The phrase “you get what you pay for” does not necessarily apply to all product categories. A cheap model can be as good as, or almost as good as, a model that costs several times as much. An example is the Riversong Motive 3S smartwatch that I bought from Amazon a few weeks ago.
$ 35 + tax. It currently sells for $ 50. For the past three weeks, I’ve worn it on my left wrist and a $ 227 Fitbit Sense on my right wrist. There are some important caveats that I’ll explain later, but they’re about the same as those that cost several times the price.
Riversong is one of many Chinese companies that manufacture cheap smartwatches. I also tried the $ 60 Amazfit Bip U smartwatch fitness tracker. This is also a very good choice for anyone looking for a cheap smartwatch.
Both Riversong and Amazfit connect to your smartphone (Android or Apple) and monitor your heart rate, oxygen saturation, stress levels, breathing, sleep quality, and menstrual cycle, if applicable, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Both can be used to track various fitness routines. Usually, you measure your heart rate, distance (walking, running, cycling), steps, etc., depending on the exercise you are doing. Both provide incoming call notifications, calendars, alarm clocks, weather forecasts, and support for smartphone music. You can use Amazfit to take pictures remotely from your smartphone’s camera. I didn’t dare to test it, but both are water resistant up to 50 meters.
And when it comes to appearance, both are very similar to the Fitbit Sense and Apple Watch. It will be difficult to distinguish them from their more expensive siblings from a distance.
Riversong and Amazfit are two of the many Chinese companies that make smartwatches with similar capabilities, with prices ranging from about $ 25 to about $ 200. I’ve spent the most time on Riversong products, but if you’re looking for a cheap watch, it’s worth looking for another watch that may have the features and price to suit your needs.
I was able to put the Riversong watch on several tests and was totally impressed. In most cases, the measurements were very close to what the Fitbit Sense recorded, and very close to what the Fit app on your Android phone recorded. I also compared my heart rate readings with a pulse oximeter, which was also very close. Fitbit Sense measures oxygen saturation during sleep, but not on demand. It only gives you an average and range (like 92-99) and does not show your oxygenation over time. Amazfit allows you to see your O2 levels on demand and during sleep. Neither Fitbit nor Amazfit provide as much detail as the O2 ring, an overnight pulse oximeter worn on your finger. None of these devices ensure 100% accurate measurements, and there are always subtle differences. This is probably not a big deal, as you should be aware of important warnings from all fitness makers and avoid using these devices to diagnose medical care. condition. This warning cannot be overemphasized. Fitness devices can have false readings, and even accurate readings need to be interpreted by someone who knows their importance.
Both devices were very accurate in measuring walking distance. Amazfit has a built-in GPS to measure distance accurately. Riversong doesn’t have GPS, but it connects to your phone’s GPS via Bluetooth and reports the distance accurately. Both do a reasonable job of measuring steps, but there are always some differences between devices when it comes to the steps taken. Before you buy a smartwatch, be aware that both Android and iPhone come with a very good fitness app for measuring steps and distance. I didn’t compare the data from either of these watches to the Apple Watch.
One of the areas that my various devices disagree with is sleep measurement. When it comes to the total amount of time I spent in bed and the total amount of sleep, they are usually pretty close, but there are significant differences in the way sleep stages are quantified, such as deep sleep, light sleep, and the amount of REM sleep. You can see it. .. The Johns Hopkins Medical Blog post cites Dr. Alan Schwartz, Director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. “They don’t measure sleep directly.” They often measure inactivity on behalf of estimating sleep, “he said. To get accurate data, you need a sleep study that requires a doctor’s prescription. In a Cleveland Clinic blog post, MD Dr. Colleen Lance said, “There is no smartwatch that can track light and deep sleep well.” If you want to track your sleep stages, you need to have EEG leads in your head in the sleep lab.
Warning about cheap Chinese watches
Apart from the fact that there is no 100% accurate device, there are some caveats about cheap Chinese watches. For Riversong devices, I couldn’t find a replacement watch band or charger online. This is probably because there are not enough of these in circulation to guarantee a vibrant aftermarket. I was able to find a band and charger for the more popular brand Amazfit watch. The apps that come with both devices are very good and provide additional insight into your data beyond what you get from a watch face. I can’t find a marketplace for third-party apps. I was particularly disappointed with the choice of watch face for the Riversong watch. I wanted a watch face with the most information, but in addition to time and date, most faces provide only one or two data points such as steps and heart rate. I like to check the number of steps, walking distance, heart rate and battery charge level on the dial of the digital clock. However, although all that information is available from your watch, you may need to scroll to another screen to see it.
If you need a high level of support, easy access to accessories and third-party apps, and at least a company device with an office in the United States, Apple, Samsung or Fitbit. But if you need a basic watch that provides pretty good information on your wrist or smartphone app, these cheap watches will work.
Larry Magid is a technical journalist and internet safety activist.