The Apple Watch is Coming! So, What Are My Alternatives?

Now that Apple has told us all about its Watch—prices, options, battery life, etc.—it’s easier to decide whether to be status quo or status no. If you’re not 100% onboard with the idea of the Apple Watch (and many are not) it only makes sense to consider some of the alternatives that are already out, or coming out shortly, and work with iOS.

I will admit that I have not held, touched, or smelled the Apple Watch in person yet and I may find I’m unable to leave the Apple Store without one in the near future. It wouldn’t be the first time I walk into an Apple store head strong and walk out with a new bag of loot that I simply. Could. Not. Live. Without.

(I tend to be an earlier adopter on fun, tech stuff.)

Until then, here are my top choices for an alternative to Apple Watch:

Moto 360

Moto 360 watchThe Moto 360 by Motorola is a sexy beast. I first noticed it on the wrist of a sales associate at Best Buy as I was leaving the store one day. At first, it looked like an ordinarily simple black watch. Then he swiped. And 25 minutes and many demos later, I actually left the store.

The Moto 360 is beautiful in person and Motorola offers up a variety of design options for the Moto 360—even a Moto Maker app to truly build the watch that’s right for you. And it starts at only $249. Sexy and reasonable. But it’s what’s inside that counts, right? Riiight…and inside its water resistant housing, you’ll find a full color, responsive, touch display with Gorilla Glass and voice recognition with an all-day battery, activity tracker (with heart rate monitor, pedometer, etc.) and lots of internal storage. For Android. That’s the catch for those of us with iOS. It turns out that it’s not that hard to get the Moto 360 work with an iPhone, in much the same way the Pebble does. It’s not out-of-the-box support, but it can and does work, with no jailbreak required.

Pebble Time

Pebble Pink Floyd WatchAfter blowing up Kickstarter a few years ago, Pebble is now mainstream and can be purchased at places like Best Buy and, ironically, the Apple store. But they’re back on Kickstarter for the next version: Pebble Time. And once again, they’re blowing up Kickstarter. With over 16 days to go, they might give Exploding Kittens a run for most-backed project of all time.

(Currently) starting at $179, the newest watch is thinner, sports a color screen and more ergonomic look and feel. It comes in multiple editions—and the “steel” edition actually looks a lot like a gold Apple Watch at a glance, and for only $250.

All the editions have a simplified button interface system: past, present, future and have voice recognition. They all support quick-change straps and at least a seven-day battery life in a proven wearable device. Depending upon your needs, it will provide you with your notifications, updates, etc. It also has a huge, existing app library of over 6,500 apps for your time-telling notification enjoyment at launch, thanks to the success of the original watch. You’ll have to wait until July to put one on your wrist, but you have a lot to look forward to.

Apple iPod Nano

Apple iPod Nano WatchLet’s call this the “outside the box with a trip back in time” option.  It also fits the idea of a watch with apps available.  While not a sanctioned end-user product by Apple, iPod Nano watches are still pretty popular with a large secondary market for cases, wristbands and straps. You aren’t going to be able to track your steps, make calls, or get message notifications without fancy straps that have Bluetooth built in (really), and even then, you’re limited. You can, however, customize the watch faces, keep your music handy in iTunes and some photos you hold dear close to you.

Side-by-Side

If you look at a snapshot of the key features, none is perfect and each has its own strengths and weaknesses.

Comparison Chart

Apple Watch Pebble Time Moto 360 iPod Nano
AppleWatch Pebble Pink Floyd Watch Moto 360 watch Apple iPod Nano Watch
Cost $349-$17,000 $179-$250 $249 $80+
Availability April 2015 July 2015 Now Now
Customized Watch Faces Y Y Y Y
Activity Tracking Y N Y N
Bluetooth Y Y Y Possible
iOS Support Y Y Possible
Battery Life 18 hours 7 days 24 hours Varies

This is not, by any means, a comprehensive list of smart watches. The marketplace for smart watches and wearables grows every day. There are so many choices for watches, fitness trackers, etc, so only the top contenders that have app stores/libraries, are watch-like, and can work with iOS are included here. I could include the Garmin Vivoactive, Samsung S Gear, Sony Smartwatch 3, LG G Watch R, etc., but their app support is limited, they don’t work easily with iOS, and they don’t really look like watches in the conventional sense. So they’re not really alternatives to the Apple Watch, IMO.




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About the Author

Kim McReynolds

Kim’s been an internet addict since Yahoo! was at Stanford. From website design to creating banner ads featuring fast-moving monkeys to project management she’s done it all - and much of it at Adknowledge or its predecessors. Today she helps lead the corporate marketing team. When she’s not throwing a party at Alcatraz or the Empire State Building she’s engrossed in event planning, brand management and corporate messaging.

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