After we revealed its existence just a few weeks ago, Samsung has officially revealed the Galaxy Watch Active 2 Under Armour edition.
The watch, which was kept under wraps until Samsung’s Note 10 event, is the third version of the Watch Active 2, which also comes in LTE and Bluetooth-only variants. The Under Armour model doesn’t come with the option of LTE, but does come with Under Armour’s MapMyRun app built in.
Essential reading: The best smartwatches to buy 2019It also comes with a special silicon band, six months of premium membership for MapMyRun, and the ability to connect to Under Armour’s Hovr running shoes. This edition of the Active 2 features all of the same features touted for the standard version: a water resistant design, built-in GPS, an Apple Watch-rivalling electrocardiogram (ECG) sensor (though that’s not yet active) and a touch bezel for navigating Samsung’s Tizen OS operating system.
Under Armour has worked with Samsung on previous smartwatches, pre-loading its suite of fitness apps (like MapMyRun and Endomondo) onto the company’s devices. Under Armour also briefly dabbled in the wearable space, as well, when it launched its UA Band fitness tracker as part of its short-lived HealthBox platform.
However, this is the first Samsung has offered a special edition of one of its smartwatches, following in the footsteps of Apple and its Nike edition of the Apple Watch.
The Under Armour edition of the Samsung Watch Active 2 costs $309, making it $30 more expensive than the Bluetooth-only model.
After we revealed its existence just a few weeks ago, Samsung has officially revealed the Galaxy Watch Active 2 Under Armour edition.
Samsung’s Galaxy Watch Active is only four months old, but in an unusual move the company is rolling out its next edition, the Galaxy Watch Active 2.
The new smartwatch comes in two variants, one with Bluetooth 5.0 (for increased range) and one with LTE. That LTE model will afford much more freedom, letting you take calls and respond to messages without having your phone nearby.
Essential reading: The best smartwatches to buy 2019The rotating bezel is also making a return due to popular demand – sort of. It’s no longer a physical dial to rotate, but a touch-sensitive one built into the watch’s bezel. Functionally, it will work the same way it does on the Galaxy Watch, but it’ll be interesting to see if a digital rotator can give off a similar tactile feel. We’ve seen a similar kind of feature pop up on the Misfit Vapor smartwatch, though it wasn’t the best. So we hope Samsung has done a better job it.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 key featuresAvailable in 40mm and 44mm sizesLTE model availableWorks with Android and iOS20mm interchangeable straps5ATM (up to 50 metres) waterproof ratingNFC for Samsung Pay supportOptical heart rate and ECGGPS/GLONASS/Beidou satellite support
The new watch comes in 40mm and 44mm versions, bringing its dimensions in line with the latest Apple Watch models. Both offer 20mm interchangeable bands when you need to mix those looks up. While the LTE version is only available in stainless steel with a leather strap, Samsung is offering the Bluetooth model in either stainless steel or a lightweight aluminium with a fluoroelastomer band. There’s a good range of colors to choose from too: the aluminium comes in black, silver and rose gold; the stainless steel comes in black, silver and gold.
The 44m model features a 1.4-inch, 360 x 360 resolution Super AMOLED display while the 40mm Active 2 packs a smaller 1.2-inch 360 x 360 Super AMOLED screen. Both do include Corning’s Gorilla Glass DX+ tech to add an extra layer of durability.
On the sensor front, Samsung says it’s improved the optical heart rate sensors on the Active 2. There are now eight LEDs, which Samsung says will sample readings more regularly and with more accuracy. You’ll be able to track 39 workouts with seven of those that can automatically tracked including running, swimming and cycling. There’s now also an updated Running Coach, so you can monitor your running pace in real-time and enjoy seven different running programs to help meet your goals.
The Watch Active 2 promises some interesting social features, including a fuller Twitter experience (you can retweet from the watch) and the ability to watch YouTube videos on the watch’s super AMOLED screen. We’re less sure about the usefulness of that one. If you love your watch faces too, a new mode lets you match your watch face to your current outfit simply by taking a photo inside of the Galaxy Wearable companion app.
ECG and Under Armour EditionOne thing Samsung hasn’t yet announced – but we know is definitely coming – is a Galaxy Watch Active 2 Under Armour Edition. After we revealed the UA model existed, leakster Evan Blass tweeted an image of the special edition smartwatch (pictured above), but Samsung is yet to acknowledge its existence. It could be soon though.
As we previously reported, the new watch has an ECG sensor, however this will not be working at launch. Samsung told us it’s “looking for meaningful partnerships in the future” for this, and told us to hold tight for more details in the future. Translation: It won’t be able to do much until Samsung receives the same FDA clearance Apple got for its own smartwatch ECG.
In terms of battery life, we’re promised up to four days of battery life, but mileage will vary depending on use. We expect LTE will drain the battery a fair amount. That four days though would be a big upgrade on the couple of days we managed to get on the Galaxy Watch Active.
Price and release dateThe Bluetooth-only Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 will start at
$279.99 for the 40mm version and $299.99 for the 44mm. We don’t have details on how much the LTE version will be priced at just yet but it looks like that will vary based on carrier. Both go on sale 27 September with pre-orders starting 6 September. Samsung says LTE will work with “all the major carriers” in the US, and will work with both Android and iPhone smartphones.
The best smartwatches on sale right now are a mix of the usual tech big players – such as Apple and Samsung; fitness tracking specialists like Garmin and Fitbit; and fashion powerhouses including Fossil and Tag Heuer.
When it comes to the standout smartwatch in 2019, it’s undoubtedly the Apple Watch Series 4. But it comes at a price, and there are so many top smartwatches at cheaper prices and with equally good fitness features.
Whether you’re looking for a great smartwatch for fitness tracking, running or a just taking calls and notifications – there are plenty of great options for every budget. What’s more, smartwatches are getting more stylish too.
Today’s best smartwatch dealsIncoming…Before we get into what you can get on your wrist right now, there’s a few new smartwatches to draw your attention to. First up is the the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 (pictured above). Yes, just four months after launching the first Galaxy Watch Active, Samsung has ushered out a new model that’s available in 40m and 44mm size options. There’s also LTE connectivity support if you want to live that untethered life and an Apple Watch-rivalling ECG sensor is also on board.
There’s also new watches from Fossil with the arrival of the Julianna HR and Carlyle HR, which are the first Fossil Gen 5 watches. The Wear OS duo are powered by Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 3100 processor and include a speaker letting you take calls on your Android phone and iPhone (support coming later).
Best smartwatch comprehensive reviewsFor all the in-depth details on the all of the top smartwatches, read on for our comprehensive buyers guides, based on our living-with reviews. rev=”7283″>rev=”7283″>rev=”7283″>rev=”7283″>rev=”7283″>Apple Watch Series 4rev=”7283″>rev=”7283″>Buy now: rev=”7283″>rev=”7283″>Amazon | $349.99 (GPS)The Apple Watch Series 4 is as close to smartwatch perfection as we’ve seen to date – it’s a powerful and versatile wearable that can offer a huge range of features. While those looking for a simple smartwatch might find the Series 4’s huge array of fitness, wellness and connected features to be overkill, it’s able to morph between fitness tracker, sports watch and serious health device at will, making it a serious crowd pleaser.
Apple’s latest Watch addition gives us the most dramatic design change since the original, bringing new 40mm and 44mm sizes (in comparison to 38mm and 42mm). That means more space to show off all the latest software features introduced in watchOS 5. And there’s more goodies on the way with watchOS 6.
It has all the same core fitness and sports tracking as the Series 3, including built-in GPS for tracking of outdoor workouts and a swimproof design. Fitness tracking analysis may lag Fitbit, but Apple’s unique goals – signified by the closing of Move, Stand and Calorie rings – is still a powerful motivator. However, there’s still no native sleep tracking here, but this can be done via a third party app.
The headline features are the new ECG monitor that unlocks the ability for serious heart health monitoring. It’s been FDA cleared, so the feature can be used to detect heart rhythm irregularities. It’s now available outside of the US with Apple adding 19 more countries that can check in on their heart health from the new Watch. You also don’t have to do that manually, and the Apple Watch continuously monitors for low and elevated heart rates, as well as AFib. There’s also a new fall detection mode that can let users access Siri to contact emergency services or an emergency contact.
