Smartwatch Buying Guide 2018 – What You Need To Know
Yes, smartwatches are great, but not all smartwatches are created equal. As the smartwatch’s popularity grows more and more watch manufacturers are making their own smartwatches. Today there are a lot of smartwatches available on the market. With all of the great choices out there, choosing the right smartwatch that fits your needs and your lifestyle may prove to be a challenge. But the good news is we have this quick little smartwatch buying guide to help you out a bit.
In this smartwatch buying guide, we will cover some of the important factors that you need to consider before buying a smartwatch, as well as some other features that might interest you.
First of all, you need to be familiar with a smartwatch’s operating system, and if it is compatible with your smartphone before you buy it. There are several operating systems for smartwatches available.
The most famous is probably Apple’s watchOS, which obviously runs on all Apple Watches. As you may or may not know, Apple Watches are only compatible with newer iPhone models. So if you are an Android user, the Apple Watch probably isn’t the right smartwatch for you.
Another popular operating system is Google’s Wear OS (previously Android Wear). This operating system is common in smartwatches from manufacturers like Huawei, LG, and Mobvoi. Wear OS smartwatches are compatible with both Android smartphones and iPhones. This makes Wear OS smartwatches a great choice for either Android or iPhone users.
Samsung is another company that manufactures great smartwatches. Samsung smartwatches run on the Tizen operating system. Although Samsung smartwatches can work with several Android smartphones as well as iPhones, it is easier to use them with Android devices. And as you might expect, these smartwatches will work better when you pair it with a Samsung smartphone. With that said, if you’re planning to buy a smartwatch and you already use a Samsung smartphone, it might be a good idea to buy a Samsung smartwatch to go along with your smartphone.
To Wrap Up: As you can see, some smartwatches are not compatible with some smartphones. The important thing to remember here is before you buy a smartwatch, always make sure that it is compatible with your smartphone.
Design and Comfort, and Customizability
A smartwatch’s design and comfort is something you always need to think about, because it is important that you buy a smartwatch that you won’t easily get tired of looking at. So pay attention to this before you buy.
Older smartwatches like the Pebble had sort of a square or rectangular shaped body. But some newer smartwatches like the Apple Watches, the Fitbit Versa, and the Amazefit Bip still do have a rectangular shaped body. This shape has a more modern look about it.
On the other hand, some smartwatches like the LG Watch Style, the Moto 360 and the Samsung Gear S3 have adapted a round shaped body. The round shaped body makes these smartwatches look more like traditional watches.
Most smartwatches today are easy to customize. Most smartwatches will come with multiple straps, usually with different types of material such as silicone, rubber, metal and fabric. If for some reason you don’t like the straps that come with your smartwatch, there are also a lot of places where you can buy smartwatch straps.
Comfort is also another thing you should keep in mind. Remember that you will probably be wearing this smartwatch on your wrist for long periods of time, so it is important to get a smartwatch that feels comfortable on your wrist.
To Wrap Up: At the end of the day, picking a design boils down to personal preference. Pick something that you think would look good on you and will complement your personal style. However, it is also important to pick a smartwatch that won’t make your wrist feel any discomfort. Pick a smartwatch that doesn’t feel heavy on your wrist, and a strap made of material that wouldn’t irritate your wrist.
Most smartwatches today have beautiful displays, with vibrant colors and very detailed designs.
Current smartwatches are usually equipped with either an LCD or an OLED display. Smartwatches with LCD displays usually have thicker bodies than their counterparts with OLED displays.
An important thing to look at here is how good the display is in bright environments. The display on some smartwatches will have decreased visibility outdoors or in brightly-lit rooms, while some will maintain a good display regardless of how bright your current area is.
Some smartwatches also come with an always-on display, which allows you to easily look at some information on your smartwatch without waking it up. However, an always-on display unsurprisingly drains battery faster.
To Wrap Up: Decide whether you want a smartwatch with an LCD or an OLED display. Pick a smartwatch that is not hard to read even in bright areas. An always-on display is a really useful feature, so if you really want it and you are fine with the battery draining a bit faster, get a smartwatch that has this feature.
Although most smartwatches have a touchscreen, some smartwatches like the Pebble Time do just fine without it. Although touchscreens are great, the small display on a smartwatch might make it hard to press some of the smaller items on the screen.
With smartwatches that don’t have a touchscreen such as the Pebble Time, users need to use buttons to navigate through the watch’s menus and use all of its features.
Some smartwatches give its users the option to use physical buttons in addition to the touchscreen. An example of this is the Apple Watch, which has a touch screen as well as a digital crown and a button on its side.
Samsung also has this type of approach. For instance, on the Samsung Gear Sport, users can navigate through menus by rotating the bezel.
To Wrap Up: Decide whether you want a touchscreen smartwatch or not. A smartwatch with no touchscreen has buttons that allow you to scroll through menus and use all features. However, some watches have both a touchscreen as well as physical buttons.
One of the biggest reasons why people buy smartwatches is for the fitness tracking. Most smartwatches have built-in heart rate sensors which can monitor your heart rate, and pedometers which can track the steps you take.
