Our top picks from an ever growing group of Google-powered wearables
*** Note : £1 = $1.33 (correct at time of post)
Choosing the best Android Wear smartwatch is no easy task. There’s an ever-expanding range of Android Wear wearables on sale, from a whole host of different brands. It’s not just tech companies that are making them these days.
Android Wear 2.0 is now running at full speed, with smartwatches from the likes of Tag Heuer, Montblanc, ZTE, Asus, Huawei and Fossil rocking the updated operating system, and most older watches now running the new platform too. Plus, there are also new watches from fashion-focused brands such as Tommy Hilfiger and Hugo Boss to drop before the end of the year.
If you’re looking to get a Google-powered smartwatch on your wrist sooner rather than later though, here are all the juicy details on the top Android Wear smartwatches available now.
Best Wear watch 2017: LG Watch Sport
The flag-carrier for Android Wear 2.0, the LG Watch Sport is the undisputed king of the Wear world right now. It taps into the rich feature set of Google’s updated smartwatch platform and doesn’t disappoint.
The 1.38-inch, 480 x 480 P-OLED display is, pixel for pixel (348ppi), the best Wear display so far. It’s also got the most oomph in the engine room, with a 1.1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor and 768MB of RAM. What that means in the real world is a super snappy Wear experience with the new standalone apps loading without a stutter.
But it’s the inclusion of the GPS / NFC / LTE connectivity trio that really sets it apart. Thanks to that holy trinity, it’s the first Android Wear smartwatch that really could consider itself a genuine smartphone replacement. It’s the best all-rounder from the Google stable so far, and the most likely to worry the bods over in Cupertino. The Huawei Watch 2 and the latest Tag smartwatch (below) also boast this level of connectivity, but the LG Watch Sport remains our top pick.
$349, lg.com | Amazon
Best Wear watch if money’s no object: Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45
The leading luxury smartwatch, this ‘Swiss Made’ 45mm beauty is available with titanium, ceramic and 18K rose gold finishes and will provide you with a modular design, which essentially means you’re free to switch out the electronic watch with a traditional mechanical Tag module such as the Calibre 5 or the chronograph Tourbillon Heuer 02-T. Mixing up the lugs, straps and buckle is also an option, with 56 different versions available at launch.
There’s an Intel Atom Z34XX processor powering performance, 4GB of storage memory and a battery life of around 24 hours. There’s also built-in Wi-Fi and GPS to give it standalone smarts, NFC to let you make payments from the wrist and water resistance up to 50 metres.
For more on the watch, check out our Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45 review. We are also still expecting to see a smaller 39mm Connected Modular, which Tag’s CEO revealed was going to launch before the end of the year. So women/anyone with smaller wrists should look out for this.
And if that’s not for you, there’s also the Louis Vuitton Tambour Horizon, which doesn’t include a lot of the bells and whistles. You won’t find GPS or NFC payment support here, but you will find an expertly crafted luxury watch that perfectly matches your Louis Vuitton luggage. If you do want Android Pay, and something a bit less expensive than Louis Vuitton’s, there’s also the Movado Connect and Emporio Armani Connected to consider too.
From £1,200, tagheuer.com | Amazon
Best Wear watch for running: Polar M600
With the Moto 360 Sport we finally had an Android Wear smartwatch to rival the Sony SmartWatch 3’s GPS skills, but it’s Polar’s M600 that is now easily the best option for runners, despite competition from the likes of the New Balance RunIQ.
Your M600 syncs directly to Polar Flow, and not only will your smartphone be able to display all your stats, but all that data is synced to the cloud so you can dig deeper using the Flow desktop client or the browser based version. What’s more, if you don’t trust the optical heart rate monitor on the M600 (you really should though), you can pair it with a dedicated chest strap – and it doesn’t even have to be a Polar one.
£259, polar.com | Amazon
Best value Wear watch: ZTE Quartz
The ZTE Quartz, the Chinese company’s first bash at Wear, is all about affordability. And although that means some compromises, it still offers the Android Wear 2.0 experience along with a data connection (3G not 4G), all for less than £150.
