What is a Smart Watch
A smartwatch is a well-designed computerized wristwatch with a great number of useful features. Nowadays, the best smartwatches function as portable media players, providing audio and video playback to a user via Bluetooth earphones. These models are often called 'watch phones'. They feature full cell phone capabilities, and can easily make or answer phone calls. Besides, this gadget can connect to Android or iOS devices and run popular mobile apps. It also can be used as a navigator, a portable media player, a fitness tracker or a messenger.
If you are in search of a decent high-performing smartphone as well, make sure to read the review of the best iPhone models.
What Features to Compare
When choosing a smartwatch, we recommend you to pay attention to the Design. If you think that all the important parts are hidden inside a housing you are quite wrong. Find out everything about the material and display characteristics first hand. Most watches are made of plastic, but some of them are made of metal - these are more durable, of course. Also, the displays are different - some of them are monochrome but the vast majority of smart watches have colour LCD screens that give a fantastic image quality.
The next you should consider are Functions and Compatibility of the chosen smartwatch so as to see whether it's going to be compatible with your OS or not. And surely, the key functions that may differ greatly from one model to another. A good watch that you won't regret should support SMS and calls notifications, allow Internet browsing and run most popular apps (such as iTunes for example). Some watches have a GPS function and can serve as a navigator while used at the wheel. Good smartwatches boast functionality of most common fitness trackers either, and can measure your heart rate, body temperature, pulse, etc.
Watch is worn on a wrist and so, is quite prone to damage, particularly if you're doing some sports. Therefore, decent smartwatches are expected to ensure a high level of Protection. Check whether the model you chose is dust and waterproof. The protection grade can be higher or lower, and the price for a watch is proportionally dependent.
Finally, make sure to consider the Battery characteristics. Smartwatches are all small and as a rule, have rather low-capacity batteries. Yet, if you aren't keen on an idea to recharge your watches every two days, we recommend you to opt for a watch with e-Paper display. These watches comparing to the majority of touchscreen models can last for up to 5-7 days on a single charge. Their only drawback is a monochrome screen with a bit slower response time.
Garmin vivoactive HR GPS
Capable of Anything
There’s no denying, a modern smartphone is an all-in-one device. However, there are situations when you just can’t take it out of the pocket. If only we could have more of its functions at hand without actually turning the phone on, right? Well, Garmin vivoactive HR provides you with the direct access to every major function of your mobile.
Manufacturers add more and more features in smartwatches with each new generation. Heart rate monitoring and pedometer have become the common features in such devices. Vivoactive HR watch can count your pulse and the amount of steps you walk as well. The data is stored shortly in watch memory until you hook it up to your phone or tablet via Bluetooth 4.0 LE. The LE stands for low energy consumption, meaning that a battery doesn't drain as fast as most other cheaper watches. If you hit the gym while wearing Garmin watches, the built-in sensors will serve you as a multifunctional fitness tracker but with a big easy-readable 1.4" display where all information is shown in synch. The controls are performed via touchscreen gestures or with the two buttons in the bottom part - comes handy when swimming in the pool. That's right, it's totally waterproof. Feel free to wear it all day long.
We’ve mentioned that it works on power efficient Bluetooth 4.0 LE standard. Even more, the best part is that it can work up to 8 days from one battery charge! How could anyone not like it? With Garmin vivoactive HR, you can do everything and track down your day-to-day activities: work, run, swim, rest, and, of course, sleep. If you set an alarm clock for the morning, the watch will wake you up gently with the light vibration. By the way, you might not have heard about it but waking up to the loud sound we're all used to isn't considered a healthy way. So, it's time to change habits. Not all smartwatches boast a GPS tracker feature, however, that cannot be said about Garmin watch. With one on a wrist, you will always know the exact distance you run, have the map on a phone and be able to set new goals and break personal records. The manufacturer recommends customers to set the watches for the first time outdoors in order to configure the coordinates right. That'd be enough to successfully use Garmin watch in a long run and have the detailed picture of all your whereabouts. The GPS module is totally autonomous and it means, there's no need to connect it to your mobile each time you set off for a run.
More Products to Consider
Garmin vivoactive HR is awesome for sports. It comes with pre-installed apps for tracking your jogging, running, swimming, cycling and more. If you love riding a bicycle, take a look at these racing fingerless gloves by 2-FITNESS. The gel pads will protect your palms skin from the fall or blistering from the constant contact with a bike's handle.
