Smartwatches are no longer a fancy piece of gadget, fetching notifications and tracking step counts. They have quickly evolved into on-the-go fitness guides, monitoring workout progress and heart rates in real time. They also operate as smartphone facilitators, answering/rejecting calls and quickly responding to e-mail, text messages, WhatsApp and more. Plus, they help you access the latest news, alerts you about daily water intake, and provides calendar notifications and map directions. These timepieces have become trendy too with changeable watch straps and watch faces that award them a new look to go with every occasion.
But buying a smartwatch is not as easy as picking up a regular one. Smartwatches run on the specially designed operating systems (OS). The popular ones include Apple's watchOS, Google's Wear OS and Samsung's Tizen OS. But more than the design and how it looks on your wrist, one needs to consider the platform it runs on and whether it is compatible with one's smartphone. Compatibility is most important as most smartwatches need to be paired with smartphones to start working. Smartwatches pack in small but powerful batteries that can last a day or two depending on usage. Some watches come with three-seven days of battery backup.
The Popular Pack
There are plenty of smartwatches to choose from. Apple Watch and Samsung Gear Watch are the most popular ones. The recently launched Apple Watch Series 4 has a square dial and is available in two sizes - 40 mm and 44 mm (starting at Rs 40,900). It is restricted to Apple ecosystem and can be paired using the Watch app on the iPhone. Other than pushing notifications, tracking heart rates and monitoring your fitness activities, the biggest highlight of the Series 4 watch is fall detection that identifies a hard fall and sends SOS to an emergency contact after a short period of inactivity. The ECG app (which is accurate) has been rolled out in the US and could be launched in India in due course. There are plenty of watch bands available for Apple Watch which can be swapped to match different occasions. Apple allows you to customise the watch face layout, colour and more but you do not get access to third-party watch faces. The older generation Series 3 Watch is available in 38 mm and 42 mm size.
Over the years, Samsung smartwatches have improvised significantly. Running the company's proprietary Tizen OS, the Galaxy Watch can be paired with both Android and iOS devices. Boasting a sporty look, the Gear Watch has a circular dial and a rotating bezel for quick navigation. It not just fetches notifications for calls, messages, and e-mail, but also tracks workouts and even reminds you to move if you have been inactive for long. A wide range of watch faces are also available to change the look of the watch. Unlike many watches with just a day's battery backup, you get three days on the Galaxy Watch. The 42 mm watch, available in black and gold, has been priced at Rs 24,990 and the 46 mm at Rs 29,990.
If you do not want another run-of-the-mill smartwatch, get one from the luxe category. Montblanc Summit 2, designed with premium materials and state-of-the-art technology, is meant for urban explorers, business travellers and fitness enthusiasts. The 42 mm case has an authentic feel of a classic Montblanc. Powered by Google's Wear OS, the Summit 2 works with iPhone as well as Android smartphones. Along with regular apps, it has an exclusive Montblanc Timeshifter app that provides personalised advice to minimise the effects of jet lag. Among other features, it is water resistant up to 50m, supports near-field communication (NFC) for Google Pay contactless payments, has a rotating crown and programmable pushers and up to a week's battery backup on Time Mode.
The Tag Heuer Modular Connected has a 45 mm case housing a 1.39-inch AMOLED touch display and is compatible with iPhone and Android smartphones. It gives access to the curated collection of authentic Tag Heuer watch faces. The watch is accompanied by a dedicated phone application built by Tag Heuer with specific features built to leverage your watch content and a 410 mAh battery with a day's battery backup.
If you are looking for a rough and tough watch, the Garmin Instinct should suit you well. Constructed with US military standard 810G for thermal and shock resistant, it has 10 ATM water rating. But unlike other smartwatches with coloured displays, this one has a monochrome display with up to 14 days of battery backup. Priced at Rs 26,990, it is GPS-enabled with a built-in three-axis compass, barometric altimeter plus multiple global navigation satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS and Galileo) support and wrist-based heart rate monitor.
Just like other smartwatches, Instinct can measure heart rate, the number of steps walked, distance travelled, calories burned and track activities such as hiking, running, biking, swimming, kayaking and skiing. The watch can be paired with the phone and Garmin Connect online fitness community for automatic uploads, live tracking and the GroupTrack feature.