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WHAT DOES A SMARTWATCH DO? A COMPLETE GUIDE

These days, a watch can do so much more than just tell you the time. Thanks to the smartwatch, timepieces can now be your trainer, your assistant, and your phone, all rolled into one. Confused by the tech talk? Don't worry, our complete guide will help you find your perfect smartwatch match.

28 July 2021 Editor - H. Samuel

Long gone are the days when the only function watches could perform was telling you the time. While these types of watches certainly still exist, there’s now a new breed of all-singing, all-dancing watch that makes the perfect accessory for gadget aficionados. We are, of course, talking about smartwatches.

While digital watches have been around for decades – some with abilities like calculators and unit converters – only in the 2010s did tech companies begin releasing watches with smartphone-like abilities. You may not know, but it is a small start-up that deserves credit for popularising the modern-day smartwatch. When Pebble announced its first smartwatch in 2013, it raised a record amount of funding on Kickstarter and went on to sell more than one million units.

At the same time, advances in silicon miniaturization opened the door to other kinds of dedicated-purpose smartwatches. Way back in 2003, for example, Garmin’s original Forerunner, paved the way for watches to measure speed, distance, pace and calories.

But it’s the ability to link your smartwatch to a smartphone that has been the game-changer. Whether it’s Fitbit or Garmin smartwatches you’re after, scroll down to find out exactly what a smartwatch is and what it can do.

What is a smartwatch?

A smartwatch is a portable device that's designed to be worn on a wrist. Like smartphones, they use touchscreens, offer apps, and often record your heart rate and other vital signs.

First, the mobile phone became, in effect, a computer in our pocket. Now the smartwatch looks – with further miniaturisation – to become a computer on our wrist, or at least an extension of one. For the time being, any advanced functionality is dependent on its connection to a nearby smartphone, allowing you to receive message notifications, take calls and even make contactless payments.

Smartwatches have been the biggest disruptor in the timepiece business ever since the first Apple watch was released in 2015. But, of course, watchmakers have been trying to pack more functionality into their products for decades, long before the advent of the smartphone.

Hamilton launched the first LED digital watch in 1972; Timex and Casio’s first calculator watches came out a few years later; in 1982 Seiko created a watch with an in-built TV, and two years later its first wrist-worn computer terminal; there was a pager watch in the ‘90s, and Microsoft actually launched a ‘smartwatch’ – that’s what it called them – back in 2003.

Today, smartwatches have finally reached the point that they're, well, smart. From running apps to displaying smartphone notifications, to monitoring your heart rate, the latest crop of smartwatches do a lot more than just tell time. Keep reading to find out just how they do all this and more.

How does a smartwatch work?

Essentially, to use a smartwatch, you need a smartphone. By opening the accompanying app on your smartphone and turning on Bluetooth, you can synchronize the watch with your phone. Now your devices are connected, you will receive notifications from your smartphone on the screen of your watch. Most smartphones are compatible with your smartwatch. However, it’s important to note that some watches are only compatible with certain devices, for example, an Android or iOS. Don’t worry, if you’re confused by the tech talk, read on to find out how to pair the two devices together.

How to connect a smartwatch to your phone

Smartwatches can perform like a smartphone. But to do this they need to be connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth pairing. Pairing is the process required to mutually register the information on Bluetooth devices to be connected wirelessly. It is necessary to pair Bluetooth devices to establish a Bluetooth connection. Keep reading to find out how to do this.

Basic Pairing via Bluetooth

To turn on Bluetooth on an Android phone, you can follow these simple steps:

  1. Go to the Settings app on your Android phone
  2. Navigate through and click on Bluetooth
  3. Slide the toggle next to Bluetooth to turn it on
  4. Check the box to turn the Discoverable mode on
  5. The pairing screen will then appear with a phone and a watch icon on it

Next, you will now have to connect your smartwatch to your phone by pairing them together. To pair the two devices, you need to follow the steps below:

  1. Turn on Bluetooth via the steps above
  2. Click on Search for Devices or Scan Devices
  3. Under the list of devices, select your Smartwatch
  4. Next, a new screen displaying a code will pop up. Ensure that the code on your phone and that on your smartwatch matches.
  5. Click on Pair on your phone to connect the two devices.

Your smartwatch and Android phone will now be connected successfully and ready to use.

What can a smartwatch do?

If you’ve just become the proud owner of a smartwatch – whether it’s a Fitbit or a Garmin – you’ll find that there are tonnes of cool things you can do with your device. For the specifics, just scroll down.

Fitbits

A great entry into the world of smartwatches, there are several series of the Fitbit which all offer a range of different features. For example, when it comes to working out, the Fitbit has you covered with multi-sport modes, heart rate monitoring, connected GPS, on-screen workouts, and more. With a basic face that shows your steps and the time, they have an accompanying smartphone app that provides you with additional detail to monitor your progress. Need music to motivate you? Yes, a Fitbit smartwatch can do that too.

Garmin

Like an on-the-go personal assistant, a Gamin smartwatch features a touch screen to swap dial designs, receives calls and message notifications, track distance, sleep, steps and calorie intake, provides live weather updates, has a selfie camera control and has a find your phone function. You can download Spotify or Deezer playlists straight to your watch for phone-free listening during your workouts, as well as having 20 preloaded sports apps and workouts ready to watch on your screen. With the Vivomove, it will automatically detect activity and movement and will start a timed walk or run for you, and, the Vevu has on-screen, animated cardio, strength, yoga and Pilates workouts readily available on your wrist. The perfect in-built personal trainer and personal assistant rolled into one.

Smartwatches at H. Samuel

So, if you’re looking to have the world at your fingertips (or rather on your wrist), a smartwatch is the new essential accessory. From Fossil’s hybrid models which masquerade as traditional analogue watches but have hidden smart features to the contemporary design of Fitbit, H. Samuel has a smartwatch for everyone.

And, with the popularity of smartwatches constantly increasing, we’ve put together a handy Smartwatch Buying Guide to help you in your smartwatch hunt. When you’re ready, you can browse the full smartwatch range online.