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Smartwatch face-off: Gear S, iWatch, LG G Watch R, Moto 360, ZenWatch

This week has been all about the smartwatch and what each new release might bring to the table. We’ve read leaks about all kinds of smartwatch models coming out at IFA Berlin and after the conference as well. Even though many have not even been announced yet, the interest in them has grown way beyond expectation.

The smartwatch is a gadget most of us choose to buy in order to simplify our interaction with our smartphones and other mobile devices. But that’s not all a smartwatch can do, not even close. The 5 most talked about smartwatch models that will be coming out this Fall bring various features to the table, battling in design, performance and features.

We’ve all heard about the iWatch coming out on September 9 along with two new iPhones, but the other four smartwatches will be coming earlier than Apple’s gadget, at IFA Berlin on September 3. IFA will bring us the Moto 360 with a beautiful round design, the Asus ZenWatch that is meant to be a budget smartwatch, the LG G R sporting yet another round watch face and the Samsung Galaxy Gear S wristwatch. All five of the gadgets have stirred up crowds and will surely be popular among tech enthusiasts, but which one is the most promising device?

First off, let’s start with the iWatch, since that’s the one we know the least about. The iWatch will sport a square watch face and the HealthKit for monitoring various health metrics like heart rate. A leaked patent of iWatch shows that it will function as a phone on its own, as a desktop computer and as a watch as well. The fact that you will be able to make calls and send text messages from your wrist will surely be a plus feature for the iWatch compared to the other smart wristwatches that are to be released at IFA.

Rumors say that you will be able to use the iWatch independently of a smartphone, being able to store music and video and play it back. It also has a headphone socket you can use so it’s even more convenient and might even replace your phone altogether. Not to be sarcastic, but we don’t know anything about its storage capabilities, so we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves. The iWatch might also support complex gestures and respond to activities like shaking, bouncing and tapping to interact with a phone call. Take this info with a grain of salt, though, because Apple hasn’t confirmed any of these speculations.

Nonetheless, iWatch seems a competent and powerful smartwatch, so it might be the right choice for you, especially if you’ve been around Apple a lot and are familiar with its tech. We don’t know anything about its pricing, but we do expect a higher price than on the other models we will be talking about.

Since we’re talking about prices here, let us explain why Asus’ ZenWatch might end up in the limelight of IFA this September. Asus has hinted at the fact that they are designing a smart wristwatch people can actually afford without having to save up for it. The price range we’ve heard of is $99-$149, which is a pretty good price for a wearable. The ZenWatch has been teased by Asus in a video showing a curved display and a squarish watch face, much like the iWatch.

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The ZenWatch will sport very thin bezels, which will surely attract buyers since thick bezels have never been a strong point for any device on the market. It will probably run Android Wear, considering the relationship between Google and Asus at the moment. Asus hardware has been praised by many so the build of the watch is expected to be high quality and durable. The ZenWatch might just top this list, considering that it has the lowest price we’ve encountered recently and Asus’ hardware history, but we can’t be sure until we know its full specs.

Coming up, the Samsung Gear S drops in as the new addition to Samsung’s wearable device line. Samsung has already released quite a few wearable tech, so the Gear S doesn’t come as a surprise. The Gear S will be similar in design to the aforementioned watches, sporting a squarish curved display and watch face, with a pretty impressive design. What we’re most excited about is that the ability of the wearable to make and receive calls has been confirmed by various sources and that makes it the most accurate contender to the iWatch.

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The Gear S has a 3G modem incorporated and it can be used on its own, independently of a smartphone. The gadget will also feature Nokia’s HERE maps, which is a nice addition to the wristwatch.The device will have a 2-inch Super AMOLED screen with 360 x 480 resolution, a dual core 1 GHz CPU with 512 MB RAM 4 GB of storage. The Gear S will run Samsung’s own Tizen OS, which hasn’t been as impressive as Android Wear so far, but we will have to see for ourselves.

Next up, the LG G Watch R. This one looks amazing with its round design and really thin bezels, sporting a leather belt and traditional wristwatch design. If you’re in it for the fashion of it, than either the LG G R or the Moto 360 would be for you, since they look astonishing. I do have a fetish for round watches and I’ve never liked having something as geometrical as a square watch on my wrist, so excuse my nuttiness. I haven’t even been interested in smartwatches so far because, to me, they looked unnatural. But LG and Motorola have hit a soft spot with their designs.

