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Best Android Wear smartwatches 2014 [updated]

Kris Carlon
0

There aren't too many Android Wear options around right this minute, but as of IFA 2014 we have a few more to choose from and several more in the following weeks and months. The Moto 360 and LG G Watch R have finally broken cover along with several other offerings, not all of them on the Android Wear platform. So what choices do you have when it comes to choosing the best Android watch? [Update: we've added our hands-on videos with the new smartwatches at IFA 2014 and included the new Sony Smartwatch 3 on the list.]

g watch r moto 360
There's some front runners, but which will be the best Android watch? © LG/Motorola/ANDROIDPIT

We've rounded up the best Android Wear smartwatches alongside the best Android smartwatches in general to help you choose what wearable you should go for this year. Right now it's a very preliminary list, so we haven't ranked them yet, but we'll update this list as more devices become available and we have a chance to properly test them.

  • Take a look at everything released at IFA 2014.

Best Android Wear smartwatch (available)

Motorola Moto 360

Link to Video

The Moto 360 in many ways kicked off the serious interest in smartwatches this year and it has finally been made available to the public. We've all been waiting a long time to get our hands on a production version of the Moto 360 since we first saw it leaked. While the battery life hasn't knocked anyone's socks off, except for being charged wirelessly with Qi, there's still a lot to like about the Moto 360.

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 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 so far doesn't look to have much competition in the hearts of Android fans.

Samsung Gear Live

gear live watchface new format
The Gear Live is right up there as one of the best Android Wear smartwatches. © ANDROIDPIT

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 Gear S to appear as a standalone smartwatch (meaning it doesn't need to be paired to a smartphone to send or receive calls) in the near future.

Samsung has added a heart rate sensor to their hardware with the Gear Live and it features an OLED display, which is brighter than the 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.

LG G Watch

LG G Watch cabo microUSB 16 9
The LG G Watch may not be all that sexy, but it has a better charging setup. © ANDROIDPIT

The LG G Watch might be a fairly unattractive slab with big old bezels, but the G Watch is still a very nice smartwatch. It does away with some of the additions Samsung bundled with the Gear Live (charging cradle and heart rate monitor) and comes with an LCD display instead.

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.

Best Android Wear smartwatch (upcoming)

LG G Watch R

Link to Video

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 illuminated bezel around the outside and is the first smartwatch to feature a full circle construction. The G Watch R switches to a plastic OLED display from LCD in the original, so we expect better blacks and improved night-time performance from the G Watch R.

We're yet to see final software on the device, but we're looking forward to seeing what LG has added on in terms of functionality in the final version. The G Watch R has also added a heart rate monitor to the mix this time round (get it?).

Asus ZenWatch

Asus ZenWatch NoWatermark 15
The Asus ZenWatch is one of the best looking Android Wear devices around. © ANDROIDPIT

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. 

The ZenWatch runs on Android Wear with Asus' unique ZenUI 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.

Sony Smartwatch 3

Sony Smartwatch Watermark 8
The Sony Smartwatch is a removable pod with interchangeable arm bands. © ANDROIDPIT

With all the fuss over the Moto 360 and LG G Watch R at IFA 2014, Sony's update to their wearable efforts, the Smartwatch 3, went a little unnoticed. 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.

HTC smartwatch

The HTC smartwatch is even murkier than the Asus. Other than the existence of a smartwatch project at HTC, we don't have any further details on the device. As soon as something leaks or becomes official we'll be sure to update this list accordingly.

Be reminded that recent rumors have claimed that the HTC smartwatch project has been canned because the prototypes lacked the ''wow factor'' HTC felt the device would need to justify being launched. So we may not see a HTC smartwatch for some time yet.

Best smartwatch (not on Android Wear)

Samsung Gear S

samsung galaxy gear s
The Samsung Gear S isn't very pretty, but we do like that curved OLED display. © ANDROIDPIT

Samsung's just-announced Gear S will be 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 will attract a lot of attention, 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.

Omate X

Omate X 8
The Omate X is super cheap and supports pairing to both Android and iOS devices. © Omate

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 curved display. At a rock-bottom 129 USD it's a frontrunner in the price stakes too.

Samsung Gear 2

samsung Gear 2 black
The Gear 2 switched to Tizen and refined the look of the original Galaxy Gear. © Samsung

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 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.

Pebble Steel

Pebble Steel Range
The Pebble Steel was the first smartwatch to truly look like a watch. © Pebble

Pebble rocked our smartwatch expectations a long time ago, but they never really delivered a knock-out device until the Pebble Steel. It has a new interface and more importantly, 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 to make us realize smartwatches could actually look good too.

Do you own any Android wearables? Which smartphone is your pick for the best?