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Phil's favorite Android Wear smartwatches

So here we are, just about a year into the first generation of Android Wear smartwatches. I have them all. I've worn them all, some longer than others. And as I've said before it's interesting to see how much better design of the watches became in a very short amount of time, even while the internal hardware stayed consistent.

So let's take a look at the watches that have made my wrist tick (sorry not sorry), and why ...

These are Phil's favorite Android Wear watches

My favorite: The ASUS ZenWatch

ASUS ZenWatch

On one hand it seems a little crazy that ASUS is the company that's produced my favorite Android Wear watch thus far. Tablets? Sure. Phones? OK. So why not a watch, I guess.

The ZenWatch was the first to bring a chrome finish to the game. And while it was a close battle with the likes of the Moto 360, the ZenWatch won out for me for a number of reasons. The first was that it just fit me better. I prefer metal bracelets over leather straps, and the design of the ZenWatch lets it take third-party bracelets better than the 360. (This is the bracelet (opens in new tab) I'm using.) The body also is very small, so it sits better on my wrist.

The down sides? Not a whole lot. I think other watches have better displays, but the ZenWatch was and remains my favorite, a good mix of form, function and (currently at $199), price.

Read our ASUS ZenWatch review

The next favorite: LG Watch Urbane

LG Watch Urbane

No. 2 on my list shouldn't be a big surprise (and it's the watch I'm currently wearing). The LG Watch Urbane is the most stylish watch we've got that also looks more like a traditional timepiece. It's a dressed up version of its older brother, the LG G Watch R. I still contend, however, that it does a good job of looking nice, but not too nice. It's the most expensive of the bunch at $350 but definitely brings something different to the table.

I think the P-OLED display LG uses is still the best available in Android watches. The integrated Wifi is a nice option, I suppose, but that's not been a feature I've needed to rely on at all.

And a small but noticeable difference is that LG uses what probably is the easiest of all the chargers, with a pogo-pin setup and a light magnetic hold. And it's small enough to keep a spare on hand and tuck into the pocket of a gear bag.

Read our LG Watch Urbane review{.cta .large}

An old favorite: Moto 360

Moto 360 with Pebble Steel bracelet

The Moto 360 was one of the first Android Wear watches announced, though it ended up being the third released, behind the original LG G Watch and the Samsung Gear Live — and not until the fall, at that. It was a long wait for the first round Android Wear watch, and the first to use leather that we didn't immediately want to rip off. And a round design quickly established itself as the way to go. It allows for more traditional watch faces and gives the whole smash the feeling that it's a watch and not just a display on your wrist.

Android watches aren't exactly high-powered devices for obvious reasons — there's not a lot of space in there for a battery. But the TI OMAP processor used in the 360 also seemed to struggle a little. Or maybe more than a little. It's definitely noticeable when you use any other watch, so that knocks the 360 back a bit for me. I'd expect that to change in a new model from Motorola. (Assuming there is a new model, that is.) The design of the 360 also made third-party bracelets a little difficult. Officially you're supposed to stick with Motorola's offerings, because of the way the pins meet the body. But I was never really happy with that overall look — the Pebble Steel bracelet on the 360 looked better to me.

Still, though, there's no denying that the 360 is one of the more compelling Android watches, and so it sits at No. 3 on my list.

Read our Moto 360 review

... and the LG G Watch R

LG G Watch R

If you had to pick just one watch and wanted a mix of style and performance, I'd definitely include the LG G Watch R in the conversation. It was the first with that excellent P-OLED display, and the first to attempt to look more like a watch than a computer. But it's chunky, and the faux spinning bezel just never did it for me. Still, it's a solid contender, even if I'd recommend the ZenWatch over it because of the $50 price difference. (Some of that, though, is the psychological difference between $199 and $249.)

I didn't really expect to enjoy wearing the G Watch R as much as I did, but that display made up for a lot.

Read our LG G Watch R review

Best of the rest ...

That's four down, but still three watches to go. Let's bang 'em out, then:

  • Sony SmartWatch 3: Still the only choice if you want to take an Android Wear watch running. The integrated GPS is a nice touch — though it doesn't kick off from a cold start, so you will need a smartphone nearby at first. Combine that with Bluetooth streaming to earbuds and it means you can run with music without having to lug a phone along. Nice.
  • Samsung Gear Live: A non-starter for me. Uncomfortable and homely.
  • LG G Watch: The first one I wore. It's a display on your wrist. A metal bracelet helped. Guess you had to start somewhere.

