Buyer’s guide. Choosing a smartwatch for the 2020-2021 season


The market for smartwatches has matured, with more than a dozen different models to choose from in your neighborhood store, and online stores even more. It is difficult to navigate this variety, especially since the price range is gigantic. Externally, the same watches from different companies cost from 10 to 30 thousand rubles, it is not always clear what exactly caused the difference in cost. This material should be of help in how to choose a watch in the 2020-2021 season, what to look for. Since everyone has their own ideas about beauty, it is impossible to approach smartwatches with a common yardstick. What is good for some is not good for others. In this guide, there will be no unequivocal recommendations that brand A is bad and brand X is great. The conclusions, as always in the buyer’s guide, we will leave for you, but at the same time we will explain what is important to look at and what to evaluate in a smartwatch. Go!


  1. Budget or expensive watches – is there a difference in materials?
  2. Straps – standard and not so
  3. Operating system – with or without installing applications, uptime
  4. Sports capabilities of smartwatches – pros and cons
  5. Wireless versus wired charging – what’s the difference?
  6. AlwaysOn Display is a real watch, almost all models
  7. The presence of a microphone, speaker – work as a headset
  8. Some names to look out for
  9. Short afterword

Budget or expensive watches – is there a difference in materials?

A smartwatch is exactly the same accessory as an ordinary watch, so it would be fair to evaluate it in terms of the quality of workmanship and materials used. Miracles almost never happen in the world, and the price almost always reflects the materials used, the lower the cost, the more plastic, the cheaper the components. The higher the price, the better the materials.

Conventionally, you can build the following gradation in the quality of case materials: plastic, plastic and a little metal, aluminum, stainless steel, titanium. The difference can be well illustrated with the example of the Apple Watch, models with an aluminum case are considered basic, while cases made of stainless steel are above the class. The difference in cost with the same capabilities is almost twice!

Buyer's guide. Choosing a smartwatch for the 2020-2021 season

For example, in an aluminum case, a watch costs on average 400-450 dollars, in which both the colors of the case and the strap in the set may differ. But in a steel case, this price ranges from $ 700 to $ 850, excluding exclusive versions, for example, Hermes. Apple tries to make the most of the difference in materials, although outwardly it is almost impossible to notice the difference from a distance. Aluminum cases are less durable, but it is important to understand how long you will use the watch and why.

In the Samsung lineup, materials also differ, for example, in the Galaxy Watch3 line we see steel as well as titanium. Aluminum can also be used in previous season models.

Buyer's guide. Choosing a smartwatch for the 2020-2021 season

In practical terms, the use of metal gives undoubted advantages, we get a more reliable case. Steel is almost always better than aluminum, but if you’re careful it doesn’t really matter. I got the Galaxy S3 Frontier watch at the end of 2016, I used it every day for about two years, then from time to time I swam in it, went hiking in the mountains. In short, they have passed all possible tests.

Buyer's guide. Choosing a smartwatch for the 2020-2021 season

There have been no significant changes in the appearance of the watch, they look the same as on the first day. It is possible to break a watch, but it is quite difficult to do, unlike a smartphone. The watch is usually on the hands, even if accidentally dropped from the table, the glass will survive. Small scratches on the case are almost invisible (on an aluminum watch, chips, deep scratches are possible, the material is softer).

Flagship versions of watches, as a rule, differ not only in the material of the case, but also in the strap. Look at the Watch3 in such a case, the steel strap, the purchase of such a watch is beneficial in this very aspect.

Buyer's guide. Choosing a smartwatch for the 2020-2021 season

In my opinion, stainless steel in the watch case is a great option, the same titanium is interesting, but not at all necessary. Such a watch will last much longer than a battery in it (on average 4-5 years, depending on the activity of use). And this is an important consideration, when choosing a watch, you need to understand that they will not last forever, you may become boring. Focus on 4-5 years and then choose a new model. If desired, you can replace the battery and use them again.

I won’t talk about the size of the watch, it’s a matter of choice for men or women, how the watch looks on the hand. Here everyone will choose for themselves.

