If you’re thinking about buying a Wear OS smartwatch, you may have noticed there are a lot of nice-looking options from top brands. However, not everyone is looking to spend hundreds of dollars. Luckily, there are quality options available at lower price points. One of the most affordable yet feature-packed Android smartwatches out there is the TicWatch S2, which is all about providing users with rugged durability. There’s plenty more where that came from.
The TicWatch S2 isn’t for the faint of heart. This smartwatch was designed with the active individual in mind. Whether you’re the outdoorsy type or a certified gym fiend, you’ll be glad to have this level of strength on your wrist. The large 1.39-inch display is crisp and easy to read. It’s not only waterproof but it was also built with military-grade durability, so you know it’s tough. You won’t have trouble keeping track of your stats, either. The combination of Google Fit and TicMotion will help you stay motivated with easy access to all of your workouts and data.
The TicWatch S2 also provides you with smartphone notifications so can stay connected to the world as you go about your day. Let’s not forget about the convenience of having Google Assistant readily available. With that said, you can expect up to two days of battery life. If you take advantage of always-on display and regularly use GPS and apps, you can expect closer to one day of battery. It would’ve been nice to have Google Pay on the S2, but at this price point, it’s hard to complain. You also don’t have an altimeter, so you won’t be able to track floors climbed.
The S2 offers a pretty display, military-grade durability, GPS, and great fitness tracking. It’s also reasonably priced.
When you’re seeking the best possible bang for your buck, you can’t go wrong with the TicWatch E2. It might resemble the S2 at first glance, but there are a few differences between the two. This model isn’t as bulky, which means you won’t get the military-grade durability. However, if you’re not worried about maximum ruggedness in a smartwatch, this could be a great choice.
Other than that, the TicWatch E2 functions just like the S2. They have the same display and battery size as well as the same processor and storage space. It’s only available in one color, but this can easily be jazzed up with a new band. You’ll still enjoy onboard GPS, Google Fit and TicMotion, 24/7 heart-rate monitoring, and Google Assistant. Like the S2, the E2 is also missing an altimeter and Google Pay.
The most bang for your buck
Aside from lacking military-grade durability, the E2 is just as capable as the S2. You’ll have the same core features that count.
The Misfit Vapor may already have a successor, but the original is still a perfectly competent smartwatch for those who don’t want to pay extra for the newer version and are content with the basics. You’ll have a lovely AMOLED display, heart-rate monitoring, music storage, and 5 ATM water resistance. It’s also nice that there’s a virtual bezel for easy navigation. You’ll get at least a day of battery life with the Misfit Vapor, possibly a bit more.
When you settle for an older version of a smartwatch, there’s likely to be some compromises. In the case of the Misfit Vapor, you won’t get built-in GPS or NFC payments. While you can go out for a run and listen to music without needing your phone, you’ll still need to have it if you want to utilize connected GPS during your workout. The watch case is 14mm thick, so it might be a bit too chunky for some users.
Keeping it simple
The Misfit Vapor might keep things simple, but sometimes that’s all you need. You’ll have music storage, waterproofing, and fitness tracking.
It’s easy to see that the Fossil Gen 4 Explorist HR was designed for those with a sense of style. It’s available in multiple eye-catching colors, including Gunmetal, Black, Silver, and Rose Gold. This successor offers heart-rate tracking, NFC payments with Google Pay, onboard GPS, and music storage. All of these features are new when you compare it to the previous Gen 3 model.
While the Fossil Gen 4 Explorist HR is a great improvement from the predecessor, it’s still lacking in some areas. It’s not fully waterproof like most of the other smartwatches on this list nor does it have its own swim tracking app. It’s also still running on the old Snapdragon Wear™ 2100, which is a bit of a bummer. Battery life is estimated to last for up to 24 hours. Other than that, it’s got some solid upgrades and won’t break the bank.
Form and function
An affordable watch doesn’t have to lack style. The fashionable Gen 4 Explorist model gives you GPS, NFC, music storage, and more.
While there were many great things to say about the original Misfit Vapor, the successor brings even more to the table. You’ll have onboard GPS to go along with the music storage, which means you can take advantage of the full phone-free workout experience. Don’t forget that Google Pay is available this time around, too. It also gives you two size options: 41mm or 46mm.
This smartwatch boasts all-day battery life, and can maybe last up to two days, but that figure can vary depending on individual usage. If you can’t live without the always-on display, you won’t be able to live without your charger for a day. Considering this smartwatch was just released last year yet is still running the Snapdragon Wear™ 2100, performance is unsurprisingly sluggish. The rotating crown isn’t very functional, either.
Truly new and improved
The Misfit Vapor 2 is pricier than the original, but it’s worth it if you want built-in GPS, Google Pay, and two size options.
Those who like the Fossil Gen 4 Explorist HR but want something more ideal for an active lifestyle may prefer the Fossil Sport instead. It’s got the features to satisfy workout enthusiasts. You’ll have built-in GPS, seamless integration with Google Fit, a reliable heart-rate monitor, a sweat-resistant plastic frame, and a soft rubber band. Perhaps the most important improvement is the long-awaited addition of the Snapdragon Wear™ 3100 processor for faster performance.
We were hoping for more battery life when the Fossil Sport was released, but it didn’t happen. You’ll get the usual 24 hours of battery life from this smartwatch. Sure, there’s a low-power mode that claims to extend the battery life, but it will disable everything except for the ability to keep time. Considering that most people will be using a Wear OS smartwatch for more than telling time, you can count on having to charge it daily. The new processor is a plus, but Wear OS still has its flaws and lags from time to time.
For the sporty folks
The Fossil Sport is ready to be active with you. It has GPS, 5 ATM water resistance, heart-rate monitoring, and Google Fit.
While Wear OS smartwatches may not be the most popular wearables on the market, there are a handful of excellent options that hold their own. Most importantly, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get one of these bad boys. Mobvoi’s TicWatch series is a great place to start, especially if you’re a beginner in the smartwatch world. When it comes to finding one that offers both affordability and a well-rounded experience, the TicWatch S2 is ideal. This rugged watch comes with military-grade durability, all-day battery life, waterproofing, heart-rate monitoring, and more.
If you’re not a fan of how large most of the TicWatch models are, there are other Wear OS options that you may find more suitable. Whether you’re prioritizing fashion, features, or both, you’ll have the chance to choose a smartwatch that will make your wrist happy without making your wallet sad.
Courtney Lynch is a freelance writer at Android Central. She’s obsessed with all things health, fitness, and music. At any given time she can be found checking out the latest and greatest gadgets while simultaneously petting her dog and sipping iced coffee.