What's the best smartwatch? 20 wearables compared in our Apple Watch rivals round-up

Smartwatch round-up: 20 Apple Watch rivals compared

We compare the Samsung Gear S, Samsung Gear 2, Samsung Gear 2 Neo, Samsung Gear Fit, Samsung Gear Live, Microsoft Band, Asus ZenWatch, Sony SmartWatch 2, Pebble Steel, Martian Notifier, i'm Watch, MetaWatch Strata, LG G Watch R Moto 360 and more to discover what the Apple Watch is up against.

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  • Apple Watch rivals
  • Samsung Gear S
  • Samsung Gear 2
  • Samsung Gear 2 Neo
  • Samsung Gear Fit
  • Samsung Gear Live
  • Microsoft Band
  • Asus ZenWatch
  • LG G Watch
  • LG G Watch R
  • 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 Apple Watch

Apple is set to launch its first foray into the wearables market early next year, after unveiling the hotly anticipated device alongside the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in September. We expected Apple's smartwatch to be called the iWatch, but Apple has gone for the same naming convention as it did with the Apple TV by calling it the Apple Watch. See also: Apple rumours and predictions for 2015

The new timepiece will arrive in three models – Watch, Watch Sport and Watch Edition – and will also be available in large and small screen size options. It also has interchangeable straps in a range of styles and colours.

Apple has released its WatchKit SDK for developers, so we're expecting lots of apps to be available for the smartwatch when it launches, but Apple has already created the Health app which will tie in with the Apple Watch, as well as new Activity and Workout apps, Calendar, Maps, Passbook, Music, Apple TV and iTunes, Remote Camera, Stopwatch, Timer, Alarm, World Clock, Stocks, Weather, Photos, Siri and Settings.

The Apple Watch will launch with lots of already-established competition from the likes of big-name brands such as Samsung with its Samsung Gear 2 as well as Sony, LG, Motorola, Pebble and more. However, it's significantly more expensive than most of its rivals, with an expected UK price of more than £300, and that's just the starting price.

Google has recently launched a version of Android designed specifically for wearable tech, called Android Wear, which has sparked an influx of new smartwatches that run the Android Wear operating system.

Here, we round up the hottest Apple Watch competition to discover what Apple is up against.

To find out more about the Apple Watch, visit our Apple Watch release date, specs and features article.

Read on to take a closer look at smartwatches including Samsung's offerings, Microsoft Band, Asus ZenWatch, the LG G Watch, Moto 360, the Pebble Steel, Martian smartwatches, Cookoo, Sony Smartwatch 2, I'm Watch, MetaWatch STRATA, Qualcomm Toq.

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Apple is set to launch its first foray into the wearables market early next year, after unveiling the hotly anticipated device alongside the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in September. We expected Apple's smartwatch to be called the iWatch, but Apple has gone for the same naming convention as it did with the Apple TV by calling it the Apple Watch. See also: Apple rumours and predictions for 2015

The new timepiece will arrive in three models – Watch, Watch Sport and Watch Edition – and will also be available in large and small screen size options. It also has interchangeable straps in a range of styles and colours.

Apple has released its WatchKit SDK for developers, so we're expecting lots of apps to be available for the smartwatch when it launches, but Apple has already created the Health app which will tie in with the Apple Watch, as well as new Activity and Workout apps, Calendar, Maps, Passbook, Music, Apple TV and iTunes, Remote Camera, Stopwatch, Timer, Alarm, World Clock, Stocks, Weather, Photos, Siri and Settings.

The Apple Watch will launch with lots of already-established competition from the likes of big-name brands such as Samsung with its Samsung Gear 2 as well as Sony, LG, Motorola, Pebble and more. However, it's significantly more expensive than most of its rivals, with an expected UK price of more than £300, and that's just the starting price.

Google has recently launched a version of Android designed specifically for wearable tech, called Android Wear, which has sparked an influx of new smartwatches that run the Android Wear operating system.

Here, we round up the hottest Apple Watch competition to discover what Apple is up against.

To find out more about the Apple Watch, visit our Apple Watch release date, specs and features article.

Read on to take a closer look at smartwatches including Samsung's offerings, Microsoft Band, Asus ZenWatch, the LG G Watch, Moto 360, the Pebble Steel, Martian smartwatches, Cookoo, Sony Smartwatch 2, I'm Watch, MetaWatch STRATA, Qualcomm Toq.

