Smartwatches and Fitness trackers are the latest trends in the world of wearable technology. But what are the benefits of a smartwatch? Is a smartwatch worth the money?
In this guide, I will explain to you about the smartwatch benefits. I have also included both advantages and disadvantages of smartwatches so that you can decide whether you really need a smartwatch or not.
As a side note, I am using smartwatches for a quite a long time and recently upgraded to Apple Watch Series 6(GPS+LTE) from Fitbit Versa 2. Besides, I review smartwatches and fitness trackers for a relatively long time for DigitMize.
Smartwatch Benefits: What is the Benefit of a Smartwatch?
The great benefit of having a smartwatch is it allows you closely monitor your health and another day-to-day activity right from your wrist. Do you believe if I say these tiny devices on your wrist can save your life?
Believe me! Advanced smartwatches from Samsung and Apple have already saved people’s lives by closely monitoring their health metrics. So still if you are not sure about buying a smartwatch, then I suggest you read a few incidents in which smartwatch saves people’s lives.
Smartwatches are not just a timepiece like traditional watches. It is packed with robust sensors and technology that can track and monitor your overall fitness, activities and much more.
Latest smartwatches have given more emphasis on health tracking features. They come with advanced health tracking features such as Heart rate monitoring, ECG tracking, Blood oxygen level monitoring, sleep tracking, stress tracking and much more.
If you are in need for a smartwatch with advanced health-tracking features, then you can go for the latest smartwatches like Apple Watch Series 6, Samsung Galaxy Watch3, Apple Watch Series 5, Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 or Fitbit Sense. All these smartwatches come with an FDA Approved ECG tracking features in addition to many other health-tracking features.
1. Heart Rate Monitoring
A smartwatch can monitor your heart rate right from your wrist. Smartwatches are equipped with optical sensors to monitor your heart rate 24/7. Premium smartwatches like Apple Watch use a technology called photoplethysmography to monitor a person’s heart rate.
Modern smartwatches have gone beyond just heart rate monitoring. These devices can alert you if your resting heart rate goes beyond or below the normal range. It can even alert emergency department in case of an abnormal heart rate.
Identification of an abnormal heart rate can save people’s lives by allowing them to seek medical help at the earliest. So, if you have a smartwatch and it alerts you with an abnormal resting heart rate, you should not hesitate to seek immediate medical help.
2. ECG Tracking Feature
ECG tracking is the most advanced cardiac health tracking feature available in a smartwatch. Even though a smartwatch with ECG cannot be considered as medical equipment, it can detect irregular heart rate, irregular heart rhythm and Atrial fibrillation.
You must seek immediate medical help if your smartwatch alerts you with an irregular heart rate or atrial fibrillation even if you do not feel any discomfort or uneasiness.
It can measure your ECG right from your wrist anywhere anytime in 30 seconds. Most of the ECG tracking smartwatches allows you to share your ECG report with your doctor so that he can have a closer look into heart health.
If you are looking for a smartwatch with ECG, then you can check our latest list of the best FDA Approved smartwatch with ECG. A smartwatch that tracks ECG cost you more money than other smartwatches that comes without an ECG app.
However, if you want to have a closer look at your cardiac health, then an ECG Smartwatch is worth buying.
3. Blood Pressure Monitoring
Blood pressure monitoring is another great feature available in smartwatches and fitness trackers. As blood pressure monitoring is a complex process, only a limited number of smartwatch makers have succeeded in integrating blood pressure monitoring technology into smartwatches.
Even Fitbit does not have a smartwatch that monitors blood pressure monitor. We hope that soon they will come up with a smartwatch that tracks blood pressure. But there is no official announcement from Fitbit about Fitbit blood pressure monitoring smartwatch.
Samsung Galaxy Watch3, Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 and Omron Blood pressure smartwatch are the examples of best smartwatches with blood pressure monitor.
The Omron Blood pressure smartwatch is the first smartwatch approved by the FDA for wrist-based blood pressure monitoring.
4. Blood Oxygen Level Monitoring
SpO2 or Blood oxygen level monitoring is an advanced feature in smartwatches and fitness trackers. Smartwatches use a blood oxygen sensor to calculate the blood oxygen level in your body.
Besides, measuring SpO2 can help you better understand your sleep pattern and apnea.
