This content originally appeared on Mashable for a US audience and has been adapted for the UK audience.
Your phone might feel like an essential tool in your daily life, but how irritating does it become to take it out of your pocket every time you need to do something quickly? In a world where the smartphone quickly overtook the need for a watch on your wrist, things are turning back the other way. Smartwatches give you all the benefits of a traditional wristwatch while also providing you with many additional features you’d see on your smartphone.
Picking out the right smartwatch for you is a little more complicated than buying a regular wristwatch. More expensive, the best smartwatches don’t come down to a one-size-fits-all solution for everyone. Instead, even your choice of smartphone can affect what’s best for you, with Apple smartwatches only working with Apple phones and some Android watches only working with other Android devices.
If you’ve decided you want a smartwatch on your wrist, we’re here to assist you in figuring out what’s most important. Alongside that, we’ve picked out our favourite smartwatches, which we believe are some of the best smartwatches you can buy today.
Here’s everything you need to know.
What is a smartwatch?
A smartwatch is a lot like a regular wristwatch, but it’s effectively a wearable computer in the form of a watch. Like your smartphone, it (usually) has a touchscreen interface with a series of features you can use. These include allowing you to access social media apps, receive and reply to messages, make calls, and track your workouts. Many also work as portable music players when you pair them with earphones. GPS is a standard feature for many smartwatches, so you can track where you’re going and where you’ve been, along with health monitoring tools such as heart rate monitoring.
A smartwatch also functions as a regular watch, so you can still see what time it is, set alarms, and use a stopwatch function.
What do smartwatches offer?
As with buying anything, thinking about why you want a smartwatch is essential. These days, smartwatches can cost tens of pounds or they can cost in the high hundreds. It all depends on what features you need them to offer.
Almost all smartwatches cover the basics, such as working as a regular watch, offering basic fitness tracking tools, and pairing up with your phone to provide extra functionality. If you’re solely interested in the fitness side of things and don’t need your device to work so much as a smartwatch, you might need one of the best fitness trackers instead. These tend to be more basic than a smartwatch (although not always) but will still hold you accountable when working out.
When buying a smartwatch, think about why you want it. Are you looking for an accessory that will help you hike further and explore off the trail more easily? Or do you simply want a fantastic fashion accessory on your wrist that happens to do some equally cool things? Either option is viable, but you’ll need to focus on different smartwatches to get the most from your aim. Some smartwatches do all those things but also have a price to reflect their flexibility. Think about your budget, too, as you want to spend an appropriate amount for your lifestyle.
If you’re looking for something for your kids to wear, one of the best smartwatches for kids could be a better option than the ones below.
Is it worth getting a smartwatch?
Only you know the answer to that. Few smartwatches are cheap, and you’ll need to invest in your purchase to get one of the best ones. If you don’t particularly like wearing anything on your wrist, a smartwatch will likely be a passing interest that will soon end up in a drawer forgotten about.
However, it can be a worthwhile purchase if you plan on using a smartwatch to enact change in your life. We’re not just talking about using it to motivate you to work out more frequently. Having a smartwatch can reduce how often you look at your smartphone throughout the day, which can boost your productivity levels or allow you to be in the moment more so than usual. Plus, of course, smartwatches can be a lot of fun for tech fans.
What are the disadvantages of a smartwatch?
The most significant disadvantage to a smartwatch is its battery life. Some devices offer weeks of battery life, but the majority only provide you with a couple of days before you need to recharge them. Because of that, they require more maintenance than a regular wristwatch, although you can always recharge one in the same way as you do your smartphone.
The tricky part is how easy it is to forget to recharge your device, meaning you don’t use it for a day or so and the habit is lost.
How long do smartwatches last?
We’ve discussed the battery life of smartwatches, but it’s important to remember that such devices also have a lifespan. As with your phone, technology gets older, and you may find that your smartwatch eventually stops having updates, meaning it falls behind and you invariably feel obliged to buy a new one.
That doesn’t happen with regular watches, which is why they can be passed down the generations. A smartwatch isn’t really a generational hand-me-down because of its software limitations.
Do you need to carry your phone with a smartwatch?
This depends on what kind of smartwatch it is. Some smartwatches have cellular connections, so you can add it to your phone account and use it entirely independently from your phone. Others have built-in memory so that you get limited functionality while it’s away from your smartphone.
For the most part, it’s best to assume you need to have your phone near the smartwatch for Bluetooth connectivity, but that can easily mean either keeping it in your pocket or a bag nearby.
What is the best smartwatch?
The best smartwatch for you will depend on a number of factors, and it’s important that you carefully consider all of the options out there before making any sort of decision. To help make your decision a little easier, we have lined up a selection of impressive models from top brands like Apple, Samsung, Fitbit, Garmin, and more.
These are the best smartwatches in 2023.