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Anyway, the LG G Watch R is a nicely constructed smartwatch, apart from its design. It doesn’t stand alone and doesn’t feature 3G as the iWatch or Gear S models, but it still connects to your smartphone and allows you to do all the tasks the average smart wristwatch does. It will run Android Wear OS, so it will sit well with those of you who are Android fans.

The G Watch R has a steel frame, which resembles a more traditional men’s analogue sports watch with a 1.3in round plastic OLED screen and an interchangeable standard watch strap. It’s also waterproof to IP67 standards, so it won’t get itself thrown away after you’ve been hit by a storm. It is also powered by the same 1.2GHz processor as the original G Watch and has a similar sized battery, meaning that battery life should be at least one full day of usage. The LG G R will also have a heart rate monitor, like the iWatch and Gear S, which can connect to Android’s Health app.

Overall, the LG G Watch R offers you great specs and a great design, so it’s definitely worth a try, although if you’re planning on using your wrist to make calls or enjoy Facebook or Twitter without having your phone around, you might want to review the Gear S or the iWatch. If not, and you only want a basic, but competent and beautiful wristwatch, the LG G Watch R is for you.

Last, but not least, we should take a look at the Moto 360, the most anticipated of them all. The Moto 360 has been in headlines for more than a month now, so people are hyped up about its launch already. Much like the G Watch R, Motorola chose the round watch face design and I’m sure it’ll reap a lot of rewards for that choice.

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The Moto 360 screen features a 1.5-inch backlit LCD protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3 with a 320 x 290 resolution with 205 pixels per inch. The only problem with its display is the black bottom bar which houses a piece of tech necessary for the watch, so it doesn’t go “full circle” like the LG G Watch R does, but it’s not a deal breaking flaw. The battery of the Moto 360 has been rumored to last two and a half days, with the display turned on non-stop, which is quite the accomplishment compared to the other wristwatches we’ve mentioned. The Moto 360 has a built in heart rate sensor, GPS and wireless charging. The latter feature is what most are excited about, because it’s the most convenient alternative to charging your device, so this one’s the selling point of the Moto 360.

The device will be compatible with any Android 4.3 and higher running devices, which is a huge plus, because we don’t know if the other models we’ve presented will feature this compatibility. It’s also water resistant, IP67 certified, so a rain shower might not incapacitate it, although it’s not waterproof.  The price of the Moto 360 is supposedly around $250, which is not sky high, but it’s a bit more expensive than what you can choose from out there.

Each smartwach has its own ups and downs in our analysis and each caters to specific needs, but if you want the best of the best, it’s just not here yet. I would certainly go for the LG G Watch R because I enjoy its full circle round design and nice specs, but I would appreciate the Gear S or iWatch a bit more, because they would allow me to ditch my phone altogether. Not that I want to do that, but it’s nice having the option.

The ZenWatch, though, is fairly attractive to me because it’s cheap and since it would be my first wearable device, I think it would do perfectly since I’ve loved Asus’ hardware for ages. To be honest, the Moto 360 and LG G Watch R are at about the same place in my imaginary top 5, because they both look great and will surely perform great. Both of them come from companies I’ve praised so far, but the Moto 360’s black bottom bar does ruin things if you’re trying to pick a wristwatch. Motorola can fix this issue if the LG G Watch R is launched with a higher price at IFA Berlin, giving Motorola the opportunity to steal the limelight. Or redesign…

We can’t tell which is the best smartwatch that is coming our way yet, but after IFA, reviews will surely be pouring in and we will have more than just speculations to go on. Maybe then, a definite decision can be made with comprehensive knowledge about each device. It remains to be seen. Nevertheless, we are excited about all 5 of the wristwatches and can’t wait for Autumn to hit already.

About Egon Kilin

My life-long dream has been to test out every gadget on the market! Considering the fact that I've rapidly destroyed almost every gadget I've had so far, I'm not inclined to owning something, so my ideal outcome would be to have a different gadget each month. I'm really into smartphones, wearables and tablets and I love Playstation and Xbox, I'm sure I'll beat you at your own game (after a month of training... or two)

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