While there is still a large contingent that wants bigger and better smartphones with faster processors, there has been a growing wave of support for wearable devices in the past year. These devices, which would have better suited a James Bond film released decades ago, are now relatively common place.
They promise to take care of your fitness as well as manage your calls and messages. The question is: Are they really any good at what they do?
Take a look at the top 5 wearable gadgets in India (price/specification) and find out about the good, bad and the ugly of what makes them tick.
Sony Smart Watch 2
Unlike Samsung which practically begs you to pair your smartphone with its Galaxy Gear, Sony takes a more independent approach with its Smart Watch 2. It can still be paired up with the Sony Xperia Z2/Z Ultra/Z1 for notifications but it’s determined to be a smart watch in the truest sense of the word without needing a camera.
It includes three capacitive buttons underneath the display, which measures 1.6 inches and has a sharp 220×176 resolution. There’s a deep well of app support with more than 300 apps supporting the watch, including Facebook and Twitter. It’s also dust and water resistant plus it has that attractive Xperia-like design.
Nonetheless, Sony does stumble a bit with the overall functionality. Some necessary apps like Instagram are missing and there is a fair share of performance hiccups on the Sony Smart Watch 2. Some of the apps like Smart Camera, which allow you to control your smartphone’s camera with your watch, can be very buggy at times. Battery life is also less than perfect with roughly 2 to 3 days of usage.
For all its faults, the Sony Smart Watch 2 is still a bigger improvement over its predecessor than the Galaxy Gear Fit was over its own.
Pros: Large number of apps. Great design and display.
Cons: Some performance issues. Battery life isn’t the best.
Verdict: Try before you buy.
Price: Rs. 14,990
If there isn’t much to say about the Qualcomm Toq, it’s because there really isn’t anything to the device at all. It’s most defining trait is its 1.55 inch Mirasol display with a 288×192 resolution that can be viewed in direct sunlight and display videos thanks to its fast refresh rate. There’s even voice command functionality embedded within.
The problem is that it stumbles over lack of basic features like Bluetooth 4.0 LE and IP58/67 resistance to water or dust. The display’s technology also doesn’t make for the best colours you’ll ever see. It’s also expensive for the amount of features missing and doesn’t have very good app support.
Qualcomm attempts to subvert its competitors with some neat hooks but achieves very little else in the process.
Pros: Innovative display is good for videos
Cons: Not recommended as either a smart watch or companion device. Expensive for what it offers.
Verdict: Avoid it!
Price: INR 11,790.
It’s a good thing the Pebble Steel isn’t available in India since it’s essentially an expensive version of the Pebble Smart. Expensive watch connoisseurs may scoff at the idea of wearing a cheap, plastic-looking smart watch but the Pebble is still very reliable. It features a 1.26 inch, 168×144 display along with an ARM Cortex M3 CPU and support for Bluetooth 4.0 LE.
The design is also waterproof so you can take it swimming without any worries. Performance and battery life are very good. It may not have the sharpest display but you can rest assured of several days of heavy usage.
The good thing about the Pebble Smart is that it’s compatible with both Android and iOS (sorry Windows Phone users). A recent firmware update now allows users to access a central store for their apps rather than hunting through iTunes or the Play Store. Unlike Samsung’s Gear, you have a very strong variety with games, fitness applications, RSS feeds, live score updates and much more.
A smartphone is still recommended for true app functionality but the Pebble Smart’s 1000+ apps is no small feat for a smart watch.
Pros: Wide app selection. Great battery life and performance. Waterproof.
Cons: Might look cheap to some. Display is nothing fancy.
Verdict: Worth a look.
Price: Rs. 13,900
Samsung Galaxy Gear 2 Neo
As a successor to the original, the Samsung Galaxy Gear 2 Neo features 1.63 inch Super AMOLED display, a dust and water resistant body and a 2 megapixel camera with auto focus. Samsung also decided to tone down the original’s futuristic metallic body in favour of something more watch-like. A neat addition is being able to attach your own straps to the Gear 2 Neo. Tizen OS is in place instead of Android and this helps to extend the battery life while focusing more on fitness. A heart sensor and pedometer are included for the same purpose.
This all sounds impressive to be sure but the Samsung Galaxy Gear 2 Neo is still best suited as a companion to your smartphone. Its best features are being able to sync with your Galaxy S4/S5 and provide real time notifications to your wrist. App support isn’t very strong and you’re pretty much stuck with Samsung’s range of Health apps. When you look at the battery life, it doesn’t hold a candle to the Pebble Smart. Overall, the Samsung Galaxy Gear 2 Neo is very unintuitive in its use. It’s intriguing, fore sure, but how much is that worth?
Pros: Better battery life. Health apps. Dust and water resistance.
Cons: Low app selection. Battery life still average. Not great as a standalone device.
Verdict: Try before you buy
Price: Rs. 15,450
Samsung Galaxy Gear Fit
There are worse things in this world than a messy smart watch but the Samsung Galaxy Gear Fit does a lot to prove otherwise.
First, the good news: Samsung has redesigned its Gear to be more like a wristwatch with the Galaxy Gear Fit. The display is now curved and wraps around your wrist, and there’s less emphasis on making it a smartphone replacement. It still provides notifications for calls and messages, but the focus is on a health-monitoring device. The Galaxy Gear Fit features a heart rate sensor and pedometer, and also claims to measure your sleep cycle.
This is where the device falters. It’s an unreliable workout measurement tool that isn’t even capable of pausing in between exercises. The pedometer is wildly inaccurate at times, the sleep tracker isn’t very helpful and despite the strong battery life, you’re not getting the best possible functionality from a fitness device, much less a smart watch.
For the price of Samsung Galaxy Gear Fit, you can avail of far superior smart watches with greater functionality. The Gear Fit is a decent offshoot of Samsung’s signature devices but nothing worth recommending.
Pros: Good battery life. Impressive design. Fitness apps.
Cons: Inaccurate fitness measurement. Better devices available.
Verdict: Avoid it
Price: Rs. 15,450
[About the author : Contributed by Ashish Pratap Singh (@getAPSingh), online marketing/Gyanbaaz at Reviews42.com a product discovery & price comparison portal which is blurring offline & online commerce.]