Google, Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) unveiled two new smartwatches featuring its Android Wear platform at the Google I/O 2014 developers conference. Attendees were offered the choice of a free LG G Watch or Samsung Gear Live on Wednesday, but the rest of us will have to pay big bucks to get our hands on a Google-powered watch.
Google promises greater interaction with the outside world while staying “connected” with Android Wear. You'll be able to view notifications about your daily commute and read text messages by glancing at your watch instead of burying your face in a smartphone. But is it worth picking one up right away, or should we wait for rivals like the Moto 360 or the iWatch from Apple, Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)?
Android Wear: Display and Battery Life
The Samsung Gear Live features a 1.63-inch display with 320 x 320 resolution, which means it has 278 pixels within every inch of its display. The LG G Watch has a 1.65-inch display with a lower resolution, at about 240 pixels per inch. The G Watch features a larger battery at 400 mAh, compared with the Gear Live’s 300 mAh.
The Gear Live has a slightly higher resolution, giving more clarity to images and backgrounds. This uses more battery life, and the Gear Live’s is smaller than the G Watch. Samsung included its popular heart-rate monitor on the Gear Live, making it a better fit for early adopters who like to track fitness goals, since both the G Watch and Moto 360 will both be lacking the sensor.
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Android Wear: Features
The Gear Live also weighs less than the G Watch, but not by much. Four grams (59g vs. 63g), to be precise, or less than two American dimes. Both initial Android Wear releases feature always-on displays, water and dust resistance, a 1.2 gigahertz processor, four gigabytes of internal storage and 512 megabytes of memory.
By definition, a wearable has to be worn, so the look of a smartwatch may be a deciding factor for those who consider it a fashion accessory. That being said, LG takes the cake for design options – the G Watch comes in two color options (black and “white gold”), and can be worn with most standard 22 millimeter watch bands, just like the Pebble. That means you can throw on a classic leather band, or a colorful nylon one to match your outfit, if so inclined.
Android Wear: Prices
The LG G Watch is the more expensive of the two Android Wear models, with a $229 price tag. The Samsung Gear Live is $199 in the U.S. International prices differ, making the LG G Watch cost less in the U.K., for example.
That being said, the price of upcoming smartwatches from Motorola and Apple are still up in the air. The Moto 360 has a unique round dial in a metal case, and features wireless charging and possibly a few other tricks to keep it ticking. Motorola and Apple are both rumored to be using sapphire glass to cover their respective watches, which is more scratch resistant than the Gorilla Glass used on the LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live.
Motorola gave the Moto 360 an estimated retail value of $250 for tax purposes during a contest, but the actual price could be ‘significantly’ higher. Apple’s iWatch prices could reach “thousands of dollars” and include two different models, according to one analyst.
Smartwatches: Why You Might Want To Wait
While the iWatch is expected to work only with the iPhone, Android Wear devices will work only with version 4.3 (or newer) of the Android operating system. If you're not firmly entrenched in one specific smartphone ecosystem, and have considered switching from Android to iPhone (or vice versa), then check out the Pebble. The first popular smartwatch, Pebble started as a Kickstarter project and has an ever-growing catalogue of apps in its thriving ecosystem. Its popularity has risen since the release of the second-generation, more stylish Steel model.
Pebble works with both iPhone and Android, and has its own ecosystem that has grown in the past year and a half since its initial release. While its display lacks color or a touchscreen, the Pebble remains a competitive choice at the advent of Android Wear, as its e-paper display allows it to last upwards of a week. So far, Android Wear models lag behind as far as battery life: both the LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live are rated to last about a day.
Motorola says it will release the Moto 360 later this summer, and Apple is expected to unveil the iWatch by the fall. Unless you are a die-hard early adopter or were lucky enough to get freebies from I/O, your smartest play in the smartwatch game may be patience. The Moto 360 has a distinctive design, and, short of Apple, no one really knows what the iWatch is going to be capable of.
Even if you are certain you'll stick with Android, the best thing to do will be to wait until Motorola releases the Moto 360. If you can, you should try on each Android Wear watch at a retailer to see how it fits before you buy, and whether it is something you want to carry on your wrist every day, which won't be possible until later this summer.