Best smartwatch and fitness band (2015 edition)
2015 is the year when we were supposed to have jetpacks and flying cars. Instead, we got smartwatches, and just the beginning of that niche has started to form.
Some devices, however, do stand out in the crowds, and we do indeed have crowds: Samsung alone has released six smartwatches in the past year or so, and practically all other phone makers have set their sights on the new category.
In 2015, we were supposed to have jetpacks and flying cars. Instead, we get smartwatchesThe elephant in the room is, of course, the Apple Watch. The upcoming smartwatch has already gotten reviewed early by loyal media, and somewhat surprisingly, the reviews warn of long waiting times on many apps and battery life that lives up to the 18-hour promise of Apple, but not much more. Are we in for a disappointment? And what are the alternatives?
With no further ado, we give you the best smartwatches and fitness bands so far in 2015. We start with the two most anticipated upcoming devices, and continue with what's available right now in stores below. What's your favorite?
Price: from $350 for Sport edition | $600 for Stainless steel | $10,000 for Edition
Release date: April 24th, 2015
To make the Apple Watch stand out, the Apple team put aluminum, stainless steel, and 18k solid gold on a table and started thinking how to make them be the best aluminum, stainless steel, and solid gold incorporated in a smartwatch. They made the Apple Watch: a gadget with an 18-hour battery life, a new system chip specifically designed for this form factor, and a brand new Taptic Engine that delivers gently tactile notifications. It's also got heart rate tracking functionality and a neat fitness and health app that urges you to stand up more often and move to stay healthy.
Samsung Gear S
The Samsung Gear S comes closest to the dream of the independent smartwatch: it is the only popular smartwatch that can take a SIM card and be used as a replacement to your phone. It takes calls, text messages, and handles all various notifications. Naturally, all of that power comes at the price of battery life, which is limited to just one day of real-life use on the Gear S.
Stuffed to the gills with sensors, the Microsoft Band will track pretty much everything you throw at it. Well, except for your sports that no tracker can actually track fully, but you already know this, don't you? For all else, the Band stands out with its cross-platform support, and its capability to track your heart-rate continuously: something that makes a huge difference for accurate calorie burning estimations for runners, for instance.
LG G Watch R
Unlike most other smartwatches, the LG G Watch R has a circular display, making it more alike to a conventional timepiece. It's also quite obvious that LG has looked at traditional watches for design inspiration. The G Watch R is powered by Android Wear, and as such, it is more of a companion to your smartphone rather than a fully independent gadget.
Motorola Moto 360
Price: $250/$300 (steel band)
Visually, the Moto 360 is a remarkable testament to quality industrial design: with its solid build and high-quality materials. Moto 360 is also crammed with features: a heart rate sensor, wireless charging, ambient light sensor, dual microphones, and one luxurious looking round display.
Some have called the Asus Zenwatch 'the most traditional' amongst smartwatches. Its aesthetics are definitely its strong side, but it's not just about looks: the Asus Zenwatch runs on Android Wear, supporting the over 1,000 watchfaces available on the platform, as well as the countless apps.
A true fitness band at its finest, the Fitbit Surge offers continuous heart rate tracking, long-lasting battery, and a display (a tiny one, but still) that will show you the time and your progress towards your goals. It's far from being a stylish accessory, but its utilitarian looks work great when you take it for a workout.
Pebble | Pebble Steel
(read our reviews here for Pebble and here for Pebble Steel)
Price: $99 | $199
The Pebble gave the smartwatch niche a head start: it launched as a huge success on crowdfunding site Kickstarter gettting over $10 million in funding, and the original version arrived with a low-res somewhat retro feeling screen, but a colorful design, a nearly week-long battery, and water protection to make its strong case. Then, the Pebble Steel arrived keeping the functionality but adding a metal body that made for a more premium feel to the thing. In the nearly two years since its launch, the Pebble has now dropped in price, and remains one of the most alluring and useful smartwatch offers.
Withings - Activité Pop
An unconventional take on smartwatches, the Withings Activite Pop looks just like a regular watch with a round body and mechanical hands. Where are its smarts? Well, they are cleverly concealed: you have a secondary dial that actually measures your progress towards your daily steps goal, and an app to tell you all about your walking stats.
Samsung Gear Fit
The Samsung Gear Fit is a device that looks like it comes from the future: with its new-fashioned curved display and extremely light footprint, it looks like a gadget straight out of a Star Trek fantasy. At its core, it’s a cross-over between a smartwatch and a fitness tracker, showing you the time, as well as tracking your steps. The Gear Fit has a few tricks up its sleeve as well, like a heart-rate monitor and a coaching mode that can set the exercise pace for runners and cyclers. It also vows to last up to 5 days on a single charge.
Pebble Time | Pebble Time Steel
Price: $199 (retail) | $299
Release date: July 2015
The big news about the Pebble Time is clearly the gorgeous new timeline UI, adorned with awesome animations and looking much faster and more responsive than the original Pebble interface. The new Pebble Time has become thinner and lighter as well. Speaking in numbers, the Pebble Time body measure 9.5mm (0.37"), some 20% less of thickness when compared with the original Pebble.