Top 10 Best Smartwatches: The Heavy Power List

Though 2015 was slated to be the year to fulfill your Dick Tracy dream with a sleek new smartwatch, the market is still somewhat tepid in anticipation of the next big innovation. But with releases still slated for late 2015, this holiday season might yet be the right time to get onboard the smartwatch bandwagon.

Before you dive right into our favorite smartwatches, it is best to discuss what criteria these devices were judged upon, since the market is taking a number of different directions right now.

While there is a large market of fitness wearables, we did not consider any of these tracking devices true smartwatches. We did however include some some smartwatches with minor fitness tracking features.

We tried to represent a fair amount of OSes, but since they all have rather small infrastructure in terms of apps and functionality, Google’s up and coming Android Wear OS is heartily represented. Due to the size limitations, these devices are mostly for in the moment reminders and updates, fitness tracking, navigation, music control, and sometimes a standalone music player.

Features like built-in web browsing and full voice control exist right now, but really are not a strong point of the smartwatch. Fully wrist-optimized versions of these functions are on the cusp of what is possible right now, and again, more updates will be forthcoming. But until then, enjoy Heavy’s top 10 best smartwatches.


1. LG G Watch R

The LG G Watch R kicks off the list for its impressive blend of style and functionality. Starting from the exterior, the watch has a circular 1.3 inch P-OLED screen under gorilla glass.

The P-OLED display gives nice viewing from an angle and deep blacks to match the stainless steel watch face. The 320×320 display is nice, though many users who are not used to large watch faces from brands like G Shock may find the size a little cumbersome.

The watch itself is definitely of a chunkier design, and it might be a bit large on your wrist, but that will vary from person to person. It comes with a genuine leather band, which you can swap if you prefer to customize your watches. The whole watch is IP67 certified for water and dust resistance, meaning it can be submerged in water up to 1 meter deep.

This watch is powered by a Snapdragon 400 processor, 512 MB RAM, and 4GB storage. These are typical specs for an Android Wear device, and will be the same for other watches unless otherwise noted.

And because of how new Android Wear is, you typically get the same functionality from one smartwatch to another. Improvements are being made though, and since the menus already run without any hangups or lag, the app selection is getting a little more attention from developers.

As of now, you can mostly access Google Now cards and notifications. There are features like turn by turn navigation, and a couple of useful fitness apps that make use of an internal pedometer and heart rate monitor. The only feature that LG is missing is GPS, which will probably be implemented soon enough.

One of the G Watch R’s best internal features is its 410 mAh battery, which offers about 2-2.5 days of on time, depending on how much you utilize the ambient mode vs. the active mode. While this seems a little low, it is a day more than the average smartwatch gets. The charger dock is nothing special, though.

What’s next for LG? The LG Watch Urbane was just announced at MWC 2015, which features the same hardware and Android Wear OS in a slimmer, more attractive package, as well as a standalone LTE version in the works that will be running a resurrected version of LG’s own WebOS. Aside from these cosmetic changes, the internal specs should be almost exactly the same. Nonetheless, the sleek new finish has us excited.

Check out the hands on video below, and be on the lookout for our coverage on the device when it releases.

Price: $263.95

Buy the LG G Watch R here.


Pros:

  • 2 day battery life
  • Fully round O-LED screen
  • Speedy performance

Cons:

  • Somewhat pricey
  • Limited app support for Android Wear
  • Bulky watch face

Find more LG G Watch R information and reviews here.


2. Samsung Gear S

The Gear S is Samsung’s latest and greatest smartwatch, and takes a daring step away from the current market by attempting to be a standalone device. It will still sync with your Android smartphone, but you also have independent access to cellular data networks. This ties in to a couple of other features on the watch’s Tizen OS as well.

The watch face takes a cue from Samsung’s Gear 2 with its curved face, now at an angle that is even more comfortable to wear. The large screen does make it quite big on the wrist, but it is well worth it to have the beautiful 2 inch Super AMOLED (480×360) display, especially if you utilize the always on screen.

