The New Balance RunIQ is the first smart wearable device by the sports equipment giant.
Supposedly designed for runners by runners, it has a built-in GPS, heart rate monitor (HRM), a dedicated lap button, Strava fitness app integration and is water resistant down to 50m.
From afar, the RunIQ looks like an analogue watch with its round 1.39-inch touchscreen display and matte black casing. It has three buttons on its right, with the top button for activating the Strava app and the bottom button for counting laps, while the middle one is the Home button.
The wearable comes with a black perforated silicone watch band that you can easily swap with any 22mm watch band.
The RunIQ runs on Android Wear. So, it is also a smartwatch that you can wear all day. Unfortunately, it is still running on the older Android 1.5 operating system instead of the new Android Wear 2.
2. TicWatch 2, starts at $359
TicWatch 2 is a smartwatch by Mobvoi, a China-based tech company. The original TicWatch was launched only in China, but its successor is now available here.
There are four models of TicWatch 2 – Charcoal, Snow, Oak and Onyx. The entry-level models are Charcoal (all-black) and Snow (all-white). Both are priced at $359, and feature an aluminium watch case, silicone watch band and Gorilla Glass screen.
The Oak ($449) model is more premium with a stainless-steel watch case and leather watch band, but it still sports a Gorilla Glass screen.
Apart from the differences in build, all the models have the same functionalities like a built-in heart-rate monitor (HRM), GPS, and Mobvoi’s very own voice assistant, Tico. You can also make and receive calls with the TicWatch 2.
Running on Mobvoi’s own Ticwear 4.0 OS, which is based on Android Wear, the watch is compatible with both Android and iOS smartphones. But some features, like voice reply to SMS or activity tracking, are missing when paired with iPhones.
All the TicWatch 2 models sport the same minimalist sleek design, with a round 1.4-inch touchscreen display surrounded by a thin bezel. The display is sharp and easy to read, even in daylight.
There is only one Home button on one side. The other side is devoid of buttons for a reason. It houses the Tickle, which is a touch-sensitive strip that allows you to scroll through the menu without covering the display. A nice touch.
3. Samsung Gear S3 LTE, $598
Samsung has released an LTE version of its Gear S3 frontier smartwatch. This LTE variant uses embedded SIM or eSIM, instead of a normal nano SIM card.
An eSIM is permanently fitted in the device, so it will be constantly connected to the Internet.
This smartwatch can take or make calls, receive e-mails and social-media updates on its own, without the need to be paired with a smartphone. But that also means you need to pay extra charges per month for the data line as well as for the costs of the eSIM (prices vary according to the telco).
To set up the LTE frontier, you will still have to pair it with a smartphone first. This is done by downloading the Samsung Gear app (Android or iOS) on your phone and following on-screen instructions.
Apart from the LTE addition, the smartwatch is the same S3 frontier, with the exact same design that features a circular stainless-steel 46mm case.
Finished in matte black with a rugged design and black silicone watch band, the smartwatch looks great for any occasion. Two buttons on the right – located at the two and four o’clock positions – serve as the back and home button respectively.
Its rotating bezel lets you navigate the smartwatch’s interface. You can easily scroll through Samsung’s Tizen operating system by turning the bezel. This way, the display is not blocked by your fingers.
The unique circular user interface puts apps in a circular arrangement, so you can go to the app you want quickly. You can also rotate the bezel to scroll up or down to read e-mails or messages, as well as make and answer calls.
4. Garmin Fenix Chronos, $1,599
It has a sleek stainless-steel bezel with tachymeter markings on it. The GPS antenna is said to be embedded around the bezel for a faster reception of GPS signals.
Around the bezel is a 1.2-inch circular display (218 x 218 pixels) with sapphire glass to protect it. It comes with a matching 316L stainless-steel band. The Chronos can really be a dress watch for wedding dinners or black-tie events. It is just good-looking.
To further heighten the luxury factor, the watch comes in a beautiful wooden box. Also included is a black silicone watch band you can swap with the stainless-steel band.
The Chronos packs a built-in altimeter, barometer and compass to provide real-time information about your surroundings. It is water resistant down to 100m, and it can track your runs, swims, cycles and other exercises.
