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Smartwatch Wars – Which One is Right for You?

Whether you like it or not, smartwatches are here to stay. The technology is still very much in the early stages and it remains unclear exactly what kind of long-term impact they will have, but demand is high, variety is increasing and competition between major brands is getting seriously heated. There are dozens of products vying for total market control but for the purposes of this article we’ll focus on four: the Apple Watch, the Android Wear, the Microsoft Band and the Pebble. Below you’ll find a rundown of each product, the pros, the cons and general advice on which one might suit you best. Let’s do this thing.


Apple Watch


techradar.com
Despite months of hype, the Apple Watch hasn’t actually been available for all that long. It’s already broken sales records and people queued around the block all across the world to be among the first to get one, but does it live up to the rep? Apple products always have massive launches, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to them being the best product out there.

It’s certainly the most expensive product on this list, retailing at $349, but while that’s still in the top tier for smart watches, it’s relatively reasonable given how many features it comes laden with. The square screen is sleekly designed and easy to use, it already has hundreds of different apps available and it can interface with any iPhone from 5 and up. Customizability is currently mostly limited to straps, but that will likely change in the near future. Voice control, location, notification and health monitoring services are all top of the line. 

Basically, if you’re an Apple user, you already know you’re getting one of these.


Android Wear


developer.android.com
The Google answer to the dominant Apple product, numerous companies like Samsung, LG and Motorola have produced iterations of the Wear, offering a phenomenal wealth of variety, whilst keeping the same basic functionality. Prices have a lower starting bracket of $200, which already gives the Wear a significant leg up.

All variants have a round face and maintain a similar look to a classic analogue watch. Personally that appeals to me more, since it’s more subtle, but some of the technology doesn’t gel quite so well with a round face as it would with a square one. The Google technology is almost uniformly superior to what’s offered by Apple, the searches are faster and the results are more comprehensive. The variety of apps on offer is far lower, but the Wear is capable of interfacing with many other devices like TVs, tablets and phones. The Google ‘context stream’ system is also present and correct.

The Wear would appeal to those in search of a wide range of aesthetic choices, more than anything else, people who want something more akin to, you know, a real watch.


Microsoft Band


techradar.com
The new kid on the block, the Microsoft Band is a sleek, streamlined product. It’s experiencing something of a slow-burn launch and is still kind of sitting in that nether-realm that many Microsoft tech products nestle in before either taking off or fizzling out (read: the Zune). It starts at around $200, but what does it have to offer?

The big sticking point is cross-platform compatibility, it can interface with most major smartphones, although some interface quality is lost between brands. It has a fairly Spartan design, looking pretty much like a FitBit with a proper screen, but it’s comfortable and the interface is easy to understand. It also has possibly the best sensor integration of any smart watch on the market, although that is somewhat tempered by the fact that the Microsoft health app leaves a lot to be desired.

That being said, the broadest appeal of this one is as a fitness tracker, the screen isn’t very big and app variety is an issue but as time goes by it will probably be marketed more and more towards people looking for a fitness aid. They need to make a waterproof version though. ASAP.


The Pebble


9to5mac.com
By far and away the cheapest option here, Pebble watches start at $99.99 and even the most comprehensive version, the Steel, rates at $179.99. Like the Band, the Pebble also boasts strong multi-platform compatibility, broadening its appeal for anyone who doesn’t necessarily want to stick to one brand of smart phone consistently.

It’s not the prettiest product, but it’s simple, functional and reasonably sleek. The Steel is easily the most attractive model and all versions come with almost innumerable custom straps and faces. It’s also remarkably robust, waterproof up to 160 meters (salt or fresh) as well as being able to tolerate temperatures ranging from -10 to 60 degrees centigrade. It’s a non-runner for the arctic, but should be fine more or less anywhere else. It’s more limited in terms of functionality, being more designed as a notification centre than a full smartphone extension, but third party app development is out there and the only way is up. The cross platform compatibility is there, but some iOS functions are pretty limited.


This is one to grow on, perhaps best for people slightly more reticent about the whole notion of smart watches, you won’t break the bank and if you decide you’d rather just have a normal watch, you can just use it as such without feeling like you’ve been swindled

Callum Davies

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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Smartwatch Wars – Which One is Right for You? Reviewed by Callum Davies on Tuesday, May 19, 2015 Rating: 5

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