back to article Smartwatch owners love their calorie-counting gadgets, but they are verrry expensive

Smartwatch sales have been steadily increasing in recent years, thanks to Apple's efforts, as well as downward pricing pressure from Chinese firms like Xiaomi. And, according to entrail prodders at analyst haus CCS Insight, those who buy them are fairly content. A survey of 4,473 individuals in the US and UK found that 70 per …

  1. werdsmith Silver badge

    The Xiaomi watch is well priced at £200 ish delivered to Europe considering it has an e-SIM, I'm unsure about support for the e-SIM in Europe.

    Aganst Apple Watch entry level Series 3, not cellular - starts at £189 or used ones around £120. Latest series 5 is about £400.

    I've used smart watches since Pebble and find them incredibly useful. Currently a £28 Mi watch imported from China. I'm considering a low cost way into Apple watch ownership but it's hard to throw away a 1 month battery life for a 1 day battery life. Especially for trinkets that have a life of about 6 years from new to landfill.

    1. iron Silver badge

      I just don't see the point. What do you actually use it for?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >I just don't see the point. What do you actually use it for?

        Indeed and having not brilliant eyes these days I'd need one the size of Big Ben, the screens on those things are tiny. I'd probably find an ash tray on my motorbike more useful.

        1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

          RE: AC

          "Indeed and having not brilliant eyes these days I'd need one the size of Big Ben, the screens on those things are tiny"

          Couldn't you just bring it closer to your face? The movement you make with your arm just to see the thing will already bring it within 45cm of your eyes anyway (less if you have short arms).

          1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

            Re: RE: AC

            Couldn't you just bring it closer to your face?

            Not much use if you can't focus on something that close.

      2. dotdavid

        > I just don't see the point. What do you actually use it for?

        I use my MiBand 2 (which I got for a tenner) as a cheap digital watch that has the added benefit of buzzing when my phone rings or gets a message, which means the phone can stay tucked away somewhere. Being a LCD it lights up in the dark which is useful in the dark. It displays the full date. As it syncs with my phone it doesn't need the time setting/updating and remains accurate. The battery lasts for most of a month between charges and I'm generally happy with it. Personally I don't use the fitness features at all, the only thing I'd use that's missing is media controls (stop, play, next track) which is available on newer versions of the device.

        Actually there are a lot of benefits of the cheap fitness bands that don't have anything to do with fitness. So much so that actually the extra things a "proper" smartwatch can do above and beyond what my £10 band can do are probably not worth me upgrading for.

      3. JimboSmith Silver badge

        I use mine [a pebble] to subtly read messages when in meetings or with clients etc. I can also send canned responses like "I'm in a meeting", "Okay, thanks", "That would be an ecumenical matter" etc.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      I realise that some people don't get it and don't see the use. There are many things that I don't see a use for but other people do. But it's not all about me, I understand that my requirements are not universal and other people are different.

      It's another view on the phone. But I don't have my phone conspicuously about me all the time. Nor do I use any ring tones. You wouldn't know I carry a smartphone.

    3. jgarbo

      Xiaomi's one of the expensive "Smarties" here (Bangkok), but there are loads of good Chinese models for ~$30. Even Xiaomi's quite cheap.

  2. GlenP Silver badge

    I'll admit to having a "smart" watch. After a lot of searching I settled on a Garmin that's a traditional "analogue" watch (not a picture of one) with a small notifications screen.

    Why? It's useful to be able to preview the emails and messages coming in without having to get my phone out. I use the fitness tracking to a limited extent in that I have a personal weekly target and when the watch detects and logs moderate exercise I can include that.

    Battery life is around 7 days with full facilities then it drops down to being just a dumb watch if you don't recharge it so much better than more sophisticated devices.

    1. jmch Silver badge

      " with a small notifications screen"

      surely if it's only a small window on a traditional-size watch, the available display space is tiny, no more than a couple dozen characters?

      Generally speaking I wonder if traditional watch styling and wearing practice is holding this segment back. If instead of having a watch that is worn, in the traditional way, under a shirt cuff, why not have a bracelet-like device that can be strapped on OVER a sleeve? That way you could get a much wider screen, and could also make it slightly curved to follow the arm contours. Even something as small a 2 inches across and 1 to 1.5 inches high would give a much better interface, and could be big enough to have a battery that lasts a coupe of weeks (maybe make the strap a bit chunkier and have a bendy battery going all the way around it)

      1. Evil_Goblin

        I'm waiting for a smart pocket watch or a smart fob watch...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I use mine (a Garmin) for the fitness part although it's occasionally useful to see previews of messages. It makes it a little easier to track my different exercises and ensure I'm doing what I think I'm doing. I check my heart rate too to ensure I don't push too hard... I am getting older after all.....

          It's good at tracking running and football, a little less good at indoor rowing and I have a feeling it's not very good at tracking weights. However, I chose it based on which activities I wanted to track the most... and the price!

