The smartwatch is the mother of all smartphone accessories. It can tell the time, of course, but it can also beam important notifications straight to your wrist, and run native apps.
What’s more impressive is that many of today’s best models can also perform a ton of novel tricks, such as enabling you to search the internet with your voice, tracking your exercise over GPS, and letting you check-out at the grocery store without reaching for your wallet.
Oh yeah – and lots of them look absolutely stunning to boot.
For some time, jumping into the world of smartwatches was a risky move. But now, with competent efforts put forward from Google with Android Wear, Apple with watchOS, and more, there’s never been a better time to strap up with wearable technology.
Recently the smartwatch market has been pretty quiet when it comes to new releases. Manufacturers have dialed back the pace of production, but that’s not to say there’s nothing on the horizon. Samsung is hotly tipped to launch the Gear S3 at IFA 2016 at the start of September, so we could have a new contender for our top list very soon.
Choosing the smartwatch that’s right for you isn’t easy, but we hope to make the exciting process of getting paired up with your next (or first!) smartwatch as simple as possible.
1. Samsung Gear S2
Samsung is finally a real smartwatch contender
OS: Tizen OS | Compatibility: Android | Display: 1.2″ 360 x 360 Super AMOLED | Processor: Dual-core 1.0GHz | Band sizes: S (105 x 65mm) L (130 x 70mm) | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery duration: 1.5 days | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: IP68 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC
Innovative rotating bezel
Works with many Android phones
Too few apps
The Samsung Gear S2 is one of the best smartwatches on the market. It really feels like a step forward in smartwatch design. Plus, its rotating bezel and Tizen OS are genuinely useful innovations.
The Super AMOLED screen on the Samsung Gear S2 is also a real standout feature, it’s incredibly sharp, vibrant, and fully circular. It’s the sharpest screen available on a smartwatch, equal to the Apple Watch’s 302ppi.
This is definitely worth considering over similarly priced Android Wear devices.
Read the full review: Samsung Gear S2
2. Apple Watch
The iPhone-tailored smartwatch is expensive, but convenient
OS: watchOS 2 | Compatibility: iOS | Display: 1.53″ OLED | Processor: S1 System-in-Package (SiP) | Band sizes: Varies drastically per style | Onboard storage: 8GB (only 2GB and 75MB allowed for music and photos, respectively) | Battery: 18 hours | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: IPX7 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC
Expensive at any level
Battery life is one day
Once you get past the high price, this is a genuinely useful thing to have around at times. Being able to check when you’ve got a message, or see who’s calling and be able to make snap decisions, feels like the future, especially when you’re exercising or in another situation where grabbing your phone isn’t practical.
The new enhancements from Apple watchOS 2 really do help this smartwatch leap forward. It’s faster, more usable and comes with watch faces that make it feel more personal. And as more app developers use the new tools, there will be loads more to come too.
Read the full review: Apple Watch
3. Moto 360
Moto’s latest smartwatch is a thing of beauty
OS: Android Wear | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 1.37″ or 1.56″ LCD | Processor: Quad-core 1.2GHz | Case dimensions: 42mm or 46mm diameter, each 11.4mm thick | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery: 1.5-2 days depending on size | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: IP67 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Battery life remains iffy
Flat tire bezel is back
The new Moto 360 certainly gets our vote as the best-looking smartwatch that came out in 2015. It’s also one of the most comfortable wearables around.
The new size options give the Moto 360 the extra reach it needed the first time around. That, and the new-found comfortable fit (along with the added customization to the design), brings it all together as one of the best smartwatches of 2016.
Read the full review: Moto 360
4. Sony SmartWatch 3
A powerful, affordable and well-equipped wearable
OS: Android Wear | Compatibility: Android | Display: 1.6″ LCD | Processor: Quad-core 1.2GHz | Case dimensions: 36mm diameter, 10mm thick | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery: 2 days | Charging method: via microUSB | IP rating: IP68 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, GPS
Counterintuitive charging port
The Sony SmartWatch 3 stands out from much of the competition with its impressive performance, a good screen and solid battery life, not to mention the inclusion of GPS, which makes it a better fitness accessory than most smartwatches, despite an imperfect implementation.
This wearable just about nails the tricky blend of being a smartwatch with competent fitness tracking capabilities.
Read the full review: Sony Smartwatch 3
5. Huawei Watch
Huawei’s wearable debut makes a striking entrance
OS: Android Wear | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 1.4″ AMOLED | Processor: Quad-core 1.2GHz | Case dimensions: 42mm diameter, 11.3mm thick | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery: 2 days | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: IP67 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Premium build and materials
Sharp and fully-circular screen
So-so battery life
The Huawei Watch is not perfect, with iffy battery life and a high price tag watering down the gorgeous presentation. But it’s a near seamless blend of fashion and technology, and edges closer to earning the ‘smartwatch I’d actually wear’ title.
