What Is A Smartwatch? Your Helpful Smartwatch Guide

In this article, we will answer the question of what is a smartwatch, and what do smartwatches do. We’ll also discuss what was the first smartwatch, who created it and outline a brief history of smartwatches too.

We’ll mention Apple smartwatches but also offer some alternatives to Apple smartwatches.

Plus check out some of the top frequently asked questions surrounding smartwatches.


Smartwatches FAQ

What is a smartwatch?

A smartwatch is a wearable computer or electronic device that can be used to connect with your phone or other devices.

A smartwatch typically has some type of display screen, and connects to another device (usually a smartphone) using Bluetooth.

Basically a smartwatch is like a smartphone that can be attached to your wrist. A smartwatch is a perfect example of tech integration in our daily lives.

Photo of an Original Apple Watch (2015) smartwatch
Original Apple Watch (2015)

What does a smartwatch do?

The answer to this question depends entirely on what you want it for.

A smartwatch is a wearable device that’s packed with features like news updates, weather forecasts, notifications about incoming messages or calls, and can even play music.

You can use your smartwatch to keep track of your fitness goals and daily activity. For example, its sensors can monitor your heart rate, oxygen level, and sleep patterns.

Most smartwatch models today come with apps, so you can access your favorite smartphone apps on the go.

Some are also compatible with third-party apps and other services such as Spotify, Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant which can be handy for many things like accessing music playlists, sending messages or even ordering a pizza!

All of these handy features allows your smartwatch to do all the things your smartphone can do.

Photo of an 1980s advertisement for the Epson RC-20 smartwatch
Epson RC-20 advertisement from the 1980s (Source)

History of the smartwatch

It’s difficult to pinpoint which watch could be considered the first ever smartwatch.

However here is an overview of the main watches in history that paved the way for the smartwatch that we know and love today.

DateCompanySmartwatchSmartwatch Milestones
First digital watch

Revolutionized the watch industry

Featured in the James Bond movie Live and Let Die (1973)
Nicknamed the TV watch

Featured in the James Bond movie Octopussy (1983)
Described as a wrist computer

Closest device of the 80s to a modern smartwatch
Datalink 150
The first wireless smartwatch

This smartwatch was the first to be able to download data from a computer wirelessly

NASA even used this watch on Space missions
1998Steve Mann
First Linux Smartwatch
Steve Mann is known as the father of wearable computing
The first smartwatch able to take and make a call

Had up to 90 minutes of battery life for talk time
Linux smartwatch

WatchPad was a prototype, while the WatchPad 1.5 was the upgrade

Had fingerprint sensor, vibrating alert system, and Bluetooth
Abacus Wrist PDA
Watch had touch screen display, with access to basic Palm apps

You could have address book, to do list, calculator, even play a game on the 1 inch screen

Check out this 2003 review of this new Fossil smartwatch
This smartwatch is often titled the first truly independent smartwatch

The Omate smartwatch could use Android apps, as well as take calls, emails, messages and more
Apple Watch
Apple smartwatches revolutionized the modern smartwatch industry

Today they’re a leader in smartwatch technology

The latest Apple Watch is their Series 6

Apple smartwatches

Since the Apple Watch was first released in 2015. The Apple Watch has become the most popular smartwatch on the market today with a huge range of different versions to choose from.

The Apple Watch is compatible with iPhone models from the past five generations.

Top features of an apple watch include:

  • Fitness tracking features such as a pedometer or heart rate monitor.
  • Your Apple smartwatch allows you to easily access your personal assistant, Siri, through your watch with the simple command, “Hey Siri”.
  • Digital Touch allows you to send quick sketches and taps with your finger or hand that are converted into digital messages.

The Apple watch has been praised for its sleek design, accurate fitness tracking features, and wide range of applications available on it.

There have also been criticisms leveled at the Apple Watch. Especially towards the watch’s battery life, which lasts about 18 hours per charge.

Apple has largely remained committed to their original plan of releasing a new model each year in September, and this is expected to continue with the Apple Watch 7 release set for mid September 2021.

Alternatives to Apple smartwatches

Apple is dominating the smartwatch market today, and has been for many years now. However, there are many other watch brands that offer many great smartwatches, often at a lower price.

Apple smartwatches also only cater to iPhone users. Yet, Android makes up the majority of the world’s smartphone users today.

Here are a few alternatives to Apple smartwatches that are popular:

  1. Motorola : This mobile phone brand has made a bit of a comeback with their smartwatch offerings. Remaining much more affordable compared to Apple, a great choice for Android users who want a smartwatch.
  2. Garmin : This smartwatch brand offers great smartwatches built with runners in mind. So if you’re after a running watch, then Garmin is a good pick.
  3. Fitbit : The well known Fitbit smartwatches come with all of the fitness features you would find in an Apple Watch. But at a fraction of the price. An excellent choice for someone looking for a fitness watch.
  4. Samsung : Samsung offers more affordable alternatives to Apple Watch Series smartwatches without compromising on quality or functionality. Samsung Galaxy smartwatch range comes with all the features you could want from a smartwatch. A perfect choice for Android users in need of one.

Check out our guide to the best Swiss smartwatches in our guide.

Smartwatches FAQ

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding smartwatches.

Is it worth getting a smartwatch?

If you’re a smartphone user, and find yourself always taking your phone out of your pocket when receiving a text message or email notification then it might be worth investing in a smartwatch.

The smartwatch interface is intuitive and easy to get used to so there are minimal learning curves involved.

It’s also useful for fitness tracking as many smartwatches come with features that help you stay on top of your activity levels.

Can you answer calls on a smartwatch?

This is one question where the answer varies depending on the smartwatch.

Many smartwatches today do allow you to take calls but some have no way of receiving a call or are only compatible with certain types of smartphones.

Such as an Apple watch will only be compatible with an iPhone.

Can you text on a smartwatch?

This again depends on the type of smartwatch you have. However, the good news is that most smartwatches do allow you to text. Many smartwatches allow you the reply to texts through a voice or keyboard feature.

What is a good cheap smartwatch?

Again it depends on what type of smartwatch you are after.

If you’re looking for a smartwatch that falls within your budget, and has excellent fitness features. Then a good cheap smartwatch choice is the Fitbit Versa Lite smartwatch.

Can a smartwatch work without a phone?

Some smartwatches can work without a phone, but the more expensive ones will usually need to be synced with your smartphone.


Smartwatches are like having a smartphone on your wrist.

The smartwatch market has been dominated by Apple in recent years, but there are many great alternatives to the Apple Watch.

Fitbit, for example, is often applauded as being one of the best fitness focused smartwatches out there. While Garmin and Samsung offer great robust options with GPS capabilities or heart rate monitoring.

If you’re looking for something different from Apple’s offerings. Then check out our blog post on the best Swiss made smartwatches around today.