Android smartwatches are gaining traction with consumers, pushed along by the success of the Android Wear 2.0 operating system by Google. The main idea behind Android Wear is to provide a common operating system across various devices, from different manufacturers.
There is a positive outlook on what this operating system could offer using Google’s machine learning capabilities, which will hopefully minimise the need to manipulate the screen manually so often.
CBR looks at the current market, listing five of the best Android smartwatches around.
SONY Smartwatch 3
This Android smartwatch is Sony’s most recently available wrist-wrapping wearable device. Sony has changed course from the previous Android-based operating system, instead choosing to incorporate Android Wear.
Android Wear is Google’s smartwatch operating system (OS) and the main competitor to the operating system that runs the Apple Watch, watchOS. The OS has been around since 2014.
The Android smartwatch offers built in GPS, a respectable battery life, and a display that stacks up well against the competition. The Sony Smartwatch 3 is also set apart from the crowd aesthetically with its circular display; this feature may also be partly responsible for the reasonable price to power ratio
Importantly, the Wifi and Near Field Communication (NFC) capabilities of this watch are elements which will future proof this device where other models will not make the cut. NFC is a type of communication which allows data to be transmitted wirelessly from one hardware device to another physical object, provided that the devices area within 10 centimetres of one another
The Sony Smartwatch 3 is the first Android Wear option which is capable of GPS tracking of its own accord, while other devices rely on the GPS connection supplied by your smartphone. This is an important first step in the process of smartwatches making the move to becoming independent from smartphones.
The Moto 360 (2015) remains a very strong contender for the top spot, with wide reviews praising the beautiful design and improved performance compared to its predecessor. The Android smartwatch fits neatly into a very current trend of sleek, classic designs with the combination of a copper face and brown leather a contrast to the technology within.
This outlook on design has been spurred on by the belief that a more casual look will encourage those who are adverse to the typical square, high-tech look of a smartwatch. This bold choice has also led to a stronger identity for Motorola’s line of smartwatches.
The Android smartwatch is available in two different sizes, 42mm and 46 mm, and it is equipped with a formidable 1.2 GHz processor. 4GB of onboard storage, wireless charging capabilities, and Wifi and Bluetooth connectivity are other noteworthy features of this watch
Despite a considerable list of positives, the Moto 360 is set back slightly by a lacking GPS support, meaning that unlike the Sony Smartwatch 3, it is unable to track your journeys and workout natively. In addition to this, the 48 hour battery life has been a topic of criticism, with a growing need for greater potential. An argument in favour of the Moto 360’s battery life is that it is still substantial in comparison to the Apple Watch.
Huawei are a well-established Chinese multinational networking and telecommunications equipment and services company. It is the largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer in the world, having overtaken Ericsson in 2012.
The Huawei Watch is targeted for the top end of the smartwatch market as it is priced at around £230, but it has been considered one of the best overall. The main argument for the watch is its screen, which a 1.4” AMOLED display, running at 400×400 resolution. This statistic is on par with that offered by the Apple Watch, a desirable achievement for any Android design.
A minor but helpful feature is that the screen of the watch is always on, meaning that unlike many other designs, the time remains visible without you have to activate the screen.
The other aspects of the watch do not stand out to the same extent, with a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage and a 300mAh battery. These features are broadly on par with the competition.
Who said smartwatches can’t be luxurious – Tag Heuer goes smart on the next page
Tag Heuer Connected
This Android smartwatch intends to stand its ground for the presence of luxury goods in the smartwatch environment. This same dynamic is recognisable in the smartphone market, as the iPhone with its iconic design putting jewel-encrusted options to the sword.
The price tag for the Tag Heuer Connected starts at around £1,100 and can reach over £1800. These figures will buy you a watch with a grade II titanium body, with a thickness of 12.8mm.
Tag Heuer have also made the decision to use a round face, and some other aesthetic elements which contribute to a look that is less like that of a typical Android smartwatch. The design takes on the look of a traditional Tag Heuer watch in style and heft.
Perhaps unexpectedly for the price, beneath the brand and the recognisable look is an unremarkable performance. 4GB of onboard storage, up to 24 hours of battery life, USB charging and a 1.6 GHz processor are fairly run on of the mill statistics for smartwatches in general.
Although there are other pieces of hardware that provide better resolution and faster performance, it remains the case with smartwatches that a more expensive watch will not necessarily tell you the time any better. With this conclusion, there will still be a market for this watch amongst those inclined to spend more money for a recognisable design.
Asus ZenWatch 2
In contrast to the Tag Heuer Connected, this Android smartwatch is among the more utilitarian designs, with a starting price of around £110. The watch is available in a range of different styles while also being cheaper than many rivals, and still offering an attractive and serviceable smartwatch.
Taking its own direction in terms of design, the watch has a square screen with rounded edges. This design feature provides a softer and more widely wearable look, while still retaining a touch of the high-tech vibe that some people find very attractive.
Another dynamic which sets this smartwatch apart is its status as one of the first Android Wear devices to be able to support iPhones, despite Apple’s stringent rules on the information it exposes to third party developers.
The watch does lack the popular fitness features which are available in other smartwatches, but if that does not pose a dissuasive argument, the watch is perfectly suitable for its basic functions, as well as monitoring notifications.
The internal components of the watch include 4GB of onboard storage, a quad-core 1.2GHz processor, a 1.63” display and up to 48 hours of battery life. These features provide a very good experience for the price, standing up to many competitors on power, storage and battery duration.