On this month’s PCMag Readers’ Selection Award survey, we take a look at wearable units—particularly smartwatches and fitness trackers. Within the final quarter, Apple alone bought three.9 million wearables, adopted closesly by Xiaomi (three.6 million), and Fitbit (three.5 million), according to Canalys. In fact, like many PCMag readers, I embraced wearables early, pushed by a really actual want.

About eight years in the past, I used to be out having a really good lunch with a buddy. To be well mannered, I saved my smartphone in my pocket, however I had it set to vibrate in case somebody was on the lookout for me. All through the meal, I by no means felt the cellphone vibrate. Nevertheless, once I checked the cellphone as I used to be leaving, I discovered a number of missed calls from my spouse in addition to a texted image of her automobile, smashed up, with the word, “If you wish to know why the automobile seems like this, name me.” I felt terrible and phoned my spouse straight away. Apparently, a driver had ignored a cease signal and plowed straight into her automobile. Fortuitously, my spouse wasn’t harm, however we could not say the identical for the automobile.

I stated to myself that there needed to be a wearable gadget that will let me know once I was getting a name or a textual content message. This was earlier than huge corporations like Apple and Samsung supplied smartwatches. I lastly stumbled on a primary analog watch from ThinkGeek with a tiny Bluetooth-connected digital show and a vibration motor. It was nothing fancy, however it did precisely what I wanted. Sadly, the watch portion broke after solely 5 months, and I used to be again at nighttime.

A number of years later, a small Canadian firm, Pebble Expertise, introduced the Pebble smartwatch on the crowdfunding web site Kickstarter. The corporate was on the lookout for $100,00zero to get the product off the bottom, however raised over $10,00zero,00zero from almost 70,00zero backers inside a month. Clearly, I wasn’t the one one with this pent-up want. The first Pebble Smartwatch was one PCMag’s first Editors’ Selection winners for wearables. Sadly, Pebble could not compete as soon as the massive boys entered the market and final 12 months was purchased for its technology by Fitbit.

Firms like Fitbit, Garmin, Jawbone, and lots of others have been very busy over the previous a number of years creating small, light-weight, and pretty cheap units to assist folks monitor their steps, coronary heart charge, sleep, and extra. The info gathered by these units helped wearers set objectives and take part in health competitions on-line.

Lately, the road between smartwatches and health trackers has blurred virtually fully. Maybe extra precisely, smartwatches are subsuming the health tracker market. The Apple Watch, Samsung Gear, and others present the identical measurements as a devoted health tracker. In response, Fitbit, Garmin, and others have added smartwatch performance to the higher-end portion of their product strains.

We requested our survey respondents how they use their wearable gadget; 94 % of respondents monitor well being and health—it is the most well-liked use. In fact, most units—even your smartphone—do that robotically. Even if you happen to’re a sofa potato, you’re being tracked. (For some cause, plainly my smartwatch at all times compliments me on hitting my motion aim once I’m on the best way to the kitchen to get a snack.)

The following most typical use is as a watch (76 %), adopted by receiving textual content message notifications (59 %), and cellphone name notifications (55 %). Nevertheless, the trade percentages are dragged down by particular manufacturers. As an example, solely 66 % of Pebble customers (there are many them nonetheless on the market) monitor well being and health and solely a couple of third of Fitbit customers get textual content and cellphone notifications.

Reader's Choice 17 - Wearables - Top Uses

Up to now, other than their fitness-tracking capabilities, smartwatches have primarily served as distant screens for smartphones, displaying smartphone notifications, controlling smartphone music, and so forth. Now we’re starting to see smartwatches (comparable to sure variations of the newest Apple Watch and the Samsung Gear S3) with built-in mobile help, to allow them to function untethered, letting you permit the cellphone behind and nonetheless make calls, ship texts, view maps, and stream music. Though these characterize the excessive finish of the smartwatch market, they might foretell an eventual swap to the smartwatch as the middle of your private communication and leisure world.

If you happen to’re contemplating your first smartwatch or health tracker or fascinated about upgrading, learn on. See how our survey respondents rated their satisfaction with the units they use on a number of standards that can assist you make the suitable selection.

The PCMag Readers’ Selection survey for Smartwatches and Health Trackers was within the discipline from October 16, 2017 by way of November 6, 2017. For extra info on how the survey is carried out, learn the survey methodology. Every one who accomplished the survey was entered right into a drawing to win an Amazon.com reward card valued at $350.

You possibly can win! Sign up for the Readers’ Choice Survey mailing list to obtain invites for future sweepstakes.

On the lookout for professional opinion? Learn The Best Smartwatches and The Best Fitness Trackers.

