What's the best smartwatch? 14 wearables compared in our iWatch rivals round-up

Smartwatch round-up: 14 iWatch rivals compared

We compare the Samsung Gear 2, Samsung Gear 2 Neo, Samsung Gear Fit, Samsung Gear Live, Sony SmartWatch 2, Pebble Steel, Martian Voice Command, Martian Notifier, Cookoo, i'm Watch, MetaWatch Strata, LG G Watch, Moto 360 and Qualcomm Toq to discover what Apple's rumoured iWatch is up against.

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  • iWatch rivals
  • Samsung Gear 2
  • Samsung Gear 2 Neo
  • Samsung Gear Fit
  • Samsung Gear Live
  • LG G Watch
  • Motorola Moto 360
  • Pebble Steel
  • Martian Passport, Victory, G2G
  • Martian Notifier
  • Cookoo
  • Sony SmartWatch 2 SW2
  • i'm Watch
  • MetaWatch Strata
  • Qualcomm Toq
  • Conclusion
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Wearables that rival the rumoured iWatch

Apple has yet to launch a product into the wearables market, but rumour has it we'll be seeing a smartwatch from the company this autumn, which will presumably be called 'iWatch'.

Should the rumours be true, Apple's iWatch will launch with lots of already-established competition from the likes of big-name brands such as Samsung with its popular Samsung Gear 2 as well as Sony, LG, Motorola, and up and coming wearable makers like Pebble. See: The future of smartwatch apps

Google has recently launched a version of Android designed specifically for wearable tech, called Android Wear, so we can expect to see an influx of new smartwatches that run the Android Wear operating system.

Here, we round up the hottest iWatch competition to discover what Apple is up against. What will the iWatch need to be like to trump its rivals?

For more iWatch rumours, visit our iWatch rumour round-up.

Use the slideshow controls above and right to take a closer look at smartwatches including Samsung's offerings, the LG G Watch, Moto 360, the Pebble Steel, Martian smartwatches, Cookoo, Sony Smartwatch 2, I'm Watch, MetaWatch STRATA, Qualcomm Toq.

Read our Apple Watch review

Next Prev slideshow image

Apple has yet to launch a product into the wearables market, but rumour has it we'll be seeing a smartwatch from the company this autumn, which will presumably be called 'iWatch'.

Should the rumours be true, Apple's iWatch will launch with lots of already-established competition from the likes of big-name brands such as Samsung with its popular Samsung Gear 2 as well as Sony, LG, Motorola, and up and coming wearable makers like Pebble. See: The future of smartwatch apps

Google has recently launched a version of Android designed specifically for wearable tech, called Android Wear, so we can expect to see an influx of new smartwatches that run the Android Wear operating system.

Here, we round up the hottest iWatch competition to discover what Apple is up against. What will the iWatch need to be like to trump its rivals?

For more iWatch rumours, visit our iWatch rumour round-up.

Use the slideshow controls above and right to take a closer look at smartwatches including Samsung's offerings, the LG G Watch, Moto 360, the Pebble Steel, Martian smartwatches, Cookoo, Sony Smartwatch 2, I'm Watch, MetaWatch STRATA, Qualcomm Toq.

Read our Apple Watch review

Samsung Gear 2

Arguably Apple's biggest rival, Samsung has several offerings in the wearable market, and its repertoire just keeps growing.

The company first launched the Android-based Galaxy Gear smartwatch in 2013, but it was met by a less than positive reception, and has been deemed a flop.

Samsung didn't stop there, though. Alongside the Galaxy S5, Samsung launched three new wrist-worn devices in February at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and if that wasn't enough for you, launched a fourth new smartwatch at Google I/O in June called the Gear Live, which runs Android Wear.

Samsung's flagship smartwatch is the Samsung Gear 2, which, instead of running Android, has a Tizen-based operating system. It was met by a significantly better reaction than the original Gear, much to Samsung's relief, we imagine.

Priced at £250, Samsung's Gear 2 is not a cheap piece of kit. However, it's feature-packed and quite stylish, with a smaller and thinner face and a better-looking strap than its predecessor, which can be switched with other watch straps if you choose.

What can the Samsung Gear 2 do?

The thing about smartwatches is that, as they're a new trend, no one quite knows exactly what they should do. Samsung appears to be covering all bases, offering the obvious wristwatch functionality as well as fitness tools, a music player, notifications and even the ability to answer calls, take photos and use the device as a remote control.

One of the most common features among smartwatches is health and fitness tracking, something the iWatch is rumoured to be focused on. The Gear 2 has a heart rate sensor as well as a pedometer that can be used with the S Health app to track your exercise.

