If you’re looking for a smartwatch that looks good on your wrist, there’s no hiding from the fact that Tag Heuer and Apple have options for you.
The latter came back strong with the second iteration of its smartwatch, adding GPS, waterproofing and an improved battery. Tag, meanwhile, jumped aboard the Android Wear 2.0 bandwagon and also released an improved attempt at its connected timepiece.
But there are plenty of things to consider before crowning either of these devices the champion. We’ve been living with and testing both for some time, so read on to find out how the Apple Watch Series 2 and Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45 compare.
Apple Watch Series 2 vs Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45: Design
Design can often be left behind in favour of technical features when it comes to smartwatches, but this pair are both able to provide you with a piece you’ll be happy to place on your wrist every day.
That doesn’t mean you’re getting the same package here, though — far from it. While the Apple Watch Series 2 brings you a svelte, square face with the digital crown and side button as external navigators, the Connected Modular is a more traditional, circular-faced behemoth, clocking in at 45mm on the body and 13.75mm thickness. The Apple Watch, meanwhile, is available in both 38mm and 42mm variants, with thickness of around 11mm.
And while the Tag does give you the look of a regular timepiece, it also serves up a trump card: modularity. This not only allows you take advantage of different lugs and watch straps, from leather and metal to more sporty rubber, but also lets you sub in different connected or dumb modules (meaning you can solve any battery issues, too).
By regular smartwatch standards, the Apple Watch doesn’t lack for customisation options either. You’re given a wealth of smart and sporty bands, including designs from Nike and Hermes, with endless third-party options also available.
Build quality, as you would expect, is excellent in both of these models. And since the pair each offer 5ATM waterproofing, you can take your watch for a dip in the pool or in the shower with no problems.
Design is solid across the board here, so it really comes down to whether you can tolerate a big smartwatch on your wrist. If you can, and you prefer round faces, the Tag will win this battle for you. If not, the Apple Watch manages to pull off the square face while still remaining relatively unobtrusive.
Apple Watch Series 2 vs Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45: Screen
So overall design is strong for both models, but the screen itself is equally crucial.
As far as the Tag smartwatch is concerned, it’s a considerable step up from its predecessor. There’s now a 1.39-inch, 400 x 400 resolution AMOLED display wrapped in scratch-resistant sapphire cover glass. And though this is, in fact, a smaller screen than the original Connected smartwatch, this has allowed for a resolution bump which provides a brighter and more vibrant wrist – even in sunlight.
It’s still not perfect, even when compared to other Android watches such as the LG Watch Sport, but this is much improved.
Still, for our money, Apple is the clubhouse leader in this department. The Series 2 manages to double the brightness of its older sibling, giving you a screen sporting 1,000 nits. Ramp it up all the way and it’s a dazzling screen, and one that isn’t a complete fingerprint magnet, either.
For those with a stainless steel or ceramic case, you’ll be looking at a sapphire crystal display, while those with an aluminium body will be met with Ion-X glass. In terms of pixels, the 38mm model features 272 x 340, while its larger variant brings this to 312 x 390.
Apple Watch Series 2 vs Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45: Software
Often the place where smartwatch battles are decided, you’re given the option to run the show through Apple’s watchOS software or Google’s Android Wear 2.0 with these two devices.
The Series 2 provides you with a packet of new features, including the Emergency SOS app, the Breathe app and the handy app dock. But one of watchOS’s strongest suits remains its notifications, which allow you to handle buzzes pretty much all from the wrist — whether these are standard texts or third-party musings from the likes of Facebook.
Also in its favour is its varied ecosystem, allowing you to take advantage of apps outside of the stock options. And thanks to a faster processor, these apps no longer suffer from mind-numbing load times.
But the Tag isn’t found wanting in this area, either, with Wear’s new smarts also allowing for standalone apps, improved messaging and payment from the wrist. The support still isn’t quite on the same level as its rival, but it certainly doesn’t disgrace itself here.
