/ Technology

Smartwatches: the battle for hearts and wrists

Samsung Galaxy Gear and Sony SmartWatch 2

We’ve been bombarded with lots of hype for smartwatches recently. The so-called ‘wearable tech’ is being pushed by the tech giants Samsung and Sony. But what do smartwatches do and does anyone really want one?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of weeks it can’t have escaped your attention that smartwatches are back on the agenda. I say ‘back’ because I know people who’ve dreamt of owning one since the days that Dick Tracey had his own TV show.

Leading the charge are Samsung’s Galaxy Gear and Sony’s SmartWatch 2 – Apple staying curiously quiet despite rumours of the Cupertino-based company throwing money at prototypes.

Would you wear a smartwatch?

Essentially expansions of your smartphone, smartwatches are able to connect to your mobile phone over Bluetooth and allow you to monitor texts, emails, social networks and even answer calls from your wrist.

There have also been arguments made that smartwatches can aid both security and fitness. Smartwatches are theoretically more secure in that you can leave your phone safely stowed in your bag or pocket. And they can also count your footsteps while tracking your whereabouts, making them the ideal jogging aid

You can almost sense the ‘but’ coming, and here it is: smartwatches are rather on the expensive side. The Galaxy Gear is going to be £299 – and that price is going to sting even more when you consider that it’s $299 in the US. The SmartWatch 2 is a more palatable, but still pricey £120.

But (oh yes, another but), the SmartWatch 2 will come bundled with the very fine looking Sony Xperia Z1 phone. This raises the question of whether I’d use a smartwatch if I could get it for free. And you know what? I’m not sure.

I’m going to leave it to you to set me straight – is there any point to the smartwatch and will any of you use one?

What's the most you would pay for a smartwatch:

I wouldn't have one even if it was free (62%, 400 Votes)

£1-£49 (13%, 84 Votes)

£50-£99 (10%, 62 Votes)

£100-£149 (7%, 48 Votes)

£150-£199 (2%, 15 Votes)

£250-300 (2%, 13 Votes)

As much as it takes (2%, 11 Votes)

£200-£249 (1%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 641

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They are sure to take off, whatever the price, just like high-end mobile phones have – because people like glitzy gadgets that keep up with, or ahead of (briefly) their peers. Providing they can afford them, why not? It is when these gadgets take priority over essentials, or put pressure on parents, that problems arise.
My £30 phone does all I want – so does my 10 year old car. But other people like I phones and the latest models of luxury cars – their choice. And it keeps the wheels of industry turning. A pity though no one in the UK seems to make these profitable gadgets.

You have to charge your smartwatch and the phone it is used with. The novelty might soon wear off.

Still, it’s a far cry from the Sinclair Black Watch of 1975, if anyone else remembers that.

Ever since losing an expensive watch my “smartwatch” has been a Casio Illuminator. Glancing at it now It tells me it is Fri 13th, 5.47am. without pushing any buttons. It is shower and pool proof, lights up when needed and is so cheap at around £17 that sod’s law says I will never lose it. At just over £20 you can have a black plastic strap and scuba diving timing rings. The battery lasts for seven years! What more does one need? With many fancy watches the face is so obscured by useless data that it is hard to find the date and time without fiddling with buttons.. It would be more difficult to listen to one’s watch than a mobile phone (by about 6 inches). How would you use earphones? Would they be wifi? Any way who cares? I have well and truly grown out of the flash jewellery stage and settled into the practical value for money age. The Casio still looks smart just not flash.

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The main problem with all these type of devices is the display – is it readable in bright sunlight or rain or with less than perfect eyesight once you get older like me !

However although they mean seem gimmicky this is how progress occurs a bit like evolution.

I wonder if these smartwatches are waterproof. Many warranty claims on faulty phones have been turned down because of water ingress. In fact, some phone manufacturers have installed a moisture detector instead of making them waterproof.

I have a watch that runs for about 8 years between battery replacements, which are admittedly expensive as they must be done by the manufacturer. I think this is normal with waterproof watches, since the local battery replacers cannot re-seal the watch under a vacuum, so after battery replacement the watch is no longer waterproof.

So, the thought of buying a watch that needs recharging as often as my phone does fills me with horror! I carry a spare battery for my phone and also a portable charger, and the latter plus phone can go together in a pocket if needed, but what use is a watch in your pocket? You might just as well check your phone. I see no point in these watches unless they have a very long battery life.

Michael says:
23 September 2013

I spent a year hunting for the watch I wanted – a simple analogue watch with a round white face, bold black Arabic numerals, bold black hands. I finally found one on a stall in Norwich market for £5. Unfortunately I lost it before I found out how long the battery lasted. And the train fare to Norwich and back is nigh on £60.

So, cheaper rail fares would be preferable to sophisticated watches!

I like analogue watches with a clear face and a thin body. I can’t abide clunky watches.

It’s likely that smartwatches will eventually be thin enough, but these are like wearing an iPod Nano on your wrist, and that does not appeal.