Buying a Smartwatch – How do you pick one?

19 Oct.,2022


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A smartwatch might seem like a novelty but it delivers the essential information from your phone to your wrist. The sheer convenience of being able to look at your screen without ever touching your phone is a valid enough justification. Purchasing a smartwatch isn’t as simple as it seems though. This is now a mature gadget and that means there are many brands and many models to choose from, starting from as low as Rs. 7,000 ranging to well over a lakh. We intend to simplify this purchasing journey but first, we start by figuring out if what we need is a smartwatch or just a fitness band?

What will it be – Fitness Band or Smartwatch?
Sometimes, devices walk a fine line between fitness bands and smartwatches. Both are guilty of mimicking others’ features to be a more relevant product. In the ideal world, a fitness band is geared to more health-conscious folk looking to integrate exercise and physical activities into their lifestyle. This means fitness bands can be less stylish but more rugged, skimping out on smartwatch features.

A smartwatch may record some health-related stats but its primary function is to be your phone’s interface on your wrist. Now is a good time to sort out for yourself what you’re looking for. You might also just find a product that works as both. If it’s a fitness band, we have an article that explains things from a point of view of a fitness band user but if it’s smartwatch you’re looking for, read on.

How well is it built?

A good smartwatch ought to be sturdy, so it last years of use on your wrist and it also needs to look good. It sits on your wrist so it ought to have a comfortable wristband that doesn’t look like a toy. Some smartwatches even come in different sizes, for men and women or those with slimmer hands. Look at customisations available for the watch in the form of straps too. Some watches ship with metal straps while some others with rubberised one, but offer upgrades as separate purchases.

If you get sweaty real quick or are going to be getting wet in the rains, a waterproof watch is something to keep in mind. Remember, water-resistant only means the watch will survive splashes in light rains. A waterproof watch can go under water, to some depth at least.

What OS does your watch run? Does it work with your phone?
This is one of the more important bits while choosing a smartwatch. Look at what platform the smartwatch runs. Most smartwatches use their manufacturer’s propietary platform while some other brands adopt a mainstream one such as Android Wear. Either one has their own pros and cons. Android Wear, a popular OS by Google is used by some manufacturers. Android Wear works with both, Android smartphones and iPhones. Watch OS, a platform developed by Apple is designed only for their Apple Watch devices. You can’t use the Apple Watch with an Android device either. Manufacturers such as Fitbit and Garmin use their own operating systems and can be used on pretty much any smartphone. Depending on the model, they may varying levels of support for your phone’s OS and apps used.

The support we’re talking about is able to sync notifications back and forth between apps, being able to use the watch to control the phone using voice commands and things like that. As an example, you want to be able to control your phone’s volume control, or choose a contact to call, or respond quickly to a message. Less support may mean you’ll only be able to do some of these things.

What apps do you get and what customisations can you make?
Smartwatches can run a bunch of apps, whether you have a phone around or not. Look at the kind of apps available for the watch you’re considering that lets you do the most. The smartwatch is first a watch, so customisations and watch faces are important too. Look at the kind of customisation options available.

What connectivity do you really need?

Smartwatches have seen new connectivity features being added. The ones that matter are things like built-in GPS which lets you track your route during your workout without having to carry your phone with you. If this feature is lacking, you might need to let your watch connect to your phone each time. This takes a while. While it is convenient to have built-in GPS, it may not be a deal-breaker for most of us. NFC is another feature that makes pairing your NFC-enabled phone easy. Simply tap the devices together and you’ll be able to get going. NFC also might work on some devices as a payment method too, for some mobile payment services. This is most handy when you have merchants in your area who allow mobile payments using NFC.

Calling using your smartwatch, without a phone
One of the newer and certainly ground-breaking features is eSIM support. This feature lets your smartwatch use your phone’s mobile number. No more having to carry your phone to make and receive calls – it’s done straight from your smartwatch. This feature as of today, is available on the Apple Watch Series 3 and you have the option of opting in for a Jio eSIM.

Focus on fitness

Many of the smartwatches can monitor a bunch of stats such as how often you walk, or run and how well you sleep. The good ones even have a built-in heart rate monitor so you know exactly how much effort you’re putting in through your workouts. That’s a must-have if you’re going to be doing a lot of physical activity and are into daily fitness.

How long will it tick?
This is a tricky one to figure, but a smartwatch with a bright, large screen is likely to take more power. Such smartwatches will easily last a day while some can last a couple more. Look at what brands are promising and accordingly decide. Most smartwatches can charge over a couple of hours so it’s not a major inconvenience. Leave it for charge at night and you’ll be good to go in the morning.

Does it work well in the sun?
Unlike regular watches, smartwatch needs to be bright so you can use them in broad daylight. Look at the quality of the screen, specifically the screen brightness and contrast. If a phone has all the features but a terrible screen, you might be in for a bad experience.

Touchscreens or physical controls – it’s your choice
This is a personal preference and having either one works just fine. Just know that there are watches that use physical controls like traditional watches so the screens aren’t touch-enabled. Touchscreen smartwatches maybe a little simpler to use but something about solid, physical dials makes things a lot more confirming than using fingers on a tiny screen. Touchscreens are more convenient if you want to be doing a lot on your watch.

Hopefully these pointers get you going towards choosing a good smartwatch. Hopefully the experience is fun and you take the next big jump into the future. Smartwatches might have been fiction a decade ago, but they’re finally for real.