Wear OS vs. Apple Watch: Which one will ‘wow’ your wrist?

Wearable tech is growing more popular every year. We’ve seen fitness trackers soar, smart jewelry take off, and luxury brands are beginning to get in on the act with hybrid smartwatches. But true smartwatches are one of the most popular choices among early adopters of wearable tech. Big names such as Huawei and LG offer devices running Google’s Wear OS (previously known as Android Wear) smartwatch platform, while Apple is on its own with the Apple Watch.

If you’re ready to strap on a smartwatch, you have a choice between two dominant platforms: Google’s Wear OS or Apple’s Watch OS. Which one will suit you better, and which should you avoid? We’ve compared the specs, features, and designs to help you decide where to spend your cash.

Specs

Wear OS

android wear vs apple watch thumbnail

Apple Watch

Apple Watch Again
Controls Touchscreen, “Digital Crown” depends on manufacturer Touchscreen, “Digital Crown” dial
Voice Control Google Assistant Siri
App marketplace Google Play Apple App Store
Fitness and health monitoring Google Fit (or watch manufacturer app) Apple Health
Heart rate sensor Depends on manufacturer Yes
Waterproof Depends on manufacturer Splash/water resistant to IPX7
Smartphone compatibility Android 4.3+ and iOS 9+ iPhone 5 and later
Price $100+ $250+

Design

When you’re dealing with a smartwatch, design is just as important as functionality. A watch is more than just a timepiece — it’s an accessory. Both Google and Apple have gone out of their way to ensure their flagship smartwatches bring out the best in design and aesthetics.

Fossil Q Venture review on crown
Brenda Stolyar/Digital Trends
Brenda Stolyar/Digital Trends

In Wear OS’s case, devices like the Sony SmartWatch 3 boast a square face, while most, like the Movado Connect  and the classically-styled Fossil Q Explorist, feature rounded bodies.

Wear OS watches run the gamut in terms of design. Some, like the LG Watch Sport, have Apple Watch-like rotating crowns. Others boast physical keys that launch apps, and other special features, like Casio’s WSD-F20.

While older versions of Wear OS (Android Wear) were sometimes awkward to use on rounded screens, the Android Wear 2.0 update brought a welcome redesign. Rather than having to swipe left or right to navigate menus and select apps, the new interface is a simple, vertical design that focuses on up/down gestures. Wear OS smartwatches provide ample opportunities for customization, from changing the watch face to buying an aftermarket strap. The LG Watch Sport is the exception to the rule — its band houses a cellular radio, so it isn’t swappable — but watches like the Huawei Watch 2 and Fossil Q Venture can be accessorized to your heart’s content.

The Apple Watch, on the other hand, has a square screen. You can choose from various watch faces, and there’s an extensive range of Apple Watch bands that cater to fashionistas and fitness freaks alike. Each of the Apple Watch models — the Apple Watch Series 3Apple Watch Series 2, the Watch Series 1, the Watch Nike+, the Watch Hermès — support a slew of different band and case materials, and come in two sizes: 38mm and 42mm.

The Apple Watch Series 3 comes with an aluminum, stainless steel, or ceramic body and a choice of different straps, but prices vary wildly. The design is consistent across the range of Apple Watch models: A square body with rounded edges and a bright little screen. It’s characterized by the digital crown, a clever, functional wheel that adds a touch of flair. It’s far thinner and slimmer than most of Wear OS’s offerings, though we are seeing more refined designs over time.

Deals

Amazon drops a sweet deal on the Kate Spade Scallop smartwatch for women

Unlike many other smartwatches geared toward women, the Kate Spade Scallop offers a more chic and minimalistic look. With this Amazon sale going on right now, you can get it for $109 off its retail price.
Deals

Make some time for the best smartwatch deals for February 2019

Smartwatches make your life easier by sending alerts right on your wrist. Many also provide fitness-tracking features. So if you're ready to take the plunge into wearables and want to save money, read on for the best smartwatch deals.
Deals

It’s time to check out the best Apple Watch deals for February 2019

The Apple Watch has surged to prominence in recent years. If you're in the market for an iOS wearable, we've sniffed out the best Apple Watch deals available right now for all three models of this great smartwatch.
Deals

This discounted smartwatch is a cheap Apple Watch or Fitbit Versa alternative

The Amazfit Bip isn't an Apple Watch or Fitbit Versa, but at the discounted price of $67, it's a very affordable alternative packed with useful features. With built-in GPS and 30-day battery life, this cheap smartwatch is a great option to…
Mobile

Smartwatch sales soared in 2018, with Apple leading the charge

The NPD Group, a market research organization, has reported smartwatch sales soared in 2018. Apple is leading the charge, but it's clear there's still room in the market for competitors, as Samsung and Fitbit also did well.
Mobile

North Focals smartglasses discount cuts the price by a massive $400

Canadian startup North is hoping smartglasses will be the next big wearable. After announcing its new Focals smartglasses in late 2018, the company opened product showrooms in Brooklyn and Toronto and has made its first shipment.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Grow veggies indoors and shower more efficiently

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Wearables

Focals succeed where Google Glass fumbled (but do we really need smartglasses?)

It’s been seven years since Google took the wraps off Google Glass. Now, we’re finally getting a modern-day equivalent we want to wear. North’s Focals combine subtle style with an intuitive interface to craft smartglasses you’ll…
Mobile

These 13 gadgets walk a fine line between ingenious and insane

The annual avalanche of devices and gadgets is astounding, but how many will succeed? A few are destined to spark new trends, while the majority fade deservedly into obscurity. We look at some gadgets on the border of brilliant and bonkers.
Deals

Amazon slashes prices on Fitbit Versa smartwatches for Presidents’ Day

Amazon is offering a solid $30 discount on this great fitness tracking smartwatch right now. So if you're looking for a wearable that can help you track steps, sleep, and activity, now is a great time to pick one up for less.
Deals

Amazon cuts prices on the Apple Watch Series 3 for Presidents’ Day

The Apple Watch Series 3 is seeing the same price cut we saw during the Amazon sale just last week. So if you're hoping to pick up an Apple Watch for less than $250, this $50 discount from Amazon can make that happen for you.
Emerging Tech

Hong Kong’s vision for a smart prison is a full-blown Orwellian nightmare

Hong Kong wants to bring prisons up to date by introducing new location-tracking wristbands for inmates, and a robot arm whose job is to comb through poop on the lookout for contraband.
Wearables

Samsung's new Galaxy Watch Active can track your blood pressure

Looking for a new fitness buddy? Samsung just launched the Galaxy Watch Active and the Galaxy Fit, two new wearables with a raft of fitness-focused features that'll keep you moving and get you down the gym.
Product Review

Galaxy Watch Active is the right size, no matter how big or small your wrist is

Launched among a massive array of other new products, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active could easily have been missed at Galaxy Unpacked 2019 -- which would be unfortunate. This is a sensibly designed, correctly sized smartwatch suitable for…
1 of 2