The 5 Best Smartwatches (2021): Apple Watch, Samsung, Wear OS

In May, Google announced it would be releasing a new version of its wearable operating system, which is used by a bevy of tech and fashion brands, including Mobvoi and the Fossil Group. It’s called Wear OS 3, and it’s being codeveloped by Google, Samsung, and Fitbit (the latter is now Google-owned). This new version is expected to deliver better performance, longer battery life, and more third- and first-party apps, as well as robust health and fitness features. 

The first Wear OS 3 smartwatch will come from Samsung, and it will likely launch in August. Unfortunately, that means Samsung’s current smartwatches, like the Galaxy Watch3 above, will not get the update, since they run another operating system. Google has also shared that only a few smartwatches are eligible to upgrade to Wear OS 3: Mobvoi’s TicWatch Pro 3 (GPS and LTE) and the TicWatch E3. This implies that the new version requires Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 4100 chip, as those are the only smartwatches on the market utilizing it. Smartwatches from the Fossil Group launching later this year will also have the option to upgrade, which means they’ll be running on the same chip too. 

Unfortunately, things are bleak even if you do have the option to upgrade. Google says the upgrade won’t be available until the middle of 2022, and it will require a factory reset. Worse yet, you won’t enjoy the full breadth of features in Wear OS 3, as the platform is built for a completely new chipset. (Google did not specify exactly whose chips it’s built for.) So, for now, you should hold off until new smartwatches launch with the new version.  

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