When you wear a smartwatch, you have the ability to stay connected and multitask conveniently and efficiently. Smartwatches sync with your smartphone, passing on information to your wrist that is noteworthy to you. Common notifications can be incoming calls, messages, emails, and more. That means you have the chance to keep your phone out of your hands, without missing out on what’s important. And that’s all on top of how smartwatches track activity and exercise. This guide can help you learn about how a smartwatch can suit your lifestyle.
Smartwatch Buying Guide Quick Reference Handout
Table of contents
Benefits of wearing a smartwatch
Like any watch, a smartwatch will tell you the time, but the “smart” in smartwatch comes with all the other features you get with it. For the most part, wearing a smartwatch is like extending your smartphone to your wrist because even when you don’t feel like you’re doing much, a smartwatch is always doing something. While paired with your smartphone, many smartwatches can see the same notifications your phone can, so it’s a convenient way to see pertinent and timely information, like a reminder, alerts, alarms, or notifications from your favourite apps.
Activity tracking works in much the same way. Whether you’re out for a long walk, or just strolling through to shop somewhere, a smartwatch will track all those steps and gauge how many calories you lose. The same is true while going for a run, no matter how vigorous or leisurely it might be. Some also have deeper exercise tracking for working out at the gym, cycling, hiking, swimming, and dozens of other activities.
Passive tracking also applies when wearing a smartwatch. Health rate monitoring and accuracy grew considerably over the years, which has since led to additional features where onboard sensors can measure blood oxygen, skin temperature, electrocardiogram (ECG), blood pressure, and more. Sleep tracking has also greatly improved to help gain insight into how well you slept on any given night.
Smartwatches generally connect via Bluetooth to maintain constant connectivity when paired with an Android or iOS handset or tablet. Some also support Wi-Fi, which you can utilize for certain features where necessary. Others take it further with LTE support, letting them operate independently of the phone itself.
Style and display choices
OLED and AMOLED
OLED (organic light emitting diode) and AMOLED (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) displays are common in smartphones, and make up the glass on many smartwatches as well. These displays produce deeper blacks and higher contrast ratios, with the added benefit of being thinner with lower power consumption than other types of smartwatch displays. One difference between them is that OLED screens can come in single or full-colour variants, whereas AMOLED screens are always available in full colour.
LCD (liquid-crystal display) is also a common display technology. They require a backlight to illuminate the display, which often means there will be an additional layer of thickness. While the additional light can’t replicate the deep black levels and a contrast ratio of OLED and AMOLED, they are easier to see in bright sunlight and other similar settings.
Black and white
These screens lack the colour that makes others look dynamic, but they have an advantage in improving battery life considerably. Some black and white displays are OLED, though there may be others that use E-Ink displays typically used in eReaders. These are legible in bright environments without glare but would need a light source to be visible in the dark.
Smartwatches will often offer always-on displays, where you can keep the screen active at all times. Other times, they can only light up when activated by motion, like flicking your wrist up to light up the screen for a quick glance, to preserve battery life. Most smartwatches also use touchscreen displays, letting you tap and swipe for easy, intuitive navigation.
Smartwatches will sometimes use the same type of fortified glass smartphones do. Corning Gorilla Glass is renowned for its ability to handle daily wear and tear and reduce instances of scratches and blemishes. It’s still susceptible to cracks if hit with a very hard impact, but is quite durable in its own right. Sapphire glass is even tougher and able to withstand If you plan to use your smartwatch in rigorous conditions, it could be good to have that added protection.
Smartwatches will offer varying degrees of water resistance and waterproofing to ensure they can still function when exposed or submerged. That additional protection is great for engaging in outdoor activities where rain or snow might be in the mix. A waterproof smartwatch can help you track swimming without worrying about a malfunction. Just be sure that the watch specifications allow for use in both clear and saltwater.
One of the great things about smartwatches is that they come in a variety of styles and designs for bands and straps. Certain watches may use standard lugs common with regular watches, making it possible to use bands from existing watches. Others may use proprietary latches that only work with compatible straps. There’s an active market supporting either type with various styles made of different materials.
Many are inspired by traditional watches, which is why you will find bands with classic looks made of leather or stainless steel. Others are made of fabrics for a nice, casual feel that can fit in a variety of situations. Then you get some made of silicone offering maximum flexibility and durability—great options for being outdoors or working out.
What makes a smartwatch versatile is how extra features figure into the wider feature set, and that list is only getting longer. Here are some that are usually available:
Smartwatches can simplify your phone usage by displaying notifications in a convenient way. These can include calls, messages, emails, social media posts, reminders, alarms, and much more.
They are customizable, so you decide which notifications you ultimately want to see pop up on your watch.
If you prefer to maintain some privacy, you could have notifications alert you without showing anything, or keep them quiet altogether for a certain period of time. You can also decide whether you want the watch to beep or vibrate, depending on your preference.
