Smartwatch Showdown: Apple Watch vs. the Competition

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The new Apple Watch launched to great fanfare last week. How does it stack up against the Samsung Gear S, Motorola Moto 360, LG G Watch R, and Pebble Steel? Let’s take a look.

Fit and Design

No matter how functional, an unattractive product will not win broad consumer acceptance, and though aesthetics may be subjective, size is much less so. Most smartwatches launched to date have been either bland- looking, too large, or both. Apple clearly did its homework, offering its watch in two sizes familiar to watch lovers: 38 and 42 mm (all measurements in this section are in millimeters). The smaller version is the smallest smartwatch yet announced. The Pebble Steel measures a reasonable 46 x 34 x 10.5. The Moto 360 looks great, perhaps even better than the Apple Watch, but at 46 x 11.5, as one hands-on reviewer said, it’s a pizza pie for the wrist. LG has not released specs for the G Watch R, but based on the screen size, it looks to be a bit smaller than the Moto 360. The Gear S is the Godzilla of the group, measuring a whopping 39.8 x 58.3 x 12.5 mm.

smartwatch comparison

On the style front, Apple offers by far the widest selection of options. There are three collections: standard in stainless steel, sport in aluminum, and the Apple Edition 18k gold, each in two sizes. These can be fitted with six different, interchangeable straps in leather, rubber and steel. The owner can choose from 11 different faces, each of which can be oriented for people who wear their watch on their right wrist. Apple claims that in all, there are more than one million possible combinations. One knock against Apple is the proprietary strap attachment, which limits choices.

The Moto 360 is available in light and dark stainless steel with three different leather straps. Metal bracelets are reportedly on the way. The Pebble Steel is stainless steel, available in silver and black with available straps and a metal bracelet. To date, official images of the LG shows it only in black stainless steel on a strap. These three watches all accept standard straps, so the options are limitless.
Samsung’s Gear S is fashioned from plastic and it’s available in black or white.

Screens

The Samsung may lose wearability points due to its size, but all that acreage allows room for a curved, two-inch Super AMOLED screen with 360 x 40 resolution. That’s the largest in this group. The Moto 360 offers a 1.56” back-lit LCD display with 320 x 290 resolution protected by Corning Gorilla Glass.
The LG R features a 1.3” P-OLED display at 320 x 320 pixels. The Apple Watches sport 1.5” or 1.65” Retina displays fashioned from synthetic sapphire. The Pebble Steel brings up the rear in this category with a 1.26” black and white e-ink screen like that in the Amazon Kindle. This screen may not be sexy, but you can see it in direct sunlight, and it allows much longer battery life, as we will see.

 

-Mike Disher-

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