We are looking forward to the Christmas 2021 and the smart watches that will remain in style and practical use during 2022. Below, we look at the practical and usable smart watch options that will offer cutting edge features and a value for your money.
Garmin Fenix 6
Garmin Fenix 6 will be our number one option for a smart watch for 2022. There are plethora of models of Fenix that will serve different people’s different goals. If you just wish to have a decent smart watch that comes with a good battery and reliable GPS readings, you cannot go wrong with a Fenix 6. The basic model works well to provide you the smart watch functionality. You could answer calls through the Fenix 6, play music and even use the watch for NFC payments through the Garmin Pay app.
Another benefit of Garmin Fenix 6 is the compatibility with Android phones and iPhones. So, the cross-platform compatibility takes a lot of hassle off your period of ownership of the Fenix watches. Plus, if you wish to track your outdoor activities over an extender period of time, Garmin Fenix 6 series allows you to make use of topo maps to cover diverse geographical areas. For Golf lovers, Garmin Fenix allows you to make use of the Golf maps. You could even buy addon maps to augment the available Golf maps on the Fenix 6 series watches.
A Fenix 6 watch has a decent battery backup, and it lasts for nearly 7 days on the smart watch mode.
Garmin Fenix 6 has multiple models for varied goals of the users.
- Garmin Fenix 6 is the basic model
- Garmin Fenix 6S
- Garmin Fenix 6X Pro
- Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar
- Garmin 6S Sapphire
- Garmin 6S Sapphire Pro
Depending on your needs, you could choose any one of these models and enjoy a hassle free period of ownership of the Fenix 6 series watches. Price of the Fenix 6 series watches lie between $600 and $1100. It is definitely more expensive, but the Fenix 6 will last longer and doubles up as a reliable sports watch with accurate activity tracking features.
Apple Watch 7
Apple Watch 7 continues to be one of the most sought after watches. Launched in September 2021, and priced at $399, an Apple watch 7 is based on the watchOS 8 platform. It brings in a reduced bezel size and an improved screen size. Currently, the Apple watch 7 comes in 41 mm and 45 mm screen sizes. Apple watch 7 also provides a faster charging through a USB C cable, and the watch’s battery can be charged from 0 to 80% in 45 minutes time. It is a definite disappointment that the battery of Apple watch 7 needs to be charged everyday as it comes with a battery life of 18 hours. You won’t be disappointed with any of the other features of oxygen monitoring, ECG, sleep monitoring, music on an Apple watch 7. The addition of respiratory rate monitoring on the Apple watch 7 adds up another method to track the quality of your sleep.
The screen of Apple watch 7 is sturdier than the previous version due to the use of hardened crystals. Apple calls the new screen on the Apple watch 7 as crack resistant screen.
If there is a single feature for which I would buy an Apple watch 7, it has to be the exceptional reliability of the fall detection feature on an Apple watch 7.
One piece of advice for potential Apple watch 7 owners. Buy the Apple Care extended warranty at the time of purchase of your Apple watch 7. You will enjoy a stress-free ownership period of the Apple watch 7.
Samsung Galaxy 4 Smart watch
Samsung’s Watch 4 was launched ahead of the Apple watch 7, in the last part of August 2021. Samsung watch 3 also has had a fair share of the smart watch market. Like its predecessor, Samsung Watch 4 is a very decent option for a smart watch for 2022. The Samsung Watch 4 is based on the Google’s wearOS 3.
It works seamlessly with an Android phone system. It cannot work with an iOS based iPhone for now. The addition of Google’s wearOS 3 as the watch operating system for Samsung Galaxy 4 watch has added new features on the Samsung watch 4. wearOS 3 is pitted against the Apple’s watch OS 8.
Watch 4 comes in 40 mm and 46 mm screen sizes. It has super AMOLED display, and you could choose to buy a Bluetooth model of the watch 4. The Bluetooth model will allow you to answer calls right through the smart watch. NFC payments become a part of the Samsung Watch 4 due to the wearOS 3 operating system on the watch. On-device music storage and ECG monitoring are standard features of the Samsung watch 4.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 has multiple variants that include:
- Samsung Watch 4 Classic Bluetooth
- Samsung Watch 4 Bluetooth
- Samsung Watch 4 Classic LTE
- Samsung Watch 4 LTE
- Samsung Watch 4 Classic
- Samsung Watch 4
For the Android eco-system, a Samsung Watch 4 is, perhaps, one of the best smart watch options in the market today.
