In the last decade, wearable technology has massively changed - it started as a product of the future and now it’s available at every major tech retailer, with smartwatches being at the forefront as the most popular piece of wearable tech. Companies like Samsung have been in the business of smartwatches since before the turn of the century, but were never able to crack the mass market; nobody did! That was until the last decade or so…
In 2009-2011, Motorola, Sony Ericsson and Vyzin released devices that we would commonly associate with the current smartwatch format. However, as is the case with most new devices these days, Apple’s rumoured entry into the market in 2013 is what sparked a higher level of interest for the products, leading to Samsung and Apple to launch their first major watches in 2014. Since then, the technology has gone from strength to strength with many brands contributing to the market.
As of today, the three most recognised and most coveted smartwatches come from Apple, Samsung and Fitbit. Each device is certainly unique, but which is our favourite? We take a look at the Apple Watch Series 3, the Samsung Gear S3 and the Fitbit Ionic.
This is very much subjective, but in our opinion the Apple Watch comes out on top in this category. Despite not having a design change since its launch in 2015, the look is exactly what you would expect from a smartwatch. Given the number of customizable options, from size to colour and even material, you can find a watch that works for you. Not to mention it’s the most comfortable to wear!
The Gear S3 is more subtle, and certainly looks more like a conventional watch. However, the device is a one-size-fits-all, and is fairly masculine with its design. Even given the choice of available straps, the watch fails to look any more gender neutral.
The Fitbit isn’t a bad looking device by any means; it is however our least favourite of the three in terms of design. Once again, a one-size-fits-all face looks rather clunky. You can certainly feel it when it’s on so it does take some getting used to, especially for smaller wrists. It isn’t nearly as subtle as the other two, but hey, if you’ve got a smartwatch, show it off!
It’s safe to say there isn’t too much to split the devices in terms of usage. All the devices easily connect to a paired phone, all accept calls, track your activity, have GPS tracking, monitor heart rates and, rather importantly, tell the time. The Apple Watch and Gear S3 are leaps and bounds ahead in terms of available apps, with thousands of third party content available for each. They are however behind the Fitbit in terms of sleep tracking.
The main concern with the Apple Watch is the battery life. A full day is as much as you can hope for from it, charging the device when you go to sleep each night. The Samsung and Fitbit on the other hand will last around 4 days without charge, although the Apple Watch does charge very quickly.
The speed of the devices also varies, even though the Fitbit is compatible with both Apple and Samsung phones, it feels a lot slower than the other watches, and runs less smoothly.
The Fitbit has the ability to store around 300 songs internally allowing you to listen to music via Bluetooth connectivity to wireless devices on the go. The Samsung on the other hand has an impressive internal storage of 4GB, which means you can store up to 1000 songs to play on the go. The Apple Watch, although having some internal storage, cannot hold music on the watch itself. Instead, you can stream from Apple Music over 45 million songs, as long as either your Watch or Phone has internet connectivity, via 4G or WiFi. Apple Music however does require a subscription. Samsung has the capability to stream music, although this is only available over WiFi.
The most expensive of these devices is the Samsung. Coming in at £349, the Gear S3 really comes in at a premium price. However, the add-ons for the Samsung (e.g. Different straps) are less expensive than the Apple Watch, which starts at £329, but could quite easily escalate to £500+ when adding cellular, non-sports straps and a stainless steel finish. The Fitbit comes in as the value option at only £279.99 with a few customizable options available at a decent price.
Which one would we recommend?
This is really determined by a number of factors. The Apple Watch will only work with an iPhone and the Samsung will only work at optimum levels with the latest Samsung smartphones. The Fitbit on the other hand will work with most major smartphones. If you possess an iPhone, we would certainly recommend the Apple Watch. Its smooth running system, along with all the apps available make it the perfect companion to your smartphone and your wrist, especially with all the customizable options you can have with it.
If you are looking to monitor your sleep however, the Iconic is the best option. The Apple Watch battery life will last the waking day, but no longer, so there is little scope for sleep tracking. We would also recommend the Fitbit for any non-iPhone/Samsung smartphone user, and even for older Samsung devices. Even though it isn’t the finest looking device, the Iconic will help you live a healthier lifestyle if you choose to use it in that way. The fitness functionality and tracking is on a similar level to the Apple Watch and Samsung, as well as being nearly £50 cheaper than the nearest alternate.
If you’re rocking one of the latest Samsung smartphones, we would think the Gear 3 is the option for you. It looks business (if not a little masculine) whilst still maintaining the functionality of a smartwatch, and it lasts a few days without charging.
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