Monday, March 9, 2020

Best Wear OS watch 2020: our list of the top ex-Android Wear smartwatches

If you have an Android phone the best smartwatch option for you is one that runs Google’s Wear OS software. It is used by a host of big brands like Huawei, Fossil, Misfit and TicWatch and offers solid features with a huge range of designs available.

It means this list doesn’t have watches from Fitbit or Samsung as they run their own operating systems.

A lot of Wear OS smartwatches bring the circular form factor of a normal watch with all the benefits of smartphone notifications and all-day fitness tracking. Most will have GPS to record outdoor runs as well as NFC for mobile payments, but check our individual reviews of each one just to make sure. 

Some have better battery life than others, so if you want to wear your watch for a few days without charging it, check what our full reviews of the smartwatches say first. 

You might have heard of Android Wear - and that’s because that’s what Wear OS used to be called. The newer version not only got renamed, but has been drastically improved and is a much better experience than it once was, meaning we’re much more confident about recommending them to you in 2020. 

That’s why every watch on this list has been released within the last couple of years. We only recommend the Wear OS watches that have access to the latest software updates. 

But hardware is important too, and having Wear OS on several brands of wearable is a plus because consumer choice is good. Rest assured that we’ve thoroughly tested each of the watches on this list and ranked them according to which are best for most people. 

Looking for the greatest Wear OS watch money can buy? We currently think that's the Fossil Sport. It's not the very best smartwatch overall, and it doesn't boast many unique features but it does offer a fantastic all round package.

The Fossil Sport is a great combination of value and features in a lightweight body that you're able to wear comfortably day-to-day or when you're working out. There's GPS, the battery life often lasts around two days and you have access to all of the latest Wear OS apps too.

Our favorite part is that this is one of the first smartwatches to sport the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 chipset. That means this watch offers a smoother experience than a lot of the others in this list, and if you're often frustrated by smartwatch software you may find this to work much better.

Overall, if you're looking for a smoother experience or an easy to use smartwatch. you're almost certain to enjoy the Fossil Sport.

Read the full Fossil Sport review

We'll jump right to it - the reason the TicWatch E2 sits so highly in this list is largely down to its price. It's one of the best cheap smartwatches money can buy, and it sports the latest in Wear OS software.

Compared to the last-gen TicWatch E, you'll get 30% better battery life here with our reviewer saying it lasted for over two days with average usage. You'll get less if you're using lots of fitness features though.

It's waterproof so you can take this watch into the swimming pool, there's GPS to track your location and there are lots of other features here too. It lacks NFC, so you can't use this for Google Pay but considering the price you'll likely love what the TicWatch E2 can do.

Read the full TicWatch E2 review

This watch from Mobvoi is a powerhouse that comes with two displays. That doesn't mean there's one display on each side of the watch, but instead it has a transparent LCD display on top of a full color OLED. When it's conserving battery, the watch will switch to the LCD screen that shows you the time, your step count and more.

The normal OLED screen will work like your average smartwatch, but the other display means the watch has much better battery life than a lot of the other watches on this list.

The TicWatch Pro also has a premium design, a heart rate sensor, great GPS tracking, NFC for Google Pay and much more alongside the latest Wear OS software powering the whole watch.

Read the full TicWatch Pro review

This watch is very similar to the TicWatch E2 on paper, and that's largely because it is. In fact, all of the spec is exactly the same here and the company has released two versions with different names because they have differing designs.

The TicWatch S2 stands for 'Sport' and that's because it has a more durable design than the E2 that is listed above.

It has military grade durability so it should be able to take a bit more of a beating than any other watch on this list making it suitable for adventurers as well as runners.

Other than that, you'll have two-day battery life, GPS, a waterproof design and all the other benefits of the latest Wear OS software. If you're trying to save money look at the TicWatch E2, but if you prefer this design the S2 isn't much more expensive.

Read the full TicWatch S2 review

Misfit's second attempt at a Wear OS watch is a positive step in the right direction with this new product solving a lot of the issues we found with the first generation. There's NFC here for Google Pay, GPS so you can track your runs and you can get it in two separate sizes.

The design of this watch is simple, and that may be something you're looking for from your smartwatch. There's either a 1.2-inch or 1.4-inch display in the center of the watch, which is more than enough room to navigate around Wear OS.

This is one of the best smartwatches for exercising, and the lower price point than some of the alternative smartwatches on the market makes the Misfit Vapor 2 an attractive option for a lot of people.

Read the full Misfit Vapor 2 review

This isn't our favorite device in the TicWatch range - which takes up a lot of places near the top of this list - and that's because it isn't as innovative as the TicWatch Pro. That said, it's still a good option if you're looking for an affordable smartwatch.

In fact, this is one of the most affordable smartwatches if you want GPS and Google Pay support in the same package. 

This isn't as built for fitness fans as a lot of other options on this list, but it does feature some elements for you to use to workout. With some impressive tech built-in considering the price, you should take a look at the TicWatch C2 before buying any other watch on this list.

Read the full TicWatch C2 review

Best Wear OS watch: Fossil Gen 5


The Gen 5 is a decent Fossil smartwatch but not a patch on the Fossil Sport sitting at number one in this ranking. The Gen 5 cost is more expensive without bringing too much else, but you might prefer its classic watch looks to the Sport’s more active design.

The Gen 5 comes in a larger Carlyle version or a smaller Julianna, but both have the same premium features like bright vibrant displays, GPS, a heart rate sensor, 1GB RAM and the latest Snapdragon Wear 3100 chipset, meaning it’s very fast and responsive. 

Its battery saver modes are genuinely useful and it has water resistance up to 30m, but it’s more expensive than other Wear OS watches and the speaker is poor.

Read the Fossil Gen 5 review 

The Huawei Watch 2 is an attempt by the Chinese company to widen the use of Wear OS watches. Huawei has tried to include a variety of new features in its latest smartwatch and it's not entirely clear if it succeeded with the Watch 2.

We like the built-in GPS and NFC on the watch as well as the option to have a 4G model, but the Huawei Watch 2 can be sluggish and the screen is a little small for some. 

This may suit you though with an attractive design and a plethora of features, but the price is much higher than the original Huawei Watch.

Read the full Huawei Watch 2 review

Photo illustration: TechRadar; Mobvoi; Huawei; Misfit


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