The watch bands that surround the IP67 face can be replaced with custom Samsung bands when they come around, but until then are nothing special. The real treat on the Gear S watch is under the hood, in various apps that utilize the mobile data and GPS compatibility.

The pedometer and heart rate monitor, though present on all Samsung devices, are more functional because of the GPS, and feel less like they were just tacked on. You can also utilize the internal microphone and speaker to make calls directly from the watch, as well as receive audio notifications and playback voice mails.

The Gear S’ 300 mAh battery is fairly small to handle the large display, so battery life is very average at 2 days when it should probably be more. The charging cradle is nothing special, either, but this is common for Samsung wearables. One downside is that Samsung has recently announced that the Gear S2 will see release in October 2015, which means that the Gear S’ time in the spotlight will be short-lived from here on out. Check back for details.

Price: $348.00 (27 percent off MSRP) or $199.99 with contract

Buy the Samsung Gear S here.


Pros:

  • Huge 2 inch screen
  • Built-in speaker
  • Built-in GPS

Cons:

  • Most expensive smartwatch
  • Data plan required for 3G
  • Will soon be replaced by the Gear S2

Find more Samsung Gear S information and reviews here.


3. Apple Watch Sport

Though the critical reception of the Apple Watch was not on par with the hype built up before its release, this elegant smartwatch has still made a huge splash in the wearable tech market. The watch only works with the iPhone 5 or later, and features the sleek, metallic curves characteristic of an Apple device.

The Apple Watch Sport is IPX7-rated for immersion up to 30 minutes, so while running in deep puddles with a light weight $400 wearable is still not advised, it is indeed possible. Its soft, comfortable fluoroelastomer band is also nice if you plan to actually use this for fitness purposes, and if not, swapping the bands is easy.

Behind its light, durable Ion-X Glass screen is an AMOLED Retina display with Force Touch support, which comes in 42mm (312 x 390) or 38mm sizes (272 x 340), neither of which are the largest or sharpest of screens. These screens do get the job done, though, and are highly usable thanks to the digital crown on the side of the watch, which for scrolling and zooming without covering the display with your hand.

Another dedicated button on the side is specifically for accessing your friends list, which you can send or respond to messages via dictation or custom pre-selected messages. There is an integrated speaker for taking calls, but it does not yet have enough power to be actually worth using.

Force Touch adds functionality as well, and the rather robust set of apps (3,500+ available at this time) offer a variety of different uses, from receiving notifications, to having Siri send information to your phone. Integrated Apple Pay is functional, but it is a little scary to adjust to paying for things with a watch.

Other apps can also utilize the Apple Watch’s built-in heart rate sensor, accelerometer, and gyroscope. All of this takes a bit of getting used to because the UI of WatchOS 1.0 aims to be separate from that of iOS, but it is pretty solid experience once you get adjusted.

The watch’s S1 chip is pretty quick, but non-Apple apps can be a little slow to load. The Apple Watch Sport’s wireless MagSafe charger is portable for travel, but the 246 mAh battery in the 42mm watch and 205 mAh one in the 38mm watch can only offer about 18 hours of battery life, meaning that you will likely have to charge this smartwatch every night.

This first generation of the Apple Watch Sport has a lot of promising features going for it, and will likely blossom into an incredible product over time. But until then, the price barrier of this Apple product might mean that wearable enthusiasts will look elsewhere for their early introduction to the smartwatch market.

38mm Price: $349.00
42mm Price: $399.00

Buy the Apple Watch Sport here.


Pros:

  • Responsive digital crown control
  • Integrated speaker
  • Sleek IPX7-rated design

Cons:

  • Overly expensive
  • 18 hour battery life
  • Only pairs with iPhones (Generation 5 or newer)

Find more Apple Watch Sport information and reviews here.


4. Pebble Steel

The aesthetic for the Pebble Steel is dated but still powerful. Its 1.26 inch eInk screen (under Corning Gorilla Glass) does not display color, but keeps this device running for days beyond its competitors.

Considering that the Pebble Steel has been out since early 2014, the Pebble’s ongoing success is a possible sign that the smartwatch market is going in the wrong direction by allowing ambitious functions and displays to inhibit battery life.

