone users waiting for nice wristware, the Apple Watch takes the cake when you take price away from the equation.
3. LG Watch Urbane
LG’s reaction to the Apple Watch is the Watch Urbane, its own premium smartwatch which uses the G Watch R as a base, but sports a thinner bezel and new colors for a smarter look.
It’s more expensive than the Watch R, but it comes in slightly cheaper than the entry-level Apple Watch Sport and it’s one of the few Android Wear watches you’ll actually feel comfortable wearing to swanky parties rather than tech meet ups.
The LG Watch Urbane is the watch you should get if you want a premium looking G Watch R.
4. Pebble Steel
The Pebble Steel outclasses its plastic-clad predecessor with a stainless steel frame that surrounds its 1.26-inch e-paper LCD and the silver or matte black casing comes with a leather band in the box. A matching steel band to complete this sophisticated look costs extra.
You get all of the same texts, emails and notifications at a glance for $199, £149 (about AU$228). That’s cheaper than most of the Android Wear watches. Missing here, however, is the brilliant color display that makes Android watches shine, a number of features found on rival wearables and a way to get around Pebble’s annoying eight installed apps limit.
Of course, Pebble Steel doesn’t have the same battery life issues of the Moto 360. It can last at least four days between charges and is compatible with both iOS and Android phones. It’s for everyone and, with swappable bands, for every stylistic situation – plus it has a 5ATM water resistant rating.
If the Steel is a bit rich for your liking there’s always the $99, £99 plastic clad Pebble to fall back on – it doesn’t look anywhere near as nice, but it still has pretty much the same features.
5. Asus Zenwatch
If you’re after a stylish smartwatch that does your basic range of Android Wear things, the ZenWatch is worth a look. Beyond that, there’s little difference from the other similarly priced Android Wear watches.
The design is stronger than the early Android Wear offerings from LG and Samsung, but it doesn’t quite hit the heights of the Moto 360.
It doesn’t quite stand up to the Smartwatch 3 or G Watch R in terms of battery life or general ruggedness. Regardless, this timepiece is certainly in the top tier of rectangular Android Wear watches on the design front.
There are better Android Wear watches out there for a similar price, but if you are personally fond of the ZenWatch’s stylings then it won’t let you down.