I feel bad every time I receive a question asking for advice on which Wear OS-powered smartwatch to buy. Truthfully, I have not worn a smartwatch since late 2017, when I reviewed the Michael Kors Access Sofie. I didn’t think that was a stellar watch, either, as it didn’t solve any problems for me as much as it added bulkiness to my wrist under the guise of that sort of thing being fashionable. Maybe for some people, it is, but I’m still waiting for a smartwatch that doesn’t take up the entirety of my wrist or flare up my eczema and can manage a few days on a single charge.
An event called CES happened last week. During this tech show, a few new Android-based Wear OS smartwatches were announced from Fossil-licensed brands, including Michael Kors. I’m not too keen on all the styles that were shown off, though I did note the ones that looked like something I would wear. I’m basing the following choices on the coverage I’ve read elsewhere, as I haven’t had any actual hands-on time with these devices.
Kate Spade Scallop Smartwatch 2
Where I read coverage: Tom’s Guide
Arrival: January 2019
This Kate Spade Scallop 2 has everything I’ve ever wanted in a Wear OS smartwatch: style, grace, flair, and NFC. The scalloped design encircling the display is really pretty, too, and the watch itself includes many of the same features as some sporty watches, including a heart-rate monitor and GPS.
Perhaps its only drawback—and the reason some smartwatches are failing to spark any joy within me—is that it uses a last-gen Snapdragon 2100 processor. The brand doesn’t even mention that fact in the press release, which makes me think it was omitted because it’s not like women care about these things anyway! Just kidding, we do, and it’d be nice if the watches marketed to us also ran the latest hardware like the ones hawked at the tinkering tech boys. Huff.
Fossil Carlie Hybrid Smartwatch
Where I read coverage: The Verge
Arrival: Not sure
Fossil has had a relatively consistent track record when it comes to putting out worthy Wear OS hardware, though I’m more interested in their hybrid watches, like the Fossil Carlie. It offers the same step-tracking and time-telling features that those tiny OLED panels do, but the battery lasts longer (I got a year out of mine with low Bluetooth usage—it’s a traditional watch battery), and its chassis isn’t as heavy since it isn’t crammed with radios and stuff.
The Carlie, in particular, has an aesthetic that lands square between cute and classy. Its 37mm-wide chassis and 16mm-wide strap hopefully won’t hog up my wrist. Priced at around $155-$175, it’s not too expensive either.
A watch that was not made for me
Michael Kors Sofie 2.0
Where I read coverage: Engadget
Arrival: Summer 2019
When I reviewed the Access Sofie about a year and a half ago, I remember that while it was a solidly fashionable Wear OS watch, it was too dang heavy and ostentatious to wear out at all hours of the day. (Not that I could wear it that long if I wanted to, as it requires a charge after about a day and a half.) I prefer my wearables to be somewhat subdued since I am usually sporting some other accessory I’m hoping will attract attention.
I also prefer that they run the latest wearable processor, which the Sofie 2.0 does not. Like its Kate Spade Scallop 2 cousin, the Sofie 2.0 runs on a last-gen Qualcomm Snapdragon 2100. If that’s the way it has to be (maybe to rid of excess stock of these things), then so be it. But I won’t be buying it, even with the inclusion of features like NFC and GPS tracking.
Part of the problem with Wear OS-based smartwatches up until now is that they have been too big for my wrist and can’t manage through a 16-hour work day. Until my needs are met, I’ll stick with an affordable hybrid smartwatch.