Thoughts on smart watches?

Hello.

For a long time I have considered smart watches to be a gimmick but since they have become more accessible and common now for some time, I was wondering what the people who own and use them think of them?

So what has your experience been of them?

One thing I am curious about is how functional these (especially the Android ones) are without being connected to a phone via bluetooth since bluetooth drains battery?

@AgreeableLandscape
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IMO, it’s completely unnecessary if you have a smartphone, which you probably do, and almost anything a smart watch can do, a phone can do better.

Also, other than one smartwatch made by Pine64, none of them allow libre operating systems, at least not without some major hacking, so you have no idea how much tracking they’re doing. Get the Pine64 one if you really want a smart watch.

@33YN2
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I use my Pinetime daily with WaspOS. It’s been great, but it’s definitely not at the same tier as a mainstream smart watch. I see it as a handy tool for telling the time, acting as a flashlight for really dark rooms, and doing alarms. WaspOS does support notifications but only with android devices. I think once I start using my Pinephone as a daily driver in a month or two I will switch to Infinitime which has more features and has a native app for the Pinephone.

@neuromonkey
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They are unnecessarily expensive. I’ve had a few big-name fitness bands. They were OK. Nothing too exciting. A few months ago I bought a Xiaomi Band 5 for $29. It’s great. Small, comfortable, does what I want, and it’s cheap. I bought two more for $27 each.

Without being connected to a smartphone, it’s essentially just a watch with a heart rate sensor.

@jupjep
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Yeah I was wondering what kind of privacy nightmare it must be but by simply not connecting it to any device should prevent it from calling home, right? Unless they have hotspots around the world that the watch can automatically connect to but that just sounds paranoid.

@mikael
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The hotspots would then be the other Xiaomi bands or devices (that likely connect to the internet), right?

Dessalines
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Still a gimmick IMO. My casio f-91w is going on 7 years now, it doesn’t scratch, I can shower with it, has a 10+ year battery life, and cost $10.

@AgreeableLandscape
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It also doesn’t have biometric sensors that siphon off information about your body and send it to some corporation. I’d say that’s a pretty big feature (or, lack of an anti-feature?).

Dessalines
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We’re very lucky some companies are still willing to still make non spying consumer electronics. Seems like TVs, thermostats, refrigerators, ovens, coffee makers, all have “smart” spying now.

@AgreeableLandscape
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I absolutely hate that there are no more consumer-level “dumb” TVs. (Edit: apparently there are, see the reply to this comment) Is not having a company know exactly what I’m watching even if it’s playing from an attached set top box or PC really too much to ask? (You probably know this already, but yes, they can do that. I’m think they don’t actually send off screenshots but rather diffuse pixel values from all over the screen? But still.)

I mean there are dumb ones, but they’re commercial models and actually more expensive at the same resolution and refresh rate. Guess it’s because they’re designed for 24/7 operation but that’s honestly pointless for a home entertainment setup specifically.

I’ve been trying to convince my family to take our living room TV off Wi-Fi and just get a cheap set top box for YouTube and Netflix for a while now. Yes it still tracks you, but at least I can have some peace of mind that what we do on the attached PC, which has a lot of our family’s personal files, isn’t being spied on by the freaking TV of all things.

@someone
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@0x1C3B00DA
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The TV as a specific device is a relic, but a PC or smartphone is not suitable for family viewing. There are still some differences between tvs and monitors, but hopefully we can eventually just get rid of the two separate categories in favor of a single display category.

Travis Skaalgard
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Almost all of the TVs from this article have been discontinued.

@someone
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@AgreeableLandscape
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Huh. I stand correct then. But yeah, I agree on your second part, I do most of my media consumption from my phone or computer. My parents watch (mostly Chinese shows on YouTube) on TV though, and I don’t think they’ve ever gotten used to media consumption on a computer, let alone a phone.