The Series 4 comes packing LTE once again so you can take it out sans iPhone and still make/receive calls, get texts and all other notifications you would on your phone. A new speaker also makes Siri chats and phone calls sound louder and clearer.
Battery life is the main gripe still, and for all the improvements, Apple can still only offer 24-48 hours – which for many simply isn’t good enough.
Amazon: Apple Watch Series 4 40mm GPS
Read our Apple Watch Series 4 reviewFitbit VersaBuy now: Amazon | $199.95The Fitbit Versa is the company’s second smartwatch and, along with a change in design direction, it’s crucially available at a more affordable price than the Apple Watch – it can often be picked up for around $179.99. And don’t forget – Fitbit has announced the Versa Lite Edition (more on that below) which clocks in at $159.
The Fitbit Versa comes in a host of different finishes and with a big collection of bands to mix up the look. And thanks to the runaway success of the smartwatch, there’s a bustling market of straps to choose from.
The Versa offers all of the same fitness and sports tracking features you’d expect from the Fitbit ecosystem, though the big omission here is the lack of GPS. If you want to track runs and rides, you’ll need to take your smartphone with you, and the watch can piggyback your phone’s data. For many this won’t be a massive issue, but as serious runners it’s a level of complication we like to avoid.
Fitbit OS 2.0 brings a new-look UI that offers more insights into your daily data and quick reply support for Android phone users (iOS support coming at a later date). You can still download apps and a whole lot of watch faces, pay from your wrist using Fitbit Pay, and tap into Fitbit Coach. Meanwhile the new women’s health tracking has also been introduced for the first time, which is also available for the Ionic, too.
But it’s battery life that really has the power to compel buyers, as well as the attractive price. You can get five days on a single charge, which means less hassle on weekends away, and simpler sleep tracking.
Read our Fitbit Versa reviewFitbit Versa Lite EditionBuy now: Amazon | $137Fitbit had such great success with the first Versa that it decided to make a cheaper version that strips out some of the smartwatch features. It wasn’t exactly the big seller it hoped it would be, but we still think it’s a great smartwatch.
The Lite is almost identical to the first Versa in looks, save for now just a single physical button on the watch body, which means you’ll be relying more on the touchscreen display to navigate the Versa Lite. In our experience, we didn’t miss the second button too much.
In terms of the feature that are lost, you don’t get a built-in music player or swim tracking (it’s still waterproof though). You do get an optical heart rate monitor and all the standard fitness tracking and sports tracking features along with app-based features like women’s health tracking. There’s also no longer Wi-Fi, with Fitbit introducing a new and easier way to update your smartwatch through incremental background downloads.
Sports and fitness tracking performance is not that different from what we found on the first Versa. Sleep tracking is still a standout feature, while the heart rate monitor still tends to falter for high intensity workouts. As a core smartwatch experience it’s decent, but it still lacks in comparison to its closest competitors. Particularly in the app department. If you love watch faces though, you’re well served here.
Thankfully you still get the same four-day plus battery life, which can definitely stretch to five days depending on usage. That’s still better than what Apple and Google’s Wear OS watches can muster up right now.
If you liked the Versa, but prefer to spend a little less, the Versa Lite Edition is fitting alternative. The swim tracking is a disappointing omission more so than the music player, but if you can live without monitoring your pool sessions it’s still a great smartwatch to consider at a great price.
Amazon: Fitbit Versa Lite
Read our Fitbit Versa Lite Edition reviewSamsung Galaxy WatchBuy now: Amazon | From $300The Samsung Galaxy Watch is the successor to the Gear S3 and is still one of the best watches around. Compatible with Android and iOS, it now comes in both 42mm and 46mm models.
Samsung treads between smartwatch and fitness tracker, also packing in a heart rate sensor alongside the GPS and its much-improved Samsung Health software. There’s also the option of LTE, if you wish for an untethered connection, with a standalone speaker for taking calls on the watch. It’s now waterproof too, adding swim tracking skills that are on par with the Watch Series 4.
The Galaxy Watch runs on Samsung’s Tizen OS 4.0 and feels like a better alternative to Google’s Wear OS right now. You still get that rotating bezel and one of the best displays you can find on a smartwatch. However, the app selection still lags way behind the Apple Watch and Wear OS devices. That said, the Spotify app is great and offers offline playback.
Battery life, we should say, is also solid, getting you 2-3 days on the 42mm model and more on the 46mm version. If you’re not a fan of Wear OS and don’t want an Apple Watch, this is the top option to consider instead.
Amazon: Samsung Galaxy Watch
Read our Samsung Galaxy Watch reviewGarmin Forerunner 645 MusicBuy now: Amazon | $397Garmin has been putting out go-to smartwatches for sports lovers for a while now. Running, cycling, swimming, golf – Garmin has had us well and truly covered. Despite the Forerunner name, the 645 Music is more in the mould of the Vivoactive 3 Music. It’s got a similar look and also brings the music this time. This helps make the Garmin more of a smartwatch rival to the Apple Watch, Samsung Gear or Fitbit Ionic than before.
Not only are you getting enough storage for 500 songs, but you’re getting the offline playlist support for Spotify, Deezer and iHeartRadio. For transferring your own tracks, boot up Garmin Express on your computer, select the Music tab and choose from your own music to port over.
That same attractive stainless steel design is here. The 240 x 240 pixel display at the heart of the body is by no means the brightest or most vibrant you’ll find, but crucially delivers strong visibility in most workout conditions, whether you’re sweating it out indoors or outside. However, there is no touchscreen or touchpad here, so you’ll have to resort to pressing some buttons.
As far as the number of sports available to track: while it’s more of the same, there are some notable exclusions – like golf tracking and open water swimming (pool swimming is there though). Heart rate monitoring is decent if not class-leading, and it won’t keep you waiting around for a GPS signal. There’s also all the stress tracking goodies from Garmin’s fitness trackers. As multi-sport smartwatches go, this is the best in our eyes, and builds on all the good work Garmin did with its previous iterations.
Of course, we’re listing the Forerunner here as a smartwatch, and Garmin has added decent smarts. Fitness tracking is fantastic and Garmin Connect is a decent ecosystem for wellness data from steps and sleep to workouts and stress. You can get everything happening on your smartwatch mirrored to your Forerunner, from calls and alerts, and it will suck in information on weather and the like. And battery life is seriously impressive, with a couple of weeks even for power users.
Amazon: Garmin Forerunner 645 Music
Read our Garmin Forerunner 645 Music reviewSamsung Galaxy Watch Active Buy now: Amazon | $199There’s finally a successor to the Gear Sport and it’s called Samsung Galaxy Watch Active.
To give you the rundown, the watch has a 1.1-inch, 360 x 360 screen, 20mm interchangeable straps and weighs just 25g. The 40mm case makes it smaller than the Galaxy Watch and the Gear Sport – but it sacrifices the rotating bezel. Despite the drop in size, it’s one of the most comfortable Samsung smartwatches we’ve worn and still has a high-quality display. That bezel is missed in places (particularly for selecting apps), but on the whole there’s a lot to like about this dinky watch.Read this: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 pictures and specs leakThe Samsung Galaxy Watch Active still runs Tizen and introduces OneUI from Samsung’s phones. It doesn’t radically change the software experience, but it’s zippy at swiping through screens and launching apps.
There’s still GPS on board and the swim tracking really impressed us in terms of accuracy. The same can be said about the heart rate monitor, which even delivered in the high-intensity tests. But it’s the Active’s fitness tracking skills that really impressed us with its ability to keep us moving in small but purposeful ways.
Samsung also includes mindfulness features like stress tracking and guided breathing. It did also promise us blood pressure monitoring, but in our experience it’s clearly not working as promised.
Battery life is around a day and a half, but can stretch to two days with a power saving mode that still lets you receive notifications.
If you can live with some of its shortcomings and you’re looking for a fitness-focused smartwatch that’s smaller than most of the competition, this could be the one for you. As we mentioned in our incoming section, there is a Galaxy Watch Active 2 now that brings a host of improvements. You will have to pay more for the newer Active though.
