The best Linux-powered smartwatches you can buy today

These 5 Linux-powered watches give the Apple Watch some stiff competition.

LG Watch Urbane
More than just a pretty face

I'll admit it, I was skeptical about how useful smartwatches might be. But after wearing and using a smartwatch, I found it to be as useful as my smartphone -- although usefulness is highly dependent on the features and capabilities of each individual smartwatch.

Here, in no particular order, are the best Linux-powered watches available today.

See also:

LG Watch Urbane
Credit: LG
LG Watch Urbane

This is one of the best looking Android powered devices around. This is the watch that got me hooked to smartwatches. In terms of design, it's the closest thing you can buy to a "real" watch.

But, where it excels in looks it lacks in features. In my experience so far it's more or less a notification accessory for an Android phone, and not a standalone device. It can do a few things on its own but they are very limited.

The watch is powered by Android Wear, which is based on Linux. And it is the first Android watch to come with WiFi support. This is an important feature because if you walk out of the bluetooth range of your phone, your watch will continue to get notifications and coordinate with your phone through the wireless connection.

Hardware Specs:

Processor: Qualcomm's 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400
Display
: : 1.3-inch P-OLED Display (320 x 320, 245ppi)
Storage and RAM: 4GB eMMC/512MB RAM
Sensors: 9-Axis (Gyro / Accelerometer / Compass) / Barometer / PPG (Heart Rate Sensor)
Battery: 410mAh
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.1 and WiFi
Dimensions:45.5 x 52.2 x 11.0 mm
Weight: 66.5 g

Pros: Attractive, watch-like design

Cons: No GPS support
Can't make calls from the watch itself
Bulky compared to Moto 360
Can't do much on the watch, opens the apps on the phone

Price $349

moto 360
Credit: Motorola
Moto 360

The Moto 360 is the most popular Linux-powered watch. It was the first watch to come with Android Wear, an OS Google created for wearable computers.

It's not a bad watch for $149, and since it will be getting the WiFi support, it's a good way to keep an eye on Android Wear progress without having to invest over $300.

The Moto 360 comes in three variants: black, silver and gold finish. And there are other customization options on the Moto 360 build site.

The watch has a built in ambient sensor, the infamous, Nest like bar at the bottom of the watch.

Hardware Specs:

Display: 1.56" 320 x 290, 205ppi, Backlit LCD (Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3)
Processor: TI OMAP 3
Memory & Storage: 4GB internal storage + 512MB RAM
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy (WiFi supported)
Sensors: Pedometer, Optical heart rate monitor (PPG), On-body detection
Water resistance: IP67

Pros: Circular design
Customizable
Affordable

Cons: Old processor
Ambient sensor on the face

Price $149

Asus Zenwatch
Credit: ASUS
Zenwatch

Asus is a known Linux player. The company made the popular Nexus 7 tablet and is also the makers of some of the leading Chromebooks. So you would expect its smart watches to be among the best.

The build quality is top-notch. It's full stainless steel design shows great craftsmanship. The only design-related downside is the extremely thick bezel that houses much of the hardware.

The watch is powered by Android Wear. But it won't be getting the much talked about WiFi support so you have to stay within the bluetooth range of the phone.

Hardware specs:

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 1.2GHz
Memory: 512 MB RAM
Storage: 4GB eMMC Flash
Display: AMOLED 1.63", 320x320, 278ppi Touch Display
Sensor: 9 Axis Sensor/Bio sensor
Connectivity: Bluetooth V4.0; Micro USB on Charging Cradle
Battery: Polymer 1.4Wh
Dimensions: 51 x 39.9 x 7.9 mm (LxWxH) ~ 9.4 mm
Weight: Body : 50 g

Pros: One of the most polished-looking rectangular watches
Cons: Won't get WiFi Support
Thick bezel

The watch is available for $199.

Sony Smartwatch 3
Credit: Sony
Sony Smartwatch 3

One of the greatest feature of Sony's Smartwatch3 is built-in GPS which eliminates lugging around your phone. Also, it is among the Android Wear watches to get WiFi support. It comes with a MicroUSB port for charging and you can easily use it to further hack the device.

Hardware Specs:

Processor: Quad ARM A7, 1.2 Ghz
RAM and Storage: 512 MB RAM, 4 GB eMMC
Sensors: Ambient light sensors, 9-axis, GPS
Battery: 420mA (up to 2 days normal use)
Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wifi, NFC, MicroUSB
Dimensions: 36 x 10 x 51 mm
Weight: 45 g

This is certainly one of the few Android Wear watches which pack so much hardware.

Pros: More hardware than other watches
Cons: Still uses Micro USB and no wireless charging
Thick bezel

The watch is available for $199

Samsung Gear S
Credit: Samsung
Samsung Gear S

Samsung can't make up its mind whether it wants to use Google's Android Wear or built its OS. The company recently switched its smartwatches from Android to Tizen, but that was before Google announced Android Wear. (Samsung Live is the only Samsung watch that is still powered by Android Wear, but it's not a watch that I would recommend to anyone.)

The Samsung Gear S is powered by Linux-based Tizen. One of the greatest features of Samsung Gear S is the built in cellular capabilities. The watch supports both GSM and CDMA technologies so you can use SIM from T-Mobile, AT&T and other GSM players or get one from Verizon.

This Linux powered smartwatch has built-in GPS and was capable or making phone calls even before the Apple Watch could do that. But unlike the Apple Watch, it gets its own phone number for making calls. And it still needs a Samsung (not just any other Android handset) phone for many apps and notifications.

Hardware Specs:
Display: 2.0” Curved Super AMOLED (360 x 480)
Processor: Dual core 1.0 GHz
Dimensions: 2.28in x 1.57in x 0.49in
Weight: 67 g
Connectivity: WiFi :802.11 b/g/n, A-GPS/Glonass, Bluetooth, USB 2.0
Sensors: Accelerometer, Barometer, Gyro Sensor, Geomagnetic Sensor, HR Sensor, Light Sensor
Battery: 300mAh

Pros: Built in cellular network and GPS; no need for phone to place calls
Cons: Locked into Samsung ecosystem
Limited apps and content
Extremely bulky

The watch is available with carriers under contract and without contract.