Attention: This is what matters when buying a Smartwach

If you want to buy a smartwatch, you are faced with an almost unmanageable jungle of wearables.

Attention: This is what matters when buying a Smartwach

If you want to buy a smartwatch, you are faced with an almost unmanageable jungle of wearables. Digital wristwatches have become more diverse and powerful in recent years - and therefore often more expensive. To make the investment worthwhile, it is best to follow these tips.

As with every new purchase, the first question is which product serves the individual needs as broadly as possible. If the primary aim is to buy a device that supports you during training and measures your heart rate or oxygen saturation, a simple fitness bracelet is often sufficient. With these smart functions are limited, in most cases you don't even get notifications and status updates of the cell phone on your wrist. There are also hybrid watches: They are classic watches with an analog dial that have been expanded to include smart functions and can be connected to other devices via Bluetooth, for example.

A fully-fledged smartwatch stands out from other wearables in three aspects in particular: First, they have app support, so applications from Apple's Appstore or Google's Playstore can be installed on the watch. Second, they allow voice control and thus functions such as dictating messages or controlling other connected smart devices. In addition, there is usually an NFC chip (Near Field Communication) in smartwatches, which enables cashless payment with the watch. In addition, there is often a cellular version of the respective watch, i.e. if you want, you can take out your own mobile phone contract for your watch and use it to make calls and send messages independently and without being connected to a cell phone.

The difference between fitness bracelets, hybrid and full-fledged smartwatches lies in two main aspects: battery performance and price. While the battery in fitness bracelets can last up to two weeks, the smartwatches from Apple, Google and Samsung have to be charged almost every day. Although this value varies depending on individual use, the large range of functions first takes its toll on the battery performance. This is also noticeable in the price, because even high-quality fitness trackers rarely cost more than 150 euros, while smartwatches can also cost more than 1,000 euros.

Because a perfectly set up smartwatch is an extension of the smartphone and complements it, it is particularly important to choose the right operating system. Anyone who already uses Apple devices, for example, can hardly avoid an Apple Watch (Watch OS). On the other hand, if you use an Android-based ecosystem, you should get a Wear OS-powered watch. There are also watches with operating systems such as the Linux-based TizenOS, GarminOS or LiteOS. However, they limit the use of third-party apps. Samsung, for example, said goodbye to using TizenOS again and relied on Google's WearOS for its last two watches.

As a rule, smartwatches provide the full range of functions beyond the operating system if you buy them to match your smartphone. The Apple Watch works best in combination with iPhones; the Pixel Watch with one of Google's Pixel smartphones; and the Galaxy Watch with Samsung phones. This is noticeable from the start-up to the day-to-day use of the watch, because ultimately the manufacturers want to bind their customers to the respective app and OS ecosystem.

In addition to the inner values ​​of the smartwatch, you should also deal with its exterior before buying your new watch. Should the clock be round or square? What size is ideal? Should it have physical controls like buttons and crowns, or work with touch and voice controls? Can the bracelets be exchanged? Each manufacturer follows its own approach, although in recent years it has become apparent how important a high degree of individuality is to customers, in other words: there is a wide range available for some devices, at least when it comes to exchanging the wristbands.

However, the basic properties of the watches, such as how water and dustproof they are, cannot be changed. Before buying the smartwatch, it is therefore worth taking a look at the IP or ATM certification to know how waterproof the respective watch is. For example, the Galaxy Watch 5 comes with an IP68 rating, which completely protects it from ingress of water and dust. Google's Pixel Watch, on the other hand, is specified as ATM 5. This value refers to the maximum pressure that the watch can withstand - in this case up to 50 meters under water.

The same applies to the display, which should be as resilient as possible in addition to criteria such as resolution and brightness. Customers pay attention to the same criteria as with smartphones: the higher the quality of the built-in sapphire glass (Galaxy Watch 5 Pro; Apple Watch Ultra) or Gorilla Glass (Pixel Watch), the less susceptible it is to scratches and signs of wear. Those willing to buy can find additional orientation at Stiftung Warentest, which lists and examines all of the around 100 smartwatches and fitness trackers available on the German market in a comparison table.