Remember when tablets first came out and no one really saw the point, but they found their place? Well it seems the tech world is now making room for smartwatches. While some of the world may still be sceptical, at least five new watches are coming out this year hinting that Smart Watches will be taking centre stage in 2015.
Now that Apple are finally playing catch up, the Android versus Apple battle commences once again and our friends at Mobile Phones Direct review the top 4 smart watches out on the market: Apple Watch, Moto 360, LG Watch G R and Kickstarter’s most successful project: the Pebble.
The Apple Watch has been unveiled in three different models: the Apple Watch Sport, the Apple Watch and the Apple Watch Edition, all of varied designs, materials and of course, price ranges. The Apple Watch Sport is at the lower end of the Apple Watch Range. Starting at $349, the Sports version comes with an aluminium face and a ‘sport’ band in a choice of white, green, blue pink and black; I like to think of it as a parallel to the iPhone 5C. Each collection offers two different sized faces and a varied choice of bands.
The Apple Watch is the regular mid-range watch made of stainless steel with a sapphire glass face starting at $549. This type has the most varied selection of band options ranging from a classic buckle to a link bracelet.
At the top of the range the Apple Watch Edition is on the market from $10,000. The eye popping price does not make the watch any different to that of its sisters tech-wise it is simply the material that sets it apart – constructed from 18 Karat Gold, customers can choose from Yellow or Rose Gold with a selection of band colours not available to the other watches.
One of the reasons the Moto 360 has stood out amongst the smartwatches on the market is its classic appearance. The other smartwatches we shall be reviewing all have a digital, contemporary feel whilst the Moto 360 keeps that conventional timeless appearance that many consumers like in a watch. The Moto’s appearance has become a unique selling point due to the fact it cannot necessarily look outdated.
LG G Watch R
The LG watch may at first look similar to the Moto 360 with a circular shape and a classic clock face but LG have decided, like many, to go down the digital clock face which draws attention to users that it is not in fact, a typical watch.
If you’re looking for style, the original Pebble is undoubtedly the least snazzy compared to the other smartwatches. It has a plastic look that a student or techy may be able pull off as retro geek-chic but, for the rest of the working world, quite frankly looks ridiculous. However the newest edition to the Pebble family, the Pebble Steel, is not quite as cartoon-like due to the choice of steel or black design and the gorilla glass coated screen.
Sold exclusively through Kickstarter the Pebble is the cheapest smartwatch out on the market, at an incredible £100 (although the newest version will set you back an extra £50). If you are looking for simplicity this smartwatch does exactly what it says on the tin and at an alluring price.
The Moto 360’s price tag is an affordable £200 – a key pulling point for the brand due to its low price yet high quality and the LG watch looms around a similar figure starting at approximately £225 subject to the design you opt for.
Apple’s price tag may start at £299 but depending on which model you choose you could be looking at a hefty £13,500 dent to your bank account if you are to choose the lavish 18 karat gold edition.
Obviously battery life is a tricky one due to each watch being subject to the individual’s usage and choice of apps but with 3 out of 4 of the watches out on the market already, assessments have been undertaken to prove the real battery life rather than what the brand promises. Moto 360 promises a 24 hour battery life – possibly one of the most impressive features of the smartwatches but alas, in reality users say approximately 12 hours is the true life for Motorola’s watch – and you do need to charge it every night. This is the same case with LG’s G Watch R, reportedly slightly better performance life than the Moto but not by a far stretch. Despite being lowest in price, both the original and Steel Pebble hold an impressive five to seven day battery life.
Operating Systems: Apple versus Android
Possibly the most important question before deciding which watch to buy as which operating system you want to use; and here so the Apple versus Android war continues. It goes without saying you need an iPhone 5 or above to be able to use the iWatch whereas Android smartwatches are compatible with any Android phone with an operating system from 4.0 or above. Kickstarter’s Pebble on the other hand, works with both Android and iOS – a tempting choice for users who haven’t quite decided which camp they’re at.
The Apple Watch basically acts as an extended version of your iPhone, just strapped to your wrist – your iPhone initiates all the actions on your smartwatch, mainly in the form of notifications.
One of the most exciting parts during Tim Cook’s revealment of the Apple Watch was how the watch was going to run using Apple’s iOS and very own software for app developers; WatchKit. Developers will need to learn to use a whole new type of software to create and re-create apps for the Apple watch by learning the new design principles in order to create an Apple-friendly app. Although this will allow for the development of watch friendly apps, it is likely that the apps for Apple will be much more restricted than those for Android due to the limited software rules.
On the Android side, the Moto 360 and LG G Watch R both run on Android’s 4.0 Lollipop operating system so regardless to which phone you own, it should work – and work well. If you have not moved over to the Android world yet, an Android wear smartwatch is primarily, your phone and a Google-powered hybrid refined into a watch. The watches are as functional as they are stylish with almost all of the apps Apple plan to create already available via Android wear. Android watches equip users with “information that moves with you”. The most recent Android update allows users to access GPS services and offline music which has made it a serious contender during the recent Apple conference.
Only last week, Tag Heuer, the Swiss luxury watch giant announced plans to venture into the tech word and launch an Android smartwatch and there are also reports of HTC jumping on the smartwatch band wagon later this year which comes as no surprise.