How to Choose a Smartwatch

Table of Contents

Before walking into a store and buying the first smartwatch your eyes land on, you need to know exactly what you need.

For example, getting a smartwatch for fitness tracking has completely different demands from day-to-day usage. For the former usage, heart rate measuring, GPS, and water resistance are all essential factors. On the contrary, for everyday use, you’d want the best interface possible and the most capabilities.

So, allow me to walk you through the software and hardware specs available, and I’ll tell you exactly what you need and what you can sacrifice. In other words, here’s how to choose a smartwatch.

The Software

The following specs are all software-related, and they indicate what your smartwatch can and can’t do. So, here’s everything you need to know.

GPS Tracking

First of all, GPS tracking is what most smartwatches are known for. However, some options don’t even provide GPS tracking. So, you need to make up your mind whether this feature is important or not. To make it easier for you, here’s what GPS tracking is used for.

If you’re a runner or a jogger, it’s a no brainer that you need this feature more than anyone else. Using GPS, the watch can track how much and how fast you’re running, and some can even be used for navigation.

To put it simply, if you’re out on your own a lot and you always lose your way home, or you want to keep track of how much you’re walking, GPS tracking is absolutely necessary.

Applications and Software

If you want your smartwatch to replace your phone as much as possible, you’d need one that can download applications. Some watches come with pre-installed applications or features, and that’s about all they can do, which is quite limiting in the long run.

If you want to experience the whole world on your wrist, you should opt for a watch with a store at which you can install and download any useful apps. This is future-proof as well.

Calls and Notifications

Not all smartwatches can display notifications from your phone. While, yes, most of them will notify you when you get a call, that doesn’t mean they’ll notify you when you get a Twitter DM, for example, and neither does it mean you can answer the call.

If you want access to everything on your phone as soon as possible, getting a smartwatch that can display all notifications is your best bet. Also, if you’re a multi-tasker and want everything at the tips of your fingers, make sure your smartwatch can answer phone calls.

However, for normal day-to-day users like myself, I’d say this factor isn’t all that important, to be fair. If your phone is near you at all times, just check your notifications there.

Heart Rate Monitoring

While you may think this factor is important for fitness enthusiasts (it is), it’s actually vital for everyone.

Keeping track of your heart and being fully aware of its average BPM (Beats-Per-Minute) at all times could potentially save your life. If you’re feeling unwell at any moment, you can check your heart rate, and if it seems off, you’d know you need to call for help immediately. 

Some smartwatches can also do that on their own, which is precisely what we’ll discuss in the next point.

Safety Features

Some smartwatches come with safety features that include calling 911 or someone you trust whenever you’re in danger.

Today, with technology developments, some watches, like the Apple Series 4, can detect when you fall and notify someone to help. Some can even measure your blood pressure, which is insanely helpful for anyone.

Phone Compatibility

You may think that any smartwatch can connect to any phone, right? Well, wrong. Double-check that your smartwatch of choice can connect to your phone one way or another before making your final purchase.

Sleep Tracking

If your sleeping schedule isn’t at its best due to work, studies, or personal pressures, sleep trackers can help you get your life back on track.

Sleep-tracking smartwatches can tell you how many hours you’ve slept and how many of those were deep, REM sleep. By keeping track of that, you can determine how much sleep your body needs, so you’ll always wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day ahead!

The Hardware

Now that you know what features you need in a smartwatch, what about its physical attributes? It’s a watch at the end of the day.

Battery Life

It goes without saying that an electronic device’s battery life is one of the most critical factors. I mean, what good is your watch if it’s dead?

Make sure your smartwatch’s battery can last at least an entire day. Having to charge it every night isn’t the most convenient thing ever.

You’ll probably have to make a sacrifice here. If you want your watch to last for days or weeks, it won’t have the best capabilities. On the other hand, a watch that can do it all won’t last that long.

It just depends on your usage at the end of the day, but going for a watch with extended battery life is a good rule of thumb.

Display and Look

Each smartwatch is unique; some are rounded like a regular watch, some are squared, some are large, and some are tiny. However, what people dislike most about smartwatches is that they look ‘casual’ or don’t really fit with smarter looks.

Make sure your smartwatch’s band is changeable and that there’s a good variety of bands on the market. You can easily dress it up or down with the right colors and textures.

Regarding the smartwatch’s shape, there’s no right or wrong here. If you want one to look like a regular watch, going for a rounded option should be your best bet. On the other hand, if you want the largest display possible without the watch being too bulky, maybe a squared one is best for you.

Water Resistance

It’s always a bonus when electronic devices can resist water. For smartwatches, specifically, this factor is a must-have. The watch rests on your wrist, meaning it can easily get splashed with water while you’re doing something as simple as washing your hands or having a cup of coffee.

Also, if you’re athletic, you absolutely need a waterproof smartwatch in order to resist sweat and water, especially if you’ll be using it to track your swimming progress.

Interface

Here comes another critical decision that you need to make. Do you prefer touchscreens? Or do you want a simple watch that has a button or two to get everything done?

Generally, touchscreens are much easier to deal with. By this point, we’re all used to touchscreen phones and laptops. It can be a little difficult to downgrade back to buttons.

On the other hand, some people prefer buttons because they’re as simple as they can be. I guess it just depends on personal preferences.

Budget

Before choosing a smartwatch, you need to set your budget. Buying the most expensive watch available doesn’t mean it fits what you’re seeking. A day-to-day usage smartwatch won’t be as accurate at tracking your health as a fitness-specified one, for example.

You need to decide how much you’re willing to splurge on a smartwatch, and you need to pick one that fits your needs.

Conclusion

With the ever-growing number of smartwatches on the market, it can get quite difficult to find the best one for you. Most importantly, you need to decide why you’re buying a smartwatch and what you want it to do or track.

For example, if you’re athletic, heart rate tracking, GPS, and water resistance are the most critical factors. On the contrary, if you want a smartwatch that can replace your phone while you’re out and about, make sure it can answer calls and display notifications.