The Apple Watch is a really fine smartwatch, but it’s not for everyone, especially if you don’t happen to have an iPhone in your pocket. Luckily there’s a wide ecosystem of alternative smartwatch choices to choose from.
Contrary to popular belief, Apple didn’t invent the concept of the smartwatch – it actually all started with the Pebble. But the Apple Watch is still the go-to choice if you’re an iPhone user. However, if you’re not, you best start shopping around: the Apple Watch works with an iPhone and nothing else.
That also means that if you want to make the jump from iOS to Android, you’ve got to leave the Apple Watch behind. But it’s not as though you’re abandoning wearable computing devices – there’s a wide range of price points, features and brands to pick from in the alternative smartwatch space.
When you think FitBit you probably think “fitness tracker”, and while its smartwatch offerings do indeed include plenty of exercise tracking options, the Versa 2 is more than just a simple step counter. It features a 2.23inch AMOLED display, a range of colour choices and it’s also water resistant to 50m for all those swimmers out there. It’ll take voice control via Amazon’s Alexa and can store music or control your Spotify play lists with ease. If fitness is a key part of your smartwatch ambitions, it would be a good alternative smartwatch choice.
Samsung’s been in the smartwatch game longer than Apple, but it doesn’t limit its smartwatches to only its own-brand phones, with broad compatibility across all of its watches to date. The Galaxy Watch Active 2 integrates LTE into the mix so you can use it standalone or paired with a handset of your choice. It features Samsung’s newer digital bezel for extra control, and Samsung’s long history in the smartwatch space means that there are a wide array of apps that you can install to it – and an even wider array of watch faces too.
If you like to keep your Android devices well within the Google umbrella, then Mobvoi’s TicWatch C2 is a good option; it’s running Google’s own WearOS on a 1.3 inch AMOLED display, with integrated GPS and support for Google Pay on board as well. As with most of Mobvoi’s smartwatches, the other appeal point is that it’s at a much more affordable price point, although that does mean it’s not awash with multiple fancy features.
Huawei’s blocked from accessing full Google features on its phones, but its smartwatches retain compatibility due to the core apps existing before the US restrictions came in. Huawei’s approach to smartwatches has largely been focused on a core set of features, so they’re not overly stacked with apps, but what they do offer is exemplary battery life. Huawei’s claim is for two weeks of battery life for the Watch GT Active, which is way ahead of anything you’ll see on competing smart time pieces.
Fossil’s smartwatches combine the flexibility of Google’s WearOS with actual watch style, which isn’t always a given when you’re talking about wearable computing. The Gen 5 models are water resistant, with support for NFC payments and inbuilt GPS, as well as the expected heart rate tracking and fitness monitoring features. If you’re after a smartwatch that doesn’t make it apparent you’re wearing anything but a classic watch, it’s a solid option.
Lots of people want smartwatches for even more nuanced fitness tracking, and that’s precisely the market that Garmin chases with the Fenix range. The Fenix 6 features a 1.3 inch circular always-on display, multisport tracking and enhanced heart rate and onboard oxygen saturation detection, as well as sleep tracking features.
Editor’s note: Descriptions and features are as taken from manufacturer/seller claims on Amazon.
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