Smartwatches are everywhere, and sales figures back up their increasing spread across the US. In 2018, sales in that market had increased more than 60 percent over the year before, according to the Verge. And like some other tech, the smartwatch is happening whether we like it or not. If you’re considering getting into the space, find a smartwatch that fits your needs.
Most smartwatches depend to some degree on integrating with our smartphones for the best functionality, whether it’s pilfering GPS from it, alerting you to incoming messages from it, or complementing your apps in a variety of other ways. And in that sense, the smartwatch universe largely splits into the iPhone and the Android, so we’re giving you options from both.
You’re a casual human being with everyday needs, like getting alerts, checking the time (and calendar), and looking good while doing so.
If you own an iPhone, you only have one option, and it’s a good one. The iPhone-compatible Apple Watch flagship released its newest iteration last year, the Apple Watch Series 4. It’s got all the goodies anyone could need (and more), like GPS and heart rate monitoring. For extra cash, you can equip it with cell service and use it like, well, a cellphone. Its last edition is a great option for many people’s needs and is selling right now for nearly half the price you’d pay for its successor.
In the non-iPhone realm, we have standouts like Samsung Galaxy Watch, which works with Android and iOS smartphones. Motorola’s take on the smartwatch, the Moto 360, is popular and its simple design should carry far in a variety of settings. The Ticwatch C2 looks great in its platinum design and runs Wear OS, meaning you’re getting all the apps Google has designed for a $200 pricetag.
Fitness trackers are one thing — fitness smartwatches are another: They combine fitness necessities, from heart rate sensor to GPS tracking, into a smart wristwatch. You’re looking for something that can handle sweat, is rugged, and will report to you the data you need to improve your fitness. The best ones will allow you to work out without your phone.
The Apple Watch Series 4 is another leader in this field for iPhone users. It’s got all the fitness features you need, and its heart rate monitoring has been enhanced for this latest edition.
GPS leader Garmin sells what many hardcore fitness enthusiasts consider a must: the VivoActive 3. It runs its own operating system but will let you stream music through Bluetooth and track your run with GPS. Its apps cover preloaded workouts and it integrates with some third party apps like Uber and AccuWeather. The Samsung Gear S2 is compatible with your phone, whether iPhone or Android, but itself runs on Samsung’s proprietary operating system. You can get it in a very attractive blue or Midnight Black. The most affordable fitness smartwatch is Mobvoi’s TicWatch S2, which runs Android’s Wear OS and gives you GPS in its waterproof casing.
Most smartwatches are still on the bigger side but brands are doing their best to stylize these wrist computers to give you an aesthetically pleasing smart experience. Fossil’s Q Venture is a great example. It’s powered through Wear OS and includes Bluetooth and water resistance but isn’t equipped with GPS. And that’s okay. At $140, this watch is more for a party than a run. I like the simplicity and elegance of Fossil’s Explorist, too. It’s pricier than the Venture but gives you GPS for the added price.
The Rose Gold edition of the Samsung Galaxy Watch is another good example, as is the fully loaded TicWatch Pro. The ZenWatch from ASUS has a very unique design but I know some folks who’d consider its look golden, if only because it’s different (you know that crowd). It teamed up with Swarovski for a crystal bracelet edition that certainly fits the bill of style for some people.
Get the smartwatch that fits your wrist and your needs, whether they’re sweaty, minimal, or extravagant — just be sure you don’t find yourself on the running trail without GPS.
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