With a 46mm diameter and 14.5mm thickness it’s a bit of a chunky-monkey, but the 1.4-inch AMOLED display, with a 400 x 400 resolution, certainly doesn’t lack vibrancy.
ZTE has compromised to get the Quartz to its price point. It doesn’t come with a heart rate monitor but GPS does make it in. There’s no NFC though, so no Android Pay fun, unfortunately.
$192, zteusa.com | Amazon
Best Wear watch for women: Michael Kors Access Sofie
Last year’s Michael Kors Access series consisted of two models: the Bradshaw Access and Dylan Access, both based on bestselling women’s and men’s Michael Kors watches. Now there’s two new additions with the Access Grayson and the Access Sofie, which is the more female-friendly version of the new duo.
It’s available in number of different styles including gold, rose gold, silver and sable-tone. Crucially, it still delivers that fairly blingy, pretty smartwatch look that we’re fans of. The 42mm watch is still a little on the chunky side, but it has definitely slimmed down from the last year’s watches, so dimensions are going in the right direction.
As far as unique features are concerned, it now adds a new My Social ‘micro app’ for watch faces to offer greater customisation letting you use Facebook and Instagram pics as faces.
Again, you have to make do without features like NFC for Android Pay and LTE to leave your phone behind, but if you want a Wear watch that looks the part and delivers of all those core Wear features, it’s one to consider.
From £350, michaelkors.com | Amazon
Top Android Wear watch for basics: Asus ZenWatch 3
The Asus ZenWatch 3 is a well-rounded smartwatch that’s all about style, and it will be a much better device once it gets the Android Wear 2.0 update. Until then, you’re still looking at a classy watch with some nice custom twists from Asus.
Battery life on the ZenWatch 3 also isn’t bad by smartwatch standards. We managed to squeeze a little over two days on average, but that’s with moderate, mostly passive use; mainly just checking notifications from time to time.
£249.99, asus.com | Amazon
Top Wear watch for outdoor adventures: Casio Pro Trek Smart WSD-F20
The iconic Japanese watchmaker has been quick to give us a successor to the WSD-F10 and this time around it has included GPS – the big omission from the original.
What hasn’t changed though is that rugged outdoor look, nor its rugged, outdoor adventure credentials. It’s water resistant to 50 metres, and it’s been built to military standards (MIL-STD-810). The onboard GPS also unlocks more outdoor-focused features, including GPS-based watch faces (think altitude and compass widgets).
Casio has a bunch of its own apps designed for adventurers, as well as third-party apps such as ViewRanger, MyRadar and Yamap, and a monochrome mode is available for when you’re running low on battery, giving you a month’s life if you’re just using it in normal watch mode.
£450, shopcasio.com | Amazon
Most discreet Wear watch: Huawei Watch
When we first reviewed the original Huawei Watch, we called it the slickest looking Android Wear smartwatch but lamented that those good looks came at a premium.
Fast forward 18 months or so and, with its successor now on sale, there are bargains to be had when buying the original model, which we think still beats out its successor in the style-stakes – we really wish the Huawei Watch 2 had kept to this simple design. In terms of actually looking like a watch, nothing comes close to the Huawei Watch.
The AMOLED display is a 1.4-inch, 400 x 400 screen with a 286ppi count. That was (before the LG Watch Sport came along) the highest on any Android Wear device and Huawei’s effort is made all the more impressive thanks to a 10,000:1 contrast ratio. Side by side with the smaller Moto 360 2 – its closest rival in terms of aesthetics – it’s clearly a better display. Not just because it offers genuine 360-degree visuals, but because everything just looks sharper.
From £229, consumer.huawei.com | Amazon
Android Wear: New watches coming soon
As well as our picks above, it’s worth noting that even though we are approaching the end of 2017, there are still some Android Wear smartwatches that are still expected to land. We’re talking official, announced, devices here – not rumour mill fodder.
The biggest is the Misfit Vapor, which we have been waiting for since January to drop. There’s also watches from the Movado Group – the Hugo Boss Touch and Tommy Hilfiger TH24/7You – and new devices from Guess (pictured above) and Gc.
So, while the smartwatches detailed above are the ones we consider to be the best currently on sale, it may be worth doing some reading around to see what’s still to come before making your choice and handing over your cash.