So you want a smartwatch? Whether you’re upgrading from a fitness tracker or just looking for a more convenient way to stay connected, a smartwatch can be a great investment. But how do you know which one is right for you? We’ve put together this handy guide to help you decide which features are important to you and find the best smartwatch for your needs.
When it comes to smartwatches, there are a few things you should keep in mind before you buy. The first, and most important, thing to consider is compatibility. All the major smartwatches today pair with a smartphone, so you’ll need to find one compatible with your operating system. If you have an Android phone, for example, you’ll need to find an Android-compatible smartwatch. Second, price is always a consideration. Smartwatches range in price from around $50 to $500 or more. And finally, battery life is something to consider. Most smartwatches last for a day or two on a single charge, but there are some that offer longer battery life.
Apple Watches only work with iPhones, while Wear OS devices play nice with iOS and Android. If you want an Apple Watch, then you need to have an iPhone. If you have an Android phone, then a Wear OS watch is a good option. Samsung, Garmin, Fitbit and other smartwatch brands have watches that work with both Android and iOS. However, you will need to install a companion app on your phone in order to pair the devices. Additionally, the type and number of on-watch apps you have access to will be dictated by the smartwatch OS. Many of these apps aren’t particularly useful, but it’s worth knowing what’s available before you make your purchase.
If you're looking to buy a smartwatch, you'll generally find that they fall into two categories: budget and premium. The best smartwatches generally cost between $200 and $400. Compared to budget smartwatches, which cost between $100 and $200, they will often also have perks like onboard GPS, music storage and NFC, which budget devices generally do not have. Some companies make specialized fitness watches: Those can easily be more than $500, and we’d only recommend them to serious athletes.
Battery life is one of the biggest concerns for people when it comes to smartwatches. And, unfortunately, it's still an issue for many devices. You can expect around two full days from most Apple Watches and Wear OS devices. But there are a few devices that offer faster charging options. For example, the Fossil Sport supports quick charging that gives you hours of battery life in just a few minutes.
If you're looking for a fitness tracker, make sure to read up on the specs of the device you're eyeing. All-purpose smartwatches should be able to track your steps and monitor your heart rate, but fitness-focused devices will have more sensors and offer more detailed tracking. Many smartwatches also have GPS on board, which is useful for mapping runs and bike rides. Swimmers will want something water-resistant, and both Apple and Fitbit devices can estimate blood oxygen levels and the Apple Watch can even measure ECGs.
A good workout playlist is key to getting through a tough fitness routine, but who wants to carry their phone with them during a run? If you have a smartwatch, you don’t have to. Many smartwatches let you save your music locally, so you can connect wireless earbuds and listen to tunes without bringing your phone. Even if your watch doesn’t have onboard storage for music, it probably has on-watch music controls that let you pause, play and skip tracks without having to pull out your phone.
Near Field Communication, or NFC, is a technology that allows devices to communicate with each other when they are in close proximity. This is the same technology that allows you to pay for things without your wallet by waving your phone near an NFC reader. Most modern smartwatches include NFC technology, so you can easily pay for things without your phone or wallet. After saving your credit or debit card information to your smartwatch, you can hold your watch up to an NFC reader to pay for a cup of coffee on your way home from a run. Keep in mind that different watches use different payment systems: Apple Watches use Apple Pay, Wear OS devices use Google Pay.
Another key feature to look for when shopping for a smartwatch is communication. Smartwatches can make communication easier with app alerts, text replies and call-answering capabilities. App alerts delivered to your smartwatch let you glance down and see if you absolutely need to check your phone right now. Text alerts do the same, and some smartwatches let you send short replies directly from your wrist. Others let you answer calls as well. This way, you can stay connected without having to constantly pull out your phone.
A smartwatch can be a great addition to your wardrobe and daily routine, but it's important to choose the right one for your needs. Our comprehensive smartwatch buying guide will help you understand the basics of smartwatches, their compatibility, and what to look for when price shopping. With this guide, you'll be able to find the perfect smartwatch for your lifestyle and needs.
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