Just Buy a Dang Smartwatch

Illustration for article titled Just Buy a Dang Smartwatch

Photo: Catie Keck/Gizmodo

Let’s talk about smartwatches for a minute.

I have, for an inordinate amount of time, been extremely averse to donning a smart device on my wrist. My reasons for this weird hangup were twofold, and, in retrospect, pretty dumb: First, I try to the best of my ability to limit the amount of time I spend staring at screens, in part because it’s what I do all day every day to perform my job (whether they be TV screens, my laptop, or my phone). The second reason was that I felt the smartwatch was extremely unnecessary for me, a person who works out with some regularity and generally tries to be outside as much as possible. Surely, I thought in the Before Times, this is the fitness equivalent of tracking macros. I had about as much interest in tracking my movements as I did in logging what I ate in MyFitnessPal—which is to say, very little.

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But reader, I was sorely mistaken. If you’ve at all been considering a smart wrist device, you should confidently take the leap. And listen, I realize I’m extremely late to the smartwatch party. But if you’ve also been on the fence, just hear me out.

The capabilities of smartwatches today compared to those of a decade ago are considerable, and better and more inclusive designs mean that they’re not as ugly or clunky (an issue for those of us who have smaller wrists). Smartwatches today are virtual assistant-enabled, track things like your sleep and heart rate with considerable accuracy (even if not yet totally perfect across the board), and can relay information about everything from the weather to your blood oxygen levels. You can track your period or listen to music. Some devices will even allow you to place calls. Still, with all of this information in mind, paying a couple hundred bucks for a miniature computer for my wrist just wasn’t a priority for me, personally. I simply wasn’t a Watch Gal—at least not until a couple of months ago.

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After covid-19 shuttered gyms—where I did the majority of my physical exercise in weight classes—I struggled to motivate myself to be physically active at home. In pre-pandemic times, I was almost exclusively motivated to get those gains when in a group setting. But that’s no longer possible, and if I’m being honest, the daily doom scroll of the last six months hasn’t exactly done wonders for the mind and body. In any event, when self-motivation became a daily struggle, I finally took the smartwatch plunge with Apple Watch Series 6. And let me tell you, it’s been an absolute quarantine game-changer.

After a couple weeks with my Series 6, I’m working out more than I did even in pre-pandemic times, and I’m moving my body more in other ways as well—standing, walking, hiking, etc.—something that’s been a huge boost for my mental health. In fact, when I was without my new watch for a few days recently, I felt like a husk of a person. And I did find—however silly this may sound—that being without my fitness tracker left me far less motivated to be physically active. Who am I, even, if I’m not able to close my daily rings?!

In all seriousness, though, you don’t need to drop $400 on a smartwatch to get a lot of the benefits that make me love this little wrist computer so much. Even the considerably cheaper Apple Watch SE has many of the same perks as a Series 5 or 6 and costs a fraction of that price at just $280, and there are plenty of powerful smartwatches to meet every need in the sub-$200 category. As far as non-Apple watches go, the Fitbit Sense is lovely, and if you’re in the market for an Android-powered device, the gorgeous, round-faced Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is an option you also might consider. (For the love of god, though, do not buy an Apple Watch Series 3.)

Whatever watch you settle on, hear me when I say: If you’ve written off smartwatches like I did, give it some more thought. You won’t regret it.

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