Navigating the various features of smartwatches can be time consuming. Here's a quick rundown of the pros and cons of three popular devices.
There's a plethora of smartwatches on the market, but it's hard to know which is the best to spend your money on. I've spent some time with the new Samsung Galaxy Watch, as well as the Fitbit Versa and the Apple Watch Series 3. (The Series 4 watch from Apple is likely to be announced soon, but for now, the focus is on the current model.)
Samsung Galaxy Watch
Samsung is really pushing the health monitoring aspect of the Galaxy Watch, which was just announced last month. The watch tracks dozens of different exercises, from yoga to weight lifting.
While I like the Galaxy Watch, my biggest complaint is that it didn't keep an accurate step count. I tested it numerous times, but it measured anywhere from 30-50% fewer steps than I was taking when measured on another smartwatch.
I also wasn't fond of the short battery life. Although Samsung advertises it as providing around 40 hours of use, a full charge only lasted me about 28 hours. One time I fully charged it overnight, wore it through the day, and the battery died on me at 2 am while I was sleeping. I didn't realize that my sleep wasn't fully tracked until the next morning when I checked the app.
What I like about the Galaxy Watch is how it works seamlessly with my Samsung phone. It's easy to take calls, check text messages, and get calendar notifications on my wrist. But all of this comes with a price. The Galaxy starts at $330.
SEE: Samsung Galaxy Watch: Business professionals will love these four features (TechRepublic)
The Fitbit Versa is another option. It is the latest full-featured smartwatch from Fitbit, and it keeps accurate step counts and it also allows for personal coaching and listening to music. It lasts for around four days on a full charge. The price tag starts at $200 so it's affordable.
I like that it has a square watch face, and that it's easy to use. I'm not crazy about the lack of options for fitness tracking. When I'm at the gym, my Versa doesn't recognize my workouts.
The new female health tracking that Fitbit offers is particularly useful. It measures how many days are in your menstrual cycle and when you're likely to be ovulating, and when your period is due based on previous months.
Fitbit fans should keep in mind that the Charge 3 is on the way and it's scheduled to arrive in stores in October, just in time for holiday shopping. While the Charge 3 isn't considered a true smartwatch because it doesn't run third-party apps, it's still a viable option for anyone who needs a basic fitness and sleep tracker for $150.
Apple Watch Series 3
And then there's the Apple Watch, which is currently it it's third iteration. The next Apple Event is September 12th, so it's very likely that a Series 4 watch will be announced. The Apple Watch has consistently been a major player in the smartwatch market, with a starting price of $329 and a top price of $1,400 for the top-of-the-line Hermes version.
The Apple Watch is popular because it works flawlessly with the iPhone and allows you to make calls, send texts and stream music from your wrist. It's a no-brainer for those comfortable with the Siri interface and who don't want to learn how to use a new smart assistant. The battery life is better than the Galaxy Watch, with two days of use available after a full charge.
SEE: Apple Watch Series 3: Cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
Which to buy
My overall favorite is the Fitbit Versa. Sure, the Galaxy Watch has plenty of bells and whistles, and the Apple Watch gets attention.
However, the basic options on the Fitbit Versa combined with it's appealing design provide me with what I need without a high price tag. I find myself going back to it every time I finish testing a new smartwatch.
- Photos: The best smartwatches for professionals (TechRepublic)
- Research: Defenses, response plans, and greatest concerns about cybersecurity in an IoT and mobile world (Tech Pro Research)
- Fitbit's Charge 3 borrows smartwatch-like features for fitness enthusiasts (ZDNet)
- Here's what you need to know about the new Apple Watch Series 3 (ZDNet)
- Apple watchOS 5 will include upgraded notifications and extended use of NFC chip (TechRepublic)
- Samsung updates Galaxy Wearable app with support for Galaxy Watch and Android Pie (Download.com)
- 5 Apple Watch apps to simplify your workday (TechRepublic)
- Q&A: Fitbit CEO James Park talks about the company's past, present, and future (ZDNet)
- Best Smartwatches of 2018 (CNET)
- Mobile device computing policy (Tech Pro Research)