How to Decide Which Smartwatch to Buy

The ever-growing list of devices available in the smartwatch market means there’s a watch out there for everyone. But it also means that finding the right one for you is only becoming harder, especially if you don’t regularly keep up with tech news. If you are looking into getting a smartwatch but don’t know which model to choose, here’s how you can go about narrowing down your options.

1. Start with a budget

Smartwatch prices range from under $100 to over $1000 with a wealth of options in between the spectrum. The number of budget options is even bigger if you are open to shop for used Apple watches or used WearOS watches. Since there are options at all price points, it’s a good idea to start your search by deciding how much you are willing to spend and narrowing down your options from there. You can bump up your budget later if you are not happy with the options you found at your initial price point.

2. Choose a category

The smartwatch world is divided into three main types of watches: fitness trackers, business watches, and all-rounder devices that do both. And it might be tempting to assume that the watch that has more features is always the best option, but that is not the case.

For one, including more features increases the price of the watch, and there’s no need for you to pay for a heart rate monitor if you have no intention of using it. And on top of that, space within a smartwatch case is very limited, so watches in the “all-rounder” category often lag in battery life when compared to specialized alternatives.

That’s why some watches in the $500 price range need to be recharged every night, while an $80 fitness band can last weeks on a single charge.

If you do need both fitness tracking and business features, it’s also worth considering if you’re willing to get two watches and swap them for different occasions. That may still come up cheaper than getting a watch that does both, and it allows you to charge one watch while using the other.

3. Create a shortlist

Once you have a budget and a category in mind, it’s time to put together a shortlist of options. Start by just checking online guides and browsing retailers so you can get familiar with the most widely available options that meet your criteria. Then move on to the next step.

4. Learn more about the devices

Look for detailed reviews of the watches to see how their features compare against the competition. Battery life and connection reliability are two factors to keep an eye out for. Also try to find out how visible the screen is under sunlight, as being unable to read your watch while out and about can be quite frustrating.

If you are buying a used watch, see if you can find long-term reviews that go over how well the watch handles the test of time.

Finally, check if the watch is compatible with your smartphone. iPhones work better when paired to an Apple Watch, but they can also pair with some devices made by other manufacturers. And on the Android space some modern watches have trouble pairing with older Android versions, so if you haven’t upgraded in a while, try shopping for watches released around the same year your phone was.

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