Remember back to when your watch just told you the time? Now fitness trackers, also known as wearables can be your phone away from your phone, a window into your health, and the running coach you’ve always got with you to help you make healthy changes. Wearables are designed to help you make good changes to how much screen time you have, and how much exercise you get, whether they’re minor adjustments or life-changing shifts.
A smartwatch is probably the most personal piece of technology you’ve got, because you always wear it, it’s part of every outfit, and it’s always touching you. The Good Guys Mobile Buyer John Wong concurs that it’s all down to what’s on your own wish list. “It depends on each individual person ultimately understanding what the top three things they are looking for,” he says. “For example, a cellular version lets you walk away from your phone and still have the mobile connection.”
There are so many great options that it can seem hard to choose, so hopefully this handy guide can help you narrow it down.
Types of Wearables
When it comes to smartwatches, there are three main kinds to look at. The one that’s right for you will depend on your needs, aesthetic and what kind of phone you have. The Apple Watch is widely considered to be the best smartwatch available. It comes in two versions: a fully featured Series 6, which has all the health and fitness bells and whistles, and an SE, which has fewer sensors and a lower price.
The Apple Watch integrates so seamlessly with the iPhone that almost every iPhone user will get something out of it, no matter how they spend their days. Busy professionals will appreciate being able to get just the important notifications to their wrist, so they don’t have to check their phone as often, as well as a watch face filled with information like different time zones and UV levels. New parents will appreciate using the Breathe app to calm tantrums, and having a watch that’s also a phone attached to you means it’s one less thing you have to remember when you leave the house (and you can check and reply to text messages while setting a good screen-time example) Older people and those with health concerns will enjoy the health and fitness features – like fall detection (if you have a heavy fall and don’t immediately get up, it’ll ask if you’d like it to call 000 and message your emergency contacts), blood oxygen readings, ECG and low cardio-fitness notifications. Fitness enthusiasts can take advantage of all the different workout types it can track, and the subscription to Apple Fitness+, which provides access to hundreds of workouts spanning the spectrum of strength to dance.
Android users shouldn’t feel left out of the fun, though, because the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is also an excellent jack of all trades. The rotating bezel on the watch is considered one of the best ways to control a smartwatch, because it allows the user so much control. It’s also got a two-day battery life, lots of fitness and health tracking features, and looks extremely stylish. If you prefer the sleek, traditional look of an analogue watch, but still want to receive notifications and track your health and fitness, the Withings ScanWatch is the perfect choice. You can see more information about it in the Medical Wearables section of this guide, but it’s the ideal watch both for people who want more detailed information about their health, and those who are on the fence about whether a smartwatch is right for them.
“It depends on each individual person ultimately understanding what the top three things they are looking for. For example, a cellular version lets you walk away from your phone and still have the mobile connection.” - John Wong, Mobile Buyer at The Good Guys.
If you’re not after the full smartwatch experience, but do want something that will keep you motivated to hit your fitness goals, there’s two main brands to consider.
Fitbit is the brand perhaps most associated with fitness trackers. They’ve been at the top of their game for a while, and have a wide range to suit everyone, from folks who just want to be motivated to get up and walk around the room every so often, to those training for a half marathon. The Fitbit Luxe is their latest offering with a five-day battery life, sleep tracking, lots of gorgeous customisation options with bands that you can change around, and smartphone notifications.
The other brand to look out for is Garmin. They’re the experts in GPS, so their fitness wearables are perfect for those who love hiking and tracking long runs. Their range starts with beginner step counters, and goes all the way up to smartwatches designed to help serious athletes.
Both the main watches from Apple and Samsung have plenty of on-board health sensors to give you data and insights into your health that you can take to your doctor. There are even testimonials from Apple users whose watches alerted them to heart attacks in time to save their lives. So, both of those are fantastic options.
But if you’re wanting to go more in-depth with your health, it’s hard to go past the detail offered by Withings’ whole range of health devices. In itself, the ScanWatch is an impressive piece of health tech. It’s an analogue watch with a small screen that gives basic information, and syncs to an app on your phone to give you a lot more detailed data into your sleep, heart health and blood oxygen. Because it doesn’t rely on having a big, bright screen, the battery lasts a whopping 30 days.
Withings doesn’t just stop at the watch, though, they also have a full range of intelligent medical devices that can give you useful data and insights. They have a smart thermometer that just needs to scan a forehead to tell you if you’ve got a high temperature, and a blood pressure cuff that allows you to monitor and keep a record of your blood pressure at home. They also have scales that not only tell you your fat and muscle content, but do a quick check of your vascular health to make sure you’re in tip-top shape. Those extra devices don’t rely on the watch to work, however, just the app, so you can use them with a different smartwatch, or no smartwatch at all if you’re wanting to just dip your toe into the smart health world. All of it can be done at your own pace.
There are many different types of wearable technology, from heart rate monitors that go around your chest, to rings that monitor how you sleep. This guide is mostly going to focus on the devices you wear around your wrist, like smartwatches, smart bands and fitness trackers. Because these devices are so personal, everyone is going to have their own key features they want to use. Someone who travels a lot for work is going to be after different features to a new, stay-at-home parent, for example.
How Does Wearable Technology Work?
This is a hard question to answer, because there’s so much variety. But, generally speaking, a wearable will connect to your phone via Bluetooth to give you notifications and track your fitness. Some also have a built-in SIM card so they can share your mobile phone plan, allowing you to make and receive calls and texts, and use data, while away from your phone (say, if you’re out running). They can also do things like read your heart rate, ECG, blood oxygen and other health information by bouncing particular light frequencies off your veins, which is both extremely safe and cool.
More Tips For Choosing A Wearable
The Hottest Wearable Tech In 2021
This year, the big thing to look out for is ECG. The Therapeutic Goods Administration has only recently allowed smartwatches to use their ECG sensors to give you readings and warnings for things like irregular rhythms and atrial fibrillation, or Afib, which is particularly a concern for people over 60. Several of the watches and wearables below feature ECG sensors, so if that’s something that’s important to you, be sure to check them out.
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