Smartwatch buying guide
With a wide choice of smartwatches available today, you definitely won’t be strapped for choice. How do you choose the smartwatch that fits you most? Read on for some useful tips in our smartwatch buying guide.
First and foremost, it all depends on what you need the watch for — depending on that you may look for a device that is more suitable for sports, communication or, maybe, cool design. However, the things most of us are looking for in a smartwatch are multifunctionality, the ability to work well with our smartphone and, in some cases, take on several of its functions. Let's take a closer look at the key factors taken into account when purchasing a smartwatch.
Smartwatch operating system & compatibility
Quick tip: above all, make sure the smartwatch you are considering is compatible with your smartphone.
Smartwatch these days comes with many different operating systems. Surely, you have your Apple Watch with iOS and a large number of models with Android Wear. Tizen is the OS used by Samsung smartwatches and the Microsoft Band 2 uses Windows 10. However, in addition to the above, a lot of models come with custom made OS — like the majority of smartwatches you can find on GearBest. When buying a watch with a custom OS, first, make sure that it is compatible with your smartphone — most models are compatible with both Android and iOS, however certain features may be unavailable for one of the operating systems. Thus, make sure to read the specifications carefully to know about the functionality available with your OS.
Quick tip: an E-link/E-paper display can save you lots of battery life
Most smartwatches are equipped with colorful LCD, OLED and AMOLED screens. Both types of displays are great for media features: looking through photos, social media, browsing the web on your screen.
OLED and AMOLED screens individually illuminate each pixel resulting in high contrast ratios. LCD displays use backlight to bring the images onto the screen and, thus, perform better in sunlight. Where both types of screens fall short is battery life: yes, unfortunately, your color-filled display will drain your watch's battery really quickly.
E-link and E-paper (black and white) displays are not too common these days. However, if you do manage to find a black and white smartwatch, you will enjoy a much longer battery life for your device.
Smartwatch interface: buttons or touch?
Quick tip: a touchscreen may be much harder to navigate on a small display. Consider a watch that uses both the touchscreen and buttons.
We are used to seeing touchscreens on almost all electronic gadgets we use — and a smartwatch is no exception. However, you will need to consider the size of the screen. With the watches generally much smaller screens, navigating a touchscreen may be not as convenient. Most smartwatches actively use swiping as a way to navigate making the interaction with the watch simpler.
Alternatively, you may find it more convenient to have a smartwatch that combines the use of buttons with the touchscreen — like the Oplayer SW1402 or, maybe, a watch that relies primarily on buttons for navigation like the SUNROAD FR803.
Smartwatch apps and features
This point of the buying guide almost entirely depends on your intended use of the smartwatch.
If what you are looking for is a mini-smartphone on your wrist, then you should be looking for watch that can smoothly communicate with your smartphone for timely notifications and updates — search for models with Bluetooth 4.0 and higher. Check how the notifications and messages appear on the watch's screen — whether they are displayed fully or you will need to read full versions on your phone. Another option is getting a watch phone — in this case, you will be able to make and receive calls directly from your wrist.
If you are looking for a fitness tracking smartwatch — then consider a device with the most activity tracking functions: pedometer, heart rate monitor, calories counter, sedentary reminder, workout tracker, sleep monitor and so on. Some watches are designed specifically with outdoor enthusiasts in mind and also feature barometers, altimeters, a built-in compass, weather forecast notification and more.
The same principle applies to apps. Some watches may come with a large selection of communication apps already pre-installed and a lot of sports smartwatches will offer you custom activity tracking apps. Check the app selection on your watch prior to buying and see if all the needed apps can be installed.
Quick tip: check the IP rating on the smartwatch before buying. IP67 rating and higher lets you submerge the phone in water.
Once again, depending on what you plan to use your smartwatch for, you may want it to come with some sort of protection against the elements. Most sports smartwathes come with anti-scratch design and some level of water-resistance. More professional models even be taken underwater and are suitable for diving.
All in all, there are many factors to consider before buying a smart watch and, if this is your first smart watch, the truth is, you may not be entirely sure what features you will be using the most. Our quick tip here is to start a less expensive model to test things out and move on up once you have decided what type of device you need.
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