If smartwatches ever go mainstream, will they look more like designer watches or tiny smartphones? Let's take a quick look at the best examples of those two extremes – the fashionable Pebble Steel and futuristic Samsung Gear S – to compare the two approaches.
Pebble Steel embodies understated tech and classic style, making no attempt to be like – much less replace – your smartphone. The Samsung Gear S, on the other hand, is the answer to "wouldn't it be cool to have a smartphone on your wrist?"
Their strengths and weaknesses are perfect opposites:
Pebble Steel is small, premium and tailor-made for receiving quick, glanceable info. It's a great notification terminal, but you'll still need to whip out your phone for anything more than that.
The Gear S, meanwhile, has its own 3G data, virtual keyboard and curved touch screen. It lets you make calls, send texts and reply to emails – even when your phone isn't around. But that brings its own tradeoffs. It's close enough to replacing your phone that the things that it can't do (setting reminders, using apps for many popular third-party services) stick out like a sore thumb. Oh, and it's also enormous – looking a bit like something George Jetson would wear.
Pebble Steel is two parts fashion, one part tech. The Gear S is more like 97 parts tech, one part Dick Tracy-inspired fashion. Can we get a yellow raincoat up in here?
So which approach will win in the end? Only time will tell, but I wouldn't be surprised if the watches that best blend these two extremes will be the ones we end up wearing (the Apple Watch, Moto 360 and Asus ZenWatch, for example, all fall somewhere in between). But hey, in the meantime, at least customers have one hell of a wide variety to choose from.
Feel free to browse our image gallery for a closer look at these two radically different approaches to the smartwatch. And if you're trying to decide between these two, then you can get deeper dives from our full reviews of the Gear S and Pebble Steel.
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