THE BEST HYBRID SMARTWATCH IS
BEST PERFORMANCE: FOSSIL Q NATE
This shootout was a difficult one to call, as each of these hybrid smartwatches is a tale of tradeoffs. They bring more of the traditional watch, while sacrificing the smarts that a full-on digital smartwatch can provide.
Let’s start with the easy one; the Garmin vivomove is the most afford hybrid, but also the one with the least features. If you just want a nice-looking watch that also tracks your steps, you can consider it, but for just a bit more you can move up to the Misfit Phase.
The Phase gives you the most notifications, even though it doesn’t have a wide range to choose from, and vibrations are weak. It also looks chunky. Neither the vivomove nor the Phase can show you the date.
I really wanted to like the Withings Steel HR. While I can forgive its erratic heart rate monitor, its notifications game is weak; it only supports notifications for calls, text and calendar events.
Otherwise, the digital display is a perfect way to meld the best of mechanical and digital into one — a true hybrid. Plus, it actually tells you the date! If the Steel HR ever gets updated to support app notifications, it’s the one I’d recommend.
Now we come to the Fossil Q Nate. I didn’t think Fossil would figure hybrids out, but they have. The Q Nate looks like a proper watch, and it’s a notifications beast. You only get six notification slots, but it supports up to 54 apps at the time of this writing, and you can even set the strength of the vibrations.
True, the Q Nate is a more basic activity tracker than the rest of the other hybrids. And it’s big, which might not fit your style. It doesn’t tell you the date (well), and it doesn’t tell you which notifications are coming in. But it doesn’t let you miss one, and that’s the real strength of a hybrid smartwatch for me — something that lets me keep my phone in my pocket or bag, without having to worry about staying in touch.