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Android Wear comparison: What Google-powered smartwatch should you buy?

After the Moto 360 went on sale earlier today, consumers who want a little bit of Android on their wrist will have at least six different options. Even though Android Wear may not be a must-have yet, the platform still offers a lot for people who are heavily plugged into Google’s ecosystem.

Although [company]Google[/company] has designed Android Wear to work the same on most devices, there’s still a surprising amount of cosmetic and functional differences between the models. Make sure you get the right one for you.

Samsung Gear Live

Google I/O Samsung Gear Live

Screen: 1.63-inch 320 x 320 AMOLED

Look: At a glance, the Samsung Gear Live looks like any of the other eight smartwatches Samsung has pushed to market this year. As for its feel? “A little bulky, but feels good on the wrist.” You get a choice of black or magenta-hued red watch bands.

Specs: 1.2GHz [company]Qualcomm[/company] Snapdragon 400, 512MB RAM, 4GB storage

Sensors: Heart-rate monitor, 9-axis accelerometer.

Weight: 59 grams

Pros: Samsung’s AMOLED screens look great even at these smaller sizes. As one of the original two Android Wear devices, if you had one of these a few months ago you were on the absolute cutting edge.

Cons: Its snap-on charging mechanism has been called horrible and is breaking for a lot of people. Samsung doesn’t feel totally committed to Android Wear, due to its competing line of Tizen-based smartwatches.

Price: $199

Availability: Google Play, Amazon, your local electronics retailer

LG G Watch

LG_G_Watch_500

Screen: 1.65-inch 280 x 280 LCD IPS

Look (w/colors): Boxy. Like someone at LG shrunk a phone, but couldn’t keep shrinking it any farther, then added a strap. Comes in gold and black.

Specs: 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, 512MB RAM, 4GB storage

Sensors: 9-axis accelerometer

Weight: 63 grams

Pros: Is considered to be the original Android Wear reference device. As the first of its kind, will make a wonderful piece of computing history one day.

Cons: It comes with a cheap-feeling charging cradle that doesn’t do wireless. The terminal pins on the back for charging may corrode and irritate your skin. No heart rate monitor.

Price: $230 MSRP, $200 street price

Availability: Google Play, Amazon, your local electronics retailer

LG G Watch R

LG G Watch R press

Screen: 1.3-inch 320 x 320 plastic OLED (P-OLED)

Look: Like a military-style field watch. Round face. Wide bezel. Lugs. A crown, which not only completes the watch look but adds a useful button.

Specs: 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, 512MB RAM, 4GB storage

Sensors: 9-axis accelerometer

Weight: Unavailable.

Pros: If you want an Android Wear device that nobody will notice is actually a smartwatch, this is probably your best bet.

Cons: Comes in any color you like as long as it’s black. Its aggressive masculine style might not fit in with some wardrobes. Can you really wait until October?

Price: $249 or higher (unconfirmed)

Availability: October 14

Asus ZenWatch

ASUS-ZenWatch-02-final

Screen: 1.63-inch 320 x 320 AMOLED

Look: With an elongated, rounded yet vaguely rectangular face, the Zenwatch looks like a river pebble that’s been smoothed on a river bed for years, then had a slightly curved screen installed. The finishing touch is rose-gold trim around the edge.

Specs: 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, 512MB RAM, 4GB storage

Sensors: Heart-rate monitor, 9-axis accelerometer. Sensors tap into a companion Asus ZenUI wellness app

Weight: 50 grams

Pros: Machined aluminum body sounds premium. Comes with a “genuine stitched-leather strap” out of the box. Asus has added a little bit of its own software as well, which allows the ZenWatch to unlock a Bluetooth-connected phone.

Cons: Watch strap only comes in brown. IP55 waterproof rating is a disappointment compared to other Android Wear watches with IP68 certification.

Price: €199, which will likely be $199 when it hits American shores.

Availability: Unknown.

Motorola Moto 360

The Moto 360 smart watch is on display at a press event Sept. 4 in Chicago. Photo by Kevin Fitchard/Gigaom
The Moto 360 smart watch is on display at a press event Sept. 4 in Chicago. Photo by Kevin Fitchard/Gigaom

Screen: 1.5-inch circular 320 x 290 backlit LCD.

Look: Metal and premium. There will be a black version and a silver version, and the black face with metal bezel looks a lot like a classic Braun watch. Probably the only current Android Wear watch that Dieter Rams would wear. Comes with either a chain-link steel or a leather band.

Specs: 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, 512MB RAM, 4GB storage

Sensors: 9-axis accelerometer and a heart-rate monitor.

Weight: 59 grams

Pros: As my colleague Kevin Tofel said after he saw one in-person at Google I/O, “the Moto 360 screams premium based on fit and finish.” Moto 360 is also the only Android Wear smartwatch so far that charges wirelessly.

Cons: Despite the fact the Moto 360 is billed as a circular smartwatch, it’s not fully circular. There’s a small cutout on the bottom of the screen that doesn’t display any information, which is bogus and may require apps to be optimized for its unique display. Call it the Moto 270. It’s also more expensive than your other options.

Price: $249 with leather strap, $299 with chain-link steel band

AvailabilityMotorola, Google Play and Best Buy coming soon.

Sony SmartWatch 3

Sony SmartWatch 3

Screen: 1.6-inch 320 x 320 TFT LCD

Look: Classic Sony. Black base color with metallic accents. The watch face blends into the strap, but the required rubber wrist bands make it look less like a distinguished timepiece and more like a child’s watch.

Specs: 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, 512MB RAM, 4GB storage

Sensors: Accelerometer and GPS

Weight: 45 grams (without the strap)

Pros: Built-in GPS sensor is a capability other Android Wear devices lack.

Cons: You’re restricted to using Sony’s built-in rubber wristbands, which come in a variety of neon colors and have an announced cost of €25. You can’t swap in your favorite watch strap. Instead of a charging cradle, there’s a fiddly micro USB port on the underside.

Price: €229

Availability: “Autumn”

Gigaom illustration adapted from piphatbig/Shutterstock

 

 

6 Responses to “Android Wear comparison: What Google-powered smartwatch should you buy?”

    • Actually, I believe they’re all water-resistant to some extent. Most of them are IP68 certified except for the Asus Zenwatch, which is rated IP55. I don’t think any of them should go into the shower but they should all be fine if they get rained or sweated on.