How to Pick the Right Smartwatch for Your Needs: The Ultimate Buying Guide

By Naila Syifa
Updated July 2024

Smartwatch Buying Guide

A smartwatch can be a game-changer, enhancing your daily routine, tracking your fitness, and keeping you connected. However, with so many options available in the market, choosing the perfect smartwatch can feel daunting.

Everyone has their own unique needs and preferences, so finding the right smartwatch for you requires careful consideration.

In this article, we'll guide you through the key factors to consider when selecting the ideal smartwatch for your lifestyle.

#1 Determine Your Needs

Garmin Forerunner 265

Garmin Forerunner 265

The first step in choosing a smartwatch is understanding your needs. Are you looking for a fitness tracker, a productivity tool, or a stylish accessory? Your primary use will guide your decision. Think about your daily activities and how a smartwatch can complement them.

For busy professionals who need a smartwatch to help manage their schedules, stay connected, and boost productivity, a device with advanced communication and app integration capabilities, such as the Apple Watch or Samsung Galaxy Watch, may be the best fit.

If you're an active and health-conscious individual, you'll want a smartwatch with robust health tracking, activity monitoring, and workout features. Garmin is a popular choice in this space, offering a wide range of smartwatches tailored for different individuals from casual fitness enthusiasts to serious athletes and outdoor adventurers.

For example, Garmin Forerunner 265 offers running-oriented features for runners while Garmin Epix 2 is a more premium option covering a broader range of sports from golfing, surfing, mountain biking, to skiing and more.

Garmin Forerunner 265

Garmin Forerunner 265

Serious Runners & Racers Watch

✓ 1.3” AMOLED
✓ Advanced Training Metrics
✓ Garmin Coach & PacePro
✓ Multi-Band GNSS with SatIQ

Buy on AmazonBuy on Synced
Garmin Epix 2

Garmin Epix 2

High-End Fitness and Outdoor Watch

✓ 90+ Built-in Sports Apps
✓ Advanced Training, Health, Fitness
✓ Optional TopoActive Maps & NextFork Navigation
✓ Multi-band GNSS

Buy on AmazonBuy on Synced

#2 Compatibility with Your Devices

Apple Watch Series 9

Apple Watch Series 9

Compatibility is crucial when selecting a smartwatch. Ensure the smartwatch you choose works seamlessly with your smartphone. Most smartwatches are designed to pair with either iOS or Android devices, so check the specifications before making a purchase.

If you're an iPhone user, the Apple Watch is a natural choice due to its seamless integration with iOS. For Android users, there are various options like Samsung Galaxy Watch, Garmin, and Wear OS devices that offer excellent compatibility. Consider the ecosystem you’re already invested in for a smooth user experience.

Think about the apps you use daily. Ensure your smartwatch supports these apps or has compatible alternatives. For example, if you often take pictures using an iPhone from a distance, Apple Watches offer remote camera control to take photos from your wrist. Such an integration enhances the overall experience, making your smartwatch a valuable extension of your smartphone.

Apple Watch Series 9

Apple Watch Series 9

Premium Watch for Smart Lifestyle

✓ Built-in Speaker & Microphone
✓ ECG, Heart Rate, Sleep, Temperature Sensing
✓ On-Device Siri
✓ Emergency SOS & Crash/Fall Detection

Buy on Amazon

#3 Features and Functionality

Fitbit Versa 4

Fitbit Versa 4

The features and functionality of a smartwatch vary widely. Think about what’s most important to you. Health and fitness tracking, such as step counting, sleep monitoring, and heart rate measurement, are standard in most smartwatches. Advanced models offer ECG monitoring, blood oxygen levels, and skin temperature variation tracking.

Consider connectivity options like GPS, Wi-Fi, and LTE. GPS is essential for outdoor activities like running and cycling. Multi-band GNSS support is valuable if you frequently travel to remote or challenging environments. Wi-Fi connectivity allows your smartwatch to stay connected even when your phone is not nearby, while LTE-enabled smartwatches offer the convenience of making calls and sending texts without the need to have your smartphone with you.

Explore additional functionalities like music storage, contactless payments, and voice assistants, which can enhance the overall user experience and make your smartwatch a more versatile companion. Some Fitbit models like Fitbit Charge 6 and Versa 4 come with built-in Google Maps, a useful feature for navigation and exploring new areas. Prioritize the features that align with your lifestyle and discard those you don’t need.

Fitbit Charge 6

Fitbit Charge 6

Fitness Tracker with Google Essentials

✓ 40+ Exercise Modes
✓ YouTube Music Controls, Google Maps, Google Wallet
✓ ECG, Heart Rate, Blood Oxygen, Sleep, Stress, Skin Temperature Variation
✓ Built-in GPS

Buy on AmazonBuy on Synced
Fitbit Versa 4

Fitbit Versa 4

Lightweight Fitness Smartwatch

✓ 40+ Exercise Modes
✓ Google Maps, Google Wallet
✓ Heart Rate, Blood Oxygen, Sleep, Stress, Skin Temperature Variation
✓ Built-in Alexa, Speaker & Microphone

Buy on AmazonBuy on Synced

#4 Battery Life and Charging

Garmin Fenix 7X Sapphire Solar

Garmin Fenix 7X Sapphire Solar

Battery life is a significant factor to consider. Some smartwatches need daily charging, while others can last several days on a single charge. Think about your routine and how often you're willing to charge your device. If you’re always on the go, a longer battery life might be more convenient.

