Samsung Gear S3
The Samsung Gear S3 is a strong contender if your gripes with the Apple Watch are primarily visual. It’s especially worth considering if you have a Samsung phone – the two are designed to work together to offer specific benefits like Samsung Pay.
Instead of the glassy, minimal, characteristically iDevice look of the Apple Watch, the Gear S3 takes on a more traditionally inspired form factor – in a rather commanding size. The watch face measures 49 mm x 46 mm x 12.9 mm (1.9 in x 1.8 in x 0.5 in).
It has two variations, “Frontier” and “Classic” , the latter of which adds more aggressive styling and cellular data connectivity. It’s hard to imagine too many women wearing either, due to their bulk and conventionally masculine appearance. If you want a watch that fits in the Samsung ecosystem that’s not quite as enormous, you could opt for the earlier-generation Gear S2. It’s only an incremental downgrade.
If ordered directly from Samsung, the Gear S2 and S3 share the same US$350 price tag. It’s worth shopping around for a discount, however, especially if you’re eyeing the older model.
If you haven’t heard of Huawei (pronounced wah-way), that’s because it’s a Chinese manufacturing giant just beginning to creep into the US market. While we have generally yet to be impressed with its US smartphone flagships, the Huawei Watch (starting at $349) surprised us with its gorgeous classic approach. When you’re not using its smart features, it would look right at home with its classy analog cousins.
It runs on the Android Wear operating system, so it provides all of the essential smartwatch functions you’d expect without manufacturer-specific gimmicks. However, Android Wear is getting an update; version 2.0 of the software is available in a limited preview mode at the time of this writing.
A second-generation Huawei Watch running Android Wear 2.0 will possibly be released soon, perhaps at the Mobile World Congress later this month. Consider waiting and seeing if the new model ushers in any features or discounts before plunking down the cash for this first generation model.