Over recent years we have witnessed the War of the Watches between leading corporations such as Nike, Apple, Samsung, as smartwatches prove to be the new hot tech that everyone wants.
To help you cut through the noise, here are our top 3 picks from what is currently on the market.
In third place we choose … The Garmin Vivosport (£129.99)
Having recently dropped in price from £170 to £129.99, we really feel they offer true value for money. The Vivosport has an activity-band design that’s lightweight, waterproof, comfortable to wear, and has good battery life. Smartwatch features include automatic tracking of activity, including steps, floors climbed, calories burned, intensity minutes, sleep and 24-7 heart-rate monitoring. The device will measure your heart-rate variability and translate it into a stress level, then prompt you to breathe and relax when that level is elevated. It has built-in GPS that tracks your activity and location in real time, and sends alerts to nominated friends and family members notifying them of your location. Unfortunately, because the display is small, some of the features are a little difficult to access and it can be a little tricky to navigate through all the widgets and settings. Equally, GPS can sometimes take too long to lock in. Ultimately, the Vivosport is a sound fitness companion for people who want an activity tracker with plenty of advanced features.
Our next choice would be the Fitbit Versa (£177.48)
The Fitbit Versa has a multiday battery life which beats the likes of the Apple Watch, meaning you will probably only need to charge it twice a week. The Fitbit Versa is a compact, lightweight smartwatch and fitness tracker with an improved interface for easier fitness stat readouts. You can see your weekly progress, recent workouts and keep tabs on your resting heartrate and sleep patterns. It is water-resistant up to 50 meters, and works with iOS and Android. Many of the apps and watch faces are useful and fun. The downsides are that the music transfer to the watch is complicated, and there is no on-board GPS or cellular options. In summary, the Fitbit Versa is the best fusion of smartwatch and general fitness tracker in its price range, so you can learn to live with its limitations.
Who comes out on top? For us, it is undoubtedly the Apple Watch Series 4 (starting from £399)
For cellular features you can get a variety of plans with different mobile providers, to spread out the cost. It is an intelligent guardian for your health that goes beyond the realms of conventional heart rate monitoring or steps. It has an electrocardiogram app that can detect often overlooked heart defects, such as irregular heartbeats / atrial fibrillation, that might result in a heart attack later on. Health features include fall detector, SOS feature (if you are immobile for one minute they contact your emergency contacts) and they can detect an unusually slow heart rate which could indicate your heart is not pumping enough blood into your body. It is waterproof, and many people use it to track their swimming performance. There are many fun features, for example you can set activity goals between you and a friend and you can compete with them on a daily basis. Because it is a LTE-enabled smartwatch, you can run without a phone, and still have your music and receive calls. You can wear it at night and receive in depth, comprehensive sleep reports. The only downside is that its battery life does not last as long as other smartwatches, most people will need to charge it daily, however it does charge quickly, often you can leave it on charge when you are in the shower and that will be enough to charge it to full capacity.
Aside from your standard smartwatches, there are a number of quirky and innovative wearable technologies that have been developed this year that stand out from the crowd.
The SleepScore Max
The SleepScore Max ($149.99) is a contactless sensor that sits on your bedside table, tracking your sleep from afar, and reads variables such as room and light temperature, that make up what’s referred to as “sleep hygiene”. From your answers to in-depth health and sleep questions, it makes accurate calculations and informed suggestions about how you can sleep better. You can set a smart alarm in a window of 15 to 30 minutes to detect when you are in your lightest sleep to make you feel more refreshed. Its technology has been validated against polysomnography, the gold-standard lab method of measuring sleep with over two million nights of sleep data fed into its algorithm. It doesn’t just tell you how much sleep you got, as many other sleep trackers do, they use a scoring system that also marks your wake time, deep sleep, light sleep, REM, and how long it took you to fall asleep. These are all weighted differently and together form your overall score for the night. There are scores for ‘Body’ and ‘Mind’ which tell you how much positive impact your sleep had on each. Their ‘Sleep guide’ and is a rolling timeline of feedback based on your sleep data and general tips for getting better rest.
Xenxo Smart Ring (due to come out in November)
Xenxo want their customers to “Carry Less, Do More’; why struggle carrying those six accessories when ‘one’ do all that and a lot more? Life can be a lot simpler. The Indian start-up incorporates fitness tracking smarts into a wearable ring that sits on the finger and a device that acts as a discreet SOS solution. Features include support for NFC payments, the ability to make calls through the built-in speaker and microphone, integration with Google Assistant and Siri, a silent alarm, data storage, gesture control for music and step counting, and health parameters. Xenxo are successfully rethinking the world of smart wearables with the most feature packed smart ring ever.
Solos Smart Glasses (Android / iOS / Wear OS smartwatches)
Solos want to bring AR to cyclists, the $500 wearable doesn’t come cheap, but they do promise a wealth of features to make it the ultimate cycling companion. They offer a broad array fitness metrics that can be displayed in front of you and audio prompts to give you turn-by-turn directions, and voice control offers you a true hands-free experience. Solos was tested by the US Cycling team before they rode out at the Rio Olympics, proving the serious appeal of augmented reality and smart glasses. They have potential to develop and become even smarter, so cycling fanatics keep a look out for product updates and developments.
LifeLeaf by LifePlus (not yet on the market, but prepping for launch)
LifeLeaf is the world’s first completely non-invasive continuous blood glucose monitoring wearable. The smartwatch is different from any others out there, in that it specifically monitors 5 key physiological parameters; Blood glucose, Heart rate, Blood pressure, Respiration rate, Oxygen Saturation. This allows the watch to determine your level of risk of certain diseases. LifePlus claims the LifeLeaf watch is the most effective daily health risk management solution available. The clinical grade smartwatch uses technologies to seamlessly operate in their integrated end-to-end solution, and perform individualised deep-learning with artificial intelligence. It offers optimal user-specific information, alerts, warnings and preventative action recommendations. They have a mobile app, cloud AI platform and desktop portal store and track data, receive actionable alerts and push notifications from analysed information. Non-invasive glucose monitoring is considered to be the holy grail of diabetes treatment and so the multi-sensor smartwatch will be a game-changer if it manages to deliver on its promises. It is currently being tested in five clinical trials around the world and it will seek FDA approval once the trials are complete.