Some will find the eInk screen cheap-looking, and others may be turned away from the chunky square display, but we find the design flashy and believe that the functionality will turn heads in itself. Its tri-color LED is a nice addition to this model, but the truly fancy features come from the apps withing Pebble’s custom OS.

Keep in mind Pebble watches are not about having a high powered processor, but for being able to do things that matter. That said, Pebble has a thriving design community that has made over 6,5000 apps, games, and faces, all free. Functionality is enhanced by a complementary phone app which can send over scripts and macro commands to the watch.

A downside of this is that the Pebble only has 8 storage slots for apps, setting a limit to how many features you can have sent to it at once. Thankfully, the phone app is a very handy solution for this, allowing you to manage the loaded apps on the go.

The best feature of the Pebble Steel is its advertised 5-7 days of battery life. Realistically, you can expect closer to 5, but even that is almost double the life of the next competitor. This is such a big feature for wearable tech that it fully justifies its simple design
USB charger is pretty usable

Can Pebble still survive in the 2015 smartwatch environment though? The Pebble Company is currently crowdfunding via Kickstarter for its new, slightly curved Pebble Time watch. It promises the addition of a color eInk display, a built-in microphone, and yes, up to 10 days of battery life.

The short answer is, yes, if Pebble delivers what they promise as effectively as they did before, Pebble will definitely remain a top contender in the smartwatch world. Watch the Pebble team explain below in this video addressing the very question of whether or not the Pebble can survive.

Price: $192.66 (4 percent off MSRP)

Buy the Pebble Steel here.


Pros:

  • 5 day battery life
  • Works with any smart phone
  • Robust app support

Cons:

  • Simple eInk display
  • No microphone
  • Only 8 storage slots for apps

Find more Pebble Steel information and reviews here.


5. Sony Smartwatch 3

While style is a big factor in a classic timepiece, Sony’s Smartwatch 3 approaches smartwatches in a manner similar to Pebble by moving away from this. Its silicone body with a thick-bezeled square face is certainly not made to please watch enthusiasts, but it does offer an athletic design with a sturdy IP68 rating.

The screen is a 1.6 inch TFT LCD (320×320), which looks great in daylight. One odd thing about it, however, is that it is not covered in gorilla glass, meaning it can be scratched in more rugged use.

Internally, its specs are up to par with most other smartwatches, and delivers your basic Android Wear experience lag-free. What makes Sony’s Smartwatch 3 so different is that has viable fitness functionality with a built-in GPS and pedometer. A heart rate monitor is strangely absent, which is fair enough considering it has not yet been well implemented by Android Wear, but it would have actually made a nice addition to this sporty watch.

Its 420 mAh battery set our hopes for a better battery life, but it only really gets you an average 2 days with regular use. Certain features like the GPS can drain the battery immensely fast, too, so if you use that often you might not even get a full day. The fact that it takes MicroUSB for charging is very convenient, especially since you can recharge the battery in a little over an hour.

Is a Smartwatch 4 on the horizon? Not quite yet, but this year at CES 2015, Sony announced a stainless steel version of the Smart Watch 3, due any time soon, that will have the same great features of the Smartwatch 3 in a beautiful stainless steel body.

Check out the preview video below, and be on the lookout for an update on this product.

Price: $244.99 (18 percent off MSRP)

Buy the Sony Smartwatch 3 here.


Pros:

  • IP68 certified
  • Built-in GPS
  • LCD screen looks great outside

Cons:

  • 2 day battery life should be better
  • Less stylish design
  • Screen scratches easily

Find more Sony Smartwatch 3 information and reviews here.



6. Asus ZenWatch

The Zenwatch is Asus’ take on what an Android Wear smartwatch should be, and it is a watch that does not sacrifice elegance for functionality. The sophisticated design features a slightly curved screen that contours to the wrist, plus stitched leather removable watch straps.

It has a beautiful 1.63 inch AMOLED display (320×320), which runs fine thanks to its standard Snapdragon 400 processor and 512 MB RAM.

