If you’ve shopped for a smartwatch recently, you’ll have probably noticed that smartwatches tend to be listed for specific markets. For instance, outdoor smartwatches make different lists than fashion smartwatches. However, what these devices have in common is that they usually require a connection to your smartphone to be useful - or at least, for you to use their best features.
The solution to the issue of smartphone-tethering is to buy a standalone smartwatch, which lets you use all its best features without a connection to your smartphone.
Below, we have listed 10 standalone smartphones that you should know about. We’ve covered everything from the most capable to the cheapest and most novel. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll have a few ideas for when it comes time to making a purchase.
The ZTE Quartz is a T-Mobile exclusive smartwatch that costs $199. It offers fantastic value for money compared to other smartwatches on the market, with a screen that’s right up there with the best of them and the latest Snapdragon processor.
Running Android Wear 2.0, the ZTE Quartz offers all the latest smartwatch software features, including access to its own app marketplace. But it’s the hardware that sets the ZTE Quartz apart from other smartwatches at this price. For instance, it has a vibrant 1.4-inch 400 x 400 AMOLED display and an enormous 500mAh battery.
That means it has a sharper display than the much-loved HUAWEI Watch, and a bigger battery than the Samsung Gear S3. At $199, then, the ZTE Quartz is a steal and although it doesn’t have a heart-rate sensor, it does have GPS, Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity.
Samsung Gear S2 3G and 4G
The Samsung Gear S2 3G and 4G were launched in 2016, but they are still decent smartwatches. Priced from around $299.99 from launch, they can be picked up for around $150.00 today and they come loaded with desirable features.
With 3G or 4G connectivity made possible with an E-sim, the Samsung Gear S2 3G and 4G smartwatches do not require a constant connection to your smartphone to be useful. The screen is a 1.2” circular unit with a 360 X 360 resolution, and both these devices run Samsung’s own operating system, Tizen, an alternative to Android Wear.
If you will be using your smartwatch for basic tasks like keeping up with your daily activity and sleep patterns, then the Samsung Gear S2 3G and 4G are worth a punt. They look great too, with a stainless-steel case and various strap options to choose from.
Apple Watch 3
The Apple Watch Series 3 is Apple’s most capable smartwatch to date.
The most useful new feature over previous versions of the Apple Watch is cellular connectivity (LTE), which allows you to stay fully connected when you’re away from your iPhone. You can make calls, send text messages and receive notification alerts without a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection to your iPhone. It’s a hugely useful feature, and best of all, Siri works on that cellular connection too for directions.
Elsewhere, the Apple Watch Series 3 has other improvements over previous models. It has an altimeter so that step tracking when moving up and down (on a staircase, for example) is more accurate, and it has a faster, more powerful dual-core processor.
Starting from $329, the Apple Watch Series 3 is competitively priced. If you are an iPhone user, this is the Apple Watch to get. It’s simply the best yet.
Samsung Gear S
If you want a smartwatch that offers more independent features than regular smartwatches, the Samsung Gear S is it. The Gear S has built-in 3G and Wi-Fi, and lets you make calls and browse the web without being connected to your smartphone.
The Gear S has a gorgeous 2-inch curved AMOLED screen that wraps around your wrist perfectly. Samsung has loaded it with features, and it runs their latest Tizen OS, which is less dependent on a smartphone connection than Android Wear. With the Gear S, you can make calls without your smartphone and even listen to your music independently.
The bright AMOLED screen is a joy to use. It’s responsive and excellent outdoors, although apps can lag sometimes. That’s because Samsung chose to use a Snapdragon 400 processor, which is last year’s processor. Still, it’s keenly priced, from around $199.
LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition
The LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition is one of the most underrated smartwatches on the market. It has an outstanding 1.38-inch full circle P-OLED 480 X 480 display and LTE connectivity with a cellular radio, so you can use most of its features without a phone.
The standout feature of the Urbane 2nd Edition is the Display. The P-OLED 480 X 480 display is gorgeous with perfect outdoor visibility. This smartwatch also runs Android Wear 2.0, so you have access to the latest Android Wear features like in-built messaging and the ability to make calls from the device itself without a smartphone being connected.
