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Best Android-compatible smartwatches available today – August 2014

The timing may seem a bit off (actually, way off), with all the Moto 360s, second-gen LG G Watches, third-gen Sony SmartWatches and rookie Asus Android Wear efforts around the corner. But you know how things go in the tech world, and particularly in a niche as hot as the wearable sector.

Flinstone smartwatch

There’s always something better, cooler, stronger on the horizon, and if you keep holding off for “the next big thing”, you’ll end up constantly on the lookout and never satisfied.

Besides, in a way, the timing is ideal to round up the best existing smartwatches. Motorola’s uber-elegant Moto 360 is likely a few weeks away from its hotly anticipated commercial launch, and then Apple’s iWatch will land to disrupt the relative Android-dominated harmony.

Android smartwatches

It’s thus important to see which of the “OGs” can keep up with the two groundbreaking gizmos, plus whatever self-proclaimed “innovative” thing Asus throws at us come September 3. Ready? Here are the seven best Android-supporting timepieces easily found on Amazon nowadays:

7. Samsung Gear 2 – $297

Way too expensive for its own good, the Gear 2 actually starts at $297, in titan silver, costing an extra 3 bucks when coated in “metallic orange” or “brown gold”. So yeah, this was basically DOA, barely enjoying two months as the most high-profile Samsung wearable, until the cheaper, Android Wear-running Gear Live debuted.

samsung-gear-2

Did I forget to mention? The Gear 2 is powered by Tizen, which Samsung essentially uses to give Google the false impression it’s not irreplaceable. It is, and you know it, Sammy. Maybe the Gear 2 isn’t the ultimate proof, as its user interface is pretty similar to that of the Galaxy Gear, but in the long run, Android is key for Samsung’s world domination plans.

What, you were expecting extra Gear 2 details? This is the only thing you need to know: $297.

6. Qualcomm Toq – $217

With no camera, a horrendous 200 MHz Cortex-M3 microcontroller, rudimentary operating system and low-power but “mute” color-sporting panel, the Toq barely feels like a “smart” device. I mean, sure, it can sync to Android smartphones running Jelly Bean and even Ice Cream Sandwich, and displays basic information.

Qualcomm-Toq

But while the battery life is exceptional, pretty much everything else feels like part of an inspired yet unpolished experiment. Starting with the impossible to replace strap, and the utter lack of app support. Toq’s price doesn’t help its cause either, starting at $217 in white and $233 in black, so maybe it’s time for a refresh, Qualcomm.

Unless you’re calling quits on the whole device manufacturing game, sticking to supplying processors for “partners”.

5. Pebble Steel – $229.99

Thinner, sturdier, better-looking overall and less clunky than the original Pebble Smartwatch, the Steel is a tad pricey too, although it clearly offers extra functionality, productivity and freedom of use compared with the Toq.

Pebble Steel

No camera on here either, and a near-identical Cortex-M3 MCU in charge of “raw speed”. Also, the 1.26-inch “e-paper” LCD screen has the same upside and flaws: frugality and poor image reproduction respectively.

But at least you have the choice of either a leather or steel band, plus access to an app store with over 1,000 titles. Mostly fitness tracking apps. Oh, and let’s not forget water protection. Android and iOS compatibility too, although no one here cares about the latter.

4. Samsung Gear 2 Neo – $191

As we grow nearer to our chart’s peaks, we begin to run out of things to complain about. The Gear 2 Neo, for instance, which is Gear 2’s lower-end brother, is more appropriately priced, going for $191 in gray, and $199 in black and orange.

Samsung Gear 2 Neo

Alas, the pre-loaded Tizen sticks out like a sore thumb in the inconveniences section, as does the lack of support for non-Samsungs. Even Galaxy compatibility is fairly limited, albeit the list of companions grows by the day.

Specs? A dual-core 1 GHz processor, 1.63-inch Super AMOLED display, Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, 512 MB RAM and IP67 certification for water and dust resistance. Not bad for less than two Benjamins, huh?

3. Sony SmartWatch 2 – $135

Kudos to Sony for sticking to their beliefs and principles when everybody’s going the Android Wear route, but the company’s proprietary wearable OS needs a major overhaul for the upcoming third edition to keep competition at bay.

Sony SmartWatch 2

Yes, affordability goes a long way and the SmartWatch 2 is mind-blowing in the pricing-quality ratio department, with a beautiful 1.3-inch OLED screen, waterproofing capabilities and premium build materials (aluminum included) offered for sub-$140. Or $160 with a metal band.

But people need to be able to do more on a smartwatch than just receive notifications of incoming calls on their smartphones, and that’s where Google and Android Wear come in. Do something, Sony, and do it fast.

2. LG G Watch – $233

So close, LG. So, so close. Not from an aesthetical standpoint, but strictly talking features and functions, the G Watch would have probably defeated our leader… at $200. At $234, or $229 on Google Play, it simply doesn’t warrant the premium compared to Samsung’s Gear Live.

LG-G-Watch

Not with a near-matching spec sheet: Android 4.3 and up compatibility, dual-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 400 CPU, 512 MB RAM, 4 GB internal storage space, 1.65-inch LCD screen with 280 x 280 pixels resolution, 400 mAh battery, Bluetooth Smart connectivity, Google Play and Google Now support, IP67 certification, 63 grams weight. So close.

1. Samsung Gear Live – $199.99

Ladies and gentlemen, meet our champion. Our not-very-acclaimed champion, as many deem it too large, too square, too ugly or too “geeky” to be worn casually on the street. But its trend-setting character can hardly be contested by anyone, especially considering the price: $200 in black or wine red with easily replaceable 22 mm straps and a cool, light steel chassis.

Samsung_Gear_Live

Yes, light, as the wearable piece tips the scales at 59 grams. All while packing a zippy S400 SoC, beefy 300 mAh battery, 512 MB RAM and 4 GB built-in storage. You also get an array of sensors, a heart rate monitor included, and access to more health tracking apps that you could ever use or need.

And thanks to Android Wear, compatibility isn’t restricted solely to Samsung-made phones. Can the Moto 360 beat all that? Possibly, but if you have an itch to scratch and only $200 to spare, the Gear Live is your guy watch.