Android Wear has been going by the name Wear OS for a while now, and 2018 has blessed us with even more options to choose from.
Along with a new name, Google is aiming to improve support for pairing its smartwatches with iPhones, bringing it closer to the experience you currently get with Android smartphones.
Things will get better soon with Qualcomm's new 3100 processor set to appear in the next crop of smartwatches, letting manufacturers stretch the battery life further. The new Montblanc Summit 2 is the first to showcase this new tech and we can expect a new Louis Vuitton smartwatch to be packing that next gen tech in the not too distant future as well.
The full lowdown: The top smartwatches across all platforms
With so much choice, choosing the right Wear smartwatch is no easy task. There's an ever-expanding range of Wear wearables on sale, from a whole host of different brands. It's not just tech companies that are making them these days.
Smartwatches from the likes of Tag Heuer, ZTE, Asus, Huawei and Fossil Group brands like Michael Kors and Skagen are rocking the latest version of the operating system, with plenty more in the stable running older versions. That also means that finally there are now better options for both men and women in the Wear collection.
The good news for iPhone owners, too, is that Wear does play nicely with iOS, so you don't have to go for an Apple Watch if you want a smartwatch companion in your life.
If you're looking to get a Google-powered smartwatch on your wrist sooner rather than later, here are all the key details on the top Wear smartwatches available now.
Hot smartwatch deals
Wareable may get a commission
Fossil Q Explorist HR
The Fossil Q Explorist was a Wareable favourite, and the Q Explorist HR builds on that with new activity features, making it a better fitness performer. It still looks the part, but Fossil has now added a heart rate monitor, built-in GPS, a swimproof design and even NFC for Google Pay. Phew!
In fact, having payments alone makes this a better watch; it's something we wish we could have with all Wear OS smartwatches. Oh, and it doesn't just look good; it's super comfortable to wear.
Onto the bad points: the sports tracking, while most definitely present, doesn't perform as well as we'd like. The GPS is generally fine, but the heart rate monitor struggled to keep in check with the chest strap. Gym heads, there are better performers out there. But for anyone who doesn't demand tip-top accuracy for those intense workouts, you'll be fine.
The star of the show here though is still its looks, which makes the inclusion of the other features all the more impressive. This is one of the most beautiful Wear watches you can buy for men. If you've got smaller wrists, this may not be a great option, but for everyone else, there are very few other smartwatches that look better.
Wareable verdict:Fossil Q Explorist HR review
Fossil Q Venture HR
For women, the Q Venture HR may be a preferable choice over the Explorist HR. You still get the heart rate monitor, built-in GPS, waterproof design and NFC, but its 40mm case will be a better fit for smaller wrists.
It's really maxing out on style with nine cases to choose from and a body that's just 13mm thick, meaning it won't stand out for the wrong reasons. In testing, the heart rate monitor performed about as well as it did on the Explorist HR i.e. good for casual workouts, but it won't cut it for more intense exercise. GPS performance was suboptimal too.
We do like that it's now 50m water resistant, making it an option for swimmers too. But even if none of that matters to you and you just want a regular, user-friendly smartwatch, this is a great option for a good price.
Wareable verdict: Fossil Q Venture HR review
If you don't want to spend big on a Wear smartwatch, the Ticwatch E is in our opinion the best budget option available right now.
Joined by the Ticwatch S on Kickstarter earlier this year, maker Mobvoi decided to ditch its own operating system for Google's on the 45mm watch ‚Äď one that packs in a 1.4-inch OLED display, plus a heart rate sensor, and has a GPS sensor built into the strap.
That means you can track your runs and rides without your phone by your side, offering compatibility with Movboi's fitness suite and third-party fitness apps. With Wear running things, you can expect all the standard features, including the ones introduced in Wear 2.0, so you'll have more customisable watch faces and access to Google Assistant. You won't however have access to Google Pay, which is disappointing.
You can expect a battery life of 1-2 days, so it's nothing groundbreaking on that front. But if you're looking for an affordable, well-balanced watch with decent sports tracking skills, we think you're going to like it.
Read our Ticwatch E review to find out more about the budget smartwatch.
Louis Vuitton Tambour Horizon
For the big spenders that like the idea of your Wear smartwatch having a more luxury feel, Louis Vuitton's debut smartwatch certainly fits the bill.
The travel-centric Tambour Horizon models its design on LV's existing Tambour Moon watches, helping make it one of the most attractive watches on our list. Even the charging setup screams luxury.
It doesn't bother with sporty features like GPS or a heart rate monitor, which is to be expected, but disappointingly doesn't include Google Pay support, either. As far as putting its own spin on Wear OS goes, Louis Vuitton makes more effort than others, including LV Guide and My Flight apps that are built for travellers, and that will help pinpoint places to visit when you're away and even make it easier to board your flight.
You can expect battery life to be around the day mark, but be warned it's a bit of a slow charger in comparison to other Wear watches.
Overall though, the 2017 Wareable Tech Awards nominee is a beaut of a smartwatch and definitely one we've loved living with.
Wareable verdict: Louis Vuitton Tambour Horizon review
Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45
Another one for those in the market for a luxury smartwatch, this 'Swiss Made' 45mm beauty is available with titanium, ceramic and 18K rose gold finishes. It'll also 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. And seeing as this device is on the bigger side, those with smaller wrists may want to check out the Tag Heuer Connected Modular 41.
Michael Kors Access Runway
The Michael Kors Access Sofie was a firm Wear smartwatch fave and with the Access Runway, you're getting the same sleek watch packed with more smarts.
