It looks like the smartwatch industry has finally come out of the crisis. Well-known manufacturers like Motorola, Microsoft and Pebble have given up on wearable technology, Asus is rumored to be joining this list soon. As a result, it would seem that the choice should have diminished significantly, and what kind of end of the crisis can we talk about then? In fact, the resulting gap has been more than filled by sports and fashion brands. And despite the variety of models, the perfect smartwatch still does not exist. What then should you choose?
Once you have clicked on this article, then you probably already have an idea of what a smart watch is. Perhaps you just wanted to write in the comments that a smartwatch is a waste of money. Or take a look at our selection of the best smartwatches. Or to say that it was necessary to choose other models. Or that it shouldn't be here Apple Watch. One way or another, the main purpose of this article is to help you navigate the world of smartwatches and tell you about the most important and interesting models available today.
Before proceeding directly to the list of what we recommend, we want to note that a lot depends on the smartphone you are using. So, Android – it is useless for users to buy Apple Watch, since they only sync with iOS. On the other hand, fans of iPhone won't get a number of Android Wear benefits (let alone platforms like Tizen OS and Fitbit OS), which are only available on Android. At the same time, the owners of Samsung smartphones will probably be even more convenient to use watches on Tizen OS (developed by Samsung) than ordinary watches on Android Wear.
Also, when choosing, you should consider whether you need LTE support in your watch. For most users, it is unnecessary, since they practically do not have a situation when they would like to leave their smartphone at home. However, if it is important for you to be able not to take one of the gadgets with you and at the same time have access to all notifications, your choice is narrowed down to models with LTE. They are usually larger than the Wi-Fi versions (with the exception of Apple Watch 3) and hold less battery power. So far, there are few smartwatches with LTE and they usually cost more than modifications without LTE, but you have a chance to find the perfect watch even with such requests. In addition, we recently talked about a startup that will add LTE to most modern watches, so it makes sense to pay attention to the combination of watches with such a gadget.
To make life a little easier for you, we have made a small table with the key characteristics of the best, in our opinion, smartwatches. In our experience, it is in these models that design and functionality are best balanced. As it is believed by modern watches, all these models have built-in GPS, a heart rate sensor, support for mobile payments and the ability to track activity while swimming. Plus, they all support third-party apps.
|Apple Watch Series 3||Samsung Gear Sport||Fitbit ionic||Garmin Vivo active 3|
|Built-in GPS||there is||there is||there is||there is|
|Heart rate sensor||there is||there is||there is||there is|
|Music streaming||there is||there is||there is||No|
|NFC / Contactless payments||Apple Pay||Samsung Pay||Fitbit Pay||Garmin pay|
|Moisture protection||Up to 50 meters||Up to 50 meters||Up to 50 meters||Up to 5 atmospheres|
|starting price||$ 329||$ 300||$ 300||$ 300|
Apple Watch Series 3
If you have iPhone, then Apple Watch Series 3 is the simplest and most optimal solution. This model offers advanced health tracking, Apple Pay, music streaming, user-friendly typing interface, and a large native app store. While not everyone likes the square dial Apple Watch, in practice this design goes well with almost any outfit. It is important to note the presence of the LTE version. Nevertheless, in addition to the fact that it is not yet available in Russia, such a modification also greatly reduces the battery life, which is already significantly less than that of most competitors.
Samsung Gear Sport
Like iPhone with Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy smartphones are perfectly compatible with Gear Sport. This model has a unique rotating bezel around the dial for easy navigation and runs on Tizen OS which now supports thousands of third-party apps. The Gear Sport works great in seawater, so you don't need to take it off when going to the beach. The watch can work up to 4 days without recharging and allows you to control SmartThings equipment. So if you've already bought a couple of items from the Samsung ecosystem, the Gear Sport is a welcome addition.
