Ever since the early rumors about the device that Apple would later introduce as the Apple Watch, the smartwatch category as a whole has been the topic of frequent discussion and wild speculation. Unfortunately, even as more and more companies introduce their own wearable technology, there are some persistent myths about smartwatches that you just might fall for if you don’t know better.
Read on to learn about five of the most common misconceptions about smartwatches. Make sure that you don’t fall for them, whether you’re considering purchasing a smartwatch, or just keeping up with the latest news in the area.
1. Smartwatches just duplicate smartphone functions
To a certain extent, smartwatches do duplicate the functions of the smartphone you already have in your hand or in your pocket. But smartwatches can already do more than your smartphone in some respects, especially, for instance, when it comes to tracking your physical activity and fitness.
And it turns out that when smartwatches do duplicate smartphone features, that’s not so bad, after all. Many early adopters of the Apple Watch and other smartwatches have noted that they feel their day is less chaotic without the constant stream of push notifications from a smartphone distracting from the task at hand. Wearing a smartwatch has helped many users edit down the number of notifications that interrupt them, and also prevents them from obsessively checking their smartphone to make sure that they haven’t missed a message from someone important.
2. Smartwatches are dependent on smartphones 24/7
When Apple announced the Apple Watch — and also announced that it would need to be paired with your iPhone to complete most of its functions — lots of users who envisioned using a smartwatch without toting around a smartphone were disappointed. But in the case of the Apple Watch, Cupertino soon enabled developers to create native apps that run on the watch, not on the paired iPhone, which effectively liberated the Apple Watch from the iPhone.
But if you’re envisioning a smartwatch that will notify you when your mom texts you or your best friend is calling, then your smartwatch is going to need to be at least a little dependent on your smartphone. Just how dependent or independent will depend on the particular watch. Many watches enable you to leave your phone at home when you go running, for instance, which can make a major different for some users. Figure out what you actually need out of a smartwatch before buying into generalizations about what they can and can’t do.
3. Smartwatches are just for geeks
At least before the arrival of the Apple Watch, the smartwatch had a reputation as an unsightly device that only diehard geeks would wear. But the arrival of the Apple Watch and other user-friendly wearables has not only demonstrated that modern smartwatches can have better looks than their early counterparts, but has also illustrated that they can be useful for the average user.
While many small-wristed consumers, both male and female, have argued that the Apple Watch is too clunky and obtrusive, more streamlined designs will definitely be in the future as manufacturers figure out ways to downsize the technology inside. And even though developers and users haven’t discovered one “killer app” for the smartwatch, there are thousands of useful apps available for the Apple Watch, Android Wear watches, and even Pebble’s smartwatches. Are today’s smartwatches useful to as large a demographic as the smartphone? Definitely not. But you’d be surprised at how many (non-geeky) people can find compelling uses for a smartwatch given the opportunity.
4. It’s difficult to learn to use a smartwatch
This is a misconception that’s been particularly common among users discussing the Apple Watch. Will you need to take some time to learn the buttons and the interface of your new smartwatch, made by Apple or otherwise? Absolutely. But if you can think back to the first smartphone you bought, or the first time you used a tablet, then you’ll probably remember that it took some time to get used to the new form factor, to remember which controls were where, and to get the hang of the workflows that would eventually become second nature.
You’ll likely experience the same kind of learning curve with a smartwatch. If you’re the kind of person who usually struggles to figure out a new device, then the instruction manual and online tutorials can probably help you out. But if you’re used to figuring out new devices or new software intuitively, by discovering the features as you need them, then you probably won’t have many issues adjusting to a new smartwatch. You’ll just need to understand that the way you do things on a smartwatch will be different than the way you do them on a smartphone, tablet, or computer, and allow yourself enough time to learn how to do everything.
5. Until batteries improve, a smartwatch won’t be very useful
It’s true that some smartwatches’ battery life leaves a little (or a lot) to be desired. But whatever kind of battery life you envision for a smartwatch, you can probably find — if it’s a strong enough priority for you. Wearables like the Apple Watch, with their responsive touchscreens and array of advanced sensors, need to be charged nightly — which is disappointing for users who want the device that sends them notifications about text messages during the day to also be able to track their sleep at night.
But other devices, like much of Pebble’s lineup, prioritizes battery life. If you’re willing to give up a big, bright touchscreen, or if you don’t need quite as many power-hungry sensors and tracking abilities then you can find a number of different smartwatches that are in line with your priorities and will last for days, even a week, between charges. Shopping for a smartwatch is like — and will increasingly mirror — the process of shopping for a smartphone. If you don’t like the balance of strengths and shortcomings of one device, you can likely find another that more closely reflects your personal priorities, and is better suited to the use case you image.