Every major company has an offering in the smartwatch space. While they go on a spree launching devices, there is an everlasting question stuck in every consumer’s head – do I need a smartwatch? We can help you answer this question as you read what we think some advantages and disadvantages of smartwatches are.
What are the Advantages of a Smartwatch?
Given their size, smartwatches pack in an overwhelming amount of features. This does make it hard to filter out what you need and what you don’t. Apart from all the mainstream features, here’s a broader overview of what advantages a smartwatch can offer.
The Ideal Smartphone Companion
Smartwatches are ideal companions for your phone. You can ask any extensive smartwatch user – they seldom feel like living without a smartwatch. The way it seamlessly integrates into your daily life is quite impressive. Little pieces of information like weather, news, and time can be easily accessed on your wrist. If you do not use a fully-featured smartwatch, fitness trackers also display weather and include other basic details.
As a companion device, you can significantly minimize your phone screen time usage. A major contributing factor is the ability to access notifications. Once you start receiving notifications on your smartwatch, you can easily select which one you want to take action for. Smartwatches can also let you push in quick replies or even type a message.
This way, you can ensure you do not open your smartphone for every notification. All in all, if you ever wanted easier access to all the core information on your smartphone, a smartwatch is your best bet for a companion device.
Health Data Monitoring
When smartwatches came into existence, an important feature they carried was the step tracker. This could easily measure your steps and post that it could give you valuable insights like the number of steps walked, speed, distance covered, and calories burnt.
Then slowly, smartwatches started integrating heart rate monitors to measure your pulse rate. This pulse detection could help derive and gather more data. Smartwatches could now detect your blood oxygen level – and this was quite a life-saving feature indeed, during the unfortunate pandemic in the last few years.
There have been many questions regarding the health data’s accuracy. Still, comparisons and tests with medical-grade monitors proved that this data could be useful in providing basic insights to the user. Smartwatches, Therefore, can act as a personal health data monitor, and from fitness bands to expensive watches, every device’s primary goal is to provide you with health monitoring data.
Apple watch does the best job in adding a few life-saving health-related features. Take fall detection, for example. Fall Detection on Apple Watch is designed to detect when you go through a hard fall while the watch is on your wrist.
When it detects one, it sounds an alarm, taps you on the wrist, and shows an alert. You get the option to call emergency services if you’re in trouble. But if the watch detects no response, it automatically calls the emergency services and contacts and plays the audio telling that you are in an emergency.
This is one feature that smartwatches do a great job in. Smartwatches are great fitness trackers. You can track your steps and all other movements using which a lot of useful information can be provided. For example, the amount of calories burnt is useful for someone working on managing their weight.
Besides that, smartwatches can detect a wide range of activities like cycling, strength training, yoga, running, swimming, and a wide range of sports like – tennis, badminton, etc.
Using the companion app, you can keep track of all the activities and how much it has helped you get fit. While not all smartwatches offer the same fitness features, even the most basic ones offer a good level of insightful fitness features. Therefore, this can be a good reason to go ahead and pick up a smartwatch.
GPS navigation on smartwatches is quite a useful feature. It always feels better to look at directions on your wrist than to hold your phone in your palm. Some smartwatches can come with dedicated GPS sensors, and you can get directions without using a smartphone.
The ones without a GPS sensor can get you to turn-by-turn directions using the GPS data available on your smartphone. The GPS directions on a smartwatch are especially useful during cycling, walking, or running. This can be a good reason to pick up a smartwatch.
Not all notifications and messages require a detailed response. If you were to reply to a message with a single word, most smartwatches could help you do this. It gives you a few standard responses that you can select as a response to your messages.
This prevents you from pulling up your smartphone for every little notification or message. So as mentioned earlier as well, if you aim to minimize your phone use, this feature could be a good enough reason to pick up a smartwatch.
You can control music, see pictures, and watch YouTube videos on your smartwatch. As hard as it is to believe, you can do all of these on a top-tier smartwatch like the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Apple Watch.
While obviously, it is no match to the experience on a larger screen, at least controlling and playing music can be quite a useful feature on a smartwatch. Or, if you just quickly want to read something or take notes, you can pull up an image on your smartwatch. Now you know why smartwatches are banned in examination halls.
What are the Disadvantages of a Smartwatch?
While smartwatches pack in many bells and whistles, there are a few downsides, like every other piece of technology. Therefore, I do not see the disadvantages as means not to purchase a smartwatch but to be mindful about a few things and what to expect in reality. While each smartwatch has its disadvantages, here’s a list of downsides from a broader perspective.
Bad Features-to-Battery Ratio
Smartwatches add in a lot of features, and some pack in as many as twenty sensors! These obviously will demand a lot of power, and batteries on most smartwatches are not up to the mark. Or at least, we hope there were better battery life standards on a smartwatch.
