With the Apple Watch just around the corner, 2015 could be the year when the smartwatch finally achieves mainstream acceptance. But 2014 was a period during which the smartwatch gained a significant amount of market traction, so here ValueWalk looks back at some of the best smartwatch releases of the last 12 months.

The Best Smartwatches Of 2014

LG Lifeband Touch

The company which is making big strides in the smartphone market launched its first smartwatch this year, and it received a decent reception. This is a sporty device that is compatible with both iOS and Android, and this is sure to see the Lifeband Touch sell pretty well for LG.

The Best Smartwatches Of 2014

Sony SmartWatch

Although Sony has lost something of its cool factor when compared with Apple, the brand name still carries a certain cachet, and thus the Sony SmartWatch will be considered a very attractive device by many consumers. However, the design of this particular smartwatch didn’t impress all reviewers, owing to its bulky nature, and the battery life of the Sony SmartWatch is not particularly impressive. Nonetheless, this is a decent attempt by Sony and one it will look to build on in 2015.

The Best Smartwatches Of 2014

Samsung Galaxy Gear

Samsung has attempted to steal a march on the leading consumer electronics company in the world, Apple, by getting its smartwatch to market much quicker than its great rival and competitor. Few have doubted the manufacturing quality of Samsung smartphones in recent years, and thus it was not surprising that Samsung chose the Galaxy branding for this smartwatch.

The Galaxy Gear is a more than competent device, but it is held back to a certain extent by the fact that it is only compatible with three smartphones. It is certainly a stylish device, but the expensive price tag which Samsung has attached to the device also counts against it.

In terms of features, there is strong fitness functionality included in this watch, but some of the other features feel a little gratuitous considering there is no decent e-mail support included in the device. This seems extremely strange as surely checking and sending e-mails is one of the primary reasons to own a smartwatch in the first place.

Nonetheless, this is an early smartwatch, and a first effort from Samsung, and certainly shouldn’t be considered a poor device. But neither has Samsung whacked the ball out of the park with the Galaxy Gear.

The Best Smartwatches Of 2014

Martian Notifier

The smartwatch with the fantastically exotic name is a good choice for anyone wanting smartwatch functionality contained within the confines of a traditional wrist watch. It is both affordable and stylish, and delivers its relatively limited functionality pretty neatly. An excellent buy for anyone wanting an unpretentious and affordable smartwatch.

Pebble Steel

Pebble was the early market leader in the smartwatch market, and the company unquestionably knows that as the big boys of consumer electronics increasingly become involved in this marketplace, its position will come under massive threat. Indeed, with big names such as Samsung, Sony and LG releasing smartwatches during the calendar year, and predictions already indicating that the Smartwatch marketplace will be worth $23 billion by 2020, Pebble really needs to build on its achievements in the smartwatch market as quickly as possible.

Its latest attempt to do this is the Pebble Steel smartwatch, which continues the approach of Pebble producing smart devices with a slightly retro feel. Although the Pebble Steel might not have the highest specifications on the marketplace, and nor does it benefit from a colorful screen, its stylish square design and display has a certain charm which finds favor with a lot of consumers.

The Pebble Steel execute everything within its feature set extremely efficiently, and also delivers outstanding battery life; traditionally a bugbear of Apple devices. This is certainly one of the best alternatives to Android Wear on the market, if not the very best. Now Pebble needs to build on the quality of this device in 2015 as the smartwatch market becomes ever more competitive.

LG G Watch and R Watch

Many reviewers and analysts consider the LG G Watch to be the pinnacle of smartwatch technology thus far. It certainly delivers an excellent Android Wear system at a very affordable price tag, although a downside for some users will be the fact that a device with Android 4.3 will be required sooner rather than later.

However, some people feel that this is not the most aesthetically pleasing of the smart watches available, and given that this is a fundamental aspect of the smartwatch as a device, this must count strongly against the LG G Watch, despite its well-executed feature set.

The R Watch is a round-screened version of the G Watch which some people believe is more physically attractive. It also has a decent price tag and is well worth considering for anyone wishing to purchase a smartwatch.

Motorola Moto 360

The Motorola Moto 360 probably represents the best smartwatch available on the market thus far. It benefits from outstanding build quality, luxurious and original design, and a price tag that will be well within the budget of most consumers. It provides an extremely intuitive and slick package for anyone wanting to try out this embryonic technology for the first time.

Nonetheless, it is not without a few quibbles, as there is room for improvement with the battery life of the device, the screen resolution is lower than some competitors, and a few users have complained about it being excessively bulky. Nonetheless, the Motorola Moto 360 does everything it attempts to do with style and verve, and is a pretty good looking and attractively priced device as well.

Motorola may be in the smartwatch pole position at the moment, but next year will see the release of the Apple Watch to provide consumers with still further choice.