Do you really need a smartwatch?
But the question is: do you really need a smartwatch? Are you the type of person that can take advantage of this gadget, or is it an unnecessary purchase? These are the questions that I will help you answer.
- Best smartwatches in 2021
- Best hybrid smartwatches you can buy in 2021
- Best fitness trackers you can buy in 2021
How do smartwatches work?
A smartwatch is a mobile wearable device, an accessory to your phone, containing most of the same ingredients but in another shape and with a different purpose. Smartwatches are an extension of your phone, and they cannot replace it.
Smartwatches work by connecting to your phone, so they always know what's happening. The most common way to connect is via Bluetooth, although some also feature other connectivity options like Wi-Fi and Cellular.
The point of the smartwatch is pretty simple – to keep you alert on your notifications without the need to look at your smartphone, while also giving you extra functionalities. This added functionality, as mentioned above, is usually in the form of fitness and health-tracking features.
There are smartwatches that can make calls, and cellular models can even have their own number and sim card. These can be useful with kids because they’re always active and prone to losing their phone. A cellular smartwatch will always be on their wrist, offering the communication and tracking features that every parent needs.
Is a smartwatch worth it?
Some smartwatches are made with specific groups of users in mind, and some try to appeal to the masses. Depending on their target market, different manufacturers design different types of watches.
Athletes and fitness enthusiasts can take advantage of most of the activity-tracking functions of a smartwatch. Nowadays, these wearables can track your heart rate, teach you exercises, count your steps and calculate how many calories you have burned or how much you ran today.
Companies like Fitbit and Garmin make good fitness focused smartwatches. The Fitbit Versa 2 is a perfect example of such a device, with its excellent battery life and vast tracking capabilities. Garmin offers the Vivoactive 4, also a great example of a sport-centric smartwatch.
But there are other types of people in need of this gadget. These are the users that want to stay connected, even when they're busy. Smartwatches provide a way for you to interact with your notifications without pulling out your smartphone from your pocket.
The Apple Watch Series 6 and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 try to do it all. They're some of the smartest watches on the market and offer exceptional balance between design and functions.
Of course, others will prefer luxury smartwatches. These are made to be more of a fashion statement than a gadget and often sacrifice functionality for better looks and build quality. They’re often expensive and made by or in collaboration with renowned luxury brands.
Such smartwatches are the TAG Heuer Connected Modular series and the Apple Watch Series 6 Hermes Edition. The TAG Heuer smartwatches are a perfect example of functionality sacrificed in the name of fashion. The Hermes edition Apple Watch doesn’t sacrifice any functionality, but it doesn’t add any extra stuff either, choosing to differentiate itself with premium materials and a higher price.
So is it worth it? It all depends on your needs. If while reading this you've spotted some smartwatch features that you’ve been looking, but your phone never quite delivered them the way you wanted, then you probably need a smartwatch.
Smartwatch vs fitness band
You should remember one thing when it comes to these two categories of wearable gadgets: one tries to do it all; the other is purely focused on sports. A fitness band does what its name suggests - it measures your heart rate, tracks your steps, calculates your burned calories, acknowledges if you are running or climbing stairs and counts that too.
Fitness bands also have limited notification features, which are mostly to vibrate and show you what type of notification you just received on your phone, but you usually can’t read what it says. If you’re only interested in a smartwatch because of its exercising features, you are probably better off with a fitness band.
Smartwatches give you what a fitness band can’t. They'll let you read and interact with your notifications, answer or hang up calls, give you information about the weather, the news and navigate you across the streets. Most of them have GPS connectivity for better tracking and navigation too, which is something that fitness bands don’t. If you want the wearable that is smarter, you should definitely buy a smartwatch.
What smartwatch should I get?
Best overall - Apple Watch Series 6
This watch is the best in terms of software and performance. It is undoubtedly the smoothest smartwatch on the market and one of the best in terms of features. The Apple Watch Series 6 has an always on display and runs watchOS 7. The battery lasts around a day, depending on how active you are. The Series 6 smartwatch is waterproof and has cellular variants, which allow it to be used independently from your smartphone.
The Apple Watch 6 is a high-end smartwatch offered in different versions, depending on the materials used. The price varies from $399 for the entry level version up to $1499 for its Hermes special edition version. A Nike version of the Apple Watch 6 is also available. You can also read our review of the Apple Watch Series 6.
Best fitness smartwatch - Garmin Vivoactive 4
This is a health focused smartwatch which offers 24/7 blood oxygen tracking, hydration and sweat loss tracking and respiration tracking. It has a stainless steel body and an always on display. The Vivoactive 4 runs Garmin’s proprietary OS and might just be the smartwatch with the most fitness features on the market.
Best value for money smartwatch - Apple Watch SE
This watch is basically the last generation Series 5 Apple Watch, minus the always on display, and the new processor and stainless steel body found in the Series 6. It is still a great watch, especially considering its starting price of $280. You still get most of the features you find on the much more expensive Watch Series 6, including a waterproof design and a variant with cellular connectivity.