Are you considering getting the best smartwatch that can help you stay connected and also multitask? You might have been thinking of getting the most suitable smartwatch that fits your lifestyle. This smartwatch buying guide is for you.
We have done our research on various smartwatches and have come up with a few features you will find useful when next you visit the store.
Watches have metamorphosed from just been use to check or keep time. With a simple smartwatch, you can manage your digital life conveniently and discreetly.
You can as well use some as an activity tracker and also help you to monitor your health. Many acts as a companion to your phone helping you to deliver alert and message notifications.
However, to enjoy the full functionality of all smartwatches, you should connect them via Bluetooth and must be within a wireless range of your Android or iOS smartphone or tablet.
Interestingly, most smartwatches come with 3G/LTE capabilities which makes them operate without being connected to another device.
Have you ever missed a call? Or there is some reason you need hand-free and discreet access to your smartphone, then a smartwatch can help you with that.
So, if you are still considering or having a second thought about getting a smartwatch, then his guide will be useful for you. You can check our smartwatch accessory on the best Android smartwatch of your choice.
There are a few things we have looked into professionally before we came up with this buying guide. Below are a number of them.
- Operating system
- Compatibility – OS and Phone
- Display – OLED and LCD
- Style and design option
- Screen – touch
Before we move on, we will like to highlight a few important tips you should know when getting a smartwatch. But before that, let us briefly talk about what smartwatches are?
SMARTWATCH BUYING GUIDE: WHAT IS A SMARTWATCH
A smartwatch is a watch that comes with or offers smart features. This includes bringing together the features you would normally use your smartphone or laptop to do. In other words, we can say a smartwatch is like bringing your smartphone features to your wrist.
Most smartwatches come with a digital screen. Only a few hybrid watches have a traditional analog display plus hidden smart features.
What is a hybrid smartwatch
Most smartwatches combine modern and classic design with today’s tech. This way, hiding their smart features behind their traditional-looking watch face. Some of these types of watches are primarily fit for fashion and wouldn’t fit for hitting the gym.
This is because these watches aren’t intended for hardcore fitness fans who want accurate and detailed sports tracking. In a simple sentence, we can say hybrid smartwatches are watches that have a traditional-looking face with a few hidden smart features.
So, if you are looking to get a good smartwatch watch for yourself or as a gift to a friend, then you should read through this post.
SMARTWATCH BUYING GUIDE: TIPS
- When choosing a smartwatch, ensure you pay much attention to the smartwatch that works with your smartphone. Ensure you pay so much attention to this and confirm that the smartwatch you are picking works well with your smartphone. For instance, there is some smartwatch that works with iPhones, while some works with Samsung. For example, Apple watches only work with iPhones while Google’s wears OS devices and Samsung’s Tizen watches works with Android devices.
- Go for a smartwatch that has a heart rate sensor and GPS. With this, if you are a fitness buff, you can track your runs and workout activities.
- Also, check how long the battery can last
- Ensure you check if the band clasp or buckle is easy to use and also easy to swap. Most importantly, also check if you can easily find and replace the band.
SMARTWATCH BUYING GUIDE: OPERATING SYSTEM
Device compatibility is very important when choosing a smartwatch. This is the most important and starting point of buying a smartwatch. This is because most smartwatches are designed to be a companion to your smartphone. A smartwatch needs to be paired to a smartphone for notification functionality.
However, you must understand that not all smartwatches work with all smartphones. So, we can simply say, choosing a smartwatch is dependent on the smartphone that you use.
In some instances, most smartwatches are compatible with Android and iOS devices. Some smartwatch has their operating system and will only work with devices of the same brand while some will only work with a selected variety of operating system.
A typical example is the Samsung Tizen-powered Galaxy watch works with multiple Android handsets including iPhones. We can say it is an open-source platform for smartwatches, smartphones, tablets, etc.
Another example is the Microsoft Band 2. It uses the Windows 10 operating system to deliver notifications, e-mail preview, SMS notification, and calendar notification.
With this, the band will work well with Android, iOS, and Windows phones. Also, Fitbit Versa 2 can work well with Android phones as it does with iPhones. Contrarily, Google wears OS runs on smartwatch-like LG, Huawei, etc. It is compatible with Android smartphones while some of them work with iPhone but with limited features.
