Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority
Wearables have become a firm part of the modern tech enthusiast’s kit. Whether it is the utility of the smartwatch or the focus on health that fitness trackers provide, we’re partial to devices that provide more info than just the time. Although these devices aren’t our primary focus, many of us own a wearable. So, how has this past year shaped our wearable habits? I polled my colleagues to find out what devices they’ve used for the past year. Here are the wearables the Android Authority team members wore in 2023.
Below, we’ve published the results organized by wearable brand, device model, and per-device ratings out of 10.
Google finally has a winner
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority
The original Google Pixel Watch left plenty to be desired, and that was to be expected. Early rumors hinted at a half-baked yet aesthetically striking smartwatch, and that’s exactly what we received. However, a year later, Google launched a more complete smartwatch competing against the best Wear OS offers.
To prove just how good the Pixel Watch 2 is, it’s the most popular daily-wear smartwatch among the Android Authority team.
Features Editor Rita El Khoury speaks of these improvements:
It charges faster so I don’t leave it on the charger for hours on end and eventually forget to put it back on. It’s also becoming more tightly integrated with Pixel phones thanks to synchronized DND and bedtime modes, common alarms, full battery notification, and Watch Unlock. And best of all, it has automatic exercise detection so I don’t have to manually start tracking every time I go out for a walk.
Editor C. Scott Brown highlighted the watch’s improved battery life and the inclusion of the Fitbit Sense’s health and fitness features. “It is truly Google’s first great wearable,” he notes.
Many of us use Pixel smartphones, so the seamless integration the Pixel Watch 2 provides is another positive. Managing Editor Oliver Cragg notes that the wearable works well with the Pixel 7 Pro, and this simple and satisfying practicality is what we all seek.
Google Pixel Watch 2
Runs a snappy Wear OS 4 • Added and upgraded advanced health sensors • Fast charging alleviates battery woes
Wear OS 4, advanced health sensors, and upgraded training features elevate the Pixel Watch 2
The Google Pixel Watch 2 retains the first model’s successful features and refines several of the original’s shortcomings. Added sensors, upgraded training tools, and a few key changes suggest a more finished product. Google’s Wear OS 4 runs flawlessly, while advanced health tools from Fitbit join the lineup.
Apple well represented
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority
We’ve long regarded the Apple Watch as the best smartwatch money can buy. Granted, you’ll need an iPhone and a deep appreciation for Apple’s walled garden, but there’s no denying the integration with other devices and extensive smart and health features make it a stellar wearable. Apple, alongside Google, proved to be the most popular smartwatch brand among my colleagues, with 27.2% of the share.
The Apple Watch’s seamless integration with iPhones can’t be beat and the App Store is extensive enough for all my needs. It also offers an intuitive user experience.
Senior Writer Aamir Siddiqui praises the Series 9’s “comprehensive health features” but rated the device slightly lower than Kaitlyn. This is due to “iPhone lock-in” and questionable sleep tracking accuracy.
Notably, one staffer is still rocking the Series 8. Video Producer Damien Wilde still finds the older generation wonderfully comfortable on the wrist but wishes to use the watch with an Android phone.
Apple Watch Series 9
Powerful new processor • Upgraded display with 2000 nit brightness • New gesture controls and Siri features
Apple’s most convenient smartwatch
The new S9 chip makes the Apple Watch Series 9 the most capable, and battery friendly Apple watch to date. Enjoy improved security, improved functionality in low-connectivity situations, and improved health tracking. Introducing new Double-Tap gesture.
Where did Fitbit go?
Kris Carlon / Android Authority
While Google and Apple’s wearables grew in popularity with the team in 2023, another two marques are surprisingly absent. Fitbit has had a troubled year, especially when factoring in its late 2022 launch of the Sense 2 and Versa 4. Those two devices stripped features from their predecessors, turning both into glorified fitness trackers rather than well-rounded smartwatches.
Notably, C Scott Brown was wholly committed to Fitbit but jumped ship this year to another Google property, the Pixel Watch 2:
I wore the original Fitbit Sense for three years straight because there was nothing better than it on the market, so it’s been a joy to finally have something different, even if I needed to sacrifice battery life to get it.
