With a smartwatch, consumers wear a minicomputer on their wrist that unites the watch, fitness tracker and smartphone in a compact housing.
Which smartwatches are the best in comparison?
– The best smartwatches can be found in our comparison overview. What you should pay attention to when buying, we have taken a close look at our guide .
Minicomputer on the wrist
Whether in the morning as an alarm clock, on the way to the office as an MP3 player or in the evening sports unit as a heart rate monitor: The smartwatches are extremely practical devices that serve us well in many situations and areas of our everyday lives and their price is quite valuable. As an ideal complement to the smartphoneThe Watches combine a variety of functions in a single device, which also fits on the wrist. It is an intelligent electronic wristwatch that is connected to the smartphone via a wireless interface to expand its functionality. Visually, the so-called wearables are reminiscent of commercial watches with a touch-sensitive display, but inside they are equipped with a microprocessor, an operating system, a memory and a battery and a number of sensors.
Compared to a wristwatch, smartwatches show more than just the current time: they provide information about incoming calls, SMS and e-mails, and they also come with many useful fitness features. Users get information from the Internet at a glance at their smartwatch, such as news tickers or the current weather report, and are notified of new messages by means of a vibration or beep. Typical health and fitness features include the sleep tracker, pedometer and heart rate monitor. In combination with a navigation app or GPS function, the smart watches finally become digital signposts. In addition to their added value as a fitness tracker, they also offer a variety of multimedia functionsso that they meet sports fans as well as technology enthusiasts. With a built-in phone chip or LTE option, they even work completely independently, which makes them increasingly the smartphone competition.
The Smartwatch boom: What’s behind the hype
Already in 1946, the comic hero and police inspector Dick Tracy wore a so-called “2-Way Wrist Radio” on his arm, which evolved 18 years later to “2-Way Wrist TV”. In 1979, a “Wrist Communicator” appeared for teleportation in Star Trek . Also “KITT”, the legendary car of the 80s cult series Knight Rider , was connected to its owner via a wristwatch. And in the animated series The Simpsons , a character in the future wears an auspicious gadget on his wrist that you can use to phone and text. If communication via a wristwatch was still a long way off a few decades ago, wristwatches of this type are by no means unusual nowadays.
The first SmartWatch (the SPOT watch from Microsoft ) appeared on the scene in the early 2000s and was mainly information from the Internet, such as the current weather forecast, as well as text messages and calls Show. Gradually, features such as fitness sensors and customizable operating concepts were added, which expanded the smartwatch to a fitness tracker and MP3 player. With the increasing supply, new designs were added: In addition to the classic square format, there are now smartwatches in a round shape. The standards continue to evolve and adapt to the demands of today’s consumers. Meanwhile, several well-known manufacturers share the smartwatch market. According to Statista , theMarket leader Apple sold 3.4 million devices worldwide in the second quarter of 2017 . Only far below are Samsung with 800,000 and Garmin with 600,000 devices.
How much is a good watch?
In addition to the well-known technology giants such as Sony , Samsung , LG , Apple , Motorola , ASUS and Garmin , well-known watch manufacturers such as Casio , Fossil , Breitling and Chronos also launch smartwatches. But what does a good smartwatch cost? While entry-level models can be bought for as little as € 100 , for example the LG G Watch , the prices of the Apple Watches beginonly at 400 euros. To be always supplied with software updates and system improvements, the handle pays off to a well-known manufacturer. Models with prices below 50 euros are not recommended, as these are usually cheap copies of high-priced models. At prices between 150 and 250 euros can already find adequate watches from well-known brands, such as the Samsung Gear S3 Classic , the Fitbit Versa or the Garmin vivoactive . In the midfield with prices of 250 to 400 euros, for example, the popular LG Watch Urban and in the premium segment from a price of 400 euros according to the Apple Watch Series 4 can be found.
Which smartwatch types are there?
Whether as a tracker for sporting activities, as a companion in the workday or simply as a stylish accessory – depending on your preference and purpose, another smartwatch is suitable. In the meantime, three main types have emerged:
• classic smartwatches
• sporty smartwatches
• all-rounder smartwatches
Our comparison overview also takes up the various smartwatch models.
