The Apple Watch is, without a doubt, one of the most popular choices for inexperienced users when it comes to smartwatches, solely because, just as in the case of their mobile phones, Apple’s brand name sells. This is because Apple knows how to market their brand properly in order to become a household name. Of course, while the branding played a huge part in the Apple Watch’s success, the smartwatch is a great product on its own, offering users a great package of features, presented in Apple’s traditional combination of slick design and clean user interface.
However popular the Apple Watch may be, it certainly is expensive, and the features it presents may not be worth it for everyone, and it’s a downright poor purchase for someone who doesn’t own an iPhone, as Apple’s smartwatch cannot connect to devices out of Apple’s ecosystem. If you were mesmerized by the Apple Watch but then came to realize it’s too pricey, here are some great alternatives that put the Apple Watch to shame.
7 Smart Alternatives to the Apple Watch
If you’d like to stick to the standard, conformist looks offered by popular companies, the Samsung Gear S3 may be the perfect smartwatch for you. Unlike its smartphone division, which is going through a rough time currently, Samsung’s smartwatches have been big hits with the community due to their modern design that blends in with most outfits.
The Samsung Gear S3 is no exception from this rule, as the smartwatch combines modern design with an intuitive user interface in order to be one of the best emulators and competitors of the Apple Watch while offering premium features and quality at premium prices. That being said, one of the biggest advantages of the Gear S3 over the Apple Watch is the fact that it supports both Android and iOS devices, meaning that users who are unhappy with their Apple Watches can always jump ship to a Gear S3.
Samsung’s experience with crafting high-end devices definitely shows as the Samsung Gear S3 is objectively the best rival to the Apple Watch, bringing the Apple vs Samsung debate to another market.
Having a 3-day battery life and an impressive Super AMOLED screen, the Samsung Gear S3 fits most users daily needs by being a versatile and overall smart choice for both people experienced with smartwatches and newcomers to the market.
Once spearheading the dawn of smartwatches, the Pebble brand seems to have been forgotten about by tech enthusiasts due to the apparition of bigger players such as Apple and Samsung on the market. This is quite sad, as the Pebble 2, the latest iteration of the Pebble watch, is quite the offer. The biggest factor at play in the failure of the brand is the fact that its company went under recently, and was purchased by Fitbit.
The Pebble 2 is a fantastic budget buy for newcomers to the market who just want to try out a smartwatch in order to see what the fuss is about, as it comes with a clever e-paper screen that ensures a battery life of about a week, putting its competitors in their places. New users of the Pebble 2 will also be delighted to find out that Pebble has its own, extremely active app store which has thousands of already available apps, from small games to pass the time to Reddit clients.
If you’re planning to buy a smartwatch as a fashionable accessory, then the Pebble’s cheap-looking design may not a nice surprise. While its e-paper display prolongs battery life by a whole lot, it doesn’t look pretty, and nor does its rectangular shape. Another possible turn-off is the device’s monochromatic display, which is unique in a market that keeps enhancing its displays with brighter and better colors.
It’s worth noting that despite the Pebble 2 being a great and cheap way to get into smartwatches, because the company ceased activity recently, devices are no longer under warranty, and users will no longer receive support. Due to the Pebble always relying a lot on third-party apps, and due to certain independent vendors such as Gadgetbridge or Rebble that offer app and firmware downloads, Pebble users should be able to use their devices without any problems even past the 2018 possible shutdown date for the Pebble servers. The problem of spare parts being scarce still remains, but it’s up to third-party manufacturers to solve it.
For all it’s worth, the Pebble 2 is one of the best entry-level smartwatches on the market, being available for both iOS (8 and above) and Android (4.3 and above) devices. The best part is that you can find it pretty cheap at both official retailers and online.
The design of the watch retains the premium look of luxury watches, giving it the look of an expensive bracelet or jewelry item than a watch. The screen is designed to be completely round, as this design seems to be the winner with most users. Additionally, the AMOLED screen also features an ambient light sensor, meaning that the screen brightness will automatically adjust depending on the brightness of your surroundings.
However, what’s extremely interesting is the fact that even with such a high-end chipset, the performance of the ZenWatch 3 is fairly inconsistent: sometimes apps are extremely snappy, while sometimes they seem to lag behind slightly. At the moment, the ASUS ZenWatch 3 still runs on Android Wear 1.5 but should receive an update to the famed Android Wear 2.0 soon. This means that the watch will connect to iOS and Android devices alike, increasing its versatility.
That being said, if you don’t mind waiting for a bit until the watch receives the latest version of Android Wear, the ASUS ZenWatch 3 has a great, expensive look to it, while also packing impressive specs.
The name is quite impressive, and the product itself is nothing less. Perhaps one of the most impressive smartwatches to come out in 2017, the TAG Heuer Connected Modular 45 is as much a smartwatch as it is a luxury watch, a true fashion statement. The beauty of the TAG Heuer does not lie in its branding, but in its masterfully crafted design.
First of all, this watch is only for those who are willing to spend a lot of money on a watch, for whatever reason, as the TAG Heuer Connected Modular 45 starts at $1650. While many may be shocked by the astronomical price, you need to take into account the fact that the watch doubles as a luxury watch, being made by a luxury manufacturer known for its skillful watchmaking, which is now being translated to the smartwatch market.