Amazon: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active
Read our Samsung Galaxy Watch Active reviewTicwatch E2Buy now: Amazon | $159.99Another top budget option, the Ticwatch E2 offers access to the benefits of Wear OS (the new name for Android Wear) in a stylish and wallet-friendly package.
The 46mm watch measures in at around 13mm thick and is only available in black. You do get a choice of interchangeable bands to make it less sporty though.
The fitness tracking as been “inspired” by the Apple Watch, and offers a neat and well-designed tracking experience. And when it comes to real sport, you can tap into Wear OS’s range of apps from the likes of Strava, Runkeeper and more.
There’s GPS built in and a heart rate monitor too, although we found the latter lacking in our stress tests. The headline feature is that it’s now swimproof and does offer decent swim tracking skills in the pool too.It’s by no means a complete fitness experience, but we like the Ticwatch’s funky design and bargain price. For casual users, is an interesting smartwatch option.
Read our Ticwatch E2 reviewSkagen Falster 2Buy now: Amazon | $295Designer smartwatches are catching on, but the majority of options out there likely come from Fossil Group’s ranks – and one of the finest among them is the excellent Skagen Falster 2. It’s a unisex watch that comes in a unisex size, although it’s undoubtedly one of the more masculine finishes in the Fossil Group line-up.
Slim and light, the Skagen challenges those who complain that smartwatches are too chunky, packing a full 1.19-inch OLED touchscreen. In terms of size, the case has been shrunk to 40mm, which as small as any smartwatch out there – and it’s extremely light too. At 0.8mm thick it’s no Daniel Wellington, but it’s as comfortable as any full-screen Wear OS watch out there.
It takes a standard 20mm strap, so you can pretty much choose anything from the analogue watch world to pimp out your smartwatch.
There are downsides for a tech perspective. It used older Qualcomm technology so battery life is mired around a single day’s use and we did notice some performance issues. But if you’re looking for style first and tech second – and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that – the Skagen Falster 2 is well worth your time.
Read our Skagen Falster 2 reviewFossil Q Venture HRBuy now: Amazon | $275Fossil Group may be holding the umbrella over a bunch of fashion houses producing smartwatches, but that doesn’t mean it’s not competing in the arena itself. And with its fourth-generation smartwatches, it’s produced perhaps the most attractive smartwatch on the market, from a fashion perspective.
Sharing some similarities with the older Michael Kors Access Sofie (our previous best fashion watch pick), the Fossil Q Venture HR wants to stand out, and fans of a more dressy watch will probably find it a better fit than those who like to keep their wrist wear understated.
Fossil is still keeping screen resolution and other specs under wraps, but we do know this generation (which includes the men’s Fossil Q Explorist HR) is the most feature-packed we’ve seen from the company. Building on the design improvements of the third-gen devices, which saw the flat tyre removed and a slimmer form factor, the Q Venture HR now also harbours some serious tech under the bezel.
There’s now a heart rate monitor, as the name suggests, for tracking beats throughout the day and during exercise, a GPS monitor to keep up with your workouts, and an NFC chip to enable Google Pay. Add to that the ability to take this underwater up to 50 metres, all on the top of the refreshed Wear OS, and it all rounds out as a very complete smartwatch experience.
Amazon: Fossil Q Venture HR
Read our Fossil Q Venture HR reviewMontblanc Summit 2Buy now: montblanc.com | $995Luxury smartwatches are a thing and some of them are actually very good. It started with Tag Heuer’s smartwatches then the likes of Louis Vuitton joined the connected party too. Now Montblanc wants in.
Its first smartwatch was underwhelming but, in its second coming, the Summit 2 is a watch that delivers on design and on features.
Montblanc has modelled its second generation watch on its 1858 collection offering sleek original watch faces, a high grade construction and a top notch 1.2-inch, 390 x 390 resolution touchscreen display.
Google’s Wear OS runs the show, but Montblanc manages to leave its mark with additional apps and those watch faces we mentioned to help things feel more unique. It’s now packed with more hardware features including built-in GPS, a heart rate monitor and a fully waterproof design to add any extra layer of durability.
This is also one of the first Wear OS smartwatches to run on Qualcomm’s new smartwatch tech that offers performance improvements across the board including battery life. You’re not going to get a week out of it, but it should make it through the day and maybe a little extra.
The new fitness features might not be perfect, but it’s nice for the casual gym goer. When you’re not sweating it out, it’ll sit there looking beautiful.
Read our Montblanc Summit 2 reviewWithings Steel HRBuy now: Amazon | $199.93The majority of smartwatches in our list have been full-screen devices, but the Withings Steel HR approaches things a little differently – yet is still a powerful connected watch in a package that weighs just 49g.
The analogue display shows the time on the main dial (with a month of battery life) and progress towards your step goal on the second dial – but there’s so much more going on than this.
The Withings Steel HR has a 24/7 heart rate monitor that will keep tabs on VO2 Max and it will pair up with a smartphone to track outdoor workouts via GPS, although the tech isn’t built into the watch itself. It’s also swimproof to 50m and isn’t too shabby in the pool either, tracking laps and lengths
What’s more, Withings Health Mate app is one of the best out there for keeping tabs on all your assorted health data.
It’s no slouch as a connected watch either, and will alert you to notifications on your smartphone using vibrations and the tiny OLED screen build into the bezel. This is capable of offering quick and fairly crude alerts, but can show you when a message/call/calendar alerts are coming through using quick icons.
It’s a stripped back smartwatch experience but one that’s packed into a stylish, small and comfortable hybrid that doesn’t make as many compromises as you’d think.
Amazon: Withings Steel Sport HR
Read our Withings Steel HR reviewHuawei Watch GT Buy now: Amazon | $183.99Huawei is still going with its Watch 2, but in 2018 came back to the table with something completely different. The Huawei Watch GT packs a huge set of features but on top of a custom operating system – those are words we usually utter with a huge amount of trepidation, but the Watch GT offers two weeks of battery life, which is a compelling sell.
And it doesn’t scrimp on tech. Huawei has packed in a 1.39-inch, 454 x 454 AMOLED screen. Which is among the best we’ve played with, comfortably matching up with the vibrancy and sharpness found on the Galaxy Watch and Apple Watch Series 4.
Lite OS may take away some of the deeper elements previously found in Huawei smartwatches, it’s still an impressive activity tracker with heart rate monitoring and sleep tracking.
Sports tracking on the general is good, but there is one gripe we do have: data cannot be shared with third-party apps. All of your data can only live inside of Huawei’s companion Health app. We also found the heart rate data to lag way behind accomplished sports tracking rivals.
Huawei makes big promises in the battery department: up to two weeks with normal use, a complete day of GPS tracking and up to a month with features like always-on display and GPS turned off. And it delivers. Even with continuous heart rate monitoring turned on, we’ve only had to charge the Watch GT once during our three weeks of use.
There’s now new Huawei Watch GT Active and Elegant editions that offers a less sporty look but comes with all of the same features adding a new Triathlon tracking mode. For those looking for Pebble-esque longevity, but are willing to forgo the glitz and lure of a fully formed operating system and all the apps and glamour – the Huawei Watch GT is an interesting choice.
Read our Huawei Watch GT review
It looks like Fitbit is preparing to launch smartwatch number four and this could well be our first look at it.
These official-looking renders were shared by serial leakster Evan Blass with the caption, “The next Versa-class smartwatch from Fitbit.” While we obviously don’t officially know this will be the Versa 2, it seems likely what we are looking at here is the follow-up to the Versa and not the Ionic.
Essential reading: Picking the best Fitbit for youThe picture shows off a pretty similar design that suggests the new Versa will be available in a series of finishes with the offer of both stylish and sporty band options.
The central watch in the image above shows some pretty standard information on the screen like step counts, heart rate and calories burned. But it’s the black model that has caught or eye as it seems to hint that Fitbit will introduce a smart assistant and that assistant could well be Amazon’s Alexa.
We have seen Alexa appear on smartwatches before like the Martian mVoice Watch and the DokiWatch kids smartwatch, but this would be the first high profile smartwatch to pack in the smart assistant.