The Gear 2 also has an IP67 certification, meaning it's resistant to dust and water up to one metre, making it a pretty durable device. It's particularly reassuring, as washing your hands, making a cuppa and simply walking outside in the UK can result in wet wrists.

You'll need a Samsung smartphone to use the Gear 2, though, as it's only compatible with the company's own devices, connecting via Bluetooth. Models supported include the Galaxy S5, Galaxy Note 2, Galaxy S4, Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Mega.

Samsung Gear 2 Neo

We've talked about Samsung's flagship Gear 2 smartwatch, but the company actually offers three more smartwatches as part of its Gear line-up.

The first is the Samsung Gear Neo, which is largely similar to the Gear 2 but is significantly cheaper, at £180. Why? The biggest difference is that the Neo doesn't sport a camera.

They both have the same 1.63in Super AMOLED display with the same 278ppi resolution, and boast the same fitness tracking, music and remote control features.

In fact, some may prefer the Gear Neo over the Gear 2 if the camera isn't important to them, as it's slimmer and lighter thanks to the omission of the snapper and of course there's that £70 you'll save.

You'll need a Samsung phone to use this device.

Samsung Gear Fit

Samsung's Gear Fit actually costs around the same as the Gear Neo, but is targeted at quite a different market.

It sports a different design to its aforementioned siblings, with a slim, curved display that's the width the strap, rather than a square display like the other Gear products. It looks more like activity trackers such as the Fitbit Flex and the Nike FuelBand, and that's because fitness is its primary feature, as the name suggests.  

It includes what Samsung calls a "personalised fitness manager," which provides real-time information about your workout using the heart rate sensor, pedometer and accelerometer built-in to the device itself. It can recommend your next work out and advise you to speed up or slow down to meet your workout goals.

In addition to its health and fitness capabilities, the Gear Fit can also connect with a Samsung smartphone to provide notifications of emails, messages, incoming calls and other apps such as social media notifications. You're unable to answer calls using the Gear Fit, but you can reject them, which will send an automatic message to the caller to notify them that you're busy.

You'll need a Samsung phone to use this device.

Samsung Gear Live

Samsung's most recent addition to its wearables line-up is the Samsung Gear Live. It runs Google's new Android Wear operating system, and was one of the first smartwatches to do so, alongside the LG G Watch.

The Gear Live has a 1.64in Super AMOLED display and is powered by a 1.2GHz processor paired with 512MB of RAM. It has 4GB of internal memory and a 300mAh Li-ion battery which Samsung describes as "all-day."

It's also got a heart rate monitor for those popular fitness applications, as well as Bluetooth 4.0, accelerometer, gyroscope and compass. It's IP67 certified like the other Samsung smartwatches, and comes with a changeable strap available in black or 'Wine Red.'

The good news about the Gear Live is that you don't have to own a Samsung smartphone in order to use it. It's compatible with any Android smartphone running version 4.3 (Jelly Bean) or higher. Plus, it's cheaper than the company's other offerings at £169.

LG G Watch

The LG G Watch is the second of the two Android Wear smartwatches launched at Google I/O in June. It's available from the Google Play Store for £159, so it's reasonably priced and cheaper than Samsung's offerings.

LG's watch sports a 1.65in IPS LCD display powered by a 1.2GHz processor. Like the Samsung Gear Live, it has 4GB built-in memory and 512GB RAM. It's dust and water resistant, and has metal charging contacts rather than a clunky microUSB that would otherwise be required. It's also got an all-day battery.

You'll need a smartphone running Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) or above to use this device.

Motorola Moto 360

The Motorola Moto 360 was also talked about at Google I/O as an upcoming Android Wear smartwatch, but it didn't launch alongside the LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live. Instead, it's apparently 'Coming soon Summer 2014' but there's no official release date yet.

Unlike the G Watch and Gear Live, the Moto 360 has a circular watch face - a shape that Android Wear also supports. There's no UK price yet, but we're expecting it to cost £250, which is close to the price of the Gear 2 but much pricier than its Android Wear rivals.

There's not much more information about the Moto 360 year, but we'll bring you more information when it arrives.

You'll need a smartphone running Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) or above to use this device.

Pebble Steel

One of the most talked about companies that solely makes smartwatches is Pebble Technology, the maker of the Pebble smartwatch that was released this year. Funded through Kickstarter, Pebble managed to raise more than $10million thanks to the crowd-funding platform, and has since released its second watch, the Pebble Steel, after the success of the original Pebble watch.

Pebble Steel costs $229 (around £136) and ships free worldwide, so it's cheaper than each of Samsung's smartwatch offerings and cheaper than many of the other smartwatch rivals. It looks much like a traditional wristwatch, and can act just like one too, but it also includes the ability to run apps and receive notifications.