I previously rocked the Versa 2 and Sense 2, but while the former is now on my partner’s wrist, the Sense 2 was far too basic for my desires.
Other interesting takeaways
- Despite rating the Apple Watch Series 9 highly, Kaitlyn Cimino still laments the device’s battery life. This is true with several Google Pixel Watch 2 owners, suggesting that even the best devices can be improved.
- One of my colleagues uses a hybrid smartwatch. Notably, Contributor and Drone Rush Executive Editor Jonathan Feist uses the Fossil Hybrid HR. It’s by far the oldest watch from those we surveyed and the only hybrid wearable.
- Another interesting outlier came from Contributor Edgar Cervantes, who uses a Zepp Z daily. The premium smartwatch, launched in 202o, is among the prettiest watches on any of our arms. However, Edgar laments the lack of smart features but enjoys its simplicity, notifications mirroring, and Alexa support. Interestingly, Edgar wants to upgrade to a hybrid watch — the Citizen CZ Smart Hybrid.
- Only five of us are using current-gen smartwatches. Just under half of my colleagues wear a latest-generation smartwatch, with many others hanging on to their devices a little longer.
- While he uses an Android phone as his daily driver, Oliver Cragg is considering an Apple Watch for his next wearable (using an iPhone for setup only) but still sticking with Google’s Pixel phones.
- None of my colleagues currently use a fitness tracker as their daily wearable.
- Editor Hadlee Simons says the best thing about his Suunto 7 is that it has onboard storage for music. He also notes that he’ll likely miss out on buying a new smartwatch as wearables aren’t for him.
- Neither of the two Samsung smartwatch users in Team AA uses a Galaxy Watch 6 or Galaxy Watch 5. Instead, both Features Writer Calvin Wankhede and I use Galaxy Watch 4 models. While I feel the watch is still more than good enough for use in 2023, Calvin notes that the One UI 5 Watch skin often feels heavy on the aging device.
The wearables we’re looking forward to in 2024
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority
While we’re all mostly happy with our devices, we’re still looking to the year ahead for a potential wearable upgrade. So, which devices are on Team AA’s radar?
I’ve been looking towards the Garmin camp for quite some time. The Garmin Venu 2 Plus was my initial target for its focus on health and wellbeing, but the Venu 3 is a more attractive, modern option. I’m happy to wait for a rumored Garmin Venu 3 Plus, but I don’t necessarily see myself retaining a Wear OS watch in the future.
Google is slowly gathering smartwatch fans. Judging by our team’s appreciation of the Pixel Watch 2, several of my colleagues are excited about the Pixel Watch 3. At least five suggest they consider Google’s next smartwatch, with one specifically looking towards the Pixel Watch 4.
On the other side of the fence, the Apple Watch is still the target of several of my colleagues. Kaitlin Cimino looks forward to the Apple Watch X and hopes the company addresses the line’s battery life struggles.
Aamir Siddiqui provided one of the more intriguing answers. Despite using the Apple Watch Series 8 and an iPhone, he’s considering the OnePlus Watch 2 or another Wear OS wearable:
The other Android supporting watch that I had was the Galaxy Watch 4, which no longer gave me full 24hr battery life. So I am hoping for a more capable Android smartwatch that lasts through a day.
Finally, Jonathan Feist isn’t considering a smartwatch or fitness tracker at all. Instead, he’s excited for another format altogether:
I am actually most excited for wearables that attach to clothes. I usually use my Fitbit or Xiaomi units by just slipping them into a pocket. That’s accurate enough of a step counter for me, and I don’t really care about ongoing data collection otherwise. Build these theoretical wearables into a waistband, sock band, or maybe the neckline of a shirt, make them comfortable and remove the barriers to use. I wear a belt almost every day, and it is the constant most tightly fit piece of clothes attached to my body, let’s take advantage of that.
What smartwatch or fitness tracker do you wear daily? Be sure to let us know which model and why in the comments section below.