Smartwatches we feel are a love or hate piece of technology. Some people can not see any value in them and think they are a waste of money, while others like the ability to be able to not look at their phone as much and still be connected. In my case that was only a small reason why I got mine.
To give a little perspective and background, I was one of those people who could not see the value of a smartwatch. As a pretty big tech fan, I could not justify spending the money on one and did not see how I could use it. Then I read “The Productivity Project” by Chris Bailey and he talked about how your time is so important and that getting a watch might be a good short/long term investment. I like to say I got a smartwatch for dumb purposes. I love all of the smart things it does, but I really like it for the actual watch part and ability to set timers and stopwatches.
In over 2 and a half years I have tried the Pebble, Asus Zenwatch 2, LG Time Round, and my current smartwatch the Galaxy Gear S3 Frontier (side note- none of them are “perfect” and all of them have at least a few big flaws). I have pretty much worn my watch every day since then. I knew I needed a new watch band and had some ordered, but mine broke unexpectedly and I had to wait for my new bands to come. Below are some reasons why I like and use my smartwatch…
- Not Having to Check Your Phone as Much- This is 100% a true benefit of a smartwatch and honestly an under-rated reason to own one. It is not like I have a million notifications coming to my watch because that would be counter-productive, but it is enough that I can put my phone in one place and just leave it there. It does not need to be attached to me. The using your phone to check the time excuse is a trap that can you lead you down a rabbit hole of not just checking the time.
- Having a Watch Gives You a “Cents of Time”- Sorry it was too easy. I know you might say “Well, duh having a watch on would help you keep track of time.” This same idea applies for regular watches too, but just having a watch on keeps you so much more aware of the time and how long things actually take which is a good segway into the next reason.
- Stopwatches and Timers- Yes, technically you can do this on most digital watches, but not all of them, and smartwatches make it easier in my opinion and give you more options. I still have not found the perfect stopwatch/timer app although USW (Ultimate StopWatch) for the Gear S3 is the closest I have seen. You can read more about it here. Wearing a smartwatch and setting stopwatches and timers has made me so much more aware of how long things actually take, and how quickly a distraction can take away your time and attention.
- Silent Alarm- I wake up earlier than my wife and two boys. By the morning though, everyone is in the same room sleeping. Setting an alarm on my watch with just the vibration wakes me up without waking up anyone else. While a phones alarm could technically just be a vibration, it would be a very loud vibration or you would need to play sound to hear it. For me the silent vibration alarm on my smartwatch is a great feature.
- The “Smart” Features- Being able to track steps, check the weather, control media from my phone, get notifications and receive calls if my phone is not by me are all ways that I absolutely love my smartwatch. I am not looking to watch YouTube videos or play games on my watch, but it really does help me be more productive and not look at my phone which has a lot more distractions.
- Using Samsung Pay- So this could go in the smart features section, but I feel like this deserves it’s own bullet point. I use this so much (we still use cash, but only use one debit card and my work expense card) that not having it was so weird to actually pull out my cards to pay. Samsung Pay works basically anywhere so I had become very used to using it and missed it while not having my watch.
So those were the pros for a smartwatch and things that I missed during my 5 days without it. Here are some things I was surprised about.
- Not Knowing What the Time is- It is pretty busy around our household and me personally am always running from one thing to another. Without my watch I had no sense of time. I said this to my wife multiple times having to ask her what the time was because I did not know where my phone was (which is the next point) or was not by a clock. I felt lost and completely unaware of how much time I had in order to be ready to leave or not be late.
- Checking My Phone More Often- Since I did not have my watch to rely on time, incoming calls, and important messages, I needed to carry my phone with me more. I would find myself leaving it in random spots and then not being able to locate it. Or sometimes taking out my phone to check the time, forgetting to check the time because I got distracted, putting my phone away, and then realizing I didn’t even check the time! Like I mentioned earlier, checking the time on your phone is a gateway to doing more on your phone, where as with a watch you may check a notification or two, but most likely you will check the time and be done.
- I Didn’t Miss Not Having My Steps Tracked- For awhile I was pretty keen on my steps and making sure it was 100% accurate. I have since softened on that, but I still like to hit my goal and keep my watch on as much as I can unless it needs to charge. That being said, it was actually refreshing to not have to worry about my steps. I did not even realize that it was taking up some mental energy and stress.
- Accepting Calls- Minor thing, but sometimes it is the little things that add up in time over time. When a call is incoming, I normally take it on speaker phone. The Gear S3 can take calls on the watch so on the phone that is always an option to pick. Without the watch connected, in one tap and less than a second I can switch it right to speaker phone. When the watch is connected, I have to tap and then go up to select speaker phone. It is not as easy, requires an extra step, and takes longer. How often do I take calls on my Gear S3? Hardly ever, but I put up with this inconvenience every day for every call because maybe once or twice a month I use the watch to take a call. It is amazing the perspective you can get when you take a step back and really see what habits and routines you get into.
- Having To Charge Another Device- I never thought of this as a big deal until I didn’t have to think about it. That is the biggest complaint with most of the smartwatches today. The battery life lasts only a day, maybe two. For me I have to charge it every night because it has a little less than half a charge and most likely will not make it through the next day without me having to charge it. That little extra stress and mental attention/energy may not seem like much, but can add up.
So am I going to keep wearing my Smartwatch? Yes! I learned even if it was not a smartwatch I would still need to wear a watch. I still use timers and stopwatches everyday and think they are easier on a smartwatch. Being able to control media and see important messages from family on my watch is great as well. I knew my Gear S3 was not perfect, but it is very close to meeting all of my needs. If the battery was longer (2-4 days), I could keep the screen on all the time (soooo annoying to not have it on all the time), and the weather app actually worked all the time instead of when it wants, this is probably as close to a perfect watch for me. Doing this test allowed me to step back and see if I could improve any of these weaknesses or at least now know what I want in my next watch. What are your thoughts on smartwatches? Do you love them and use one or do you think they are just another gadget and do not add any other real value a regular watch couldn’t do? We would love to hear your thoughts!