5 smart alternatives to the Apple Watch

Apple is late to the smart watch party – here’s the proof.

Neil Churchill April 29, 2015

When I got an email this week from Apple with the line: 'The Watch is here', I expected big things. The message inside told me that the Apple Watch "lets you do familiar things more quickly and conveniently, straight from your wrist." For all the hype, I thought, it should do a bit more than that.

The email went on to say that the Apple Watch lets you do things that "simply weren't possible before", making it "a whole new experience". But that's just not true. It's been easy to forget amid Apple's behemoth marketing machine that smart watches have been around for a while, and rather than breaking any new ground the world's biggest company is in fact late to the party.

What used to set Apple apart from its rivals was its ability to market products that previously didn't exist and consumers didn't even know they wanted, and then convince them that they did. But smart watches have been an established part of the growing wearable tech market for quite some time. Which means that if you want a smart watch, you don't have to go to Apple.

Here are 5 alternatives to the Apple Watch that we recommend:

Samsung Gear 2 Samsung Gear 2.

While it might have been Apple that sued Samsung last year for $2 billion of copyright infringement, it was the South Korean company that first revealed a smart watch. Now on its Gear 2 version, there is also the Gear S, the Gear Fit and the Gear Live in Samsung's wearable tech repertoire - take that, Apple.

The Gear 2's brushed metal finish holds a 1.63 AMOLED display and comes with a changeable wristband. A voice command system lets you respond to texts, make calls and check emails. It is also a stand-alone music player, meaning you can store your favourite songs on the device itself. It uses a 2MP camera built into its face and can even work as a remote control for your TV - now fair enough, that was a trick that Casio's watches of the late '90s could do, but it's still a supercool trick. Price: $300.

Martian Martian smart watch. Designed to look like typical analog watches, Martian's line of smart watches have a number of savvy features built in, most notably, that they are compatible with both iOS and Android phones. There are both round and square models available, in a variety of colours.

The basic model, the Notifier, delivers texts, social media alerts, calendar and fitness tracking to the watch. The Voice Command model allows you to make and receive calls, hands-free texting, hundreds of voice notifications and of course voice command. Price: $129.

Garmin Vivoactive Garmin Vivoactive The clue's in the name with this smart watch. Effectively an upgrade of Garmin's Vivofit sports band, the Vivoactive is unsurprisingly heavily focussed on fitness tech, but with smartphone notifications. Make and receive calls, answer messages and read emails on the customisable watch faces.

It has a bevy of lifestyle tracking functions and built-in GPS, making this a smart watch for the health and fitness minded. Track your running, cycling, swimming and sports activities. It also works as a day-to-day step counter and analyses your sleeping patterns. All that, and Garmin claims just a single charge will give you three weeks of battery life. Price: $200.

Moto 360 Moto 360 smart watch. It might be a little on the large side, but there's few smart watches out there that are as sleek and stylish as the Moto 360. Choose from sporty or smart as Moto allows you to create and customise your watch to suit your preference. Modelled to look like a classic wristwatch, the stainless steel case comes with Horween leather and Gorilla glass, meaning scratches are something you don't have to worry about.

Receive notifications on the weather, traffic and flight alerts, while voice activation allows you to send texts, set reminders and ask for directions - all powered by Android Wear. A built-in activity tracker records how many calories you burn, your heart rate and encourages you with some coaching advice. It can also receive Tinder notifications, if that's your thing. Price: $250.

Alcatel OneTouch Alcatel OneTouch smart watch. Available in three models - all-white, stainless steel, red and black - make sure you're comfortable with the one you choose as the straps are not interchangeable. The One Touch has a built-in heart rate sensor and is dust resistant as well as water resistant, encouraging you to some extremes with this watch, despite its dainty appearance.

There are a number of watch faces available from a classic analog look to something more futuristic. You can track your physical activities, control your iPhone's camera, play music and answer calls. There's a gyroscope, accelerometer and NFC radio built-in and can pair to both Apple and Android smartphones. Price: $149.