Best Smart Watches of 2018
Want to take your cyber experience to the next level? Our shopping guide is here to help you find the best smart watch for your busy lifestyle.
It's Time to Buy a Smart Watch
Buying a smart watch is a smart decision. The right smart watch can make your life much easier. It's not just a smartphone that you wear on your wrist; it's far more than that.
As a smart watch owner, you can use the watch to receive alerts for your calls, texts, and emails when you're on the go. You may even be able to answer calls and send texts. What's more, you can track your fitness activities and flip to the next track on your music playlist, all without taking your phone out of your pocket.
All smart watches aren't created equally, though, and because a smart watch is a rather large investment, it's important to choose the appropriate model for your needs. You'll want the right look, feel, and features to ensure that you'll get the most out of your purchase.
At BestReviews, the deep product research we conduct allows us to develop a thorough understanding of the products on the market, so we can help you make the most educated shopping decision. If you're ready to buy a smart watch, view the matrix above for our top recommendations. For general information about how to choose a smart watch, continue reading this shopping guide.
The Perks of a Smart Watch
Depending on the make and model of smart watch that you buy, here are some of the perks you might enjoy as a smart watch owner.
- Notifications: A smart watch can alert you to calls, texts, and emails that you've received on your phone right on your wrist. This can save you time when you're busy, as you don't have to stop and check your phone. Some smart watches allow you to answer calls and respond to texts, so you don't have to pull your phone out of your bag or pocket when you're on the go.
- Health and Fitness Tracking: Smart watches usually offer fitness-tracking capabilities, such as measuring steps taken and calories burned. Some have built-in heart rate monitors to give you an even better idea of how intense your workouts are. Many smart watches work as sleep trackers to let you know how well you're sleeping at night too.
- Access to Music: If you're a music fan, you may wish to buy a smart watch that allows you to store music files directly in its internal memory. Many smart watches allow you to sync with the music on your smartphone, so you can easily adjust the volume or find the song you want right from your wrist.
- GPS Assistance: Some watches have built-in GPS, which can help track your running route or direct you when you're in an unfamiliar town.
- Convenient Voice Commands: A smart watch that allows you to use voice commands makes it easier to send messages, search the internet, and record notes when you're on the go because you don't need to use your hands.
- Phone Battery Preservation: A smart watch can help prolong your smartphone's battery life because you won't need to turn its screen on as much to handle simple tasks like checking texts and using apps.
Information About Messaging and Phone Calls
As mentioned above, some smart watches allow you to reply to texts, emails, and instant messages. In many cases, the watch will offer a preprogrammed response such as "I'm busy right now. I'll call later."
Some models allow you to use voice commands to respond to a text or other message. You simply recite the message that you want to send, and the watch sends it out.
Higher-tech smart watches also let you accept, dismiss, or even make phone calls from the watch.
Smart Questions to Ask Before Buying a Smart Watch
Perhaps you're interested in a specific smart watch model but aren't sure if it's the right one for you. Before you invest your money, ask yourself these questions to help determine whether it's a suitable choice.
- Is the smart watch compatible with my phone? Because most smart watches are designed to be used in partnership with a smartphone, it's important to choose a smart watch that will work with your phone. Most smartphones run on either Android or iOS, and some watches are compatible with both operating systems, but other watches work with only one or the other.
Notably, there are some smart watches that are designed to be standalone devices and are equipped with 3G or 4G cellular radios. These smart watches can serve as a phone on their own, so it's not necessary to check those types of devices for compatibility.
- Does it have the type of display I prefer? Most smart watches have color screens, though you can find some with black-and-white displays. The biggest advantage of a black-and-white screen could be that it uses less power than a color screen.
There's also the issue of whether or not the smart watch has backlighting. Some smart watches have OLED (organic light-emitting diode) or AMOLED (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) displays that don't need backlighting. Instead, each pixel is individually illuminated for a strong contrast. Others feature LCD (liquid-crystal display) screens that use backlighting to produce an image on the display.
