Smartwatches are still evolving and maturing, but if you’re intent on buying one right now, there are plenty of beautiful and functional designs to choose from.
Throughout the past year, I’ve had the chance to try out a lot of different smartwatches. While they all have their limitations – battery life is still holding back the entire category – I found five watches I think rise above the rest, thanks to beautiful design, comfort, or ease of use.
Here are my favourite smartwatches of the 2017:
The LG Watch Style is a clean, minimalist smartwatch.
The LG Watch Style debuted back in February, one of two new smartwatches that showcased Android Wear 2.0, Google’s revamped smartwatch operating system. It’s the slimmer, more stylish alternative to the LG Watch Sport, a hulking gadget with its own SIM card and advanced fitness-tracking capabilities.
At the time of its release, the Style was being marketed by LG and Google as a watch for “trendsetters,” a device for daily use that can almost pass as a standard timepiece. I wouldn’t exactly call it trendy, but I really enjoyed wearing the watch and often forgot it was a gadget.
It’s not the perfect smartwatch – if there is such a thing just yet – but it’s a clean, modern, and useful watch that proves wearables may not be dead after all.
For more on the LG Watch Style, check out my full review.
The Movado Connect is one of the most luxurious smartwatches on the planet.
The Movado Connect is an absolutely stunning watch, and one of my favourites on the market. It features the brand’s signature Museum Dial – a large metallic dot at 12 o’clock and two metal arms – on both the awake and sleep screen. Its crystal face is encased with gold ion-plated stainless steel, and customers can choose a silicone or metal strap. It’s a gorgeous watch, if a bit too large for a woman’s wrist.
The Movado Connect likely won’t attract techies, but it will attract people with high-end taste, or diehard fans of Movado watches. It looks just like an analogue watch at first glance, but has Android Wear running under the hood.
And hey, it’s not even close to the most expensive smartwatch on the market. The Louis Vuitton Tambour Horizon starts at $US2,450.
The Apple Watch Series 3 is still the best option for iPhone users, hands down.
I held off on testing an Apple Watch until 2017 because I didn’t think I needed or wanted it. But after trying mostly Android Wear watches all year, I wasn’t prepared how seamless an Apple Watch Series 3 would feel.
For iPhone users, there is simply no better option; the Watch effortlessly pairs and syncs with your iPhone. If you’re someone who wants a smartwatch for reasons other than fitness tracking – getting notifications on the go, using Apple Pay, etc. – the Apple Watch is still the top choice. But if you do want the fitness tracking part, the Series 3 is great for that too. It provides a comprehensive look at your fitness and health, encourages you to get active, and even lets you compete with your friends.
If I have any issues with the Series 3, it is (and always has been) from a looks standpoint. Apple hasn’t changed the design since it launched the Watch in early 2015, and the watch’s bulky, rectangular body isn’t for me. That said, the new gold finish is beautiful, and the various interchangeable bands allow for a lot of customisation.
One thing to note: The Series 3 comes in two versions – one with cellular and one without. While mine came with cellular functionality, I never turned it on. It sucks your battery, costs extra on your phone plan, and offers a level of connectivity that you just don’t need. Save yourself $US70 and buy the non-cellular version.
The Michael Kors Access Sofie expertly combines fashion and technology.
Michael Kors has gotten a bad rap lately for having a somewhat “basic” image, but the $US350 Access Sofie is simply a really nice-looking watch. It looks high-end while remaining approachable and stylish, and retains the reasonable size and heft of an analogue Michael Kors watch.
When I tried it out in September, I wore the Access Sofie constantly and without hesitation for one simple reason: It looked great on my wrist, and went with my outfits. Plus, people complimented me on it all the time, which doesn’t hurt.
My favourite feature of the watch is actually on the software side: You can link the watch face to your Instagram account, so it will display your favourite photos along with the time.
The Access Sofie comes in a variety of finishes – and even one with pavé diamonds. But if gold and sparkly isn’t your style, there’s also a men’s version called the Access Grayson. It comes in a variety of finishes, but my favourite is the matte black.
The Fitbit Ionic isn’t great-looking, but it’s the most comfortable smartwatch I’ve tried.
The best thing about the Fitbit Ionic is how slim it is. It sits flush to your wrist and is only a few centimeters thick. The size, combined with the sporty rubberised bands, makes it one of the lightest, most comfortable smartwatches I’ve tried.
The Ionic arrived a few months after Fitbit acquired smartwatch maker Pebble, and anyone who remembers Pebble watches will see a resemblance. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing depends on your taste. Personally, I thought it looked too masculine on my wrist, but those with a sportier sense of style probably won’t mind it.
Looks aside, the Ionic has some nifty features that make it one of the best smartwatches for fitness aficionados. It’s waterproof for swimming, can store up to 300 songs so you can go jogging without your phone, has its own built-in payments system, and offers guided workouts and rep counting. Plus, the Fitbit smartphone app is one of the best fitness and nutrition apps out there. That, paired with the watch, gives you a powerful set of tools for staying in shape and healthy.
The Ionic normally costs $US300, but it’s on sale for $US270 right now.
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