Smartwatch Shopping Guide: 3 Thing To Consider Before Your Purchase

Smartwatches and wearables in general haven’t caught on as predicted. Just in 2015, the demand for it was expected to rise by 500%. While it’s true that it did rise for a brief period, it never really got close the IDC mark. Today, it has even gotten slower. It really does feel like it’s a dying market. But is it really?
The answer is a complicated no.
As long as huge brands like Apple stay on their course and keep churning out models year after year, smartwatches will not die. In fact, International Data Corporation even expects this market to grow.
But why is the question of whether the market is dead even being asked if forecasts are so favorable?
It’s mostly because no one except Apple is making smartwatches that sell well. Year after year, the Apple watch keeps dominating this segment without competition. Fitbit, one if its closest competitors, reported a 2-million-unit deficit year-on-year in 2017. Smartwatch manufacturers LG and Samsung just couldn’t make a dent in the market and other makers of decent smartwatches of the past such as Motorola has given up on their attempt.
Apple has the smartwatch segment down because it did not get caught up in the app craze that other smartwatch makers focused on. Instead, it focused on the basics. The guys at Cupertino concentrated their efforts on the two main things people buy smartwatches for – notification and fitness tracking.
However, there are other smaller companies that’s gotten the market down pat just as much as Apple. They make excellent smartwatches that does notifications and fitness tracking extremely well too. The only problem is that they just don’t share the same high-profile label as the Cupertino based company.
So, if you’re in the market, whether it’s your first smartwatch purchase or you’ve had experience with them before, here are the top features that you need to watch out for.

Battery Life

One of the problems with smartwatches is that they add to the list of things to charge at the end of each day. If you continuously forget to charge your laptop, smartphone, and tablet at night, adding a smartwatch to that list would most likely end up in you having a discharged smartwatch on your wrist in the morning that’s not even capable of telling the time.
Even Apple Watches suffer from bad battery life. The Apple Watch 3, for example, lasts just 18 hours of continuous use. Some brands, however, has got an edge over the company. Some smartwatches such as the Amazfit Bip boast a 45-day battery life which easily outlasts Apple’s best attempt by more than one and a half months.

1. Sensors

A basic smartwatch should at least have some significant added value proposition versus traditional watches. For most people, just getting advanced notification doesn’t justify coughing up top dollars for a smartwatch that costs a lot more than just a regular watch. While it may sometimes be tedious, pulling your phone out of your bag and checking for notifications every so often is, after all, free of charge. This is mostly why Apple chooses to highlight fitness tracking aside from the notification features.
Fitness sensors the most common added features on a smartwatch. The heartrate sensor, for example, is something that not a lot of modern smartwatches have. Even high-profile brands such as Fossil with Wear OS do not have a heart rate sensor. It just makes one question the difference between a smartwatch and a regular old traditional Fossil watch that costs a lot less. Other than the heartrate sensor, GPS sensors are also nice features to have for fitness buffs.
It is also important to note that both of these sensors have been credited to have saved lives before. Since heartrate sensors are keep track of the wearers circulation, albeit a lot less accurate than traditional monitors, there are cases where smartwatches were able to catch irregularities in their owner’s cardiovascular condition. The GPS, on the other hand, can potentially help you navigate through unfamiliar areas even without cellular signal. It is, therefore, an important feature to have if you’re running through unfamiliar cities or through jungles where you can easily get lost.

2. OS Compatibility

Whether smartwatches have standalone capabilities or not your smartwatch experience will largely feel incomplete if you don’t pair it with your smartphone. Being compatible with your mobile devices, then, is perhaps the single most important feature to have for a smartwatch. Because they’re so small, smartwatches are not very intuitive to interact with. People with large fingers, for example, will not have a very nice time tapping through the watch’s interface. Having mobile OS that’s compatible with your smartwatch enables you to make the most out of the features that it has to offer.
Wear OS, for example, works best for Android phones even if it is advertised to be compatible with Apple products as well. On the other hand, Apple’s Watch OS is only compatible to iOS devices. So, if you’re an iPhone user, your money is perhaps best spent on an Apple Watch versus any other smartwatch.
Other manufacturers are choosing to go beyond the OS offerings from both Apple and Google to have better integration with both. The highly successful Amazfit smartwatches, for example, chose to go with their own OS that pair with both Android and iOS through a downloadable application in their respective app stores. Pebble watches also went this route with its own Pebble OS. They experienced some success with this strategy but they eventually succumbed to a hostile takeover from a Fitbit buyout.

What’s Next for Smartwatches?

The smartwatch is a relatively young market. Manufacturers are just finding their niches. Some, like Garmin, chooses to specialize in their watch’s GPS technology while, Google is trying to make their products standout with more standalone features. Apple, on the other hand, chooses to focus on refining their multipronged approach to smartwatches trying to perfect their fitness tracking and notification features.
While Apple enjoys its dominance, other manufacturers will continue to try to find their niche. Until then, it’s just going to be an exciting, albeit not very profitable, market where innovation is most likely to be cultivated in the need to stand out from the rest of the pack.