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With so many smart watches on the market, choosing the right one for your needs can be overwhelming. This guide will walk you through the key factors to consider when picking out the perfect smart watch for you.
Determining Your Needs
Before shopping for a smart watch, think about how you plan to use it. This will help narrow down the list of options.
If you want robust fitness and health tracking, look for a watch with built-in GPS, heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking and activity tracking. Leading fitness-focused watches include the Apple Watch, Garmin Forerunner and Fitbit Sense.
Notifications and Messaging
For frequent notifications like texts, calls, emails and app alerts, choose a watch that connects to your smartphone seamlessly via Bluetooth. Popular connected watches include the Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy Watch and Fossil Gen 5.
Long Battery Life
If you don’t want to charge your watch daily, opt for one with long battery life like the Fitbit Versa 3 (6+ days) or Garmin Vivoactive 4 (8 days in smartwatch mode).
For tons of watch faces, apps and settings options, Wear OS (Google’s smartwatch platform) watches like the Fossil Gen 5 allow deep customization.
Decide how much you want to spend. Budget watches like the Amazfit Bip U cost around $60. Premium watches like the Apple Watch cost $399+. Match the features to your budget.
Beyond your needs, also consider these core smart watch features:
- Display – Color or black and white? Touchscreen or buttons? Readable in sunlight?
- Water resistance – Can you swim with it on? Shower? Get caught in the rain?
- Voice assistant access – Does it have Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri built-in?
- App ecosystem – What apps and watch faces are available to download?
- Smartphone compatibility – Does it work with your iPhone or Android?
- Health sensors – Heart rate monitor? SpO2 for blood oxygen? ECG sensor?
- GPS – For accurate pace, distance and route mapping if you run or bike.
- Mobile payments – For contactless payments from your wrist.
- Music storage – For listening to playlists without your phone.
Smart Watch Brands
Some top smart watch brands to consider include:
- Apple Watch – The best if you have an iPhone. Seamless connectivity, fitness and health tracking, mobile payments and tons of apps.
- Samsung Galaxy Watch – Top choice for Samsung phone owners. Great display, fitness tracking and apps.
- Fitbit – Leading brand for fitness, sleep and health tracking features. Long battery life models available.
- Fossil – Stylish watches with deep customization via Wear OS. Hundreds of watch designs.
- Garmin – Specialized in GPS sports and fitness watches with long battery life.
- TicWatch – Affordable watches with Wear OS by Google and robust features.
- Amazfit – Budget-friendly lineup with fitness essentials and long battery life.
Still Not Sure? Think About These Factors:
- How will you primarily use the smart watch?
- What features and capabilities are most important?
- Do you prefer a round or square/rectangular watch face?
- What is your budget?
- Does style/design matter for your lifestyle?
- What smartphone OS do you use – Android or iPhone?
- Do you want advanced health tracking capabilities?
Try It On First
If possible, go to a store to try on different watches. Make sure it fits your wrist comfortably and is easy for you to use. Narrow down the list of options, then you can purchase online if the price is better.
Smart Watch FAQs
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about smart watches:
How is a smart watch different from a fitness tracker?
Fitness trackers focus mainly on activity tracking, sleep and basic notifications. Smart watches add more advanced capabilities like apps, music playback, voice assistants, phone calls and mobile payments.
Do you need a smartphone to use a smart watch?
Most smart watches connect to smartphones to work via Bluetooth. A few models like the Amazfit Bip U work standalone but have limited features.
How long does the battery last?
Battery life varies greatly, from 1-2 days to a week or longer on some models. Watches with always-on displays or GPS drain faster.
Can you make phone calls from a smart watch?
Yes, as long as the watch is connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth. The watch acts as a speaker and mic.
Can you sleep with a smart watch on?
Yes, most smart watches track sleep when worn overnight. Some may need to be charged daily though.
Is a smart watch waterproof?
Many smart watches are swimproof or water resistant to 50 meters. Always check the water rating before swimming or showering with your watch on.
Do smart watches have GPS?
Some do built-in, like the Apple Watch and Garmin watches. Others connect to your phone’s GPS. GPS provides more accurate distance for running/cycling.
Can a smart watch detect falls?
Select models have fall detection, like the Apple Watch Series 4 or newer. It can alert emergency contacts if a hard fall is detected.
Do smart watches work with Android and iPhone?
Some work with both, like Fitbit. Others are made specifically for Android or iOS. Always check smartphone compatibility before buying.
Find the Smart Watch That’s Right For You
Finding your perfect smart watch is all about identifying the standout features that appeal most to your needs and lifestyle. Use this guide to determine the capabilities that matter most, narrow down your choices and select the right smart watch for you. Whether it’s fitness tracking, apps and notifications, music or mobile payments, a smart watch makes it convenient to stay connected, productive and informed right from your wrist.