Smartwatch buying 101

A smartwatch is a device that works hand-in-hand with your smartphone, allowing you to access most of its features by just tapping your wrist.

These devices are making life simpler and convenient with notifications being sent directly to your wrist. It’s also an accessory that aims to fit with your own style. When buying a smartwatch there are a couple of things to look out for alongside its design. Here is a quick guide on the essential features to consider:

LG Watch Urbane

1. Style and appearance

A given. What you wear and how you wear it is a statement. Some watches are sporty, some retro, others simple and others more classic – enhance your personal style accordingly.

2. Battery Life

A good battery life is extremely critical to a smartwatch. It is essential to glance through the rated battery life of a smartwatch while picking one. The typical battery life of smartwatches run from half a day to over several days depending mainly on the usage of the watch and the size of the internal battery.

If the device is not able to make it through the day without needing to be plugged in, it will erode the other benefits of having the watch. No-one wants to embarrass themselves with a non-functional item. Keep an eye out for smartwatches being developed that support wireless charging and come with a docking station. Here one just needs to place the watch on the surface of the dock in order to start charging it.

3. Compatibility

Smartwatches serve as companions to a smartphone and are hence dependent on a user’s smartphone for co-ordinated functionality. It is important to ensure that both these devices are compatible with each other.

There are very few high tech time pieces like Samsung’s Gear S smartwatch, that can operate really well as a standalone product (though it still needs a Samsung Galaxy phone for its initial set up). There are a certain set of smartphones that a particular smartwatch can be paired with and being clear on this will help you to make the right decision.

For example, Samsung smartwatches can be paired with only some Samsung smartphones while the Moto 360 can be paired with any smartphone running Android 4.3 and above.

4. Operating System

Yet another important thing to look for before buying a smartwatch is the operating system (or OS for short) that the smartwatch runs on.

There are four prominent operating systems that are dominating the wearable market today: Android, Android Wear, Tizen, and Linux.

While choosing a smartwatch, make sure that it runs on the OS that suits your needs. The most widely adapted of all operating systems, the Linux kernel is used in most mainstream wearable devices.

5. Apps

Just as an OS is an important criteria when buying a smartwatch, the number of apps available to the watch have become an important predictor for the future success of a smartwatch. Smartwatches have already carved a niche for itself – but to do really well, like smartphones, need app support.

Though the majority of smartwatches run paired to a phone, they still have app stores which allows the user to add on the core features of the watch – just like a smartphone does.

It makes sense to have a watch that works with a wide variety of apps instead of being limited to a few custom apps with basic functions. The library of smartwatch app stores is expanding rapidly with all four dominant leaders competing with each other on the array of apps available.

LG G Watch-R - Black - Smartwatch 16. Interface

Something else to consider is whether a Touch Screen display or physical buttons similar to conventional watches, would be preferable.

A touch-screen display is fairly easy to navigate by swiping, scrolling or zooming in and out. However it can sometimes be hard to target specific items since the screen size is a lot smaller than the regular smartphone’s size that we are so used to.

Of late, touch-screens are the clear winners in the battle with physical buttons, but if you prefer simplicity over sophistication, the latter will do the trick.

Physical buttons on the watch face can be easier to use if you are wearing the smartwatch in fitness activities such as running or training outdoors. It facilitates interaction with your device and allows you to do things like clicking on a picture, checking in on social media and much more.

7. Fitness Tracking

Most smartwatches entering the market come with some sort of activity tracker type feature. These tracker features are either built-in or available for download in the app store.

A number of devices like the Android Wear typically have a heart rate monitor built in, a pedometer for counting the number of steps and an accelerometer to measure the depth of your sleep. The data recorded by these sensors can later be viewed and analyzed with the help of apps.