Straps – standard and not so

Please note that when choosing a watch, you should always understand how you will use it. If you plan to swim in a watch, then you should choose a silicone strap (you can buy it separately, you just need to remember this). The metal strap for every day is different, reliable. A leather strap may look great, but you won’t be able to swim in it.

Most manufacturers create universal straps: 18, 20, 22 mm, that is, you can buy a strap from any manufacturer. And this is very convenient as it allows you to save money. When buying Chinese straps for pennies, you should think about the fact that they can cause allergies, since the materials used are usually not very good.

Buyer's guide. Choosing a smartwatch for the 2020-2021 season

Operating system – with or without installing applications, uptime

Often people choose design, but do not think at all about what is inside the watch in terms of the operating system, platform. This is reckless, since the platform directly determines the operating time, the opportunities that you get.

Even without understanding the names of platforms, other people’s developments, you can determine what type of system a particular manufacturer uses. If the watch has an RTOS system (Amazfit, Huawei, Honor and others), then it has a working time from one charge from one to two weeks. But you do not have the opportunity to put your applications, they are limited to the set that is in the watch initially.

A large swath of Google WearOS smartwatches are being produced by Fossil and smaller players. Short operating time, rather scanty customization options. In today’s market, this is a clear outsider, while the watch is not too cheap. They occupy a position between RTOS devices and watches on their own platforms.

Samsung uses Tizen in smartwatches, it’s its own platform. The operating time is two or three days from a single charge (maybe more, but this is with certain settings), the ability to install additional applications, buy watch faces. Out of the box, the watch has maximum features for every taste. They work with smartphones from Samsung, as well as with any Android smartphone, as well as iPhone. However, like all of the above systems.

Finally, we are dealing with an Apple Watch on WatchOS, this watch can only work with an iPhone, you cannot use it with Android smartphones. Installation of programs is possible, the operating time is one day due to system limitations. At the same time, traditionally for Apple, such watches are more expensive than all analogues.

How important is app installation? Those who have never used a watch think this is the thing that comes in handy. My experience dictates that the most that you will do, and even then it is not a fact, is to put on your dials. Most don’t use the app install option, but it’s nice to have it.

Sports capabilities of smartwatches – pros and cons

Measuring heart rate, blood oxygen saturation, number of steps, even a running coach are all standard features for many smartwatches. And for those who are not engaged in sports, but rather fitness, such opportunities will come to the court. Smart watches can automatically detect dozens of different exercises and activities, you don’t even need to press anything extra. And at the same time, the data obtained is more or less accurate, but for those who play sports professionally or are an advanced amateur, such a watch will not be good. For example, joggers should look towards specialized devices such as those from Garmin, Suunto and others. These are running computers, you can connect a chest sensor to measure your heart rate (nothing is more precise yet), there is an advanced software for analyzing your workouts. These are more or less professional solutions, and there are similar watches for different sports, not just running. But unlike smartwatches, all additional features are poorly implemented here, which is great in smartwatches. And to wear such a watch outside of training is at least strange, since they are made in a certain sports style.

Buyer's guide. Choosing a smartwatch for the 2020-2021 season

But for those who do not strive for high-performance sports, smartwatches from electronics manufacturers are enough for the eyes. They have the ability to export data to sports programs, and see the results there.

For those who plan to play sports, I advise you to pay attention to the presence of a hardware GPS in the watch in order to measure your tracks on the ground. It may also be worthwhile to take care that the watch has its own memory where you can store your music, and you can connect a wireless headset directly to the watch. In our reviews, we always focus on these possibilities.

Wireless versus wired charging – what’s the difference?

In inexpensive models, contact charging is always used, it is cheap and simple. The disadvantage of this approach is that you always have to carry a charger with you, make sure that the watch does not run out of power. Wireless charging is successful in that you can charge your watch from your smartphone, you do not need an additional device, and charging can be safely forgotten at home. You can also buy an additional charger for multiple devices, including a watch. Convenient and pragmatic, so I always focus on this opportunity.

