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Compare Wear OS smartwatches
Learn how to choose the best Wear OS (formerly known as Android Wear) wearable.
Quick facts about Wear OS by Google
- Google's Wear OS was formerly known as Android Wear.
- Most Wear OS devices will work on both Android and iOS devices.
- There's a wide variety of styles on offer from major brands.
Compare Wear OS Smartwatches
What to consider when choosing a Wear OS device
While Apple claims many of the headlines when it comes to smartwatches, Google has its own ecosystem of wearable devices that work across all Android devices and come in a wide variety of styles and price points. Wear OS covers the essential smartwatch features such as notifications, music control, fitness tracking and in some cases direct calling, but there's plenty to ponder when you're making your Wear OS choices. Here's what you should compare:
We're not going to tell you what your individual style is, but one of the big benefits of the Wear OS platform over Apple's watchOS is that it's not tied to just one manufacturer. That means that there are Wear OS devices that look quite "techy" if you favour the more digital approach, as well as models from established brands – and some luxury brands as well – that more closely mimic "classic" watch designs.
Nobody wants to drop a slab of glass on their wrist, so you're generally constrained to just one or possibly two screen sizes for any given Wear OS watch. Typically you'll be looking at a display that measures in at somewhere between 1.2 and 1.4 inches across the diameter, with resolutions around 400 x 400 pixels. That's actually plenty for a screen that size, given you're usually going to be just glancing at it for a few seconds at a time.
Wear OS is designed to generally work across Android and iOS devices, which is super-handy if you're going to switch up your phone choice any time soon. But that's not the same thing as saying that every Wear OS smartwatch will work with every Android or iOS phone. It's worth checking the specifics from each manufacturer in terms of supported Android and iOS versions, especially if you're rocking an older smartphone that no longer gets operating system updates.
Most smartwatches only manage to offer a few simple GB of onboard storage, but that's usually more than enough to cover any companion app you may want to install, as well as a selection of music that you can listen to via Bluetooth headphones.
Wear OS manufacturers are limited by current battery technology and the size of the typical smartwatch in terms of how much battery capacity they can pack into their devices. Many don't give concrete details on the actual battery capacity of their Wear OS devices, but what really matters here is expected battery life and recharging methods. A smartwatch that can't last a single day without recharging isn't much good, but some better models can manage multi-day use without needing recharging.
On that note, it's also worth knowing how you recharge them. Some Wear OS devices use the popular Qi wireless charging method, which means you can drop them onto the same charger for your Qi-compatible phone. Others use custom chargers, either wirelessly or with a cable or charging dock device. Those can work, but they do mean you've got to take the charging cable with you when you travel.
A brief splash of rain shouldn't be an issue for any Wear OS device, in the same way that any decent smartwatch can handle small drops of water. That's a long way from saying you can submerge every Wear OS device, or go swimming with them for that matter. If that's important to you, look for a Wear OS device with a specified IP rating, and bear in mind that those ratings refer to immersion in fresh water. If you do a lot of swimming in the sea, it's probably wiser to keep your Wear OS device on the shore.
Notifications are a given for any Wear OS device, but a select few can also take either a nano SIM or eSIM to work as standalone communication devices for calling and responding to messages on the go. The appeal here is that if you do use your Wear OS device for fitness tracking, you can leave your smartphone at home while you jog, and instead answer calls, stream music and reply to your social media feeds while you sweat it out. Bear in mind that most carriers charge a small monthly premium for matching up a smartwatch eSIM or Nano SIM to your existing phone account.
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