A neat feature introduced on the Connected Modular takes advantage of Wear’s smarts to provide customised watch faces. Browsing works similarly to other Wear watches, but Tag has also added in the Tag Heuer Studio to let you pick the watch face base and then mess with the dials and the overall look.
One final issue to consider in this area is just how compatible each device is with your smartphone. Often, Wear-packing devices can be experienced better by avoiding iOS, though in this case there are no issues to report – a fairly consistent theme since Google’s new OS landed. As for the Apple Watch, this still only works with iPhones, and there’s no indication that the Cupertino giant is set to open up and play nice any time soon – even if you think it should.
Apple Watch Series 2 vs Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45: Features and fitness
In terms of features, these devices match up fairly tightly. The headline act on both, though, is the inclusion of built-in GPS, which allows you to leave your phone behind when cycling or running wild and free.
Despite this, only Apple provides its own dedicated workout and activity apps – something that isn’t too surprising considering the Tag isn’t tackling fitness and wellbeing in quite the same way. It’s clear this is still primarily a luxury piece, but those who want to take a dip or go for a quick run still have the option to tap into Google Fit.
When we tested the pair against a chest strap and the TomTom Spark 3 GPS watch, results stayed fairly consistent. Although if you’re looking for the device which is best for fitness, there’s no real competition here. Not only are you granted a heart rate monitor on the Apple Watch, but the GPS is currently supported by more third-party apps, such as Strava and Runkeeper.
On the inside, Tag has partnered up with Intel once again, packing the Atom Z34XX processor. That’s backed up by a pretty standard 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage on board. In comparison, Apple provides you with 8GB of internal storage, allotting 2GB for your music, and its dual-core processor.
Apple Watch Series 2 vs Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45: Battery life
Despite the Tag being by far the bulkier of the two, it has utilised this extra real estate to add in GPS and make display improvements, sticking with the same 410mAh battery as its predecessor.
This means you’ll be receiving a similar battery life – enough to get you through an entire day, but struggling to last any longer than that. This, as always, is relative to how intensely you are using the device, of course. If you’re making use of the GPS for, say, 45 minutes, this can hit the battery pretty hard, though placing the watch on the charging disc will take things from 0-100% in around two hours.
It’s a fairly similar, if slightly better, story on the Apple Watch. If you’re rocking the 42mm model, which features a stronger battery, you’re usually able to stretch things out to late on the second day. If you’re a heavy user of GPS or music, or like to extend your notifications from the wrist, this will likely see you tapping in to the charger sooner than you’d like, though.
In our book, neither device provides enough battery life here. But if you’re looking for the winner, the Apple Watch edges this.
Apple Watch Series 2 vs Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45: Price
Yes, the all-important price. While Apple has the, well, Apple factor working to make it a coveted option, Tag Heuer is only aiming to appeal to those looking for a genuine high-end smartwatch.
This is apparent as soon as you check out the difference in price. While the Apple Watch Series 2 starts at $369, entry into the Connected Modular party begins at a whopping $1550 and skyrockets all the way to $15,000 if you’re interested in a limited edition model.
Apple has its more expensive options, too, in the form of the ceramic, stainless steel and collaborative editions, but generally this is an area where the two differ greatly.
Apple Watch Series 2 vs Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45: Verdict
On paper, these two smartwatches are offering you a similar package. There’s the crucial additions of GPS for runners and waterproofing for swimmers, while build quality and style points are up there with the very best.
When you delve deeper, the picture clears slightly. There’s always the choice between watchOS and Android Wear for you to make, but the Apple Watch comes away the winner in battery, display and fitness features.
In our view, you can’t lose with either of these devices. For those looking to shell out on a premium device that can pass as an everyday timepiece, it doesn’t get much better than the Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45.
But for the many looking to keep their wallet/mortgage intact, the Apple Watch Series 2 is a do-it-all option that, while still expensive in its own right, will leave you impressed.