Beyond compatibility, there are other things you can also check when choosing an operating system. Most times, Android wear and Watch OS are similar. Watch OS is known for its cleanliness, quickness, consistency.
For clarity's sake, if you have an Android phone, get an Android smartwatch. And if it is an iPhone that you use, get an iOS smartwatch.
SMARTWATCH BUYING GUIDE: DISPLAY OPTION
We all know that nobody will at this present time choose a black and white screen display over a color screen display. Though black and white screen displays are known for their battery-saving capability.
They also tend to last longer than the color display. Some black and white display uses E-ink or paper. This enables you to view your screen outside or in a lit environment with minimal glare.
Talking about the color display option, there are different types of display for smartwatches. The most smartwatch comes with a color LCD screen or AMOLED display.
This allows you to view photos and other content in richer colors. It also displays its content more brightly. Enjoying these features, the battery of the smartwatch is always the one who suffers it.
This is because the battery tends to run low quickly. Though smartwatch makers are trying so well to improve the device efficiency. As a result, this device can last at least days if not weeks.
The AMOLED displays works without a backlight. They are a full-color display screen. While the AMOLED doesn’t use a backlight, the LCD screen uses a backlight to produce images on the screen.
You also need to know that LCD screens with reflective designs typically perform well under bright light. Some smartwatches come with a crisp OLED display instead of an LCD making the smartwatch come with a slimmer screen.
SMARTWATCH BUYING GUIDE: INTERFACE
Another important feature you can also consider when buying a smartwatch is the interface of the smartwatch. There is just one major smartwatch interface – a Touch screen. It’s usually gesture-based.
They allow you to operate the smartwatch with just a tap or swipe for easy scrolling and navigation. Some smartwatch comes with a button. The button is located on the watch face. With the button, you can snap a photo, check your social account, etc.
Some other smartwatch comes with Bezel. With the rotating bezel, you can navigate around the apps and system menus. However, it is important to note that it will be difficult to select items on a smaller touch display.
Though, most smartwatches have been upgraded to deliver card-based alerts which you can easily swipe off. But the swiping becomes cumbersome when it involves going to other apps and options inside apps.
As a result, you can move between cards by just flicking your wrist. So if you are someone who finds smaller screen size tiring, then you need to go for a larger screen with an intuitive gesture-based interface.
SMARTWATCH BUYING GUIDE: DESIGNS
A good smartwatch will come with a choice of strap. This means you will have the ability to swap them may be for any other event that requires another band color. Today, most smartwatches come with many customization options.
For example, when buying a smartwatch, you can pick the band color of your choice, the design material, size, face color of the smartwatch that you want.
Additionally, when choosing a smartwatch, you should keep in mind that your comfortability matters. Comfortability in the sense that the ease with which you can quickly fasten the wristwatch to your hand is essential.
Thankfully, the new design smartwatch comes with standard buckles. Definitely, no one will love to get a watch that comes with cumbersome clasps which will require you to apply much force to open or close.
Another interesting thing you can also consider when choosing a smartwatch is the design shape. Basically, there are two main smartwatch face – circle and square.
Your decision of either choosing the round or square shape watch can be determined by your personal choice, usage, or comfort. For instance, you might likely find the square watch comfortable due to its ability not to push into the top of your hand when you hyper-extend your hand.
However, round watches do extend. Though, this isn’t a big deal but it makes it not a first-choice consideration as a gym or fitness smartwatch. Let’s say you do yoga where you frequently hyper-extend your hand and you need a smartwatch, then a small square watch may be more suitable for usage.
SMARTWATCH BUYING GUIDE: NOTIFICATIONS
All smartwatches can display a variety of notifications like incoming calls, missed calls, text messages, e-mails, social media posts, etc. However, many of the smartwatches have a customization option.
This allows you to choose what type of notification that you receive, what is displayed on your home screen, your background picture, etc.
Depending on your choice, you can choose to buy a smartwatch that either displays its notifications content by displaying a notification icon while you read the rest of the message on your phone or you choose to buy the one that can display the full message for you to read on your smartwatch.
SMARTWATCH BUYING GUIDE: CONNECTIVITY OPTION
Recently, we have seen new connectivity features being added to smartwatches. The most essential and common one is the built-in GPS which lets you keep track of your route during your workout even without carrying your phone along with yourself.
