2014 was the year the smartwatch came of age.
Google released its Android Wear OS, and every major manufacturer either released its own smart timepiece or announced that it was working on one. With wearable wrist computers flooding the market, it takes something special to stand out from the crowd – and all of these devices have what it takes to adorn the discerning gadget geek's arm.7
The Moto 360, however, stands out from the crowd, thanks to its stunning, minimalist, circular design.
Winner: Motorola Moto 360
Ever since the Babylonians used the sundial to work out whether they were late for the afternoon battle with the Elamites, we’ve been using circles to tell the time. These days the only battles we face are against PPI calls and wasps in the pub garden but our favourite timekeepers are still the same shape (if a little easier to strap to your wrist). Oh, and they do a lot more too. The Moto 360 was the first smartwatch to marry form with function, without looking like a prop from a ’90s sci-fi movie. So it’s a little chunky for some tastes and the battery life could be better, but the 360 was the first Android Wear smartwatch we didn’t want to take off, like, ever.
READ MORE: Motorola Moto 360 review
Runner-up: Samsung Gear Live
With Google saying no to Android Wear skins, the Gear Live is a Samsung smartwatch that keeps it simple. And that's a good thing. It might be square but a £170 (S$350) pricetag, heart rate monitor and sharp screen are nothing to turn up your wrist at. And don't forget, Google's alert obsessed wearable OS was built for devices this shape.
READ MORE: Samsung Gear Live review
Runner-up: Pebble Steel
The metal Pebble sat out this summer’s Android Wear scrap, instead choosing to lay low and quietly build up its app store. Even so, the little Kickstarter smartwatch that could is the one we've seen on the most wrists in 2014 and no wonder: it's reliable and easy to use, compatible with iPhone and Android and has a battery that can stretch to a week.
READ MORE: Pebble Steel review
Runner-up: LG G Watch R
If you were holding back for Android Wear hardware that packs more punch, the G Watch R, which arrived late in 2014, really is it. A fully circular P-OLED screen. A fast Snapdragon 400 chip. And a slightly sporty, stainless steel body that does an impressive job of looking and feeling like a regular watch. A new smartwatch performance champ.
READ MORE: LG G Watch R review
Runner-up: Martian Notifier
An honest-to-goodness analogue watch that thinks it’s a pager, the Notifier makes the smart list because of a small OLED screen which displays scrolling alerts. It does this one job very well, has customisable vibrations for different apps and a four day battery life for the digital bit. Simple and affordable enough to be the perfect first smartwatch.
READ MORE: Martian Notifier review