Smartwatches are pretty much one of the most popular (and leading) devices when it comes to wearable technology with over 20 Million+ units sold in the United States alone since their launch some years ago.
While many people see the average smartwatch or fitness tracker as a fancy device for gadget freaks and simply a waste of money, others who know the real importance of these smart devices have now incorporated them in their daily activities and are enjoying their full benefits.
That leaves us with questions like “are smartwatches really worth it?” “what are the advantages and disadvantages of an average smartwatch?”
If you’re looking to purchase a smartwatch for yourself or as a gift to someone or maybe you’re simply searching for answers to the questions above, then you’re on the right page as I will provide answers to those questions and more in this article.
Smartwatches & Fitness Trackers, What’s The Difference?
Many people believe fitness trackers and smartwatches are the same but they’re not. This is a popular misconception amongst many who are new to wearables in general.
In simple terms, the major difference between a smartwatch and a fitness tracker is that a fitness tracker (as the name implies) is a wearable piece of tech which is meant for tracking fitness while a smartwatch is a more complex wearable device capable of tracking fitness and can perform other actions like taking calls, reading notifications and app alerts, reading emails and many more directly on your wrist.
A smartwatch is generally a more feature-packed device than a fitness tracker which essentially does only fitness tracking. Fitness trackers are also often less expensive when compared to smartwatches.
Now that you know the major differences between a fitness tracker and a normal smartwatch, let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of smartwatches.
Below are some of the advantages of owning a smartwatch.
1) Health Benefits
Health tracking is one of the major reasons why people opt for wearable devices. Smartwatches often come with many health tracking capabilities as we see on many fitness trackers and other wearable devices.
Some health-related benefits which you can get from smartwatches are heart rate tracking, sleep tracking, step tracking, fall detection, calories measurement, and many more. Some of these features are discussed below.
Heart Rate Tracking
Most modern smartwatches come with heart rate tracking sensors (optical or ECG) and apps which do a great job at tracking the rate of your heartbeat and alerting you when it’s abnormal.
Knowing your heart rate and ensuring that it’s on the right level helps in so many ways and these smartwatches make it easier for you by tracking your heart rate at all times right on your wrist. Most smartwatches these days also come with inbuilt artificial intelligence platforms capable of accurately detecting an abnormality in your heart rate and this is a feature you can’t find on normal watches.
Some modern smartwatches like the latest Apple and Samsung Galaxy smartwatches now feature an ECG sensor over the older optical sensor for more accurate heart rate monitoring. I recently shared an article on the best ECG smartwatches so if you are interested in smartwatches with that technology, make sure to check the article out.
Step Tracking (Pedometer)
Tracking steps is also almost impossible on a normal wristwatch, but with a smartwatch, tracking your steps can be done easily and you can even set daily step goals. This is exceptionally useful for people who want to keep fit at all times.
Sleep tracking is also another unique feature that you can find in most smartwatches and fitness trackers. Modern smartwatches come with sensors that could almost accurately detect when you fall asleep and when you wake up and log the data.
The data gotten when tracking your sleep is then used to give you a score on how much sleep you’ve gotten and recommendations based on those values.
Blood Pressure Measurement
Most people often overlook keeping track of their blood pressure and this could be bad at times but with a smartwatch that has blood pressure tracking capabilities, you can get your blood pressure measured easily on your wrist without even having to see a doctor or purchase blood pressure measurement devices.
A smartwatch with a blood pressure monitor will often notify you automatically when it detects an abnormal increase or fall in your blood pressure.
Fall Detection & Automatic Emergency Calls
Newer watches like the Apple Watch 6 & 7 are capable of detecting when you fall. If you’re unresponsive after falling, the watch can go a little bit further by placing emergency calls or notifying your emergency contacts. This feature is exceptionally useful for seniors or people with physical conditions who may be victims of a hard fall.
2) Notifications & App Alerts On The Go
If you’re like me who doesn’t like to check my phone all the time for notifications and app alerts, then getting a smartwatch could be great for you.
