Samsung, Fitbit, Apple Watch, Cheapies, Garmin, Polar, Withings – where to start?
The article below was written a while ago. Since then the same players are in the field with more advanced offerings. They are almost all great quality products and to an extent, you get what you pay for. There is still a lot happening in this sector, but you can get ECG, Activity, Sleep Monitoring, Heart Rate Variability and even pulse oximetry. Progress is in the area of the apps associated with these, many of which take in data from other devices. For example the Apple Health App takes data from Apple Watch or Withings (probably others too), but also takes data from pulse oximeters, smart weighing scales, thermometers etc. So think about what you want to monitor, compatibility with your smartphone and how often you are prepared to charge your watch (some need charging every day, others need charging once a week or even less frequently), before you make your decision about what smartwatch to choose.
It depends, what you are looking for. Buy a Fitbit if you want to be one of the crowd, not too worried about precision fitness monitoring. Buy a Xiaomi Mi Band 4 if you want something similar to Fitbit but happy to pay half the price of Fitbit. Polar and Garmin are good quality fitness watches – they come from the fitness side of the track and have added the smart (phone connectivity) side of things. Withings smart watches are great, affordable – both Android and IOS, part of a suite of clever health and lifestyle tech – with Blood Pressure devices, very smart weighing scales, and a smart thermometer.
The watches all link with Apps. In most cases you are giving your data away. Some of the apps advise you on lifestyle improvement, some aren’t great. But many also link with Google Fit which gives better advice, but you are giving your data away again.
I am an Apple Watch fan, though I do own several Polar, Withings and Xiaomi watches. I like the “smart” aspects of the Apple Watch. It calculates Heart Rate Variability which is an extremely useful measure of well-being – great for people managing chronic illness and great for athletes.
The new Withings ECG watch and the Apple Watch series 4 and 5 record ECG. This is really only useful if you need to record ECG on a regular basis eg if you have Atrial Fibrillation. Otherwise, its just very interesting.
The Apple watch series 4 & 5 can pick up Falls and send a message as pre-programmed with GPS co-ordinates. The Apple watch series 5 has an always-on screen. I have have a Series 3 and happy with it.