The classics: Smartwatches for beginners and style-conscious
Inexpensive smartwatches like the LG G Watch are only equipped with basic functions like a timer and an alarm clock. They can be paired with the smartphone via Bluetooth to inform users about incoming notifications such as emails, Facebook news and phone calls. Your advantage: Thanks to the limited range of functions, the battery usually lasts several weeks.
Brand models that demand a higher price not only bring with them excellent technical equipment, they also inspire with high-quality materials and elegant designs, With them, users can also appear for business meals or go to the opera. The touch display of classic smartwatches is usually slightly larger and more high-resolution than fitness smartwatches – at the expense of battery life: you need to plug in almost every day. With a wide selection of digital dials and interchangeable bracelets ranging from silicone band to metal band, the design is customizable to suit your occasion and taste. Friends of the classic analog clock are using the so-called hybrid smartwatch with real hands, solid dials and the features of a smartwatch. Inside the analog dial is a small display.
Classic smartwatches are recommended for anyone looking for a practical everyday companion and a high-quality designer watch in one . Representatives of these stylish all-rounders include the Apple Watch , the Sony Smartwatch 3 and the Samsung Gear .
The Sporty: Smartwatches for active people
Anyone who is active in sports and is looking for a digital companion for training, who tracks the activities and evaluates their success, needs a smartwatch with special sports functions . This includes, among other things, an integrated GPS sensor that determines the location, records the covered running or cycling routes and at the same time serves as a navigation device. Such sports watches often have a waterproof housing, which, depending on the IP protection class, not only withstands the daily shower or rain, but can also be submerged in water. Most smartwatches, however, are only IP67 rated, which means they should not be kept under water.
Fitness watches count steps and calories , indicate running speed, measure heart rate, and specify sleep time. The recordings motivate the user to intensify his sporting activities, or they warn him against too much effort. Fitness enthusiasts can also create an individual workout by connecting to a smartphone app. Due to the numerous features, the batteries usually last only a few days.
Many consumers are wondering if they should spend a higher price on a smartwatch or opt for the cheaper fitness bracelet. Fitness trackers usually only offer a few functions, such as a pedometer or heart rate monitor. Smartwatches, on the other hand, have more applications, such as phone or multimedia capabilities.Smarwatchvs. Fitness bracelet
Smartwatches with sports features are suitable for anyone who regularly uses fitness apps like Runtastic , but does not want to rely on the smartphone to take them with them. For the unrestricted use of all services and functions, the mobile phone is still relevant, as long as the clock does not have its own SIM card or LTE option. Ideal for fitness training are the sports models of Apple or Fitbit , but also the Gear Fit from Samsung and Garmin Forerunner 235 .
The Independents: Smartwatches for the all-round carefree package
There are smartwatches with and without SIM card slot. Without a SIM card, a connection to the smartphone is required, which is usually made via Bluetooth or NFC, so that the user can access smartphone features. Models with integrated SIM card slot, however, make it possible to use telephone calls and Internet functions independently of the smartphone or WLAN, For this, however, they need a mobile phone contract in which a monthly fee is agreed, or a multi-SIM option. SIM card users receive a fixed volume of data as well as a certain number of free minutes or free text messages. In addition to the telephone and message function, the use of social networks, the assessment of fitness data and the streaming of music is possible. Another option is to buy a prepaid card and insert it into the smartwatch and charge it regularly. Smartwatches with a SIM card are ideal for business users who want to be up-to-date with a short, inconspicuous look on their wrists and want to surf the Internet, navigate or make phone calls while on the go without a smartphone. However, these watches can not be viewed as smartphone replacement: their screens are too small to be able to operate them permanently. In addition, only a small battery fits into the case, which is usually just enough for a day. Examples of smartwatches for independent surfing and telephoning are theApple Watch Series 3 and the Huawei Watch 2 .
The operating systems
As with smartphones, the question of the correct operating system or the compatibility with the different smartphone manufacturers arises with the smartwatch – because not every watch can be paired with one’s own mobile phone or at least with a very limited range of functions. The user interfaces of the smartwatches are mostly based on the operating systems of smartphones. However, some models have software developed specifically for the device. While the selection is satisfactory for Apple and especially Android devices, it is modest for less common smartphone operating systems such as Windows 10 Mobile or Blackberry OS .
