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Your guide to the finest smartwatches around

How do the coolest smartwatches compare? Rajiv Makhni brings you the minute details.

brunch Updated: Oct 01, 2016 20:07 IST
The Apple Watch 2 is swim proof, has a built-in GPS, better battery life, is much faster and has a special Nike version for runners.
The Apple Watch 2 is swim proof, has a built-in GPS, better battery life, is much faster and has a special Nike version for runners.

How do the coolest smartwatches compare? We bring you the minute details

I really don’t write much about smartwatches. I have yet to meet a smartwatch that rocks my world and has enough compelling reasons for me to give up my prime real estate (my wrist) to it. But recently, someone pinned me down to give him buying advice. To name one smartwatch that rose above the rest. These ones made it to that buy list.

Hitting a sweet spot

Without any true design changes and without adding any jaw-dropping new tech features – this is Apple hitting a sweet spot with its next-gen Apple Watch 2. It’s swim proof (yup, like retina display and many more such terms, this is self-coined Apple terminology), has a built-in GPS (thus for most activities you do not need your phone anymore), better battery life (critical as the first one seriously had ‘last a day’ issues), is much faster and has a special Nike version for runners. There is also a new ceramic version that is only for the very rich amongst us. The apps are amazing for this ecosystem, plus this is the only watch on which you can play Pokémon Go (if that’s the kind of thing that rings your bell). Almost all the versions still cost a lot (starts at around Rs 32,900), and you’ve got to own an iPhone to be able to use one. Still, the Watch 2 makes a case for itself.

A perfect deal

Pebble Time: Your only option when you want a watch that works on both iOS and Android.

If you want a smartwatch that works with both iOS and Android, has battery life that lasts up to five days and an app collection that beats the Apple Watch or any other, the well- designed Pebble Time is your only option. Add an always-on multicolour display, extremely quick notifications, very good pricing (about Rs 9,999) and the fact that you can speak into your watch to reply to messages or dictate an email too. However, the app store looks ancient and makes searching and loading a pain. But still, the Pebble Time is the full deal.

The one with the looks

Huawei Watch: By far the best-looking smartwatch in the market. The price is a pity.

Huawei went with an Apple-style naming ceremony for its smartwatch and just called it a Watch. By far the most good-looking smartwatch in the market, this takes things to the limit. With a form factor and materials that can take on any of the premium Swiss time pieces, a pin-sharp display, a built-in heart-rate monitor, great add-on features over and above Android Wear, plus a good battery life, Huawei made sure it was aiming for the top. There are six different models, configurations and colours to choose from. However, Huawei sabotaged its own watch by pricing it at around Rs 22,999.

The one that excels

Samsung Gear S2: Great looks and a standout Tizen OS sets this apart

After getting the previous version Gear S wrong, Samsung makes amends with a watch that excels on all counts. The standout feature is how they’ve used their own home-grown Tizen OS to make this feel totally different. And it plays perfectly in its dual option Gear S2 (there’s a Sport and a Classic version). Both are fantastic to look at (Classic wins the design contest though), come with a rotating bezel that is unique and gives you excellent control, and are water and dust resistant. The Tizen OS adds far more functionality than what Android Wear has and both have a pretty good battery life too. The app store isn’t brimming over with options though, and the price of the Classic is way too high (again around Rs 24,300)

Hidden Treasure

Fenix 3, a fitness watch with incredible features, outruns all smartwatches.

Garmin has built Fenix 3, a fitness watch with incredible features. You can even add apps and take it for a swim. It has GPS, is waterproof, has a seven-day battery life and fitness and running functions that most smartwatches won’t have for the next five years. Once again the price is an issue (about Rs 52,999) and the app add-on interface a little clunky, but this may be the best smartwatch that people don’t know exists.

However, will there be a breakthrough in smartwatch technology that makes us say “I want one now”? Well, the search is on and only ‘time’ will tell!

From HT Brunch, October 2, 2016

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