Choosing the Right Smartwatch

When it comes to choosing the right smartwatch, it’s a lot like choosing a smartphone. There are a ton of models to choose from and all of them will handle the standard tasks, but there is a ton of variety due to there being several manufacturers and styles to choose from. This post is here to help you make an educated decision on choosing the right smartwatch for your needs.

Choosing the Right Smartwatch: First Thing to Look For

When you are looking to buy a smartwatch, my first suggestion would be to figure out if you are looking for an actual smartwatch or a fitness tracking device.

A smartwatch is going to look like a watch and of course tell time. However, they also will run mobile versions of applications, will allow you to control your smartphone and some can even make phone calls if you have a watch that can utilize SIM and cellular towers. In addition to this, they also have fitness functions such as counting steps, tracking calories, etc.

Polar Fitness Tracker

On the other hand, fitness trackers are devices that are primarily used for fitness-based activities. They will count your steps, monitor heart rate, along with other things.

They also can tell time like a smartwatch, can display some notifications, but typically, they do not run as many applications as a smartwatch. Because they are more limited than smartwatches, they often don’t cost as much.

There is also a third category, which is what I would call a fitness watch. A fitness watch is typically more rugged looking than a normal smartwatch and is more equipped to handle fitness-based activities, while retaining the look of a watch; Garmin, for example, is a brand that specializes in this style of smartwatches.

Smartphone and Smartwatch Compatibility

Smartwatches were designed to be the ultimate companion to the smartphone. This especially holds true if you have a smartwatch and a smartphone of the same ecosystem.

If you decide to go the route of choosing a smartwatch over a fitness tracker or fitness watch, the next step is to choose a device that is compatible with your smartphone.

Apple Watch and Apple iPhone

For example, say you have an Android smartphone, you could buy a Samsung Galaxy Watch, which is powered by the Tizen OS. It will work with your Android smartphone of any manufacturer; however, you would be better served to pair it with a Samsung based smartphone, in my opinion.

Wear OS by Google can be found on several smartwatch brands such as LG, Motorola, Fossil, and others. Wear OS is most compatible smartphones running the Android OS, but will work with the iPhone, although in limited capacity.

If you want to check the compatibility of your Android phone and Wear OS, visit this site: https://wearos.google.com/wearcheck/

Apple Watches on the other hand will only work with Apple iPhones, which makes sense due to how tight Apple keeps its ecosystem. Newer model iPhones should come pre-installed with the Apple Watch app. This is where you can find the watchOS App Store to download and install apps for the Apple Watch.

Lastly, fitness trackers are a bit different in that they will work great with either Android phones or iPhones.

Pricing

Another important factor to not only buying a smartwatch, but pretty much anything is determining your price point. Expect to pay in between $200 and $350 for a good device with a robust number of features.

Pricing is a very important part of choosing the right smartwatch.
“Sense will buy you more than dollars.” ― Matshona Dhliwayo

Budget watches can cost a lot less in some cases, but expect to have limited features in comparison to more expensive models. There are some companies that offer luxury watches that can cost thousands of dollars, but this is mostly a brand thing in my opinion.

Bottom line is to expect to pay anywhere from $100 – $500 for a smartwatch, depending on what model and brand you choose to buy. The more expensive, the likelihood of the watch having more features.

Features

When it comes to choosing the right smartwatch, it’s important to pay attention to what features you are looking for. All smartwatches will handle basic functions such as handling text messages, notifications, and other things. However, if you are wanting more specialized features, you’ll need to find a model that will deliver those.

A smartwatch running a heart rate monitoring app.

Fitness Abilities

A lot of smartwatch makers are getting in on more of the fitness and activity monitoring features that are found in fitness trackers and fitness watches. This is a good thing in the event that you may want the looks of a smartwatch, but can use it primarily when working out.

On the other hand, if you are wanting a device primarily for working out, you could also go the fitness tracker route that has some smartwatch features.

Fitbit and Garmin are brands that come to mind for this scenario as they have features such as accurate heart rate monitors and even GPS in some models, while having the ability to handle basic notifications like a smartwatch.

No Phone, No Problem

Also, there are such things as standalone smartwatches. These smartwatches are capable of connecting to LTE signals and can use their functions without the use of a cell phone. Some models are even able to make and take phone calls. This would be something to check into with your cell phone provider to see what models are able to take advantage of their network.

Music

Music is another important feature that smartwatches are able to handle. Due to being able to connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth, you can control music on your phone from your watch, but there are models out there that are capable of storing music files directly on the device. This could be useful for working out or going for a run, while leaving the cell phone in the locker.

 

Mobile Payments

Mobile payments through NFC chips are also a popular and useful feature to consider.

Google Pay application running on an Android phone.

Most modern smartwatch models have the ability to make payments at a terminal that supports Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Samsung Pay. This can typically be done without the use of a cell phone or having a standalone LTE connection.

Style and Fit

Style and size are also important features to look out for. You want to choose a watch that fits your personal style and of course your wrist. There are several models that allow you to change the bands or even the face. Be sure to check the case measurements when looking for what will sit on your wrist nicely.

Display and Battery Life

Smartwatches, in most cases, use a color display that’s either LCD or OLED based. OLED based displays offer crisper colors and are often found on more expensive models and allow for slimmer designs. While most people won’t typically care about LCD or OLED, I felt it was at least worth mentioning.

Touchscreen displays are likely what you are going to find on most smartwatches. Every model is going to be different in sense that they may be different sizes and use different OS’s so the presentation may look a bit different from model to model.

However, there are some smartwatches that have the ability to control functions from the crown or other buttons on the case, the Apple Watch is an example of this.

A smartphone on the verge of death. Get to a charger quick!

Battery life will always likely be one of the biggest issues when it comes to smartwatches and smartphones. While technology has improved, you can still expect to only get maybe two days or so out of most smartwatch models.

Most smartwatches have a battery saving mode or options, but may require you to shut down most of its features. Fitness trackers often times have better battery life, but it comes at the cost of fewer features and sometimes less colorful and smaller displays.

Conclusion

With all of this being said, hopefully this guide helped you in the decision-making process in choosing the right smartwatch for you. In a nutshell, you’ll want to find a device that fits your price range, that has the features you want, that is compatible with your smartphone, and has the type of display that is pleasing to your eye.

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