Like the Fossil Group's other four generation smartwatches, this 41mm beaut with 18mm lugs manages to fit in built-in GPS, a heart rate monitor and NFC for Google Pay. That's also all wrapped up in design that's now fit for the swimming pool.
It's made from stainless steel and comes in a range of nine styles including gold, silver, rose gold and pav√© finishes and Michael Kors' first silicone smartwatch straps to make it more fitness tracking friendly.
Based on our experience, the new fitness features are not up to scratch for serious sports men and women and we'd definitely appreciate more battery life. But if you want a Wear watch that looks the part and delivers of all those core Wear features, it's one to consider.
Have a read of our Michael Kors Access Runway review.
Kate Spade New York Scallop
Kate Spade was one of the last of the Fossil brands to get the Wear treatment, and it's without doubt one of the standout additions to the Google smartwatch clan.
First and foremost, the New York Scallop looks the part, with a 1.19-inch, 390 x 390 resolution touchscreen display and no flat tyre in sight. It features a polished stainless steel case that comes in both a gold and rose gold finish, with both 16mm metal and black/cream leather straps available. It's built for daintier wrists, although we'd still see Fossil go a little slimmer in the future.
In terms of features, this is a third generation Wear smartwatch from the Fossil Group so doesn't get the new raft of features. You'll be able to customise watch faces, download apps, receive smartphone notifications and access Google Assistant when you press down on the crown. It also works as a fitness tracker, which is powered by Google Fit. But it doesn't have the ability to make contactless payments or have a heart rate monitor or built-in GPS.. Battery life should be enough for a day, so you can expect to be charging it every night.
But the good definitely outweighs the bad on this stylish third generation Wear smartwatch built for women.
Wareable verdict: Kate Spade New York Scallop review
If you love Wear, then you'll love...
- Best Wear OS watch facesChange up your smartwatch with one of these fun watch faces
- Best Wear apps. Top picksSupercharge your wrist with this selection of must-have apps
- Living with the new Wear OSA smarter assistant has won me over
- Wear OS: The essential guideAll you need to know about Google's smartwatch OS
- Google Pixel Watch: The story so farGoogle Pixel Watch: The story so far
- Best running apps for WearFrom pace to heart rate tracking, we put the best Android running apps to the test
- Wear OS on iPhone guideWhat you can and can't do with Wear on iOS
LG Watch Sport
If you want the most complete Wear smartwatch experience out there, then the LG Watch Sport is still the one of the best, even if it's looking a little long in the tooth now.
It's packing a 1.38-inch, 480 x 480 P-OLED display giving it the best Wear display out there. 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 Wear smartwatch that really could consider itself a genuine smartphone replacement.
Yes, you'll have to contend with the bigger than average body, and it's not the prettiest, but if you want the most feature-packed Wear watch, this is it.
Have a look at our comprehensive LG Watch Sport review.
Skagen Falster 2
The Danish watch brand is renowned for making gorgeous, minimalist watches. After impressing us with its hybrids watches and very first Falster Wear smartwatch, it's back with the Falster 2, which is another gorgeous connected timepiece.
The Falster 2 channels the same 'less is more' design values with a smaller 40mm watch case, making it just small enough to be considered unisex. You also have your pick of leather or steel bracelet bands that should appeal to a range of tastes.
There's now also a heart rate sensor, built-in GPS, a waterproof design and Google Pay support. Like its predecessor it opts for more watch faces to choose from and streamlining information so Falster 2 owners are not constantly overloaded with data.
We are still putting the second gen Skagen through its paces, but we can safely say already that this is another great Wear addition that doesn't make any compromises when it comes to keeping things stylish.
Have a read of our early Skagen Falster 2 review.
Prices start at $275, skagen.com
If you want a Wear smartwatch that takes sports tracking up a notch, the Polar M600 is still for us the one to go for.
It syncs directly to the excellent Polar Flow, and not only will your smartphone be able to display all your stats, but all that data is also 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 ‚Äď and it doesn't even have to be a Polar one.
It gives you the kind of sports tracking you'd expect to find on Polar's GPS sports watches and by combining that with the best that Wear OS has to offer. It's our pick of the sporty Wear smartwatches.
Read our full Polar M600 review for more info.
It's an oldie, but it's still very much a great Wear watch in our eyes. When we first reviewed the original Huawei Watch, we called it the slickest looking Wear smartwatch but lamented that those good looks came at a premium.
Fast forward a couple of years and, with the Huawei Watch 2 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 ‚Äď we really wish the Huawei Watch 2 had stuck 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 Wear device.
Huawei is no longer selling it, but if you're willing to shop around you should be able to get it at a good price on Amazon. Have a look at our Huawei Watch review to see why you shouldn't write off this old timer just yet.
Wear: New watches incoming
As well as our picks above, there will be several more Wear smartwatches released in the next few months, including the Montblanc Summit 2, pictured above. It looks like Louis Vuitton has something up its sleeve too. There's also the LG Watch W7, a hybrid that puts watch hands over Wear OS.
Fossil has announced some big partnerships recently. It'll be teaming up with Puma to make Wear smartwatches, but we won't see those until 2019. It's also announced partnerships with BMW and Citizen for new watches, which we expect to see next year.
So while the smartwatches above are worth your consideration, if you're really hankering for a Puma sports smartwatch or want a watch that'll play nice with your ultimate driving machine, you may want to hold off a bit.