@illgetanewone
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Are we talking about the same watch? 😂

I’m not very good at taking care of it, that’s true. I go through one every or every other year. Only my first one lasted 5 years until the battery ran out (and that only barely).

A smartwatch wouldn’t last a week on my arm 😅

Dessalines
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How the eff did u do that! I’ve dropped a weight on mine before accidentally and it came out okay.

Def gives you peace of mind when it’s so cheap tho, $10 is like 3 bags of chips.

@ksynwa
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I might get something like this. I already have a Casio analogue+digital watch and while it looks cool, things like stopwatch and timer are needlessly hard to use. Would like something like this so I don’t have to take the phone to gym.

jonuno
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Dessalines
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I’ve had to replace mine’s band. But its pretty incredible how cheap yet long-lasting these things are.

@federico3
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If you are concerned about privacy, Pine64 makes a (pricey) watch: https://pine64.com/product/pinetime-dev-kit/?v=0446c16e2e66

pricey = high in price, do you mean cheap?

also I have high hopes for it and I will be getting one once they fully release it!

@federico3
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I meant expensive: $25 for a developer kit with only accelerometer and heart rate sensor.

I bet it’s the cheapest open-source smart watch

@federico3
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Most likely because it’s the only one…

@geopoliticssuck
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I’ll only ever consider the devices that track your heartbeat and are not connected to a network. Other than that, a mechanical watch or an electronic watch is all I’ll ever need, and I always have my smartphone.

@yxzi
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It’s mainly an overpriced tracking tool that needs charging. I’d recommend just buying an analog watch instead. Keep in mind that the data a not-so-smart watch collects is probably of less use to you than to third parties.

Dessalines
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Agree with this. I have a $10 casio f-91w that’s lasted me 7 years now, I can shower w/ it, it doesn’t scratch, doesn’t track me, and has a 10 year battery life. This watch hasn’t been redesigned since the late 80s and it doesn’t need one.

@deciocavallo
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I’m using a fossil HR hybrid, the battery lasts a long time, it has e-ink screen, it has the style of a classic watch but I get notifications. I think it’s the best compromise

@barraguesh
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I love my Amazfit GTS mini 2. I have had plenty of them but I don’t like smartwatches, I like fitness trackers. I think the smartness as others said is useless because you already have the phone, you take more time reading a message from a tiny screen rather than just checking the phone.

The fitness part of it, I love it. Amazfit and other smartwatches have PAI, which are points for your heart rate, basically, game addictive mechanics into improving your health, I do anything to get that score up.

GadgeteerZA
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I’ve been through Android Wear OS, Pebble, and now an Apple Watch and I can honestly say the Bluetooth is not the problem, it is more screen on-time that chews the battery. So I’d rather look at the screen technology. Another thing thing is Wear OS specifically is heavier on a battery than proprietary OS that Huawei and Samsung use - notice they get a lot more battery life than Wear OS?

In my own case I use my watch a lot for grocery shopping so presence of a suitable and ideally my favourite app, was what it came down to. So I had to really choose between Wear OS and Apple Watch. The latest Ticwatch Pro is about the best out of the Wear OS watches though.

@cvieira
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I bought an Apple Watch a few years ago, and functionally it works great, but I stopped wearing it altogether since there’s no way I can tell how much data it’s feeding back to Apple. If privacy issues don’t bother you you’ll probably love it, but otherwise you’ll constantly feel uncomfortable.

The quality of the Apple Watch Ceramic Edition feels really nice, so I might just tape over the sensors, use my jailbreak to block the watch from connecting to the internet, and use it as a plain watch.

@Axaoe
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Ive had multiple Pebbles (OG Steel was my favorite), Apple Watches, one Android Wear Fossil watch (quickly returned), two different Samsung Galaxy Watches and a Garmin Instinct.

Through all had at least something I liked as I began to focus more on my digital data and privacy I began to switch phones, and switching phones a lot with smartwatches isnt an easy/good thing.

