Have you got friends who’ve upgraded their watch game recently? Have you noticed people looking (or talking) at their wrists? Do you wonder why? More than likely some people around you have invested in a smartwatch.
So, why are smartwatches beneficial? Now, digital watches have been available for quite some time. Some of them even quite advanced with features such as calculators.
However, it wasn’t until 2010 that technology companies started to release watches that had smartwatch type features. It was in 2013 that the first smartwatch in the guise of what we understand a smartwatch to be today was introduced to the market by a small company called Pebble. The rest is history.
What is a smartwatch?
In order to answer why smartwatches are beneficial it’s important to understand what it is. A smartwatch is a portable device that is meant to be worn on a wrist. A type of wearable, the smartwatch is also seen by many as an extension to a smartphone.
It has similar features such as a touchscreen and a range of apps and sensors to monitor health and fitness activity. There are two types of smartwatch that occupy the market; the first being the everyday use type, a device that is designed to replace the traditional watch but relies on a smartphone.
The second is the speciality range, designed for specific functions and audiences, for example, a smartwatch for the elderly where the main element is location tracking and safety. The speciality watches can be a cross between a phone dependent wearable device and an independent fitness tracker.
The uptake of the smartwatch had been slow. With people not quite sure why smartwatches are beneficial, what to do with them or classifying them as not being necessary because it did everything a smartphone can do. However recent statistics show that things may be changing on this front.
In 2017 sales of smartwatches and fitness trackers was up 16% on 2016. The Smartwatch market then saw an increase of 23% on 2016. With Apple, Google and Samsung continuing to invest development into the sector the popularity of the smartwatch looks set to carry on.
If you’re not yet one of the converted, lets us take you through reasons for why wearing a smartwatch is a good idea.
It tells the time
Obviously, a smartwatch tells the time. However, isn’t it easier to glance at your wrist to check if you’re late for your appointment than to think where you’ve left your phone and look around for it?
Sales of traditional watches have been on the decline as smartphones have dominated the market, but the smartwatch reminds us what a key item the watch actually is.
Smartwatches can be confused with activity trackers and so you could be forgiven for thinking they are a bit boring, clunky and mechanical looking. On the contrary, the modern smartwatch comes complete with a library of colours, materials and watch faces to suit all types of occasions – whether it’s a workday or fun at the weekend.
Are we there yet?
We’ve become accustomed to using the map function on our phones to assist with navigation. But, did you know it is even easier with a smartwatch? There is an increased risk of missing the next turn if you are too busy reviewing the direction on your handset or worse the smartphone is dropped during the constant put away, take out, put away scenario. A smartwatch makes navigation much easier, with the route available at a glance.
The Apple Watch goes further, notifying you which direction to turn with distinctly different vibrations for left and right. When driving, a flick of the wrist will provide reassurance that you’re on the right route. A smartwatch is ideal for navigation purposes on vehicles where it would not be appropriate to use a handset such as a motorcycle.
The smartwatch makes entertainment even easier to access. Granted the screen size is a factor but it’s ideal for public transport journeys where keeping the phone aloft can prove to be a challenge. It’s also ideal to use the smartwatch when you want to quickly share a funny YouTube video with friends and family.
Perhaps the better entertainment factor with a smartwatch is its music capabilities. Listening to music on your smartphone is even more enjoyable with a smartwatch.
You can skip tracks, change the volume and play around with your playlist all from the device on your wrist. Newer smartwatches even allow music to be stored directly onto the device so no need to have the smartphone with you as well.
A great example of a smartwatch with Spotify controls is the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus; check out the full review, here.
Perhaps one of the smartwatches most useful features is its ability to alert you to calls, text messages and social media updates. Rather than having to get the handset out each time, it vibrates or pings. Not every notification will be important i.e. requiring an action), a smartwatch makes it easier to manage notifications quickly and easily. It may seem trivial but the potential to save time and simplify situations you’re in is huge. For example, a quick glance at your watch in a meeting wouldn’t be considered rude as it would if you were to start rummaging for your phone. Also when out and about running or taking part in other physical activity you may decide to not take your smartphone with you. You can decide when alerts come through on the smartphone so as to keep the process efficient.
Making and answering calls
How this activity is undertaken will vary on the type of smartwatch. Some devices allow the wearer to accept or decline calls through the watch. Others will allow this but also give you the option to answer the call through the watch itself.