Samsung Gear S

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.

But wait, there's EVEN MORE! Samsung has also launched the Gear S, can function without the use of a smartphone thanks to a SIM-card slot.

We'll start with the Samsung Gear S (which stands for Solo). It has Bluetooth, wireless and 3G connectivity so it can work independently of a smartphone to allow you to make and receive phone calls, texts, emails and other notifications.

That's why it's more expensive than Samsung's other smartwatch offerings, starting at £329.

The Gear S runs Tizen OS, just like the Samsung Gear 2 which we'll talk about later in this article. It's available in black or white and has a 2in curved screen that fits comfortably around the wrist.

Other features include a heart-rate scanner, an IP67 rating meaning it's both dust- and waterproof.

We don't think the Samsung Gear S is going to be a big hit, though. If you want to use it as a standalone device, you'll first need a Samsung smartphone to activate it, then you'll have to pay for a second tariff and have a second phone number dedicated to your smartwatch.

Samsung Gear 2

Samsung's second smartwatch is the Samsung Gear 2, which has a Tizen-based operating system rather than Android, just like the Gear S. 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 Apple Watch is also 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 Gear 2 and Gear Live smartwatches, but the company actually offers more smartwatches as part of its Gear line-up.

The first is the Samsung Gear 2 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 2 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 2 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

One of Samsung's most recent additions 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 and the Motorola Moto 360.

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.

Microsoft Band

Microsoft's first foray into wearable tech is not quite a smartwatch, but we felt that it was still important to include here as not everyone needs all of the functionality of the Apple Watch. The Microsoft Band is a closer rival to the Samsung Gear Fit, focusing on health and fitness with a new Microsoft Health platform accompanying it.

What's interesting is that Microsoft hasn't limited the Band's compatibility to Windows Phone. It'll actually work with Android and iOS devices too.

The Microsoft Band doesn’t have a UK release date or price yet, though, so it's possible that it'll launch after the Apple Watch here.

In addition to collecting health and fitness data thanks to its many sensors, the Microsoft Band can also provide notifications when you receive emails, text messages, social media alerts and more, but you won't be able to make or receive calls or compose messages.

Asus ZenWatch

Asus unveiled its first smartwatch in September during IFA 2014. It's not available to buy in the UK just yet, but is expected to launch before Christmas at a price of around £159.

Asus has gone for a rectangular watch face for the ZenWatch, like many of its rivals, with a 1.63in AMOLED Gorilla Glass 3 screen that's curved to create what Asus calls a 2.5D effect.

It has a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, 4GB storage and 512MB of RAM.

As can be expected from most smartwatches, it has a heart-rate monitor and Bluetooth 4.0.

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.

LG G Watch R

The LG G Watch is accompanied by the LG G Watch R, which has a round screen rather than rectangle. It's one of the best smartwatches we've seen to date.

It comes with a stainless steel frame and a leather strap that you can change thanks to the standard 22mm size. Just like the G Watch, it's IP67 rated and has the same processor, RAM and internal storage.

The LG G Watch R is expected to arrive in the UK later this month, at a price of around £199.

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

Motorola Moto 360

The Motorola Moto 360, also circular like the LG G Watch R, launched in September to a very positive reception. Our colleagues over at PC Advisor have described the Motorola Moto 360 as "the best smartwatch you can buy right now," though we suspect that title may be stolen by the LG G Watch R when it arrives.

It's another Android Wear smartwatch, running Google's made-for-smartwatches operating system. 

Like some of its rivals (though not the Apple Watch), the Moto 360 is dust- and waterproof with an IP67 rating. It uses Bluetooth 4.0, has 4GB of internal storage and 512MB of RAM.

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 £179 and ships free worldwide, so it's cheaper than many of its 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 has a stylish stainless steel band, and the option of leather watch bands.

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.

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 at £129.

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.

But the Apple Watch is more than a smartband or activity tracker, comparing more closely to the smartwatches we've included in our round-up.

With such strong competition already becoming established in the wearable tech market and anticipation about many more offerings coming soon, is Apple too late?

The Apple Watch is expensive, and doesn't offer much more than most of its rivals, so it'll be interesting to see how well the smartwatch performs when it arrives early next year.

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