Smart watches are not new, but they’ve improved dramatically since they first jumped off the wrists of science fiction characters and onto store shelves. The new round of smart watches are able to connect to the iPhone and Android smartphones to deliver alerts, access to information and in some cases even act as a camera and a bluetooth speakerphone for a full-on Dick Tracy experience.
Many will argue that these smart watches available today are not the best out there, and that the next generation of smart watches in 2014 will bring better designs, new features and more. Specifically many are waiting for an iWatch release to bring Apple’s first real wearable technology to market, but you don’t need to wait to buy a smart watch you can enjoy using.
The iPhone doesn’t play nice with smart watches as much as Android devices do, but that doesn’t mean the iPhone isn’t able to work with smart watches at all. Thanks to iOS 7 the iPhone plays nicer with smart watches, and we could see continued support in iOS 7.1 and other updates.
Most Android phones will work with these smart watches right out of the box, with the exception being the Galaxy Gear which officially only works with some popular Samsung smartphones like the Galaxy S3, Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3.
Check out this collection of Smart watches you can buy while you wait for an iWatch, with prices starting as low as $120 on sale.
Pebble Smart Watch
The Pebble smart watch launched to a critical review from Gotta Be Mobile, but thanks to updates the watch is back on our reviewer’s wrist and at $120 on sale and a regular price of $150 it is the most affordable smart watch in this roundup.
Pebble works with the iPhone and with Android and support for both platforms continues to improve from the watch’s early days. Here’s a short list of what the Pebble smart watch can do.
- Music Control
- Fitness Tracking
- Watch Faces
Unlike some of the smart watches in this roundup, the Pebble lasts 5-7 days without a charge thanks to the e-paper display which is similar to the technology used in the Kindle.
The Pebble is water-resistant which means you can take a shower with it on or even go swimming with the Pebble on. The Runkeeper app can track your activity while running or while in the pool. The Pebble has a 1.26-inch 144 x 168 pixel e-paper display, users Bluetooth 4.0 and uses a magnetic charging cable.
The Pebble smart watch retails for $150 at Best Buy, AT&T, Pebble and Amazon, with sales dropping it to $120 at Best Buy and occasionally as low as $89 for students.
Samsung Galaxy Gear
The Samsung Galaxy Gear is one of the most advertised smart watches on the market and while it only works with select Samsung smartphones, it remains a popular option. Like the Pebble, Samsung is pushing out new features to the Galaxy Gear with software updates to add to the functionality and address some of the complaints from early adopters.
The Samsung Galaxy Gear includes notifications and the ability to set up Quick Glance which will bring whatever notification you looked at on the phone, up on your smartphone screen. Notifications don’t include everything you might want to see, but they are getting better.
Here’s a rundown of other Galaxy Gear features,
- Find My Device
- Auto Unlock
- Hands Free Calls
- Take Photos
- S Voice Control
There are many apps like Evernote and fitness apps like are available on the Pebble. The Samsung Galaxy gear’s camera makes it handy for taking quick photos of things to remember and sharing them to Evernote. The S Voice control is similar to using Siri or S Voice from the Galaxy smartphones, without taking the smartphone out. Also, the ability to auto unlock your phone and to take calls on the Galaxy Gear are nice.
The Samsung Galaxy Gear includes a 1.63-inch Super AMOLED display with 320 x 320 resolution and includes 4GB of memory. It runs a custom version of Android and it requires a special charger to charge up, and lasts roughly 24 hours before needing a recharge.
The Samsung Galaxy Gear is available from most wireless carriers, Best Buy and Amazon for $299.
Sony SmartWatch 2
The Sony SmartWatch 2 is a smart watch for Android users, though they don’t need to own an Android phone. The Sony Smart Watch 2 includes a color touch screen and NFC pairing as well as the ability to run and interact with apps.
Sony designed his smart watch after the Xperia Z, and like it the phone is waterproof. Unlike other smart watches that use proprietary cables, the Sony SmartWatch 2 uses a common Micro USB charger.
Here’s a quick look at the Sony SmartWatch 2 features,
- Notification alerts
- Control calls, but not take them with the watch
- Apps from Google Play
- NFC pairing
- Compass, Timer, Multiple watch faces
Users can swap in interchangeable wristbands to add colors to the smart watch at $20 a pop, as well as swap in standard 24mm wrist straps to add additional style to the watch.