Fitbit probably has the best fitness tracking app around. It is very easy to use, so it is easier to read your stats and track your progress.
If you do a lot of running and cycling, you might also want to look for a smartwatch with a built-in GPS. Having a built-in GPS will allow you to track your distance as well as your pace. Unsurprisingly though, using GPS will drain the battery on your smartwatch faster.
If you’re in to swimming or water sports, you might also want to look for a smartwatch that has a high water resistance rating. Although most smartwatches can handle a little bit of water exposure, like sweat or rain, some smartwatches are actually capable of being submerged underwater for a limited amount of time. The Fitbit Versa for instance has a dedicated swimming mode which lets you track your stats when you go for a swim. The Apple Watch Series 3 is also water resistant for up to 50 meters.
Sleep tracking is another fitness feature that you might be interested in. The Fitbit Versa has this feature, so you can track your sleep cycles and see the times when you were in light and deep sleep.
To Wrap Up: A lot of smartwatches today have a plethora of fitness tracking features. However, some smartwatches are better at tracking certain types of workouts than others. If you’re planning to use your smartwatch primarily for fitness, knowing what type of workout you want to track might make it easier for you to choose the right smartwatch.
Most smartwatches typically last up to one to two days depending on how you use it. This is one of its biggest flaws.
Although there are some ways you can prolong your smartwatch’s battery life, and some smartwatches do have battery-saving features. The Huawei Watch 2 for instance has an ultra-low power consumption mode when the battery life drops down to a certain level. This temporarily disables most of the battery-draining features on the watch.
Another smartwatch with an amazing battery-saving mode is the Mobvoi Ticwatch Pro. The Ticwatch Pro has an Essential Mode which displays only the essential stuff, like the time, date, and battery remaining, just like what a normal digital watch does. However, enabling Essential Mode can dramatically increase battery life for up to 30 days.
To Wrap Up: The battery life on most smartwatches don’t typically last long if you use it fully. Although some smartwatches have battery-saving features, this usually stops you from using a lot of features, so it severely limits the smartwatch’s functionality. It all comes down to what features you’re willing to give up for battery life.
Of course the price is also one of the most important things to consider before you buy a smartwatch. Although there some more affordable smartwatches out there, most of the well-known brands will cost not less than $200 depending on the features. Understandably, the more features a smartwatch has, the more expensive it’s going to be. Fortunately, some smartwatches have a cheaper version that has one or more features taken out. For example, the Apple Watch Series 4 starts out at $399, but the model that comes with cellular connectivity starts at $499.
To Wrap Up: So with that being said, you would need to decide what model and what features matter to you most, and which fits your budget.
We’ve already covered the more important factors you need to consider before buying a smartwatch. But as I said at the beginning of this post, there are some premium smartwatch features that might catch your eye. I’ll list some of those here.
A lot of smartwatches are equipped with NFC chips, which allows users to do cashless payments, even without a smartphone. This is a nice feature that really makes paying for stuff more convenient. Apple Watches have Apple Pay, some Wear OS smartwatches like the LG Watch Sport and the Huawei Watch 2 has Android Pay, and some Samsung Gear smartwatches have Samsung Pay. However, this feature may not yet be available in some parts of the world, so be sure to find out if it’s available in your country before buying.
LTE/ Cellular Connectivity
Some smartwatches have built-in LTE which allows you to use your smartwatch independently from your phone. This means you can actually go out and leave your phone at home, and still be able to use your smartwatch. With this feature turned on, you can actually make calls with your smartwatch, even if you don’t have your phone with you. Although you do need to pay for a separate data plan for your smartwatch if you want to be able do this. But as you might expect, this feature eats up your smartwatch’s battery life fast, so you won’t be able to use it that long. Because of that, this feature is not yet perfect, but it is still a cool feature, so make up your mind if you need this or not. The Apple Watch Series 3 has this feature.
Some smartwatches can actually stream music. This can be done by connecting to Wi-Fi or cellular data. The Samsung Gear Sport even has offline Spotify support. This feature allows you to play your favourite songs from Spotify even when you’re not connected to the internet, as long as you have a premium Spotify account. Some smartwatches that have Bluetooth or NFC can even connect with wireless headsets. This of course takes a toll on your smartwatch’s battery. But if you think you like the idea of being able to listen to music directly from you smartwatch, even without your phone, consider looking for a smartwatch that has a media playback feature, as not all smartwatches have this.
You might be familiar with Siri, the virtual assistant from certain iPhone models. Apple Watches have Siri as well, so you can easily talk to your watch and give out specific instructions that it can do. This can make things a lot easier for you, as it gives you a way to use some of your smartwatch’s features hands free. If you’re not an Apple user, Wear OS smartwatches have Google Assistant, which works in a similar way. This may not be a big deal for some people, but I think it’s nice to have an option for voice commands.
This concludes this smartwatch buying guide. Just like almost anything else, it is always good to do your research before buying something. This ensures that you are satisfied with your purchase, and won’t end up accidentally buying something that you won’t like.
In addition, you may want to read this post about the top smartwatches today. This post goes more in-depth about the best smartwatches that are actually worth your money.
Do you think there’s something I missed? What features do you look for in a smartwatch?