One in seven owns some kind of smartwatch, which is a gadget I really didn’t understand. The idea of dropping hundreds of dollars from Apple and Samsung into one wasn’t something I couldn’t understand. That’s until I spend a while with a cheap smartwatch on my wrist.
The whole concept seemed to be a mixture of gimmicks and impracticality. I have a watch and a mobile phone. Why did I bother to combine the two and perhaps there’s still something worse than either?
But in the end, my assumption was wrong. It’s actually pretty good. This is the way I was converted.
The first concern I had
Battery life is an issue for watches and wearables in general. Therefore, I chose some watches from the Seiko Solar series up to this point. They are great, and as long as they see some form of light at least once every six months, you don’t have to worry about winding, charging, or replacing the battery.
On the contrary, having to connect your phone or tap with a wireless charger at least once a day is a bit annoying. Sometimes I forget, and even if I don’t, it’s yet another task to complete (and yet another to worry about failing). If you can avoid it, you don’t need to add something small like a clock to your to-do list.
Stand-alone smartwatches also exist, but to get the most out of many of them, including Samsung and Apple’s efforts, many smartwatches need to be connected to your smartphone. In my opinion, why do I need a watch with only some of the features of my cell phone when I need to keep my cell phone in order for that feature to work? Simply pull your smartphone out of your pocket and it will always be more functional than your watch.
That said, even the best smartwatches are limited by their size, so it makes sense to use them as a much more powerful phone accessory. Then the question is, “What does the clock bring to the table?” If you choose a smartwatch with LTE capabilities, there are many answers. Many new smartwatches feature LTE and GPS, making it easy to receive text, track destinations (such as if you like hiking), and send health alerts.
Many other features also looked like gimmicks. Society as a whole seemed to look down on those who were chatting with Bluetooth earpieces in the early 2000s. Chatting with a watch like low-rent James Bond doesn’t look as cool as it was at the age of 10. So if you have any self-consciousness, there are phone calls and text messages. Theoretically, there are two more practical features with less gimmicks.
Why I got one anyway
I tend to be quite active in my spare time. Hiking, gymnastics, VR boxing and yoga are just a few of the things I get up in a week. I wanted to better track my indicators and activities, and for that, a smartwatch with fitness tracking seemed to make the most sense. Instead of adding worries, it will remove a little responsibility from my daily life and make things a little easier.
Stand-alone heart rate monitors are widely available and are probably more accurate than most smartwatches in tracking your heart rate accurately. Amazon decided to give me an Amazfit Band 5. It’s not the top and not the only option in its price range, but it seemed like a bit of a bargain at around $ 30.
So, with as low an expectation as you would expect, I waited for my first “smartwatch” to arrive, tied it to my arm, and around a little nasty app that moved it all. I turned my head around and started digging into my training.
It was a nice surprise
The first moment with Amazfit Band 5 wasn’t completely stress-free due to some issues with the app. More expensive watches may have a simpler setup process, but getting the app and finding an ambiguous menu of places to add devices was frustratingly vague. And of course, I had to create an account. But these first annoyances were quickly dealt with and the device almost immediately began to leave everything to me.
My anxiety about having to recharge my device on a regular basis quickly disappeared. The battery of this one lasts for several days and will be recharged immediately. Mileage may vary depending on the watch you choose and how you use it, but the cheap wrist straps allow you to attach it to the charger and work before taking a shower. Not yet below 50% battery. If I forget, it’s not a big deal because there’s enough juice to get through me and the watch is water resistant anyway.
Call alerts are also more convenient than you might think. I’m one of the people whose phone is always silent or out of the way. So making a little noise on your wrist is a very unobtrusive way to make me more responsive. I answered the text more quickly and actually answered the call when people called me. The best bit is that it doesn’t bother you. Constantly listening to text and ringtones bothers me for some reason, but a slight growl on my left wrist is fine. Just check your watch and then your cell phone.