That means we are likely to see a microphone and speaker on board, something that you do get on the Apple Watch, Samsung’s smartwatches and a host of Wear OS smartwatches. Our experiences with smart assistants on the wrist haven’t been all that great, so if Fitbit does add Alexa or its own assistant, we hope it’s has something pretty special to show off.Whatever this next smartwatch is packing, Fitbit will be hoping it can give the company’s smartwatch business a much needed lift after it revealed a revenue slump in its second quarter results. It seems the decision to launch the Versa Lite, a cheaper version of the Versa did not pay off and its third smartwatch experienced weaker than expected sales.The timing of this picture surfacing seems to indicate we probably won’t have to wait long to find out just what Fitbit has in store.
Fitbit has revealed that revenue for its smartwatch division fell in Q2 2019 – and it appears partly down to weak sales of the Versa Lite Edition.
In the company’s results it revealed that its tracker revenue increased 51% year-over-year, though smartwatch revenue was down 27% for the same period.Essential reading: Picking the best Fitbit for youThe company’s third smartwatch, which was essentially a cheaper version of its Versa watch with some features stripped away, experienced weaker than expected sales and was partly to blame for that disappointing second quarter for the wearable maker.In response to that slump, co-founder and CEO James Park said, “We remain confident in our long-term transformation strategy and have demonstrated good results across key areas of the business. We saw growth in devices sold, increased active users and continued growth in our Fitbit Health Solutions channel, up 42% in the first half of 2019.”
Among the company’s second quarter highlights, the new devices Fitbit introduced in the past 12 months, which include the likes of the Charge 3, Inspire series and Ace 2, represented 68% of the revenue. There is no breakdown of how those individual devices performed, despite the Versa Lite Edition being singled out for not performing as well as Fitbit hoped it would.
That dent in smartwatch revenue will be harder to take when smartwatch rival Apple announced massive wearable growth with its wearable division bringing in more revenue than its iPad division. While Apple’s wearables division does include AirPods as well, the Apple Watch continues to be a huge seller for the company.
With the fitness tracker landscape so drastically changing, Fitbit decided to enter the smartwatch space in 2017. In that time, we’ve had three smartwatches. The Ionic didn’t set the world alight, but then the Versa turned up and proved Fitbit could make a really good smartwatch. Offering a cheaper Versa Lite Edition seemed like a smart move based on the performance of the Versa. We even scored it higher than the original Versa, when we reviewed it.
Clearly, though, a cheaper Versa has not done the trick. Whatever its next smartwatch play is, it’s going to have to be a big one that gets Fitbit back on track.
Fitbit has revealed that revenue for the smartwatch part of its business decreased and it’s partly down to not a lot of people buying its Versa Lite Edition smartwatch.
In the company’s second quarter results it revealed that while its tracker revenue increased 51% year-over-year, smartwatch revenue was down 27% for the same period.Essential reading: Picking the best Fitbit for youThe company’s third smartwatch, which was essentially a cheaper version of its Versa watch with some features stripped away, experienced weaker than expected sales and was partly to blame for that disappointing second quarter for the wearable maker.In response to that slump, cofounder and CEO James Park said, “We remain confident in our long-term transformation strategy and have demonstrated good results across key areas of the business. We saw growth in devices sold, increased active users and continued growth in our Fitbit Health Solutions channel, up 42% in the first half of 2019.”
Among the company’s second quarter highlights, the new devices Fitbit introduced in the past 12 months, which include the likes of the Charge 3, Inspire and Ace 2, represented 68% of the revenue. There is no breakdown of how those individual devices performed, despite the Versa Lite Edition being singled out for not performing as well as Fitbit hoped it would.
That dent in smartwatch revenue will be harder to take when smartwatch rival Apple announced massive wearable growth with its wearable division bringing in more revenue than its iPad division. While Apple’s wearables does include AirPods as well, the Apple Watch continues to be a big seller for the company.
With the fitness tracker landscape so drastically changing, Fitbit decided to enter the smartwatch space in 2017. In that time we’ve had three smartwatches. The Ionic didn’t set the world alight, but then the Versa turned up and proved Fitbit could make a really good smartwatch. Offering a cheaper Versa Lite Edition seemed like a smart move based on the performance of the Versa. We even scored it higher than the original Versa when we reviewed it.
Clearly though, a cheaper Versa has not done the trick. Whatever its next smartwatch play is, it’s going to have to be a big one that gets Fitbit back on track.
So you’ve got a fancy new Apple Watch – congratulations. But now prepare to supercharge your experience with our updated list of essential Apple Watch tips.
The good news is that watchOS 5, Apple’s latest smartwatch operating system, is one of the more comprehensive on the market. This makes for a steep learning curve, but there’s a great amount of opportunity for customisation. And we’ve got watchOS 6 on the way later in the year to bring us more Apple Watch goodies.
Be ‘appy: The best Apple Watch apps to downloadTo give you a fast start, we’ve rounded up 46 essential hacks to help make the current Apple Watch even more useful, including improvements introduced through the most recent updates. From adding music to trimming unwanted notifications and even taking screenshots, your experience will be richer for reading this list.Today’s best Apple Watch dealsOrganise, and use, the app dockApple ditched glances way back in watchOS 3, and now you view all currently open apps by touching that side button. You should totally use this dock, stacking it with your most used apps. Why? Because these are the apps your Watch will prioritise when pulling in information and background refreshes.
You can customise the dock in your companion Watch app. It can be set to pull in the most recent apps you used, which works a little bit like multitasking on the iPhone. Or, you could turn it into a proper dock with your favourite apps. If you choose the latter, you can easily customise which apps appear.
If you’d like to customise the dock on the Watch itself, you can do so by clicking the side button, then 3D touching an app and tapping “Keep in Dock.”
Apple still doesn’t offer its own built-in sleep tracking mode but it is apparently in the works. For now though, that means it can’t quite match Fitbit, Garmin and others for offering the complete fitness tracking experience straight out of the box, but there are a bunch of apps that can bring the feature to the Watch. We’ve picked out the best sleep tracker apps for the Apple Watch so you don’t have to go hunting for them on the App Store.
If you’re fully kitted out with all the Apple gear, there’s also a way that you can use your Apple Watch to skip typing in a password on your Mac to get access, so long as you have a mid-2013 or a newer Mac that’s running macOS Sierra 10.12 or later. If you want to pair the two together, the first thing you need to is make sure they are both signed into the same iCloud account.
Your next step is to head to your Mac and choose System Preferences, then Security & Privacy and click the General tab. Here, you’ll be able to set the Apple Watch to unlock your Mac. Make sure two-factor authentication is enabled as well on your Mac (head to System Preferences > iCloud > Account Details > Security).
Check out our full guide on unlocking the Mac with Apple Watch.
In order to make sure you’re getting the most out of your Apple Watch, you’re going to want to update it regularly. This is fairly straightforward to achieve, and you should get a pop-up on your iOS device each time there’s an update ready. To check on iOS, head to the My Watch tab in the Watch app, tap through to General and then go to Software update. Follow the instructions and and, voila, you should be on your way. Just make sure to keep the Apple Watch on charge throughout.
Also, considering there’s different ways to force one, and you may need some troubleshooting tips, check out our full guide on how to update Apple Watch.
The most stylish Apple Watch bandsApple Music streaming now comes directly to your Apple Watch thanks to cellular support, but you can still add MP3s and pair it with some AirPods for music. You’ll need to head over to the companion Watch app, then over to the Music section.
Here, you’ll see a few options. You can have a couple of ever-updating playlists automatically sync music to your Watch when it’s charging. You can also manually add in songs by artist, album and playlist just below that. Thankfully, Apple has made this process much, much easier than before. Previously, you had to create a playlist first before syncing over any music.
Of course, you should get a good pair of Bluetooth headphones to listen to the music. In fact, when you start playing a song on your Watch and there are no Bluetooth headphone connected it’ll throw up a little pop-up box asking you to sync some headphones.
There’s also the Apple Watch Spotify app, too, in case you’re wondering what to do if you’re not an Apple Music subscriber. You’ll be able to add and play music to your Spotify library from within the app.