Seeing all your social media notifications, email notifications, calls, and alert from apps on your wrist is great stuff and although I’ve personally come across people who don’t like or use this feature on their smartwatches, I think it’s very nice.
It could be of help when driving, exercising, or doing other physical activities where you might not want to pick up your smartphone to take a look at your notifications.
Some smartwatches also allow you to reply to messages and emails directly on your wrist after viewing them while others will only allow you to view the notifications and/or mark them as read.
In all, I think this is a good reason to get a smartwatch but then again, it doesn’t apply to everyone.
3) Reply Texts & Calls
Standalone smartwatches with SIM card and LTE capabilities often allow you to reply (and send) text messages, make/receive calls and even respond to messages from various social media platforms like Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram, and others.
This feature is exceptionally useful if you’re in a situation where you can’t use your smartphone (like in your workplace) and you really need to make calls or reply to messages.
4) Music & Entertainment On Your Wrist
Unlike fitness trackers, most smartwatches come with media playback capabilities which means you can either play music directly from your smartwatch (via LTE or inbuilt storage) or use it as a form of remote to control the music playback on your phone.
This feature comes in handy when you don’t want to carry your smartphone along but need to play music continuously.
Most standalone smartwatches with LTE services allow you to stream music from music streaming platforms like Spotify & Deezer and in some cases, directly from the watch’s inbuilt storage.
5) Contactless Payments From Your Wrist
Many smartwatches now come with contactless payment platforms like Google Pay, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay e.t.c depending on the brand and OS.
These payment platforms allow you to make payments for anything at offline stores directly on your wrist without needing any credit or debit cards. As cool as that sounds, it’s real.
Making payments on your Google Pay or Apple Pay-enabled smartwatch is very easy. To make a payment, all you have to do is to add a supported card to your payment account on Google or Apple Pay (these are the 2 most popular ones), and when at the store, you will have to hold your smartwatch over the contactless payment reader until you hear a sound or feel a vibration from your watch. You’ll also be asked for a PIN when making a debit transaction for authorization.
So if you forgot your card at home, you can still make payments directly from your smartwatch easily at supported stores in your local area if it is supported.
To learn more about how this feature works, refer to this guide for Apple Pay and this guide for Google Pay. Also, note that these payment services don’t work with all smartwatches so be sure to get a smartwatch with either Google or Apple Pay when choosing your smartwatch.
Other contactless payments platforms for smartwatches include Garmin Pay (for Garmin smartwatches), Fitbit Pay (for Fitbit smartwatches), and Samsung Pay for Samsung Galaxy Watches.
6) Fashionable & Customizable
Smartwatches can be very fashionable when compared to normal watches. You can wear them anywhere, just name it – schools, workplaces, dinner dates, important meetings and so on.
They are also highly customizable as you can choose your preferred watch face from a huge list of watch faces which mostly come preinstalled on many smartwatches we have these days.
On Android Wear OS smartwatches, you can download a watch face you like on the Google Play Store and install it on your watch easily. You can even change the background, delete watch faces don’t like amongst other things.
7) Great Companion When You’re Not Allowed To Use Your Smartphone
In my workplace, using my smartphone during work hours is prohibited so my smartwatch is able to do all I will be needing during that time from taking calls to replying and sending texts, reading emails, and many other things.
8) Other Benefits
Below are some other benefits of owning a smartwatch in 2022.
Alarms & Other Remainders
Most smartwatches come with special apps that let you set alarms and/reminders for specific events. Although most smartphones have apps that perform tasks like these, smartwatches just seem to do a better job at alarms and other reminders since they’re easier to access.
Intelligent Voice Assistants
We all know how useful voice assistants can be from controlling your smart home devices to setting reminders, reading notifications & emails, finding information online amongst others.
Luckily, many smartwatches now come with voice assistants like Google Assistant, Bixby, Siri ( for Apple Watches), Alexa, and many others.
Many smartwatches have pre-installed weather apps that allow you to check the current (and future) conditions of the weather in your area. This feature is pretty handy in times when you can’t reach your smartphone but need to check the weather.