If you are a hiker, then a smartwatch with SpO2 feature will be very useful when you clip high altitudes.
In a nutshell, a smartwatch with SpO2 allows you to understand how well your body absorbs oxygen. A SpO2 level of more than 95% is considered regular reading.
5. Body Temperature Monitoring
Today wearable tech devices such as smartwatches and fitness trackers are capable of measuring your skin temperature. Like Blood pressure monitoring, temperature tracking feature is also not available in many smartwatches because of its complexity and a higher chance of error.
Fitbit Sense and Garmin devices are some of the most reliable smartwatches that track your body temperature accurately.
When we say body temperature, it actually means that the core temperature rather than skin temperature.
With said that, the temperature measured by a smartwatch might not be accurate as it takes just skin temperature rather than the core temperature. External factors like cold or hot can influence skin temperature but not the core temperature.
However, a series of temperature taken by your smartwatch can give you an idea about your body temperature trend, especially if you are suffering from fever or infection.
In hospital setup, core temperature is measured by using an oral, axially or rectal thermometer.
6. Monitors Respiration
Respiratory rate is another crucial vital sign along with heart rate, SpO2, B.P and temperature. The resting normal respiratory rate is 16-20 breaths per minute, and it goes up to 40-50 breaths per minutes during physical activities. A smartwatch uses various sensors and analysis methods to track your respiratory rate.
7. Calorie Tracking
One of the essential features of a smartwatch is calorie tracking. Calorie burn is a calculated value derived from various factors such as your age, sex, and activity. So, you must give accurate data while setting up your fitness app or smartwatch.
If you are a weight watcher and looking to gain or lose weight, then you should closely monitor your calorie intake and calorie burn. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, then your net calorie intake must be a minus value. This means that you must burn more calories than you eat and vice versa, in case, to gain weight.
Not sure how much calories should I eat each day? You can check this excellent article on calorie intake per day.
If you pair your smartwatch with a calorie tracking app like MyFitnessPal, then you can have a closer and accurate data of your calorie intake and calories burned. While your smartwatch tracks your calorie burn, your calorie app monitors your calorie intake.
MyFitnessPal is a fantastic app I use to monitor my calorie intake and calorie burn. If you are looking for a smartwatch or fitness tracker compatible with MyFitnessPal, then you can have a look into my most fantastic pick of smartwatch and fitness trackers compatible with MyFitnessPal.
8. Stress Tracking
Stress is a common issue faced by the majority of people around the globe because of modern lifestyle. A smartwatch can track your stress level by monitoring various factors such as heart rate, blood oxygen level, respiratory rate, etc.
If your smartwatch alerts you for stress, then you should go for a short walk or have can have a cup of coffee.
9. Sleep Tracking
Sleep is essential for your overall health and wellness. To maintain a healthy body and mind, you must have a good sleep. An adult requires to sleep at least 8 to 9 hours per day for optimal health. Sleep Deprivation may lead to many physiological and psychological diseases.
A smartwatch can track your sleep stages right from your wrist and give you sleep quality score after assessing various parameters such as heart rate, blood oxygen level, movements while sleep, etc. Based on this sleep quality score, many smartwatches can also give some suggestions to improve the quality of your sleep.
10. Fall Detection
Fall detection is a life-saving feature available only in premium smartwatches like Apple, Samsung and Garmin. If it detects a hard fall, then these devices activate an Emergency alert. If you do not deactivate emergency alert within a few seconds, the smartwatch will contact the Emergency department with your current location.
This helps emergency responders to reach your location without wasting time.
Fall detection feature has also saved many people from death. In an incident in Washington, a man’s life saved by Apple Watch after he falls from his bicycle. You can read this news report in detail here. This incident later shared by his son on Facebook as well.
11. Female Health Tracking
Many smartwatch and fitness trackers come with female health tracking features. Female health tracking feature allows you better to understand your menstrual cycle and other bodily changes.
Apple, Samsung, Fitbit, Gamin and many other smartwatches come with female health tracking features.
Note: Female health tracking is an estimated data; it may not be accurate initially. However, over a period of time, a smartwatch like Fitbit can better understand your pattern and give you more accurate data.
