Android Wear 2.0 was just released last week, and it includes a slew of new features and design improvements. But how does the open source platform compete with the most advanced smartwatches you can buy?
We took a look at how the newest version of Android Wear stacks up against the Samsung Gear S3, which runs on Tizen.
Samsung Gear S3 vs. Android Wear 2.0: Features
For Android Wear, the total number of features will depend on the particular smartwatch you get. But Android Wear 2.0 supports just about every sensor you can think of, including an accelerometer, ambient light sensor, barometer, gyroscope, heart rate sensor, GPS sensor, NPC, and LTE radio.
A handful of Android Watches even include a speaker and microphone for receiving notifications or making calls. The newest Android Wear watches, like the LG Sport and Style, take advantage of everything Android Wear 2.0 has to offer.
One of the most significant updates in Android Wear 2.0 is the support of NFC payments through Android Pay. That matches the NFC payment ability in the Samsung Gear S3. But the Samsung smartwatch has one significant payment feature that Android watches don’t: the S3 features Magnetic Strip Technology (MST), which allows users to use Android Pay at almost any credit card terminal, even if it doesn’t have an NFC reader.
However, Android Wear does have one major leg up over the Samsung Gear S3: the apps from the Google Play store. There are literally thousands of Android apps to choose from, and the massive library means that tons of developers working on their own creations. The Samsung Gear store is comparatively sparse. There are some notable inclusions, such as the Uber app, which allows you to call a rideshare right from your wrist. But at the moment, the diversity of apps for Android Wear 2.0 is far superior.
Samsung Gear S3 vs. Android Wear 2.0: Design
Going with an Android Wear 2.0 watch means that you will have a broader number of designs to choose from. For example, you can choose the sleek minimalist Huawei Watch, the sporty Moto 360, or the big, outdoorsy Casio WSD-F20. There are lots of options, so you’re likely to find something close to your taste.
Meanwhile, the Samsung Gear S3 offers two. The first is the Classic, which — true to its name — has a classic, old-school watch aesthetic. The second is the Frontier, which is more sleek and modern.
The Samsung watches have a rotating bezel, which make it easy to navigate through the interface. However, Android Wear 2.0 introduced support for rotating inputs. While there aren’t any announced Android Wear watches that include a rotating bezel, it’s now a possibility for future smartwatches.
Samsung Gear S3 vs. Android Wear 2.0: Hardware
Android Wear isn’t a smartwatch, but rather a platform for smartwatch, so your hardware will depend on the watch you choose.
On the high end, you can find watches that outperform the Samsung Gear S3. For example, the LG Watch Sport has a 1.38-inch round P-OLED display running at 480x480 and 768MB of RAM. On the lower end of the spectrum is the Asus Zenwatch 2. It features a AMOLED 360x360 display powered by 512MB of RAM.
The Samsung Gear S3 can be placed somewhere in the upper-middle range of available Android Wear 2.0 smartwatches. It has a super AMOLED 360x360 touchscreen and is powered by 768MB of RAM, which means that it’s just as fast as the fastest Android Wear smartwatches, but the display on the Gear S3 is on par with the cheaper Android watches.
Samsung Gear S3 vs. Android Wear 2.0: The Bottom Line
With a better interface and unique features like MST technology, the Tizen-powered Samsung Gear S3 has a few advantages over any Android Wear 2.0 watch. However, Android Wear 2.0 still represents a significant update that makes the best Android watches highly competitive against Samsung's latest smartwatch.
When you factor in Android’s superior library of apps and the fact that Android Wear 2.0 is brand spanking new, Samsung has every reason to look over its shoulder. The next generation of smartwatches (and perhaps even the upcoming Huawei 2 smartwatch) might give the Samsung Gear S3 a run for its money.