Fitbit's first full-fledged smartwatch is also a powerful contender for the best, thanks to its accurate sleep tracking and workout guides. Perhaps not everyone will like this simple geometric design, but the functionality makes up for this shortcoming. Plus, Fitbit's popularity shows that their simple design aesthetics are finding a buyer. The manufacturer promises up to 5 days of battery life, which is more than competitors with color touch screens. Basically, the Ionic only loses out on this point Vivo active 3. However, the latter uses a different type of display, which looks dimmer when compared to Fitbit.
Garmin Vivo active 3
The new Garmin model in the line Vivo active rounds out our list. Garmin watches are especially popular with runners for their accurate distance tracking and generally long battery life. To be more precise, Vivo active 3 can work up to 7 days without being connected to an outlet. In addition, this model recognizes activities that are not most popular for such devices – for example, yoga, climbing stairs and even playing golf.
Honorable Mentions: Samsung Gear S3 and Huawei Watch 2
It is easy to see that the best smartwatches today have a lot of fitness tracker features. Nevertheless, there are several simpler and more universal models that are not sharpened for sports. In particular, the Samsung Gear S3 and Huawei Watch 2 are worthy of a mention due to the number of smart features that fit into a small and rather classic looking case.
Specifically, the Gear S3 Frontier ($ 350) is capable of running third-party apps on Tizen OS, automatically collects physical activity data, and features the same navigation ring as the Gear Sport. This model can often be found for under $ 300. Huawei Watch 2, on the other hand, is equipped with GPS and supports NFC payments, music streaming and heart rate scanning.
Both of these models fell slightly short of being on our list due to their limited use as a fitness tracker. However, it is a great choice for users who are not doing serious workouts and just want to keep in check their activity throughout the day.
Fitness or design?
If you are totally unhappy with the square display Apple Watch or the rough Fitbit design, the rotating Gear Sport bezel, or the faded colors of Garmin displays, and don't think a new strap will solve the problem, take a look at what might suggest familiar fashion brands to you. But do not forget that almost any stylish smartwatch will not be as smart as all the models we have listed above.
So, if you've made up your mind and a designer smartwatch is exactly what you need, then congratulations: you definitely have plenty to choose from. The Fossil Group alone has produced 300 models in collaboration with renowned brands (Kate Spade, DKNY, Emporio Armani, Diesel, etc.). At the same time, many companies like Movado, Montblanc, Tag Heuer and Louis Vuitton have also released their own smartwatches.
Most of them run on Android Wear and offer basic fitness tracking capabilities (counting steps and activity times) and streaming music to Bluetooth – headphones. You rarely find built-in GPS or heart rate sensor in such a watch. There are also a number of clocks on other operating systems, but they tend to lack functionality and choices when it comes to third-party applications.
You might also want to check out the hybrid smartwatch – it looks like a mechanical watch but offers basic fitness tracking features and a notification system. They tend to look much more stylish than touchscreen models, but the maximum you can get is information about how many steps you have taken in a day and vibration when new notifications on your smartphone. Here it is worth noting Mondaine Helvetica and Timex and Frederique Constant watches (the company recently moved under the wing of Citizen). Nokia Steel HR is another worthy candidate. Although the design of this model is not as beautiful as that of the Helvetica, it offers more advanced fitness tracking capabilities and is equipped with a heart rate scanner.
The smartwatch market continues to change, and it is not yet clear which companies will stay afloat and which ones will close the production of wearable gadgets. Obviously, perhaps just now Apple and Samsung will continue to update their existing popular lines. It is also worth noting that the popularity of smartwatches and fitness trackers is unlikely to fade in the near future.
If you don't like the Apple Watch Series 3 and Samsung Gear Sport, you will have to compromise on functionality with a different watch. Fans of designer accessories will have to wait until branded smartwatches begin to feature more advanced physical activity tracking capabilities. Either way, the versatile smartwatch has become sophisticated enough to be recommended for purchase – and that's a good sign for the industry.