Both options require your handset to be nearby. There are now cellular versions of the smartwatch available on the market, which means you can use the watch independently to a smartphone including being able to make calls.
Although the appearance of voice dictation into a smartwatch can look strange, it is a useful feature allowing you to respond to important messages in a timely manner without compromising what you may be doing at the time i.e. out for a run or busy in the kitchen.
Even kids can have an affordable smartwatch that lets them make calls to trusted contacts. For more information on these devices, check out our review, here.
Health and Wellbeing
It can be easy to assume that the smartwatch is only good for tracking your steps. It does of course track daily steps but it does so much more which can really make a difference to a person’s health. Due to the smartwatch being capable of doing more than just tracking steps, it is more likely to be worn on a daily basis rather than taken off and being forgotten about.
A smartwatch is not just a pedometer, it has various built-in sensors to monitor and record other activity such as heart rate and blood pressure. The latest edition of the Apple Watch even has the capability to perform an ECG. Other useful health-related features include sleep monitoring, calorie counting and a range of apps to support stress management. Newer smartwatches are now able to monitor your body temperature as well.
Additionally, the new Fitbit Sense is being hailed as stiff competition for the Apple Watch, also a holistic fitness and wellbeing smartwatch in one. See how Apple and Fitbit compare, here.
Not all fitness trackers are smartwatches and not all smartwatches are fitness trackers. However, some do offer both functions. A smartwatch that can offer multiple sports tracking is another reason why smartwatches are beneficial.
Look toward the likes of Garmin and Suunto if you’re a keen adventurer or triathlete who likes to keep an eye on their notifications at the same time.
The ability to check your blood pressure is becoming more commonplace in smartwatches. Read more on why measuring blood pressure is important.
For one, you could download the Qardio app if your smartwatch supports third-party apps. Failing this, there are cheap, basic fitness trackers that will look after this for you. For example, the Mgaolo Smartwatch will measure blood pressure, which is great if you need to do it multiple times a day. Fitbit is reportedly, testing blood pressure monitoring with the Fitbit Sense. The Apple Watch 7 may even include blood pressure as well.
A lot of us have either Google Assistant or Alexa in our homes these days. There’s convenience in letting them control of mundane tasks like changing the heating temperature or turning lights on and off. What’s cool is that we can now use our smartwatches to utilise our virtual assistants.
Smartwatches are equipped with GPS as standard, most will require you to pair the watch with your handset whereas others have stand-alone GPS built-in. This is key for a number of reasons.
Not only does GPS allow you to track sports activities such as running and hiking, measuring speed and distance accurately but it also helps to track your location for safety purposes, particularly useful if on your own or in an unfamiliar environment.
For that reason, smartwatches are ideal for offering loved one’s peace of mind for when elderly relatives are out and about. Some smartwatches also have the ability to detect falls and take action if needed, for example, contact emergency services if no movement is detected.
Many smartwatches, especially the speciality types, have SOS/panic buttons which if activated can contact identified individuals through the phone either via message or by making a call.
On the subject of safety, smartwatches are expensive as are smartphones. However you’re more likely to draw attention to yourself using a smartphone than you are your smartwatch, offering the wearer a degree of reassurance.
Losing your smartphone can be disastrous, but with a smartwatch the risk is significantly minimised. Most smartwatches are programmed with the ‘Find Phone’ feature, especially useful if you have a habit of misplacing your phone!
Many modern smartwatches are also waterproof, providing connectivity in all types of weather and activity.
At the height of this feature is Apple’s new Family Set-Up that allows parents to stay connected with their children, ensuring their total safety.
Keeping your smartphone charged can prove challenging. Having a smartwatch reduces that urgency – more use of smartwatch equals less use of smartphone, saving valuable phone battery life.
Evidence shows that battery life on smartwatches is of a good standard lasting between 18-24 hours for devices such as the Apple Watch and up to a few days and even a week for some of the speciality watches.
So yes, it is true that a smartwatch can do everything a smartphone can, but as we’ve described above it can do that and more. The smartwatch shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for the smartphone – it doesn’t have to be a choice between the two – but as a must-have accessory for today’s tech-savvy individual.
We hope this in-depth guide has been useful. Hopefully, we’ve been able to point you in the right direction for your next smartwatch purchase!
Last Updated on October 4, 2021