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October 12, 2017

The ultimate guide to 2017’s Android Wear smartwatches

by John_A

If you’re shopping for an Android Wear smartwatch, it’s too easy to be overwhelmed by all the options. In addition to mobile mainstays like LG and Huawei, luxury watch makers like Fossil and Tag Heuer have also entered the fray. The market is only becoming more crowded — but fortunately, all that competition means the products are only improving year after year. In this article, we’ll break down all the timepieces toting Android Wear 2.0 releasing in 2017, whether you’re after something lavish or sporty.

As a quick refresher, Android Wear is the smartwatch operating system from Google. It has been around for a few years, but Google launched a major redesign — version 2.0 — early this year. Similarly to the Apple Watch, Android Wear watches can give you all the notifications from your phone to your wrist, and you can interact with many of them. Some tout GPS, support for NFC to make payments with Android Pay, and an LTE connection, while others keep it simple with notifications, access to Google Assistant, and a lower price tag. For more details on what’s new, read our Android Wear 2.0 guide.

Fashion watches

Michael Kors Access Sofie ($350)

Brenda Stoylar/Digital Trends

We were pleased with Michael Kors’ latest women’s smartwatch, the Access Sofie, in our review. Though it’s not a success on every front — battery life is just middle of the road, and you won’t find NFC inside — it’s one of the most attractive women’s watch we’ve seen yet. The gemstones encircling the face surely won’t be to everyone’s taste, but you can tone down the look with interchangeable mesh and leather straps. The Access Sofie feels light on the wrist, and the display is bright, if a little on the smaller side. Still, it packs performance on par with the best Android Wear has to offer, and, being a women’s watch, there aren’t many alternatives that fill the niche.

Michael Kors Access Sofie Review

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Micahael Kors

Michael Kors Access Grayson ($350)

Christian de Looper/Digital Trends

The Access Grayson is Michael Kors’ Android Wear smartwatch for men. It packs the same internals as the Access Sofie, such as Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor, and it also has an IP67 water- and dust-resistant design, as well as support for interchangeable bands. Where it differs is design — it’s a lot bulkier, it has a bigger screen, and there are three customizable buttons on the right side. There’s no NFC here for Android Pay, and you won’t find GPS or heart-rate monitoring. If you’re looking for a good-looking watch that performs well and can offer up interactive notifications — with access to Google Assistant — the Grayson is a solid option.

Michael Kors Access Grayson review

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Michael Kors

Fossil Q Explorist ($255)

Fossil’s Q Founder was one of our favorite smartwatches of last year, and the Q Explorist improves on its predecessor with a fully circular screen, a slimmer design, and the proper specs to match. The watch is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor — the same chip found in the best-performing Android Wear devices — and comes with 4GB of internal storage for music. Despite the name, you won’t find GPS or heart rate tracking here, which is typical among luxury smartwatches. When you’re buying a watch like this, style is paramount, and the Explorist picks up where the Founder left off. Best of all, the price isn’t out of the range of affordability, starting at just $255. You can opt for a stainless steel bracelet, or a leather strap, and the cases come in different colors. Look forward to our review soon.

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Fossil

Fossil Q Venture ($255)

If you’re a woman and you want something a little slimmer, smaller, and lighter than Fossil’s Q Explorist, the Q Venture packs a more feminine design with the same hardware inside. The look is less rugged and more elegant, but you won’t pay any more than you would for the Q Explorist. The Venture comes in several different stainless steel finishes: rose gold, gold, silver, and a combination of navy and rose gold that can be purchased with a matching strap. Speaking of straps, all of Fossil’s 18mm collection is compatible with the Venture. We’re currently reviewing this product.

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Fossil

Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45 ($1,550)

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

If you want a smartwatch but refuse to compromise on design, Tag Heuer’s Connected Modular 45 is the best Android Wear has to offer. Combining the look and feel of a Swiss timepiece with everything Google’s wearable platform has to offer, the Connected 45 is the right blend of luxury and technology that doesn’t skimp on either. Owing to the name, there are a variety of straps, horns, and clasps available for the Connected Modular 45 that can be mixed and matched as you please. In total there are over 500 combinations, and they all fit together perfectly. You can even purchase a mechanical watch module ($1,650) in case you want to go off the grid. The titanium body keeps the watch light on your wrist, and while it’s questionable whether any smartwatch will stand the test of time technologically speaking, there’s no doubt the Connected Modular 45’s design and build won’t fade. At least we hope so, considering the device starts at $1,600.

Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45 hands-on review

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TagHeuer

Guess Connect Touch ($300)

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Guess’ Connect Touch line is surprisingly reasonably priced — for just $300, you can get a 41mm watch face with the design you’d expect from the famed brand. A 44mm version is also available for $350, and Guess has created versions for both men and women. Each has a selection of customizable straps, with watch faces based on the company’s existing mechanical designs. In total, there are six body styles for men, six for women, and another six considered unisex. Again, there’s no GPS or heart-rate monitor. It’s expected to launch this fall.

Guess Connect Touch hands-on review

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Amazon

Gc Connect

Guess’ watch sub-brand, Gc by Guess, is also releasing an Android Wear smartwatch with a similar name. The Gc Connect’s design is based on the company’s Structura analog watches, and comes in both men’s and women’s styles. The watches do look quite different from Guess’ Connect Touch, with a more minimalist design and less bling overall. They still feature the same hardware underneath however, so you won’t have to compromise on technology to achieve a more modest look. Currently, there’s no word on pricing or availability, though we expect it to launch around the same time as the Guess Connect at a similar price.

Hugo Boss Touch ($395)

Hugo Boss’ first Android Wear smartwatch, the Touch, follows up the brand’s Smart Classic hybrid released last year. That was a mechanical watch with a simple LCD display behind the face, but the Touch is a full-on smartwatch powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 2100 platform. It features NFC, which means you can use Android Pay to make contactless payments. The device is manufactured by Movado, which is also producing Tommy Hilfiger’s TH24/7YOU, and costs $395. We haven’t heard much about it since it was announced earlier this year, but we’ll update this article when we hear a release date.

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Macy’s

Tommy Hilfiger TH24/7YOU ($300)

Both the Hugo Boss Touch and Tommy Hilfiger TH24/7YOU are mostly the same underneath, though Tommy Hilfiger’s version omits NFC to reach a price point about $100 less. There are still clear similarities in the designs, however, and the most notable difference with this model is the option of a metal link bracelet for the band. You’ll also receive a different set of watch faces bearing the brand’s iconic red, white, and blue color scheme. The TH24/7YOU is expected to go on sale this holiday season.

Movado Connect ($595)

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

While Movado may produce smartwatches for Hugo Boss and Tommy Hilfiger, it’s most luxurious offering is sold under its own brand name. It’s called the Movado Connect, and its refined, minimalist design makes it one of the most attractive Android Wear products on the market today. A 46.5 mm body makes it one of the largest on this list, but it isn’t terribly thick, and you’ll find more than 100 customizable watch faces to make the most of that big display. NFC is thankfully included in the package, just like the Hugo Boss Touch. The Movado Connect begins at $595, but depending on how you configure it, the price can easily stretch close to $1,000.

Movado Connect review

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Macy’s

Montblanc Summit ($890)

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

With its massive 46mm body, the Montblanc Summit is anything but subtle — but it’s the little details that really make it special. The 400 x 400 pixel resolution display is one of the best we’ve seen on a smartwatch, with a slight dome to its shape. Available in polished stainless steel or titanium, whichever Summit you choose is rated IP68 water-resistant and it features an embedded heart-rate sensor. That’s something you won’t find on many luxury wearables, and certainly helps justify the device’s steep cost of entry — $890.

Montblanc Summit hands-on review

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Bloomingdale’s

Diesel On Full Guard ($325)

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

If you’re after a luxury watch with a seriously sporty flair, the Diesel On Full Guard nails the look. It’s not really a wearable for fitness connoisseurs — there’s no heart rate monitor nor is there any water resistance. If you’re looking for a watch chock full of features, you’ll be disappointed. For a starting price of $325, you’ll miss out on GPS and NFC as well. But the On is notable in other ways. The 454 x 454 display is among the highest resolution we’ve seen on an Android Wear watch yet, so it’s remarkably crisp and clear. The design looks positively stunning, when mixed with the brown leather straps, gunmetal body, and one of the more techy watch faces. Thankfully, it’s lightweight and comfortable to wear, despite bearing a more rugged and intimidating appearance.

Diesel On Full Guard Review

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Nordstrom

Emporio Armani Connected Touchscreen Smartwatch ($345)

Manufactured by Fossil, Emporio Armani’s new Android Wear-powered smartwatch sits above the company’s hybrid timepieces, but still starts at $345. If you’re shopping for fashion, that’s not bad — though under the surface, there’s very little differentiating this watch from others in the price range. The design and build quality is unquestionably solid, and it offers the same Android Wear 2.0 features as the other watches. With a Snapdragon Wear 2100 chipset, it’s certainly powerful enough to handle most tasks, though you won’t find NFC, GPS, or a heart rate sensor on board. Our full review is on the way.