The “Modular” in the name is represented both in the software, as users can design their own dials or choose from a variety of different flavors, and in the hardware, due to the many straps and accessories available that can be quickly swapped for a change of style. Of course, the additional accessories will cost you extra.
If you felt like sitting down after seeing the price of the previous item on this list, then chances are you’ll be delighted with the Misfit Vapor and its affordable price of just $200. Of course, the quality offered by the Vapor exceeds what you’d expect to get for that price, but, as expected, it has its shortcomings.
The Misfit Vapor has one of the most beautiful minimalist designs currently offered by a smartwatch, giving up on the tired and over-encumbering futuristic details other manufacturers seem to have fallen for. If that wasn’t enough, the watch is waterproof up to 50 meters. Additionally, a pretty cool thing about the Misfit Vapor is the fact that it is controlled by swiping across the edge of the device, making users feel as if they were part of a sci-fi show from the eighties.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Misfit name is not lost on this device: the smartwatch has detailed workout and heart rate tracking, so you can kiss your fitness trackers goodbye if you opt for the Vapor. However, one huge disadvantage is the fact that the Vapor’s 400mAH battery will only last users 2 days, which is weird for a smartwatch that wants to double as a fitness tracker.
While the original Huawei Watch has been an absolute winner in terms of design, accurately emulating the premium quality of designer watches, it still left a lot to be desired in terms of functionality. This is why Huawei opted for two separate models when developing the second iteration: the Huawei Watch 2 brings great specifications and features, while its sister model, the Huawei Watch 2 Classic, retains the brilliant, fashionable design of its predecessor in lieu of certain features.
Both the Watch 2 and the Watch 2 Classic models feature the same base design, with a 1.2-inch AMOLED capacitive screen running at 390×390 resolution and being protected by Corning Gorilla Glass. Speaking about protection, the Watch 2 has an IP68 protection rating, slightly better than its predecessor. Both watches have an always-on display, but a battery-saving mode is available, which only keeps time, shutting down all other smartwatch features.
The two watches are similar in specifications, both of them having a Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 chipset, a 1.1 GHz Quad-Core CPU, 4 GB of RAM, a 420 mAh battery that should last most users around 2 days, an accelerometer, compass, gyrometer, barometer and even a heart rate sensor. Both models run on Android Wear 2.0, meaning that they are compatible with both Android and iOS devices. NFC and GPS are also new additions that were missing from the first model.
The Watch 2 Classic is obviously targeted towards the professionals who want a slick watch on their wrist that looks subtle enough to blend in with their outfits, while also providing them with the information they need over the day. In this respect, the Watch 2 Classic slightly modifies the colorful look of the Watch 2, having a leather band instead of the rubber sports band of its sister model. The Classic is also made of stainless steel and comes in titanium gray, unlike its counterpart, which has a ceramic, bright orange design, with black and gray also available.
Whereas someone might choose the Watch 2 Classic for its design, people who want more functionality from their devices will probably go for the Watch 2 due to its added features. Over its fashionable counterpart, the most important change is the fact that the Watch 2 supports Nano-SIM or e-SIM cards, which can then be used for 4G LTE connectivity.
It’s worth mentioning that the black model of the Watch 2 supports both LTE and Bluetooth connectivity, while the orange one only supports LTE and the gray model only supports Bluetooth.
The Huawei Watch 2 and the Huawei Watch 2 Classic are going to be released in April 2017, and they will set you back quite a bit, as the Watch 2 will start at €329, with its LTE variant being a bit more pricey, namely €379 and the Watch 2 Classic will start at €399.
Last but not least, we have an outdoor watch that comes in 3 different models and offers a lot of great features tailored for the adventurous types. All three models feature long battery life, activity tracking, heart rate tracking and various other sensors. Additionally, all models feature waterproof design for up to 100 meters, meaning that swimmers won’t have to take it off their wrist.
The Fenix 5 is the base model, being a jack-of-all-trades. In the meanwhile, the Fenix 5S is the smaller model, tailored for the feminine types, with a special edition available which features a sapphire lens that is scratch-resistant and Wi-Fi connectivity.
The Fenix 5X is the star of this show, being the most expensive and most complex model: it’s bigger and features better protection due to its stainless steel bezel and reinforced housing, along with a great LED backlight that ensures great visibility whether it’s day or night.
The Fenix 5 and Fenix 5S start at $599, while the Fenix 5X starts at $699, meaning that you’ll have to shell out quite a bit of money to get your hands on them. However, if you’re an adventurous person who wants a lot of convenient features at their disposal, any model will prove worth it in the long run.
All of these devices can also be paired with an iPhone as well as an Android device, meaning that the companies are putting the consumers first and providing them with a long-lasting choice that will be usable even if they decide to jump ship to another operating system, which is more than can be said for the Apple Watch.
All in all, it’s extremely important to carefully weigh your options when purchasing a smartwatch, especially now, when you’ve got companies focusing their efforts on nailing different aspects. If there’s nothing out there that catches your eye at the moment, wait a month or two, as the rapid pace of the smartwatch market means that you’ll find something to spend your money on quickly.