Buying the best Android Wear smartwatch can be a confusing task, with a grand total of 21 different devices having hit officialdom. Or 24 if you count different sized models. Or just 20 if you take away the one that got cancelled (but then relaunched). See, we told you it was confusing.
Google’s smartwatch OS is a hotbed of wearable innovation, with updates constantly arriving offering the likes of GPS, offline music and Wi-Fi connectivity. And getting to grips with the platform can be tricky, so when you do bag yourself a brand new smartwatch, make sure you check out our Android Wear hub of tutorials to help get the most from your device.
Google I/O 2016 revealed Android Wear 2.0 but, sadly, that’s delayed until 2017 now. However, with new devices from the likes of Michael Kors, Nixon and Polar recently landing, and new watches from New Balance and Asus coming soon, there’s plenty to be excited about.
If you want to buy one now – here’s the main event: the juicy details on the top Android watches on the market…
Top pick: Huawei Watch
When we first reviewed the Huawei Watch back in October 2015, we called it the slickest looking Android Wear smartwatch but lamented that those good looks came at a premium.
Fast forward a few months and, while the official RRP is still much too high, there are bargains to be had for the basic model and, given it plays nicely with the new Mode interchangeable bands and can run the dev preview of Wear 2.0, it’s now our top pick.
The AMOLED display is a 1.4-inch, 400 x 400 screen with a 286ppi count. That’s the highest on any Android Wear device so far. Huawei’s effort is made all the more impressive thanks to a 10,000:1 contrast ratio. Side by side with the smaller Moto 360 2 – its closest rival in terms of aesthetics – it’s clearly a better display. Not just because it offers genuine 360-degree visuals, but because everything just looks sharper.
Have a look at our Huawei Watch review.
From $299, consumer.huawei.com | Amazon
Best value: Sony SmartWatch 3
Sony’s third stab at the smartwatch comes with either a rubber sports strap in a choice of colours, or a slick stainless steel one, along with a 1.6-inch 320 x 320 pixel LCD display. The screen isn’t spectacular but battery life benefits as a result, with two days of use easily achievable.
The big win for the SW3 is that it was the first Android Wear watch with built-in GPS, so it’s great for tracking runs, cycle rides, and even tapping into golf apps. It’s looking a little dated now though, and Sony could be playing catch up if the Sony SmartWatch 4 doesn’t make an appearance soon. And the Moto 360 Sport is hot on its heels.
Digest and enjoy our Sony SmartWatch 3 review.
From $159, sony.com | Amazon
Maximum customisation: Moto 360 2
The 2015 Moto 360 may still have that annoying flat tyre at the bottom of its circular display, but the rest of the setup is very promising indeed. It now comes in two sizes – 42mm and 46mm – although it’s actually three if you count the different band sizes. Using the Moto Maker platform there are hundreds of different combinations of straps, bezels, finishes and colours to choose from.
On offer are two different sized displays: 1.37 or 1.56-inch. On the larger size, the resolution is 360 x 360 – a 233ppi count.
Put the new Moto 360 next to the first-gen Motorola watch and you can see the subtle differences that really turn this design into a ‘watch’ rather than last year’s circle on a strap.
Take a look at our Moto 360 review here.
From $199.99, motorola.com | Amazon
Most stylish: Tag Heuer Connected
The Tag Heuer Connected is now official and while it doesn’t boast the ‘Swiss Made’ tag of its mechanical brethren, it’s by far the best example of watch craftsmanship in the Android Wear world. The build is incredibly high quality; the case, lugs and back are all made from grade 2 titanium. The display is 46mm in diameter and it’s covered in crystal sapphire.
Also, you don’t need to worry that your expensive smartwatch will be useless in a couple of years – at the end of the 2-year warranty period, you can use it to trade in for a mechanical Tag Heuer watch.
Have a gander at our Tag Heuer Connected review
$1,500, tagheuerconnected.com| Amazon
Best for running: Polar M600
With the Moto 360 Sport we finally had an Android Wear smartwatch to rival the Sony SmartWatch 3’s GPS skills but it’s Polar’s M600 which is now easily the best option for runners.
