The Top 10 Smart Watches we’ve used
About 9 months ago I was in the market for a smart watch. I was like you, a smart consumer conned by pesky marketing, flash sales and biased reviews. Rather than letting you take the obstacle course alone here is a Top 5 Tips to Buying a Smart Watch, if you just want to know who (who being the brand and model) is the worst we’ve ever had read on.
This Top 10 is from my perspective and needs, I’m a fat dude who has a professional job and just needed something that let me hide my phone at work while reminding to get up and move. I’ve purchased, sent back and kept a collection of smart watches trying to figure out what, why and how all things wearable tech work. I’m no expert, but I’m a consumer with an opinion. So buckle up and let me mind meld my smartwatch journey from an wide eyed bushy tailed wearable virgin to HeyTC, part man, part Bluetooth signal beacon.
#10. The Samsung Gear S2
I love Samsung. Their TV’s rock. Their smart phones rock harder. At first glance the Samsung Gear S2 looked good. It has some style but for a smartwatch to feel “smart” it needs apps. I’ve purchased a $30 Android Wear watch from eBay in the past and found it more relevant than the Samsung Gear S2. I’m not saying the Gear S2 is bad. It’s well made and has a good build quality, better than a $30 Android Wear watch at least but it’s incredibly app light. I’m sure those with the 3g Samsung Gear S2 can argue against my opinion, any watch with GPS and calls built in has to be cool yet my normal version didn’t have that. This is why we gave the Samsung Gear S2 a 3 out of 5.
#9. Pebble Time
Pebble is a fantastic company. They are triers and God loves a trier. Sadly, I don’t. I want a watch that looks good. The Samsung Gear S2 had a good aesthetic but limited functionality. The Pebble Time has no aesthetic worth mentioning but a heap of functionality. I just don’t want to show people I’m wearing it! This means all that functionality will never be put to use. Some people say the Pebble looks retro in it’s style but it doesn’t. It looks like a toy my daughter once won in a Kinder Surprise Egg. We gave the Pebble Time a strong 3.5 out of 5.
#8. Asus ZenWatch 2
The Asus ZenWatch 2 checklist. Does it work? Check. Is it Android Wear? Check. Does it look good? Erm. It’s what I call a “me-to” kind of smart watch. It just matches the competition, throws some marketing spiel at why version 2 is better than version 1 and walks away hoping it’s enough to entice consumers via brand name and brand loyalty. In all honesty there are a lot of branded watches that follow this path and it’s sad, that I’ve wasted money on most of them. We gave the Asus ZenWatch 2 a strong 3.5 out of 5.
I have to give credit to Motorolo, or their marketing team at least. When looking into smart watches I knew exactly what I’d get from this product. They didn’t try to dress up how average it is, they just said it’s an extension of your smart phone, dropped the mic and walked off stage. I can get behind that kind of honesty and it’s probably why the Moto 360 is #7 and not #9. Let’s get one thing straight right away though – it’s not worth $280! It looks great, it’s powered by Android Wear so it has apps. It just doesn’t match the price and lacks any real unique selling points. We gave the Moto 360 2nd Gen a strong 3.5 out of 5.
Now this is what a retro style smart watch should look like. The stainless version looks like something out of a Sean Connery James Bond movie and that’s just damn cool! It doesn’t feel like a huge sundial or building block on your wrist either, and has great apps available as its powered by Android Wear. That would be enough to get this watch the #6 spot but guess what Sony went and did? They added a GPS chip! A unique feature. Okay, it’s a feature that does nothing for me. Yet I appreciate the effort, the attempt to do something different and useful for a massive demographic of fitness users. It doesn’t make the watch fitness focused but it gives cyclists and runners something to chew on. We gave the SmartWatch 3 a great 4 out of 5.
The Blaze isn’t a perfect fitness wearable but like the Moto 360 you know who the device is for. It’s in the model name, it’s what the Fitbit company are all about. Outside of being waterproof, which Fitbit Bands are the Blaze smart watch is ideal for anyone in the gym, on a bike or running in the park. It’s durable, has a good battery length and every improvement made by Fitbit is focused on fitness. Like anything else on this list, it’s not perfect – the charging in particular is painfully awkward. Despite that we gave the Fitbit Blaze a great 4 out of 5.
Pebble Time + a product designer with eyes = Pebble Time Round. What I’m trying to say is that the ugliness of the Pebble Time is avoidable if you want a Pebble watch. It’s amazing to think how good a Pebble watch really is when not feeling embarrassing to use it. The company are dedicated, they are pushing the smart watch market and are oozing apps. The best thing about the Pebble Time Round is that it feels like an everyday fashion watch, it’s thin, light and a pleasure to use with either iPhone or Android smart phones. I liked this watch a lot. It made me like Pebble too. We gave the Pebble Time Round a great 4 out of 5.
You’re either Apple or Android right? Up until now I had always been Apple. The Apple Watch Sport is a quality product and really feels like an extension of the iPhone. If you’ve ever used an iOS device you’ll know exactly what using the Apple Watch will feel like. It’s classic Apple. The problem is, it felt a little too much Apple. It wasn’t just an extension of the iPhone but an extension of how I felt Apple had become lazy and restful on their brand popularity. There is no revolution here, maybe I’ve been with Apple too long and gotten too use to Apple’s slow iteration and in this new device I wanted more than the same old same old. Either way this is the watch that made me explore the wearable market. I have a fondness for Apple but I now know there are Android Wear watches which don’t just feel like an extension, but a fashion and lifestyle accessory. We gave the Apple Watch Sport an exceptional 4.5 out of 5.
#2 LG Urbane 2
This watch was my favourite for a while. It was my go to watch, so much so I had packed the others away and listed on eBay. If your definite budget is around $250 max, get the LG Urbane 2! It’s stylish, it’s sturdy (I’m a clumsy git and didn’t damage it in months of use) and the battery life is fantastic. It’s powered by Android Wear so you’ll have all the apps you want and it works fantastically with Android smart phones. The only negative I experienced was that it didn’t automatically change brightness based on a light sensors. It took something special to knock this watch off my wrist and #1 spot! HeyTC gives this wearable a exceptional 4.5 out of 5.
#1 Huawei Watch
It’s hard to explain how good the Huawei Watch is. At $350 it’s not cheap but it’s rare to wear something as a man and feel instantly fashionable. It’s not something you would wear in a gym, it’s not something you’d put on to clean the drain. It’s a fashionable, professional and literally sexy. I’m a bloke, I watch sport and cook BBQ yet when I put this watch on I finally understand why a woman wants a designer handbag. I get the importance of an accessory. I’m not lying, this watch plus anything that isn’t covered in paint makes you look cool. Everyone who has ever seen me wear this watch, whether they know me or not has asked about it. This is the kind of item that if you received as a gift, you instantly feel loved. If you gave it as a gift then expect a proposal in about 3 days (as it technically takes that long to stop looking at it). I had never heard of Huawei before this watch but in my opinion they are the King of smart watches right now. We give the Huawei Watch a perfect 5 out of 5 – because we can in a list.
Did my list match your own experience? Let us know what your favorite smart watch is and why?