Over the past few years, a lot of wearable devices came out and they changed our life style forever. From heart rate monitor gadgets and the best fitness band devices and smartwatches, to activity trackers, virtual reality headsets and pedometers, today we have them all. They are all part of this new emerging technology that promises to change the way we communicate and exercise.In 2015, wearable devices are not only a pieces of technology, with powerful microcomputers, but also fashion accessories, that we can take to the gym, wear at work, or put on when going out with friends.
In order to ease you search for the best wearable technology available today, or in the near future, we’ve selected a few devices that we think are the best on the market.
#1 The Apple Watch / $350-17,000It is the most well-constructed and ambitions smartwatch ever seen, but its first-gen shortfalls make it more a fashionable toy than a necessary device.
The smartwatch was released on the 24th of April, 2015, but because of the high level of demand and low stock issues, the Apple watch is available for purchase only via pre-order. Initially, Apple stated that people will be able to buy the watch from stores only in June, but an update to the Apple Store app hinted that online buyers will be able to get their hands on the device a little sooner.
The Apple smartwatch will work better if paired with an iPhone, and it comes in three different models, six different finishes and two different sizes, with swappable bands and prices that range from $349 to $17,000, depending on which model you buy. The device is designed to be the most personal product that Apple has ever produced, being as much a fashion accessory as it is tech. They have always produced fashionable devices, but this time around, their smartwatch transcends into jewellery.
One day, the smartwatch may actually become the future of mobile phone technology, but today, it is nothing more than an extension for your other devices. I’ve been using this wearable technology for a few weeks now, doing everything that I could come up with with it. I have paid for dinner, measured my heart rate, listened to music, while taking long walks through the park, spoke with my family, controlled my Apple TV, checked out my email and many other things, and I’ve done all that by using the Apple Watch.
The tech features are indeed beautiful as well as they are promising, but because it is a first generation of wearable tech, it still leaves plenty to be desired from. First of all it has a very short battery lifespan, compared to other wearable devices, and a rather high price. This makes this smartwatch unappealing to some, but Apple engineers are just beginning their voyage into this type of wearable technology, and while the road will be long, it does seem it will also be “sunny”.
Like I said above, and like most wearable smartwatches, the Apple Watch is not a standalone device. Just like the Pebble smartwatch, the Samsung Galaxy Gear, or the Android Wear, it also requires that you connected it to a smartphone, and not just any smartphone, but an iPhone 5 or 6. There are a few features that work independently from your phone, but most functions work as an extension of your iPhone. Think of it as a symbiote, a second screen if you must, and basically another part of your iOS experience
The core functions of this smartwatch are: time, communication, fitness and information, but this piece of wearable technology can do so much more. It is packed with a lot of different apps and functions, that in some way remind me of the ambitious Samsung smartwatches, but feel a lot more complete.
The design is absolutely superb, although it does feel a little chunky, when you compare it to Apple’s wide range of super-slim gadgets. To be frank it doesn’t look at all big on the wrist. The larger version (42mm) is similar to the Pebble Steel (one of the smaller smartwatches available) when it comes to thickness, length and width. The 38mm version is even smaller than that.
Under the hood, the Apple Watch has a new S1 processor and a force-sensitive and bright OLED display, which comes in different sizes depending on which model you got (the 38mm or the 42mm). It also has a gyrometer, a heart-rate monitor and a accelometer, but does not have an onboard GPS. It uses Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi in order to connect to your home network, or to your phone. The device has an in-built microphone and speakers but there is no jack for your headphones.
- The Apple Watch is a compact and beautiful smartwatch
- It is packed with applications, meant to make your life easier
- Great fitness software
- You have the ability to receive and send texts or calls via your iPhone
- The battery’s life is low and has a long recharge period
- It is rather expensive
- It requires an iPhone5 or an iPhone 6 to work
- The interface can be confusing at times
- Sometimes it is slow to communicate with the paired iPhone
#2 The Pebble Steel / $199
It was released in January, 2015, and it is was just a cosmetic upgrade to the original Pebble smartwatch, that was shipped out in 2013. Because of that, the Pebble Steel smartwatch has features that are relatively ancient: it doesn’t track your heart rate, it has a simple black and white display and it can only store eight different applications at a time.