Your M600 syncs directly to Polar Flow and, not only will your smartphone be able to display all your stats, all that data is synced in the cloud so you can dig deeper using the Flow desktop client or the browser based version. What’s more, if you don’t trust the optical heart rate monitor on the M600 (you really should though), you can pair it with a dedicated chest strap – and it doesn’t even have to be a Polar one.
Read our full Polar M600 review.
$264.50, polar.com | Amazon
Best for outdoor pursuits: Casio WSD-F10
Casio’s Smart Outdoor Watch landed at CES and is a million miles from another me-too everyday watch. Designed for outdoorsy types who are looking for a waterproof (50m), shockproof and vibration proof wearable that’s certified to US military standards (MIL-STD0810).
The 1.32-inch LCD touchscreen has an interesting twist. There’s a second monochrome display that can be used instead of the colour panel; instead of the single day usage from the main screen, using the monochrome screen boosts battery life to a month.
Forget trying to marry this with your work attire, you wouldn’t even be able to get it under your jacket cuff, let alone your shirt. It’s not uncomfortable though; it’s much lighter than you’d think and the chunky rubber strap provides a secure fit.
Get our verdict: Casio Smart Outdoor Watch review
$500, shopcasio.com | Amazon
The most unisex: Michael Kors Access
The Michael Kors Access series consists of two styles: the Bradshaw Access and Dylan Access, based on bestselling women’s and men’s Michael Kors watches. The Bradshaw is the more female-friendly version but is chunky enough to look good on a man’s wrist too. At 14mm thick and weighing more than 110g, it is on the larger, weightier end of watches aimed at women.
For extra style points you get a collection of of 10 bespoke Michael Kors branded faux-analogue and faux-digital watch faces and you can set up day and night modes too.
A big tick for the Michael Kors Access is that it boasts the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 chip as well.
Have a read of our Michael Kors Access review.
From $350, michaelkors.com | Amazon
For nostalgics: Fossil Q Marshal
Picking up from the Q Founder and looking a heck of a lot like the Moto 360, complete with a chunky chassis and that ever-so-annoying flat tyre at the bottom of the circular display, the latest Fossil Android Wear smartwatch (alongside the Q Wander) went on sale in August 2016.
There isn’t a great deal to write home about for Fossil’s AW collection, but if you’re a tech collector and like the look of a chunky metal watch, a watch from the Q range could be a useful addition. Especially if you happen to own the 2002 Palm Pilot.
Read our Fossil Q Marshal hands-on review.
From $295, fossil.com | Amazon
For gnarly dudes: Nixon The Mission
Nixon’s surf and skiing smartwatch shows that Android Wear can be more than just another OS on the wrist. The Mission is an unashamed monster action smartwatch, with the surf and slopes firmly in its sights.
The 48mm case dwarves most Casio G-Shock timepieces and it’s every bit as large as the Casio smartwatch. The rugged design is water-resistant to 10 ATM and is adorned in 316L surgical grade stainless steel. That means you can take it skiing and surfing and it will withstand even the most spectacular wipe-out. There’s also dedicated apps for the piste and the waves.
Have a read of our Nixon The Mission review for much more info.
$400, nixon.com | Amazon
For 4G: LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition
Looking a lot like the original Watch Urbane, the LG sequel has a pretty big ace up its sleeve – the cellular connectivity is a first for Google’s smartwatch platform.
The display on the 2nd Edition has also been improved. It’s a 1.38-inch full circle P-OLED, 480 x 480, one – that’s a meaty 348ppi. The battery is an impressive 570mAh.
However, in a crazy turnaround, it was cancelled due to an unspecified hardware issue. In a double-crazy turnaround it’s now available through AT&T and Verizon, again.
$359, lg.com | Amazon
Coming soon: New Balance and Asus
The as-yet unnamed New Balance Android Wear model is set to rock GPS and built-in storage for smartphone free music listening, and is being built in collaboration with Intel and Google – it was announced in January at CES.
The latest Android Wear watch to be announced, the Asus ZenWatch 3 (pictured) was revealed at IFA 2016 and is due to hit the US and UK very soon.
More Android Wear guides…
How to set up and connect Android Wear
Android Wear hidden secrets, tips and tricks
Best apps for Android Wear
Android Wear on iOS guide
How to install and use apps on Android Wear
Install custom watch faces Android Wear