Apple Watch OS
On the Apple Watch runs the specially developed operating system watchOS , which can be paired only with iPhones . Devices from the iPhone 5 with the version iOS 8.2 are basically compatible. With Android devices, however, no connection is possible. The operating system convinces with a simple, fluent operation, which is facilitated by the language assistant Siri , among other things , and by a constantly growing App selection.
Android users have the largest selection in the current smartwatch market. The operating system Wear OS , previously known as Android Wear , works perfectly with the Android smartphones from version 4.3 together. Whether LG , Huawei or Sony – it basically runs on all smart watches. Even Apple devices are welcome, but with limited functionality. Google’s operating system is considered clear and intuitive to use. As with Apple , here is an intelligent speech recognition, namely Google Now, integrated. In addition, the manufacturer ensures regular updates and bug fixes.
With Tizen , Samsung has also launched its own smartwatch operating system. Ideally, Android (4.4) is installed on the smartphone, but at least limited to the connection to an iPhone works . The operating system is particularly popular for its clarity. While there are not as many apps as WatchOS or Wear OS , the most important applications have been ported.
Pepples watches are among the first smartwatches. Your advantage: They can be connected to all smartphone operating systems, even the Windows Phone . In addition, they have an extremely versatile range of functions with a concise sorting. Despite extensive compatibility is only a small range of functions. The most important apps are still available.
Optics and handling
Ideally, a smartwatch is not just functional, it looks good too. When it comes to design, however, the ghosts are different. Whether square or round, small or large, metal or leather – because the smartwatch is a status symbol that you always carry on your arm, the appearance of the watch is even more important than the smartphone. Depending on the taste, some consumers prefer a sporty look, while others prefer a noble style. In addition, the design of the watch always has an effect on the handling.
Aluminum, Silicone and Co .: The material
An important decision criterion before buying is the material of the case as well as the bracelet. To ensure that the clock does not bleach away so quickly, the case material should be as robust and well-made as possible. The bracelet material should be such that the watch rests perfectly on the wrist.
Robust, hardwearing and waterproof: the case materials
The material used has an effect on the feel and robustness of the smartwatches:
- Aluminum : The lightweight yet durable material is tough against shocks and knocks.
- Stainless steel : The material, which is also very resistant, withstands mechanical stresses without problems, but is a bit heavier.
- Carbon : The less resistant, yet sturdy material with the right care long lasting and on top of that very light.
- Plastic : The relatively soft material is more susceptible to scratches and scratches and also has a lower quality.
Because consumers wear their smartwatches on their arms every day, they are permanently exposed to soiling or moisture. Therefore, in addition to the nature of the material on the dust and water resistance of the housing is important . This is indicated by the IP code, which consists of two digits: while the first indicates the dust protection (from 0 to 6), the second refers to the water resistance (from 0 to 8). The higher the numbers, the better the protection. Smartwatches with the protection factor IP68 thus offer the highest possible dust and water protection. For surfing, swimming, diving or other outdoor activities, the watch should have a level 8 water resistance. However, information such as “splash-proof” or “waterproof” is less reliable.
Ribbon, change: The bracelet materials
Be it leather, stainless steel or silicone – the materials of the bracelets determine among other things the stability and the appearance:
- Leather : The classic is available in different shades and usually provides an elegant look. However, as it is cracked due to the longer stress and brittle due to the moisture, it requires regular care.
- Stainless steel : Stainless steel bracelets not only look stylish, they are also sturdy and durable. However, they do not conform so flexibly to the wrist and are more susceptible to scratches.
- Silicone : The particularly soft and elastic plastic comes in various colors. Silicone wristbands, however, can not compete with the robustness of metal and also do not nestle optimally on the wrist.
To make users feel good, the bracelet should feel good on the skin and not scratch. Some smartwatches, such as the Apple Watch , now offer the opportunity to change the bracelet. With interchangeable bands, users can vary materials and colors to their liking, such as the silicone band for sports and the stainless steel band for going out.
