When Android Wear smartwatches first came out, they acted as an extension of your smartphone. They would notify you of incoming calls and texts, they would send you app notifications, and they would let you control your smartphone’s camera.
Today, Android Wear smartwatches are much more capable. The recent Android Wear 2.0 update brought with it standalone apps, its own Play Store, Android Pay and improved messaging features. Now, you can wear smartwatches untethered from a smartphone and they don’t lose out on any functionality. In other words, they are multi-talented.
It is Android Wear’s multi-talented feature-set that has driven its popularity. But of course, the wide range of gorgeous watches that run it help too.
When shopping for an Android Wear smartwatch, there are two things to remember:
Google doesn’t allow OEMs to customise Android Wear. This means that all Android Wear smartwatches offer the same basic user experience. However, OEMs are free to include whatever connectivity modules they like in their devices, and they are free to choose whatever hardware they like. This means that while any two Android Wear smartwatches might feel similar in use, they might offer completely different functionality. In addition to this, unique watch faces and apps help Android Wear smartwatches to stand out from one another.
With that in mind, here are our top 10 Android Wear Smartwatches of 2017:
LG Watch Sport
The LG Watch Sport is one of the best Android Wear smartwatches on the market today. It has a 1.38in circular P-OLED display with a 480x480 (348 ppi) resolution, which puts it right at the top of the pile where display technology is concerned.
The metal chassis is simple yet elegant, and there’s three usefully-chunky physical buttons on the right edge. The middle one lets you scroll through menus, while the outer two let you select things. The strap is rubber and it’s extremely comfortable to wear. Powering the watch is a Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor with 768MB RAM. Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, GPS and NFC are all built-in, and this smartwatch also has a heart-rate sensor.
Huawei Watch 2
The Huawei Watch 2 is a polarising smartwatch. On the one hand, it’s an upgrade over the 1st gen HUAWEI Watch thanks to a scratch-proof ceramic bezel and a sportier design, but on the other hand it has a lower-res display and no sapphire crystal.
With the original HUAWEI Watch now discontinued, however, you’re going to have to make do with the 2nd gen. But that’s no bad thing – the HUAWEI Watch 2 is much snappier than the original and the 1.2in circular AMOLED display with a 390x390 (326 ppi) resolution looks great. Setting this smartwatch apart is its enormous 420mAh battery, which is 120mAh larger than the 1st gen’s. This offers up to 25 days of battery life in “watch mode”.
ASUS Zenwatch 3
If you’re looking for a smartwatch with a standout design, the ASUS Zenwatch 3 fits the bill. It has an eye-catching stainless-steel case and a diamond-cut bezel that really pops, and you have a choice of silver or rose-gold finishes to the bezel.
The ASUS Zenwatch 3 has a 1.39in circular AMOLED display with a 400x400 (287 ppi) resolution, which is lesser than the LG Watch Sport and the HUAWEI Watch 2. It still looks great though, with popping colours and sharp graphics. Powering this smartwatch is a Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor with 512MB of RAM. This is enough for the Zenwatch 3 to feel snappy. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are the connectivity options - there’s no NFC, GPS or LTE.
Fossil Q Venture
The Fossil Q Venture was announced at Baselworld 2017. Designed to appeal to fashion-conscious buyers, the Q Venture has a sleek case that’s just 11.5mm thick. It’s available in a range of different colours, and with a range of interchangeable 18mm straps.
A feminine smartwatch, the Q Venture has a touchscreen display (no specifications have been released yet), and should run a Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor. In terms of connectivity, we expect it to have Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, as well as NFC. What sets it apart from the other Android Wear smartwatches on our list is the design. It’s sleek and elegant, with a classy vibe. We expect it’ll sell very well in department stores.
TAG Heuer Connected Modular 45
If you’re willing to spend a good chunk of cash on a smartwatch, the TAG Heuer Connected Modular 45 is an excellent option. It’s Swiss-Made being a TAG, and it simply feels like a higher quality device than the smartwatches made by tech companies.
The TAG Heuer Connected Modular 45 has a 1.39in AMOLED display with a 400x400 resolution. The display is bright and crisp, but it’s the internals that are most interesting. It has an Intel Atom Z34XX chipset paired with 512MB of RAM, instead of a Snapdragon Wear processor. In tests, the Atom Z34XX chipset has proved to be faster than other processors in smartwatches. It has Wi-Fi, NFC and GPS, though there’s no LTE.
LG Watch Style
The LG Watch Style is a basic, no-thrills Android Wear smartwatch. Don’t be fooled by the word ‘style’ in its name - this smartwatch is basic and minimalist, with a clean aesthetic that will no doubt appeal to those who don’t want something loud on their wrist.
With a 1.2-inch AMOLED display with a 360x360 resolution, the LG Watch Style has a lower-res display than the other devices on our list but it still has the latest Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor. It’s a fast, snappy smartwatch, with a single physical button on the case that’s also twistable, so it can be used to navigate Android Wear. With a 42mm case, it isn’t too big on the wrist either. It has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but no LTE, NFC or GPS.
If you like your smartwatches rugged, the Casio WSD-F20 is for you. It’s water-resistant up to 50 metres - or five atmospheres of pressure - and boasts an aluminium chassis with a chunky bezel, which protects the display from drops and knocks.
The WSD-F20 has a 1.32in LCD display with a 320 x 300 resolution. In isolation, that’s not very impressive, however, the display has a trick up its sleeve - it can switch to a non-backlit monochrome to preserve battery life. You’ll easily get two days of use out of it, and there’s low-power GPS too. Casio’s also included Pro-Trek features and colour maps, with the maps being accessible online and offline to help you keep exploring.
Moto 360 Sport
The Moto 360 Sport is one of the most popular Android Wear smartwatches, because it looks great and it’s snappy. It is also an excellent fitness-tracker, with accurate tracking and automatic activity detection so you can wear it during the gym.
The 360 Sport has a unique display. Dubbed an ‘AnyLight display’, it’s a hybrid IPS LCD screen with a transflective mode. This saves battery life, and still delivers a vibrant, crisp Android Wear experience. With IP67 dust and water resistant, the 360 Sport is an excellent choice of active people and it even has an optical heart rate sensor. It’s powered by a Quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor.
Michael Kors Access
The Michael Kors Access isn’t the best smartwatch on our list, but it’s certainly one of the most attractive. It boasts an industrial-inspired case with prominent lugs, and while it stands out, it looks like a normal, high-end watch more so than some other smartwatches.
The display is a 1.4in LCD with a 320 x 290 resolution. That resolution is way, way lower than the competition and it shows - you can see individual pixels. However, because it is an LCD, the Michael Kors Access has a transflective mode to preserve battery life. It’s powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 CPU, so it’s fast, and the battery life is decent – you’ll get 1.5 days out of it easily. Sadly, there’s no GPS or heart-rate sensor.
The Nixon Mission is one of the surprise smartwatches of 2017. It’s an outstanding device, with a high-quality build, bespoke tracking apps and a nice display. It’s even certified to 100-metres water resistance, which is double that of the Casio WSD-F20.
The Nixon Mission’s 1.39-inch 400 x 400-pixel AMOLED display is lovely, with vibrant colours and excellent sharpness. Unique applications, including a skiing and surfing app, let you see temperature and wind speeds on the display. Trace Surf and Trace Snow are unique to the Mission, and are unlike any other smartwatch applications. It is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 CPU, and has Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS connectivity.
So, there we have it - our top 10 Android Wear smartwatches of 2017. We’ve tried to include as diverse a range as possible. If you liked this article, you’ll probably also like our Top 10 standalone smartwatches of 2017 piece.