Although relatively new in tech innovation and development, you’ve likely at least heard about smartwatches, with 2014 marking the introduction of a number of products. Even though they’ve been around in some form since 1972’s Pulsar, four decades later we’re talking about wearable computers that connect via Bluetooth to other technology.
The top players, Android and Apple, are followed by wearable tech by Samsung and Pebble. Currently, most researchers predict that Apple will outsell its competitors, taking about 55% of the global market share in 2015.
So which option is the best for you? A subjective question, dependent on your budget and needs. Let’s compare.
It’s pretty straightforward. If you have an iPhone, your options are the Apple Watch or Pebble. If you have an Android phone, you’ll be wearing an Android or Pebble watch (at least for now). Apple and Android phones and watches are not cross-compatible yet, but Pebble works well with both. And Samsung Gear watches pair exclusively with Samsung phones, such as the Galaxy Note.
Let’s start with the least expensive. The Pebble watches start around $100, Android around $200, Samsung Gear around $300, and Apple around $350. Advanced versions of each can really amp the price. If you’re feeling particularly fancy, check out the Apple Watch Edition (18-karat gold) starting at $10,000.
Apple and Android watches both run smoothly with well-designed operating systems. Newer Pebble models will run a new OS, and Pebble also works with both Apple and Android phones. We should point out that the Pebble watch does not have a touch screen. In terms of battery life, Apple and Android watches will need to be charged after a day’s use. This is where Pebble shines: it only needs to be charged weekly. The Samsung Gear may last two days or longer before needing to be charged, and the Gear S the standalone smartwatch that also acts as a smartphone is nice to have for short time periods when you don’t want to carry your phone. However, you’ll want to continue using your phone for most situations due to limited Samsung Gear displays.
The most important part of a smartwatch is, of course, the app selection. The Apple Watch boasts an impressive list of wrist-accessible apps, including social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), Target, Uber, American Airlines, Nike+ Running, PayPal, CNN and even BMW i Remote, which lets you control door locks, cabin temperature and check the charge status of your electric car. The Google Play store features a good number of Android Wear apps, including Amazon, Fly Delta, Pinterest, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, but they lack the number and notoriety of companies available for Apple.
For smart watches to really catch on, they have to give you access to features faster than you can on your phone, or even features that aren’t even on your phone. If they are simply an extension of your phone, they’ll sell but they need to go beyond basic watch and phone capabilities. Battery life is a major hurdle. There are several technologies that are attempting to address this from both ends with the ability to charge your phone faster to batteries that last closer to a week.
Have you bought a smartwatch yet? Which one do you think is best, and why? Let us know in the comments!