Smart by technology: the display
As the heart of the smartwatch, the display has a decisive influence on the wearing and operating comfort as well as the image quality. Criteria such as shape, size, technology and resolution are responsible, on the one hand, for the appearance of the watch and, on the other hand, for its operability.
From petite to pompous: the size
The size of the screen affects on the one hand on the visibility of the display and on the other on the appearance and comfort, The smartwatch screen should be large enough for all information to be easy to read, but also not too bulky, so that the watch on the wrist does not look out of place and comfortable to wear. To fit perfectly on the wrist, some watches (especially from the sports sector) have an ergonomically curved display. Most smartwatches are equipped with a relatively large screen, so that users can read all information well. Usually, the displays have a diagonal between 1.2 and 1.8 inches, that is between 3 and 4.57 inches. Although there are also 2.5-inch displays, people with slim forearms are not well advised. The display sizes roughly correspond to those of the analog or digital clocks.
LCD or AMOLED? The technology
Like smartphones, smartwatches use a variety of display technologies. Some Pebble models still have a so-called e-paper display, which works only with a certain range of colors. Modern clocks, on the other hand, rely on LC or OLED or AMOLED displays.
Liquid Crystal Displays do not light up on their own but filter the light in a certain way. Although the backlighting required for this ensures higher power consumption than with AMOLED displays, it achieves such high brightness that the screens can be easily read in sunlight. Their readability is also due to the clearly defined pixel structure. This ensures that the pixels do not blur and thus creates a particularly high image sharpness.
OLED displays (Organic Light Emitting Diode) convince with their brilliant color representation and good readability. Their technical development is also known under the name AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode). Unlike LC displays, the diodes on the active matrix automatically light up in the primary colors red, green and blue. AMOLED screens are characterized by their strong colors, high contrast and deep black levels and good viewing angle stability. Since they do not require a backlight, the power consumption is lower than with the LC displays, but they are also less bright and not so durable. Overall, the color scheme, however, looks friendlier and more modern.
Sharp, sharper, 300 ppi: the resolution
To optimally display all data, be it photos, videos or texts, a high display resolution is required. This indicates how many pixels, ie pixels, the display can display. Due to the rather small screens, the pixel density, which is specified in pixels per inch (ppi, ie pixel per inch), is particularly relevant. For the same resolution, a smaller display has a higher pixel density than a larger screen. Most smartwatches have a pixel density of between 225 and 330 pixels per inch, the latter providing a crisp and realistic image. For a sufficient image sharpness requires a resolution of at least 300 pixels per inch. At a lower resolution, so-called podium formation or lattice appearance occurs, where you can see the individual pixels. Basically:The higher the pixel density , the higher the resolution . High tripping, however, also results in higher power consumption.
How is a smartwatch operated?
Depending on the operating system, the manufacturers rely on a different solution with regard to the operating elements. Most models are equipped with a touch display . For example, Android relies on swipe gestures in Wear OS . However, a touchscreen is not always standard: some buttons are also provided for navigating through the menu and for the functions. Other manufacturers combine a touch screen with various function keys. In Apple’s WatchOS, there is a crown, so a wheel , while the Samsung Gear S2 sets on a bezel . The following controls are usually found on smartwatches:
- Touchscreen : The touch-sensitive screen is considered the most important control element. Similar to smartphones, users control most functions through various gestures such as swiping, tapping, holding, and rotating.
- Buttons : There are often separate buttons on the sides of the case as additional controls. This is, for example, a home button that leads to the start menu.
- Bezel : This ring around the dial controls various functions. By turning the bezel, users scroll through the menu or skip songs.
- Wheel : The side-mounted rotary knob, reminiscent of analog clocks, is used, for example, to zoom in and out while viewing pictures or reading texts, and to scroll quickly through the menu.
The more extensive the equipment, the more options the smartwatch offers. Basically, it is the reduced, but still full hardware of a smartphone including processor, memory and battery and various receiving techniques. So what is the point of purchase and which technology should be installed in each case?
The processor ensures that the smartwatch handles even complex tasks easily and quickly. However, since the smartphone performs most of the computing tasks, the performance only plays a minor role. A dual core, ie a dual-core processor, with a clock frequency of 1.5 gigahertz is usually sufficient. Both the clock frequency and the number of cores have an impact on the speed. While the clock frequency indicates how many steps the processor can perform per second, the core number determines how high the maximum load is.
