Tuesday 20 August 2019

Is the time right for you to buy? Four smartwatches to consider

The Apple Watch, from €430 at Apple.ie
The Apple Watch, from €430 at Apple.ie
Moto 360, €300, Pixmania.ie.
Samsung Gear S2, €350, Littlewoodsireland.ie
Withings Activité Pop, €130, Argos

Apple Watch

From €430 at Apple.ie

Despite coming a little later to the smartwatch game than some of its competitors, Apple's Watch is probably the benchmark against which others are measured. For starters, its screen is superb. Apple has picked just the right level of animations and pixellated content to make it feel gorgeous. It only works with iPhones, but it integrates very well.

There's a speaker and microphone on board, which means you can (if you really want) make or take calls on the Watch itself (through the Bluetooth connection with the phone). There's loads of health and fitness stuff on board, aided by a sophisticated sensor on the underside of the Watch.

There are also lots of different straps and bands to choose from, including some fancy designer editions. The Watch comes in two sizes: 42mm and 38mm. That still leaves it smaller than some of the giant analogue watches that you'll see people wear.

The Watch's battery life lasts up to two days between charges, but usually only a day, reliably. It's also easier to set up than most Android models.

Moto 360

€300 from Pixmania.ie

The Android Wear Moto 360 doesn't have a speaker and so can't make or take calls, like a tethered Apple Watch. Instead, you can use it to make a call on your phone via voice control commands or take a call (on your phone) by swiping on the watch when you see a call coming in. It has a built-in step tracker and a heart-rate sensor on the watch's underside. You'll get up to two days' battery life from the Moto 360: it compares pretty well with other manufacturers' models. It also comes with a nice charging cradle.

Like most 'full' smartwatches, the 360 is a little bulkier (thicker) than an analogue watch, at over a centimetre thick. I found it to be comfortable, partly thanks to the leather band. It comes in either a 42mm or 46mm size.

Samsung Gear S2

€350 from Littlewoods

Samsung has ditched the square look of its previous smartwatches for a 1.2-inch round watch face that has a rotating outer dial used to control some functions of the watch. The effect of this is instant: it looks and feels like a watch with tech going on rather than a tech strap-on that also happens to tell the time.

Samsung has also improved on the variety of fashion straps that come with this model. Oddly, Samsung is refusing to get with Android Wear, the operating system that most other big-name manufacturers use for their smartwatches.

That means that this watch will only really work properly when paired with one of a small handful of Samsung phones. This is a downside: developers will not take to Samsung closed system the same way they will to an Apple one.

Withings Activité Pop

€130 from Argos

Withings Activité Pop is a simple, elegant smartwatch that focuses on a few things rather than aspiring to be a mini-computer. So there is no LCD screen or message notifications. Instead, it tracks your steps, calories burned, swimming and sleep cycles. It's also waterproof to 30m and has a programmable silent vibration alarm. Most of this is controlled using a companion iPhone app. It's not flawless, mind: on a couple of occasions, it has chosen not to log long walks I have done, thus under-representing my charted progress. But its pleasant aesthetics raise it far above most health-tracking wearables out there.

Irish Independent

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