Even so, the Pebble smartwatch (the Steel edition) is still one of my favorite wearable device. It is waterproof, meaning that you can shower or swim with it, has a very readable display, even in bright sunlight and the battery lasts longer than most smartwatches. The device can be paired both with Android smartphones and iPhones. It is not the smallest watch ever made, but it is still a lot more discrete than the recent Moto 360, or the Samsung Gear S.
The price was dropped from $249 to $199, and with the addition of the background pedometer fitness tracker, it makes it a better purchase than ever before.
The design of the watch is great, it is classic, with a reto-chic twist, that gives a lot of class to your outfit. It does not look futuristic at all, and in fact you can wear it with a suit, or at a wedding without any problems at all. I also tried going to the beach with it and the Pebble smartwatch felt and looked great.
It feels very comfortable on my wrist, although the steel band left an indentation on my hand. The Watch comes with a leather band and if you want to upgrade it to the metal one, then you will have to pay an extra $20, but trust me when I say that it is worth the upgrade because it makes the smartwatch a lot more shower friendly (I don’t think that it’s even worth mentioning that you don’t want to get that leather band wet).
The display is simple, but it does do the job very well. It’s a black and white display, therefore it consumes less power, it stays on all the time, unlike the colourful display of the Android Wear. On top of the screen, there is a flat Gorilla Glass panel that helps reduce glare. On the side of the watch you can find a button that will illuminate the display at night, but you can also shake your wrist, resulting in the same outcome.
The smartwatch works very well with an Android phone or with an iPhone, making this the ideal product for people that have both operating systems. The Apple Watch only works with iPhones, while the Samsung Gear only works with Android. The one thing that you must make sure that you phone has, before you buy this wearable tech, is Bluetooth 4.0.
- The design is classic and sharp-looking
- Works with Android phones, as well as with iPhones
- The screen is readable in very bright situations
- It is swim and shower friendly
- Has am built-in pedometer
- Has a wide range of apps available
- Great battery
- Good price
- The tech is quite old
- Can only store eight apps at a time
- Lacks a heart-rate monitor
- Lacks advanced fitness features
- Needs recharging twice a week
#3 The Samsung Gear S / $350
The Samsung smartwatch may not get everything right, but it is still one of the best wearable devices out there. The biggest feature here, is that the Gear S is able to function without the need of a smartphone. It has a slot, where you can plug your SIM-card and you scurry off to do your daily business.
The design is slim and sharp, but I do find it more suitable for the younger generation. It looks great on your wrist no matter what you are doing and you can take it to any event, although it does seem a little big. To be honest, the first time that I saw this watch I thought: “Oh hey, it’s the 5 years old son of the Samsung Galaxy S6”.
The massive 2 inch AMOLED curved display is one of the best available on the market. It runs the Tizen OS, developed by Samsung, and there are over 1,000 applications available for the device.
You can buy it for $349,92 at T-Mobile USA, or you can get it at Sprint for free, but with a $16 per month, for 24 months, contract
- Has a big, curved display
- Has a rather decent battery life
- The pack comes with a bonus battery
- It can stay connected away from your smartphone, with its own 3G data or Wi-Fi
- The design is attractive, but a bit large
- It is a complete wrist phone
- It requires to be paired with a decent Samsung phone
- The standalone feature do not work with all notifications and apps
- The app library is smaller than the Android’s Wear
#4 The Pebble Smartwatch / $90
I will not go into too many details about this device, because it is basically the same as the Pebble Steel smartwatch. It was one of the first of Kickstarter’s success stories. The idea was to create a watch that can connect to your phone and interact with different apps. This wearable technology will cost you only $89,88 and although it uses rather old technology, it is still a good purchase.
It looks a bit different from the Pebble Steel, a lot more simpler and without that classic design. I can say that this watch seems a bit more futuristic (maybe the 90s image of the future) and it is not really appropriate for events where you have to look as sharp as possible. On the other hand, it looks great during sport events, or at the gym.
