How to Buy a Smartwatch in 2018
With the likes of Motorola no longer actively pushing their Moto 360 and the announcement that Fitbit will stop supporting Pebble in June, you’d be forgiven for thinking 2018 signals the death of the smartwatch. But we don’t think that could be further from the truth. Though a consumer’s options are undoubtedly shrinking, it does mean that only the strongest have survived.
Fitness and fashion brands have rushed to fill the vacuum left by the tech start-ups, meaning smartwatches are becoming more niche and user-specific. While that’s no bad thing, it does mean you’ll need to know what you want from your smartwatch before you hit the market. So to guide to you through these turbulent timepiece times, here’s how to buy a smartwatch in 2018.
But first; the basics. Before we start getting into features, there are a couple of things you need to consider – and none more so than the phone you’ll be pairing it with. It may seem obvious but Android users won’t be able to virtually any of the benefits of the iOS-enabled Apple Watch, while iPhone fans won’t get as much out of Android Wear as… well, Android users. Those with Samsung phones, as an example, may want to consider the company’s Tizen-based Gear smartwatches too.
On a similar note, it might be worth considering whether you want your smartwatch to come with LTE connectivity. LTE-enabled smartwatches are few and far between but they can be a real godsend if you want to leave your phone behind but still want to remain connected. With an LTE smartwatch, you can still get your notifications thanks to the watch possessing a cellular radio. Bear in mind, though, LTE connectivity often comes at the expense of battery life and usually means a chunkier design.
Style or Substance?
Chances are at some point you’ll also need to pick a priority: fitness or fashion. Size, shape and bezel size will no doubt have you swaying one way or another, and while we’re not here to tell you that’s wrong – you’re the one who’s parting with hard earned cash and has to wear the thing – just bear in mind fashion-forward devices often lack the features.
Best Smartwatches 2018
So once you’ve decided the basics, it’s time to start looking at features. We should say from the off that basically all the best smartwatches on the market come with built-in GPS, heart rate sensors, and mobile-payment tech, and that’s certainly the case with what we think are 2018’s best offerings.
Apple Watch Series 3 (From £329)
If you’ve got an iPhone, for us the Apple Watch Series 3 is almost a no-brainer. As well as an extensive health tracking system, it also comes with convenient messaging tools and, of course, Apple Pay. For the Series 3, Apple also finally embraced LTE, creating the first standalone Watch experience. Not only will you now be able to take calls and get notifications thanks to that built-in e-SIM, you’ll be able to stream Apple Music right from your wrist too and annoy everyone on the morning commute. It should also be noted that the Apple watch has one of the least divisive smartwatch designs around – something that probably matters far more than we’d care to admit!
Samsung Gear S3 (£299)
If you want something a little different, we’d recommend Samsung Tizen-powered Gear S3 smartwatch. It may not have as many app options as the likes of the Apple Watch, but it does come with LTE and GPS and is available in two different styles; the luxury-looking Classic, and the more rugged Frontier. It’s controlled almost entirely through a single rotating bezel and is perfect if you want to keep things simple and elegant. For us, the Gear S3 is one of the most premium looking smartwatches out there and it’s also built for you to go a good four days or so without needing a recharge.
Fitbit Ionic (£299.99)
Virtually all smartwatches feature health and fitness tracking, but if you want the very best, we love Fitbit’s first full-fledged smartwatch, the Ionic. Thanks to its precise sleep-tracking, water resistance up to 50m, and onscreen dynamic personal coaching, the Ionic will give you on-screen guidance for every move and routine that will adapt depending on your feedback. The bold hexagonal design won’t be for everyone but if you don’t mind the aesthetic, Fitbit promises up to five days of battery life, which is longer than virtually any rival device on the market with colour touchscreens.
Huawei Watch 2 (£199)
We’re also fans of the Huawei Watch 2. Undoubtedly a huge improvement over the first-generation Huawei Watch, the hardware is what really sets the Watch 2 apart from the rest of the field, boasting optional 4G connectivity, GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, allowing for use without a connected smartphone. There’s also a whole load of built-in sensors which gives users in-depth fitness tracking. Like the Fitbit, you’ll also get real-time guidance should you want it.
So there we have it – our guide to buying a smartwatch in 2018. Have any favourites of your own? Let us know in the comments below!