You can talk to your smartwatch the same way you would from your phone. Popular voice assistants, like Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa, may be embedded and active on your wrist, depending on the watch and associated brand.
Smartwatches with built-in speakers may offer the option to make and receive calls directly without having to pick up the phone. So long as the watch is within Bluetooth range when paired with your phone, or has its own cellular data connection, it’s an easy task.
You may have the option to store your own music on your watch’s internal memory for playback without a data or Wi-Fi connection. In some cases, you can pair Bluetooth headphones directly with the smartwatch and listen to music without the phone. There may also be tighter integration or support for popular music streaming services that let you control music playing on your phone through your watch.
Have you ever used your phone to pay for something at a store or restaurant? Some smartwatches will let you do that straight from your wrist, provided your watch, bank, or credit card company support that feature.
If you venture too far away from the wireless range of your paired phone, the watch may trigger an audible or vibrating alert.
Latest and greatest smartwatches
There are abundant choices to make when it comes to which smartwatch you should strap on your wrist. The best options are those that will do the most for your lifestyle and activity goals, not to mention making sure the watch will integrate and be compatible with the phone you’re using. For example, the Apple Watch will only work with iOS devices, as it’s not compatible with Android. The same is true in reverse for Samsung Galaxy Watches, which are no longer compatible with iPhones. With that in mind, here are some smartwatches to look out for:
Fitbit’s smartwatch lineup comes in two particular lines: Versa and Sense. While they share many of the same design traits inside and out, they differ in that the Sense features more of the latest health and wellness tracking sensors and technologies, whereas the Versa concentrates more on exercise tracking. Both watches can track the same exercises in the same way, and have the same access to the same services. It just all depends on what sensors and hardware are embedded in each watch. That’s why Sense 2 can track skin temperature (electrodermal activity) and ECG (electrocardiogram) while Versa 4 can’t, for example.
Garmin smartwatches come in different series that looks a little different and may focus on different things. MarQ is the luxury line that features the most elaborate mix of design and functionality. Fenix is the high-end line, where there’s less of a focus on using apps onscreen, and more on multisport activity with excellent tracking and location data aimed at those who are serious about getting fit. Forerunner has the clue in its name, which caters to runners but also offers plenty of other exercises to track as well. Vivoactive and Venu both lean more towards fashionable designs, with touchscreens and vivid screens to go with all the tracking features Garmin is known for. The Instinct removes colour from the screen, along with music and apps, to keep things simple and focused on staying active. Lily goes with a slender design for women who prefer something smaller. Golf fans can also look for golf-focused Garmin watches that are among the best available.
Samsung Galaxy smartwatches have evolved to now run on Google’s Wear OS wearable operating system. It resembles Samsung’s own Tizen platform from previous Galaxy Watches, only works differently because they better integrate with apps available on the Google Play Store. They offer a mix of exercise tracking and smart features that extend from your smartphone, with tighter integration for Samsung phones and tablets. That integration isn’t exclusive to them because you can still use a Galaxy Watch with other Android devices and get many of the same features.
Citizen smartwatches are unique by comparison because they are largely hybrid designs mixing both digital and analog elements together. That allows them to retain the look of a classic timepiece, as seen in the CZ, CZ Smart, and Smart Hybrid. Others, like the CZ Smart PQ2 Casual and CZ Smart PQ2 Sport, also come in different sizes. All Citizen smartwatches work with both iOS and Android devices.
New technology in smartwatches
Smartwatches will track all of your basic activity metrics including steps, distance, speed, pace, calories burned, and in some cases, elevation. It compiles all of the data you track for easy access on your watch, but in many cases, you’ll also be able to sync your data with an app on your phone, where you can monitor your improvement over days, weeks, months, and years.
Standard activity and exercise tracking
Built-in pedometers and accelerometers enable smartwatches to track all types of movement. Altimeters are another standard feature to track elevation, also telling you how many flights of stairs—or an approximate equivalent—you climb every day. Exercise tracking continues to be more sophisticated, offering a variety of workouts that include hiking, biking, running, HIIT training, weight training, cross-training, aerobics, yoga, and many more.
The embedded heart monitor tracks heart rate throughout any activity or workout, including peak heart rate, resting heart rate, and whether you crossed a max heart rate threshold. This doesn’t have to stay on land, either. Manufacturers are also making their smartwatches more ruggedly durable with 5ATM water resistance to handle saltwater and pools to track swimming and waterborne activities.
Exercise tracking also goes hand-in-hand with new and improved health-tracking features that can provide a better sense of how you’re doing. Here are some that stand out:
SpO2 (Pulse Oximeter)
Smartwaches with SpO2 sensors are essentially pulse oximeters that can read blood oxygen levels. They do it by shining infrared light through the wrist, reflecting off blood tissue containing oxygen back to the sensor to provide a percentage displayed on the watch. Some SpO2 sensors can function at any time, whereas others may take most readings during sleep.