Read the full review: Huawei Watch
6. Asus ZenWatch 2
A fantastic, budget-friendly Android Wear option
OS: Android Wear | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 1.63″ AMOLED | Processor: Quad-core 1.2GHz | Case dimensions: 40mm diameter, 9.3mm thick | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery: 2 days | Charging method: via proprietary USB charger | IP rating: IP67 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Too much bezel
Which results in a small screen
The ZenWatch 2 is good, but not great. It’s far better than the original ZenWatch, and much closer to the other, fully-featured Android Wear wearables.
Simply put, if you want to test out Android Wear, but you’re on a budget, there currently isn’t a better starting point – and even if this isn’t your first smartwatch there’s a lot to like here.
Read the full review: Asus ZenWatch 2
7. LG Watch Urbane
It’s beautiful and deluxe, but not for everyone
OS: Android Wear | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 1.3″ P-OLED | Processor: Quad-core 1.2GHz | Case dimensions: 45.5mm diameter, 10.9mm thick | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery: 2 days | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: IP67 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Passable battery life
A bit bulky
No GPS included
LG’s fetching smartwatch nails the look, with its classic circular face and simple timepiece feel.
It’s rather large, though, so those with small wrists need not apply, and we feel that the Urbane is a bit light on features. But if you can nab this on a deal, you won’t regret it.
Read the full review: LG Watch Urbane
8. Tag Heuer Connected
Premium and powerful, with a price to match
OS: Android Wear | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 1.5″ LCD | Processor: Dual-core 1.6GHz |Case dimensions: 46mm diameter, 12.8mm thick | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery: 2 days |Charging method: via proprietary USB dock | Waterproofing: IP67 | Connectivity: Bluetooth
Premium feel and style
High-end internal specs
Relatively low-res screen
The Tag Heuer Connected is premium in every sense of the word, from its wallet-worrying $1,500/£1,100 (around AU$2,100) price, to its stylish design and beefy 1.6GHz processor and 1GB of RAM, which make it the most powerful smartwatch on the market.
It looks and feels like a truly premium wearable – or even like a piece of jewelry, as the best watches should. The price ensures it will remain a niche device, and Android Wear feels at odds with such a high-class piece of hardware, but if you put style and prestige above all else the Tag Heuer Connected is tough to beat.
Read the full review: Tag Heuer Connected
9. Pebble Time
A simple, clean and slightly smart smartwatch
OS: Pebble OS | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 64-color e-paper display | Processor: N/A | Case dimensions: 37.5mm diameter, 9.5mm thick | Onboard storage: N/A | Battery: 7+ days | Charging method: via proprietary charger | Waterproofing: 3ATM | Connectivity: Bluetooth
Too much bezel
More limited than Android Wear / watchOS
As a successor to the Pebble, the Pebble Time excels. As a smartwatch on its own, it feels like a digital watch with some extra tricks, but not much more.
Some people may really enjoy the limited but fun functionality found in the Pebble Time, especially as it’s coupled with week-long battery life. But its feature set pales in comparison to pricier wearable devices stocked with Android Wear and watchOS.
Then there’s the Pebble Time Steel. It’s the same experience, but it’s wrapped in a much sleeker, stainless steel body. Of course, it’ll set you back a little more: £200/$250/AU$340, to be precise.
10. Pebble Time Round
An incredibly light and comfy but rather limited smartwatch
OS: Pebble OS | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 64-color e-paper display | Processor: N/A | Case dimensions: 38.5mm diameter, 7.5mm thick | Onboard storage: 8MB | Battery: 2 days | Charging method: via proprietary charger | Waterproofing: IPX7 | Connectivity: Bluetooth
Slim and light
App support issues
The Pebble Time Round is the most stylish and premium Pebble yet. It’s light, comfy, has a stainless steel casing and avoids the chunk factor of most rival smartwatches.
It still doesn’t look quite as premium as the likes of the Apple Watch, thanks to a large bezel between the screen and the edge of the watch, but that aside it looks remarkably like a regular watch, rather than a wrist-worn computer.
Sadly, this all comes at a cost, because while other Pebble models can keep on ticking for up to a week, this one conks out after a couple of days. The round screen also means that not all existing Pebble apps work with it. Still, if you want a watch first and smarts second, the Pebble Time Round is a strong option.
Read the full review: Pebble Time Round
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