For instance, if this feature is missing, you might always need to let your smartwatch connect to your phone which will always take a while and might not be convenient for some of us.
This is why it is always preferable that your smartwatch comes with an in-built GPS especially if you need the watch for workout activities.
Another sweet connectivity option you will enjoy on your smartwatch is the NFC connection. NFC is another added advantage for you. It makes pairing with an NFC-enabled phone to be easy.
You can simply connect the two devices and easily get going. You can as well use NFC on some other devices as a payment method. However, this becomes effective when you have a merchant in your area who allows mobile payment using NFC.
SMARTWATCH BUYING GUIDE: DURABILITY
A good smartwatch ought to be firm and sturdy. Besides its durability, it has to look good on your wrist and also last years of use. It should have a comfortable wristband and be able to sit on your wrist.
This way, it doesn’t make it look like a toy. This is why some smartwatch comes in different sizes for either men or women who have a smaller or slimmer hand. Depending on your choice, you can as well check the customization available for the watch strap.
Some watches come with metal straps while some other comes with rubberized one. For instance, if you will always get sweaty or perhaps, your hand will always get wet, then a rubberized strap will be a good one for you.
SMARTWATCH BUYING GUIDE: WATERPROOF FEATURES
When buying a smartwatch, ensure you always check out for the waterproof specification. There are mostly two common water-resistance specifications you might have noticed – IP67 and IP68. In a moment, we will explain what this means and how it applies to your smartwatch.
This way, it helps you know how to use and maintain your watch depending on its water-resistance rating. Electronic equipment such as smartwatches is sensitive to water, temperature, and other environmental factors.
Moving forward, we will be explaining what those code means so that it gives you a better understanding of what they all stand for.
This way, you will know the right smartwatch for you depending on your usage. First and foremost, we will start with IP67.The IP which stands for Ingress protection is the general code for electronic protection. The number (6) digits stand for protection against intrusion.
The higher the number, the stronger the protection. This protection is against dust, dirt, etc. But, for the number (6), it is completely against dust. So we can say when your smartwatch comes with a protection rate where the first number is (6), then the smartwatch is dust-proof.
The second digit on the protection rating is (7). This number stands for protection against moisture. The same is applied here too. The higher the number on a scale of 1-8, the better the protection.
However, this doesn’t mean you can use your smartwatch the way you feel. There is a limit to what the watch can accommodate. We have received several questions like can I go swimming with my smartwatch or take shower wearing it.
So from our experience, we are letting you know today that a smartwatch with this IP code can only withstand a level of water. IP67 rating means that the device is totally dust-proof and can be immersed in a 1-meter depth of water for about 30 minutes. So if your smartwatch comes with a protection rating of IP61-66, there is a little to its protection from water.
Therefore, it is not advisable to shower while the watch is in your arm. However, if you forget to take it off before going underwater, it doesn’t mean the watch will immediately go bad.
Technically, when you go to the store to get a watch, you might not come across the above-listed protection rating. We will be listing a few of the ingress protection ratings you might come across.
A few of them include IPX1, IPX2, IPX3, IPX4, IPX5, and IPX6. When you get a smartwatch with an IPX1 rating, such a watch can offer resistance against dripping water. So it will be fine when a few drops of water fall vertically on it but will be risky to wear it out during the rainfall.
IPX2. The only difference between IPX1 and IPX2 is a fairly increment. It only takes an angular difference of 15°. This makes IPX2 slightly more protective than IPX1.
It is in this stage that we can see a reasonable amount of water resistance that is noticeable. When your smartwatch comes with this rating, it means the watch can resist water spraying at it even up to an angle of 60°.
At least, this can offer useful protection for those who might wear their watch while washing dishes. Incredibly, this can still resist water splash.
It is good for other electronics but when it comes to a smartwatch, it’s not so impressive. This is because you can’t swim or even take it to the shower. Once it falls off in the sink, it’ll probably go bad.
With IPX4, you can feel a little impressed with its protective ability. This is because it can take a splash from any direction or angle.
This way, you no longer have a concern about the angle as it doesn’t matter. As long as you aren’t expecting it to fall off into a dredge of water, you could feel relatively confident to wear it beside the pool or for fishing.