Buy it now from:

Macy’s

Louis Vuitton Tambour Horizon ($2,450)

In a sea of similar-looking smartwatches, Louis Vuitton’s offering easily stands out. It’s got a price tag like no other, too — $2,450. For that, you get a smartwatch that no doubt looks brilliant, with its bowed, almost hourglass-like profile. Sadly, it comes with less RAM and a smaller battery than its competitors. Fashion takes no backseat to technology in the world of jewelry, but when you’re spending that much, it’s hard not to be slightly bothered that ZTE sells a watch that comfortably beats this one in specifications and costs less than a tenth of the price. Still, you get to take your pick from a total of 60 strap designs and three case styles — stainless steel, brushed steel, and black. The Tambour Horizon, which is available now, also comes pre-loaded with a suite of travel apps to help with things like flight itineraries and finding local places of interest, which its jet-setting clientele will likely find useful.

Fitness watches

Casio Pro Trek Smart WSD-F20 ($500)

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Casio’s always had a reputation for rugged electronics, and for Android Wear, the Pro Trek Smart WSD-F20 is about as rugged as they come. Adhering to the military’s MIL-STD-810G standard, the Pro Trek is resistant to shock, pressure, temperature, and, most importantly, water. With protection against up to 50 meters of water pressure, Casio’s watch is an excellent option if you’re an avid swimmer, hiker, or general outdoor enthusiast. GPS functionality and the ability to download maps make it an even better choice. But one of the most fascinating things about the Pro Trek is its dual-layered display. The watch actually has two screens stacked together: the typical color LCD, in this case with a resolution of 320 x 300, and a traditional monochrome panel on top. As a result, the Pro Trek can turn off Android Wear and switch to the monochrome screen, which conserves significantly more battery power — it can last about a month in this mode, but you only get access to the time.

Casio Pro Trek Smart WSD-F20 review

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Macy’s

LG Watch Sport (As low as $250, original retail price was $350)

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

If you’re looking for a watch that will best serve your fitness needs and love of the outdoors, but isn’t quite as bulky as Casio’s Pro Trek, the LG Watch Sport might be more your speed. It’s thick and bulky, but it still carries a tasteful, minimalist design that won’t look quite so out of place during a night out. Just as important, it packs a ton of features as well, like standalone GPS, NFC, and LTE connectivity. Not many smartwatches can claim the latter, and it makes the Watch Sport something to consider if you’re after the most functionality. Unfortunately, being connected to cell towers all the time isn’t great for battery life, and unsurprisingly, that’s where the Watch Sport struggles the most. A day seems to be the max LG’s device can deliver, and even if you leave it mostly idle, it’ll eat up a third of a full charge in 20 hours. If you can put up with below average longevity, the Watch Sport is a solid option priced at $350, but it’s even better with a $250 price tag on Amazon.

LG Watch Sport Review

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LG Watch Sport

Verizon Wear24 ($350 – discontinued)

Kyle Wiggers/Digital Trends

Give Verizon credit — nobody expected a carrier to release a smartwatch, but then came the Wear24. There’s a lot to like about Big Red’s watch on paper — it was one of the first to launch with Android Wear 2.0, and it even features LTE connectivity. But that’s just about it. There’s very little to say about the design; there’s no heart rate monitor, so even with GPS and an LTE connection, it falls short of working as a true fitness companion. We also lamented the lack of NFC, which means you can’t use Android Pay, and the speaker quality is poor. You can do far better for the $350 price tag, except Verizon has already discontinued sales of the Wear24. It looks like time isn’t on Verizon’s side.

Verizon Wear24 Review

Huawei Watch 2 Classic/Sport (As low as $245, original retail price was $300)

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The first Huawei Watch was one of our favorite Android Wear watches, and while the second generation isn’t quite as stylish, as an overall package, it’s even better. Whether you buy the Classic or Sport model, you get loads of features, like NFC, GPS, IP68 water resistance, and 4GB of onboard storage for music. Where the Watch 2 really shines, however, is in the battery life department. Through average usage, the Huawei Watch 2‘s 420mAh battery will put in slightly more than a day of work. But Huawei has included an optional Watch Mode that — like the Casio watch — turns off Android Wear and just displays the time and your step count, nothing else. In Watch Mode, the device can last up to 25 days. A “dumb” smartwatch is surely better than a dead one. The only difference between the Watch 2 Sport and Classic, aside from the aesthetics, is the presence of LTE connectivity. The watch retailed at $300 when introduced, but now can be found for as low as $245.

