What could be more useful than carrying around the little mini-computer and access to the Internet that your smartphone represents? Try wearing a lot of the same functionality right on your wrist. Smartwatches keep getting better and better—enough to give traditional timekeepers and perhaps larger Android devices anxiety about their importance in this world. Although when it comes to your smartphone, it can be more of a partnership between your watch and your Android phone.
Modern smartwatches can run mobile apps, make or answer phone calls, and allow you to conduct a Google search by voice. Certain features such as style, ability to help you meet fitness goals, or battery life matter more to some people than others, which is why we’ve categorized them. So whether you are on a budget or money’s no object; whether you are in this for the notifications or for a remote control for devices at your home; there’s something here for you. The array of smart watches currently on the market can be a little overwhelming, but let’s begin to narrow it down.
1. Economical—In Terms of Budget & Battery
ZTE Quartz (Available through T-Mobile)
When it comes to cheap smartwatches, it’s important to note some make-or-break features that these don’t offer. The ZTE Quartz isn’t going to help you make any mobile payments because it lacks the necessary Near Field Communication feature. It also has no wireless charging and no heart-rate monitor. But what it does have that’s a bit surprising for a device under $200 is GPS support, a 500 mAh battery, inherent 3G connectivity, and specs comparable to most other Android Wear products.
Pebble Time Steel Smartwatch
This watch is available for practically half of what you would pay for the ZTE Quartz, and is close to a fourth of the price of many of the smartwatches we will discuss. Here’s why: Pebble has been around for a while, but has recently been acquired by Fitbit. Still, the battery life is quite impressive—we’re talking about a week with no charge necessary. But future support is a bit questionable and any warranty you might have had previously is a moot point now. It’s still worth mentioning that you’ll still get a heart-rate monitor (but no GPS), app support through 2017 (including missed calls and other notifications being seamlessly added to your calendar), and an improved design…but you do buy at your own risk given the situation.
2. Best Overall—Looks and Features at a Reasonable Price
Samsung Gear S3
Samsung prepared to go head-to-head with Apple when it came out with the S3 Classic and Frontier, and it mostly succeeded. It has all of the features you would expect for a phone of its caliber—somewhat waterproof, decent battery life, a user-friendly design, Bluetooth, GPS, and a big bright screen. It is aesthetically pleasing, but a little on the big side for someone with small wrists like myself. The Classical model is sleek and traditional, while the Frontier looks more rugged. These are some of the best Android smartwatches available in 2017.
Another contender fit to go up against Apple is the LG Watch in all of its varieties, with the flagship being the Sport, but there’s also the cheaper and/or better-looking Style and Urbane (2nd Edition). However, a trade-off for a better price and/or looks usually involves a decrease in size, and a decrease in size sometimes means a sacrifice of some features. The Sport is the one that’s loaded with features such as LTE, GPS, a heart-rate monitor, NFC support, popular fitness apps, a speaker, user-friendly buttons, and a nice big screen. The Style is cheaper, thinner, and more comfortable though; and the Urbane has a nice display, interface, a bigger battery, and a nano-SIM card slot.
Asus ZenWatch 3
Most of the specs on this watch are enviable; and the watch itself is lightweight with a beautiful display. It charges quickly, touts the IP67 certification for dust/water resistance, and provides notifications, step tracking, and Bluetooth. It does not have a heart-rate sensor, pulsometer, SIM capability, or GPS. The ZenWatch 3 is actually lacking several features, so why did it still make the list for best overall? At a price just barely over $200, you still get a lot for what you pay for.
3. Form or Function, but Not Both: Huawei Watch & Watch 2
Huawei Watch is one of the best-looking options on the list (with Swarovski crystals if you so choose), and the build quality makes its price a bargain, especially now that it’s dropped. It’s not perfection though—it’s Huawei Watch 2 that adds the GPS and NFC its predecessor lacks; but it’s still a little pricey and while the screen size has decreased, there’s still a giant bezel that makes the touchscreen difficult to use. If only we could get a cross between the Huawei Watch and Huawei Watch 2. Nonetheless, the 2 has a ton of sensors and connectivity features, a microphone and loudspeaker, IP67 certification, and a sportier look.
4. Fittest of the Fitness Smart Watches
This is probably the best fitness watch out there for runners. It features apps for health, music, lifestyle, and community. With the help of GPS, the app is able to assess, monitor, and track your pace, speed, and time. And what helps differentiate M600 from the rest of its competitors are its Smart Coaching features, such as: Running Program and Running Index, Activity Benefit and Activity Guide, Smart Calories, Training Benefit, and Customizable Sport Profiles.
Moto 360 Sport (2nd Gen)
Although it’s not as specifically geared towards sports (more like a Moto 360 watch with some sports features added), it could be argued that the 360 is better-rounded—with its focus also on notifications, voice commands, wireless charging, and Wi-Fi connectivity. But the watch can still serve you well when it comes to fitness, using its heart-rate sensor, IP67 dust and water resistance, ambient light sensor (for outdoor use), and GPS for activity tracking. This may not be your best option if you are buying a smartwatch solely for fitness intent. However, if you are looking for a watch very capable of meeting the average person’s fitness needs, but with a little versatility, this might be a good fit for you.
Fitbit Blaze Smart Fitness Watch
Fitbit has definitely earned its fame in the fitness wearables world. With a lot of time and experience to perfect a fitness watch, it currently offers this sporty but stylish version with a heart-rate monitor, cardio fitness level, notifications, on-screen workouts, multi-sport tracking with GPS, and new guided breathing sessions. You can start a workout using the FitStar app and simply glance at your wrist for graphics and instructions. It comes with music control, a sleep monitor, reminders to move, various band and frame options, and a decent battery life. This is one of the best Android smartwatches for 2017.
5. Android Luxury Smart Watch
TAG Heuer Connected Modular 45
If you are in the market for a luxury smartwatch (i.e. can cough up close to $2,000-3,000) that looks like an old-timey mechanical watch, be sure to check out TAG Heuer. It features a grade II titanium body and several customization options (over 4,000). It really is about looks and design for this one, though, as its specs are rather underwhelming in relation to the price. It is relatively water-resistant, has GPS, Google Assistant, notifications, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi; but so do most other smartwatches these days.
Today’s’ smartwatches can do a whole lot more than tell time. In fact, there’s now a ton of features, designs, and other options to choose from, making the process more complicated than ever. Hopefully this guide has made it less of a challenge. There are a wide range of Android smartwatches out there, and it’s impossible to cover all of them here. There are still alternatives if you didn’t find exactly what you are looking for.
Do you have Android smartwatch suggestions of your own? Have you tried these products? Let us know in the comments.