Why I won't be buying a Smartwatch anytime soon

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 31, 2013
Updated • Aug 31, 2013

Now that tablets have been established to the mainstream, companies like Apple, Samsung or Google are already working on the next big thing: smartwatches. When I hear smartwatch I immediately think about the TV show Knight Rider and how Michael Knight communicated with his Car using a watch in the 80s.

Smartwatches are like smartphones, only smaller in size and wearable on the wrist just like any other watch. The prototypes that leaked all around on the Internet suggest that they are considerable larger than regular watches, likely because of the screen size that has to be adequate for users to read what is displayed on it.

A question that needs to come to mind is why you would want a smartwatch if you have already a smartphone with you at all times - or nearly, at the very least.

I can think of a couple of activities where this may make sense. If you like to jog and listen to music at the same time, you may prefer to use the lighter watch that you can wear more comfortably than the bulkier smartphone. The same goes for activities where you can't use a smartphone at all, say swimming. If smartphones are waterproof, you could use them for these activities as well, for instance to record the distance.

photo watchfaces 3
Pebble smartwatch

Last but not least, you may also be able to use smartphone and smartwatch in conjunction with each other. If you get a call, you may look at the watch to see who is calling for example without having to go through your bag or pockets to take out your phone.

Why I'm not interested in smartwatches

knight rider watch Smartwatches may make life easier for some uses. Controlling your music via your watch may save you a couple of seconds each time you do so, and seeing the caller ID or SMS right on the watch without having to get out your phone first may save you even more time.

I do not consider this essential or need to have though. Yes, it is nice if you can control music playback easier, or see how fast and far you have gone on your cycling trip in real-time, but those information are also readily available on your smartphone. You may not have access to it at all times though, but is there really a need for that?

The only thing that I really like about those watches is that they are waterproof to a degree. You can use the Pebble to swim for instance which can be useful to keep track of your progress in this regard.

There is something else that you need to consider. While watches run on battery traditionally, smartwatches require more power. The developers of the Pebble claim it will run for seven or more days, while Samsung's soon to be revealed Galaxy Gear smartwatch may only last for ten hours. This may not even get you through a whole work day or a day of trekking or other outdoor activities.

To sum it up:

  1. Smartwatches are bulky. Depending on how big your arms are, they may look out of place on the arm.
  2. Battery issues are a serious concern. One needs to wait for real-life independent tests though to find out how long these watches will last.
  3. Functionality-wise, there is not a lot that these watches bring to the table that smartphones do not. This includes being water-proof which can be interesting, and a faster way of accessing information and basic control over music that is more comfortable.

Closing Words

holographic I do not need a smartwatch, not right now anyway. Once they get to holographic displays, I may be interested but that is probably not going to happen in the next couple of years.

Smartwatches, just like phones and tablets, will evolve in the coming years. The first waves may be bulky, do not provide a lot of functionality, or run out of battery quickly, but technology will improve over time and third or fourth generation smartwatches may have a larger appeal than first generation watches have right now to me.

I may be biased towards watches in general, as I have not used one for the last ten years or so except on special occasions.

I'd like to know what you think about smartwatches. Are you interested in getting one as soon as they become available? If you do, please explain what you plan to use the watch for. Maybe I have overlooked something that may make those watches interesting to me after all.


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  1. John Parker said on June 15, 2018 at 12:51 am

    The smartwatch can act as a smartphone. Many brands have introduced various kind of features. We can use the smartwatch at the time of swimming, google navigation is also supported to the smartphone etc.

  2. August said on November 1, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    Nope, won’t be getting one at least not any time soon and my reasons are mostly same as yours.

  3. Rokazulu said on September 4, 2013 at 5:11 am

    Found a smartwatch at kickstarter that includes phone-functionality.
    This could make sense for some people if they deliver what they promise.

  4. Dario said on September 2, 2013 at 11:18 am

    Not interested in a smartwatch or even Google Glass for two main reasons:

    1. Unless they can install a microscopic nuclear reactor in it, the tiny battery will be drained by the CPU and the screen and I don’t feel like charging my phone AND watch every evening using a cable or a docking station.

    2. The screen is way to small to do anything useful other than see the time.

    Thus the only way to have smartwatches be a success is to solve the battery issue or have them recharge while you wear them (using your body heat and movement perhaps?). And if they can resolve the small screen issue. A bigger screen would not be practical but perhaps a screen that expands when needed. Now I don’t see portable holograms as a possibility any time soon, but flexible displays already exist. A screen that unfolds or rolls out would be a solution.

  5. Sonny Starks said on September 2, 2013 at 9:26 am

    I work in a labor intensive occupation so a “real” smartphone is of little use to me, especially if I have to pay the monthly bill. I tried one from WalMart for a day or two and realized that there was absolutely nothing I needed to do that would justify paying $45 per month plus tax. Ditto on tablets. However, a smartwatch, which gave me some of the features listed above plus a few others (weather forecast, GPS, Caller ID for my ancient Mobile One phone) might be just what I’m looking for. The baby-boomer market would probably be its biggest fans (“Time to take your medication…” Don’t laugh. God-willing, someday you will all get there..)

    My question would be more about batteries. Would it not be prudent to build a solar-powered unit?