And that's it for me. How'd I match up to your favorite Android Wear watches? Let's hear it in the comments.

55 Comments
  • And just when I was starting to think that moto 360 was going to sweep the AC wear series, someone finally broke away from the pack! I haven't tried all the watches out, but I'm loving my zenwatch. Tasker really brings the use of a smartwatch to a whole new level though, allowing for more functionality than just a 'remote notifying gadget' attached to your wrist.
  • Well, the 360 was still mentioned in every article, that's as close to a sweep as we get.
  • Well, all the articles mention all the watches, so it was good to see that the zenwatch has at least 1 number one vote.
  • What can you do with Tasker? I didn't even realize that was an option. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I've got Widgets on the watch that tell me when my phone's screen is on, when the wifi is connected, when GPS is on or off, and if I'm in airplane mode (which are just notification extentions I realize, but it gets me to the following). I use tasker's auto input plugin to turn my unrootable Verizon note 4's GPS on or off, turn airplane mode on or off and get feedback of it's state, open up hangouts and send any number of my own canned messages to my wife (like 'hey, I'm in a meeting now and I'll call you back later' to 'I'm driving now but I read your text, I'll text ya when I get to a stop light' etc etc.), and my favorite, I can push a button on my watch and open my garage door as I enter my neighborhood so when I get to my driveway I can coast in instead of having to wait to be in radio remote range to open the door and accelerate in... all without having the phone leave my pocket.
  • Uhh yea the garage door deal is probably the COOLEST THING EVER! I miss my ZenWatch now :-( ... Damn bills that need paying... Posted via the Android Central App
  • The ZenWatch is ugly. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Subjective. Posted via the HTC One M9
  • That's a very subjective statement. I picked up the Sony SW3 because of its feature set, but the ZenWatch was also on my list.
  • Oh cool, you don't like the ZenWatch...we were all worried about if you liked it or not. Thanks so much for sharing! I can now sleep soundly tonight! /s Posted via the Android Central App
  • Ooh cool you're a giant douchebag. Now that you've shown us that I can sleep soundly and tell you fuck off and never check back here to see your reply Posted via the Android Central App
  • Lol what's your problem? If anyone wins for douchiest comment it's you. [add signature here]
  • I've been debating about a smartwatch for a while but I think I'm too picky. Maybe you all could help. I'm looking for a smartwatch that I can stream Pandora while I'm on a run using runkeeper that'll track my heart rate while I leave my note 4 at home. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
  • The Gear S comes the closest to what you're asking. Posted via the Android Central App
  • But I read it doesn't multitask so it's either one or the other, unless I heard wrong
  • It will stream while doing the other things you requested. Battery life suffers tremendously when doing this though. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Not android wear
  • He just asked for a smart watch. He did not specify it had to be AW. I also have a 360 and it has similar abilities but it can't stream music while leaving it's companion phone at home. The next beat way to do that would be by transferring music to it. Posted via the Android Central App
  • KellyJohn The gear s can do Pandora while u leave your phone home. Otherwise u can download songs into the device and use BT headphones with the other watches
  • Thanks, but does it multitask? I read it doesn't
  • Yes, you can run more then 1 active card at a time.
    For example run a stopwatch while responding to a text. Posted via My G2
  • The Sony wins for me due to the GPS and music ability. If the watch needs the phone to do simple things like play music and log a run it is nearly useless for folks like me who like to be active outside. I'm hoping for more entries like the Sony when the second generation of these watches start to arrive. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Me too. I tried a couple of the others, but loved the sw3. 3bday battery life, GPS, NFC, onboard music storage, its the real deal, not the also ran this implies
  • All AW watches can do onboard music storage using Google Play Music. All them have Bluetooth as well so you could listen to music on the go without your phone. The only thing Sony got is GPS and NFC. Well it's also waterproof if you want to count that. No heart rate monitor kinda kills it from being a true fitness driven AW watch though, too bad maybe next time Sony. Posted via the Android Central App
  • For me its the GWR
    Looks and feel of a real watch Posted via My G2
  • Zenwatch all the way baby, I've had Pebble, original Wear, Gear and prefer Zenwatch!! Posted via the Android Central App
  • No WiFi right with the zenwatch? Posted via the Android Central App
  • No wifi Posted via My G2
  • I love the look of my 360. That being said, any other watch with better battery life( which apparently covers every other android watch ever made, android wear or otherwise), immediately turns my head.