Huawei Watch 2 Review

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Newegg

New Balance RunIQ (As low as $200, original retail price was $300)

Marcus Yam/Digital Trends

New Balance’s smartwatch features the typical hallmarks of a high-end fitness tracker, but it goes one step further thanks to a partnership with Strava — an app popular with runners and bicyclists that tracks their activity and encourages a little healthy competition. Unfortunately, using the watch in this way significantly reduces its battery life. During casual use, you can expect to get 24 hours out of the RunIQ. On your workout, with Strava active, that drops to about five hours. Still, for your $200 (discounted price), you’ll get GPS, heart rate tracking and 5ATM water resistance. If running is your preferred way to stay in shape, it’s worth a look. This 2017 watch launched with Android Wear 1.0, but an update is now available to make the jump to version 2.0.

New Balance RunIQ hands-on review

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Amazon

Budget all-rounders

LG Watch Style (As low as $180, original retail price was $250)

For most people, LG’s Watch Style ticks all the boxes. Co-designed with Google, the Watch Style is as pure an expression of Android Wear as you’ll find. It’s not perfect — it lacks NFC, meaning you can’t use it for tap-and-pay transactions, and the battery is a little small. However, that’s partly made up with a tasteful, minimalist design, a svelte form factor, and responsive hardware. The Watch Style makes some other watches on this list feel bulky and unwieldy by comparison. It also comes with a strap made from genuine Italian leather, a welcome addition given that it starts at $250. Price actually has a lot to do with why the Watch Style is on this list — you can find one for as low as $180. With those savings, LG’s offering truly slides into budget territory, making it even more compelling.

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B&H

Misfit Vapor ($200)

Malarie Gokey/Digital Trends

Priced at just $200, Misfit’s first full-fledged smartwatch is powered by Android Wear 2.0 and touts many features typical of more expensive devices, like a circular AMOLED display, 5ATM water resistance, a heart rate sensor, and a touch-sensitive bezel. It’s not out yet, though it’s expected to launch this month. We did have an opportunity to test the Misfit Vapor earlier in the year, before the company shifted from developing its own operating system to Android Wear. We liked what we saw, and despite the low price, there doesn’t appear to be any obvious compromises. At the very least, this is a watch you should keep a close eye on entering the new year.

Misfit Vapor hands-on review

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Misfit

ZTE Quartz (As low as $96, original retail price was $192)

In our review, we said the ZTE Quartz is “the cheapest Android watch you’ll want to wear.” While that won’t be enough to win the fashion crowd over, it does mean ZTE’s device is one of your least expensive routes to a real smartwatch — and there’s certainly some value in that. For just $192 — now discounted to just $96 — you get the best specs among any device on this list — 768MB of RAM, 4GB of internal memory, and a 500mAh battery. Unfortunately, although it’s fast, fluid, and will last longer on a charge than its competitors, the Quartz misses the mark in a few key areas. You won’t find NFC, GPS, or a heart rate sensor onboard. Other watches might be able to get away with such omissions because they work as elegant fashion accessories, but the Quartz’s uncomfortable band and bulky, bland design don’t help the cause.

ZTE Quartz Review

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T-Mobile

Mobvoi Ticwatch S/Ticwatch E ($200 and $160)

The latest Ticwatch, made by Google-backed Chinese startup Mobvoi, was successfully funded on Kickstarter and looks to release later this year. It comes in two flavors — the S and the E — with the primary difference between them relating to the design and display size. The Ticwatch S has a slightly larger screen with GPS cleverly integrated into the band, to cut down on the thickness of the body. The Ticwatch E features the GPS in the case, allowing for interchangeable bands, and it’ll cost less. Price is a major factor with both of these watches. The Ticwatch E will cost just $160 when it hits retail. That’s is by far the cheapest device on this list (at retail price), while the Ticwatch S comes in at $200. No matter which you buy, each comes with GPS, heart rate monitoring, IP67 water resistance, and Ticwatch’s own suite of fitness apps. The screen is one of the highest-resolution you’ll find on the market, at 400 x 400 pixels, and while the plastic and rubber construction won’t fool anyone, these are two charming little smartwatches with surprisingly extensive feature sets.




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