The smartwatch had a good year in 2015. Not a great year, because doubts still remain over exactly what they are for – and Apple charging £13,500 for a gold one did not help. But it was mostly a sold 12 months that saw good gains, especially in performance, practicality and all-important aesthetics.
For 2016 we have high hopes for more success, with second-generation wearables due from Apple, Huawei, Asus, Withings and LG, plus many more. It could also be the year when more luxury watch makers follow the lead of Tag Heuer and make a high-end, four-figure smartwatch of their own. Here is what we are expecting to see in 2016.
Apple Watch 2
Some might say this is the obvious one but do not be so fast. Gossip spread when the first Watch came out suggested Apple will only update its first wearable every two years, so 2016 could be a quiet one. If we see anything, it will likely be an "S" update, like the iPhone 4S, 5S and 6S, bringing performance improvements and a new feature or two, but to exactly the same design and very similar hardware. Look out for an announcement in April or September.
Samsung Gear S3
More certain is the third-generation Gear S watch from Samsung. While the original was massive and sold in tiny numbers, the Gear S2 was a very good smartwatch indeed. It runs Tizen and is controlled by both a touchscreen and a rotating dial, saving you from covering the screen by prodding it. For 2016, we imagine the Gear S3 will arrive at the IFA technology show in September and its design will probably be more traditional than sci-fi.
Sony SmartWatch 4
One of the smartwatch pioneers, Sony could use either Mobile World Congress in February or IFA in September to update its SmartWatch to the fourth generation. Sony went for a sports theme with the third model but if the popularity of the traditional watches from Apple, Huawei and Samsung are to go by, we would not be surprised if Sony follows suit in 2016.
Withings Activite 2
Arguably the best looking smartwatch of 2015, the Withings Activite hid movement sensors and Bluetooth behind a beautiful traditional watch. No touchscreen, no vibration, no email notifications; it was pricey but it did not look like a film prop. Withings has already followed up with the cheaper Pop and Steel variants but in 2016, we are holding out for another top-end Activite.
Motorola Moto 360 3
Another manufacturer to take the traditional design route was Motorola, with the second-generation Moto 360. For the third-generation in 2016, we hope to see more of the same but in a case that is a touch slimmer.
Huawei Watch 2
More of the same from Huawei, please. We loved the Huawei Watch's aesthetics but, as with many smartwatches from 2015, it was just a bit too chunky to be comfortable. Phones, tablets and laptops have all shrunk over the years, so there's no reason to think smartwatches will not do the same – hopefully 2016 is the year we see some gains (or losses) in this department. As for a timeline, we do not yet know Huawei's Mobile World Congress plans, so we reckon a Watch successor will be much later in the year, perhaps the third quarter.