The watch is IP55 meaning that it is water and dust resistant, but its rating is notably lower than that of other IP rated devices. A pedometer and heart rate monitor are also present, but is not developed enough to use for proper fitness tracking.

Most other Android Wear functions remain the same, but Asus does give its best attempt at a custom UI with their own special watch faces and manager app. Their displays show important information and the app allows you to program functions from your phone that engage on the watch.

Its 360 mAh battery lasts around 2 days, which is a little better than average and certainly manageable. Unfortunately, Asus also has the issue of the large, awkward charging cradle, which is hopefully something manufacturer’s acknowledge down the road.

What’s next for Asus? Big promises are being made about the Zenwatch 2, which is slated for release Q3 2015. It will supposedly have a week-long battery life, independent voice-calling a la the Gear S, and a more power conservative processor for making a simpler, more functional device. Hopes are high for this one, and Heavy will be keeping close tabs.

Price: $149.99

Buy the Asus ZenWatch here.


Pros:

  • Elegant curved design
  • 2 day battery life
  • Asus watch faces have useful display info

Cons:

  • Less dust/water resistant
  • Fairly thick watch face
  • Poor charging cradle design

Find more Asus ZenWatch information and reviews here.


7. Motorola Moto 360

Motorola’s sleek and round Moto 360 is just as stylish and functional as the G Watch R, but with a more minimalist aesthetic. The watch is much thinner, and the only blemish on its otherwise flawless design is the small bar at the bottom which houses the display drivers and ambient light sensor.

Its smaller bezel allows for an excellent 1.56 inch 320×290 IPS display underneath Corning Gorilla Glass. The stainless steel design and IP67 rating means it is durable and resistance to water and dust. The LCD screen displays well in sunlight, but it also drains the battery somewhat faster than OLED screen would.

The 320 mAh battery seems to last a day or so, but will dip to under a day when using the ambient mode. This is unfortunate as the watch display turns off when not in ambient mode, since there is no always on display setting.

It does however have an internal pedometer and optical heart rate monitor. Again, compared to other Android Wear devices, functionality is indistinguishable, down to voice commands and custom watch faces, though the Moto 360’s dated TI OMAP 3 processor can occasionally hinder performance.

You can use any wireless charger to charge it, but the dock it comes with sits it in a way that allows it to double a time displaying night stand. And what’s next for the Moto 360 line? The Moto 360 2 is being talked about, but we only have rumors about it for now.

Price: $149.00

Buy the Motorola Moto 360 here.


Pros:

  • Large, vibrant screen
  • Universal wireless charging
  • Night stand function when charging

Cons:

  • Somewhat pricey
  • Weaker processor
  • 1 day battery life

Find more Motorola Moto 360 information and reviews here.



8. Samsung Gear 2 Neo

Samsung’s Gear 2 Neo is an awesome smartwatch, and its only pitfall is how ridiculously similar it is to their other watches, namely the Samsung Gear 2.

The only difference between these two is that the Neo does not feature the Gear 2’s built-in camera, an intrusive feature that few will miss. The Neo version also has a plastic watch face instead of the original Gear 2’s steel finish.

This watches otherwise shares several features with other Samsung smartwatches: a 1.62 inch Super AMOLED display (320×320) under Gorilla Glass, a heart monitor and pedometer, an IP67 rating, and its sleek design. The Gear 2 models both have replaceable wrist bands as well for custom styles.

Another interesting difference from most smartwatches on this list is that it runs Tizen OS rather than Android Wear. With it you can access cool features like SVoice, the WatchON control app to control TVs, and a standalone music player.

You can also customize fonts, colors, and lock screens. The high functionality and speed of this OS makes it an early winner, and one can only hope Samsung’s development on its Tizen OS continues.

Another great feature of Tizen is because it is more lightweight, battery life will be much better even with a moderate 300 mAh battery. Expect about 2-3 days of battery life from one charge. The screen preserves battery by turning off when you are not looking at it, but sometimes they gyroscope doesn’t properly register looking up the watch, which can be a little frustrating. Like the other Gear devices, the unattractive charging cradle is back.