Read this:Best Apple Watch dealsIf you’re overburdened by notifications, you can wipe your recent history by swiping down from the top of your screen to access a chronological list. Once displayed, you can banish them all by long-pressing the screen then tapping Clear All. If you’re looking to manage your notifications and need more detailed help, though, check out our full guide on how to clear all notifications, which also includes tips on deleting texts and turning them off altogether.
Setting an alarm on the Apple Watch isn’t actually as straightforward as it may seem – sure, going into the Alarms app on the watch itself and twiddling around with the Digital Crown is easy enough, but there’s plenty to delve into. For details on how to set an alarm on the Apple Watch and keep it silent, or even set up Nightstand Mode, read our full guide. Timers, on the other hand, are actually very straightforward. No matter what event you’re clocking, simply heading into the Timers app and toggling how much time you want to track is about all there is to it.
Apple made several improvements to Siri in watchOS 5, and most of them are in the Siri watch face. Through machine learning, Siri will now be able to serve up more contextual information, such as showing heart rate after a workout, or sports scores if your favourite team is playing.
However, waking Siri and chatting with the assistant has also improved. No longer do you activate things through “Hey Siri” – you simply need to enable the new wrist-raise option which automatically kickstarts the assistant. If that’s too Dick Tracy for you, pushing and holding the crown will also make Siri pipe up.
Read our full guide on things to ask Siri on your Apple Watch.
How to turn off Siri on your Apple WatchIf you don’t find Siri all that useful, you can turn it off from your Apple Watch. To do it. go to the Settings on your Watch and then go to General. Go to the Siri option and then tap the toggle next to Hey, Siri to turn it off.
Take a screenshotAll Apple Watch devices can take screenshots when you push the Digital Crown and the action button below it at the same time. Images are then saved to the camera roll on your iPhone. This is not set as default, though. To enable screenshots, head to the Watch companion app and then go to General. There, you’ll be able to toggle Enable Screenshots on or off.
One of the big new features on the Series 4 is the ability to take an electrocardiogram (ECG). Or, well, it’s available in the US. It’ll take some time to roll out internationally. It’s an important feature that can help detect if you’ve got atrial fibrillation, so it’s worth checking out at least once. It can even be helpful to take before you head for a yearly checkup.
Discreetly view the timeIf you want to check in on the time without raising your wrist, you can slowly twist the digital crown upwards and it’ll brighten up the screen gradually to let you peek in, rather than fully illuminating the watch screen.
It happens. Maybe you get a new iPhone or you decide to give your old Apple Watch to someone else because you’ve upgraded. You’ll need to go through this process, which thankfully is pretty straightforward to do. You’ll need to go to the iPhone connected to your Watch. Head to the Watch app and open the My Watch tab, tap the ‘I’ on the screen and then hit Unpair Apple Watch.
You can also erase your data (if you want) by heading to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings on the device itself.
Change the wrist-raise actionThis tip came from complaining to golf app developer Hole19 about constantly having to reopen the app while out on the course. Didn’t we feel like fools.
In the Apple Watch settings menu, turn on the Wrist Raise feature. Below, you’ll have a couple of options under ‘On Screen Raise Show Last App’. You can choose to show the last app while you’re in session, within two minutes of last use, within one hour of last use, or always. Now, when you raise your wrist you’ll see the last app you were using.
You can also do it from within the Apple Watch app on your iPhone. Just go to General and then Wake Screen, you’ll have the same couple of options to choose from.
Get some bandsOne of the things Apple really pushes with the Apple Watch is bands. There are new bands released every few months, with new colours to match the season, and your wardrobe. That’s why we recommend having a look at what’s out there and taking advantage of the customisation options.
Read this: The best third-party Apple Watch bandsAnd if you don’t want to splash the cash on Apple’s bands, there are always third-party options. Despite new case sizes with the Apple Watch Series 4, your old bands will still fit, too – a handy design trick from Apple.
Struggling to swap them? Check out our how to change Apple Watch bands quick guide.
As with many third-party apps, Apple also lets you halt run tracking when you get interrupted or have to stop at a set of traffic lights. You can now enable automatic run pausing simply by heading to the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, heading to the My Watch section and then selecting Workout. Here, you’ll be able to toggle on Running Auto Pause.
Unlock Watch from your iPhoneIf you didn’t do this in the initial setup process, you can still unlock your Apple Watch and iPhone at the same time without having to hammer in a passcode (if you’ve set one of those up). To do this, go to the Watch companion app, where you can toggle the Unlock with iPhone feature on or off. You need to be wearing the Watch for this feature to work, though.
Turn on heart rate notificationsApple is taking heart health more seriously, and one of the newer features is a notification when your heart rate is detected as lower or higher than it should be. You can enable it in the heart rate section of the companion app.
Read this:Apple Watch heart rate monitor essential guideWhen you turn it on, you’ll be asked to choose a threshold. Then, your Apple Watch will only alert you when you go past the threshold and appear to have been inactive for about 10 minutes. On top of that, it’ll look for signs that your elevated/falling heart rate is a longer-term problem, rather than a temporary blip brought on by something terrifying – like a horror movie.
If you find yourself getting stressed in the day, you may find it useful to tap into the Apple Watch Breathe app. This allows you to follow the on-screen instructions and focus on your breathing for a select amount of minutes. It’s a handy wellness feature from Apple, and you can edit details such as how many breaths per minute you want to take, how many notifications you receive and how prominent the haptic feedback is through the Watch app on your iPhone.Chain together your workoutsYou triathlete, you. To date the Apple Watch has let you down, but it’s gotten better, and you can now chain together workouts, which means less time rubbing those sweaty fingers around the screen. If you want to jump from one type of workout to another, rather than stopping the current one, swipe right and tap the + button to add a new one on.
Sharing Activity ringsApple’s answer to Fitbit, Garmin and the rest of the fitness tracker fraternity is its Activity platform. That’s where all of your daily movements are recorded. In its latest iteration you can now share activity progress with other Apple Watch users. To do it, you need to add friends, which has to be done by going to the dedicated Activity app on your iPhone. You can then select Sharing and hit the + icon in the corner to add contacts.
Jog on: The best Apple Watch running appsBack on the Apple Watch, go to the Activity app and swipe right to see Activity data from your friends. You can also comment on workouts to keep them motivated, or to make fun of them. Either way, it’s your call.
The move goal is your calorie benchmark for each day, and while it’s a satisfying one to tackle, that battle gets a little old if it’s set too high or too low. Every so often, the Watch will nudge you to let you know how you’re getting on, but did you know you can alter the number directly from the watch?
Simply go to the Activity app and Force Touch the rings – you should see the move goal pop up and allow you to adjust. This is really handy for when you steadily want to ramp up your targets.
Use pictures as watch facesBy default, the Apple Watch selects images from the Favorites folder on your iPhone – something we’d never thought to use before. So go and tag some images in iOS using the heart button at the bottom. When you use the photo album watch face it will randomly select photos from the folder. You can tap the face to cycle through images.
Essential reading: Best Apple Watch faces to try outAlternatively, you can now turn those photos into trippy designs with the kaleidoscope face. On your iPhone, you should now now see a ‘Create Watch Face’ option in the action menu on any picture. This will let you stick a picture on your Watch either as is, or in kaleidoscope form.
Control music playbackWe’ve already talked about how to add music to the Apple Watch, but what about controlling it on other devices? Well, if you’ve updated past watchOS 4.3, you can control the music playback on the Apple HomePod or iPhone straight from the Watch. Of course, iPhone users could briefly do this after watchOS 4 first launched, though it was swiftly removed after music streaming was re-added to the smartwatch through watchOS 4.1.
With many users enjoying the control, though, and the HomePod entering more homes, users are now one again able to select tunes, alter volume and skip all from the wrist.
Change AirPods volumeIf you want to change the volume on the AirPods without taking out your iPhone, you have to ask Siri. Convoluted to say the least, but if you have an Apple Watch, you’re in luck.
When you’re playing music on a Watch running on watchOS 4 or later, whether it’s from your iPhone or Watch, you can glance at your watch to see what’s “Now Playing.” All you have to do is rotate the Digital Crown to raise and lower the volume. It couldn’t be more convenient.
