The best features of your new fitness smartwatch
With so many people making health-related New Year’s resolutions, a great gift this Christmas is a new fitness tracker. Such smartwatches are definitely popular as recent research from Deloitte’s Digital Consumer Trends Report shows that 19.2m health tracking devices were bought by UK consumers in the year to July 2021 (such a figure is more than double the number the previous year!), but what exactly do they do?
New smartwatches are designed to be worn all day and every day to incorporate wellbeing and fitness motivation into your daily routine. The smartwatches of today have surpassed simply telling the time and day of the week, now they monitor cycles of your sleep (including light, deep and REM sleep), track activities and some even provide ‘Fall Detection’ which detects if you’ve fallen and notifies your emergency contacts. They also can act like your phone, allowing you to respond to messages and receive notifications.
Such gadgets are so popular because you’re not gifting a larger piece of equipment, such as a treadmill, which requires some Tetris floor-planning and reshuffling of furniture; rather, you’re providing something small with mighty power as it improves your gym routine, tracking your activities and progress from your wrist.
However, with so many variations it can be complicated to work out exactly what your new watch does. Whether you’re a smartwatch novice or have the latest all-singing and all-dancing fitness tracker, at Myles Wellbeing we have researched the best features of your new fitness tracking gadget.
1. Apple Watch Series 8
As an iPhone and Apple Watch user, I can personally vouch for this smartwatch. Although expensive, this latest version of the Apple Watch has even more features to love, especially for any iPhone user. It firstly does the same as its predecessors– it tracks your activities with notifications to motivate you to close your rings (Move, Exercise, Stand), sends through messages and calls, and records your heart rate. However, it also has some useful additions.
It now has a ‘Always-On’ Retina display, making your watch easy to read, even when your wrist is down. It has also introduced temperature sensing which tracks your temperature while you sleep, helping you track your ovulation. The Sleep app now also shows how much time you spent in REM, Core or Deep sleep, as well as when you might have woken up. You can also take an ECG at any time, allowing you to take on-demand readings of your blood oxygen as well as background readings, day and night.
Alongside Fall Detection, the Series 8 has now introduced Crash Detection. For the first time, your Apple Watch can detect if you’re in a severe car crash, and will automatically connect you with emergency services, provide dispatchers with your location and notify your emergency contacts if you happen to be in one. Some pretty life-changing tech.
2. Garmin Venu 2 Plus
The Garmin Venu 2 Plus is the most expensive and top of the range Garmin watch, but it must be noted that they do offer a few versions including the Forerunner 245 (perfect for a running tracker) as well as the Garmin Venu 2S and Garmin Sq range. One of the best features of any Garmin smartwatch is their battery life. The Venu 2 Plus can last up to 9 days in smartwatch mode, up to 24 hours in GPS mode and up to 8 hours in GPS mode with music. Amazingly, only ten minutes of charging adds up to 1 day of smartwatch mode battery life or 1 hour of GPS with music battery life.
The Garmin smartwatch can also connect with your phone so you can answer calls, and it also can even pair with your smartphone’s voice assistant. It similarly offers an always-on screen mode, but their AMOLED display allows you to view your screen, even under bright sunlight.
Its accurate GPS tracker is one of its standout features, and it can automatically upload the data to third-party apps like Strava and TrainingPeaks. There are also plenty of preloaded sports you can track, from running to paddle boarding. It also has more advanced features such as stress tracking, a Pulse Ox sensor which checks your blood oxygen saturation, menstrual cycle and pregnancy tracking as well as hydration tracking.
3. Fitbit Versa 4
The Versa 4 is one of the newest Fitbit smartwatches and comes in four colours with both sports and normal straps. With its AMOLED display, the smartwatch is clear and bright but also super thin and lightweight, ensuring comfort.
Some pretty cool features are its Daily Readiness Score which uses Activity and Heart Rate to see if you’re up for a challenging workout or recovery, depending on your insights. It also offers an impressive 40+ exercise modes giving you a choice from strength training to kayaking, but also women’s health features and a daily stress management score.
Its battery life is also pretty impressive, offering six days or more depending on how you use your watch (the GPS uses up the charge more quickly). It also has a navigate and pay feature, allowing you to link your Fitbit to your phone.
4. Google Pixel Watch
Built just for Android, the new Pixel Watch has some great features. The circular watch design is domed with scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla glass. It has customisable faces and easy switchable bands. It also links with Google apps and 4G LTE, so you can get directions, make payments and even control your smart home from your wrist.
It syncs with Fitbit and so features its most accurate heart rate tracker. You can also try energising workouts and manage stress by day, or even track your sleep stages by night. Plus, if you set up your own Fitbit account, you can use the on-wrist ECG app and assess your heart for AFib– a heart rhythm irregularity– then share the results with your doctor.
5. Coros Vertix 2
This smartwatch is perfect for adventurers who go to the extreme, and is more powerful than its predecessor being over 20 per cent faster than the original Vertix. Its 1.4 inch screen has a 16 per cent higher resolution which allows the smartwatch to present more information at a glance, keeping you updated with key metrics anytime and anywhere.
Its battery life is most impressive, with the Vertix 2 offering the longest battery life ever in a GPS watch. With 140 hours of standard full GPS tracking, and 30 hours with music, as well as 60 days of normal use, the Vertix 2 more than doubles the battery life of its already market leading predecessor. It also features global offline mapping, and includes Landscape, Topo, and Hybrid modes.
It also contains 32 GB of onboard storage, allowing you to hold more data, more workouts, more routes and for the first time in a COROS GPS Watch– music. Like other smartwatches, you can also measure your Heart Rate Variability (HRV) straight from your wrist. HRV is an ideal metric for measuring your body’s response to stress and its ability to recover. However, the COROS system converts each individualised HRV into an easily comparable metric from athlete to athlete.