Buyer's guide. Choosing a smartwatch for the 2020-2021 season

AlwaysOn Display is a real watch, almost all models

For me, a watch is an accessory that should always show the time. And therefore the AoD function is mandatory for me, the watch always shows the dial (until recently, the same Apple Watch could not do this). This, of course, leads to more energy consumption, but it is more convenient. Check the availability of AoD with each manufacturer, see how it is implemented. This is an important thing that most people like in everyday life, without this opportunity as without hands.

Buyer's guide. Choosing a smartwatch for the 2020-2021 season

The presence of a microphone, speaker – work as a headset

No need to deceive yourself that you will be talking on your watch often. But sometimes it happens that the phone is somewhere else, and in this case it is convenient to answer the call from the watch. This happens to me several times a month, not more often. But it is convenient, and when choosing a watch, you should pay attention to the presence of a microphone, speaker, and the ability to answer calls.

Having your own eSIM card is not so important, since in Russia watches are still supplied without this feature from all manufacturers (formally, there is an option, but companies have not activated it).

Some names to look out for

The choice of a smartwatch is always a choice of design, how attractive it is to you, everything else is secondary. It also superimposes your perception of beauty, what brands you like, what you consider worthy, and what you are not interested in.

In the budget segment, you can find smartwatches from various companies, but Amazfit stands out, they have many different models, including copying the design of Apple Watch, Huawei / Honor, Samsung to the point of confusion. A big plus is that they work for a long time, the price / quality ratio is not bad. But no own programs and additional features that you may like later.

Buyer's guide. Choosing a smartwatch for the 2020-2021 season

Here are some texts to help you navigate these patterns.

The next brand that deserves attention is Huawei / Honor, with an emphasis on the Honor brand. Good body materials, capabilities, and adequate cost.

Buyer's guide. Choosing a smartwatch for the 2020-2021 season

I advise you to read the following texts:

The next step is smartwatches from Samsung, they are noticeably more expensive than models from Huawei / Honor / Amazfit, but the level of materials and capabilities is also different. The ideology of such watches is such that one year models with rounded dials, universal models, and the next year – with a masculine design. This year it is the “men’s” Galaxy Watch3, last year – Watch Active2.

Buyer's guide. Choosing a smartwatch for the 2020-2021 season
Buyer's guide. Choosing a smartwatch for the 2020-2021 season

Look at the texts on these models:

At the very top of the food chain is the Apple Watch, the most expensive, best-selling in the world. The company was not the first to enter the smartwatch market, but due to its image, it won a good position. Apple watches are very expensive, new features appear slowly in them (sleep accounting only appeared, when everyone had it all, exactly the same about AoD). Outwardly, such watches are easily recognizable, but they all look alike, look like a piece of electronics, not an ordinary watch.

Buyer's guide. Choosing a smartwatch for the 2020-2021 season

Short afterword

Smart watches from luxury brands remained behind the scenes, since this is a separate world and rather imperceptible sales against the general background. I did not describe any features of smart watches, since they are standard and coincide plus or minus for everyone. Somewhere better, somewhere worse, but there are no fundamental differences.

A sensible buyer will start in his choice from several important points, some of which are not obvious. The first thing you need to decide is how much you buy the watch, how long you want to use it. If this is the maximum period, then you should not skimp and look at well-known brands, older models. Perhaps you want to save money and at the same time design, appearance is not important, then you can take the same Amazfit, since there is a choice of different designs. My personal outsider is WearOS, although I know people who find this platform convenient, but there are not many.

The choice of brand, materials, design becomes a key factor. The reasoning that you need to buy a watch from the same company whose smartphone you use has no special grounds. Most of the features are available on all models, key features are everywhere. Another thing is that the integration of smartwatches within the same brand is better, you will get maximum opportunities. Choose your watch meticulously, read reviews, ask questions to those who already use such models. This will allow you not to miss the mark with your choice and remain satisfied. Happy choice!

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