Enable Fall DetectionApple made a big deal about Fall Detection during the Series 4 unveiling, but the feature actually isn’t turned on by default. When it is, the Watch is able to detect falls and offer automatic assistance.
However, unless you’re above 65 years old, or you haven’t specified your age inside the Health app, taking a hard fall won’t activate the new feature. To enable it no matter your age, head to the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, tap the My Watch tab, go through to Emergency SOS and toggle the Fall Detection option.
Apple itself indicates that physically active people are more likely to trigger false positives, but only you can decide whether the potentially incessant notifications are worth it.
Check your data usageIf you’ve got a Series 3 or Series 4 with cellular, you may want to keep an eye on your data usage. You never know whether something will tip you over your monthly plan. Alternatively, it’s neat to see how little data the Apple Watch actually uses.
You’ll have to head over to the companion app, checking in on the cellular menu option to see the information. Once you do, however, you’ll find out how much data you’ve used in the current period and which apps are using that data.
Check in on storageThere’s a decent amount of room on the Apple Watch to accommodate apps, emails and music. If you want to see how much storage you have to play with, head to the Apple Watch companion app, go to General and then select Usage. Here, you’ll be able to get a breakdown of how much space apps are taking up.
Change text sizeIf you find yourself constantly squinting at your wrist to read the Watch’s notifications, you can change the text size. Simply go to Settings > Brightness & Text Size then configure it to whatever’s comfortable for you.
Eject water after a swimFrom Series 2 onward, the Apple Watch is waterproof and includes an eject mode to get rid of any water that’s left lurking inside after you’ve gone swimming. If you want to manually use this feature, swipe up from the main home screen to view the Apple Watch Control Center. Look for the water droplet icon and press it. You’ll then be prompted to twist the digital crown to eject the water.
It’s actually a good idea to tap the droplet button before getting in the shower or pool (but don’t worry if you forget) as it also locks the screen, preventing it from confusing water droplets for your fingers.
Ping your iPhoneLose your iPhone? Good thing you have your Apple Watch on because it can help you find your handset in a pinch. Swipe up to bring up the Control Center, look for the ‘Ping iPhone’ button and tap to be reunited with your iPhone. If you tap and hold the ‘Ping iPhone’ button, your iPhone’s LED flash will blink, giving you a visual guide in case the speaker gets too muffled.
Reply from the wristApple doesn’t have a keyboard on the Apple Watch (and probably never will), but there are other ways you can respond to texts and emails. Apart from using custom responses, you can either tap the microphone to dictate replies with your voice, or scribble them letter by letter. That’s a little tasking, but Siri is getting better at voice detection, and when you’re paired with some Bluetooth headphones with a mic, the experience is much smoother.
Force restartApple says to do this action as a last resort, so if you’re left with no choice then hold the Digital Crown and side button together for 10 seconds. Just like restarting your iPhone, the Apple logo will pop up and your watch should restart.
Get your next Apple Watch fixCover to dimIf your Watch is set to notify you or ring with sounds, but you’re in the middle of a meeting or situation where loud dings are rude, you can turn on ‘Cover to Mute’ in the Sound & Haptics settings. Then simply cover your watch for three seconds for it take effect.
Use third-party complicationsAdded to the mix in watchOS 2 (but we’ll forgive you if you’re new to this), information can be drawn from third-party apps into watch faces. On the Series 4, the main faces for these are Infograph and Infograph Modular – where you’ll get spots for eight and six complications respectively. On other Series, you’ll have the Modular, Utility and Chronograph options.
Press and hold the watch face to cycle through the selection of faces, and tap Customize to enter an editing mode. Swipe to the right to make the areas that can be customised appear in boxes. Tap the area you want to change, and then use the crown to scroll through options – this is where those third-party complications can be added. Most can be turned off if you prefer the minimalist look.
If you don’t want to deal with the Watch’s tiny display, you can also do this on your iPhone via the Face Gallery in the companion app.
Use Theater ModeHave you ever sat in a dark cinema, moved your arm to get a little more comfortable and then seen a beacon go off on your wrist? That was your Apple Watch. To avoid being a public nuisance in the cinema, just swipe up on the watch face and click the Greek theatre faces to enable Theater Mode, which will keep your Watch’s display off during your film.
Do some gym-based cardioApple GymKit has rolled out, and while it’ll take a while for gyms across the world to get in the necessary equipment, the process has begun. Essentially, GymKit allows you to tap your Apple Watch to an NFC terminal on cardio equipment, which will then perfectly sync up all your exercise data.
Transfer a call to your iPhoneReceived a call on your Watch, but want to continue it on your actual phone? No problem. Accept the call from the smartwatch and swipe up to send it over. Seamless.
Get your podcast onThe Podcast app was one of our most requested features for watchOS 5, and we’re finally getting it. With the update, you’ll be able to listen to your favourite shows on the go, with them syncing up with your iPhone and Mac. Handily, that means you can pause halfway through an episode on one device and pick up on another.
Master the Workout appApple’s Workout app got another upgrade in watchOS 5. After it already had a new look last year, including a whole bunch of new workouts, like High Intensity Interval Training, skiing and snowboarding, the big addition this time around is automatic exercise detection.
Read this: Apple Watch Activity and Workout app explainedHowever, this doesn’t work quite how you would expect. The Apple Watch will sense what kind of workout you’re doing, but it won’t automatically start tracking it without you doing anything. Instead, it sends you a notification telling you that it thinks you’re working out, and it’ll remind you to start the tracking. Once you’ve done so, it’ll give you retroactive credit for the amount of workout you’ve already done. Similarly, if you forget to end a workout it’ll prompt you to do so.
As for new workouts, yoga and hiking are finally in the list. Yoga’s algorithm is built off your heart rate, while hiking takes pace, heart rate, and elevation gain into consideration. Put the watch in power reserve modeDraining power too fast? Swipe up on the main watch screen to bring up the Control Center. The first icon displays current battery status. Press this to reveal the Power Reserve button.
And if you’re finding this to be a consistent problem, it’s worth finding out how to get more out of your device throughout the day. Read our 15 tips to improving Apple Watch battery life.
Trim notificationsBy default, the Apple Watch will show any notification that appears on your iPhone, but you can turn each one off individually to quell the digital noise. In the iPhone’s Apple Watch app menu tap Notifications and scroll down to ‘mirror iPhone alerts from’ and start turning off those annoying offenders.
Set up for left handersThe Digital Crown isn’t best placed for south paws, who generally wear their watch on the right arm. However, you can have the Apple Watch flip its controls so that the crown works on the bottom left instead of top right. In the iPhone companion app go to General > Watch Orientation and then choose your preferred wrist and Digital Crown position.
Thankfully, there are a couple of different ways to organise your apps. You can keep the old honeycomb grid (shown above) if you want, and if you do choose that way, know that it’s much easier to fire up the companion app, head over to App Layout and organise it all there, instead of on the watch itself. If you want to be done with the honeycomb grid, you can also switch over to a list view. On the Watch, just force touch on the app selection screen to choose the grid view option.
Read this: Best cheap Apple Watch dealsMake Mickey and Minnie speakSay you’re a bit sad, and you need a jolt of joy. You can head over to your Mickey or Minnie watch face and tap on them to hear them tell you the time in their trademark voices. You’ll need to make sure it’s on by heading to Sounds & Haptics in the companion and enabling ‘Tap to Speak’.
Trim watch facesWhile Mickey has been the face of Apple’s marketing campaign, and he’s a fun novelty, it’s virtually impossible to tell the time from his stubby arms. In fact, there are only three watch faces we actually can bear to use. Banish the rest by swiping up on any offending design. If you want one back, just press the + at the end of the list.
Delete stock Apple appsUnless you’re really invested in the stock market, you probably haven’t touched Apple’s Stocks app on the iPhone. So why would you open it up on your Apple Watch?
Back in iOS 10, Apple added the ability to remove stock apps from your iPhone. Lucky for you, deleting those stock apps also removes them from your Apple Watch.
A headline addition that landed through watchOS 4.2, Apple Pay Cash is essentially a prepaid debit card that’ll both let you pay for things in stores and pay friends. So if you owe your friends for that lunch, or you just lost a bet, you can simply open the messages app on your Watch and pay them. You can also request money from friends if they’re avoiding you.
