When you take the time to look around, it seems like the number of people wearing smartwatches is on the rise. We see commuters queuing music on their smartwatches and people at the gym checking incoming messages. The increasing popularity of these wearable pieces of technology does raise an interesting question: could they ever be as mainstream as phones? This might seem like a ridiculous idea, given the time we spend on our social media and other mobile apps daily, but it’s not too far from the realm of possibility.
Let’s understand what this would look like and what considerations need to be made by tech giants and consumers alike. In this article, Karl Graf from app agency dreamwalk takes us through various arguments.
Pro: Smaller, more portable size
Smart watches can be transported everywhere and anywhere, mainly because this is done without effort or intention as they are wearable tech. Wearable technologies boast their own affordances that our smartphones may not be able to provide, including health data like daily movement stats, as well as the ability to send notifications directly to our wrists, which can be better for some social or professional contexts in particular. The smartwatch lends itself to being grabbed for those incidental outings and exercises, and is also more appropriate for meetings in the workplace as it is worn on our wrists and not held in the hand. The size and portable nature of the smartwatch has undoubtedly positioned it to be a highly valuable piece of tech alongside our smartphones.
Pro: Greater health focus
One of the prevailing drivers to buying a smartwatch undoubtedly has to be the health tracking capabilities that these watches can provide. While most smartphones may be able to track the number of steps you take in a day (but only if the phone is on your person), the smartwatch can naturally have greater insight into not only your movement but also other health metrics like your heart rate and even blood oxygen levels. Not only does the smartwatch track your steps, but wearers can also get an insight into their sleep patterns, stress monitoring, and other health stats that can help provide holistic personal wellness routines. If there was ever a case for the smartwatch replacing the smartphone, the health and wellness community would have all the health-conscious arguments that could likely persuade all modern consumers to make the switch!
Pro: Less time aimlessly scrolling
As much as we aimlessly scroll on our smartphones, there is definitely a consensus that this is not an effective use of time nor is it even an activity that supports our mental health. Thankfully, the functionality of a smartphone does not lend itself to aimless scrolling, making the wearable device solely purpose-orientated. If users are looking to reduce their reliance on their devices and shed the distractions that we are accustomed to with smartphones, then a smartwatch could very well help cut distractions caused by notifications in two, allowing you to stay in the zone and drastically reduce your risks of falling victim to ‘doom scrolling’ every night or all the way through your workday.
Con: Less privacy
Having access to your messages, emails and notifications can be convenient, but it does reduce your overall privacy when you’re out and about. This is a very key issue for those who may find themselves using the internet for the bulk of their work day, but also for those who want to keep their social life from the prying eyes of colleagues, family and passersby. When privacy and security are compromised, then our smart devices are not as effective as we need them to be. Sadly, the vibration of a smartwatch or the lighting up of its display can reveal a lot about your personal life. And whilst notifications can be turned off, many users find that doing so can negate the purpose of investing in this smart companion to their mobile devices.
Con: Reduces battery power
It’s not surprising that the smartwatch has less battery capacity, as the device is smaller and does not have the same base as the smartphone. This is an issue worth calling out, as you want to know that your watch is going to last the distance, especially if you are leveraging it for health information or for work purposes.
Alongside smart watches maybe possessing less battery life than you’d prefer, constantly having your watch connected to your mobile phone via Bluetooth may also cause your phone’s battery to drain at a faster rate as well, especially if you use your smartwatch to control music streaming. Whilst this may not be as pressing an issue for techies who buy the newest phone on the market wherever possible or don’t stream music using their smartwatch, any device users that have older phones could find themselves having to charge their mobiles twice a day just to support their phone’s constant Bluetooth connection to their smartwatches.
Con: Lifecycle of the watch band
With all the additional functionalities and capabilities of the smartwatch, we can easily forget that it is an accessory at the end of the day. This means that it needs to be looked after, as the watch band will likely not last as long as the watch face will. With constant exposure to water, you are going to need to replace your smartwatch band, so factor this into your cost estimation when finding the right smart watch to suit your personal needs.
It’s also a good idea to get a sense of where you’ll be able to purchase replacement straps. Do you have to go straight through the manufacturer, or can you find third-party replacement straps elsewhere at reasonable price points? You may even opt to purchase replacement straps ahead of time to ensure that you won’t have to sit through periods of time where your watch may not be wearable.
It’s unlikely that the smartwatch will ever be as mainstream as smartphones are, but they do represent a great investment for a huge population of people. As we become more reliant on social media, staying connected and designing our lives through our smartphones, these smartwatches can help us take full control of our own digital wellness, and engage with our personal tech in our own ways.
In saying that, this verdict will truly depend on the user and the needs they require from both a smartwatch and a smartphone. Some may find a smartwatch to be indispensable to their lifestyle, while others may take all the connectivity they need from their smartphone alone. It’s recommended that you weigh up the pros and cons outlined here as well as conduct your own research to determine whether a smartwatch is poised to be a good investment for you.