In a situation where apps that perform these tasks don’t come pre-installed, you can get them in the respective app stores of your watch.
Modern smartwatches now come with offline maps pre-installed and although most people claim they don’t use this, it could come in handy when you’re traveling or doing activities like hiking, driving, walking, cycling e.t.c.
Find My Phone
The “Find My Phone” feature is one of the most important (and unique) features you can find on many smartwatches. It is basically a feature that can help you find your smartphone if you can’t remember where you left it or if it was misplaced/stolen. A great feature to have is you ask me!
Smartwatches are seen as expensive by many but for the value, you’re getting when purchasing one, I wouldn’t really tag it as expensive.
There are cheaper smartwatches however and you can get them for just under $50 while you can get mid-range ones for less than $100. The high-end expensive smartwatches like the Apple Watch Series 6&7 can cost anywhere between $300 – $700 (or more) depending on the specifications and build you choose.
Like in smartphones and other technology devices, there are always cheaper smartwatches and there are also expensive ones so this isn’t really much of a disadvantage if you ask me.
2) Limited Battery Life
Feature-packed smartwatches tend to have lower battery life and this is one of the major problems many people complain about. To be on the safer side, it’s advisable to get a smartwatch that is advertised with at least 7 days of battery life so you’re sure that the battery life you’re getting is able to power up your watch for at least 3-4 days before needing to recharge.
Most smartwatch brands like Garmin, Fitbit, Amazfit, Apple, and many others have been working to solve this problem so newer smartwatches tend to have longer battery life when compared to older ones.
I have also compiled a list of the best smartwatches with longer battery life so make sure to take a look at those recommended watches if you’re searching for smartwatches that will give you value for your buck in terms of battery life.
3) Smaller Screen Size
Another thing most people don’t like about smartwatches is the small screen size but then again, they’re just wristwatches. Bigger screen sizes will be a nightmare for people with smaller wrists like me.
So if you really care about screen size and most especially if you have big fingers, make sure you check the screen size of any smartwatch you’re going for and know if it’s going to be a great fit for you.
4) Will Almost Never Replace A Smartphone
Smartwatches are getting better every day in terms of performance, connectivity with many features being added in newer models but the fact is that they’ll almost never replace our smartphones at least for the foreseeable future.
If you’re planning to get a smartwatch to replace your smartphone and expect it to do everything your smartphone does, then that’s not a good idea because you will be disappointed.
The compact size of smartwatches affects many things like the screen size, battery size, usability, and overall experience when compared to a smartphone and unless smartwatch manufacturers find a way to fit an entire smartphone on our wrist, smartwatches aren’t replacing our smartphones soon.
5) They Do Get Outdated
Like in other tech gadgets like smartphones, gaming consoles, and laptops, smartwatches can get outdated and you will most likely want to upgrade to the latest trend in a few years so before picking up any smartwatch, make sure you get something that is (at worst) released a year before so you can keep up with the trend in the coming years if you care.
Smartwatches are not like traditional watches you can wear for many many years but most brands offer updates for their software from time to time so in many cases especially if you go with top smartwatch brands, you won’t be missing any new software features even if you’re on an older model.
So Are Smartwatches A Waste Of Money?
In my opinion, NO, smartwatches are not a waste of money.
Smartwatches don’t only tell the time like normal watches but they help in tracking fitness, keeping track of your heart rate & blood pressure, general health monitoring, getting easy access to your notifications, calls, messages, and a bunch of other useful features.
When comparing the advantages of smartwatches with their disadvantages as mentioned in this article, the advantages greatly surpass the disadvantages showing that these devices are very well worth it.
If you’re someone who is really aware of your health and fitness, then getting a smartwatch can be of huge importance and I personally recommend you get one.
I hope this article helped you make the right decision on getting a smartwatch this year. Like many other technology gadgets, smartwatches also come with their flaws too but in my opinion, their advantages outweigh their flaws.
It’s now over to you. What do you think about smartwatches? Are they worth it in your opinion? Would you recommend a smartwatch to someone? Let me know in the comments down below.