The smartwatch market is still in its infancy, but Apple is set to invigorate it with Apple Watch, which will range in price from $349 to $10,000. The pricing and features of Apple's first wearable, which will have an 18-hour battery life, were unveiled at the tech giant's highly anticipated Spring Forward event Monday in San Francisco.
So far, Samsung dominates the market with just 1.2 million smartwatches sold in 2014, according to Smartwatch Group. In total, the smartwatch market is a $1.3 billion business, with 6.8 million smartwatches sold in 2014. Forrester analyst James McQuivey estimates Apple will more than double that tally on its own, projecting 10 million Apple Watches sold by the end of 2015.
Makers of devices like the Moto 360, Samsung Gear 2 and LG Watch Urbane have experimented with design, power and features, but Apple hopes to address all consumers’ issues and desires for smartwatches, providing a sleek design, several strap options and an array of applications and services. Unfortunately, the Apple Watch can’t make phone calls independent of an iPhone connection.
The Apple Watch will go on sale April 24. But before you rush to preorder one, take a look at how it stacks up against some of the top smartwatches on the market.
The Apple Watch will be available for preorder April 10 starting at $349. The smartwatch comes in three collections: Apple Watch Sport, Apple Watch Collection and Apple Watch Edition.
The Apple Watch Sport is made of aluminum and comes in silver or space gray. Its swappable fluoroelastomer-rubber bands come in a range of colors and will sell for $349 to $399. The Apple Watch Collection is made of stainless steel and comes in traditional steel and space gray. It features swappable steel link bands, among other designs, and will sell for $549 to $1099. The Apple Watch Edition is made of 18-karat gold, with custom bands also made of gold. It will sell for $10,000 and will be available in limited quantities.
Software features include Glances, which allows users to make quick status checks. Users can swipe up on the screen and access their calendar, music app and heart rate, among other statuses. With Digital Touch, users can communicate with other Apple Watches, sending sketches or even their own heartbeat reading to another user.
The Apple Watch tracks daily movement, including general movements, exercise, standing and sitting, and also alerts users as to when they’ve been sitting too long. Additionally, it sends users a summary of their weekly activity on Monday and suggestions for activity for the coming week. The workout app provides detailed, real-time metrics on workouts.
Users can receive messages and calls on the Apple Watch and can also read full emails -- as well as mark, flag or delete those emails. Additionally, users can pay with Apple Pay, browse photos and listen to music on the Apple Watch.
Motorola Moto 360
The Motorola Moto 360 took the smartwatch market by storm when it was the first electronic timepiece released with a circular face. It looks more like a traditional watch than many of the earlier smartwatch models and paved the way for more manufacturers to experiment with circular watch faces. The Moto 360 was also one of the first smartwatches to run Google’s Android Wear operating system.
The Moto 360 was released in September 2014 starting at $250. The smartwatch features a stainless steel body in silver, black or gold. Its straps are swappable and come in leather or steel gray.
It has a 1.56–inch (320 x 290 resolution) IPS display and runs the now obsolete TI OMAP 3 processor by Texas Instruments. Other hardware is pretty standard, including 512MB of RAM memory, 4G of storage internal and a 320mAh battery, which supports wireless charging. The Moto 360 is also water-resistant, with an IP67 rating, and supports a battery life of approximately one day.
Software features include a notification scroll of time, weather, flight alerts and traffic, among others. Additionally, users can receive notifications from a range of apps including Facebook Messenger, Pinterest and Lyft. The Moto 360 is also voice-controllable.
Users can say “OK Google” to prompt different actions, such as sending texts or looking up information. With various sensors, users can track their heart rate and activities, steps, calories burned, and get analysis and guidance on their fitness.
Samsung Gear 2
The Gear 2 was one of Samsung’s first attempts to branch away from the Android operating system; the smartwatch runs Samsung’s Tizen operating system. The Samsung Gear 2 was released in April 2014 starting at $299. The smartwatch allows for swappable straps in black, brown, orange and bronze.
It has a 1.63-inch Super Amoled display and runs the Samsung Exynos 3250 chip. Other hardware is pretty standard: 512MB of RAM memory, 4G of storage internal and a 300mAh battery, which supports a battery life of approximately six days. It is also water-resistant, with an IP67 rating.
Software features include customizable themes and communication with Samsung devices via Bluetooth. Users can accept or reject calls from their Gear 2 and also read messages. Additionally, users can receive notifications from a range of apps including Facebook, Gmail, Google +, Google Hangouts and Twitter.
Other interesting features on the Samsung Gear 2 include a 2-megapixel camera, which also supports 720-pixel videorecording, a standalone music player and Samsung’s Watch On remote. The smartwatch's heart-rate sensor allows users to track their fitness and progress.
Pebble Time Steel
Pebble is one of the ground-floor smartwatch manufacturers. It’s known for raising money for its business through crowdfunding via Kickstarter. The first Pebble Watch has a simple design. However, the second-generation Pebble Steel introduced a more watchlike design made of steel. The third-generation Pebble Time and Pebble Time Steel are currently being crowdfunded and have risen over $17 million toward inception.
Pebble’s high-end offering, the Pebble Time Steel, is not yet released but will sell for $299. The smartwatch features a stainless steel body in gold, gunmetal black or silver. Its straps are swappable and come in leather or steel gray. It features a color e-paper display, supports battery life between seven and 10 days and is water-resistant.
The Pebble Time Steel is compatible with iOS 8 on iPhone 4S and above, as well as Android 4.0+ phones from Samsung, HTC, Sony, LG, Google, Motorola, Xiaomi and with Misfit and Jawbone trackers.
LG Watch Urbane (LTE)
The LG Watch Urbane has been poised as the only smartwatch that may be able to take on the Apple Watch. Pundits are especially impressed by its all-metal luxury design; it is the first high-end Android Wear device on the market.
The LG Watch Urbane is not yet released and its price hasn’t been announced, but the smartwatch likely won’t be cheap. Not only is the Urbane an attractive timepiece, it will also sell in an LTE model able to connect to mobile carriers and have a push-to-talk (PTT) feature. It will essentially be a walkie-talkie on your wrist that has unlimited range and allows for multiparty conversations.
It has a 1.3-inch (320 x 320 resolution) P-OLED display, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. To power its advanced technology, the Urbane LTE will feature a 700mAh battery, much larger than the 410mAh battery in the base model LG Watch Urbane. Both watches run a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chip and the Android Wear operating system.
Sensors on both models include gyro, accelerometer, compass, barometer and heart rate; they are also dust- and water-resistant, with an Ingress Protection rating of IP67.