Fitbit Versa 3
Fitbit Versa 3 is another smart watch that is cross-platform compatible. It works well with an Android phone or the iPhone. With a decent set of features that includes GPS tracking, sleep tracking, accurate step counting, SpO2 monitoring and a robust Fitbit operating system, Versa 3 is priced very aggressively. It is, essentially, a good value for money option in the smart watch market space.
The latest Fitbit operating system update for the Fitbit Versa 3 allows you to answer calls through the smart watch itself. The Versa 3 smart watch has an onboard speaker. The only downside that affects me is the lack of on-device music storage on a Versa 3 smart watch. You will need to use a 3rd party paid alternative such as Spotify to get access to your playlists and listen music. And, if you were to add the costs of subscribing to the 3rd party music services, you will find that the actual cost of ownership of a Versa 3 matches the cost of ownership of an Apple watch 7. And, Apple watch 7 is miles ahead of a Versa 3 in terms of feature set, including the fall detection.
Versa 3 vs Apple watch 7 would essentially boil down to your phone. If you have an iPhone, go for an Apple watch 7. No other smart watch will provide a seamless and hassle free period of ownership. Plus, in our experience, the post-sale support by Apple is top notch. They make every effort to keep Apple watch users happy through timely repairs or replacements. For an Android phone, you could get a Versa 3 is the mid-budget smart watch market.
One of the biggest advantages of a Fitbit Versa 3 is the battery life of Versa 3. The Versa 3 has a battery life of 6 days on the smart watch mode. In comparison with Apple watch 7’s 18 hours battery life, the Versa 3 is definitely a winner in terms of good battery life.
Fitbit Sense is a premium smart watch offering by Fitbit, a Google company. Fitbit Sense is pricier than the Fitbit Versa 3 by almost a $100 because it adds health monitoring to the feature set available through the Fitbit Versa 3. You may have to subscribe to the Fitbit premium services to avail some features on the Fitbit Sense smart watch.
Fitbit Sense has an ECG monitoring app, and also offers a stress score to measure your stress levels through the day. Fitbit Sense also has a wrist-based skin temperature sensor to take accurate temperature recordings.
Aside from these differences, other features on the Fitbit Sense are identical to the Fitbit Versa 3. Go for a Fitbit Sense if you are looking to track your health parameters more accurately and closely. Otherwise, a Fitbit Versa 3 will work well for normal usage of a smart watch that includes activity tracking, sleep tracking and availability of smart watch faces to suit your interest.
Garmin Venu 2S
Venu 2S is Garmin’s smart watch that retails a little under $399 as I write this. The Venus 2S fits in the most parameters of a robust smart watch with precise GPS tracking and on-device music storage. Add to this the Garmin’s excellent operating system and the NFC payments through the Garmin Pay app. Garmin’s Venu 2S watch allows you to download music on to the watch’s storage. While running or participating in a fitness routing, you do not need your phone to play music.
One of the best reasons to buy a Venus 2S would be the in-built activity tracking programs on the Garmin Venu 2S watch. Pre-loaded workout programs are suitable for fitness enthusiasts. Incident detection feature on the Venu 2S will detect a fall and notify up to 3 emergency contacts, with your GPS co-ordinates.
The battery life of a Venus 2S is 10 days on the smart watch mode and 7 hours with GPS and music usage. If you are looking for a watch with abilities to track sports and fitness activities with precision, Venus 2S should fit the bill. It is cheaper than the Fenix 6 series smart watches of Garmin, and works well to emerge as a credible alternative to the Apple watch 7. At $399, Venu 2S competes right alongside the Apple watch 7. The added advantage is the cross-platform compatibility with the Android and Apple eco-systems.
The best way to find which watch works best for you is through the phone ecosystem that you intend to use. If you are an iPhone user, nothing is better than an Apple watch 7. In exceptional cases wherein you would like to have a sports cum smart watch, a Fenix 6 watch would be the most preferred watch.
For the Android eco-system, Samsung Galaxy 4 offers a good smart watch experience. Based on the wear OS 3 of Google, Samsung Watch 4 brings in all the relevant features at a price that will not pinch you. You could also look at the Venu 2S smart watch from Garmin. Fitbit’s Sense also fits in the picture, though there may be incremental costs in using the watch for some essential features for health monitoring. Fitbit Versa 3 is a practical watch, that should serve the purpose of a non-demanding smart watch user.
Lastly, if fall detection is a feature that you would want desperately on your smart watch, choose an Apple watch 7. Nothing can beat it as far as the fall detection and emergency response system is concerned.
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Rajesh Dhawan is a technology professional who loves to blog about smart wearables, Cloud computing and Microsoft technologies. He loves to break complex problems into manageable chunks of meaningful information.