How to choose a smart watch: a step by step guide
Decide on the type of smart watch
Manufacturers produce many variations of smartwatches, there is no clear division into types for these gadgets. But there are several general directions among the models:
- A smart watch that must be paired with a smartphone to perform all functions. Phone compatibility may vary and be limited by device manufacturers. These models usually have a wide range of capabilities – from tracking physical activity to receiving calls and notifications from applications.
- Standalone watch-phone that does not require connection to a smartphone. They have a built-in communication module and a slot for a SIM card. Visually, they do not differ from the previous version, but they have an additional set of features. With their help, you can exchange messages, make audio and video calls.
- Fitness watch that is able to collect various indicators of physical activity. The gadget then sends the received information to a smartphone or to a cloud service for analysis. Quality sports watches are usually protected from damage and moisture. Most of these models should have a GPS module to track the routes traveled.
Smartwatches can also be divided into two categories based on interface type:
- Digital GUI is the most common type that all major brands produce. Most current models have a touch screen.
- Analog interface with classic dial and hands. Visually, such watches are similar to classic mechanical ones, but an electronic system is also installed inside them. They can sync with your smartphone and collect activity data.
Which smart watch to buy
Find the right operating system
Many major gadget manufacturers create their own operating systems for their smartwatches. The most common of them:
- Wear OS is an open system from Google, which is used by other smart watch manufacturers.
- WatchOS is Apple’s proprietary system specifically for the Apple Watch.
- Tizen is developed by Samsung and Intel for a wide range of gadgets, including Galaxy Watch smartwatches.
- Harmony OS is Huawei’s system for smartwatches and other electronics.
- Zepp OS is the operating system for Amazfit watches.
There are also smart watches without complex firmware – with a minimum set of functions. You cannot install third-party applications on them and somehow expand existing capabilities.
Different systems are not immediately compatible with all gadgets at the same level. For example, Apple Watch without third-party programs syncs correctly only with iPhone on iOS. They also work with Android, but not as stable and with a smaller set of functions. Wear OS and Harmony OS smartwatches connect to all smartphones in most cases.
Which smart watch to buy
Learn about the main features
The speed and efficiency of smart watches is often affected by the filling used. So, for normal performance, you need at least 512 MB of RAM. The more powerful the gadget’s processor, the more RAM and the more capacious the drive, the more possible functions the model can perform and the faster it responds to pressing.
Built-in memory is required to install applications and store user data. Some models support storage expansion using microSD cards.
For wireless communication with other gadgets, smart watches can use Wi‑Fi and Bluetooth interfaces, as well as NFC. Another technology found in smart watches is ANT+. This standard was originally developed for medical equipment. In terms of its capabilities, this connection option is similar to Bluetooth, but consumes less energy during operation.
The standard set of smart watch features includes notifications from applications, text messages, call alerts. Most current models are able to track the number of steps taken, calories burned and sleep quality.
Sports watches calculate activity metrics more accurately than other types of gadgets. They are also able to collect data for different sports and determine the position in space in more detail using a set of sensors and a GPS module.
Learn the type of display and its characteristics
Smartwatches, like smartphones, use different technologies to create screens. The type of display matrix affects the brightness, image contrast, color quality and power consumption.
The screen can be based on LCD technology or OLED. On the basis of LCD, various variations of the TFT (Thin Film Transistor) matrix on thin-film transistors were made:
- TN is the simplest and cheapest option, which is rarely used in watches. It has a small viewing angle and poor color reproduction. If the characteristics of the device indicate the type of matrix simply as TFT or LCD, then this is most likely exactly TN.
- IPS – has good viewing angles and a fairly high color quality.
- MVA and PLS – these matrices are similar in their characteristics to IPS, but are rarely found in smart watches.
OLED matrices differ from liquid crystals in significantly better color reproduction, brightness and contrast. But the cost of production is high, so this technology still does not prevail, although it continues to develop.
Based on OLED technology, two of its variations have also been developed – AMOLED and Super AMOLED. Active Matrix OLED uses an extra layer of transistors called an active matrix. It controls each individual pixel in the image.
Super AMOLED is used in Samsung devices. The touch layer in this case is inside the screen, not on the surface. The developers were able to reduce power consumption and improve the image display in bright sunlight.
Which smart watch to buy
Decide on the design and materials of the case
Models in a classic style do not visually differ much from ordinary watches, so they can be a good replacement for them. Sports ones are often distinguished by their larger body and bright colors of the elements.
Most smartwatches are customizable, with dial designs and straps. The type and material of the latter quite strongly affects the overall perception of the gadget. The accessory can be made of inexpensive plain silicone, genuine leather or stainless steel.
Smartwatch cases are also often made from stainless steel or aluminum. Titanium models are more expensive, but they are more durable. In addition, there are ceramic devices that are scratch-resistant, but rather fragile. Shockproof accessories are often made from variations of plastic. It is lightweight and does not affect the cost of the gadget as much as metals.
The coating of the watch display can also be plastic or more durable – mineral, sapphire or a combination. The former picks up scratches easily, so it’s best to go for the more expensive option if your budget allows. The protruding frame can also protect the screen from bumps and sharp objects – it is especially typical for sports models.
The degree of protection of the device against the effects of external solid objects and moisture is indicated according to the international standard by the IP sign with two digits. The first shows the level of protection against dust (0-6), and the second – against moisture (0-8). If the model has not been certified for dust resistance, then the first indicator is replaced by x. For example, for watches that can be submerged in water for a short time, the protection class will be marked as IPx7.
Some manufacturers indicate water resistance in the form of the WR (Water Resistance) index. For smart watches, the minimum value is 30 m, the maximum is usually 200 m.
Find out everything about device autonomy
The autonomy of the watch means how long it can work without recharging the battery. First of all, the indicator depends, in fact, on the capacity of the battery. It is also important how actively the user uses all the functions of the device. Most of all, the gadget is discharged from the work of GPS, Wi‑Fi and calls.
Typically, models with fewer chips are more autonomous. Smart watches from the middle price category are able to work without recharge for several days. But the complex options from Apple and Samsung are discharged with active use per day.
In many devices, you can switch the operating modes: standard, energy saving or maximum. In some cases, it will be possible to manage the power in more detail and disable individual functions and sensors that are not needed at the moment.
It is desirable that the smart watch supports fast charging in 5-10 minutes, as well as wireless recharge from the charging station.
Consider additional features
The watch may have an alarm that will wake you up with a slight vibration on your wrist. This is a useful feature for personal awakening while the rest of the family is still asleep. You can configure the application so that the alarm is triggered in the most appropriate phase of sleep for this.
The web browser on a smartwatch isn’t the most useful thing, but it’s fine for quickly browsing the news. Handy when you can’t use your smartphone.
The music control function will help you launch your favorite tracks on your smartphone and switch them from your watch. In addition, models with built-in memory and a player allow you to do without a phone at all.
The discovery system will help you find the device to which the watch is linked. After giving the corresponding command, a sound signal will be triggered, even if the phone is in silent mode.
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