12. Activity Tracking Features
A smartwatch is also equipped with many advanced sensors and algorithms to track your various physical activities and exercises. It allows you to monitor your activities along with many other health metrics such as heart rate, blood oxygen level, stress level and much more.
With the help of accelerometers, a smartwatch can track your steps (Step count), running and jogging etc. Advanced smartwatches can track your number of steps; distance travelled, direction, etc. right from your wrist with the help of various sensors.
13. Advanced Sport Tracking
If you are sports personnel and need to improve your performance and skills, then a smartwatch can help you achieve your goals. If you are preparing for a running competition, then Garmin Forerunner Series is the right smartwatch for you. It can give you a detailed insight into your running metrics and also can give you some essential suggestions for improvements.
At the end of the day, you can see the in-depth data of your workout on the companion app so that you can make necessary changes on your workout sections.
14. Swim Tracking
If you are a swimming enthusiast or professional swimmer, then a swimming smartwatch can give you an in-depth insight into your various swim metrics such as speed, distance travelled, number of laps, heart rate, swim style and much more. With these details, you can improve your performance in the pool or open water.
Even though there are many waterproof smartwatches out there, most of them does not track swim metrics. If you are precisely looking for a smartwatch to improve your swimming activities, then you should go for a smartwatch that tracks swimming.
Besides, many smartwatches out there do not track open water swimming. So, if you need to track both open and closed water swimming, then you must go for an advanced smartwatch-like Garmin Swim 2. Garmin Swim 2 is the best swimming companion that can even track your heart rate underwater.
15. A Motivator on your Wrist
A smartwatch can help you motivate you to achieve your fitness goals. It allows you to set your personnel fitness goals, and it rewards you with badges and points when you achieve these goals.
Popular wearable device manufacturers such as Fitbit, Samsung, Apple, etc. allow you to join their community and allow you to challenge them by setting fitness goals. All these activities together motivated you to stretch regularly.
16. Outdoor Cycling
A smartwatch not just track your steps, you can use it to track your various outdoor activities like cycling, biking etc. A smartwatch with built-in GPS can track your speed, and distance travelled, etc. right from your wrist.
We have already written an article on the best smartwatch for cycling that helps you track your outdoor cycling activities. Advanced cycling smartwatches come with an on-screen map that helps you explore new routes without getting lost.
17. Indoor Activity Tracking
If you regularly exercise on an indoor, then a smartwatch can track your indoor cycling activities along with many other body metrics such as heart rate, blood oxygen level, calories burned and much more.
In addition to tracking spinning, a smartwatch can track your treadmill activities as well.
18. Yoga Tracking
Yoga is another popular indoor activity performed by many, especially during COVID-19. Many smartwatches and fitness trackers struggle to record Yoga because of the relatively slow movements involved in Yoga practice.
This makes it very hard for a smartwatch to track your yoga activities.
19. Make Calls and Sent SMS
A standalone smartwatch with cellular connectivity can work like a smartphone. Usually, a smartwatch works by connecting it your smartphone for connectivity.
But in case of a standalone smartwatch, like smartphones, it can connect to a cellular network provider by bypassing smartphone. As a result, you can do most of the stuff that you do with your smartphone.
A smartwatch with LTE allows you to make phone calls and use internet-based apps right from your smartwatch even when you are away from your smartphone.
20. Smartphone Notifications on your wrist
A smartwatch can display your smartphone notifications so that you can stay updated with latest phone notifications from Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, etc. even without grabbing your smartphone. It is beneficial when you work or drive a car/bike.
If you are using a smartwatch without LTE connectivity, then you need to be connected with your smartphone to receive notifications on your watch.
Some smartwatches come with microphones and a loudspeaker so that you can speak right from your smartwatch. Also, some smartwatches allow you to relay to a text message from your smartwatch.
21. Find your Phone
Find your phone is another great feature that is very useful if you forget your smartphone somewhere in the home. In this case, when you press a button on your smartwatch, your smartphone starts to vibrate and alert so that you can easily find your smartphone.
You can use find my phone feature in Samsung Galaxy Smartwatch even when your smartphone is away from Bluetooth range.
Built-in navigation and location tracking is another excellent feature in smartwatches. It allows you to keep track of your location and also very helpful to navigate through unknown routes.