The cherry on top for this device, though, is the built-in speaker, which when used with the microphone, allows you to take calls directly on the watch. This feature can look awkward in public, but using it for hands-free calling a car or to play back voice memos is too nifty to ignore.

Price: $149.00

Buy the Samsung Gear 2 Neo here.


Pros:

  • 2-3 day battery life
  • Built-in speaker
  • Fast and functional Tizen OS

Cons:

  • Only works with certain Samsung Galaxy phones
  • Auto screen sensitivity needs adjustment
  • Poor charging cradle design

Find more Samsung Gear 2 Neo information and reviews here.


9. Pebble Smartwatch

The original Pebble Smartwatch is a big step down in build quality compared to other smartwatches on this list. However, as a cheaper yet functionally identical version of the Pebble Steel, it is a great option for those looking to enter the smartwatch world without breaking the bank.

And while the plastic body and straps are not top quality, but can both be swapped out, allowing for plenty of external customization atop the different colors they come in. Its eInk display (the same 1.26 inch display as the Pebble Steel) is not the most beautiful, but it is always on with no drain on the battery.

Like the Steel, the Pebble get 5-7 days of battery life with relative ease, meaning that you can use it uninterrupted for longer. But the Pebble belongs on this list for more than just the relief it offers from the ambitious Android Wear devices that barely get 1-2 days of battery life.

Since the Pebble has been out since mid 2013, its app selection has grown immensely, and has much more support than either Android Wear or Tizen. Because of its combination of affordability and functionality, the Pebble has definitely earned a place on this top list, that is until the more advanced smartwatches can bring this kind of price and battery life to a full-color AMOLED display.

Price: $99.99

Buy the Pebble Smartwatch here.


Pros:

  • Most affordable smartwatch
  • Works with any smart phone
  • 5 day battery life
  • Robust app support

Cons:

  • Lower quality parts compared to Pebble Steel
  • Simple eInk display
  • No microphone
  • Only 8 storage slots for apps

Find more Pebble Smartwatch information and reviews here.


10. Martian Watch Notifier

Taking the Pebble to its next step of simplification, the martian offers a stripped down concept of the smartwatch that is basically an analog watch with a small marquee OLED display (96×16). Behind this stunning analog timepiece you can get visible but non-distracting phone notifications with vibration.

The design is clean and sophisticated, and the analog clock runs on a separate battery so that it can consistently function as a watch if nothing else. If you have 22 mm watch bands which you prefer to use, they can be easily swapped out on this watch as well.

The small screen can display caller ID, SMS, emails, social media posts, fitness stats, and news and sports headlines. Most are easy enough to read, but if you have trouble reading small text this will be a major obstacle for use.

All of these updates are accompanied with a blip from the tricolor LED light. Mind that you cannot interact with these notifications other than dismissing them, but this at least allows you to screen content that is popping up in your phone without having to pull it out every couple of minutes. The find phone feature is also really handy.

The battery for the notification screen will last over 5 days with regular use, and conveniently charges with MicroUSB, which makes for a win-win in the power department.

Is the low-tech Martian watch already on it’s way out though? Contrarily, Martian has already announced a forthcoming model that will be a collaboration with Guess. The watch will be based off of the Guess Rigor, will be customizable through either an iOS or Android app, and will feature a microphone and speaker allowing you to issue voice commands and take calls.

Check out a CES preview below, and stay posted for future coverage of this device.

Price: $79.99 and up

Buy the Martian Watch Notifier here.


Pros:

  • 5 day battery life
  • Beautiful analog watch face
  • Works with any smart phone

Cons:

  • Not waterproof
  • Cannot interact with notifications
  • Small digital screen

Find more Martian Watch Notifier information and reviews here.


Heavy, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon. Our product recommendations are guided solely by our editors. We have no relationship with manufacturers.
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7 Comments

James F

Nice in-depth guide on the smart watches! Out of all the 10 I really like the Pebble & Samsung Gear the most. Currently I own the Samsung Gear S as I have a Note 4 and Its a great companion! Would love to try out the Pebble someday though.

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