The first Android Wear smartwatches aren’t yet available to consumers (though two start shipping July 7), but already we’ve managed to enjoy some time with each of the new devices, and while we can’t speak to things like battery life and durability over time, we can share impressions on the relative merits of each so far. Is the Moto 360, the LG G Watch, or the Samsung Gear Live the right smartwatch for your wrist? Read on to find out, and check out our video comparison above.
First things first: If you’re looking for a distinct advantage from any of these in terms of software or functionality, you’re not really going to find any – Google has clearly designed Android Wear to look and feel the same on any device it powers, regardless of manufacturer. At least in these early days, it seems to want to avoid the kind of fragmentation that has resulted from allowing OEMs to customize the Android experience on smartphones and tablets.
But what is very different are the approaches each manufacturer has taken to hardware design. Samsung offers a heart rate monitor, for instance, which works both with its own software and with Google Fit, the company’s new health-monitoring platform, and presumably it’ll be able to support third-party apps in the future, too. That’s potentially a benefit if you’re a really zealous health buff, but in truth most won’t really be affected by its inclusion.
Comfort is another key factor. These are all light devices designed for all-day use, but the Samsung Gear Live has a fiddly clasp mechanism and proprietary bands, so if you don’t like rubber, you’re out of luck. But the watch does sit on the wrist very comfortably thanks to its scalloped back. The LG G Watch has replaceable straps if you don’t like the included silicon version (which is itself quite comfortable), but it has a more square back that can rest somewhat hard on the wrist bones depending on how tight you like your strap.
The Moto 360 is surprisingly light, despite using stainless steel in its construction, and the circular display is big and bright. It looks bigger than the other two devices, but on the wrist it actually looks more appropriated on smaller arms because of the round edges. Even with the small sensor window at the bottom that unfortunately makes it not a perfect circle, it’s the most visually striking of the bunch, so if design is a priority, the Moto 360 is probably the way to go.
In fact, based on immediate first impressions alone, the Moto 360 is my favorite so far, but that might be more a virtue of it being distinct from the fairly similar square designs from Samsung and LG. And unfortunately, the Moto 360 isn’t shipping until later this summer, with a price yet to be determined. Still, it might be worth waiting for the opportunity to give each a fair comparison unless you’ve got a strong need for some Android Wear right this minute.