It’s official, the smartwatch revolution is in full swing. From celebrity sightings of Apple’s Watch leaving us green with envy to super funky ads from Google, smartwatches are the next addition to the ‘smart’ family of devices we hold dear.
Wearables have been on the rise for a while now but things have really taken off with the advent of the stylish wearable. Success in design from Pebble, LG, Motorola and of course Apple have pushed wearables from a nerd’s wet dream to the covers of Vogue and the catwalk.
Although design is still far from perfect and the majority of devices out there are still garishly ugly, we do have a huge range of great smartwatches to spend our money on. Before you commit to buying a smartwatch though, there are a number of questions you should ask yourself. What you keep on your wrist will be secondary to what you keep in your pocket and in some cases just as important so you must choose wisely, here are some things to consider before bringing a smartwatch into your life.
An arm and a leg for your wrist?
We define value as the extent to which a device’s price is justified by the device itself. With smartwatches there are a number of things you should look out for which should help answer the question is this worth it? Pay close attention to build quality and the materials used on your perspective device, just what is made from? Do the specs warrant the price tag? How well will this hold up on a day to day basis? It’s all about finding a midpoint between all these things.
Although it’s still mostly a case of you get what you pay for, there are exceptions. The Pebble Watch provides a great all round experience for the merger sum of £99 but doesn’t provide the same level of functionality as many of its more powerful counterparts. Apple’s Watch provides great functionality and has the cool factor in buckets but is 3 times the price of the Pebble and has a dramatically weaker battery. The Moto 360 is another cool, sleek and functional option but again lacks in the battery department.
Despite their increasing numbers smartwatches are still relativity young devices so if you’re hoping to pick up an all singing, all dancing device on the cheap you may be left disappointed. With any piece of tech as the market becomes more saturated prices will drop, so if you’re on the edge about buying one and price is a big factor in your decision making, you should probably wait it out a bit.
Value ranks high on the list of things to consider before you buy anything so it’s important to stay calm, not be dazzled by the fancy apps, shiny metals and pretty animations and ask yourself is what I’m about to pay really worth it?
But what can it do though?
Functionality goes hand in hand with value when making your decision. Just what kind of features does your perspective new toy have? What do you need/want your smartwatch to be able to do?
Smartphone notifications are pretty standard practice for smartwatches so what you really need to decide is how you’d like to be able to interact with those alerts. For example, Apple’s Watch is feature filled with Siri, support for Apple Pay and a slew of apps however it isn’t a standalone device meaning you’ll need to have an iPhone close by to get the most out of it. Similarly Samsung’s Gear is only compatible with a number of Samsung smartphones. Google recently announced that by using Wi-Fi to connect to your phone their huge range of Android Wear smartwatches will be able to function perfectly regardless of where your smartphone is but it is still important to note just which devices/OS your smartwatch will work with.
Much like smartphones what will really make or break smartwatches are the apps available. It’s well worth looking into the kind of apps you’d think you’d use regularly, the most popular apps and of course the apps optimised for your smartwatch before you buy one. You’re going to feel awfully disappointed if you can’t get your favourite apps on a smartwatch you may have just spent hundreds of pounds on.
The question to ask yourself is what will I be using it for? It’s fitness features, as a communicator, an extension of my phone or an all round device? The answer to this will help with your decision greatly.
In it for the long run?
The third and just as important factor to consider when selecting a smartwatch is how long do you see yourself using it for. No piece of tech is going to stay perfect forever and as technology rapidly improves and becomes more widely available we’re bound to see different generations of the many smartwatches released pretty quickly. However, paying for a smartwatch then seeing an even better model released a couple months down the line will be a kick in the teeth. So to avoid splashing out every year for the latest smartwatch why not just buy a watch that’ll go the distance?
If we could predict which smartwatches would survive the test of time we’d be millionnaires but as that’s not possible all we can do is buy a smartwatch of good quality with a reputable OS.
It really comes down to the build quality of the watch, metal and aluminium may suffer cosmetic flaws through the months and a watch made from plastic/rubber may not withstand all your life may throw at it however both also have their benefits. A well built watch with the option to change or upgrade components will do a lot better over time. It’s all about buying not just for the now but for the future.
Although smartwatches aren’t at the same point smartphones are, the selection process is a similarly exciting one. There are many more factors to consider when buying one but putting value, function and longevity at the top of your criteria is a way to maximise your purchase and minimalise disappointment.