The Pebble smartwatch is, just like the Pebble Steel: waterproof. So you can go to the beach, or take a shower with it.
The new Pebble app makes downloading and swapping apps easier than ever before. The redesigned Pebble app for both Android and iPhone will take you directly to the Pebble App Store, so you will longer have to use third-party tools.
- It is waterproof
- Has a ton of apps regardless of your OS (iOS or Android)
- Has a new app store
- Has a very good price
- The lack of a touch screen
- It is very scratch prone due to its polycarbonate design
- The design is not as good as it is for the Pebble Steel
#5 Google Android Wear / unknown price
The Google smartwatch is very similar to the Apple Watch and seems to have the same wealthy target clientèle. On the 19 of March, 2015, Google announced that they will collaborate with Tag Heuer in order to create the first Android Wear luxury smartwatch.
This partnership also includes Intel, that are responsible for the technical part of the watch. Previous Android Wear smartwatches came with a Texas Instruments or a Qualcomm processor, so this will be the very first smartwatch that utilizes an Intel chipset.
So far there is no viable information about the release or cost of the device, but we can safely assume that it will be the most costly Android Wear watch ever made.
There will probably be more information regarding the design, price and release date at end of the year.
#6 The Sony Smartwatch 3 / $200
This is one of the latecomers to the Android Wear lineup, but it is the envy of its rivals because of its in-built GPS features, meaning that you can leave your smartphone at home and just go for a run, while its sport-like appearance makes it perfect for that activity.
The Sony Smartwatch 3 looks a lot more like a fitness device than a regular watch, and it definetly does not have the luxury appeal of the G Watch R. The plain square face and black rubber strap are a little dull, but they are very comfortable to wear, although the watch itself is rather chunky and a little heavy.
The screen is a little dull when compared to some of its rivals, but the latest Android Wear update, enables you connect a pair of wireless headphones and listen to music during your workout. The face of the watch has a 1.6 inch display and a resolution of 320x320pixel. It is rather bright, but under very bright sunlight it can be a bit difficult to read.
The Steel edition was announced at the CES, adding a touch of class to the smartwatch.
You can buy this device at Amazon.com for $201,96.
- Has an in-built GPS that tracks your workout without the need of a phone
- It is waterproof
- Has an in-built USB port for charging
- The Android Wear software runs smoothly
- The screen is not that good
- The square design is not very stylish
- It doesn’t have an in-built heart-rate monitor
This is a device best for the truly active people out there. It combines a GPS sport watch with an activity tracker and a classic smartwatch. You must connect it to your smartphone and it will vibrate to notify you of incoming calls, e-mails and text messages. You can also set the vibration to wake you up in the morning, but this is a feature that most wearables have.
The watch is so incredibly lightweight and slim, that you will actually forget you are wearing it. The full dimensions are 43.8 x 38.5 x 8mm, with a weight of 38 grams. My favourite feature is the ‘always on’ display. You will not have to shake your wrist, or to touch the screen in order to check out the time, a simple glance down will suffice. The display doesn’t have a very high resolution (only 205 x 148 pixels), but it still performs rather well.
While the display of most smartwatches is not very readable in direct sunlight, this is not the case with the Germin Vivoactive. No matter where I was, or what I was doing and regardless of the sunlight, the display was always very easy to read.
The smartwatch comes in two different colors, white or black, but you can swap the silicone strap for a different band. Garmin sells a variety of different silicone straps, in a wide variety of colors, for $15 and also offers a leather strap for $30.
You can get the Germin Vivoactive from different retailers, but it the same price. You can order it at Amazon.com, or buy it from BuyDig.com, Dell Home and Cruthfiled, for $249,99.
- It has a ultra-slim design
- The battery’s life is very good
- The display is very good, especially in outdoor performance
- It has vibration and notification alerts
- It has a great activity tracker with awesome auto adjusting goals
- It has multisport tracking
- It is waterproof, so you can wear it in the shower, or while swimming
- There are just a few apps on the Connect IQ application store
- The mobile app is rather old
- The sleep tracking is unimpressive
- The watch software and thesmartphone connectivity can also be unstable
- It requires a lot of reboots