6.6 tech score Overall Smartwatches are a great addition to the wearable tech world, however the pricing of them isn't helping them break into the mass market which is a shame. I have given 5 for specification in that this isn't a review for a specific watch so specific specifications are non-applicable. And I have given aesthetic a 10 because all though I am not reviewing a specific watch's aesthetic I am rating the tech on a whole in that most watches are extremely customisable, as well as the fact a wrist worn computer looks very futuristic in use.
Since the Pebble was successfully crowdfunded in 2012, every big name has tried taking a slice of the pie so to speak, with Samsung releasing their gear watch in 2013 and Apple being somewhat slow to the party releasing the Apple watch in 2015 (with LG, Motorola et cetera getting on the wagon in the meantime). Since then the term ‘smart watch’ is somewhat of a household name, even if it is thought of mainly as a bit of a gimmicky tech. More recently ( Dec 2016/Jan 2017) Samsung have announced that their gear watches would now be supporting iPhones, and the company has been praised for this as if they are taking actions against anti-consumer ecosystems however I really don’t think this is the case and think it points more so towards just how poorly the market is doing at the moment.
The concept in essence is perfect for anyone who wants a watch. Easy to replace bands, literally thousands of custom faces that you can change at any time whenever you feel bored with the previous one, it can tell you the weather, the date, can remind you of any events or reminders you set, and can for the most part control your phone without having to pull it out of your pocket every few minutes. So you might wonder, why does anyone buy a standard watch anymore? The answer is actually a lot simpler than you may think. The watch industry is an established market, already having option for each segment of the market, with names carrying a lot of weight in the luxury bracket. Realistically, due to this, the ultimate downfall of the smartwatch initiative was the pricing.
A good example of this is the Apple Watch 2. The Apple Watch 2 is currently priced at £370 after being released September of last year. At this price bracket for most goods you would expect this to be cutting into the high-end or luxury sales, however within a market where you can pay upwards of £20000 for a Rolex Yachtmaster II this is a relatively low-end product. However, you can also go pick up a any old watch for £30, so the Apple watch can’t necessarily fit into the budget category either. So where exactly does it fit?
Smart Watches (although functional and actually a good product) for the most part fall into the ‘show-off’ products for those people who a Yachtmaster is out of reach for. With the Apple watch mainly, it seems people will buy one simply to mention owning one which, if it was a Rolex, may be slightly less obnoxious, but for a sub £500 item is rather unnecessary. Of course there are people who genuinely do get use out of smartwatches and I am in no way discrediting the usefulness of owning a smartwatch I just feel it’s a piece of tech which isn’t receiving any love, and simply can’t/won’t break into the Mass market (i.e. one per household at least) with a £370 price tag, which is only likely to rise in the next iteration.
What we are yet to see and something I am genuinely excited for is the integration between our smart devices and metropolitan IoT. If you could raise and lower bollards from your wrist, or be able to view what spaces in the car park will be free before you pull in via alerts on your phone or watch. Of course for the most part we are going to need for 5G (and thus 5G compatible devices) for a true City scale IoT set-up.
Overall I think Smartwatches are a good technology, and can be very helpful when you travel across busy streets and need to take calls without having to pull your phone out your pocket just to have it knocked out your hand by a passer-by. However, the tech has been let down by the people pushing it charging what are realistically quite extortionate prices for tech not much more advanced than a Razer Phone. If I were to have to recommend a smartwatch it would likely be a Samsung gear simply for the fact that you can use it with both android and IOS devices meaning no matter what phone you get in the future you won’t have to buy a new watch.