​Android Wear smartwatch buyer's guide

UPDATED: Let us help you decide which Android Wear smartwatch is right for you
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There are now seven Android Wear smartwatches on the market (with more coming) so it can be difficult choosing between them. With an identical operating system on each one, which one is right for you?

To help you filter out the market leaders from the also-rans we've put together a comprehensive look at all of the devices in all of the key categories.

Essential reading: Best Android Wear smartwatch

With these smartwatches so well matched in terms of features and functionality, design, dimensions and looks are going to play a big part in picking out the right watch for you — so pay close attention to the style of each smartwatch and the available customisation options.

Android Wear: Design


Looks matter in wearable tech, and the current crop of Android Wear smartwatches can be categorised by the shape of their watch faces.

If a circular screen appeals to you, then your choices are the new Moto 360 2 (42mm x 11.4mm or 46mm x 11.5mm), the LG Watch Urbane (45.5 x 52.2 x 10.9mm, 66.5g) or the newly announced LG Watch Urbane second edition (44.5 x 14.2mm), which has an eye-popping 480 x 480 screen resolution yet is 3mm thicker than even the chunkiest smartwatches.

The LG duo have slightly smaller but brighter displays thanks to their P-OLED screen and the Moto 360's LCD screen is surrounded by skinny, modern-looking bezels but chopped off to fit in the display driver.

There's not much to choose between the rectangular models either, measuring between 36 and 39.8mm in width, 46.5 and 56.4mm in height and 7.9 and 10mm in thickness.

At 9.5mm the stylish, squircle-shaped Asus ZenWatch 2 is the thinnest and the most sophisticated in terms of its appearance, but it's also heavy at 70g. The ageing LG G Watch (still available at major retailers) sports the largest screen, yet it's running at the lowest resolution (280 x 280 pixels), and has the most uninspiring design of the bunch.

The Sony SmartWatch 3 is the largest with a 1.6-inch 320 x 320 pixel LCD display. It comes with a sporty rubber strap and there's a premium Steel option which looks superb.

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Although not quite as startlingly slick as the launch videos make out, the Huawei Watch is certainly stylish and, with a diameter of 42mm and a thickness of 11.3mm, it's more compact than its round-faced rivals.

Overall, the Watch Urbane might be a bit big and a bit bling - especially next to the Apple Watch - but for most people, it will be the smartwatch design which best fits into their life.

Winner: Moto 360 2 – tonnes of customisation, female friendly and lovely straps just edge the LG Watch Urbane's amazing screen tech.

Android Wear: Customisation

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Customisation is a big theme in 2015 and there's now more sizes to choose from that ever. The new Moto 360 2 comes in men's 46mm and unisex 42mm sizes with a range of straps. The Asus ZenWatch 2 also comes in multi-size and strap style options.

Previously exclusively for its flagship Moto X smartphone, Moto Maker now allows users to personalise their Moto 360s.

Men's Moto 360 styles come in - black, silver and gold, while women get silver, gold and rose gold. There's a mix of leather and metal straps, with two sizes and the option to add micro cut etchings to the bezel and case.

You can also choose the watchface (out of a choice of eleven) that you want when the smartwatch first starts up, though further software customisation of Android Wear is out of the question.

The Asus ZenWatch 2 has three colour choices – dark brown, orange or tan – and like the LG and Samsung options you can fit any 22mm watch strap of your own. That's not the case with the Sony Smartwatch 3, where you're stuck with one of the colours made available by the manufacturer: black, white, green or pink, although there is a pricier stainless steel option too.

The Huawei Watch is the final piece of this puzzle. It packs scratch-resistant sapphire glass and a stainless steel unibody design. It's available in gold, silver or black, and there are both fine-grain leather and stainless steel strap options. In total, Huawei states there are 40 designs to choose from so this smartwatch will give Motorola a run for its money in the customisation stakes.

Winner: Moto 360 2 – it's by far the easiest smartwatch to customise right out of the blocks.

Android Wear: Features

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As all of these smartwatches run Android Wear, the basic functionality is the same across the board: you're going to get a flurry of notifications from your connected phone, voice control, and all the rest. One notable difference is the inclusion of a GPS chip inside the Sony SmartWatch 3, which means you can track your movements (such as a daily jog) without having to take your smartphone along.

The Sony device ups the ante when it comes to waterproofing too. All the other models aside from the Asus ZenWatch are IP67 rated which means they can last 30 minutes at a depth of 1 metre; the SmartWatch 3 has an IP68 rating, so you can go double the depth for double the time without damage (think swimming and watersports). The Asus ZenWatch can only manage an IP55 rating, just enough to rebuff a splattering in the shower or a rain storm.

Another consideration in terms of features is the latest Android update which means that all Android Wear smartwatches apart from the Asus ZenWatch, LG G Watch and the LG G Watch R are able to connect to Wi-Fi networks when you're out and about.

Read this: Which Android Wear smartwatches will get Wi-Fi support?

Winner: Sony SmartWatch 3 – the extra waterproofing and GPS features of the Sony put it head and shoulders above the rest.

Android Wear: Price

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Costs of Android Wear smartwatches have been rising steeply – and now there are so many customisations, it's a little more difficult to compare. However, here's a quick comparison of the prices:

Moto 360 2: From
LG Watch Urbane:
LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition: TBC
Asus ZenWatch 2: €149
Sony Smartwatch 3: From
Huawei Watch: From $349
Fossil smartwatch:
Tag Heuer Connected: $1,400

Winner: The Asus ZenWatch 2's big changes are simply cosmetic, but its aggressive price tag is a big win.

Android Wear: Verdict

In terms of customisation the Moto 360 second generation looks like a superb buy. While it does little to advance the lot of Android Wear on a technical level, the plethora of styles and designs make it feel like a proper watch.

On the other side of the coin the Sony Smartwatch 3 remains the only Android Wear smartwatch on-sale with GPS which makes it the obvious choice for runners.

And in terms of price – well, the Asus Zenwatch 2's £159 price tag makes it extremely appealing given how the competition seem to be racing with Apple to make their smartwatches totally unaffordable.

Still to come...

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And speaking of unaffordable we now know that the Tag smartwatch go on sale on 9 November 2015, for a reported $1,400. The specs are still under-wraps, but it will run Android Wear.


By

David is a freelance tech writer who has been writing about technology, gadgets and gizmos for more than 20 years.

You can find his work on The Guardian, Wired, Gizmodo, PopSci, TechRadar, T3 and many other major publications on the web and in print.

He spends all day, (almost) every day testing out, explaining, and reviewing smartphones, laptops, smart home kit, wearables, and other essential devices.

From iOS to Wear OS, from Samsung to Sony, he's got an intimate knowledge of almost everything going on in the world of technology right now. When it comes to wearables, there aren't many smartwatches, fitness trackers and VR headsets that he hasn't tried and tested – which means he has a wealth of experience to draw on when it comes to talking about something new or the market in general.


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