Advanced smartwatches use multiple sensors like GPS, GALILEO and GLONASS to track location accurately. Garmin Smartwatches are an example of best smartwatches that comes with multiple location tracking sensors.
23. Listen to Music and Podcasts
Smartwatches can meet your entertainment needs as well. If you are using a smartwatch with LTE, then you can listen to your favorite Spotify, Deezer or YouTube music playlist even without a smartphone with you.
There are smartwatches without LTE that allows you to download your favorite playlist into your smartwatch so you can listen to them when you are not connected.
If you do not have any premium music streaming app subscription, then you can transfer music from a laptop into your smartwatch.
24. Your Hiking Partner
If you love hiking and explore outdoors, then a smartwatch will be a perfect companion for you. There are many rugged smartwatches out there that help you track your location, atmosphere pressure, direction even when you are not connected with a smartphone.
When you move to heights, the level of oxygen depletes so if you have a smartwatch in your wrist, then it can exactly tell you how much oxygen your body absorbs.
26. Do Smartwatches detect COVID-19?
Smartwatches and Fitness Trackers are continuously monitoring your important vital signs such as heart rate, blood oxygen level, temperature, respiration, activities and sleep. Now researchers are trying to use smartwatches for the early identification of COVID-19 diseases.
From the smartwatch data of COVID-19 patients, the researchers have found that there was significant variation in vital signs, activity and sleep pattern before the onset of the signs and symptoms.
However, as of now, no smartwatch makers claims that their devices are capable of early detection of COVID-19 or other flues like infections.
27. Does smartwatch detect a heart attack?
A smartwatch cannot detect a heart attack. However, a smartwatch with ECG App and heart rate monitor can detect irregular heart rate and atrial fibrillation.
Atrial Fibrillation is a severe medical condition which needs immediate medical help. If not treated on time, it can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
28. Contact less Payments
Smartwatches allow you to pay at a shop right from your smartwatch through contactless payments. Different smartwatches offer different payment methods such as Fitbit Pay, Samsung Pay, Garmin Pay and Google Pay. Smartwatches operated on Wear OS use Google Pay as their mode of payment.
If your smartwatch allows you contactless payments, then you go for a walk and have a coffee or snack even without your smartphone or wallet with you.
In addition to that, smartwatches offer many other features such as reminder, alarm clock, stop clock and much more. All these smart features together make a smartwatch smarter than a traditional watch that uses for timekeeping.
Disadvantages of a smartwatch
We have already discussed smartwatch benefits. Now let us have a look into the disadvantages of a smartwatch.
A smartwatch is more expensive than a regular timepiece. Here I am not talking about luxury watches like Rolex. If you do not want to spend more money on an expensive smartwatch, then you can go for cheap smartwatches under 50 or 100.
2. Poor battery Life
Generally, smartwatches have short battery life. Even Apple watch offers 18 to 20 hours of battery life only. The battery may drain even faster if you use features such as GPS, music streaming, etc.
With that said, there are many self-charging, and solar charging smartwatches are available in the market.
3. Need a smartwatch Nearby
A smartwatch needs a smartphone nearby to use some features, especially if you use a smartwatch without LTE connectivity. Even an LTE smartwatch requires a smartphone for initial set up.
In a nutshell, you cannot use a smartwatch without a smartphone.
You cannot use or enjoy some features if you are using a smartwatch which is not compatible with your smartphone. For example, you cannot use an Apple watch along with an android smartphone.
Likewise, if you use a Fitbit or Samsung Watch along with Apple Phone, then you will be restricted from using some features.
So, you must always make sure that the smartphone that you own must be compatible with the smartwatch that you are planning to buy.
5. Water Damage
Once the waterproof sealing of smartwatch damaged, then it cannot be restored. So, you should not expose your smartwatch corrosive liquids like soap, detergent, spirit, etc.
In a nutshell, a smartwatch is a tiny wearable computer that you can wear on your wrist to monitor your various activities along with health metrics. Also, it makes your life easier as it has many smart features and functionalities.
I personally like smartwatches because of these features and functionalities mentioned above. I hope that this article helps you in understanding the advantages and disadvantages of the smartwatch. If I miss anything, please feel free to comment below so that you can help your fellow readers to choose the right smartwatch.
Saneesh VS is a Registred Nurse By Profession and Wearable Tech Enthusiast by Passion.