The best smartwatches in 2015, so far: Apple, Pebble, Sony, and more

At the same time that much of the internet grapples over whether or not smartwatches can actually enhance one’s life, a multitude of timekeeping devices have come into existence, giving users a wide variety of options to choose from.

Smartwatch manufacturers certainly — and thankfully — do not adhere to a one-size-fits all credo when it comes to this kind of wearable technology. Rather, companies like Apple, Pebble, Samsung, TomTom, Fitbit and more have found their own ways to appeal to a variety of smartwatch-wearers, whether they love running, sleeping, standing out, or staying under the radar.

We’ve compiled the best smartwatches your money can buy in 2015 so far, according to personal preferences.

The best smartwatch for getting the bang out of your buck

Moto360 first turned heads for being one of the first smartwatches to feature a circular face design akin to traditional timepieces, and it continues to be praised for its always-on screen. But don’t worry, that feature won’t annoy you thanks to the smartwatch’s ambient light sensor which detects your surroundings and adjusts the LCD brightness accordingly. If you’re into talking to your watch, the Motorola smartwatch offers one of the best voice-command experiences currently on the market. It’s far less expensive than an entry level Apple Watch, and for more attractive than other more expensive devices. Though it suffers from a short battery life, the price makes this Android Wear device a great deal for what you get.

Motorola Moto 360

Critics’ rating*: 3.2 of 5
(* compiles the top critic ratings online for an aggregate score)

TomTom Runner
The best smartwatch for serious runners

As far as the built in heart rate sensor goes, the TomTom Runner uses the same technology that’s in the Adidas MiCoach Smart Run watch. The GPS sensor is pretty outstanding, establishing a GPS signal quickly and thereby freeing the user of valuable minutes wasted waiting for connection. The watch band is actually a continual piece of rubber that holds the GPS module and watch display in place. And where some running smartwatches have trouble monitoring heart rate from the wrist, TomTom Runner excels and can track down to detailed heart rate zones.


TomTom RunnerCritics’ rating: 3.8 of 5

Apple Watch
The best smartwatch for investing in the future

As much as everyone wanted to hate it, the Apple Watch remains the media’s darling. Its deft fusion of  comfortability and familiarity (well, for iOS users) make it the standout smartwatch of 2015. But where the power lies with Apple Watch (aside from its looks) is the potential it has with its app ecosystem. And with Native apps coming with Watch OS2 in the fall of 2015, the Apple Watch experience will become untethered from the iPhone in some cases — like going for a run.  So, yes, what we’re saying is it’s not perfect yet — but no smartwatch is. However, this one is a true pleasure to wear, and we believe there is a real future for HealthKit.

Apple Watch

Critics’ rating: 3.7 of 5

Fitbit Surge
The best smartwatch for moving from a fitness band to a serious tracker

Blurring the line between activity tracker and smartwatch is Fitbit Surge — a device that even the POTUS deems good enough to wear. The built-in GPS and heart rate monitor make it appropriate for semi-serious runners, and these upgrades also made the sleep tracking more accurate. It’s definitely a sporty look, and one that men and women who dress up often won’t want to wear round the clock — which you really ought to do if you want to take full advantage of the activity tracking capabilities of Fitbit. Still, it’s a great choice for those with active lifestyles who want to upgrade from their simple bands.

Fitbit Surge

Critics’ rating: 3.8 of 5

Pebble Time
The best smartwatch for the operating system agnostic

The Pebble ethos is one of collaboration and community building, so it’s no surprise that there are hundreds of apps and dozens of watch faces available for Pebble devices. The Pebble Time smartwatch is the update to the first generation Pebble, which debuted in 2013. The Pebble Time (and Pebble Time Steel) now has a color screen, voice control, and is crazy water resistant. It also boasts one of the best smartwatch battery lives on the market at 10 days. If you want to be a part of a movement, support this Pebble smartwatch, which was funded via an immensely powerful Kickstarter campaign.Pebble Time


Critics’ rating: 3.7 of 5


Samsung Gear S
The best smartwatch for leaving your smartphone at home

The Samsung Gear S’ curved display certainly looks more like a cuff than a smartwatch and is better suited for those with techie-tastes. But with that futuristic aesthetic comes the pretty powerful capability to operate away from a smartphone on its own 3G data or Wi-Fi. It even has its own SIM card slot. Moreover, you can respond to text and emails with a QWERTY keyboard (or via voice recognition, but again, Moto360 still comes out on top there). Note, the samsung gear S runs Samsung’s Tizen software and Gear Apps, so you’re going to need a Samsung phone to make this puppy work at all.Samsung Gear S


Critics’ rating: 3.3 of 5

Basis Peak
The best smartwatch for every metric you ever wanted

In early 2015, the Basis Peak got a firmware update that elevated the fitness tracker to smartwatch level. Now, notifications of texts, emails, instant messages, or calendar alerts appear onscreen within seconds of receiving them to your phone. But where the Basis’ power lies is in the detailed metrics it collects. The Basis Peak measures galvanic skin response and skin temperature, and it’s a great for live calorie and heart rate tracking during a jog. It even goes far as a sleep tracker, recording the moments at which you “toss and turn.” The metrics the smartwatch collects are most beautifully displayed on the Basis Peak web app which is a dream for fans of the quantified self.

Basis Peak

Critics’ rating: 3.8 of 5

Sony Smartwatch 3
The best smartwatch for simplicity

Some say the design of this Android watch is pretty plain, but that’s what we kind of like about it. In truth, the Steel edition of the Sony Smartwatch 3 looks a lot slicker than your average smartwatch. Since Google rolled out GPS support for Android Wear, the built-in GPS features allows you to leave your smartwatch at home when you head out for a run. The smartwatch also has NFC and Wi-Fi, making it prepared for the future. There’s no optical heart rate sensor here, though, but the rest of the wearable’s capabilities make that palatable.Sony Smartwatch 3



Critics’ rating: 3.8 of 5


Garmin Vivoactive
The best smartwatch for multi-sport athletes

It seems to be incredibly hard for some fitness trackers and smartwatches to determine what kind of physical activity you’re doing — which is precisely why the Garmin Vivoactive is the must-have smartwatch for those of you pursuing a variety of sports. Earning it its smartwatch badge is the Vivoactive’s ability to receive notifications from your smartphone you’re cycling, swimming, golfing, running, or walking. Those notifications disappear within 10 seconds, so you aren’t left feeling inundated with useless chatter. And finally, if you’re a golfer — don’t even think twice about it. Just get this smartwatch. When you see the repository of over 38,000 course maps, you’ll be thanking us.Garmin Vivoactive

Critics’ rating: 3.8 of 5

Bonus pick: Olio Model One
The smartwatch we’re most looking forward to

We admire Olio for fusing classic looks with digital technology, because plenty of smartwatch users would prefer to go under the radar than appear to have a gadget attached to their arms. Olio Device’s Olio Model One is not yet released but aims to be the best “non-distruptive smartwatch” on the market: a cloud-based system only presents messages from the people you interact with most. In fact, minimal notifications appear on the watch’s face at all. Because it’s built with the same kind of top-notch classic materials as luxury analog timepieces, it comes in with a hefty price tag (available for pre-order).

Olio Model 1Is your top pick for best smartwatch not on this list? Leave it in the comments below!

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