Most full-fledged smartwatches struggle to last beyond two days. On the other hand, fitness bands do a better job of lasting around a week or more with moderate usage. Therefore, we feel that the battery capacity is not in proportion to the number of features on a smartwatch.
Misleading Claims by Brands
Very recently, our Editor shared his experience as to how watches are different in reality versus the renders. There has been a common pattern in the way smartwatches are marketed. The advertisements are often quite misleading, especially in terms of looks.
And the problem is not only with Noise. I can show you a dozen of smartwatches from the likes of Fireboltt and Boat that look good and fancy only until you see them in-person.
It’s not wrong- the renders, product page listing, and all the hype is meant to generate sales. (2/3) pic.twitter.com/DMsNuTvdOu
— Ritik Singh (@okayritik) July 8, 2022
If you ever come across an online listing for a low-end smartwatch, the images published for it is far away from how it looks in real life. Unfortunately, some users realize this after they buy a smartwatch. Therefore, watching video reviews of smartwatches on the internet is always helpful, and our YouTube channel does a great job in doing so.
This is not the only misleading claim by smartwatch brands, there are more harmful ones too. When it comes to health-related features, a few smartwatch brands claim to measure blood pressure without packing in the necessary tech. If a user is unaware of this and uses the blood pressure data in real life, it can cause potential harm to one’s health.
This has to be stopped or at least buyers must be aware before picking up a smartwatch. You can read our article about how to check if a smartwatch can measure your blood pressure.
Effects of Wearing a watch 24×7
Any piece of technology, when overused, has its negative effects. Wearing smartwatches all the time can cause a few specific bad effects. Skin irritation is the first and the most common issue if you wear a smartwatch or band all day. There can be situations like your skin is sensitive, which might cause rashes or skin issues.
Unless the material is of low quality, a smartwatch can contribute little to skin issues as most brands use good quality rubber, and it is not an expensive addition that is worth skipping for brands. So if a smartwatch is causing you skin issues, you should visit a medical professional.
The biggest concern has to be radiation. Before concluding whether the radiation can affect you badly, there is something that we need to know. There are two types of radiation – ionizing and nonionizing radiation. Our area of interest here is nonionizing radiation.
Smartwatches mainly enmity radiation in three forms – radio waves, visible light, and microwaves, all of which are non-ionizing forms of radiation. This means that they do not have the capability of stripping electrons from your atoms. So unless your smartwatch emits a lot of heat that can burn your skin – you are safe.
Mainly, the radio waves emitted are quantified as SAR values, and the SAR values for any device in the market have to be below the permissible limits prescribed by governing authorities, so even in that sense, you are safe. Over-exposure to any visible light or screen can cause a little discomfort, but not to a point where you need to worry about being affected deeply. As long as you are mindful of your usage, you will remain unaffected by a smartwatch.
Lack of Basic Sensors and Inaccuracy on Low-end Devices
Smartwatches and fitness trackers are good smartphone companions, as mentioned earlier, and you’d expect to use them outside indoor environments. They boast of packing in many sensors, but some smartwatches and most fitness bands do not pack in an auto-brightness sensor which can be a disadvantage.
The moment you step out of an indoor environment, you will struggle to navigate to settings and then increase the brightness. This sensor has to be added to a smartwatch as it is a basic necessity for any device in today’s world.
More importantly, a few smartwatches come with inaccurate sensors. This can usually happen due to a lack of calibration or using a low-end sensor. This defeats the purpose of adding fitness-related data, as most fitness data are meant to make sense over time. And small errors compounded over time can mislead the user’s interpretation.
These inaccuracies can also cause harm when it comes to reading health-related data. Therefore, if you are a user who meticulously cares about the data a smartwatch provides, you will probably need a watch in the flagship zone.
More than Ever Access to Data: Anxiety?
The problem of today’s world is abundance. Everything is available in a lot of amounts, which causes problems in today’s world. When you can access so much information on your wrist, there is always anticipatory anxiety about what you might see next. You can have a flood of notifications on your watch, which can get quite distracting too.
Health data is available on your wrist, and overusing these features can make you over-conscious and a little anxious about your health. So if you ever want to add any meaning to the data provided by a smartwatch, it is always recommended you visit a medical professional. Smartwatches should only be used as an indication to consult a doctor, but not as means of self-diagnosis.
All in all, one can try using a DND mode on a smartwatch and set up alerts and notifications from necessary apps during necessary times only. One must understand that technology can both help you or have a negative effect – and it only comes down to how one uses it.
Those were some of the advantages and disadvantages of smartwatches. This is all you need to know about both sides of the story of a smartwatch. We hope this article can help you make a purchase decision. As always, we produce interesting and informative articles on Wearables To Use; thus, never miss an update on our websites and stay tuned to our upcoming guides and content related to wearables!