The Moto 360 and LG G Watch R may have dominated the smartwatch landscape this year, but there are plenty more great Android smartwatch options available. So if you've been considering picking one up yourself or gifting one to a friend this holiday season, here are the best Android smart watches on the market, including Android Wear and other Android-based smartwatches.
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1. LG G Watch R
The LG G Watch R is the first smartwatch to really look like a normal watch. Even more so than the Moto 360. The G Watch R has a diver's watch style bezel around the outside and is the first smartwatch to feature a fully circular display. The G Watch R uses a plastic OLED screen, which provides better blacks and improved night-time performance than you would've found on the original LG G Watch. The battery life is exceptional, the screen is impressive and the internal specs are top-notch.
- Check out our LG G Watch R review.
2. Motorola Moto 360
The Moto 360 in many ways kicked off the serious interest in smartwatches this year. While the battery life hasn't knocked anyone's socks off (even though it has been improved), the ability to charge the Moto 360 wirelessly with the included Qi dock is a big selling point for the 360, along with its impressive styling.
The Moto 360 is a little large for some, but it has a beautiful edge to edge round display. A small black bezel at the bottom of the screen, humorously dubbed the "flat tyre" holds various sensors, including an ambient light sensor and display drivers. The Moto 360 certainly set the standard for style with its circular design and classic looks and for many represents the benchmark for how a smartwatch should look.
- Have a look at our Moto 360 review.
3. Asus ZenWatch
Asus' ZenWatch created quite a stir at IFA 2014 because it is a seriously good looking smartwatch with a seriously low price: just 199 USD. Rose gold sits sandwiched between a rounded rectangular front with a slight curve to the screen: a creative concept backed up by impressive execution. The ZenWatch definitely sticks in your mind.
The ZenWatch runs on a fairly standard Android Wear base with Asus' unique ZenUI added on top, which brings a bunch of additional software features like double tap to wake, remote camera trigger, phone locator function and some gesture controls like covering the display to dismiss a call. How Asus managed to get away from Google's chokehold on Android Wear we don't know and don't care, we're just glad they did because the ZenWatch is a ripper.
- Here's our hands-on Asus ZenWatch review.
4. Samsung Gear Live
Samsung has delivered a few Gear watches on different platforms already, including the first major Android watch: the Galaxy Gear. Then came the Gear 2 on Tizen, followed by the Gear Live on Android Wear with the SIM-equipped Gear S based on Tizen without the need for a paired smartwatch.
Samsung added a heart rate sensor to their hardware with the Gear Live and it also features an OLED display, which is brighter than the original G Watch's LCD but isn't so easy to see in bright daylight. On the other hand, it isn't as irritating at night because a lot of the pixels are off. The silly charging cradle is very annoying though and easy to lose.
5. LG G Watch
The LG G Watch might be a fairly unattractive slab with big old bezels, but the G Watch is still a very respectable smartwatch. It does away with some of the additions that Samsung bundled with the Gear Live (charging cradle and heart rate monitor) and comes with an LCD display instead. It's not the sexiest watch around, but its battery life and solid performance endeared it to many.
The G Watch's LCD display tends to be easier to read in daylight, but the G Watch is quite bright at night because it still has back-lit pixels, even when the screen is dimmed. The G Watch screen also has fewer pixels than the Gear Live, so it isn't quite as fine, but it does handle screen dimming transitions better and shows more content on-screen when the screen is in its default state.
6. Sony Smartwatch 3
With all the fuss over the Moto 360 and LG G Watch R, Sony's update to their wearable effort, the Smartwatch 3, went a little unnoticed when it appeared in September at IFA 2014. The Smartwatch 3 is obviously Sony's third crack at the whip, and they're starting to get things right, even if there's not much going on in the looks department.
Running Android Wear, the Smartwatch 3 is a removable pod that pops out of interchangeable plastic wrist bands and is charged by microUSB. The Smartwatch 3 can reportedly be used in ''other devices'' but Sony wouldn't tell us what exactly. Sony is slowly improving their smartwatches, but we're yet to see the "wow' release.
Note: the remaining smartwatches on this list are not running Android Wear
7. Samsung Gear S
Samsung's Gear S is the first smartwatch equipped with its very own SIM card, meaning it does not require a smartphone in order to function. As the first standalone smartwatch, the Gear S has attracted a lot of attention for that reason alone, but once again Samsung may have shot itself in the foot by running it on Tizen rather than Android Wear. The Gear S also features a curved OLED display, which is, in our opinion, one of the best things about it.
8. Omate X
The Omate X has also ditched Android in favor of an RTOS (real-time operating system) by the name of Nucleus. This means both Android and iOS devices can be paired with the wearable. The Omate X is also a stunner in the design stakes, with a great metal build and slightly curved display. At a rock-bottom 129 USD it's a frontrunner in the price stakes too.
9. Pebble Steel
Pebble rocked our smartwatch expectations a long time ago, but they never really delivered a knock-out device until the Pebble Steel. It has an all-new interface and more importantly, it looks fantastic. It doesn't run on Android Wear, and it's not quite as kitted out with functionality as the new batch of Android Wear watches but there's no denying the Pebble Steel was the first smartwatch this year to make us realize smartwatches could actually look good too.
10. Samsung Gear 2
Samsung's Gear 2 made the switch to the Tizen platform after the first Galaxy Gear wasn't received so well. The pimple-like wrist camera with terrible resolution was ditched and a little more attention was paid to the design of the watch, but it still looked much like the previous one.
Samsung is taking a bit of a punt on Tizen as an alternative wearable platform, flying in the face of Google's Android Wear. While we're happy to have a competing platform on the market, it will be hard for Samsung to compete with the Google juggernaut in the wearable OS stakes.
Do you own any Android wearables? Which smartwatch is your pick for the best?