Smartwatches may seem superfluous to some, but for business users on the go, these devices offer a promising way to look up information or even take phone calls without fumbling in a pocket or purse. If you think a smartwatch may be for you, consider one of these four options.
By John Brandon
If there’s any segment of the population that might gravitate to the smartwatch trend, it’s business users. With a quick flick of the wrist, you can see the time, your meeting schedule and even whether you’re running late for a flight. Many business folks already wear a watch to keep track of the time during a hectic day filled with meetings and other appointments. Plus, a smartwatch is an extension of the smartphone we already rely on for business trips (and just about everything else).
If you think you might be ready to make a purchase and jump on the smartwatch bandwagon, here are the best options.
Apple surprised the world by announcing a smartwatch in September … that won’t be available until next year. What we know so far about Apple Watch ($350) is that the battery is expected to last about one full day. There’s a speaker and a microphone in the watch, so you’ll be able to make business calls. To respond to a text message or send a new one, you can dictate the message or choose a canned response. Apple says the watch will learn how you normally respond to texts and suggest that option.
The workout and health-tracking features aren’t that helpful for someone in business, but the new Apple Pay feature – which requires an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus – could be revolutionary. It stores credit card information; with a tap, you can pay your hotel bill. Apple will offer a wide variety of watchbands and release two versions, including one that’s a bit slimmer. No word yet on the exact storage allotment, the processor or other technical specs for the watch.
Samsung Gear Live
At just over 2 ounces, the Samsung Gear Live ($200) is a sleek, stylish watch that’s not quite as bulky as other models. It runs on Android Wear – like the LG G Watch and the Motorola 360 discussed below – which means you can load apps such as the Wear Tip Calculator for business lunches, Trello for making to-do lists and Truecaller to see the name of a caller.
The water-resistant watch runs at 1.2GHz, has 4GB of internal memory and offers a 320×320 pixel screen. It uses a bright display that’s easy to see in sunlight; set to a low brightness level, though, the watch will run for two days. Samsung Gear only comes in two band colors, black and purple. The watch is also water resistant and priced the lowest of any Android smartwatch.
LG G Watch
This elegant, square smartwatch connects to any Android phone and also uses Android Wear. That means all apps available for business will work on this model. You can also view cards that provide helpful reminders, flight info and scheduling info.
The water-resistant LG G Watch ($230) lasts one full day and weighs 2.2 ounces. It’s available with a white or black band. The processor runs at 1.2GHz and there’s 4GB of storage. The watch lacks a speaker, so you can’t hear music or messages. (You’ll have to stick with your phone for that.) However, there’s a microphone so you can ask questions using Google Now. The display looks crisp and will continue showing the time even after you’re done using it. For business users, the watch makes more of a subtle statement about practical use and admittedly isn’t as flashy as some smartwatch models.
Motorola Moto 360
Easily the most attractive-looking smartwatch for business users, the circular Motorola Moto 360 ($250) looked incredibly crisp in our hands-on tests, almost like an e-reader. It’s the first smartwatch that doesn’t look like a smartwatch. (The Withings Activité has a similar rounded, designer look, but there’s no exact ship date for that model.)
Moto 360 runs Android Wear, so it can run business apps, including Highlight (for making new business contacts), several airline apps and Google Maps. Android Wear also shows cards with reminders about flights, meetings, and tasks. The watch is available with a gray or black leather band and the display is made of Gorilla Glass. It, too, is water resistant, lasts one day, has 4GB of storage and runs at 1.2GHz.