Before you decide to buy a smartwatch, make sure you understand what it is and what it’s for, and if there really is a need for it. Basically, a smartwatch is a gadget that works both as a watch with the extra features of a smartphone. Not a very smart description, I would say, but that’s the gist of it. If you have a smartwatch on your wrist, you can do more than just tell time. Depending on the smartwatch that you own, some will allow you to receive message alerts or app notifications, download or stream music and listen to playlists, and some will even allow you to make phone calls. If you own one that is equipped with NFC or near field communication technology, then you can actually use your watch to make wireless payments. As is the trend these days, most smartwatches act as aids in health or fitness monitoring. To function well as a fitness tracker, it is important for a smartwatch to have GPS and sensors. These added features make tracking of distances run or steps taken possible. If you have a smartwatch with a built-in compass, then it will tell you the direction you are supposed to take and even calculate your elevation. For health monitoring, the sensors on smartwatches allow for such functions as sleep tracking or heart rate monitoring. What impact does this have on the field of health and wellness or even medicine? Well, by having access to these advanced technologies, it will be easier to track sleeping habits, record heart rates, identify irregularities, and recognize possible health problems before they become worse. It is not correct to rely on smartwatches for diagnosis, but these at least give one a glimpse of where he stands when it comes to his health. New innovations on smartwatches even allow blood glucose monitoring, which is something very beneficial for diabetics. Today, several smartwatch manufacturers have enabled LTE connection on their products which means that these devices can function almost completely independently of smartphones. However, a smartwatch being a totally standalone device is something that has yet to be explored by technology experts.
Now, you know what a smartwatch is and you’ve decided that you need one. How do you decide which one to purchase? Let’s go back to the questions you first need to ask yourself.
Why do I need a smartwatch?
There are endless reasons why you would want a smartwatch for yourself. Perhaps you need an extension of your smartphone on your wrist so you can function more effectively and comfortably on a day-to-day basis. Perhaps you need a tracking device for when you do your morning jog or when you go on a cycling adventure with your buddies. Perhaps you are suffering from a form of sleep problem and you want to be able to monitor your sleep habits as a precaution. Once you know your reason for wanting to own a smartwatch, this is where you can start looking for the features necessary to meet your needs.
What features am I looking for?
To answer this question, you will still need to go back to the primary reason why you believe you need a smartwatch. If it is for fitness purposes, then you might want to consider looking at built-in sensors, GPS, or a compass. Having a watch with the Always-On option is also a smart decision if you are into workout routines that involve constantly checking the time, but that also only allows you limited movement. If you’re a swimmer and want to track your lapses or distance covered, then consider buying a smartwatch that is water resistant. If you want a health monitoring device, then look for a smartwatch equipped with ECG, a heart rate monitor, or a sleep tracker. If your only purpose is to have a device that will allow you to listen to music without the need for your phone, then a smartwatch with built-in speakers is what is most suitable for you. You can choose one with additional features for downloading, streaming, or storing music. Now, if you simply want a smartwatch to function as an extension of your phone, then you want something with LTE connection capabilities to receive phone calls and notifications. A higher memory will also serve the purpose of downloading third party applications that you need as you work or work out. Important smartwatch features will be discussed later in this buyer’s guide.
Is it something I need to use during workout?
If you read the reviews again, most smartwatches today have very similar features when it comes to athletic tracking. Only a few innovations set them apart, and these innovations are what you would want to look further into. Buying the best smartwatch for you highly relies on knowing how effective it is in catering to your needs. For fitness enthusiasts, the most useful features are GPS, built-in sensors, a compass, and actually, even a decent battery life. You don’t want a smartwatch that will only last you a few hours before needing a recharge. You also would not want something bulky and that could possibly get in the way as you complete your exercise program, unless of course it makes up for other functions.
Do I need it to have something trendy on me?
This may be the last thing on your mind but, it does count. There are probably less people who care about fashion, and find that function is more important. However, reality is, whether something looks good on you or not matters in the kind of society we live in. Speaking for myself, for instance, I want a smartwatch that will not only serve its purpose well, but will also make me feel good as I look at it. I would not want to look at my wrist to check the time and be bothered by how silly I look or how the color of the watch doesn’t suit me. The least I want to happen is for me to be annoyed or irritated by how bad a device looks on my arm. Well, apart from appearance, there is actually more to choosing the right kind of materials. This takes us back to our purpose. If you live an active lifestyle, then choosing a watch with a band that is made of silicon is best because this would prevent sweat from being absorbed. If you are like a jack of all trades who has numerous engagements and would want to have something stylish every time you attend an event, then you might to consider buying a watch with changeable bands or one that has a design suitable for all types of occasions. For instance, some smartwatches allow you to change from leather bands to silicon bands. Other watches have minimalistic designs that have this universal look that make them perfect for any outfit. Still, other smartwatches have that sleek, classic look that is most fit for business gatherings.
How much am I willing to spend for it?
