May 23, 2014


Android Wear devices will shake up the wearables landscape come this summer. Google, Motorola, and LG promised us sleek, useful smartwatches that we will actually want to wear. The Moto 360 and the LG G Watch look awesome on paper and in concept videos, and hopefully they’ll be just as impressive when they ship in a few months. And we can wait to see what HTC, Samsung and other partners have in store.

But no matter how cool the first Android Wear watches are, the price has to be right as well. This week, the fine print on a Motorola-ran contest suggested the Moto 360 would retail for $250. Motorola tried to shot down the speculation, but $250 looks like a plausible price tag for a smartwatch.

In this Friday Debate, tell us — would an Android Wear smartwatch be successful at $250? Or is it too expensive? What would be the right price for a device you wear on your wrist as an extension of the device you keep in your pocket? And what kind of features would you expect at that price level?

Join us in the discussion bellow, vote in our poll, and sound off in the comments.

Darcy LaCouvee

I’m excited for Android Wear, and for the rise of a truly great wrist experience. I never hope to have anything except for the ability to get notifications of messages and occurrences that are relevant to me. Google Plus notifications, Facebook messages, Emails, SMS and other stuff should be the main focus. Perhaps some kind of contextual location aware stuff, too.

That being said, I won’t put something on my wrist unless its classy. Moto has gotten things right as of late, and the 360 looks very promising, aesthetically speaking. But, with the power of Google, perhaps one day in the near future we will see legacy watch makers debut watches with Android Wear on board, transparent OLED displays, and with high quality build materials like Sapphire crystal faces and silver, stainless steel, or even gold.

Further, the spherical design of the display/face itself is very appealing. Square displays are so reminiscent of the the Casio calculator ‘smartwatches’ of yesteryear.

I digress.

A smartwatch, if it is to be successful and inherently appealing must be:

– waterproof, scratch and dust resistant
– Under $249 depending on the build, with more premium options available (leather straps, stainless steel, silver, etc)
– have battery life of at least 6 days with relatively frequent usage (how many times a day do you check your phone?)
– Android Wear and all that it will potentially be able to do (it will only get better in time)
– Great bezel to display ratio
– Easy charging
– 8GB + of internal storage, for those times when you can’t stream tunes, will make it more appealing for working out, etc, which I totally never do anyway. But I like to talk about it like I do.

Perhaps even strong customizability, of bezel, etc.

It’s only a matter of time before someone gets it right, and right now, that appears to be Moto. As soon as Apple releases the iWatch, the whole industry is going to explode.

Gary Sims

The potential for wearables is enormous, however there are several obstacles which will need to be overcome before they become mainstream.

One problem is the price, the second is style, the third is building a device that actually meets real life needs.

All three of these are connected. Since this is a new industry, you aren’t going to get all the features and all the style at a low price. And that is a big problem.

Darcy mentioned under $249 price point, and I understand why he said that. However I think the boom in wearable devices will come when the price drops below $75.

You may consider that a bit crazy, but think about it. Some people are happy to spend hundreds of dollars, even thousands of dollars on a watch. That is there choice. Personally I have never spent more than $30 on a watch. Why would I? It just needs to tell me the time.

So a $249 smartwatch would need to do something radical for me to want to part with my money, and at the moment they don’t. Sure they have neat features, stuff that makes you want to say words like “cool”, “neat”, “awesome.” But after the engineer in me stops swooning over the technology, what difference will the device make to my day to day life?

It wasn’t that way with smartphones. The PDA market was already booming and PDAs solved real world problems. When the PDA merged with the phone the smartphone was born.

Here is the truth, I don’t care if I can read SMS messages on my watch. It doesn’t help me in any way whatsoever. I don’t care about all the connectivity options. So what if my phone is connected to my watch? If I am carrying my phone then I don’t need my watch to beep to tell me to look at my phone.

OK, maybe I am over simplifying things, but I hope you get the idea. The wearable designers need to come up with a killer feature, something that makes me want a wearable device, because it helps me somehow.

That doesn’t mean the killer feature isn’t just around the corner, it just isn’t here today.

Bottom line: I might be tempted to part with $75 for a watch that is clever, water resistant, has a good battery and reasonable storage (maybe 4GB). For more money than that then it needs to be able to do a whole load more, and not just features, but something that actually makes my life easier.

Robert Triggs

Who still wears a watch these days? I stopped wearing one as soon as I bought my first phone.

My biggest issue with the whole market, as it stands, is that I can’t find much use for one. Features like fitness tracking are a big too gimmicky for me, and I can reach into my pocket to check the time, read a text, and check my emails. Like Gary, I’m struggling to see where a smartwatch fits in with my needs, they just seem like an expensive accessory at the moment.

Although smartwatch technology is getting better, we’re still waiting on that killer feature to make the technology really useful. Perhaps, if I really stretch my imagination, I can maybe see smartwatches eventually replacing smartphones when it comes to messaging, calls, and perhaps even audio, if you paired one up with some wireless headphones. But we’re nowhere near that stage yet. Once smartwatches can stand alone, and if they prove to actually be useful on their own, I’ll be much more interested in them.

Then there’s the other half of the argument – features like water resistance, scratch resistance, and, of course, style. I’d want them all. The Moto 360 is heading in the right direction, the geeky Samsung look doesn’t cut it for me compared with more traditional premium designs, especially if you’re going to charge a high price for them. I’d say $250, or even higher, is fair for something of quality, but I don’t see that sort of value in anything being offered right now.

For now, the price of smartwatches would have to come down substantially to grab my interest.

Lanh Nguyen

I don’t think a price of $250 to $300 is unreasonable if it has the build of a normal watch but with smart functions obviously. Normal watches can be expensive so we shouldn’t expect a smartwatch to be cheaper when it has extra functionality unless the watch just has cheap build quality. What I really want a watch to do, that would make me go out and buy one, is allow me to input on it. Text people, tweet, etc., something we still can’t do and I think that would drastically change how useful a smartwatch can be because to me glancing at info is not enough. I understand we’re working with a limited amount of space here but this is where OEMs need to get creative.

The biggest problem with smartwatches right now is people don’t feel the need for them so until they can do things that make us feel like we need them I won’t be going out and buying one anytime soon. Hopefully Android Wear is the answer.

[poll id=”592″]

Bogdan Petrovan
Bogdan is the European Managing Editor of Android Authority. He loves tech, travel, and fantasy. He wishes he had more time for two of those things. Bogdan's phone is a Nexus 6P.
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