Are you considering a smartwatch? Smartwatches are some of the most popular wearable technology, but it’s tough to know which one to choose.

You also have to decide if a smartwatch is right for you.

For example, if you do have a smartwatch, is it going to increase the likelihood that you’re distracted when you’re behind the wheel? If so, you might rethink it.

If not, the following are some of the other things to know and consider before buying this wearable technology.

What Is a Smartwatch?

A smartwatch is basically like a small computer you wear on your arm. These digital watches will tell you the time, but they’ll do a lot more than that. You can track your workout, play music, check your emails, and more when you have a smartwatch.

They have a touchscreen, and some you can pair with your smartphone, while others can operate on their own.

Wearable technology connects to the internet either through the WiFi wherever you are, or when it’s synced with a smartphone. Most smartwatches use Bluetooth so you can use the apps on your phone without actually having your phone in your hand.

You do have to recharge these watches, and some have better battery life than others.

There are certain types of the Apple smartwatch that are standalone, such as the Apple Series 2 and 3. The Galaxy Watch with LET is also standalone.

A hybrid smartwatch looks less like a mini-tablet and more like a classic watch, but these have the features of a smartwatch.

Another category is the sports smartwatch. These have a few features, but primarily they are meant to track things like the steps you take, your calories burned, and your heart rate. The Fitbit range of products is an example, although with the Fitbit Versa you can also check your texts and emails.

Pros and Cons of a Smartwatch

The pros of having a smartwatch can include:

  • Smartwatches can make you more mindful of your health. For example, many of us aren’t aware of how sedentary we are during the day, and having wearable technology to track our activity can help us make important changes. You can also use features like blood pressure monitoring and heart rate tracking to get a good feel for your overall health.
  • When you have a smartwatch you have immediate notifications and you don’t have to take your phone out of your bag to see them. If you’re someone who’s often on-the-go and doesn’t want to risk missing an important phone call, emails or texts, a smartwatch can be valuable.
  • There are a lot of convenient features available with most smartwatches, including cashless payments.
  • You can watch movies and listen to music right on your watch.
  • A lot of people like the sleek look of a smartwatch, so it’s a fashion accessory as well as being utilitarian.

The cons of a smartwatch can include:

  • Most have a high price tag. Some of the more high-end watches may cost up to $500.
  • Many of these watches have a limited battery life. You may only get a day or two of use before you have to recharge the battery.
  • With most smartwatches, your phone will need to be close by for it to work.
  • While a smartwatch may keep you constantly connected, is that something you really want? Your life might be taken over by your smartwatch because you’re wearing the technology all day every day in some cases. Do you want this?

How to Choose a Smartwatch

If you decide a smartwatch is right for you, consider the following:

  • What’s your budget? If you have a pretty strict budget, you might look for a smartwatch that’s primarily a fitness tracker. Most smartwatches, including even ones with just the basic features, will let you know about incoming texts and phone calls as well as emails. If your budget is higher, there are advanced smartwatches with things like full-color screens and voice-command capabilities.
  • Think about comfort because you’re theoretically going to be wearing the watch every day. Some smartwatches can be a bit bulky, and that may not be your preference. A rounder face can be more comfortable than the rectangular face that many smartwatches have.
  • Battery life should likely be one of your top priorities as you choose a watch.
  • Do you need a water-resistant watch? Most smartwatches offer some level of water-resistance, but not all can be worn if you’re swimming.
  • What’s the charger like? Is it wireless, or does it have a dock? What about a charging cable?
  • What’s the operating system (OS)? WatchOS is the operating system used by Apple Watch. There’s Tizen OS which is used for Samsung’s Galaxy watches, and there’s Wear OS, which is also known as Android Wear. Fitbit operates on the Fitbit OS and there’s the Asteroid OS which is an open-source operating system.

The Apple Watch is the most advanced and likely most popular smartwatch currently available. As such, it’s also one of the most expensive.

It interfaces with the iPhone, and you have mini-apps and health and fitness tracking at your fingertips.

You can use the Apple Watch to talk to Siri, send messages, listen to music, and it can even act as a remote camera shutter for your iPhone if it’s connected. You can also make and receive phone calls through the watch.

There’s a built-in GPS, and the Apple Watch has water resistance up to 164 feet.

For a less expensive option, there are the Fitbit wearables. Google recently bought Fitbit, and you can get the Fitbit Versa 2 for around $200. It’s a great fitness tracker, and it works with both iPhones and Android.

If you are going to buy a smartwatch, the best option for you is the one that’s going to have the features that most align with your daily life. Of course, budget is a top priority as well. There are plenty of options available, from basic fitness trackers to highly advanced wearable computers.