Because the Apple Watch isn’t right for everyone…
If you’re an iPhone owner and you want a new smartwatch, the new Apple Watch Series 3 isn’t your only choice – there are a whole host of iOS-compatible smartwatches on the market with features that Cupertino’s device has yet to include.
Plus, of course, Android Wear is compatible with iOS and so are Samsung’s latest Gear smartwatches. So iPhone users have plenty of options to choose from and it’s only improved since the rollout of Wear 2.0.
So, if you find the new LTE-enabled Apple Watch a little too pricey or just not to your taste, we’ve rounded up a selection of the best alternatives to pick from, any of which will sync seamlessly with your iPhone with zero fuss.
Samsung Gear Sport
The Samsung Gear Sport is not a replacement for the Gear S3, instead it’s an upgrade to the Gear S2 and brings it closer to Apple’s sports tracking skills. The new waterproof design brings dedicated swim tracking to accompany the built-in GPS for running and cycling along with the on board heart rate monitor. On the smartwatch front, it’ll offer the same strong notification support as the S3, Samsung Pay and Spotify offline playlist support.
That rotating bezel is still there to navigate Samsung’s Tizen OS and it still manages to eek out more battery life than the Watch Series 3 too. It doesn’t however have LTE support, but if you want that, you can go for the Gear S3 instead.
$299.99, samsung.com | Amazon
LG Watch Sport
The second stop on your tour of Apple Watch alternatives should be our recommended Android Wear all-rounder, the LG Watch Sport. It’s the flagship device for the revamped Wear 2.0 with solid fitness chops and built-in GPS, a full and untethered experience away from your phone via LTE, not to mention NFC for payments. If you want a do-it-all smartwatch then you could do much worse than the good-looking and clever flagship LG smartwatch.
$349, lg.com | Amazon
Garmin Vivoactive 3
The Apple Watch offers a solid sports tracking experience, but with the Vivoactive 3, it’s designed for those who dabble in a lot of sports. It’ll cover running, cycling, golf and more via its Connect IQ store. It will even cover gym workouts with the addition of rep counting. Garmin Pay has been added into the mix letting you make payments from the wrist, and an improved notification support that now lets you respond to your messages.
The battery life is top notch and the new circular design is a massive step up from its predecessor the Vivoactive HR. Get our definitive take with our Garmin Vivoactive 3 review.
$299.99, garmin.com | Amazon
If Samsung or Android Wear don’t do it for you, then there’s always Fitbit’s first smartwatch to consider. Like the Watch Series 3, it’s all about fitness. So it’s got a waterproof design along with swim tracking, built-in GPS to track runs and rides and an onboard heart rate monitor to measure workout intensity. You can also expect the usual Fitbit fitness tracking features including arguably the best sleep monitoring features of any wearable we’ve tried recently.
As far as core smartwatch features are concerned, it supports first and third party notifications, has an onboard music player and offline playback support for Pandora (in the US) and you can download apps. Although, there’s not a lot of those available yet. There’s also contactless payment support via Fitbit Pay.
Unlike Apple’s smartwatch, it does work with Android, iOS and Windows smartphones and with up to 5 days battery life you don’t need to charge it every night.
$299.95, fitbit.com | Amazon
Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45
Yes, this is the most expensive Android Wear watch out there by some distance, but if you want a luxurious smartwatch around your wrist, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Tag’s second Connected looks like a classic Tag for starters, with first-class build quality and a host of impressively detailed custom watch faces. Android Wear 2.0 is there keeping things running but it definitely takes more of a backseat than on Wear alternatives from LG, Motorola and company. With NFC and GPS onboard, you’re well looked after no matter what you need. Tag is definitely onto a winner here – check out our full Modular 45 review for more details.
The stylish Misfit Vapor offers a nice alternative to the Apple Watch in a couple of ways while still appealing to Apple fans. First up, it has a round OLED screen, albeit at a one size fits all 44mm (bigger than Cupertino’s watch). Next, there’s a handy touch bezel and one button at the crown position which means you shouldn’t have to smudge your finger over that screen too much.
With Android Wear 2.0 (not its own custom OS as promised), an optical heart rate monitor and water resistance up to 50m, the Vapor is a very capable all-rounder. As it’s compatible with both iOS and Android, it could steal sales from both the Apple Watch Series 3 and older models. Read our Misfit Vapor hands on review, a full test is coming soon.
With the demise of Pebble, the Ticwatch 2 is now our plucky smartwatch start-up of choice. The Ticwatch 2 boasts a vibrant 400 x 400 OLED panel at an eye-popping 287ppi, which is one hell of a display in a smartwatch that costs just $199. The OS needs some work, but there’s built-in GPS and a heart rate monitor – in fact, most things you could ask from a smartwatch. Check out our in-depth Ticwatch 2 review. Our full review is on the way.
$189, ticwear.com | Amazon
Fossil Q Accomplice
Fossil’s hybrid collection is well worth checking out. The series puts activity tracking and smartwatch notifications via vibration behind a classic analogue wrist watch and all the smarts are provided by wearable giant Misfit, which Fossil acquired in early 2016.
2017’s cohort, which includes the new Q Accomplice, are smaller, slimmer and have new smart ‘pusher’ buttons. They’re selling buckets for Fossil, and for many, make more sense and provide greater wearability than a full-on smartwatch, while offering many of the benefits. Also worth a look if you have the money is the Kronaby smartwatch.
$175, fossil.com | Amazon
While the bigger Huawei Watch 2 is now available, the first Huawei Watch is every bit the luxury opposite number on the Android Wear side of things. Unsurprisingly then, the price tags are roughly shoulder to shoulder.
There are plenty of metal link straps to choose from and options of rose gold too, but it’s the pin-sharp 10,000:1 contrast display that will probably catch your eye. The missing GPS is the only blot on its copybook but otherwise it’s a very cool customer – and now compatible with iPhone, of course. Take a look at our full Huawei Watch review to see what we love and hate about the sleek Android Wear watch.
From $299, consumer.huawei.com | Amazon
Polar’s first ever Android Wear smartwatch doesn’t feel like a smartwatch, but that’s actually a good thing. It’s still the best Android Wear running watch.
You get all the Wear goodies on board including notification and app support, but it lives more in the background, letting Polar’s sports tracking features, such as the built-in GPS, heart rate monitoring and Polar Flow software, take centre stage. While it’s pretty pricey for a Polar watch and it’s nowhere near as good looking as the Apple Watch Series 3, it’s still a strong contender as a sporty alternative.
$329, polar.com | Amazon