Smartwatches

2017 Smartwatch Comparison Guide

2017 Smartwatch Comparison Gui...
New Atlas compares the features and specs of the best smartwatches you can buy in 2017
New Atlas compares the features and specs of the best smartwatches you can buy in 2017
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Pressure-sensitive display
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Pressure-sensitive display
Always-on display
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Always-on display
Android compatibility
3/28
Android compatibility
Physical app shortcuts
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Physical app shortcuts
Virtual assistant
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Virtual assistant
Battery
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Battery
Build
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Build
Processor
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Processor
Dimensions
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Dimensions
Display resolution
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Display resolution
Display size
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Display size
GPS
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GPS
Heart-rate tracking
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Heart-rate tracking
New Atlas compares the features and specs of the best smartwatches you can buy in 2017
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New Atlas compares the features and specs of the best smartwatches you can buy in 2017
iPhone compatibility
15/28
iPhone compatibility
LTE
16/28
LTE
Mobile payments
17/28
Mobile payments
Phone calls
18/28
Phone calls
Starting price
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Starting price
RAM
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RAM
Release
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Release
Rotating input
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Rotating input
Software
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Software
Speaker
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Speaker
Interchangeable bands
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Interchangeable bands
Water resistance
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Water resistance
Step/workout tracking
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Step/workout tracking
Display material
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Display material

While smartwatch popularity may not be where the companies making them had hoped it would be at this point, smartwatch quality has steadily pressed forward in the last few years. Let's look at our six top picks, in the latest version of our Smartwatch Comparison Guide.

For this 2017 version of our guide, we're comparing the following wearables:

Some of the products have multiple versions (42 mm and 38 mm sizes for the Apple Watches, and two different styles for the Gear and Huawei Watch). We'll denote when there are differences. If you only see one spec, then the different versions are identical in that category.

Size

Dimensions
Dimensions

The LG Watch Sport, Gear S3 and Huawei Watch 2 are all larger watches that will (typically) make the most sense on men's wrists. The two Apple Watches and LG Watch Style are more unisex watches – more size-appropriate on women's wrists than the others are.

For spacing's sake, we omitted the smaller (38 mm) Apple Watches from this image. That model – for both Series 1 and 2 – measures 39 x 33 mm. Series 2 is 11.4-mm thick, while Series 1 is less bulgy, at 10.5 mm.

Build (casing)

Build
Build

These are the (main body) build materials you'll be working with. The Series 2 Apple Watch varies depending on whether you go with the entry-level (aluminum), higher-end (stainless steel) or highest-end (ceramic) variant.

The Huawei Watch 2 also varies in materials: The standard version uses ceramic and plastic, while the "Classic" version is made of steel and plastic.

Android compatibility

Android compatibility
Android compatibility

All but the Apple Watches play nice with Android phones.

iPhone compatibility

iPhone compatibility
iPhone compatibility

All six watches will work with an iPhone, but due to iOS' restrictions, the Android Wear and Samsung watches will be more limited in some ways while paired with an Apple handset. (For example, the LG Watch Sport won't receive notifications from your phone when in standalone mode if you use an iPhone – but it will if you have an Android phone.)

Cellular (LTE)

LTE
LTE

Only a few of the watches give you the option of staying connected when your smartphone isn't around.

The LG Watch Sport is an all-LTE smartwatch – there's no Bluetooth-only option. The Samsung Gear S3 ships in both cellular and Bluetooth-only variants.

The Huawei Watch 2 has an LTE variant too, but that model isn't sold in the US.

Display size

Display size
Display size

The LG Watch Sport has the biggest display, followed by the Gear S3.

The area percentage for the Apple Watches points to the 42 mm model. The screen of the 38 mm Apple Watch is just 57-percent as big as the Sport's huge display.

Display resolution

Display resolution
Display resolution

The Watch Sport also has the highest pixel density, though none of the watches' pixel counts are any cause for concern.

While resolution is the same on the two series of Apple Watch, note that Series 2 has a brighter display that's easier to read outdoors.

Display material

Display material
Display material

The more expensive (steel and ceramic) versions of the Apple Watch jump up to sapphire display coverings, for the strongest protection in this bunch. The rest use either Corning's Gorilla Glass or Apple's equivalent Ion-X glass.

Always-on display

Always-on display
Always-on display

All but the Apple Watches give you the option of having an always-on clock face. The two LG watches, though, earned those asterisks: Their batteries probably won't make it through a full day if you turn that setting on.

Pressure-sensitive screen

Pressure-sensitive display
Pressure-sensitive display

Similar to the 3D Touch feature found on recent iPhones, you can deep press on the Apple Watch's screen to activate various shortcuts throughout its operating system.

Scrolling input

Rotating input
Rotating input

It might sound odd, but we're fans of twisty input methods on smartwatches. The rotating crowns on the Apple Watch and LG watches, along with the rotating bezel on the Samsung Gear, let you scroll through menus and notifications without repeatedly dragging your finger over their tiny screens.

App button shortcuts

Physical app shortcuts
Physical app shortcuts

The LG Watch Sport has two physical buttons that can be set as customizable app shortcuts (for something like starting a workout, using Android Pay or checking the weather). The Huawei Watch has one such button.