Setting up Apple Pay Cash is simple. If you’ve got a debit card linked to your Apple Pay account, all you have to do is head to Settings on your phone, then ‘Wallet & Apple Pay’ then ‘Apple Pay Cash’. You simply agree to the terms and – voila – you’re all set up.
Check out these Apple Watch how-tosHow to use your Apple WatchHow to make an Apple Watch faceHow to stream music on Apple WatchHow to use Apple HealthHow to set up your Apple WatchHow to use Apple Watch Breathe appHow to make calls on Apple WatchHow to enable running auto pause Apple WatchHow to use Spotify on Apple WatchHow to add music tracks to Apple WatchHow to clear all notifications on Apple WatchHow to set an alarm on Apple WatchHow to update Apple WatchHow to get LTE on Apple WatchHow to use Siri on Apple WatchHow to unlock Mac with Apple WatchHow to pair Apple WatchHow to take an ECG
There was a brief time, when wearing the original Pebble smartwatch meant sporting the hippest piece of consumer technology on the planet.The e-paper smartwatch debuted in April 2012 as the first true Kickstarter phenomenon. It was one of those products tech enthusiasts just love to show off, and perhaps the first wearable MVP.Read our original thoughts: Pebble smartwatch reviewPebble watches prefaced the era in which Apple makes the most popular watch on earth, by putting phone notifications at the centre of the experience and by ensuring time-telling was just one reason to glance at the wrist.
The first modern smartwatchAlthough Pebble heralded the dawn of the modern smartwatch era, it was far from the first to coin the term. In one form or another, the category dates back to 1927. Even Allerta, the company behind Pebble, had previously made the inPulse watch for BlackBerry phones, while Sony and Fossil were also dabbling.
However, Pebble does get due credit for being the first intelligent timepiece to fully align with the smartphone era; offering full iPhone compatibility and also playing nicely with Android. Indeed, so much of the functionality we come to expect from a 2019 smartwatch can be traced back to this device.
The first edition Pebble watch borrowed GPS from the phone for runners and cyclists, and leveraged a three-axis accelerometer to make it a viable alternative to early fitness trackers.
It enabled Bluetooth control of the most popular music apps from the wrist (especially handy because we all had speaker docks back then) and delivered smartphone notifications and caller ID. It also pioneered the way the companion smartphone apps could be used to deliver updates, new apps and fresh watch faces.
The black and white e-paper display enabled a five-day battery life, while an open SDK enabled developers to build apps, which saw heavyweights like Uber, Runkeeper, Misfit and TripAdvisor embrace the platform.
Sure, that plastic build had a cheap feel to it, and the display was a bit of a fingerprint magnet, but a logical button-based UI design meant you barely had to touch it anyway.
The 68,989 initial Kickstarter backers were suitably convinced by the proposition and placed $10,266,845 in Pebble’s coffers, amassing the funding goal 100 times over in just five weeks.
Unlike many Kickstarter campaigns of the era, it actually delivered without screwing over backers
That unprecedented success meant the watch got better before it even arrived, with Pebble upgrading from Bluetooth 2.1 to 4.0 and adding improved swim-proof water resistance (5ATM).
Nine months later those first Pebble watches began shipping to backers and the tech world sat up and took notice. Millions more sales followed and, for a while, things were looking really, really good.
“I think Pebble’s initial design really captured something that people wanted from a smartwatch and I believe is still core to the smart watch’s utility. The Pebble watch really hit home on the need to have a long battery life, to be able to always tell time and to give you your notifications in a non-intrusive manner.
“I think those fundamentals are still here with us today and most smartwatch makers still build devices to those fundamentals,” Anshel Sag, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy told Wareable.
Too many kick-startsRaising $1 million in 28 hours made Pebble the poster child for the Kickstarter generation, offering proof that anyone with an idea good enough, could stand-up to established industry players.
Initially, Pebble utilised Kickstarter to perfection. The company bypassed the slog of securing venture capital and avoided giving away chunks of equity to investors.
While the campaign raised the funds necessary to enter production, it also gave those first backers a sense of belonging, fostering a unique brand loyalty. A byproduct of the campaign was the incredible buzz it created, ensuring the watch was covered by every noted tech publication on Earth within days. And, most importantly, unlike many Kickstarter campaigns of the era, it actually delivered without screwing over backers.
This should have provided the platform for Pebble to kick on as a self-sufficient entity, which no-longer required kick-starting. But instead of passing the torch to the next generation of groundbreakers, it decided to compete with the little guy for that funding cash. More than once. Effectively, it began using Kickstarter as a pre-order mechanism, rather than a funding source for people who didn’t have one.
Granted, the company was making a pre-emptive strike against the pending launch of the Apple Watch, but it left a sour taste and sacrificed some of the goodwill the company had built with that initial release.Nonetheless, the Pebble Time and Pebble Steel broke Kickstarter records, closing at $20.3m after reaching the funding goal within minutes. It briefly left the platform for the Pebble Time Round launch in late 2015, but returned the following year, when the Alexa-enabled Pebble Core, Pebble 2 and Pebble Time 2 brought in $12.7m.
Had the likes of Samsung, LG, Moto, and the fitness device makers been the only competition Pebble faced, the company might still be around today. However, as soon as Apple arrived on the scene in April 2015, Pebble’s prospects sank.
While Pebble sold an estimated 130,000 watches in Q3 of 2016, Apple was shifting 2.8m. With just 2% of all smartwatch sales, the modern pioneer had been reduced to a tiny part of a fledgling market.
The company admitted defeat by selling to Fitbit for a mere $23 million in December 2016, six months after launching its final Kickstarter campaign, leaving many backers without the devices. Full refunds were promised, but some backers saw only partial repayments. The company, which had personified the positives of crowdfunding, finished-up as just another startup to overpromise and under-deliver.
It’s ironic that Fitbit was the company to bring Pebble’s journey to a close. In 2012, the pioneering startups were in a similar position. However, Fitbit found a way to adapt, diversify its appeal, relentlessly innovate and co-exist with the tech behemoths. So much so, it ended up buying a contemporary and spinning it into future plans. Sadly, those plans didn’t involve continued support for existing Pebble watches, which ended in 2018.
Pebble lives, in more ways than oneWhen Fitbit purchased Pebble, it absorbed some of the engineering team. If you’re wearing a Fitbit Versa or Ionic smartwatch today, it’s loaded with Pebble DNA as the Fitbit OS is essentially built atop the Pebble platform.
So, for the sentimental Pebble fan out there, it may be comforting to know that the defunct company is still effectively taking the fight to Apple and Google. For those burned by Kickstarter refunds, or the premature end of support for the platform, this may be scant comfort.
However, there is also life. The awesomely-named Rebble operating system, envisioned by Pebble employees the day the Fitbit sale was announced, has restored much of the original functionality. It maintains the 5-day battery life from an always-on display and delivers all the notifications you care about. If you pay $3 a month, you can get weather and voice recognition and dictation on supported watches. Eventually there could be an app store.
Essential reading: The complete guide to RebbleThanks to Rebble, which has the blessing of former Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky, more than 100,000 Pebble users whose watches have successfully been brought back to life. Rocking a Pebble with Rebble effectively makes those original watches cooler than they’ve been since 2013. They are to smartwatches what those Casio calculator watches are to their digital counterparts.
“The funny part about the Pebble is that its design is so simple and timeless that it still works today while other smartwatches have come and gone. Simplicity is ultimately king,” Anshel Sag continued.And while Pebble has gone – its DNA is a huge part of modern wearables, and its legacy will endure far longer than its smartwatches.
One of the great strengths of the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active – aside from its sporty smartwatch credentials – is its customisation options. It takes standard 20mm straps, which opens up your choice considerably.
Picking the right Galaxy Watch Active band for the right occasion can completely change its look and feel. So whether you’re going out for a formal dinner, or taking in a few laps in the pool, you’ll want to pair up accordingly.
Essential reading:Samsung Galaxy Watch Active tips and tricksYou also need to keep in mind the colour of your watch casing as the Galaxy Watch Active is available in four different finishes. Keep in mind how a new strap will look with your particular model.