When it comes to fitness tracking, there are questions about the accuracy of heart rate monitors and step counters. Given the price of the device in the first place, this isn’t a shock, but it does provide a rough way to track things. This is good enough and the watch believes I’m particularly accurate enough to keep myself in the heart rate zone. These features are great for targeting workouts and are difficult to perform without a heart rate monitor.
Many smartwatches have GPS functionality. This is part of the device itself or piggybacking on the GPS of the mobile phone. It turned out to be inaccurate from time to time, but it should be useful during the hike. Despite giving me a few miles extra on some trails, it’s flatteringly inaccurate.
The same is true for calorie tracking. Your watch contains data such as height, weight, heart rate, and distance traveled, so you should be able to make informed estimates of calories burned. This should be taken with just a little salt, but don’t rush to grab a milkshake on your way home from a simple 5-mile hike.
Amazon’s integration with Alexa is also extensive, but some of the bugs I found were quite frustrating. The device randomly disconnects from the Alexa app and requires you to sign in again. When I executed a voice command, I was sometimes told that there were too many commands. So if you wanted to run the second command, you had to close Alexa and then reopen it. Alexa sets alarms on both the watch and the bedside Echo Dot. Unfortunately, when I canceled the alarm with a voice command or the Alexa app, it was canceled only with a dot, so I had to check the clock menu to manually cancel the alarm.
Still, aside from the problem, I found it very useful to have a voice assistant on my wrist. If you’re not near your Echo Dot or completely out of your house, you don’t have to tinker with the app anymore. Simply swipe left to do almost everything you normally do in a smart home. For example, Alexa remotely turns off the lights, turns on the air conditioner before going home on a hot summer day, or a connected smart home gadget.
Remember when the clock said it needed to bring something to the table if it relied on the phone? Alexa’s integration is a delicious casserole.
Yes, there are still gimmicks, but there are also fun ones.
Overall, I soon fell in love with having a smartwatch, and found that the features I thought were incredibly gimmicks were actually a lot of fun. Sleep tracking is just a great example of such a feature, but less accurate on more expensive devices. But it still helps to get a rough idea of how you are sleeping and provide some of the tools you need to figure out why you don’t get the ideal night rest.
In addition to sleep monitoring, Amazfit Band 5 also provides stress monitoring. This is based on your average heart rate and is not a more accurate science than sleep monitoring. The same idea applies here, and you can visually confirm that you are feeling a little stressed, but you may change your lifestyle to reduce that stress. It’s an easy way for technicians to help you become more careful.
In addition, given the recent global medical events, the blood oxygen monitoring capabilities of smartwatches may also provide peace of mind (although if there is a real medical reason to monitor blood oxygen levels, Buy one specially designed for that). If you’re interested occasionally, that feature is another prong of the Digital Swiss Army Knife.
Why you want to drop $ 250 for something better
I’m one of the people who are obsessed with the concept and relentlessly pursue its ideal version. I like the fitness tracking feature, GPS, sleep tracking, and the smart home integration features provided by the basic smartwatch. Now I want to upgrade to something that does it all, but it’s more accurate. Fitness tracking was the reason I first tried it. Therefore, the more accurate your tracker, the more accurate your fitness and progress will be. It’s worth the financial investment.
A better tracker will also improve app integration. Band 5 uses Amazfit’s Zepp app (Android / iOS), which isn’t great. It’s more complicated to work with Samsung and Google’s fitness apps, but upgrading to a better smartwatch should solve that problem.
They also look much better. A simple black fitness tracker band is unobtrusive and matches most clothes, but looks cheaper. It’s fine in the gym or hiking, but it’s not ideal for every occasion. Because of this, I’m relentlessly monitoring my heart rate and so on, so it’s frustrating to spend the night wearing a dress watch instead.
So, in conclusion, don’t drop $ 30 on a cheap fitness tracker. If you’re like me, you’ll be hooked on the more powerful smartwatch concept and find that it’s far better and worth the extra cost). This is our favorite smartwatch and fitness tracker: