Truth be told, premium smart watches are still a novel feature. Nothing – and I mean nothing – beats the vogue, sophistication, and style accentuated and exuded by sporting a well-crafted smartwatch, whether in a formal or an informal setting. To make things even better, most smartwatches nowadays are unisex and can blend seamlessly with both female poise and male urbanity. Not to mention that in such a progressive world, suaveness enhanced by donning one or two tech gizmos is appreciated across the board.
But there’s a catch to this, nonetheless. The price tag of a good chunk of these smartwatches is not only prohibitive but also inconsistently high. For instance, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to splurge over $500 on a watch (however ‘smart’ or luxurious it may be) yet you can get almost the same service from a $120 watch. And this mostly happens with flagships and top-of-the-line timepieces. Which, of course, begs the question: Is it possible to land a decent, functional and well-built cheap smartwatch while on a shoestring budget?
Well, the following list says it all – in the order of preference and value-for-money versus relative price point. In short, let’s put it this way; with less than $100 at your disposal, these are your best bets of getting the most bang for your buck – quite literally.
Best Cheap Smartwatches for under $100 USD
1. Pebble ($80.99)
Having being lauded as one of the most deluxe-looking smartwatches from last year that won’t break the bank, it is pretty much obvious that the budget timepiece wouldn’t miss on this list.
And at $80.99, the price is not only ridiculously low but also surprisingly friendly putting into consideration that the watch packs almost similar features to $350 smart timepieces. But there’s an explanation for this. Unlike other smartwatch brand manufacturers, Pebble is a progeny of one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns. So it is possible that a good chunk of their initial operating costs was covered by donors. Not forgetting that there are widely considered to be the pioneers of smart wearables.
Just like the Original Pebble, newer models such as Pebble Time, Pebble 2 and Pebble Steel, both of which are priced within the vicinity of $100, are compatible with both iOS and Android devices. Although, since there are later models, online vendors are bound to take advantage of this to set you back by almost even $150. But even then, you can still bank on the fact that Original Pebble still goes for significantly less than $100.
2. Garmin Vivosmart ($97.01)
Yes, it might look and feel like a fitness tracker, but the Garmin Vivosmart is one of the least-known budget smart timepieces under $100. It might not have that ‘conventional smartwatch’ design language, but the gizmo still shows time accurately as well as flashes out notifications from your smartphone thus saving you the hassle of having to pull out your phone after every 2 seconds in a business meeting when you’ve set it on a Do-Not-Disturb mode.
And that’s not all. The $97 bill earns you access to a 0.7-ounce smart bangle with a lavish-looking curved OLED that comes in a wide range of colors. So if you’re the type that wishes to savor the experience of a modern smartwatch, but without all the chunkiness and buffoonery of sporting a mega size smartwatch, then the Vivosmart is your best pick.
Featurewise, however, there are chances that you will be deeply disappointed. The Vivosmart conspicuously lacks GPS connectivity – something that has lately become synonymous with modern-day smartwatches. But that is not an issue for you, then you should find the respectable 7-day-long battery life enticing, as well as the fact that it can seamlessly sync your Facebook, Whatsapp, and Twitter notifications easily.
3. Alcatel One-Touch Watch ($90)
Waterproofing, convenient USB charging and a round, gorgeous face are the hallmarks of the Alcatel One-touch Watch. And as if to defy the odds further, Alcatel added fitness tracking and top-shelf NFC functionality to sweeten the deal and convince new shoppers to jump on its bandwagon.
The OneTouch watch is also proven to last two-to-five days on a single charge – something which puts it way ahead of the competition in this price bracket. Since we mentioned fitness tracking, it’s worth noting that the $90 watch can track your heart rate with a decent degree of accuracy, in fact, even much better than the existing Android Wear crop of fitness bands.
As far as platform compatibility goes, the Alcatel works fine with both iPhones and Android devices.
4. The Samsung Gear Live ($99)
As usual, any tech review wouldn’t be complete without throwing around one or two products from the Korean giants. And although the Gear Live was competitively priced at $130 when it launched back in 2014, presently, it is possible for you to get it from a wide array of online and brick & mortar stores for just less than $100.
Feature-wise, there’s little we can do to deny that the Samsung Gear Live is quite a steal at that price point. I mean, it is not like it’s every day you will find a heart rate monitor backed up by GPS in a hundred dollar watch. The screen is also a stunner, so to speak. Boasting of a 320 X 320 resolution, the AMOLED technology screen easily trumps any competition at that price point – a typical Samsung trademark.
The only bummer here is that the Gear Live line is quickly fading out. Being a 2014 watch, it won’t take long before most shops run of its stock. You’ll have to be quick.
5. The LG G Watch ($88.99)
The G Watch is the predecessor to the current and relatively more expensive G Watch R and Watch Urbane – both of which will set you back more than $200. Therefore, being an older trim, it means that you can now get it an attractive budget price of just under $90. We won’t beat around the bush here, though. The functionality is pretty basic, and the rectangular screen is obviously not the prettiest out there. But, hey, for less than $90 you wouldn’t expect much, would you?