Water resistance

Water resistance
Water resistance

All the watches have some sort of water resistance, though only the Apple Watch Series 2 is recommended for swimming.

Virtual assistant

Virtual assistant
Virtual assistant

All six have some sort of voice assistant onboard: Google Assistant for the three Android Wear watches, Siri for the Apple Watches and Samsung's (worst in the bunch) S Voice for the Gear.

Keep in mind, though, that all the voice assistants have limitations compared to their smartphone counterparts. In our experience, the watch version of Siri is more capable than the watch versions of Google Assistant and S Voice. (Whereas on phones, we'd put Google Assistant ahead.)

Mobile payments

Mobile payments
Mobile payments

Only the LG Watch Style lacks any sort of mobile payment functionality.

Android Pay and Apple Pay use NFC tech exclusively, which means vendors will need to have special equipment installed to support those services. Samsung Pay includes tech that allows it to work with standard magnetic swipe-reading credit card machines (in addition to NFC).

Phone calls

Phone calls
Phone calls

All but the Style let you make and pick up calls on the watch.

Speaker

Speaker
Speaker

And here's one of the reasons the Style doesn't support those calls.

Heart rate sensor

Heart-rate tracking
Heart-rate tracking

The limitations of the Style are becoming more apparent, as it also lacks a heart rate sensor.

Step/workout tracking

Step/workout tracking
Step/workout tracking

All six watches have built-in apps and sensors that can track your steps or individual workouts. Keep in mind, though, that tracking a workout can drain batteries faster.

GPS

GPS
GPS

All but the Style and Series 1 Apple Watch have built-in GPS, so they don't need to leech your phone's location-tracking.

Battery

Battery
Battery

None of the watches should give you much trouble making it through a full day, though remember you'll want to turn off the always-on display option for the two LG watches.

The LG Watch Style's battery life isn't very impressive, even with the always-on display turned off.

Interchangeable bands

Interchangeable bands
Interchangeable bands

Five of the watches let you swap out for a different band, if you aren't a fan of the one it shipped with.

There's a very good reason you can't switch the Sport's band: Its cellular antennae live inside the band.

Processor

Processor
Processor

We only included watches that have recent (fairly fast) processors. Even the Apple Watch Series 1, which is a very minor update over the original (often called "Series 0") Apple Watch, has a pretty zippy dual-core chip.

RAM

RAM
RAM

The Apple Watches and Watch Style have a bit less RAM than the rest, but we didn't notice any major performance concerns on any of them.

Software

Software
Software

The LG Watches and Huawei Watch run Android Wear 2.0, while the Apple Watches uses watchOS 3. Samsung employs its own Tizen OS (our least favorite of the three) for the Gear S3.

Apple's watchOS has by far the best app selection.

On the other hand, the Android Wear watches have the perk of using an onboard version of the Google Play Store, so you can install apps without the help of your phone.

Release

Release
Release

Only the Apple and Samsung watches are late 2016 products; the rest came out earlier this year.

Starting price

Starting price
Starting price

The Series 2 Apple Watch is the most expensive in this group, with that base price representing the smaller (38 mm) model. The 42 mm one (aluminum) starts at a heftier US$399.

If you want a stainless steel/sapphire Apple Watch Series 2, you're looking at a minimum $549 (38 mm) or $599 (42 mm). The ceramic "Edition" Apple Watch starts at $1,249 (38 mm) or $1,299 (42 mm).

For more, you can revisit New Atlas' reviews of these six watches:

6 comments
exodous
Until my Pebble Time completely dies there is no way I'm getting another smart watch. I've even trying to find a way to replace the battery so I can get another 3 or so years out of it. Maybe by that time there will be a smart watch that lasts an entire week.
ChrisKirtley
Why do these comparisons never include Smartphone watches? I have used a full Android phone watch (Cross Country - Chinese) for 2 years. It does everything a smartphone does (camera, GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth etc.) and I don't have to carry a mobile phone. I can't see the point of carrying 2 devices around.
kwalispecial
I don't know why everyone thinks they need fitness tracking. Most of us are not star athletes or astronauts who need constant bio-feedback. My phone already has gyros, compass, GPS, camera, mic, fingerprint scanner... I don't really want more tech monitoring my heart rate too. All I want is a watch, that also has comm notifications, and I guess navigation is cool too. As long as they insist on installing more bio-sensors, I'll continue to not buy one.
Rusty Harris
Unless the price of these drop below 100 for one that lasts ALL DAY with heavy use, forget it. Smartwatches were a solution, to a problem that NEVER EXISTED.
KimberlyGallella
So the Apple Watch 2 lets you make and receive phone calls as long as you have your phone nearby (within Bluetooth or WiFi distance). This is a major feature I would like in an Android Wear watch and the LG Watch Sport appears to fit the bill. However, it is not clear to me if I would be able to do that if I did NOT activate it as an LTE device. Does anyone know?
mandy
Definitely one of the best reviews of anything I have seen. For once I am actually able to compare the products on review. Please do more like this.