The great news is that there are plenty of bands out there compatible with the Galaxy Watch Active, and these can be quickly and easily swapped out as your mood requires.
Thankfully you don’t have to necessarily stretch to the higher prices of the official options from the Samsung Store. These can cost upwards of $39.99, so it’s worth looking at third-party options.
We’ve picked out the very best for you right here so you don’t have to go hunting.
EZCO Silicone Strap 3-PackBuy now: Amazon | $11.99For a very low price you’re getting not just one, but three silicone bands perfect for the Galaxy Watch Active. There’s a choice of the above colors or black, white and grey combos. The above are a great choice if you want something similar to the standard silicone band but want to inject a bit of colour.
These silicone bands use the same fastening button fastening method from the Apple Watch’s sport band if that’s your thing as well. With three different colors you can swap them out to suit your mood or the occasion. The quick release spring bar makes this super easy.
KIMILAR Sports Band 3-PackBuy now: Amazon | $11.99Another great value triple-pack. This one is also made from silicone, so it’s a good choice for exercise or getting laps in at the pool. The added perforations will also aid in letting sweat escape. There’s a choice of different color combinations, so pick the trio you like.
You also have a choice of small (5.8-inches to 7.1-inches) or large (7-inches to 8.5-inches) so be sure to measure your wrist and pick accordingly. This strap also uses a convenient button fastening.
Spigen Modern FitBuy now: Amazon | $16.99Spigen is well known for its more premium accessories, and that’s what you’re getting here. If you want to class up your Galaxy Watch Active, this traditional metal link strap makes it look more like a traditional timepiece on your wrist.
The solid stainless steel bands are durable and you also get a handy tool kit included for adjusting the size, letting you add or remove links as required. Quick release pins let you remove it if you need to swap it for something sportier before a workout.
Women’s BraceletBuy now: Amazon | $18.99If you’re looking for a decidedly more feminine strap for your Galaxy Watch Active, this sparkling bracelet option might check the right boxes. You can easily resize this by removing the folding links, and this doesn’t require any additional tools. This strap can fit wrists between 5.1-inches to 7.8-inches.
The stones are set in place and not glued on, which should mean they won’t go missing. The strap itself is made from stainless steel.
Spigen Liquid Air ArmorBuy now: Amazon | $13.99Another one from Spigen, but this one’s more than just a strap. It’s actually a strap and a case for your Galaxy Watch Active, adding extra protection for your smartwatch. The casing has a scratch-resistant and shock-absorbent, which is great news if you’re on the clumsy side.
The raised bezels around your smartwatch also helps protect your screen. The slim, form-fitting design ensures there’s not too much added bulk and that the buttons still work easily. The convenient wireless charging functionality isn’t impacted, either.
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Based on the latest leaks and industry whispers, it looks like the next Samsung smartwatch will be the Galaxy Watch Active 2 – and we could be looking at a release date as soon as 7 August 2019.Samsung only launched the original Galaxy Watch Active back in February this year, so it would be an interesting move to dish out an upgrade so soon.While we have obtained some exclusive information on what we can expect (more on that below) the latest speculation suggests that Samsung could include a rotating bezel, which features on its Galaxy Watches and was left out from the first Active.
Essential reading: The best smartwatches to buy 2019That’s according to the folks at Sammobile who claim that the bezel will be back but it won’t be the twisty, physical kind. Instead users will swipe their fingers to activate the bezel. It sounds very similar to something we saw crop up on the Misfit Vapor smartwatch, which we weren’t entirely convinced over its usefulness.
The same source has revealed what it believes will be the screen sizes for the new Watch Active 2. The 44mm Active 2 will pack a 1.4-inch display while the 40mm Active 2 will feature a 1.2-inch display. Both will use 360 x 260 resolution AMOLED screen tech.
So what else do we know about the next Samsung smartwatch? Read on to find out.Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2: What to expectAccording to exclusive information obtained by Wareable, it seems as if there will be three models of the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 landing, including an LTE and Under Armour branded version.
We gave our review of the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active a higher rating than the Galaxy Watch, so the prospect of an update – with even more features packed into its affordable and more compact body is certainly intriguing.We’ve got it on good authority that there will be three versions of the Galaxy Watch Active 2 including an Under Armour variant. There will also be a an LTE model and a Bluetooth-only model.
Our first big indication that the Active 2 is incoming came courtesy of the usually very reliable folks at Sammobile who managed to get hold of some pictures it believed was the new smartwatch.
In the series of alleged images (which you can see above), we can see a bezel-less watch with the words, ‘Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2’ on the display. The other big hint towards this being a new Watch Active and not a Samsung Galaxy Watch 2 as previously rumored, is the smaller stature and the distinct lack of a bezel. Samsung decided to ditch its signature rotating bezel on the first Active, which it’s fair to say was something we were a bit disappointed about.The pictures appear to indicate that we can expect some hardware changes including a now rectangular back button and a home/power button that appears to show off a red ring. There’s no indication whether that red ring signals a new feature or it’s purely a cosmetic change, but that is an approach that Apple adopts to denote when its watch packs in LTE connectivity (more on that below).
Picture credit: Android HeadlinesPicture credit: EvleaksThen a very legitimate looking render turned up courtesy of the folks at Android Headlines, followed by one from serial leakster Evan Blass, which appears to confirm that name once again. It also shows off leather and silicone straps and the rose gold casing we saw on the smaller Galaxy Watch. It also shows off that red ring around one of the buttons, which was shown off in the first set of leaked pictures. The data on the watch face doesn’t give too much away in terms of features with confirmation it seems that a heart rate monitor will be on board once again.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2: Key specs Like all of Samsung’s smartwatches, we fully anticipate it to run on its own in-house Tizen OS. But what else can we expect?The new watch will apparently run on version 1.5 of Samsung’s One UI. That’s the company’s mobile-centric interface, which first made the leap onto Samsung smartwatches on the first Active.Those first round of images from Sammobile appear to show the presence of a microphone in between the two physical buttons with speaker grilles on the opposite side of the watch casing, which may indicate that Samsung’s Bixby voice assistant will be on board too.
The big headline feature is set to be the introduction of ECG for clinical-grade heart health monitoring to match the Apple Watch Series 4. Bringing an electrocardiogram to the wrist would enable users to capture more serious heart rate data, which can then be shared with physicians to offer insights into health-related issues. However, from our exclusive inside info, we’ve learned that the the Active 2 will indeed have an electrocardiogram (ECG) monitor as rumored, sources say that Samsung is still waiting on FDA approval and doesn’t anticipate it will get it until “some time in the first half of 2020”.The Active 2 will also apparently be able to offer atrial fibrillation notifications by monitoring heart rate rhythms in the background. Again, this is something Apple is offering through multiple models of its smartwatch.The Apple mirroring won’t end there, either, with a fall detection feature also tipped to be included. This means that the watch can detect when the wearer has experienced a hard fall activating an alert and even contacting emergency services or assigned emergency contacts.If Samsung is ready to go down the health monitoring route, we sincerely hope it does a better job than it did with the blood pressure tracking feature it promised with the first Samsung Galaxy Watch Active. This was meant to offer the ability to take blood pressure readings without the need for the cuff-style setup you’d normally use. Except a lot of people (including ourselves) had problems getting the feature to work at all.On the battery front, we believe that the Galaxy Watch Active 2 LTE model will have a 340mAh battery while the Wi-Fi only Watch Active 2 will pack in a smaller 237mAh battery. Clearly that bigger battery is needed to accommodate that extra connectivity support in the LTE version. Either way, it looks like we can expect a little bump up in battery capacity compared to the Galaxy Watch Active, which made room for a 230mAh battery.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2: Price and release dateWhen will the Galaxy Watch Active 2 launch? As we said, the first Active only launched a few months back so dropping another one before the end of 2019 would be an odd move. But the amount of information that has dropped over the last few weeks and months suggests we may be edging closer to that launch.
We may well see the new watch at Samsung’s next Unpacked event, which takes place on 7 August, where Samsung’s next Note smartphone is likely to be hogging the limelight. Maybe a new smartwatch will share some of that attention next month, too.