Huawei W1 Stainless Steel Classic
As a rule, all smartwatches are pretty similar in functionality and it’s quite challenging to find a flagship device. Still, at the first glance you’ll see that these Huawei smartwatches stand out from the crowd. They are a vivid example of how classic design has been successfully merged with smart functionality. The thick round-shaped stainless steel body and sapphire crystal for the screen are a huge leap towards delivering a high level of protection required by active users. The smartwatch is available in different variations of leather and steel straps with either chrome, black or rose gold metal body. The striking similarity to classic watches only gets stronger with the fact that you can use any other standard 18 mm wristwatch straps in your possession - just unfasten one and attach another. Don’t be afraid to swipe, tap or draw circles on the 1.4" diameter screen with your finger as the sapphire crystal is actually about 10 times tougher than stainless steel. Speaking of the clock-face, you get to choose from a dozen pre-installed patterns, including old-school hands for hours and minutes, Roman and Arabic numbers or even word-written time.
What Can It Do?
If you still wonder whether this watch is iOS compatible, the answer is yes. Huawei offers great OS compatibility and can be synched with any Android or iOS-based device. To connect watches to a phone or tablet, you can either switch on Bluetooth or use Wi-Fi. Aside from versatile compatibility options, Huawei watches support a great number of features. On top of common step and time calculation, it's got a heart rate sensor on a wrist side to monitor your health all day long. The protection grade is IP67, meaning this watch is well resistant to dust and water and can be used even in rain. Yet, the grade isn't enough to swim wearing the watch, so, keep in mind and be careful.
A light vibration and moderate sound will inform you about notifications that you can also manually block or allow in options settings. Of course, you can receive or make calls with it or listen to the music. Still, the little speaker obviously lacks the volume in a tube or a bus. Although the basic iOS stuff works smoothly as expected, the Android compatibility has received a little bit more attention for the moment. You can download all the popular apps on your watch from Google Play like Facebook, Gmail, Twitter and others. Voice commands are available as well. In order to use it, turn the voice recognition on and say the ‘open sesame’ phrase – Ok, Google. The only thing left to mention is the battery life – get prepared to set it on a special charging dock station every day and a half or so.
Overall, this Huawei W1 Smartwatch might probably be the most balanced model out there right now. It wins in terms of classic design and has plenty of functions, though it all comes at a cost. What can we say? It is a premium class-looking device.
More Products to Consider
We suggest buying additional USB-powered charging dock station for the Huawei W1 smartwatch by Rerii. Use the original one at home and put the second one at the office or wherever you might need it.
Samsung Electronics Company doesn’t require a special presentation. It is a worldwide manufacturer of the high-class digital devices. Our team was excited when Samsung announced the new series of smartwatches. The Gear S2, just like its predecessor, is designed for phones and tablets on Android 4.4 or newer. The watch's functionality doubles that of your phone in many ways. And can be hooked up either via Bluetooth 4.1 or Wi-Fi.
Gear S2 runs on Tizen Wearable – it’s a Linux-based OS for smartwatches with lots of preinstalled apps. Right from the start, you get all of the major fitness tracker’s functions like a pedometer, heart rate monitor, remote controls of your phone's player, and so on. Not to mention classic apps like Facebook, Gmail or HERE maps. The 4 GB integral memory is enough to install more if needed.
Spin It Right Round
The 250 mAh battery shows decent lifespan - up to 2 days from one charge. But the finest thing about it is wireless charging. No need to worry about attaching a connector - you just place the watch on a dock station and it securely fixes itself to the base with a magnet. The full charge from zero takes around 1.5 hours. The satisfyingly bright Super AMOLED screen is hidden behind the sturdy Gorilla3 glass. Different clock faces to choose from are available right after unboxing it. We liked that they can also be adjusted in many ways – colour patterns, hues, brightness, etc.
We've kept the key feature for the last. The circular bezel around the screen offers a bit of protection to the glass from breaking by falling flat on it. Moreover, you can rotate the bezel with your fingers to select the menu icons instead of touching the screen – it helps navigate through the circular menu and keeps the screen glass cleaner from fingerprints. There are lots of small icons fit on the 1.2" screen, so this turned out to be rather handy. Although getting used to such controls might take a little time, it won’t be an issue at all if you ever had an iPod mp3 player. Rotate the bezel left or right to choose the menu option - tap once in the centre of the screen to open it. Easy as that!
Additionally, the Gear S2 will surely find its place on a wrist of any active user due to IP68 certification. For uninitiated, this is the protection from dust particles and water immersion. Tests have proved: taking a shower or swimming in a pool won't spoil it in any way. You can have it in a grey or a brighter silver-grey metal body with the straps of different colours too. Choose the one you like the most and just have fun with it!