Unlike the Samsung Gear and the Android Wear range, the Pebble can communicate with many Android and iOS devices, so an iPhone user could buy and use a Pebble Steel smartwatch now if they wish to.

Pebble even has its own app store that's open to submissions from third-party developers, so expect new capabilities to arrive on a regular basis.

Unlike the Samsung smartwatches, though, the Pebble's display is e-paper with a low, 175ppi resolution, so, while the battery life is likely to be longer, you'll only see pixelated, black and white images on the screen.

The Pebble Steel is set to arrive with a stylish stainless steel band soon, but for now it's just the leather watch bands that are available.

The Pebble Steel works with iOS and Android.

Martian Passport, Victory, G2G

Martian is another company that focuses completely on making smartwatches. It began with Martian Voice Command watches, but more recently the company has added Martian Notifiers to the mix.

We'll start with the more expensive Voice Command series, which includes the Passport, Victory and G2G models.

They're all pretty much the same in terms of features, but they each offer different designs to suit the style of each individual.

The main difference between the Martian Voice Command range and other smartwatches is that the actual display is just a tiny window that sits beneath a traditional watchface that has real moving parts like a normal wristwatch. There's also a small, colour-changing circle within the watchface that acts as a notification indicator.

Despite the tiny display, the Martian Voice Command smartwatches are quite feature-heavy. After connecting to an iOS or Android device, they can each provide notifications for text messages, social media and more through a vibration, a scrolling readout of that notification and the flashing light within that aforementioned circle.

Not only that, but the Martian smartwatches allow you to send texts, read texts and reply to texts by saying your message to the Martian itself. You can also answer calls and place calls using the Martian Voice Command watches, and use other voice commands.

What the Martian doesn't offer, though, is the ability to add new apps to its smartwatches, and there are none of those popular fitness features to speak of.

The Martian Passport and Victory watches cost around £180 each while the more colourful G2G range will set you back around £150. Considering many ordinary watches can cost around that price, and the Martian smartwatches don't look dissimilar to many of the watches available but have the added bonus of smartphone connectivity, we think this is pretty reasonable.

The Martian smartwatches work with iOS and Android.

Martian Notifier

Cheaper still, though, are the Martian Notifier smartwatches, which are set to be released soon, after their unveiling at CES 2014 earlier this year. They're priced at just £80.

As the name suggests, the Notifier watches have a primary aim of providing the wearer with easy to view notifications without the need to get out a smartphone. Any notifications that your iOS or Android device can receive can be shown on that small display just like on the Martian Voice Command watches.

You can't use the Notifier to make calls or send texts though, and, again, there are no additional apps or fitness features included. Really, the Martian Notifier simply acts as a stylish wristwatch that can be used as an extension of your iPhone's screen but is unable to allow any further actions to be carried out, so it's one of the most basic, but also the cheapest, smartwatches available.

It can, however, be used as an alarm and a way of finding your lost phone, too, and it even offers a remote control for your device's camera for better selfies, if that's what floats your boat.

The Martian smartwatches work with iOS and Android.

Cookoo

The Cookoo watch is very similar to the Martian Notifier in terms of the features it offers. You'll receive notifications for incoming calls, missed calls, social media, reminders, text messages, emails and more. You'll also be alerted if you've left your connected iOS or Android device behind, or if your iPhone or iPad has almost run out of power.

It, too, boasts that selfie-taking feature that the Notifier has, and can also act as a remote control for your music.

Battery life of the Cookoo is excellent thanks to the standard watch battery that can be easily replaced. Of course, that means you'll eventually need to buy a new battery, though.

The display of the Cookoo is situated in the middle of the circular watch face, behind the hands of the traditional watch.

Like the Notifier, the Cookoo is just £80, so if you're looking for a smartwatch that looks like a normal wristwatch but has notification abilities then it'll be a choice of style when deciding between the Cookoo and Martian Notifier.

The Cookoo smartwatches work with iOS and Android.

Sony SmartWatch 2 SW2

Another of Apple's big smartphone and tablet rivals is Sony, which also has a smartwatch offering.

Sony's SmartWatch 2 can connect to Android devices via Bluetooth to act as an extension of your smartphone or tablet. There are a variety of Sony SmartWatch apps available in the Google Play store, and that selection is likely to grow as developers build more apps for the device.

You can't use the SmartWatch 2 to make a call in the same way as Samsung's Gear products (there's no microphone or speaker built in) but you can use it to remotely make or receive calls if you're using a Bluetooth headset.

