Android Wear, Google’s first incarnation of wearable operating platform, had what could sympathetically be called a ‘shaky start.’ With compatibility issues that left some of the mainstream manufacturers with only partial compatibility or even no compatibility at all, at first it left Google owners peering enviously over the Apple fence. This no doubt had fairly catastrophic consequences in the retail market and forced Google to correct the situation speedily.
Google, quickly released Android Wear 2.0, which solved most (if not all) of 1.0’s weaknesses, however the consumer damage in today’s quickly moving market it swift and usually unforgiving. Hence the much needed re-brand on the latest version of 2.0, to Wear OS. As well as fixing the compatibility issues of the original, huge enhancements have been made to improve navigation, battery life, and much more on the platform. However it cannot be overlooked that part of the reason for the brand change was to make the OS more palatable to both Android, and importantly Apple customers. The system is equally at home with both mobile systems.
It is however important to state that it is still very important to check compatibility before you purchase because there is still a large amount of product twinning within the market and some watches only work with certain phones. It is still important to ensure that you are purchasing a compatible device.
Although we are not in the business of ranking our choices (best to worst), as each watch has strong and weaker points and each is generally targeted to a specific audience withing their own consumer database, below we list what we consider to be an extensive (though not exhaustive) list of incredibly capable watches that work very well within the Wear OS platform.
Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 1.2-inch 390 x 390 AMOLED | Processor: Quad-core 1.2GHz | Band sizes: 22mm straps | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery duration: Two days | Charging method: Proprietary | IP rating: IP68 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS
The over riding plus for the Fossil sport is that it includes the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 chipset, which makes the operation amongst the smoothest within this list. In fact if you are the kind of person that gets easily frustrated with the occasional OS lag experienced in the majority of smart watches, you really need look no further down this list.
With a combination or great value, ease of use and lots of features in a light body that is comfortable to wear in every day use either in the office or while working out. The Fossil sport also comes armed with GPS, and under normal use the battery should last around 2-days.
All-in-all, if you are looking for a reasonably priced watch that is smart, comfortable, and that you don’t need a physics degree to operate this is a great choice.
Compatibility: Android 4.3+, iOS 8+ | Display: 1.39″ 400 x 400 OLED | Processor: Snapdragon Wear 2100 | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery duration: Around 48h | Charging method: Magnetic connecting pin | IP rating: IP67 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1
Let’s be honest here, it’s the price that drives the TicWatch, so high in this list. It is without a doubt one of the cheapest functional Wear OS watches on the market right now. At this price mark any compromises fall into insignificance.
The pluses far outweigh any negative, it is fully waterproof, sports the latest Wear OS software. In comparison to it’s predecessor the E, it’s battery life is a full 30% longer, easily lasting 2-days, that is unless you are using lots of the impressive list of sports features. The E2, also uses GPS, so it supports most sporting situations from swimming to hiking.
The one function that is missing is NFC, so unfortunately you will have to carry your card for your in-hike refreshments. At this price point that is hardly a compromise.
Compatibility: Android 4.3+, iOS 8+ | Display: 1.4″ 400 x 400 OLED paired with LCD screen | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery duration: Up to 48h, 5 extra days in Essential mode | Charging method: Magnetic connecting pin | IP rating: IP68 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1
The Pro, is Mobvoi’s, take on one of the most innovative progressions of last year, the hybrid display. In the past 12 months we have become accustomed to the hybrid of the chronograph and either OLED, or LCD overlay. Mobvoi, have twisted that here and present us with a hybrid transparent LCD display over a full colour OLED.
It’s an interesting twist and it is very, very effective. When in battery saving mode, the watch will display the usual watch functions through the LCD, the smartwatch functions are directed and displayed through the OLED display. This configuration has a startling effect on battery longevity.
The TicWatch pro, is armed with a fantastic GPS system,a heart rate monitor and now NFC, for the Google pay needs amongst us. It is a powerful premium watch with a build to match.
LG Watch Style
Compatibility: Android 4.3+, iOS 9+ | Display: 1.2″ 360 x 360 P-OLED | Processor: Snapdragon Wear 2100 | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery duration: Up to 24h | Charging method: Conductive USB charger | IP rating: IP67 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Stylish brand, stylish promo, stylish watch. The Watch Style, premiered in 2016 and was once the undoubted top dog in the sub £500 watch category.
Although now available at a much reduced price, it is still a major player on this list because at launch it sported high-end components and software, which has been continually upgraded, to keep it current.
Everything about the style is aimed at classic stylish design, from it’s sandblasted stainless steel case, to it’s (still) category leading slim profile, and it’s rotating crown. This was one of the original smartwatches that actually looks great on any wrist. It also wears one of the best P-OLED screens in the market, which is actually fully round.
The premium quality if the Style means that although it is a fair match for the big boys in everything that it does, it does have some compromises that may important to be aware of. It does not have GPS or a heart rate monitor. But lets be honest you would be slightly bonkers to take something this good looking into a serious battle.
So there you have it, a list of my current favourite Wear OS watches at the moment. This is by no means an exhaustive list, there are plenty more, but these form a great focus point for what is on the market right now at a reasonable price.
I will do in-depth reviews of all of these at a later date, along with reviews of all of the stuff that I come across.
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