Google's Wear OS platform has had its fair share of ups and downs over the years—mostly downs. Perhaps the greatest issue has been slow progress on hardware. Most Google-powered watches sold right now use the Snapdragon Wear 3100, a two-year-old SoC built on the same 28nm process that the Snapdragon 800 from 2014 used. Qualcomm promised to finally address battery life and performance limitations with the new Snapdragon Wear 4100 chipset, and the TicWatch Pro 3 is the first Wear OS smartwatch to use it.
After using the TicWatch Pro 3 for a while, I can confidently say that the Wear 4100 is the hardware boost Wear OS has desperately needed for years.
Xiaomi's Mi Band series has won fans by offering a lot of fitness features for not a lot of money. That formula isn't changing with the latest entry, the Mi Band 5. It looks almost identical to its predecessors but makes some notable improvements: There's finally magnetic charging so you don't have to pry the device out of the band anymore, the screen is a little bigger, and the tracking is a bit more accurate.
The Mi Band 5 might not compete with high-end trackers and smartwatches from Garmin or Fitbit, but it doesn’t have to.
For many people, Fitbit is synonymous with fitness trackers, but the company has faced new challenges from smartwatches in recent years. The Fitbit Charge 4 signifies a change, even if it doesn't look too different from its predecessor. The tracker packs everything you could want from a fitness tracker, and you get basic smartwatch capabilities like notification management, Spotify controls, NFC payments, alarms, and more. However, its $150 price tag may make it a tough sell when a smartwatch like Fitbit's own Versa 2 often goes on sale for the same price.
Google's Wear OS still has a few long-standing issues that haven't been addressed, like stagnant hardware and poor app support, but Fossil Group has been trying to pick up the slack. Last year's Fossil Gen 5 smartwatches showed the platform at its best, featuring 1GB RAM to reduce lag and a few exclusive software features.
Wyze started off as a maker of simple smart home products that worked well and were affordable, but the company has started to expand rapidly. It just released a scale and door lock, and additional products like outdoor and doorbell cameras are in development. Another of its new products is the Wyze Band, a $25 fitness tracker that can also control your smart home devices.
I've been trying out the new Wyze Band for the past week, and while there's a surprising amount of functionality for a wearable product that costs so little, there are a few software quirks that ruin the experience.
The original Moto 360 was the first mainstream smartwatch with a round screen (ignoring the 'flat tire' at the bottom), which meant that despite its terrible internal hardware, it was definitely unique among a sea of ugly square smartwatches. Motorola followed it up with a sequel in 2015, and then in 2016, the company said it was done making wearables.
The new Moto 360 is almost entirely disconnected from its predecessor (it's manufactured by eBuyNow, not Motorola) and lacks the technological and design innovation that made the original watch so special. Much like a direct-to-video Disney sequel, there's not much to complain about, but there's also nothing unique or interesting to speak of.
Fossil announced its new line of hybrid smartwatches earlier this month, after weeks of rumors. While the company has made hybrid wearables before, the e-paper screen makes this iteration much closer to what you might get from a full-blown smartwatch.
Google's Wear OS platform is in a bit of a weird place. The operating system itself is still being periodically updated with new features and improvements, like the Tiles function that was released in May, but the third-party app library is still minimal, and Qualcomm has been slow to improve the underlying hardware. Still, Wear OS isn't going anywhere, and the closest thing to a flagship watch is the new fifth-generation Fossil Q lineup.
When you hear the word ”smartwatch,” the last name that probably comes to mind is PUMA. Despite all other major athletic brands having thrown their weight behind wearable tech — like the Under Armour Samsung Galaxy Watch, Nike Apple Watch, and Adidas Fitbit Ionic — PUMA has remained out of the wearables race… that is until the PUMA Smartwatch made its debut at IFA 2019 as the newest Fossil partner. I’ve been wearing the PUMA-branded Wear OS device for the last two weeks, and there are some things you should know before strapping one around your wrist.
Smartwatches as a concept are not something I've ever really been able to get into. It turns out that's mostly because they're all pretty terrible — once you've tried an Apple Watch.
Two years ago, I tried using an iPhone as my full-time smartphone for the first time ever. I wasn't a complete iOS novice — I've owned iPads in the past — but it was the first time I'd actually had to live inside Apple's walled garden. There were a lot of things I didn't like about the experience, and many of them still hold true today. But the Apple Watch was new territory for me.