  • Ok so I no this was mostly a goggle watch comparison . But I have to mention my gear neo Sammy watch might just have one of the best battery in any smart watch . I regularly get upto 4 days on a charge that's like twice the life of any other watch here Posted via the Android Central App
  • $50 G Watch is enough for me until the new crop hits without all the huge flaws. The 320 is such a huge disappointment. If they fix the resolution , processor, and idiotic flat tire, I will but the next one. Posted via Android Central App
  • I got the zenwatch and I really like it. Battery life is ridiculous. I take it off the charger at 6am, and take it off around 9pm and it still has about 30% left.
  • Hum you do realize you'd get twice that battery life with any of the samsung watches I get almost 4 days on a charge with my gear neo Posted via the Android Central App
  • Your watch only works with Samsung phones, and is not running Android Wear. If you want to compare apples and oranges, Pebble lasts even longer than your watch! Posted via the Android Central App
  • not true anymore. Samsung Gear 2 and 2 Neo can run Android Wear now, although in doing so, battery life's cut down to around 1 to 1.5 days -- so that's something worth considering.
  • Where does Alex's all-plastic custom Moto 360 rate? :)
  • I thought the pebble bands were breaking the back of the Moto 360? If not I'm buying one asap.
  • Even the leather strap is breaking the bank. Luckily I swap mines out for a silicon band right away cause I don't like the way leather looks and feel when it's wet. I would just be safe and get the moto stainless steel. I know it's more expensive but at least it shouldn't break the back though, of course there no guarantee so. Another alternative is to get those steel bracket attachment then from there attach any band you wish with ease. Posted via the Android Central App
  • It's far from the sexiest of the current crop, but I really like my G Watch. It's reasonably quick, battery easily lasts more than 1 day for me, it was inexpensive at purchase, and it saves me a ton of time managing notifications of all kinds without pulling out my phone a hundred times a day, literally. As we all know looks are subjective, but I actually like the subdued, understated, minimalist, utilitarian look of the G Watch, and besides price, it's one of the main reasons I chose it. The only other watch I like better strictly for looks would be the 360, but it was more than I wanted to spend for a first foray into Wear. So, the G Watch does what I need it to, without a lot of flair, and that's cool with me.
  • Yep, I agree with every point.
  • I found a new one the other day. "Rich face cool circle". Digital and it gives you all the info like, battery life, date/what day it is, month etc. Really. Ice one and you can customise color as well. I downloaded it and though it would have a paid option if you wanted to change some settings but it's completely free. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Is any watch sized for a woman? My wife wants one.
  • I have the Samsung Gezr2 I have small wrist. Love it. Get a lot of complements on it. Stylish elegant for a smart watch in my opinion Posted via the Android Central App
  • I have the Moto 360 with the 18mm champagne gold band and it doesn't look ridiculously geeky on me.
  • Zen watch is probably the smallest. It does annoy the hell out of me that there is no place to physically try them on before you buy (in the UK).
  • Hmm.. Zen Watch or Moto 360 for me, need to star deciding or I'll end up wait for 2nd Gen Posted via the Android Central App
  • If price is a factor buy one of these, the new ones to be released will start at much higher price points. With this type of device it may be best to buy at the latter end of the product cycle because of the large price drops and the minor differences from one gen to the next. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Hello, where does pebble fit in all this
  • By far the best option out there. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I decided to make my very first YouTube video... Recently purchased the Moto 360 smartwatch... And I'm blown away by its performance Amazing accessory in my opinion.. A very capable device Enjoy! Thanks for watching guys x 50+ Android Wear voice commands! Awesome!: https://youtu.be/lcUA58nG9Pk
  • i have the samsung gear 2 neo and it works good i was thinking about getting the asus zenwatch i got a note 3 just wanted to know what every one thinks should i stay with the samsung gear 2 neo or switch to the asus zenwatch?
  • Thomas's favourite Android Wear smartwatch - none of them. A total waste of money, totally impractical, and a solution to some problem that doesn't exist in the real world. Pretty telling that the best use case Apple can come up with is sending stupid emojis and simple doodles to someone you know. Useless.
  • I have been in the market for a smartwatch for awhile, but the only one that has my attention is the Asus ZenWatch. I am curious about it's eventual sequel, but if the price drops for a sale in the next 6 months, I will definitely snap one up.
  • I am happyvwith gear2. But thats what makes the world go round. Can't please everyone. Its comfortable. Am enjoying it. Stylish in my opinion..got the brown/bronze. Gets lots of complements! Posted via the Android Central App
  • Once again, Phil show us he has his head up his ass. His pathetic choice of the Zen watch show how stupid his reviews are. Posted via the Android Central App