Smartwatches have been around since the early 1980s and common features now include biometrics, a phone, calculator, translations, games, GPS and media players. They can generally be classified as a wearable computer.
Apple launched its first Apple Watch in 2015, this really changed the game! It was significant because it was more than a watch, it was very much a fashion accessory.
The market has exploded since then, which is why we have created a definitive guide to help you in purchasing one of the many smartwatches available:
The largest section of this market is geared towards men. From multi-use, sports-style watches to higher end, sleeker and more refined options, here are three of the most popular with widely differing price tags.
Tag Heuer Connected Modular ($1500 US, £1160+ UK)
Despite the price tag, opinion and reviews on this model, are very average. It is a solid piece of kit but heavy at 62.5g and really very bulky at 13.7mm thick. Not very pretty so many are obviously paying for the brand.
It is very customisable, though. It has changeable straps and bezel finish options of diamond, aluminium, titanium or ceramic. It comes with a full metal case, clear resolution and everything needed to track activity, sleep and it fully waterproof.
The model shown below is the cheapest option with titanium bezel and silicone strap.
Apple Watch, Series 4 ($399+ US, £308+ UK)
There is no doubt that the Apple Watch led the way in changing this market and this latest version, which starts at $399 or £308, has options that could take the price tag up to $1499 or £2000.
The display is 30% larger – the largest of all Apple watches – and it has a better battery life, better speakers, a fast S4 chip and an electrical heart sensor.
Apart from all these features, it looks good – stylish, fashionable, and powerful. A real want to wear item.
Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro ($150, £179)
This is a good all-rounder that has sold well. It has water resistance up to 50m, an easy to use display, calorie tracking, and an activity tracker for sleep, activity and workouts. The Gear Fit is a great multi-purpose watch.
Women are now spoilt for choice with the range of Smartwatches available, offering more style and individuality than those aimed at men, which are very generic in design.
Kate Spade Scallop ($200, £179+)
Customisable with two colour ways and different straps and other accessories, this watch is feminine in every detail with its fabulous design by Fossil. As well as optional watch faces, it has the ability to make contactless payments, play music, track activities, and a large screen.
Michael Kors Access Runway ($180+ US, £169+ UK)
This watch uses the Wear OS system, with features such as dial and touch screen functionality, countdown controls, social links, contactless payments, and water resistance. Unlike the other watches featured here, this one is very much geared towards formal wear and isn’t so suitable for the gym. It’s a strong unisex option, more feminine colours are available and there are suitable options for men also.
Samsung Galaxy GEAR ($299 US, £200+ UK)
As with most Samsung products, the Galaxy delivers. It’s able to connect with the current data plan on a phone and have access to all levels of phone calls, data, messages, internet, music and activity tracking. The activity tracker enables full monitoring of up to 40 different exercises, it has water resistance up to 50m, calorie tracking, detailed and in depth sleep monitoring, contactless payments and wireless charging.
Fit Bit is the market leader here – it’s name has almost become the generic term for fitness trackers – but there are plenty of others coming up on the rails.
Fit Bit Versa ($156.49 or £150 UK)
This watch has the classic Fit Bit style, with nothing to make it stand out from the crowd, but with all the functions you probably need. It tracks heart rate, fitness and sleep, and has apps, with access to the internet and social media. Boasting up to 50m water resistance and a four-day battery life, it also has onscreen workouts, the ability to store and play music, and the ability to make contactless payments.
Garmin Forerunner 35 GPS ($120 or £130 UK)
Garmin is known for its sports capability. This watch has automatic uploads to Garmin Connect with live tracking, audio prompts, internet and social media connection. Activity tracking includes distance, pace, time, heart rate and much more. With an optical heart rate sensor and excellent GPS, charts of progress and history of activity, it’s lightweight, with a large, hi-res screen. A good unisex option.
Polar Vantage V Multisport (£479)
A hi-spec watch with an impressive 40 hours of battery life, round screen face with dial and touch screen, the Vantage’s wireless magnetic charging aid completes the package. There are four skin sensors on the reverse of the watch which work as a heart rate sensor, so there is no need for a chest strap.
Got money to burn? The price range of smart watches seems to have no limit. We’ve chosen three of the finest luxury smartwatches.
Louis Vuitton Tambour Horizon Black ($2560 or £2900 UK)
This watch is aimed towards global travellers. It shows upcoming flights, a city guide application, a 24 hour clock which shows the weather and temperature. It comes in a stainless steel case with a black finish, use the Google Wear OS, abnd is compatible with both Android and iPhone. It has a 22 hour-battery life and is water resistant to 30 metres.
Movado Connect (940$ or £895 UK)
The sleek Connect mirrors the style of Movados analogue watches. This one shows the classic signature Museum Dial with a large metallic dot at 12 o’clock. It uses the Wear OS, giving access to phone calls, email, messages, social media, internet and activity tracking.
TAG Heuer Connected Modular (£180,000)
Made from white gold and no less than 589 diamonds this is stunningly beautiful smartwatch with an eye-watering price tag. Using Wear OS and benefiting from 25 hours of battery life, it has all the standard features you’d expect and more – but it’s the gold and diamonds that you’re paying for!
Smartwatches are great for kids, too.
Garmin Vivo Fit Jr.2
This model costs $76.70 or £70 and has a selection of different wrist bands which can be attached to suit all tastes. The main selection includes Disney Princess, Minnie Mouse, Star Wars, Spiderman and Avengers.
It is an Activity Tracker with many unique features. It tracks sleep, steps and activity to make sure kids get their required 60 minutes of daily activity in per day. It motivates kids to achieve their goals by giving access to games on the watch. In addition to this it is water resistant and swim-friendly making it the perfect all rounder. It is also handy for parents who can set chores on the associated smart application, set rewards and monitor progress.
VTech Kidizoom Smart Watch DX2
This is a Dual Camera Smart Watch with lots of unique features. It has been designed with creative and independent play in mind, with the express need to develop hand-eye coordination. Suitable for ages 4+
The main features include a motion sensor, pedometer, voice recorder, games, learning applications, camera and more. A pretty good deal at $34.99 or less and the best of the bunch.
Leap Frog LeapBand
My final choice is the LeapBand which is aimed at 4-7 year olds. This is a watch and activity tracker which encourages them to move and play. This comes in at £45.99.
There is an inbuilt pet pal (very similar to the old tamagotchi!). It encourages active play and healthy habits, as a way of teaching responsibility and looking after your pet.
In summary, technology has really moved on. We hope this guide has been informative as we appreciate it is a minefield of information out there. Do your research, match the features which suit your lifestyle best and explore. There really is a smartwatch out there to suit you.