As with the other smartwatches in this round-up, you'll also receive notifications including text messages, emails, calls, Facebook, Twitter and more.

Sony's SmartWatch 2 also boasts NFC, which means you can pair it with any NFC compatible Android phone with one touch.

There's no camera in Sony's SmartWatch, but we don't think a camera is a necessity, but it is water, dust and scratch-resistant and we think it's rather good looking.

It'll cost you £149 for a Sony SmartWatch 2, so it's cheaper than Samsung's offerings but more pricey than those available from the likes of Pebble and Martian.

You'll need an Android smartphone to use the Sony SmartWatch 2.

i'm Watch

i'm Watch is one of the more pricey offerings on the market, at £249.

Like the rest of the smartwatches in this round-up, i'm Watch is able to connect to your device, this time either Android, BlackBerry or iOS, via Bluetooth to bring you notifications.

You can't answer calls on the i'm Watch, but you can see who's calling and decline their call if you're in a meeting, for example. You'll be able to read your text messages, and thanks to integration with Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, you'll also be able to see what your friends are up to.

The makers of i'm Watch have also come up with the i'market, a dedicated app store for the device. You'll find apps that fit into categories including games, utilities, music and more.

i'm Watch doesn't have fitness tracking capabilities built in but the company notes that you can connect to heart rate monitors, pedometers and other sensors to use with the i'msport fitness app.

There's no camera either, so overall the i'm Watch is a little overpriced compared to rivals.

The i'm Watch works with Android, Blackberry or iOS.

MetaWatch Strata

MetaWatch's Strata smartwatch keeps things pretty basic, with a pixelated black and white display that doesn't offer touch capabilities but does give you more information than an ordinary wristwatch.

Designed to be sturdy and durable, the MetaWatch Strata is water resistant and is made with lightweight but tough materials. It connects to your iOS or Android device via Bluetooth, and uses a dedicated app to help you choose and rearrange widgets.

On the small screen, you can choose a selection of widgets to give you quick access to the information you want, whether that's the weather forecast, today's calendar appointments, or changes in the stock market. It can also show you notifications and let you know who's calling, read text messages and control your music.

The MetaWatch STRATA will set you back around £60.

The MetaWatch STRATA works with iOS or Android.

Qualcomm Toq

Yes, we're still going, but we've reached the last device in our round-up. We told you the smartwatch market is getting quite busy, didn't we? Next up is Qualcomm's Toq (we love the name).

The Toq is a smartwatch that works with Android devices, with a dedicated Toq app for customisation and configuration. It can allow you to receive notifications and accept or decline calls, though you can't make a call directly from the watch like you can with the Gear 2.

You'll get access to your calendar and music, and can also add weather and stocks apps.

Qualcomm has recently released an update to the Toq's Android app that adds activity-tracking features to the device. While still in beta form, the 'Activity' feature should be able to monitor your daily activities and award you activity points.

The Toq uses Mirasol display technology that uses reflected light to minimise power and help you view it in any conditions, even in bright sunlight. There are also addition headsets available that work with the Toq, both of which can charge wirelessly in the same dedicated wireless charging dock.

The Qualcomm Toq costs about £150, so sits comfortably in the middle of its rivals when it comes to the price tag.

You'll need an Android smartphone to use the Qualcomm Toq.

Conclusion

The list of wrist-worn tech goes on and on, but we've stuck to what we would describe as a smartwatch here. Alternatives in the smartband and activity tracker categories include the Fitbit Flex, Sony SmartBand, Razer Nabu, Jawbone Up, Garmin Vivofit and the Nike FuelBand, but they generally stick to health and fitness purposes with a few added extras here and there.

It's expected that Apple's iWatch will be more than a smartband or activity tracker, comparing more closely to the smartwatches we've included in our round-up.

But with such strong competition already becoming established in the wearable tech market and anticipation about many more offerings coming soon, is Apple too late? What can Apple do to set its iWatch apart from these rivals?

iOS 8, Apple's upcoming mobile operating system update, will come with a Health app that could work with the iWatch to provide advanced health and fitness tracking capabilities, but many of the smartwatches in our round-up have similar tools that'll satisfy the majority of consumers. 

The main area that we know Apple can do better than all of its rivals is design, and so far, we don't think any of the smartwatch offerings have tackled design very well. Most of them are quite bulky, and, as a smartwatch is something you're wearing constantly and therefore becomes part of your style, consumers are looking for something that they feel is stylish and fashionable.

Apple has several patents relating to smartwatches, one of which suggests that the iWatch could have a curved display that wraps the entire way around the wrist.  

For more rumours about Apple's iWatch, visit our iWatch rumour round-up

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