An ECG measures a heart’s rhythm and electrical activity and is best used by anyone who is at least 22 years old. Smartwatches with ECG capabilities look for signs of atrial fibrillation (Afib), otherwise known as an irregular heartbeat. ECG features aren’t available on every smartwatch, even if the technology exists on it because the feature requires approval from government regulators. In Canada, the ECG features on select Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch models have been approved and are available to use.
Daily Readiness/Circadian Rhythm
Some smartwatches will utilize data from multiple sensors to gauge daily readiness based on circadian rhythm readings. To get a score, the watch will compare heart rate variability (HRV) readings with daily activity and sleep quality to assess how prepared you are for light or vigorous activity when you wake up to start your day. The higher the score, the more intensely you can work out. Lower scores indicate fatigue or stress. Various smartwatches may offer a variation of this feature, with Fitbit Premium being one of the most elaborate.
Wearing a smartwatch to bed allows it to track sleep quality through various metrics. This is a common feature on current smartwatches that tracks your heart rate and blood oxygen (SpO2), while the accelerometer senses how much you move. Sleep tracking will include a breakdown of time spent in each sleep cycle (light, deep, REM), along with details on whether you were restless or awake at any point while asleep.
Here is an article to help you learn more about advanced smartwatch features.
How to make the most of your smartwatch with the app
App support can play an important role in what a smartwatch can do. They also help tie the watch to your phone in helpful ways, like using a locator feature in case you can’t find your phone. Not all smartwatches offer third-party apps to run on their devices, though you can customize your watch how you want by changing the watch face, which text you like most, and what notifications you want to see. Go old school with an analog face, or stick to digital with something more futuristic. There are a number of tools available and is always up to you how you choose to use them.
You can also utilize the apps and services that work exclusively with your smartwatch. Several smartwatch vendors use their own apps to sync over the tracking data the watch collects and include nifty features to show you what the collective data shows, and how it might affect you. There are also services designed to get you moving or approach your health and fitness in more proactive ways, be they exercise routines, nutrition, wellness, and sleep quality, among others. Here are some that stand out:
Garmin Connect and Connect IQ
Garmin Connect displays all the pertinent information coming from your Garmin smartwatch, with weekly, monthly, and yearly stats indicating progress. A highly customizable interface enables you to choose the order in which you see the data you want, while separate sections challenge you to hit new goals or start new workouts. Training and Planning is a deep dive into exercise and training routines that tie into Garmin Coach, a unique feature that keeps tabs on both your progress and keeps you honest about meeting your goals.
Within Connect, there is a Connect IQ Store to download compatible apps and watch faces for your Garmin watch. It’s even possible to add golf courses and make use of specific features through a separate app called Garmin Golf. The level of overall tracking features in Connect is perhaps the most extensive available from any brand.
Fitness+ is Apple’s subscription-based exercise platform that can work with the Apple Watch to track movement and progress. You can watch the guided video workouts on an iPhone, iPad or Mac and follow along while wearing your Apple Watch to see your own personalized metrics in real-time. Hosted by real-life fitness enthusiasts and experts, every exercise comes with guidance over form and pace, and the thousands of workouts available range from very short to long, and moderate to intense, giving you a good place to start based on your level of fitness.
Fitbit Premium is a subscription-based service found within the Fitbit app made up of multiple parts designed to provide more detailed information about your health and wellness, while also giving you an avenue to get active. It enables a Daily Readiness score with stress tracking (on certain Fitbit devices) to provide some insight into how you’re doing and what your body might be ready to do to get active. Guided programs within Premium cover a variety of exercises, meditation, and how-to nutritional recipes, some of which are hosted by recognizable figures.
This is the primary app that works with Samsung Galaxy Watch models to track all activity metrics while offering insights into health and wellness at the same time. It will use the various sensors on compatible Galaxy Watches to get a body composition measurement that you can then use to tailor workout goals or targets that work for you. It also tracks route information based on the watch’s onboard GPS to read distance and pace for more accurate readings relative to movement. Sleep tracking can include snore detection, while coaching tips come from analyzing sleep patterns to look for ways to improve poor habits.
Designed for Citizen CZ Smart hybrid and touchscreen smartwatches, it takes the data from the watch to show your activity metrics, including whether you hit your daily goal or not. You can customize the watch face and set controls for music and other apps that send notifications to you through the watch.
Take the next step
From special features that range from activity tracking, voice control, quick payment, and more, there are lots of options when it comes to finding the right smartwatch for your lifestyle. Check out a wide selection of all types of smartwatches at Best Buy Canada.
Your Smart watch can keep track of just about everything. At a glanceyouncan check just ABOUT ANYTHING YOU SHOULD BEBCONCERNED ABOUT, This gives youthe time to do things you’ve been neglecting.