I settled into a (non-smart) Casio ProTrek with the feature set I found myself using the most from the smartwatches (besides notifications) - tempurature, timer/alarms, barometer (weather), waterproof; It doesn’t care what phone I have.

If I had to go back or recommend one I would focus on the Garmin lineup and opt for one that had built in GPS - I liked to track my workouts and the battery life + feature set was well suited for being “smart” without making it feel like a mini smartphone. The battery life in “standalone” mode for my model was 14 days if I recall correctly, so leaving it with no phone connection but still being able to use the GPS and features like the barometer for weather was nice when camping or the like. Also I found physical buttons to be far better than touch controls especially if you’re doing something (hiking, kayaking, wearing gloves etc).

I know Gadgetbridge for Android does some great things as far as removing third party servers from the equation, but I’m not a fan of fitness bands and don’t suggest trying to find/buy a Pebble due to age. An Amazefit Bip is OK, but I don’t like devices without physical buttons - it’s cheap and would do the job so if price is a concern I’d look there.

It’s a weird thing to step back and look at, because the longevity of a watch vs a smartwatch is not even close but the pricing and marketing for the smartwatch feels far more “present” then it does for a normal watch (unless you’re already in the watch buying/selling/collecting club).

@haych
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people on Lemmy seem to dislike them, but I have a Fossil Sport and actually like it.

I like that it can show me all my notifications without needing my phone, it even has a select few apps. I play play music from it to headphones without needing my phone, and I can even pay for my items in store without needing my phone with me too.

WearOS is just Google so if you’re on the privacy side of things then not the best idea, but if you’re already in the Google ecosystem and don’t worry about it then go for it.

I rarely notice a difference on my battery from Blutooth, it’s there but pretty minimal, many can also use wi-fi so you can always do it that way instead and only revert to Bluetooth when you leave and no longer have WiFi

@SloppilyFloss
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I’m an owner of both a Pebble Time and a Pebble Time Steel. I’ve also owned a Pebble 2 HR. Honestly for how cheap you can find Pebbles (got my Steel for $20) and their long battery life (my Steel lasts a week or more on a charge, maybe double that if it’s on airplane mode), they’re great! If you decide to use Rebble and pay the $3 a month, you can even use the dictation feature and respond to notifications with your voice! They also work perfectly with GadgetBridge.

I also used to think smartwatches were a gimmick, and tbh after owning a couple I know for sure they are, 10x so for mainstream watches like WearOS or the Apple Watch. Being able to catch your notifications on your arm and responding to them is pretty convenient, but the excitement goes away after a while. Or maybe I’ve just lost interest. I don’t even bother looking at my steps, sleep, or setting up my watch to be able to ping my phone anymore. But I’ve gotten so used to the darn thing that I’ll never stop loving it.

@Jojonintendo
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GadgeteerZA
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And of course displaying in bright sunlight. Well colour e-Ink is improving so who knows what may arrive back on the market in the future.

@Jojonintendo
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@someone
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wow a phone in your pocket? Truly lazy why not walk to a phone booth or deliver the message in person.

@someone
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@0x1C3B00DA
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All of the limitations you’re describing are part of the point, from what I understand (I don’t have one myself). Interacting with notifications without pulling your phone out is supposed to help keep you focused. A common complaint with smartphones recently is that they’ve affected attention spans and peoples relationship to empty time. If you can’t get sucked into twitter, facebook, email threads, etc on a smartwatch, there’s less risk in checking a notification.

@someone
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@0x1C3B00DA
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Smartphones grab your attention too much, so use this other thing that grabs your attention instead A smart watch doesn’t have much functionality on its own so when it grabs your attention, you respond and move on. With a smartphone, people tend to respond to one thing and then continue to use the smartphone. Turning off notifications doesn’t solve that, because the notifications are what users want to respond to on the smartwatch.

It sounds like you don’t have the problems smartwatches address, so they’re probably not for you. But that doesn’t mean they’re not useful for other people.

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