The working memory
The memory contains all the data that is relevant to the currently running programs and functions. The bigger it is, the more processes can be executed simultaneously. Typically, the amount of memory is between 512 megabytes and 1.5 gigabytes, the former value is quite sufficient.
The internal memory
The amount of data that can be stored on the device, from contact lists to e-mails to music, depends on the internal memory. While the memory 512 megabytes are sufficient (better would be a gigabyte), the internal memory should be between four and eight gigabytes. In the meantime, there are even 16 gigabyte storage capacities that even rival smartphones. For smartwatches, however, it is usually not possible to expand the integrated memory with an SD card.
Smartwatches rely on a battery that users need to recharge regularly. Since the battery life depends on the use as well as the brightness setting, this varies on average between 18 and 72 hours. Modern watches last up to a week under normal use. To get through the daily routine, a battery life of 48 hours should be realized. The charge capacity in milliamp hours (mAh) is given: the higher the capacity, the longer the battery life. While a 1,000 milliampere device can be used for several days, a device with 200 to 300 milliamp hours must be charged several times a day. Most smartwatches need to be charged via USB cable. However, one or the other model also has an induction function, ie a charging station.
In order to determine the pulse, the steps and the current location, smartwatches are equipped with numerous sensors. The accuracy of the sensor technology is particularly relevant for the fitness and sports functions. Some models even measure the temperature and pressure for calculating elevation above sea level or weather forecast. Gyroscopes and accelerometers detect the position and movement of the watch. For example, the display turns on when moving. An ambient light sensor also adjusts the brightness of the display to the lighting conditions. The quality of the sensors affects the precision of the display.
The direct line to the smartphone: connection types and interfaces
Most smartwatches work only with a mobile phone. Through the coupling, it is possible to send information, such as the data of fitness apps, to the smartphone. For the data transfer certain interfaces are necessary. As a rule, the watches are equipped with Bluetooth; but some also have a Wi-Fi feature. The following interfaces are common:
- Bluetooth : With Bluetooth, data can be transmitted wirelessly between mobile devices within a certain range (typically ten meters). It is also possible to listen to music through a connection with Bluetooth headphones.
- WLAN : A WLAN interface makes it possible to access the Internet directly from the clock without a smartphone. However, they are always dependent on a Wi-Fi network.
- NFC : Near-field communication, also a radio standard for wireless data transmission, is designed only for distances in the centimeter range and is used in particular for mobile payment.
- SIM card : Smartwatches with SIM card provide direct, smartphone-independent access to Internet and telephony features. The card is inserted into the SIM card slot and ensures a certain level of independence, especially when on the move.
- USB : The smartwatch can be connected to a PC or laptop via a USB port and recharged at a power outlet. Mostly implemented as a micro-USB socket, the input is located on the side of the housing.
The most important functions
Before buying a smartwatch, it is important to test exactly whether the feature set includes all the features you want. But which functions are the wearables usually equipped with?
The phone features
With a smartwatch you can control the phone functions of the smartphone. So users can program alarms, answer or make calls, and view and send messages.
An alert feature notifies users of incoming calls and notifications. This is either an acoustic signal or a vibration. Practical: The vibration alarm is only noticeable to the wearer, so his environment does not notice. This is particularly useful in meetings at work or when meeting friends when it is considered inappropriate to constantly look at the phone.
All smartwatches provide the ability to view calls as they appear on the screen. Some watches can also accept incoming calls. This helps users avoid the hustle and bustle that comes with searching for the ringing cell phone in their pocket. If they are equipped with a SIM card, users can even make phone calls with contacts from the call list directly on the wrist. However, the clocks need a built-in speaker and a microphone. A better call quality is possible with the connection of headphones.
With a smart watch also SMS, e-mails and can Whatsapp -Nachriten be received. Depending on the model, only the beginning of a message or the complete text is displayed. In part, it is also possible to answer them. This works either by painting the letters on the display or a voice command. However, since writing messages on the small screens is a bit cumbersome, there are often short messages or emojis.