Any smartwatch that comes with this rating will definitely have the capacity to resist water projected from a nozzle. This makes wearing such a watch much convenient. Note: Water-resistant product is very far from waterproof. Presently, there is no such thing as a waterproof watch.
You can only get a water-resistance smartwatch as it is the lowest level of protection. This means it was designed to make it difficult for water to penetrate but not impossible.
Waterproof means the device or smartwatch is impervious to water, notwithstanding how long it is submerged in water. So for smartwatches, waterproof simply means water-resistant as specified by many manufacturers under their test conditions.
You also need to know that water resistance is not permanent and can diminish over time. This is why you have to be careful of the things the watch is exposed to.
Our verdict is when you are shopping for a smartwatch for freestyle swimming, ensure you read the manual or check the company’s website for relevant information about the product.
Look for water-resistant in the documentation and locate the critical fine print. Don’t be distracted by the ad copy and images used to market the product.
SMARTWATCH BUYING GUIDE: BUILT-IN SPEAKER
Another simple advantage you can watch out for when buying a smartwatch is its Built-in Speaker.
Most smartwatches come with a microphone which is useful for dictating voice messages as responses or for issuing a voice command. Although this won’t be essential for everyone, if you will love to make phone calls using your watch, then it’s a must-have.
The speaker will also useful for alarms, reminders instead of the native vibration. The bottom line is that a smartwatch with an in-built speaker will allow you to manage calls, play music or videos, and provide audio responses.
SMARTWATCH BUYING GUIDE: 4G CONNECTIVITY
Gone are the days when it is always compulsory to have a Bluetooth connection before you can enjoy most of its features. Some smartwatch now comes with 4G connectivity which helps you to live a sweet life. We can also call this a cellular network and LTE.
Though this smartwatch is still few but more companies are now embracing the connectivity option. Once your smartwatch has this feature, you can make and receive calls, receive text, and any other notification even when your phone is not nearby.
This might not be available for everyone as only a small amount of network provider offers LTE. However, this connectivity feature will have a huge effect on the battery life. Interestingly, you will not need to switch your sim card over nor carry a sim ejector around.
You won’t even be dealing with a physical sim card as some watch uses e-SIM technology. The benefit of this e-SIM card is the smaller card.
With this, you will enjoy the ability to stream songs. For instance, on the Apple watch series 6, you can stream tunes via Apple music while on Samsung Galaxy watches, you can stream music from Spotify.
You should note that for the smartwatch to work as your phone, it has to be able to connect to the same network as your phone.
SMARTWATCH BUYING GUIDE: ECG SENSOR
Smartwatch technology has grown so big now that it has moved to the space of direct-to-customer wearables. Most smartwatches now come with an ECG sensor. ECG is an electrical heart rate sensor. It uses flashing LEDs to penetrate your skin and detect blood flow.
When the light is reflected off the flow of blood, it gets captured by the sensor. This way, it produces the heart rate data. ECG sensor helps to measure your heart rate by measuring the electrical signal in your blood. It also measures the timing and strength of your heart rate.
Based on our study, we have come to an understanding that an ECG heart rate monitor is correct and more accurate than an optical rate monitor. Though most smartwatches come with an optical heart rate monitor but smartwatches that have an ECG sensor are of great advantage to you.
So, if you believe that you need a smartwatch that can accurately monitor your heart rate, then you should get an ECG sensor smartwatch.
SMARTWATCH BUYING GUIDE: INTERNAL STORAGE
Another interesting you can also consider when buying a smartwatch is the availability of internal storage. This can be an option depending on your choice. But for someone like me, I will prefer a smartwatch with a lot of space.
A good smartwatch should have a reasonable amount of internal memory with at least 4GB or more. When your smartwatch offers a meaningful space, it only does not allow you to download new apps but also allows you to store music. This way, you will be able to listen to music without streaming or using your smartphone.
SMARTWATCH BUYING GUIDE: BATTERY LIFE
Almost all smartwatch watch with color screen tends to last a day or two between charges. This is why you should consider how often you will be willing to keep charging your watch before buying your smartwatch.
You ought to know that a smartwatch with voice capabilities won’t last so long when they are used as a phone.
To say the truth, an average smartwatch can’t last a day or two. Even the most popular smartwatches in likes of Apple and Samsung still struggle with their battery.