          Finally, I was surprised to find I use it to measure my sleep. Personally I find that my subjective view of how much sleep I get often differers from the reality, which has made me go to bed earlier... probably a good thing :-)

          Battery life is around 10 days which is OK.

          I think mine cost around €100 and while it isn't life changing it's useful and I would buy another one when this one breaks or I'd buy a different one if I change emphasis to a sport which it doesn't track so well, like swimming.

          It's difficult to say if this has made me smug... my best guess is that I'm no more smug than usual!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've used a Fitbit Charge 2 for about 3 years now, essentially these early devices are a collection of sensors that collect motion and other biomedical data, transfer it to an app on the phone and then to the cloud where it's analysed and the results displayed. They are a neat use of technology but the corporate "use" of the data is relatively limited, all they can do is email me if my weight goes up or down and my activity levels fluctuate (I have their scale too).

    Unfortunately, these days it's all about collecting users personal data and the latest round of "smart" devices appear to be collecting a lot more sellable data, Fitbit just "upgraded" their phone app, removing much of the old data interpretation displays and are now trying to sell everyone on "social interactions" and joining other users in ways that look like they expose everyone's data a little more.

    1. Korev Silver badge

      I mostly like my Garmin Forerunner, but the lack of an API to get my data out (or enter other things) is very annoying. I think they're trying to sell their APIs to health firms (probably including the one I work for) rather than make them more useful to sporty geeks like myself.

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Love my 235. 10 hour battery life and can be charged from a power bank whilst on the hoof as well.

    2. hakuli

      "Fitbit just "upgraded" their phone app, removing much of the old data interpretation displays and are now trying to sell everyone on "social interactions" and joining other users in ways that look like they expose everyone's data a little more."

      ... Fitbit were bought by Google, what did you expect?

  4. Artifixprime

    xiaomi mi band

    Why pay hundreds!?! The Mi Band is around 30 quid and does nearly everything the more expensive ones do

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: xiaomi mi band

      I had Mi band 2 (cost £16 from China) before Amazfit Bip (£28) . The Bip does a lot more than the band but there's no way they functionally are anywhere near the expensive ones.

      Battery life is much better though.

  5. hakuli

    Smartwatch?! Pah

    I don't know whether a Garmin Forerunner really counts as a "proper" smartwatch, since I can't pay for things with it and its interactions with my phone are limited to reading notifications and getting the weather info...

    It only gets worn on days when I know I'll need it - i.e. if I'm going for a run - and even then, I only wear it for the absolute minimum amount of time. Otherwise, I am firmly attached to one of my proper watches which don't need charging on an infuriating frequent basis.

  6. Adelio


    The thing is i bought my current (non e-watch) 10 years ago and expect it to last for at least another 10 or 20 years. It is solar powered so does not need batteries.

    Now given that most smart watches appear to last a few years either because they fail or the supplier goes broke so the smart watches loose functionality, why oh why would I wast money on one.

    My Samsung S9 is neally 2 years old and was VERY expensive but i have no intention of replacing it any time soon. Phones have become too expensive and what exactly am I paying for in the next new phone. I Know, lets have 5 cameras, no 6, no, how about 10 and the screens are now really getting too large.

    And now everyone seems to think NOT having a headphone jack is a good thing. Well Do I really want to spend £200 on some crappy bluetooth headphones that keep needing charging and will fail after a few years. my £20 wired inear headphones are 5 years old and will probably last another 5 years before I have to change them.

    Have you ever tried to watch a fimlm on the tv with bluetooth headphones. Talk about lipsync issues!

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: e-watches

      Your 10 year old watch is great, and I would expect a decent swiss watch to last for life.

      However, I really don't need a watch to tell me the time, the time is everywhere I look.

  7. Patrick Moody

    I have a smart-watch but not for the fitness features at all.

    My TicWatch Pro runs on Wear OS (formerly Android wear) which means it can support the Xdrip+ watch-face that displays my glucose readings from my Freestyle Libre sensor, which are collected via an NFC-to-bluetooth transmitter stuck over the top. In theory, it can do this without needing my phone to be nearby, though in practise it's actually pretty flaky for this. Nonetheless, being able to see my latest glucose readings at the flick of my wrist rather than having to use my phone is really helpful. Especially while I'm driving since any interaction with the phone while behind the wheel is dubious if not outright illegal in most circumstances.

    If it weren't for this, I wouldn't be bothering with a smart-watch as I rarely ever use any of the other features. As someone who takes his watch off overnight anyway, popping it onto its charger alongside my phone is no big deal, so the just over a day battery life isn't much of a concern.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Privacy ?