It also doubles as a fitness tracker and a smartwatch that displays notifications when paired with your smartphone (Android and iOS).
5. Apple Watch Nike+, $548
The Apple Watch Nike+ has built-in GPS to track distance and speed for walks and runs without the need to take along your iPhone for GPS tracking.
The major highlight is the integration of Nike+ Run Club (NRC) app. You will be prompted to sign in with your NRC account or create an account during the initial pairing of the Apple Watch Nike+ with your iPhone.
You will then get the NRC app on the smartwatch, which activates the Nike+ watch faces. I like all of the Nike+ watch faces. They range from a big and visible digital watch face to a minimalist analogue watch face. The watch faces really go well with the watch band in terms of colour combination.
6. Polar M600, $569
The Polar M600 represents the Finnish fitness company’s first foray into Android Wear.
Polar has transformed its A360 fitness tracker into an Android Wear smartwatch with integrated GPS and a built-in heart-rate monitor (HRM). The M600 looks like a bigger and more squarish version of the A360. It is fairly thick at 13mm and nearly twice as heavy as the A360.
This GPS running smartwatch has a 1.3-inch (240 x 240 pixels) touchscreen display protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The display is responsive to touch and readable even under bright sunlight.
There is a button below the display and another button on the left side of the watch.
The front button lets you access a window, giving you the option of the Training and My Day functions. Training lets you choose the workout you want, while My Day displays the steps taken, calories burnt and distance walked. The side button functions as the back button when you press it once. Pressing and holding the side button brings you to the Android Wear settings.
The watch comes with a rubber wristband that has a secure clamp. The wristband is comfortable to wear. The M600 is also water-resistant down to a depth of 10m, so you can wear it while swimming.
7. Samsung Gear S2, $548
It looks like a men’s watch and because of the classic analogue face and leather strap, friends couldn’t tell I was wearing a smartwatch even when it lit up. It was a little large on my wrist, but still felt comfortable.
The standout feature is the rotating bevel, used to switch between apps. The large screen made viewing photos and reading e-mails easier.
It has less apps than the Apple Watch but there is enough variety for day-to-day activities. Use the Uber app to book a car, the S Health or Nike+ app to keep track of your fitness, or shop on Taobao with the Alipay app. The heart-rate monitor on the S Health app was the most accurate.
8. ASUS Zenwatch 2, $299
This is the only one in the line-up that looks like a women’s watch; it was light and comfortable.
It runs on Android Wear, which means it only performs basic functions with an iPhone. The range of apps wasn’t as wide as with the Apple Watch. The operating system is easy to navigate, and was the only one that came with an in-watch tutorial on how to use it – great for newbies.
9. Huawei Watch, $549
Just like the Asus, the Huawei works on the same Android Wear system and came with a few basic functions. For the real magic, you’ll need to download apps from the Google Play store.
Download the recorder app to record speech and audio files or keep track of your activities through the Evernote and Wunderlist apps. An important point to note: This watch can be paired with an iPhone, but iOS apps can’t be used with it.
10. Asus Zenwatch 3, $369
The Asus ZenWatch 3 Android Wear smartwatch costs $140 more than its predecessor – a substantial price jump considering the latter sold for $229. But it justifies this by looking so much better.
The ZenWatch 3 has a jewellery-grade 316L stainless steel case that is only 9.95mm thick.
Its 1.39-inch round Amoled screen, which has a resolution of 400 x 400 pixels, is surrounded by a diamond-cut rose-gold bezel for an elegant and timeless look. The screen is protected by a curved 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass.
There are three buttons on the right of the watch. The middle one is the Home button. By default, the top button activates the Asus ZenFit app, while the bottom one is a shortcut for Eco mode. You can customise the top button for other functions, but not the bottom one.
The ZenWatch 3 comes in two colour options in Singapore. One has a gunmetal (version reviewed) finish with black leather strap. The other has a silver finish with beige leather strap. I think the gunmetal finish (which looks like a shade of dark brown) looks better with the watch’s rose-gold bezel.