But a few smartwatches including the Apple Watch and Samsung Gear sport uses wireless charging. This means you don’t have to directly plug your device into a charger, instead, you lay it on a charging puck, which is somehow convenient.
You need to seriously watch out for this battery feature because some companies may say their smartwatch will go one week or two weeks on a single charge. However, the statement will come with an assigned “but”. Some may add the condition like, you have to use the disable battery-sapping features like the heart rate monitoring to preserve the battery life.
SMARTWATCH BUYING GUIDE: APPS SELECTION
Another vital reason why smartwatches are becoming a must-have tool just like smartphones did a few years ago is because of the availability of Apps. So you need to understand that it is of importance for the app on your smartwatch that makes the device more useful.
This is why you should watch out for a smartwatch that can download more Apps. You might have the urge to ask the question that what kind of Apps are available for your smartwatch?
There is pretty much every kind of App you can imagine. Most of the app categories include communication, health, and fitness, sleep, Sport, Payment, Productivity, Photography, Travel/Transportation, entertainment, News, tools, Internet of Things (IoT), If This Then That (IFTTT), and watch face design. There are also a few sub-categories like social media, Nutrition, exercise, games, etc.
With the numerous Apps available for smartwatches, there are also several smartwatch operating system that offers its line of Apps.
Each of those operating systems is compatible with a specific type of phone. This way, the phone app does the heavy lifting while the watch app functions mainly as a sensor or viewer. There are three smartwatch operating systems namely:
- WatchOS – Owned by Apple, and compatible with Apple iPhones
- Wear OS – They were previously called Android wear. They are compatible with Android phones and iPhones.
- Lastly, we have Tizen – This OS is compatible with Samsung phones.
A few years back when Apple wanted to launch their Apple watch, they issued a press release that touted the device in more than 10 different face options. Presently as we speak, Samsung has announced that there are more than 60,000 apps and watch face design available for their smartwatches. And whoever can say, Apple will undoubtedly the same. There are 3 main app stores where you can download your favorite and choice of App.
- The App Store – For Apple watches
- Google Play Store – For Android and running wear OS
- Galaxy store – For Samsung Galaxy watches.
We will be listing Below a few apps we think will be relevant for you and you should have on your smartwatch.
With this App, you can measure distance, locate your destination virtually, and navigate through the map. This means with the help of the app, you can navigate towards your destination without hassle.
Also, due to its compatibility with your smartwatch, you will not need to rely on your phone at all times to reach your destination. It as well features an in-built compass and a global mapping system for any destination around the world.
This means with the help of the map, you can locate any destination around the world. Interestingly, you can also use the app to check the traffic condition of your route towards your destination. So if there was to be huge traffic in your route, the map can help you out with an alternate route.
This is a music app. With this app, you can identify a song with its vocal and rhythm. Amazingly, you can create an account on shazam and also use the app on multiple devices without you losing your last listened songs. With the App, you can listen to Spotify or Apple music playlists. Download Shazam for Android and iOS
This is one of the best Wear OS apps you can use to check weather conditions. With this app, you don’t have to bother about when or when not it is going to rain.
This is because, with the app, you can get an accurate rain timing, storm, or rain alert. You can also get temperature updates on your smartwatch. Furthermore, you can use the app to analyze the weather condition for the next seven days. Download Dark Sky for Android and iOS
App in the Air
With App in the air, you can stay up-to-date on flying issues even when you are offline. You can as well check real-time flight status, airport tips, and in-airport navigation maps. Interestingly, you can find restaurants, internet passwords of Public WIFI's, get security tips, and guidelines for over 9000 airports around the world.
Another great app that will so much useful when you have it on your smartwatch is Google Pay. Having this app, you can just put your watch close to the terminal and pay for your ticket, drink, without you having to bring out your wallet, purse, or phone out of your pocket. As long as your watch has NFC, it is easy and quick to use.
Other important apps you will love and appreciate having on your smartwatch are:
Wear Audio Recorder
Calculator for Wear OS (Android Wear)
Sleep As Android
Drink Water Reminder
It’s not just about buying but having an understanding of what you are buying. We hope you find this post helpful. Ensure you read through for a clear understanding of what and how smartwatches work. This will give you an excellent idea of what to buy.