The multimedia features
Smartwatches also offer some interesting functions in the multimedia sector. With them, the clever watches are not only fun leisure companions, but also serve as a practical office gadget.
Music, photo and video playback
With a smartwatch, the music playback of the smartphone can be conveniently controlled on the wrist. If no speakers are integrated, listening to the music in conjunction with Bluetooth headphones is possible. The songs can be stored in MP3 format on the clock. In addition, the playback of streaming services such as Spotify or Deezer is possible. Photos and videos can also be displayed on the screen in full screen mode. An integrated camera even allows snapshots and short videos.
If the watch has a GPS module, users can use the watch to navigate to the desired destination and have it signal a change in direction via vibration or voice output. Many models simply rely on the GPS function of the paired smartphone. The precise GPS order indicates the exact location, the distance traveled and the speed. Not only athletes, but also consumers who want to find their way around an unknown area benefit from this function.
The handy feature is especially useful when using search engines. Instead of typing the terms, users simply speak the question into the microphone, whereupon the integrated speech recognition software converts it into text. A voice assistant, reminiscent of Siri , facilitates the control, since now the complex input is no longer necessary. Users simply associate specific voice commands with the actions to trigger, such as calling a taxi, creating a note, or adding a shopping list.
The fitness and health functions
Health and fitness features such as calorie counter, pedometer and heart rate monitor are extremely useful in creating and implementing fitness and nutrition plans.
Heart Rate Monitor
The pulse measurement is one of the most important features in the fitness area. By monitoring the heart rate, it is possible to keep the effort during training in an optimal range. Athletes thereby recognize their load limits and avoid any over-exertion. The measurement takes place via a small sensor on the underside of the clock, which rests directly on the skin. Although the smartwatches can not compete with a professional heart rate belt, they still deliver usable values.
In order to count the steps taken, smart watches usually do not rely on the GPS module, but on integrated motion sensors, also known as pedometers. In conjunction with the smartphone, the values can then be saved and evaluated. However, the counted steps are only approximate.
Distance and speedometer
Smartwatches use a built-in GPS module to measure the distance traveled, but these values are only approximate to the actual distance traveled. By regularly determining the position at short intervals, the receiver can also calculate the average or maximum speed. With these functions, the user can, for example, evaluate a hiking trail, record it in the training diary or subsequently share it in a group in order to compare and motivate each other.
Most models have a sleep tracker that checks the length and quality of sleep by registering movement patterns during sleep and simultaneously evaluating heart rate and breathing. Users learn when and how long they were in a particular sleep phase. The smartwatch then uses the data obtained to generate statistics that help analyze sleep disorders.
In addition to the sleep tracker, there is often a smart alarm, also called sleep phase alarm clock. If a certain interval is set, for example between 6.30 and 7.00 o’clock, the alarm starts only, if in this interval a light sleep phase falls. The awakening by a vibration alarm is not only particularly gentle, but also prevents the awakening of the bedmate.
Smartwatches count approximately the calories consumed, for example by calculating the distance covered. On the other hand, users can enter all the calories they have consumed during the day. Thus, the Smartwatch is a useful aid in losing weight and motivates wearers to achieve their personal training goal.
Attention : This is a smartwatch comparison. We have not subjected the products presented to a full test.
Since we were unable to test even smartwatches for reasons of availability and feasibility, our rating is based on the test results of product tests on other test portals. Our research focused primarily on reputable trade magazines and consumer organizations conducting thorough and trustworthy tests. We evaluated product data sheets, reviews and reviews on various smartwatches and presented the results in this comparison.
Stiftung Warentest , the most well-known and renowned institution for product testing, conducted a smartwatch test in 2015 . Twelve smartwatches were tested. The testers came to the conclusion that the time of these watches probably has not come yet: Most smartwatches did not fare too well. None of the tested products received the grade “good”.
In 2017, Stiftung Warentest had another test of “wearables” to follow. This test category included smartwatches, fitness bracelets and running watches. However, the smartwatches were only a small part in this test with only three out of 13 tested products. This test had a much more positive conclusion: Twelve of the thirteen tested wearables performed well in the functional test, only the data security rated the test organization on almost all models as problematic.