Your guide to Smartwatches

Your guide to Smartwatches

Are they worth the hype?


You’ve probably read a lot about smartwatches in recent months. Samsung launched two at the Mobile World Congress trade show, Pebble launched its Steel watch at the International CES in Las Vegas and Apple is said to be working on one - the reported iWatch. Commentators everywhere from TechRadar to the Guardian are asking is 2014 the year of the smartwatch? While analyst Canalys expects five million smartwatches to be sold in 2014. But what exactly are they, and why would you want one? Read on to find out…

What is a smartwatch?

Think of a smartwatch as being like a tiny smartphone for your wrist and you’re halfway there. They work by hooking up with your phone to display text messages and other notifications, but are also starting to include other natty features, such as fitness monitors. 

Why would I want one?

You can stay on top of messages without digging out your phone. Samsung’s new Galaxy Gear 2 watch connects to Samsung Galaxy phones via Bluetooth . Because of this you can keep tabs on all the texts and calls coming to your phone without having to dig out your actual handset. Think about when your phone goes off in a meeting and you’re itching to find out who’s getting in touch. 

It’s not just in the office though, with TechRadar pointing out other times this would come in handy. “Think about those times when you're on a crammed tube and feel your phone vibrate with a message."

They’re slowly getting more stylish

The first smartwatches weren’t the prettiest of things. But the second-generation watches are much sleeker. Take the Pebble Steel, the much anticipated follow up to the Pebble watch. Where the original had been plastic and digital, the Steel – unveiled at the International CES in Las Vegas – is smooth and sharp. The plastic replaced by stainless steel, the digital face eschewed for a more grown up traditional watch face. Samsung’s original Gear looked good - TechRadar said it combined “industrial-looking material with sleek likes” - but was a bit chunky. Now the Gear 2 is around 10% thinner, while it also gives you the option to change the strap. 

They can help you get fit

The first wave of smartwatches were all about being an extension of your smartphone - now they also want to help you get fit. Both the Samsung Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo launched at Mobile World Congress feature heart rate scanners, while they can also track your steps taken and hook up to the fitness app on your Galaxy phone to make sense of the data.

Apple too is expected to make fitness a major feature of its reported iWatch, according to Samuel Gibbs in the Guardian.