Budget is another important consideration when looking for the best smartwatch. With the availability of options in the smartwatch marketplace, and with the variations in terms of features, choosing the best one to buy could sometimes take time. It will take minutes or even hours of comparing prices, features, looks, functionalities before one can finally decide. This also comes with the fear of regretting your decision if you suddenly realize that you unnecessarily compromised some cool, additional functions for a few pounds off the price tag. The challenge here now is distinguishing a proper tradeoff from a careless decision to be stingy.
To avoid going over your set budget, but, at the same time, make sure you’re getting the best deal for the product’s price, try to weigh the pros and cons, or the advantages and the disadvantages. If the item that you like has a price that is totally out of your plan, analyze whether the added features are truly worth the extra cash. If not, then it is time to look for something that’s within the price range you can afford, and still has all the functionalities that you are looking for in a smartwatch.
Important Smartwatch Features
Before you make the final step of deciding which smartwatch is best, it is also important to first be familiar with the different basic features of a smartwatch. We have discussed some of these in the review, but here, we’ll be putting a spotlight on each one for you to know how any of these could and should impact your decision.
Depending on the operating system that a smartwatch runs on, it should be able to access various applications. Some smartwatches also support third party apps that may be downloaded if the specs allow.
Since a smartwatch is designed to be an extension of your smartphone, then it is able to support several functions such as access to media files. Some smartwatches are not only limited to playback controls, but may actually be used to download, stream, and play music.
This is one of the most standard features of a smartwatch – allow you to receive notifications without the need to check your phone. This could include message or call alerts, or app notifications. Some smartphones are able to send notifications as well. A perfect example would be the Apple smartwatch that has enabled fall detection which sends out an alert if it senses that something bad, such as a fall, has happened to you.
Calls and Messages
With the fast-evolving technology, smartwatches are not limited to receiving messages anymore. With the right operating system, some smartwatches can now be used to respond to text messages and even engage in voice calls because of built-in speakers and LTE connections.
Smartwatch manufacturers are smart to think that a fitness tracking functionality would help boost their market rankings. By incorporating such functions as GPS, sensors, barometers, accelerometers, heart rate monitors, and other tracking programs, they were sure that more people would dive into the smartwatch craze. This innovation brought smartwatches out of the “phone extension” domain, and into the “almost standalone” wearable device. If you can have a small, wearable gadget that will allow you to access basic phone functions and, at the same time, help monitor your health statistics, wouldn’t you take the plunge as well?
What to Consider When Buying a Smartwatch
Now, to the most exciting part. It’s now time to finally decide which smartwatch is worth the spend. After carefully looking at the features and assessing whether these serve your purpose, here is a summary of the important points or specs you must consider before you finally buy your own smartwatch:
- Compatibility. What smartphone are you using? You need to make sure your smartwatch runs on an OS that is compatible with your phone. If your watch doesn’t work with your device, then you will only be limiting its capabilities.
- Features. This I cannot emphasize enough. You have a specific reason for purchasing a smartwatch. If the features do not, at all, meet your requirements, then it totally defeats the purpose of getting one in the first place. Make sure that the smartwatch you choose is able to deliver. If your purpose is fitness tracking, then get one of those that have outstanding distance trackers, GPS systems, and built-in sensors. If your purpose is for health monitoring, there are smartwatches that are best known for returning accurate results when it comes to heart rate monitoring or tracking sleep habits. If you know that you will be using your smartwatch for water activities, then make sure it comes with a water resistance feature. Again, it all boils down to your purpose. Make sure the features work for you. From the whole market of smartwatches out there, there should at least be one that will stand out and appeal to your needs.
- Battery Duration and Charging. Another important consideration when getting a smartwatch is how long the battery will last. There are smartwatches that are now designed to last for days, at the expense of some features of course; while there are also watches that you can use for a whole 24 hours before they drain out. Usually, these smartwatches also come with superb functionalities. I recommend choosing one that is able to, somehow, balance battery life with the added functions. You must also consider the method of charging your device. If you prefer a smartwatch that enables wireless charging, there are a bunch of them available. If having to use charging docks or cables doesn’t bother you at all, then there are products that are still charged this way.
- Connectivity. Most watches now are enabled with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. If you want something that will allow you to do more, then consider buying one that also allows LTE connection and NFC. Getting your smartwatch to have its own data connection could expand its use to making calls or downloading more apps. Meanwhile, NFC will allow you to use your smartwatch to make wireless payments, a convenience a lot of people are dying to get nowadays.
- Appearance, Make, and Comfort. While this may not matter much to some people, it still does to some. If you realize how one smartwatch works well during workouts because of the simple fact that the material it is made of doesn’t absorb sweat, then you’re in for a real treat. If you find how versatile your smartwatch is because it seems to go with whatever you are wearing, then you’re saving yourself the stress of having to mix and match. This also doesn’t mean you have to own multiple smartwatches and assign one per outfit. It sounds ridiculous but some people have these problems. Comfort is also an important thing to keep in mind. You would not want to wear a watch and feel like something is dangling on your wrist because it’s too bulky. If you are slim, then you opt to choose a smartwatch with a slimmer band or has a lighter design. Yes, comfort matters. If you’ve compared smartwatches and see that they all have similar features and prices, your choice will now depend on one deciding factor – how good or how bad it looks on you, or how comfortable you’ll be wearing it.