On the other side of the spectrum, the wallet-friendly price point means that you can spare a few dollars to splurge on a stainless steel bracelet strap or a leather-backed one to sprinkle a little bit of style to the otherwise mediocre watch.
6. Sony Smartwatch 2 ($100)
Sony rarely disappoints. Even with the release of their newest Sony Smartwatch 4 just around the corner, the second iteration is still as solid, relevant and functional as it was two years ago. The only difference now is that unlike back in 2014 when it was a spanking new flagship, you can get it on Amazon for barely $100. Thank the Smartwatch 3 for this, but at the same time remember that the proprietary OS that the SW2 runs is a bit dated, and thus you won’t be updating the apps anytime soon.
Fortunately, however, the watch can work seamlessly with any Android 4.0 watch or above. The straps are nicer now – compared to 2 years ago – and the price tag is a bit reasonable. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be sporting one already!
7. The Microsoft Band ($100)
There’s no disputing that the name Microsoft doesn’t really rhyme with health and fitness bands. But even then, most of us would be surprised to know that one of the few well-designed Microsoft bands is priced within the vicinity of $100. Strictly technically speaking, the Microsoft Band is an exceptional artillery to have on your forearm. Not only does it combine the novelty of heart-rate monitoring combined with GPS, but also adds a ClearBlack AMOLED screen to the mix. But that’s as far as features go.
When it comes to the design language and ergonomics, it is quite another story altogether. The angular main face leaves much to be desired while its chunky frame renders it highly unaesthetic. It is that type of fitness band or wearable that does very little to blend with your wardrobe. But then again, that’s just our own (probably biased) opinion. If it looks remotely attractive to you, then go ahead and try it on. Who knows, you could end up finding yourselves a perfect match for each other.
With the second iteration (Microsoft Band 2) already hot on the shelves, you can get the Microsoft band with less than $100 from various online vendors, including Amazon. In regards to compatibility, the watch works just fine with Android devices, iPhones, and Windows Phones.
8. The LG LGW110 ($94.99)
The LGW110 is the cheaper variant of the luxurious G Watch R and looks nothing like your classical, typical smartwatch. If anything, the LGWW110 looks more of an analog timepiece than a squarish, manly smartwatch. And featuring the world’s first full circle OLED display, it comes as a bit of a pleasant that you can now add it to your collection of watches for less than $100, a year or so after its release.
Like most LG smartwatches, the LGW11O runs on native Android Wear and, therefore, boasts of a ton of expandable options thanks to Google Play Store. So if you’re going to use it with an Android device, well, you have all the reasons to look forward to an above-par experience. However, if past reviews are anything to go by, iPhone users might want to sit out on this one – due to Android-iOS love/hate affair, the user experience is not very thrilling.
Also, if you’re always away from civilization for long periods of time, then, this is not your budget smartwatch either. 89% of users have found that it’s battery life rarely lasts beyond two days and, more annoyingly, is that it has to be reconnected to your smartphone before it can be used again.
That aside, the LG LGW110 is arguably the best-looking budget smartwatch under $100 and comes bundled with almost all features you might need in a premium smartwatch, from timely notifications to voice activation. Probably the best way to spend a loose $100.
9. The A29 ($70)
If you have less than a Benjamin to spend, and still need a device that offers state-of-the-art service, then this wacky Smartwatch band might be just what you’re looking for. Courtesy of Oukitel – a Chinese firm – the A29 packs a forage of cool, up-to-date specs including the latest Bluetooth 4.0 and an accurate sleep monitoring tracking ability. And the niceties don’t end there. In typical Chinese ingenuity, the A29 packs an SIM-card and you can actually use it as a phone to call your contacts. This is in addition to a heart-rate sensor and a matching 320mAH battery that can furnish you with over 150 hours on standby.
Further, the A29 can work with both iOS and Android devices according to the Manufacturer, makes it not just an uncommon flexibility but also an important edge over ‘conventional smartwatches’ in the same price group.
10. The UWatch ($50)
One of our cheapest watches in this list also hails from a Chinese company – Bluboo. It is also the only watch here with a capacitive home button. But unlike its counterpart, the A29, the UWatch runs Android Wear, therefore making it one of the cheapest Android Wear timepiece you can lay your hands on today. Aesthetically, the UWatch is reasonably attractive, especially with bezels kept refreshingly to a minimum. And if you have to fork just a mere $50 for a watch, then you will find the sleep monitor a very welcome surprise – although it is not fully developed.
The only downside to the UWatch stems from one of its strengths – trying to cram a multitude of features in a budget package that it ends up feeling and looking ‘cheapish’. Furthermore, most of the features are more gimmicky than you’ll find them useful. For instance, the pedometer barely works, and very few people will need an eCompass on their watches.
That said, for $50, this is best you can slap your wrist with, really.