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Smartwatches are the most convenient tech I can't bring myself to use

Skagen Falster 3
Skagen Falster 3 (Image credit: Daniel Bader / Android Central)

Whether you're after bone conduction headsets, AR glasses, smart rings with NFC tags inside, or even smart belts, there's a wearable gadget for just about everybody. By far, the most popular form factor is the smartwatch, with entries from tech brands like Samsung and Apple, and even long-running fashion brands like Fossil.

I've tested and reviewed quite a few smartwatches in the past, including both Wear OS and Tizen offerings, and I've caught myself on more than one occasion wishing the Apple Watch worked with Android so I could enjoy the bevy of excellent (though wildly overpriced) strap options and that delightful Taptic Engine.

The thing is, even if the Apple Watch became Android-compatible tomorrow, or Wear OS got significantly better, it wouldn't change that most of my reluctance around smartwatches is more of a mental block than a software or hardware one.

Smartwatches make me feel more glued to a screen than my phone ever has.

Most people won't argue that the vast majority of people spend too much time on their phones, and while I don't think that's as serious of an issue as some make it out to be, I do my best to put my phone down in the appropriate contexts.

I never have my phone out during date nights with my fiancee, and I try not to have it out much during events like concerts or press briefings.

But any time I wear a smartwatch, I feel completely trapped. It's easy enough for me to just ignore my phone when it buzzes in my pocket and check back later, but when the notification is staring me in the face from right on my wrist, it's harder to ignore. It's right there. And on especially busy days where I'm constantly getting notifications from emails, texts, social media, and so on (usually during trade shows like CES), I catch myself staring at my wrist more than I ever stare at my phone.

Galaxy Watch Active 2

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

Part of that is probably because the screen on a smartwatch is so small that it can only show one notification at a time, meaning it takes longer to go through a batch of notifications all at once — though I'm hesitant to blame this problem on hardware when it really boils down to a personal lack of discipline when it comes to endless notifications.

Smartwatches are still a great technology for most people.

The reality is that smartwatches are useful in a wide variety of ways, ranging from small conveniences to potentially life-saving features. They're great for checking notifications while your hands are occupied, which I find useful while washing the dishes. Most also have some local storage and support Bluetooth headphones so you can stream music during a run and leave your phone behind.

On a more serious note, the same sensors and heart-rate monitor that aid in fitness tracking can be used to detect when you've fallen, and some smartwatches, like the most recent Apple Watch and Withings Move, even feature an electrocardiograms (or ECG) to detect irregular heartbeats. While not as accurate as the much larger, more expensive dedicated equipment you'll find elsewhere, having the feature built into a watch has saved a few people from potentially far worse situations.

I'm sticking with my mechanical watch for the time being, but I think smartwatches do a lot more good for its users than bad, and I look forward to seeing more of them — like the Skagen Falster 3 — in 2020.

Hayato was a product reviewer and video editor for Android Central.

6 Comments
  • I've always had mechanical watches, but I barely wore them. My Gear S3 Classic with LTE on the other hand has been worn almost everyday since I purchased it three years ago. It's soooo convenient to have. I can't tell you how many times I've walked into a convenient store to purchase something, only to realize that I didn't have my wallet or phone with me. Guess what I did have on my wrist though, my watch! The fact that mine comes with Samsung pay, which works almost anywhere (even with older POS that don't have NFC) makes it a valuable accessory. Of course there are other benefits to owning and using a smart watch, like tracking my sleep pattern, step count, food log, heart rate, bike rides, and of course telling me the time. Did I mention that mine comes with LTE? There have been occasions where I've left the house without my phone, but was still able to receive important calls, thanks to the LTE tech on my watch. I have several watch faces and straps that makes it feel like I'm wearing a different watch all the time. The icing on the cake is that the Gear S3 classic goes with any occasion. You can wear it with dress shirts or casual wear. I love my Gear S3 Classic watch.
  • For me it's the battery. My Timex Ironman just works. It has been beat to hell on my wrist for years and never had to be charged. Even the ones that claim 1-2 weeks of charge fall flat after a day or two unless you relegate it to only telling time. I do not want another device that requires constant charging or is the size of a hockey puck on my wrist.
  • Bro u need to get one of the Garmin watches. I love mine. It's not intrusive at all and charging it once every 2 weeks is awesome. I have the Fenix 5.
  • This. My Fenix 5 Plus does close to 14 days and has all the smart features I need - onboard music (plus Spotify, Amazon Music etc), contactless payments and all notifications that can also be replied to
  • I feel the same, more or less. I can't be bothered to have yet another device to keep charged.
  • After struggling with the buggy Ticwatch E for a year, I went back to my Timex Expedition and just use the always on digital display of time, day and date. Enjoying the reprieve. I don't need or want my phone controlling every moment of my life, and the smartwatch just made the phone more intrusive.