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Best Smartwatch under 200

Updated on February 2, 2014

Features to Consider When Buying a Smartwatch

  • Syncing (with which devices? using what technology? from how far?)
  • Battery Life
  • Features (receive calls, social media/email alerts, MP3, GPS etc)
  • Style (is it massive? heavy? looks like a phone on a strap?)
  • Price
  • Memory

How many times a day do you have to dig your phone out of your pocket to check emails, calls or text messages?

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Although some early smartwatch models have been rather hit and miss it is clear that smartwatches, along with smartphones and smartTVs, possibly smartcars, are here to stay. It's surely just a matter of time until the smartwatch becomes so smart that less smart hand-held mobile phones are made redundant. It is conceivable that the smartwatch will replace the smartTV with a projector function and even the smartcar could be educated by the smartwatch (see James Bond car remote control watch or Knight Rider).

The concept of the smartwatch became popular with the addition of functions such as a calculator or calendar to the standard time-telling wristwatch. Technology has since progressed a long way, particularly over the past three years, and smartwatches now do things that were previously incomprehensible, such as sync with your smartphone and run apps. Important information can now be beamed straight to your wrist in the form of a notification every time you receive a call, gain a follower on Twitter or get poked on Facebook.

The modern world is increasingly dependent on technology and having constant access to the digital world has become more important (or perhaps not having access is increasingly inconvenient). Even those of us who run or cycle to improve our fitness and health in general are left feeling that our efforts are in vain unless we can show our friends proof in the form of an online map of our route with dates and times included.

In 2014 the first affordable and wearable smartwatches have become available to the general public. Many of the early models were bulky and heavy, uncomfortable and ugly but now memory, processor, GPS and circuit board can all fit comfortably into a device only marginally larger than a traditional watch. So now you feel you need one, what is the best smartwatch under 200 dollars?

Pebble Smartwatch for iPhone or Android

One of the very first smartwatches, funded by Kick Starter, the Pebble is still considered by many to be the best smartwatch available.

PROS
CONS
Style - looks cool and its customizable
 
Incredible battery life - around 7days per full charge
Drains phone battery slightly
Open source for developers - always new apps
Some apps have to be paid for
Superb screen quality - E-ink display, similar to kindle
Does not display pictures
Lightweight
 
Water resistant
 
Accept/reject calls
No microphone so although you can answer you need your phone
Read text messages
Cannot send messages direct from watch
Play, pause, skip music
Music is stored and played from phone, watch acts as remote control

The Pebble's 1" screen (smaller than the Sony SW2), can be regarded as a positive as it makes the watch less bulky. Unless you struggle reading small text this is not a problem at all.

Sony Smartwatch 2 for Android

A big improvement on the SW1, the SW2 works as a stand-alone watch and as a remote control for any device running Android 4.0 or later.

PROS
CONS
1.6" full transflective scratch proof display 220x176
 
Notifications from Facebook, Gmail etc
Does not sync with iPhone
Read texts and see missed calls
 
Control apps on your phone
 
Lightweight with aluminium body
 
Intuitive menus and great touch control
 
You can change watch band easily
Cannot customize watch face
Water resistant
 
Good battery - around 20hrs heavy usage
Drains phone battery slightly

Generally regarded as better looking then the Pebble, the Sony SW2 is a reliable and well liked smartwatch. It has a larger screen than the 1" Pebble screen and is easy to see in bright sunlight (perhaps not as easy to see as the Pebble though). There are plenty of great free apps available from the Google Play store which work well with this phone. The phone automatically reverts to low power usage when just displaying time which helps with battery life.

Nike+ Sports Watch

If your primary reason for wanting a smartwatch is for running or other sports then the Nike+ is a great option.

PROS
CONS
Integration with GPS enables map of run
Does not play music
Integration with Facebook
 
Upload data to Nike+ website
This is the only place you can view your history, trends and other data
Works outdoor and indoor - shoe pod sensor takes over when GPS not available
Shoe pod sensor arguably is not 100% accurate
Great battery life (8-10 hours using GPS)
 
Does not rely on proximity to phone
Does not show emails, texts, calls

If you are a serious athlete and accuracy/reliability are extremely important then you are better off opting for a more expensive model of smart/running watch but if you run just for fun and would like to easily track your progress then this watch is a bargain.

Should you buy a smartwatch?

While its clear that these early smartwatch models are a long way from the models we can expect to see in the next five or so years they are great fun and can act as a real time-saver. Being able to read texts and emails, see who is calling you, control music and use various apps at the flick of the wrist can save a lot of time over the course of your day.

There are other good smartwatches on the market but these are the best we found in this price bracket. All three are reliable, well made and receive generally very positive reviews.

Finally it is important to regard a smartwatch as an accessory to your phone, a watch/phone remote control rather than a stand alone device. Don't expect to be able to make calls from the smartwatch or take high quality photographs.

Comment below with your smartwatch thoughts and experiences, which do you think it is the best smartwatch under 200 dollars?

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