    I love a gadget, but I'd only buy one of these if they'd let me keep the data on my machine ... and nobody seems to do that any more

  9. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Questionable claim

    Smartwatch sales have been steadily increasing in recent years, thanks to Apple's efforts

    I thought that, while Apple's sales have continued to increase, the market itself has essetially plateaued with most sales going to existing users buying a new device. Fitness trackers continue to get some traction because they're cheap and cheerful, but the full-blown "smart watches" less so.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Questionable claim

      Take a look at the chinese e-ratailers that cover the world. There are hundreds of smartwatch options all at a very low price. The trailblazer Pebble was £120 or more. These chinese ones make Pebble look like ivery old fashioned and are a fraction of the price. I suspect these smartwatch sales are not being counted.

  10. Tigra 07 Silver badge

    My first smartwatch was a £250 Pebble Time Steel. It was very gimmicky, but had decent battery life.

    My current smartwatch is a £60 Amazfit Bip. It does everything the Pebble does, except allow me to reply to messages (i'm fine with that), plus it has health tracking, a step counter, heart rate monitor, and the battery life is nearly a month.

    I can't see myself spending more than £100 for a smartwatch again now. I just want something with an alarm, which i can tell the time with, and read my messages on.

  11. Martin Summers Silver badge

    I loved my Pebble watch, I unfortunately got through 3 of the things due to screen issues although happily these were all warranty replacements. I've now got a Samsung Gear 3, I still find it useful but it's way more sophisticated than I wanted compared to the Pebble. I can only get the same battery life by turning it off over night. Saying that I actually do sometimes use the phone (through my mobile) feature which comes in handy when your hands aren't completely free.

    What annoys me is that the manufacturers are utterly obsessed with the health side of it and you'd think that was the only reason anyone ever bought one. I get that for marketing but it's shoved in your face constantly even if you're only in the geek part of the market like me.

  12. mrdalliard

    1 Day Battery Life?

    I know people regularly cite the one-day battery life of an Apple watch, but from personal experience (I've had a series 2 and now wear a reconditioned series 3) that's the worst-case scenario.

    Using mine as a timepiece (the horror!), payment device, activity tracker and running watch with Strava, I'm still getting three days out of the battery. Sure it's not a month, but that'll do me fine. I'm not constantly looking to charge it overnight.

    Icon: In honour of those that worse polo-necks.

    1. Monty Cantsin

      Re: 1 Day Battery Life?

      Agreed, it seems to be a common misconception. My Series 0 Apple Watch (2015) only lasted a day, but the ones that came after can certainly last longer (have a Series 4 at the moment).

      That said, I don't sleep with it on. It comes off as I get into bed and goes on it's charging stand, where it acts as a bedside clock (in nightstand mode). I've no interest in sleep tracking (not that the AW really does it anyway), so charging the watch at night just isn't an issue.

  13. Been there, done that, it never ends

    No batteries needed

    Over the past few years I've migrated to mechanical watches only. Preferably automatics. I got tired of quartz watches that required battery changes too often and the Pebble watch I tried just didn't do anything for me. So I am currently wearing my favorite watch, a 20 year old Breitling that will probably outlast me. It shows me the day of the week, date, time and is also a chronograph. That's what I want in a watch.

    1. Brangdon Bronze badge

      Re: No batteries needed

      I have some automatic watches. One drawback is that you are supposed to get them serviced every 5 years or so, and doing that generally costs more than buying a new watch would.

      I am currently using an oldish Casio Pathfinder that is solar powered, so should last decades before the battery wears out. It is also updated by a radio time signal, so always has the correct time. Those two features make it superb as a basic watch in my view. It shows date, phase of moon, air pressure graph, and has the usual lot of features (compass etc) most of which I have used. I switched back to it from a Garmin because it has a stop-watch that shows 100/th seconds, which I sometimes use as a random number generator. Smart watches tend not to update their display so often. It looks ugly and nerdy and has too much text written on it, but I do like its features.

  14. jelabarre59 Silver badge

    Smartwatch owners love their calorie-counting gadgets, but they are verrry expensive

    Well, what better way to reduce your caloric input than to spend *SO* much money on worthless tat that you don't have money to spend on food.

    Those who said they don't own a smartwatch said the biggest barrier was price.

    No, the biggest barrier for me is why the fuck would I want one.

    1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

      "Smartwatch owners love their calorie-counting gadgets, but they are verrry expensive"

      I did sort of miss any mention of that in the actual article. Not sure why you'd use a watch, since taking a photo of everything you eat works quite well.

      It's the same way a food diary helps by the fact you actually pay attention to what you shove down your gob :D

      These days I'm moving enough that I can use the traditional one of how hungry I am. Plus all climbers eat like hobbits :D

  15. Stephen Wilkinson

    I love the idea of a smart watch but realised it wasn't for me when I bought a Mi from China for a tenner from Amazon. When using it, I ended up turning off all the annoying notifications of emails, messages etc. so it was basically just an inaccurate fitness tracker.

    Saved me a few hundred quid on a smart watch realising I wouldn't actually use it.

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