Consider the charging method. Wireless charging, magnetic chargers, and and USB-C charging are common options. Some adventure watches like Garmin Instinct 2 Solar and Garmin Fenix 7X Sapphire Solar even offer solar charging capabilities, which can significantly extend the battery life when you're out in the sun.

Evaluate the power-saving features. Some smartwatches offer modes that extend battery life by disabling certain functions. This can be useful during long trips or busy days when you can’t charge frequently. Assess your needs and pick a smartwatch with a battery life that aligns with them.

Garmin Instinct 2 Solar

Garmin Instinct 2 Solar

Rugged GPS Smartwatch

✓ Built-in Sports Apps
✓ ABC Sensors
✓ Multi-band GNSS
✓ Up to 48 hours in GPS Mode with Solar Charging

Buy on Amazon
Garmin Fenix 7X Sapphire Solar

Garmin Fenix 7X Sapphire Solar

The Ultimate Multisport Watch

✓ Advanced Training, Health, Fitness
✓ Built-in TopoActive Maps & NextFork Navigation
✓ Multi-band GNSS with SatIQ
✓ Up to 122 hours in GPS Mode with Solar Charging

Buy on AmazonBuy on Synced

#5 Design & Comfort

Garmin Lily 2

Garmin Lily 2

Design and comfort are crucial when choosing a smartwatch. You'll be wearing it daily, so it should match your style and be comfortable on your wrist. Consider the watch's size, weight, and shape. Some people prefer a sleek, minimalist design, while others like a more rugged, sporty look.

Look for interchangeable bands to customize your watch’s appearance. Many brands offer a variety of bands in different materials like silicone, leather, and metal. This flexibility allows you to switch up your style to match different occasions and outfits.

Comfort is equally important. Make sure the watch fits well and feels good during prolonged wear. Adjustable bands and ergonomic designs can make a significant difference. Try on different models if possible to find the best fit for your wrist.

If style is your primary focus, some smartwatch models also have a unique, stylish design that can serve as a fashion statement. For women who love elegant look, Garmin Lily 2 could add a touch of sophistication to your everyday attire.

Garmin Lily 2

Garmin Lily 2

Fashionable Smartwatch

✓ Health & Fitness Tracking
✓ Built-in Sports Apps
✓ Smart Notifications
✓ Music Controls

Buy on Amazon

#6 Durability

Suunto Vertical

Suunto Vertical

Durability is another crucial factor to consider when selecting a smartwatch. Depending on your lifestyle and intended use, you'll want a watch that can withstand the demands you'll place on it.

For active individuals or those with physically demanding jobs, a rugged, water-resistant smartwatch is essential. Consider also features like shock resistance, extreme temperature tolerance, and scratch-resistant displays. You can also look for models that are built to military standards, such as Suunto Vertical, which offers military-grade durability for outdoor expeditions and multisport training.

For everyday use, a more standard level of durability may suffice, but it's still important to ensure the smartwatch can handle the occasional bump or splash. Evaluate the materials used in the construction, such as stainless steel or titanium, and the overall build quality to ensure it can withstand regular wear and tear.

Suunto Vertical

Suunto Vertical

Outdoor Adventure Watch

✓ Advanced Training Metrics
✓ Free Offline Maps
✓ Smart Notifications
✓ Solar Charging Options

Buy on AmazonBuy on Synced

#7 Budget Considerations

Amazfit Bip 3 Pro

Amazfit Bip 3 Pro

Budget plays a significant role in your decision. Smartwatches come in a wide price range, from budget-friendly options to high-end models. Determine how much you’re willing to spend and what features are non-negotiable for you.

Widely well-known names like Apple, Samsung, Garmin, and Fitbit have varying models at different price points, but they tend to be on the higher end of the smartwatch market.

Meanwhile, brands like Amazfit and Mobvoi Ticwatch offer budget-friendly models under US$200 that still provide a decent set of features and functionality. Amazfit Bip 3 Pro even costs only US$69.99, making it a good option for those on a tighter budget.

Amazfit Bip 3 Pro

Amazfit Bip 3 Pro

Budget-Friendly Smartwatch

✓ Heart Rate, Blood Oxygen, Stress, Sleep
✓ 61 Sports Modes
✓ 4 Satellite Positioning Systems
✓ 2 Weeks Battery Life

Buy on Amazon

Final Thoughts

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6

Choosing the right smartwatch requires a balanced consideration of your specific needs, preferences, and budget. By carefully evaluating factors like compatibility, features, design, durability, and battery life, you can find a smartwatch that seamlessly integrates into your lifestyle and enhances your daily experiences.

Whether you prioritize fitness tracking, productivity, or style, there is a smartwatch out there that can cater to your unique requirements. Take the time to research and compare options to make an informed decision that will provide you with a valuable and enjoyable smartwatch experience.

If you like to read more about smartwatches, check out our other relevant guides here:

The Best Smartwatches

Best Smart Watch for iPhone: Apple's & Alternatives

Best Inexpensive Smart Watch

Best Garmin Watch for Hiking

Best Garmin Watch for Mountain Biking

Best Fitbit for Elderly

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