OLED and AMOLED displays tend to be thinner and use less power than LCD displays. LCD screens tend to have a longer life than OLED or AMOLED, as the LCD display doesn't degrade as quickly as the others do. However, OLED and AMOLED often provide better battery life and more contrast color.
- Is it comfortable to wear? If a smart watch isn't comfortable to wear, you'll be less likely to use it. Some are large and feel bulky on the wrist, particularly if they have a rectangular display. If you have small wrists, opt for a round watch, which is usually smaller and feels more comfortable.
- Does the smart watch have a touchscreen display or buttons? Many smart watches have touchscreen displays that allow you to operate the device with a tap or swipe of your finger. These controls are usually very user-friendly. Other models use buttons and bezels on the watch face that allow you to control the device. These smart watches tend to feel more like a traditional watch, but they can be a little more difficult to operate when you're on the go.
- Does the watch provide the type of alert I prefer? Some smart watches use a sound alert; others vibrate. You can also find watches that use sound and vibration alerts together. In most cases, the watch will flash the alert across the display as well.
- Do I like the look of the smart watch? If a smart watch doesn't match your personal style or have a look that you admire, you'll be less likely to wear it. Fortunately, they come in a variety of styles, so you have plenty of options.
Many watches feature rubber bands that give them a sporty look. You can find other models that come with fabric or metal bands. Most brands also sell additional bands so you can change the look of your watch based on the outfit that you're wearing.
- How long does the battery last? Some smart watches have batteries that only last a day or two; others have batteries that can go a week or more without recharging. In general, a smart watch's battery life depends on the size of the watch, how large the battery itself is, and how many features it supports.
- Does it have the type of water-resistance I desire? Many smart watches are water-resistant, which means they can withstand rain and splashes of water. However, some watches are fully waterproof, so they can be worn while swimming or showering. If you want your watch to be able to withstand full immersion in water, be sure to check the product specifications before making a purchase.
What's a Smart Price for a Smart Watch?
Smart watches vary in price based on brand and features offered, but you can typically expect to spend between $100 and $500.
For a quality smart watch that's Android- and iOS-compatible and has a wide range of features, you'll usually pay $199 to $275.
For a high-end smart watch with all the bells and whistles, you'll usually pay $300 to $500.
Tips for a Better Smart Watch Experience
Tip #1: Be selective about which smart watch apps you choose.
It might be tempting to connect all the apps on your phone to your smart watch so you can receive alerts, but it can get tiresome if you're getting notifications constantly. For example, you might want to know who's calling or texting when you're out for a run, but you don't necessarily need to receive Twitter or Instagram alerts at that time. Choose the most important apps to connect to your smart watch and leave the rest for your phone.
Tip #2: For fitness tracking, wear the smart watch on your nondominant hand.
While you might usually wear your smart watch on your dominant hand, you may wish to switch it to your nondominant hand when using it as a fitness tracker. Your dominant hand moves around quite a bit during the day, which can affect fitness-tracking stats.
Tip #3: Consider installing a voice-texting app.
Installing a voice-texting app on your smart watch can make communication with others even more convenient. You can use voice commands to call up contacts from your contact list and then recite a message for the watch to send.
Tip #4: Consider a smart watch with a motion-activated display.
If you're concerned about saving power, you may wish to opt for a smart watch with a motion-activated display. Smart watches with displays that are always on burn through their batteries more quickly.
Smart Watch FAQ
Q. How do I clean my smart watch?
A. Unlike traditional watches, smart watches don't have a glass face, so you shouldn't wipe them down with a damp cloth. Instead, turn your watch off and use a microfiber cloth to remove any smudges or dirt.
Q. How close together do my phone and smart watch have to be to stay connected?
A. Smart watches use a wireless Bluetooth connection to interact with a smartphone, and the range of that connection can vary based on the devices in question and the environment. In most cases, you can expect connectivity if your phone and watch are within 30 feet of each other. However, you should consult the manufacturer's specifications to determine the precise range.
Q. Can a smart watch connect to Wi-Fi?
A. Some smart watches can connect to Wi-Fi, so they don't need a Bluetooth connection to your phone to run various apps. Check the product specifications to determine if a smart watch you're considering is able to use Wi-Fi.