Smartwatches might come across as a bit nerdy and niche, but the sheer number of smartwatches at CES 2014 indicates that they just might become mainstream in the near future. Mobile developers are bullish about the future of smartwatches; even Microsoft seems to be getting in the game, judging by their recent smartwatch patent.
And it’s not just those in the tech industry that are thinking this way, will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas is coming out with a smartwatch.
If you are thinking of getting yourself a smartwatch here are 10 of the latest smartwatches you can actually buy this year. They come in different shapes, size and designs, have a variety of functionalities and mark the start of a new branch of wearable tech.
Recommended Reading: 20 Latest Fitness Wearables You Can Buy
1. Pebble And Pebble Steel
The Pebble is a Kickstarter success story, having raised over $10 million from nearly 70,000 backers. Its e-paper display will show your notifications as well as any number of different watchfaces that you can download or even make yourself. It has a complementary Pebble app for both Android and iOS, which gives you access to the Pebble appstore, where you can download Pebble-specific apps to customize your Pebble experience.
The Pebble has fitness tracking sensors built in, although it lacks a heartbeat sensor. The Pebble Steel is the same device underneath, but given a more premium construction using Gorilla Glass and stainless steel. [Price: Pebble – $150; Pebble Steel – $229]
CPU And RAM: 80MHz single core CPU, 8MB RAMDisplay: 1.26-inch LED backlit e-paper, 144 x 168 pixelsOS: Pebble OS; Compatibilty: Android and iOSBattery Life: 5 to 7 days
2. Samsung Gear 2
The Gear 2 is Samsung’s follow-up to their previous Galaxy Gear smartwatch. It brings with it a number of changes and improvements. Like most smartwatches, it will display notifications from any Android application, and lets you dial, answer and reject calls using the watch. Since the Gear 2 has a built-in speaker and microphone, you can also talk through the watch itself. Similarly, you can store music on the watch itself and listen via Bluetooth headphones or the built-in speaker.
The Gear 2 also has a full suite of fitness-tracking capabilities, such as a heart rate sensor, S Health features, a pedometer and a sleep tracker. It has interchangeable straps and customizable themes, with a camera that will shoot Full HD photos and 720p video. [Price: Gear 2 – $299 in the US; Gear 2 Neo (no camera) – $199]
CPU And RAM: 1GHz dual core CPU, 4GB RAMDisplay: 1.6-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen, 320 x 320 pixelsOS: Tizen OS; Compatibilty: Samsung devices running Android 4.3 and aboveBattery Life: 2 to 3 days
3. Samsung Gear Fit
Here’s another one from Samsung. The Gear Fit is a smartwatch and fitness tracker that strikes middle ground, bringing you combo-features from both types of wearable. It will still show your notifications and allow simple interactions such as rejecting calls and sending quick replies, but you’ll need to use your smartphone or a Bluetooth headset to talk.
The Gear Fit has an accelerometer, gyroscope and heart rate sensor for all your fitness tracking needs. Like the Gear 2, it has interchangeable wrist bands and customizable themes, and is IP67 water and dust resistant. [Price: $199]
CPU And RAM: 1GHz dual core CPU, 512MB RAMDisplay: 1.48-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen, 432 x 128 pixelsOS: Real-time operating system; Compatibilty: Samsung devices running Android 4.3 and aboveBattery Life: Up to 3 days
4. Qualcomm Toq
The Qualcomm Toq is not on the cutting edge of smartwatches, but it’s still a capable smartwatch with a rarely seen (in smartwatches) Mirasol display that promises better battery life than other display types. It also has reflective color display (color is always a plus), and can be always-on without affecting battery life.
The Toq can run a number of applets that you access from the phone itself, which include calendar, stocks, music player and notification applets. It can also be used to make and answer calls, although you can’t talk through the Toq itself. There is an accompanying Android app that lets you set up notifications, configure Quick Reply messages and tweak some general preferences. It has no fitness tracking capabilities. [Price: $249.99]
CPU And RAM: 200MHz Cortex M3 CPU, 512MB RAMDisplay: 1.55-inch Mirasol touchscreen, 288 x 192 pixelsOS: Qualcomm OS; Compatibilty: Android 4.0.3 and aboveBattery Life: "Multiple days"; 4 or 5 days according to tests
5. Sony smartWatch 2 SW2
Sony’s SmartWatch2 SW2 is the follow-up to the Sony SmartWatch. The SW2 improves upon the old model in a number of ways, including a better, higher-resolution display. You can get your notifications, as well as use it as a phone remote to make/receive calls, via a Bluetooth headset. The SmartWatch 2 can be paired to your Android phone using NFC, although it will still require Sony’s SmartConnect app to be able to work as a companion to your smartphone.
