If the rumours and leaks are to be believed, then Apple has been hard at work at creating its own smartwatch that will likely go on sale later this year. Unlike the iPhone, which arrived early on in the days of the transition towards smartphones, the iWatch seems to be a little bit late to the party. Smartwatches have been readily available in various forms for quite some time, and there are plenty of models out there that could give the iWatch a run for it’s money. Here are five of the best.
£129.95 from Amazon (basic model)
Thanks to its extensive, and record breaking, Kickstarter campaign, the Pebble has become one of the most popular smartwatch choices. Available in a variety of colours, and with a choice of rubber, leather, or metal straps you’ll be able to pick one out that suits you.
One of the major bonuses of owning a Pebble is the black and white e-paper display, which significantly reduces the amount of power it uses and gives the watch a whopping seven day battery life. So no frantically scrambling to find a charger in the middle of the day for this.
Like any other smartwatch the Pebble can receive notifications and calls from your phone, but thanks to its age there is are over 1,000 apps available on the Pebble app store that will expand what your watch can do.
2. LG G Watch
£159 from Google Play
One of two smartwatches announced during the Google I/O keynote speech, the G Watch runs on Android Wear, a version of Google’s OS designed specifically for smartwatches and other wearable devices.
The major thing about the G Watch is that unlike other smartwatches which only respond to simple voice commands, the G Watch is fully integrated with Google Now, which is essentially a voice activated search engine on your wrist. Along with the notifications that are sent from your phone, chances are you won’t have to get your phone out of your pocket very often.
It’s not the most elegant of designs,since its rather reminiscent of the square digital watches from days gone buy, but it’s small, unobtrusive, and easy to use.
3. Samsung Gear Live
£169 from Google Play
The latest in the line of Samsung smartwatches, the Gear Live is the other smartwatch that comes with Google’s Android Wear operating system, which means it also comes with the Google Now voice recognition software.
But that’s far from everything it can do. The Gear Live actually comes with more features than any other smartwatch currently available. Not only does it come with Google Now and a multitude of notifications, the Gear Live also comes with Google Fit, which allows it to function as a fitness tracker and heart-rate monitor, and has Google Maps integration so that you can find your way with minimal fuss.
Like the G Watch, it’s still rather blocky and reminiscent of the old digital watches, but the design is much easier to look when you think about everything it can do. The inclusion of an AMOLED screen also means that you’ll be able to see the crisp rich colours clearly, regardless of what the local lighting is like.
4. Martian Victory Smartwatch
£299.99 on Amazon
If you only caught a brief glimpse of the Martian Victory and you could be forgiven for not realising exactly what it was, and that’s because, unlike other smartwatches, it looks like an ordinary watch.
But don’t let that put you off. By mimicking a “dumbwatch” the Victory manages to capture the best of both worlds: a watch that can be linked to your smartphone and used for notifications, voice commands, and camera control, without sacrificing the smart look and elegance that comes from wearing a watch. You could go to a wedding wearing it and no one would be the wiser.
The downside to this is that the Victory doesn’t function independently, if you want to use the “smart” features you will have to pair it with a smartphone. Otherwise it’s just an ordinary watch that tells the time. But it’s simple to connect since all you need is the Martian Watch Alerts App on iOS or Android.
5. Sony Smartwatch 2
£147.51 from Amazon
It may not look like much with it’s blocky screen and rubber strap, but gadgets aren’t always about looks — it’s about what they can do. There isn’t an awful lot it can do over any other smartwatch, since it’s primarily focussed on giving you your notifications, but it does what it does rather well.
People who get immensely frustrated because they missed something on their phone will find the Smartwatch 2 invaluable, since it’s virtually impossible to miss anything thanks to the high vibration setting. It also has the added bonus of a five day battery life, and unlike the Pebble it doesn’t achieve this by sacrificing the screen — it’s all in glorious colour.
It might not look like much, but the longevity of the battery and the notifications make it a worthy purchase.
By Tom Pritchard | July 11th, 2014