More Products to Consider
At a little extra price, you can find more changeable straps for the Gear S2. For instance, take a look at this variety of the multi-coloured accessories by MoKo.
Sony Mobile SWR50
The wristwatch stopped being just a timekeeping device long ago. It has rather transformed into an accessory of style and fashion. The world doesn’t stand still. With technical progress, now, you can have a phone in your hand with a stylish mini-phone in your watch at the same time. Sony SmartWatch proves to be a fine successor to the company's wearable digital accessories by featuring a wide-range functionality along with a fully customisable look thanks to the variety of clock faces and changeable wristbands.
SWR50 is a follow-on model of the Sony smartwatch series with Android Wear OS on board. This means, there are plenty of officially supported apps in Google Play to choose from and to personalise the watch according to your lifestyle. It can also connect to Wi-Fi separately from your phone to get a fresh update on the news, emails, weather forecasts, etc. Otherwise, it hooks up to a phone via Bluetooth 4.0 LE.
As usual, the functionality duplicates that of fitness trackers in many ways: pedometer, heart rate monitor, GPS, accelerometer, and so on. SmartWatch 3 is set to notify you about many things, such as incoming calls, messages, meeting reminders, alarm clock, just to name a few. Of course, the notifications can be turned on and off as you see fit at a given moment.
The extra large 1.6" touchscreen is pretty quick to response owing to 1.2 GHz Quad-Core A7 processor. The TFT LCD screen shows a bright crisp picture. The panel choice might raise a question about power efficiency compared to AMOLED displays, but manufacturer promises up to 2 days of use or up to 4 days in a standby mode. A decent result if you ask us. Furthermore, you don't need a special docking station for this one - the standard charging micro-USB port is hidden behind the silicone waterproof plug on the wrist side.
Speaking of the wrist, 3 main materials for the straps (or housing, as Sony names it) are currently available which are silicone, stainless steel and leather - with a price varying accordingly. You are free to choose the one to your liking, but we can generally recommend wearing silicone straps, for they are unlikely to ever pull hairs on your hand and they aren't water-sensitive like leather, for example.
To sum up, the Sony Smartwatch 3 is a considerable device that will alleviate a constant pain of taking a phone out of the pocket for people who live on a busy schedule and who often receive calls and messages and cannot afford missing one. The watches have capacious 4 GB memory to store music and apps you often need to access.
More Products to Consider
Here's a wireless Bluetooth headset with headphones and a microphone by Sony. Essential for runners, gym goers and all those who like listening to music on the go.
Pebble 501 Time
The Different Kind of Approach
Energy efficiency and battery life are the key characteristics of mobile devices. The AMOLED-based smartwatches usually require recharging every other day. However, Pebble Time is a real survival. You must agree, nothing beats 7 days with a clock face always on - on just 1 battery charge! The secret lies in a coloured e-Paper display – the technology is similar to the one used in eBooks like Kindle. The image on the 1.25" screen is formed with a coloured e-ink that stays on for as long as necessary without draining the battery. On the bright side - it can be distinctly seen in the direct sunlight. The tradeoff – it’s not that visible in dim lighting. Still, the built-in LED backlight helps with it, thus it’s really not a big deal.
After all, Pebble Smartwatch - a successful Kickstarter project - works with both Android and iOS devices. Bored of the current clock face? Change it anytime with any of the hundreds of the available designs. The square metal bezel also gives it a very neutral look, so wearing it will be appropriate for both business meetings and friend's parties. Checking emails or weather forecasts, receiving phone notifications, finding a cab with Uber – you are not limited in any way when compared to others smartwatches.
Down to Earth
The controls are simple – 1 button on the left, 3 buttons on the right. Some might think: there’s no much use to it. But hear us out. The open-source platform for developers works miracles. It does have plenty of apps. For instance, there’s the one for GoPro that switches camera modes or starts-stops video recording. Another great example - the special Leaf app for controlling home thermostats by Nest company. Allowing the push notifications from any of your phone’s app makes them appear on your Pebble’s screen too. Of course, you can change tracks and turn up the volume on the phone’s player, answer incoming calls, keep track of daily activities like walking or running and check the burned calories same like in other smartwatches.
As a result, Pebble Time is a really smart watch designed to the taste of both high and low-tech users.
More Products to Consider
Feel free to change the look of your Pebble smartwatch with any 22 mm straps that can be bought separately. Just for example, here's the stainless steel Milanese model by DHMXDC.
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