5 of the Best Smartwatches of 2014

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2014 is rightly dubbed as the year of smartwatches. Everyone from Apple to Samsung has tried their hands on coming up with a smartwatch that gives their company a strong foothold in this emerging new market. Be it the enticing watch-based apps or the fitness-tracking features that promise you to keep healthy, this new emerging piece of hardware has taken the tech world by storm.

Given the massive success of both Android and iOS, it has become easy for consumers to trust big brands like Apple and Google. These mobile operating systems have already become a huge part of our daily lives and having an add-on device that works seamlessly with what we have is a big bonus for not just a tech geek but also for an average user. In 2014, many smartwatches were released, some of them were completely new and some were massive updates to devices that already existed in the market. If you are on the hunt for your next new smartwatch, then read on as we list 5 of the best smartwatches of 2014.

5. Samsung Gear 2

Samsung was one of the first entrants to the smartwatch race. Before Apple or even Android, the Korean giant had ambitious plans to scoop up a market which was still in its infancy. Although with the recent announcements of Apple Watch and Moto 360, their plans have dampened a notch, we still consider Samsung Gear 2 a solid smartwatch. What makes it so special is the fact that it works seamlessly with Samsung smartphones. With a large, crisp display, Gear 2 lets you pick up calls from your phone and read important notifications. The design, though acceptable, presents a brushed metal finish with a leather strap. The specs are good too, with 4GB internal storage, 1 GHZ processor, and a battery life that lasts about 2-3 days. The only flaw with this device is that it runs Tizen, which is good, but not future proof considering where Android Wear is right now. Furthermore, the limitation that the watch only works with Samsung phones is a hard one to overlook. However, if you are a part of the evolving Samsung ecosystem, this might be the perfect device for you.

4. LG G Watch

Though it doesn't look as good as many of the smartwatches on the market, G Watch is definitely a good buy for those who want to get their hands on first-gen Wear. With a slightly lower resolution display of 280x280 and a 1.65-inch screen, this one is a square little unassuming device. It comes with a nice little charging cradle that's incredibly simple to use. It is water resistant and performs considerably well under sunlight compared to other devices. On the negative side, it has a poor battery life, underwhelming design, and lacks support for a wider range of Android devices. Despite its negative aspects, G Watch is definitely a good entry point for anyone wanting to use an Android Wear device.

3. Samsung Gear Live

Another smartwatch from Samsung is the Gear Live, which was released a couple of months after Gear 2. What's the difference? Well, there are better specs, a new wine-red color, lower weight and Android 4.3+ support. It comes with a 320x320 Super AMOLED display that offers a crisp and bright interface.  Most of the specs are similar to Gear 2; however, one thing is dramatically different and that is Android Wear. Even if the Gear 2 had better specs, Gear Live would definitely topple it for the sheer reason that it has Android Wear. Furthermore, its fitness features make up for its terrible battery life and its lack of compatibility with a wide range of Android phones. If you are not a big fan of Samsung's ecosystem and are looking for a nice, feature-packed smartwatch, this one's for you. 

2. Pebble Steel

Pebble Steel still remains a reliable choice for anyone who is looking for a smartwatch that lives up to its name. It's fashionable and thin with a design that is both durable and sturdy. What's different about Pebble though is that it isn't running Android Wear or Tizen for that matter. It has its own operating system and its own ecosystem of apps that make it a worthy investment of your hard-earned cash. Though expensive than the rest, Pebble Steel wins you over with its sheer simplicity, powerful battery life, and ease of use. After all, Pebble has been in this game for way longer than Android Wear or Tizen, and it shows. Pebble Steel offers a refined, mature, and a stable smartwatch experience that is hard to beat. If you own an Android smartphone and an iPhone, Pebble is your only bet right now as it works well with both ecosystems.

1. Moto 360

Moto 360 is an Android smartphone done right. Bridging the gap between technology and style, this affordable smartwatch works just as great as it looks. With wireless charging, the circular watch comes packed with a lot of great features. Made from pure Android Wear, it comes with a 1.56-inch LCD circular display that has a resolution of 320 x 290. The watch frame is stainless steel and along with it you have a matching leather strap that makes it look like a genuinely stylish watch. Moto 360 works perfectly with many devices running Android 4.4+ and is water resistant. Also, Google Now being a major component of the experience works just as smoothly as you'd expect. If we overlook the poor battery performance, Moto 360 is THE smartwatch you should be buying. It's affordable, it looks good, and it does exactly what a smartwatch does.

Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.