Wearable Survey Outcomes

Apple has a method of bringing legitimacy to a market. It wasn’t the primary out of the gate with a digital music participant, for instance, however iPods quickly dominated gross sales. It additionally wasn’t the primary in smartphones; BlackBerry had smartphones for years earlier than the iPhone arrived. And it actually wasn’t the primary to market with a smartwatch or health tracker. However when the Apple Watch confirmed up in 2015, it had a cultured, considerate design not usually present in first-generation merchandise. Now on its third technology, Apple is delivering the very best satisfaction scores on almost each measure and it wins our first Readers’ Selection Award within the wearables class.

Reader's Choice 17 - Wearables - Overall

5 corporations acquired the requisite minimal 50 responses from readers to be included in our survey evaluation. Apple earned high marks on most measures, together with general satisfaction (eight.eight on a scale from zero for terribly dissatisfied to 10 for terribly glad), satisfaction with reliability (9.1) and ease of setup (9.zero) amongst different scores. As well as, it acquired a 9.2 for chance to advocate, an important measure of buyer satisfaction; it is also the query used to generate the Web Promoter Rating of 73 %, the very best of all of the distributors.

Apple Watch’s highest ranking was 9.6 for satisfaction with conventional watch capabilities, however it additionally acquired excessive marks for satisfaction with receiving cellphone notifications (9.zero), satisfaction with receiving textual content message notifications (9.2) and satisfaction with setting timers (9.four), a comparatively mundane however extraordinarily helpful perform of those units.

Devoted health trackers primarily compete with smartwatches on worth; they do and price much less. On the subject of satisfaction, nevertheless, they do not charge any higher. Apple’s ranking of eight.eight for satisfaction with monitoring well being and health beat Fitbit and Garmin, which each acquired scores of eight.6 for monitoring. Samsung, which primarily makes smartwatches but in addition presents plain ol’ health trackers, was proper behind at eight.5.

Apple Watch Series 3 vs. fitbit ionic

Curiously, the second highest rated product in general satisfaction was the now-defunct Pebble model. Respondents gave Pebble an eight.5 for general satisfaction, beating Samsung (eight.four), Garmin (eight.2), and Fitbit (7.eight). Pebble house owners have been life like about the way forward for the model—it solely rated 6.1 for chance to advocate—however it’s clear respondents preferred their Pebble smartwatches. The corporate delivered easy, cheap customizable units that allow you to know if you acquired a cellphone name or textual content message. Pebble acquired a 9.6 for satisfaction with conventional watch capabilities, tied with Apple. Its ranking of 9.1 for satisfaction with cellphone name notifications was finest in our survey and its ranking of 9.1 for satisfaction with textual content message notifications was simply behind Apple’s 9.2. Each Apple and Pebble acquired scores of eight.three for satisfaction with customization by way of apps, the very best mark on that measure.

Pebble smartwatches work with Apple iPhones and Android smartphones, as do the Samsung, Garmin, and Fitbit units. (Some performance is proscribed on sure platforms.) The Apple Watch, however, solely works with iPhones—even the newest model with built-in LTE will not pair with Android units.

If you happen to’re an Android person, contemplate Samsung first. Amongst manufacturers that work with Android, Samsung wearables had the very best general satisfaction (eight.four), satisfaction with reliability (eight.7, tied with Garmin), satisfaction with ease of setup (eight.7, tied with Fitbit), and chance to advocate (eight.6). Samsung beat Apple by a considerable margin in satisfaction with speaking on the cellphone by way of the watch; an eight.eight in comparison with Apple’s eight.zero. Utilizing a watch as a speakerphone could seem slightly too Dick Tracy at first, however it’s really a really helpful function when your palms are occupied.

Garmin has a particular concentrate on health, however it competed effectively with the opposite smartwatch-oriented corporations. Its scores of 9.1 for satisfaction with conventional watch capabilities, eight.7 for satisfaction with cellphone name notifications, and eight.5 for satisfaction with textual content notifications are all superb, if not fairly as much as Apple, Pebble, and Samsung’s scores. The principle knock in opposition to Garmin was in satisfaction with customizing the gadget by way of apps, the place it solely acquired a 6.9. Garmin does have a number of apps in its Join IQ retailer, however it may’t match the breadth of apps that Apple, Samsung, and Android Put on watches provide.

Fitbit acquired a good decrease ranking in satisfaction with customizability (6.four) and in most different classes it had the bottom satisfaction scores. As well as, Fitbit had the very best proportion of respondents reporting needing repairs (21 %). Each different firm was under 10 %.

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Apple is setting the usual for satisfaction within the smartwatch market, receiving the very best scores in almost each class, together with satisfaction for monitoring well being and exercise, besting manufacturers that primarily concentrate on health.

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