The SmartWatch 2 has fitness tracking features, including its own run-tracking app. There are also a number of SmartWatch 2-specific applications on the Google Play Store. The SW2 also has an interchangeable wristband, and is IP57 water and dust resistant. [Price: retailed for $199; attainable at $140.49].
CPU And RAM: 180MHz Cortex M4 CPUDisplay: 1.6-inch transflective LCD, 220 x 176 pixelsOS: Custom Android variant; Compatibilty: Android 4.0 and aboveBattery Life: 3 to 4 days
6. Martian Smartwatch
The Martian Smartwatch combines the features of a traditional analog watch with a small digital display and smartphone connectivity to try and bring you the best of both worlds. There are three versions of the Martian Smartwatch, but aside from looks and materials, all three offer the same functionality, designed to first and foremost be voice command smartwatches.
The smartwatches link to your Android or iOS smartphone and lets you make and answer calls, send text messages hands-free, send voice reminders and all your other favourite Siri or Google Now voice commands. The built-in noise cancelling microphone means you can talk directly through the watch without needing a Bluetooth headset, and the small OLED display will also show your notifications. [Passport, Victory – $299; G2G version – $249]
CPU And RAM: N/ADisplay: Analog watch display, 96 x 16 pixel OLED graphic displayOS: N/A; Compatibilty: Android, iOSBattery Life: Up to 7 days
7. HOT Watch
The HOT Watch is a Kickstarter-funded smartwatch available in four design variations. All HOT Watches This feature set includes a unique palm-based calling system that lets you make private calls without having to use your smartphone or a Bluetooth headset. In addition, the HOT Watch has a built-in pedometer, fall detection, the ability to receive and reply to messages, and a HOT Proximity Alert feature that makes sure you never leave your smartphone behind.
In addition, the HOT Watch receives and understands voice commands. All these features, and more, are accessible via the HOT Watch’s gesture control system. [Price: $179.55 to $236.55. Available for pre-order, Starts shipping in June]
CPU And RAM: 200 MHz Cortex M3Display: 1.26-inch e-paper displayOS: N/A; Compatibilty: Android 2.2+, iOS 5+, Windows Phone 8.0+ (after June 2014)Battery Life: 3 to 7 days
8. Omate TrueSmart
The Omate TrueSmart is another Kickstarter success. Built of premium-quality materials and packing an impressive feature set, the Omate TrueSmart is definitely a smartwatch to keep an eye on. The Omate TrueSmart is both a standalone and companion device with a feature set to match its powerful hardware. The TrueSmart will do voice calls, text messaging and social media messaging, complete with a voice-to-text system. It also supports voice and gesture control.
Since the TrueSmart is built on Android, it’s not limited to specially designed apps, and will run almost any Android app. The TrueSmart also comes with GPS navigation features and scratch-proof sapphire glass in its construction. The most interesting thing is TrueSmart can accept a Micro SIM card, so you can actually use it without a smartphone at all. [Price: $299 for pre-order. Starts shipping end of May]
CPU And RAM: 1.7GHz Cortex A7 dual core CPU, 512 MB or 1GB RAMDisplay: 1.54 inch TFT IPS touchschreen, 240 x 240 pixelsOS: Omate UI 1.0 / Android 4.2.2; Compatibilty: Android 4.2 and above, iOS 6 and aboveBattery Life: Up to 4 days
9. Motorola Moto 360
The Moto 360, Motorola’s upcoming smartwatch, was announced alongside Google’s new Android Wear OS, and is one of the two confirmed upcoming Android Wear smartwatches that will hit the market this year. Motorola hasn’t officially revealed any specifications of the upcoming Moto 360 beyond the fact that it’s running Android Wear and will have an interchangeable wristband.
Rumors, however, say that the Moto 360 will be constructed using more premium materials, including sapphire glass, and have steel and leather wristband options. It also looks like the 360 will come with a plastic back so that it can be charged using wireless induction technology. Given the features of Android Wear, it’s quite likely that the Moto 360 will come with a built-in microphone of some kind. [Price: circa $300 (TBC). Scheduled to be available in summer]
CPU And RAM: TBADisplay: Circular OLED display (rumored)OS: Android Wear; Compatibilty: TBABattery Life: TBA
10. LG G Watch
LG’s G Watch was announced alongside the Moto 360 and the new Android Wear OS, and is going to be the second Android Wear-powered smartwatch available this year. However, there’s even less information and conjecture about the G Watch than there is about the Moto 360. All we know right now is the pricing and rough release date (see below), as well as the fact that it will run Android Wear and sport interchangeable wristbands.
The G Watch will feature an always-on display, although the technology behind this display is yet to be revealed. Again, given the features of the Android Wear OS, the G Watch will probably have a built-in microphone of some sort. The G Wear will also be dust and water resistant. [Price: under £180. Scheduled to be available before July, only in the UK]
CPU And RAM: TBADisplay: TBAOS: Android Wear; Compatibilty: TBABattery Life: TBA