The top Android smartwatches you can buy
Just when we thought the shortcomings of Android Wear watches had triggered the collapse of the smartwatch market, things are suddenly looking up
Google’s Android Wear smartwatches tend to be rather clumsy, and. 2016 did not see many new Android smartwatches. That led to two outcomes: First, Apple Watch became the default choice; and second, other platforms got a chance to shine. Fossil’s Q Nate and Samsung’s Gear S3 are the newest options.
One look at the Gear S3, and the size immediately gets your attention. It is 46mm wide and 12.9mm thick. In a smartwatch, the insistence on making a design that is as close to a classic timepiece as possible, reaps rich rewards. The leather strap feels high-quality and the watch will be at home on most wrists. It has a rotating bezel that is used to navigate the on-screen menu. And it is not just good-looking. The Gear S3 is MIL-STD-810G certified—it has passed US military-standard ruggedness tests, including being frozen, submerged in water, exposed to extreme heat, dropped and coated in dust.
The Gear S3 has a 1.3-inch AMOLED (360x360 resolution) display which can be configured to remain on all the time. What you get is a sharp, bright and vibrant watch screen, and Samsung has clearly worked on the display algorithms to make the text look clear and crisp.
Software sets the Gear S3 this apart from Android Wear smartwatches. It runs Samsung’s own Tizen software, and there is absolutely no doubt that it is, overall, a more polished alternative to the likes of Android Wear. First, it is far better designed for a watch display, which doesn’t have the luxury of too much space. Second, the ability to use the rotating bezel dial improves navigation.
It does everything, such as tracking your activity (it has a built-in GPS) and sending notifications to the wrist. Possibly the only real drawback is that Tizen is still some way behind Android Wear in terms of the number of third-party apps.
If you’re still not convinced, the excellent battery life should swing the balance. On a single charge, the Gear S3 lasts a little over three days. Android Wear smartwatches barely get through a day’s use.
If you own an Android phone, and you want to buy a smartwatch (Apple Watch doesn’t work with Android), perhaps it would be prudent to consider the Gear S3. It looks sophisticated, the Tizen software is intuitive, and the battery life is the proverbial cherry on the cake.
Smartwatches generally suffer from one glaring shortcoming—most of them didn’t look and feel like a conventional chronograph, and this alienated many an undecided, potential buyer. The solution to that could well be the hybrid smartwatch, which looks, feels and works pretty much like the chronograph you may have been eyeing. Additionally, it pairs with your smartphone, can send notifications to your wrist and track your fitness routine. And in this category, Fossil’s Q Nate offers the ideal balance.
The biggest differentiator between a smartwatch and a hybrid smartwatch is the display, or the lack of it in the case of the latter. The Q Nate has a big dial, and measures a rather chunky 13.5mm in thickness. However, it is extremely well balanced in its weight distribution and is comfortable to wear for hours on end. Fossil Q Nate is available with a black dial, orange accents and a brown leather strap or with a black stainless-steel link.
The first thing you need to do is to pair this with the Fossil app (free on Android and iOS) on your smartphone. The app allows you to select individual apps, and notifications for just those will then be relayed to the watch—calls, alarms, messages, Facebook, WhatsApp, even calendar prompts.
If fitness tracking interests you, the Q Nate can do that subtly. It will track your steps, calculate the calories burnt and even track sleep (though we aren’t sure you would be comfortable wearing the watch to bed).
Battery life is, perhaps, the reason why a hybrid smartwatch will become the genuine smartwatch experience for many users. Fossil claims a battery life of as much as six months (it uses the CR2430 battery).
Fossil’s Q Nate could well be the perfect option if you want a smartwatch experience without the hassles of a complicated set-up process and daily charging. Not to overlook, of course, the trademark brilliance of the Fossil design, the fact that the app works beautifully, and that accurate fitness tracking is a real value-add. At this price, it has no genuine rival.
Here are the best hybrid smartwatch options other than the fantastic Fossil Q Nate
The watch will send you discreet notifications for any new calls, texts or messages that you receive on the phone. It will track fitness and sleep, and can also be used as a one-touch music controller or a shutter for the phone’s camera.
The Skagen Hagen Connected does what you would expect from a smartwatch—it sends notifications to your wrist and tracks your fitness. You can also configure multiple time zones, and the Android and iOS app is simple to use. It’s available in multiple dial and strap colour options.
Michael Kors Access
The Michael Kors Access watch is ideal for travellers. It can be configured to multiple time zones. The multitasking button allows one-touch control over alarms and alerts. The app for Android and iOS can be used to configure which notifications are sent to the watch
*Prices may vary