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Summary of September’s Big Mobile Events. Part 2. Android Wear Smartwatches Overview

Android Wear is the strongest smartwatch platform we have seen so far, and it certainly will thrive in the near future thanks to support from manufacturers and application development companies. Android Wear smartwatches have already become a new platform for application design and development. So, with the aim of being familiar with this new platform, let’s look at which Android smartwatches are already presented in the market and what ones are coming soon.

  1. Samsung Gear Live

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Just like the latest Gear watches, Samsung Gear Live comes with a heart rate sensor on its belly, along with some pogo pins to connect a charging cradle. It has a 1.63-inch Super AMOLED display, with a resolution of 320 x 320, which is actually good for a smartwatch. Samsung Gear Live is sleek, looks decent and performs well. It is a mere four grams lighter than LG’s watch (see its description next), but a full millimeter thinner. Unfortunately, user will also need to charge it every night.

Pros & cons of Samsung Gear Live from Engadget experts and reviewers:

PROS

  • Good Android Wear performance

  • Swappable wrist straps

  • Water-resistant

CONS

  • Poor battery life (300mAh*) as we see in the critic and user reviews

  • Compatible with only newer Android devices (Android 4.3 and above)

  • Harder to read in sunlight

*that will give you a day of use

  1. LG G Watch

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LG G Watch is a respectable Android Wear device. Its battery life is slightly better than the Samsung Gear Live, but it is also more expensive. The IPS LCD screen is slightly bigger than the Gear Live: 1.65 inch versus 1.63. The difference in resolution, however, is much more noticeable. At 280 x 280, it is easier to see pixelation without squinting. On the upside, it is more readable in bright sunlight than the Gear Live, and the screen has brighter whites. Overall, the G Watch has many redeeming qualities, but attractiveness is not one of them.

Pros & cons of LG G Watch from Engadget experts and reviewers:

PROS

  • Performs well

  • Swappable wristbands

  • Water-resistant

CONS

  • Poor battery life (400mAh*) as we see in the critic and user reviews

  • Display has lower resolution than the competition (280 x 280 pixels versus 320 x 320 of Samsung Gear Live display)

  • Limited to newer Android devices (Android 4.3 and above)

*that will give you a day and a half of use

  1. Moto 360

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Undoubtedly, the most attractive Android Wear smartwatch is the Moto 360 thanks to its circular design which is more reminiscent of a common watch. See our more detailed analysis in the previous post “Summary of September’s Big Mobile Events: Part 1. Moto X and Moto 360.”

Pros & cons of Moto 360 from Engadget experts and reviewers:

PROS

  • Beautiful and unique (so far) circular design

  • Comfortable and lightweight

  • Ambient light sensor and wireless charging

CONS

  • Poor battery life (runs only 24 hours if you leave ambient mode off)

  • Large size isn’t for everyone

  • Charging cradle doesn’t come with a USB cable

New Android Wear smartwatches unveiled at IFA

As you probably know, IFA is one of the largest consumer electronics trade exhibitions in the world. The unique annual show, held this year in Berlin during one September week, has a knack for announcing new and upcoming electronic gadgets and smartwatches. Let’s have a look on the wrist wearables powered by Android Wear.

SONY

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With the advent of Google’s new platform specifically for wearables, it was only a matter of time before Sony made their new smartwatch. The third member of the Sony smartwatches family – the SmartWatch 3, announced at IFA – comes with a 1.2GHz quad-core processor, 1.6-inch screen and Sony’s now trademark IP68 waterproofing. Other key features include 4GB of storage, 512MB of memory, NFC support, GPS and a 420mAh battery (charged over micro-USB).

ASUS

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Finally, ASUS’ first smartwatch has also been unveiled at IFA in Berlin. ZenWatch has the 1.63-inch, 320 x 320 AMOLED touchscreen (as featured on Samsung’s Gear Live), microphone and a biosensor that can monitor your heart rate plus activity. The ZenWatch also has a wellness manager that tracks your heart rate, step counts and relaxation levels; and it provides tips to help you reach your goals.

HUAWEI

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Huawei made its first move into wearables this year with a fitness tracker-cum-smartwatch. However, as Huawei’s CEO Richard Yu has told, the company is preparing another wearable that will launch next year – this time running Android Wear. He has not revealed too much during an interview at IFA, but said it will be both “innovative and beautiful.”

Summary

Aiming to see what makes Google’s OS the best for smartwatches for now, we need to summarize all the advantages and disadvantages of Android Wear:

PROS

  • Strong manufacturer and developer support

  • Hands-free voice control and Google Voice Search

  • Clean and thoughtful design

  • Google Now cards and Knowledge Graph integration

CONS

  • Short battery life on current hardware as we have seen in the reviews above

  • Still requires plenty of screen touching

  • Only compatible with newer Android devices (Android 4.3 and above)

Stanfy team: “Android Wear makes us very excited about the future of smartwatches. We do believe that it has the greatest opportunity for growth.  Android Wear is backed by a robust operating system with tons of user and developer support. But if we consider a smartwatch as a device that should make life more efficient and simpler, unfortunately today it is still easier to do most things on a smartphone. Surely, Android Wear smartwatch is a first-generation product, and there are limited battery life, notification anxiety and plenty of other issues that need to be improved. Nevertheless, we predict the blossom of the Android Wear platform as more apps come out and make wearables truly useful”.

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Stanfy is a mobile app design and development company specialising in UI/UX and development across mobile and wearable devices including iOS, Android, Pebble Smartwatches and Google Glasses.

Images courtesy of HongKiat.com, CNet.com, PCWorld.com, T4Mag.com, TechRadar.com

September 29, 2014

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