With 2016 now well under way, it’s time to pause and take a look at the best releases so far. We’ve had some pretty fantastic handsets, like the Samsung Galaxy S7, HTC 10, and the modular LG G5 – and we’re still waiting for more (we especially cannot wait for the iPhone 7 in September and have been scouring the web for the latest rumours.)
But what about wearables? Smartwatches and fitness trackers are getting more and more popular, and their performance is always increasing. Their design, too, is moving away from the bulky early smart wristbands and towards a more decorative, almost jewellery-like feel for some, and a futuristic look for others.
Here are the best wearables of the year so far, and some of the most exciting upcoming releases still to come.
Best upcoming smartphones of 2016: the ones we can't wait for!
The Fitbit Blaze fitness watch is exactly what it sounds like: a fitness tracker/smartwatch hybrid, with a 1.66-inch LCD touchscreen with 240 x 180 resolution, and a PurePulse heart rate monitor on the back.
It is very similar to previous Fitbits in its activity and sleep tracking performance, and adds to those some smartwatch features like text, calls and calendar notifications, as well as synching with some of your phone’s apps like WhatsApp or Skype. One thing missing from the Fitbit Blaze, however, is a GPS tracker, which means you may have to rely on your phone to view and record your running routes.
The Blaze’s battery lasts for up to five days and a full charge only takes about two hours. Price-wise, it’ll set you back £199.99 – ideal for light users and fitness watch beginners.
Available for pre-order now, and expected to ship sometime in August, Ringly’s Aries is the most aesthetically pleasing smart bracelet out there. A thin, gold-plated bangle topped with a semi-precious stone, it’s perfect for those who may be hesitant to wear a bulky, grey watch on their wrist.
The bracelet synchs with your iOS or Android smartphone to send you notifications in the form of vibrations and LED light, which can be personalised and filtered – aiming to help busy users receive only relevant notifications. It also doubles as a step and fitness tracker, which did not feature on Ringly’s original product (a smart ring, as you may have gathered from the name.)
At the time of writing, the Aries bracelet is available to pre-order for $195 (about £135), as part of a 30% off offer for early supporters. Once the offer ends, retail price will be $279 (£195).
The Misfit Ray is one of the most minimalist, slick looking activity trackers out there. Only 12mm wide and 38mm long (and weighing just 8 grams), it blends in easily with other bracelets or watches you may be wearing and is light enough to forget about it – unlike some of the bigger, heavier trackers you can find.
It’s able to accurately count your steps, measure distance and calories burned, as well as recognise different activities like running, cycling, swimming, and even yoga. However, we’re missing a heart rate monitor and GPS. It also features notifications, via vibrations and a small LED light, but only for texts and calls for now.
The Misfit Ray can be worn as a bracelet or a necklace, and prices start at £74.
Expected to launch this summer, the Altra IQ smart shoe makes fitness wristbands and watches a thing of the past – the shoe is the tracker. Perfect for running enthusiasts, it measures basic stats such as time, distance, pace, but also more advanced metrics such as cadence, landing zone, foot force, and contact time.
The sensors are embedded inside the shoes’ midsoles, and data is automatically transferred to your smartphone via the IQ app, which aims to provide ‘real-time coaching and feedback’ to improve your performance and technique.
The Altra IQ will cost around $199 (roughly £140) when it is released later this year.