The design is decent too. The case is brushed stainless steel and as standard, it has a silicone band which is user-replaceable. The battery life lasts for around 1.5 days. You can pick up the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition for around $499.99, or on contract from Verizon.
Samsung Gear S3 Frontier LTE
The Samsung Gear S3 Frontier LTE is a 4G smartwatch with plenty going for it. It runs the Tizen operating system instead of Android Wear, so it has a unique user experience, and the 360 X 360 Super AMOLED display is bright and vibrant even under direct sunlight.
Designed for active users, the Gear S3 Frontier is IP68 rated for dust and waterproofing, and it has a neat rotating bezel which lets you cycle through applications. With this, you can switch between apps without touching the screen and it’s an intuitive way to interact with a smartwatch. And in truth, it’s something we wish more smartwatches had.
The Gear S3 Frontier has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and automatically switches between these connections to maintain a connection with your smartphone. Interested? You can pick up the S3 Gear Frontier through AT&T, or through Amazon for around $319.00.
LG Watch Sport 4G LTE
If you like the Samsung smartwatch listed above but want Android Wear, then the LG Watch Sport 4G LTE is a great option. Like the Samsung, the LG is IP68 rated for dust and waterproofing but ditches the Samsung’s rotating bezel for buttons and a touchscreen.
With Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, GPS, Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, an accelerometer, barometer, microphone and speaker, the LG Watch Sport 4G LTE is certainly brimming with features. It runs the latest version of Android Wear 2.0 and rocks a 1.38in P-OLED display with a 480 X 480 resolution, which equates to 348ppi for a pin-sharp user experience.
It looks great too. The P-OLED display is surrounded by a brushed stainless steel case, with a soft silicone strap wrapping around the wrist. You can pick it up on contract with Verizon or AT&T, or buy it separately. It retails for around $349 as a standalone device.
The Omate Rise is an affordable Android Wear 2.0 smartwatch. The standard version has a polycarbonate case and a sapphire-coated screen, but there’s a neater-looking version with a carbon fibre bezel for those of you who want something that stands out.
With a 1.3-inch round LCD display with a 360 X 360 resolution, the Omate Rise isn’t the most advanced smartwatch on the market to use, but it has a party trick - Amazon Alexa support, which means you can communicate with Amazon’s virtual assistant on the go. It maintains a connection with Alexa through your phone via Bluetooth, or via 3G.
Born from an Indiegogo project, the Omate Rise smashed its funding target and is one of the crowd-funding smartwatch success stories. You can buy the Omate Rise for $349.00 through the official website, or you can purchase the Alexa Limited Edition for $399.99 on Indiegogo.
inWatch Z Standalone
The inWatch Z Standalone is one of the only Android smartwatches on the market with its own camera. The camera offers 720p video recording and lets you take 360-degree videos, not to mention high quality photos for Instagram.
Running Android 4.4 Kit Kat, the inWatch Z Standalone offers a more customisable experience than Android Wear smartwatches. It has GPS, Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi and 3G for connectivity, and has a pedometer to measure your steps. In terms of apps, you can run Netflix, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and many more apps from the device.
Designed with notifications and fast app access in mind, the inWatch Z Standalone has an intuitive user interface is powered by a speedy ARM Cortex A7 Dual Core 1.2GHz Processor. In terms of price, this smartwatch is currently on sale for $175 from the official website.
Burg 12 Smartwatch
The Burg 12 is a device that wouldn't win any beauty awards. But there’s more to it than meets the eye. For instance, rather than being an extension of your phone, it can completely replace your phone.
Indeed, the Burg 12 can make or receive calls and comes pre-installed with a prepaid good2GO SIM card with $25 credit. It also has its own camera for stills or video, and it comes with a 4GB microSD card for music storage. Acting as a standalone device, the Burg 12 can be your MP3 player, camera and phone, although it isn’t all smooth sailing.
For instance, the screen leaves much to be desired. It’s a 1.5” square 240 X 240 display, despite the round watch case. Compared to other smartwatches, it’s very low-tech. For this reason, we can’t recommend the Burg 12. You’re better off looking elsewhere for cheap smartwatch thrills.