Look, my opinion about which cheap smartwatches are really the best is one thing, but it’s another to take a deep look yourself and make some decisions. Want to know how to figure out which cheap smartwatch is really worth your time and money? Let’s do some digging.
Why Buy a Cheap Smartwatch, Anyway?
First and foremost, it’s a good idea to figure out if a cheap smartwatch will be a good investment. “Cheap” is relative, especially when it comes to these gadgets. Even the most affordable smartwatches will usually run you around $50 at minimum (though you can sometimes find cheaper devices, especially if you look for certain deals or sales).
This means that folks on really tight budgets may still need to consider whether a smartwatch is a device they really need or want before pulling the proverbial trigger.
Cheap smartwatches, despite not having as many features or extra widgets as their more expensive competitors, are still great devices that will, on average, be able to:
- work as a regular watch, of course
- monitor your heart rate and sleep activity or cycles
- monitor certain exercise activities, such as steps walked or distance run
- connect to a smartphone or another mobile device to bring you text notifications
- play music
- track your location using GPS
- and more
- phone calling or voice commands
- advanced apps and tracking stats
- LTE connectivity (i.e. can make calls without using Bluetooth to link to your phone)
This isn’t to say that cheap smartwatches won’t have these specs or features, but some or all of them may be missing depending on the model in question.
To this end, I think you should consider why you want a smartwatch in the first place and figure out whether getting a budget smartwatch is worth the cost or if you’d be better off saving up for a more expensive but more robust model instead.
It’s all up to you. In my book, cheap smartwatches can be great gifts, particularly for friends or family who aren’t super device savvy, as they might be happy with a basic gizmo instead of the latest, top-of-the-line offering. Cheap smartwatches also serve as good gifts for kids or teenagers who may not need all of the more advanced apps or features given their lifestyles and interests.
What to Look for in a Budget Smartwatch?
If you do decide to go after a budget smartwatch, it’s important to compare their different features and aspects so you’ll know if a given watch is right for you.
The operating system for a smartwatch is pretty crucial. Some of the best use Wear OS by Google, which is prized across the industry since it’s the only operating system designed specifically for smartwatches. This means that it’s built for smaller screens and many of the apps or functions common to these devices, rather than being an OS derived from software made for regular computers, such as Android OS or iOS.
Wear OS isn’t the only worthwhile option, however. Apple has its own smartwatch OS, and Android usually works pretty well given that the OS was designed for modular or small devices from the get-go. You might prefer one operating system or the other based on which tablets or smartphones you use. For example, Android smartwatches operate pretty similarly to Android phones.
One similar thing to check is which phones or devices a given smartwatch is compatible with (I noted this aspect in each of my reviews). The vast majority of cheap smartwatches will be compatible with both iOS and Android phones, but some may be limited to one or the other. Just double-check before purchasing so you don’t accidentally buy a smartwatch that doesn’t connect to your phone.
Features and Specs
I’d also recommend that you check out the features and specifications of a smartwatch. Smartwatch specs include things like:
- how big the watch face is
- the size and color of the band
- the materials used to make the smartwatch
- how long the battery life is
Smartwatch features are the widgets, apps, and functions that it brings to the table. It’s everything the smartwatch allows you to do or that it does for you. These include things like:
- fitness and sleep tracking
- monitors for your biometrics, like your heart rate or stress levels
- apps and widgets, such as calendar apps, texting apps, and more
- fitness apps and digital coaches
The more features a smartwatch has, the better overall value it usually offers since you’ll just be able to do more with it. Of course, budget-friendly smartwatches usually have fewer features than their pricier counterparts, though this isn’t always true.
Be sure to investigate all of the features a smartwatch has so you don’t buy a smartwatch expecting one thing, only to be disappointed when it doesn’t have something necessary for your enjoyment.
Some cheap smartwatches are way more customizable than others. Personalization for smartwatches applies in two areas: the exterior wristband or watch face and the screen or interface.
Many cheap smartwatches only have a few different color options or band choices – this is probably related to their low prices. Beggars can’t always be choosers, right?
However, some may have as many as five or more different band color or material choices for you to pick between. Consider these aspects carefully since certain smartwatches are better for sporty or fitness clothes while others can be worn even to formal occasions without looking out of place.