Which Wear OS 3 watches can be connected to iOS?
The Fossil Gen 6 series, which received the Wear OS 3 update in October, is compatible with iPhones, though its functionality may be limited compared to an Apple Watch. The same applies to the luxury Montblanc Summit 3 watch, and will likely apply to eligible Mobvoi TicWatches once they receive Wear OS 3.
But Samsung and Google watches aren't compatible with iOS, and likely won't ever be.
Is it worth buying a Wear OS watch for your iPhone?
Before Wear OS 3, many Wear OS 2 watches were compatible with iOS, including the Galaxy Watch 3. Brands like Mobvoi and Fossil still have their own iOS apps, while the Wear OS by Google app offers a more generalized option for connecting an Android watch to an iPhone.
At the moment, the Wear OS watches below either work with iOS or, in the case of Mobvoi watches like the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra, likely should once they get their promised Wear OS 3 update, as their current software is iOS-compatible:
- Fossil Gen 6 (including the Wellness Edition)
- Michael Kors Gen 6
- Skagen Falster Gen 6
- Montblanc Summit 3
- TicWatch Pro 3 GPS/LTE*
- TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra*
- TicWatch E3*
In theory, the benefit of choosing the Fossil Gen 6, for example, would be that you get a stylish and more affordable alternative to the Apple Watch that gives you the same iOS notifications. The question is, should you?
Longtime Android users are understandably leery, however, because Wear OS watches had a notorious issue of frequently disconnecting from iPhones, requiring you to resync them repeatedly. Thankfully, some Fossil-wearing Redditors have reported that this is less of an issue with their Fossil watches running Wear OS 3, so long as you never close the Fossil app in your recent apps.
Still, it's an undeniable fact that Apple purposefully reserves many iPhone-to-watch features for the Apple Watch — which is likely why the Galaxy Watch 5 and Pixel Watch don't work with iPhones. Samsung and Google could have enabled this, but likely felt it wasn't worth the effort if their watches would be too limited, which would only bias iPhone users against them.
At the same time, Google and Samsung have their own exclusive Android watch features that Fossil can't access yet. Most prominently, Wear OS watches don't have access to Google Assistant. Google told us they "are taking the time to ensure [their] apps and services deliver a quality experience."
Getting access to Google Assistant would be a compelling reason to choose an Android watch over the Apple Watch if you're not interested in using Siri daily. Without it, you can use the Alexa assistant, or else just accept using your watch for relatively limited tasks like checking notifications (but not responding to them) or completing tracked workouts.
Ultimately, Wear OS 3 on iOS will likely prove to be a better experience than Wear OS 2 in the long run, but you'll have to choose smaller Android watch brands since it appears Google and Samsung have gone all-in on the Android phone experience instead.
A compelling iOS alternative
Our Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition reviewer said that if "you're an iPhone user considering something other than an Apple Watch," you should look into buying this watch. You get a stylish stainless steel design, some straightforward fitness software, and ridiculously fast charging at a much lower price than an Apple Watch.
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Michael spent years freelancing on every tech topic under the sun before settling down on the real exciting stuff: virtual reality, fitness wearables, gaming, and how tech intersects with our world. He's a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves running, D&D, and Star Wars. Find him on Twitter at @Michael_L_Hicks.