    1. Rokazulu said on September 2, 2013 at 5:42 pm

      What do you mean by “labor intensive”? Rough work outdoors?
      You get “Outdoor Mobiles” which will probably be more durable than a smartwatch.
      The “monthly bill” will be no more different regarding the use of a smartphone or a smartwatch.

      Solar units are far from being efficient (when it comes to smarphones) from what I have read so far.

  6. iron2000 said on September 1, 2013 at 6:24 am

    Perhaps all things are slowly entering the ‘smart realm’.
    A smart mug, smart kitchen, smart house, smart cars then smart city.

    A smartwatch…
    Was tempted by Pebble but Google bought Wimm recently and the Wimm watch seem to be more advanced then Pebble. Plus theres Samsung and Sony getting in too.
    I see how it goes in the next few years.

    1. Rokazulu said on September 2, 2013 at 8:25 am

      For some people this might cause problems – being outwitted by your fridge ;-)

  7. Jason said on September 1, 2013 at 2:27 am

    “Why I’m Going to Write a Review of a Product I’ve Never Even Tried”

    Honestly, what sort of journalist are you supposed to be? You’re quite welcome to your own opinion, but you will never get a very informed opinion from afar. That’s why real journalists go into war zones and impoverished nations, and it’s why they’ll give even the most ridiculous products a try before they dare to put pen to paper on the subject.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on September 1, 2013 at 9:16 am

      Right, because you can only have an opinion on something if you have tried it..

  8. Peter said on September 1, 2013 at 12:37 am

    The Omate Android 4.2.2 Wearable tablet in a watch, meets all the criteria for being connected to essential data such as e-mail notifications, take photos and track your leisure and business activities, without having to be synced to another larger 2G/3G device. It is rated to IP67 (you can swim with it on) and is currently passing through Kickstarter at the moment for around £140.00

  9. Gonzo said on August 31, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    Smartphones made sense – a laptop in your pocket.

    Smartwatch – A smartphone on your wrist? Are we that lazy?? Are we that in need of instant info? No, we’re not. It’s a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

    1. Rokazulu said on September 2, 2013 at 8:22 am

      Absolutely agree.

      Haven´t been wearing a watch since I got my smartphone.

  10. Chad Martin said on August 31, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    I think NFC could be an interesting feature for a smart watch if done right. I’d love to use it like a smart card to log into my PC and a an extension of my phone for pairing. It would be great to only pull out my phone when i need to use its screen, but leave it in my pocket the rest of the time.

    1. ilev said on August 31, 2013 at 6:06 pm

      PCs doesn’t have NFC, but they do have bluetooth which is the protocol for pairing Pebble to your smartphone (and maybe your car’s audio/video/hands-free system).

      1. Chad Martin said on August 31, 2013 at 6:57 pm

        Most don’t today, but some consumer PCs are starting to get NFC and many business PCs already have it. Bluetooth will definitely be needed by smart watches, but it doesn’t make a good tool for logging in because you can be pretty far away and it will still make a connection.

  11. ilev said on August 31, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    I have a Pebble and wouldn’t be without it, and yes, it’s waterproof.
    Every Time you want to know the time, glance at an sms or new mail, look for the next bus or subway train, look at weather forecast, switch a music track, read tweeter, facebook post,take a picture with the smartphone, keep your fitness, run IFTTT tasks, calendar appointments alerts, find your smartphone, track stocks and Bitcoin prices, remotely control devices in the house, light…heart rate monitor,..
    you pull out your smartphone from the pocket ?
    All that and more (games, creating your own smartwatch faces…..) can be done now on a Pebble.

    1. anon said on September 1, 2013 at 7:41 pm

      Yes I pull them out of my pocket. 5″ megapixel 24 bit color > 1″ monochrome.

  12. Dan said on August 31, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    Ugh, they look hipster-ugly. I’d rather wear an analog watch. In fact, I do have several and never leave home without it. Indeed, I find wearing a wristwatch preferable to fidgeting for my phone from my pocket every few minutes to check the time. The smartwatch has its place, just not on my body.

  13. Andrew/ said on August 31, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    When I started seeing Smart Watches, I started thinking of Thunderbirds (The Gerry Anderson Series) with the puppets communicating with each other via video links.

    that series was _so_ ahead of its time :)

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 31, 2013 at 3:25 pm

      A lot of TV shows, movies and books are ahead of their times. Just think of Jules Verne, the Enterprise series, or the Star Wars movies.

  14. jamie said on August 31, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    Cant think of a good use for one. Even if I could, I wouldnt buy one until G-Shock was making them.

  15. Jak said on August 31, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    And this is why smartwatches gonna fail.
    If I had a smartwatch I did not use it because I would be embarrassed to wear it in public.

  16. anon said on August 31, 2013 at 11:39 am

    Waterproof watches has been around for ages and ages.

    1. fokka said on September 1, 2013 at 7:06 pm

      i think he meant that smartwatches tend to be waterproof in contrary to most smartphones, not regular watches.

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on August 31, 2013 at 3:20 pm

      Yes, but it is not clear if all upcoming smartwatches will be waterproof. If they are not, you lose some functionality that would actually improve their usability.

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