Here’s what to look for in your next smartwatch

Flexible batteries by Libest, which are built into watch bands to extend the life of smartwatches, are displayed at CES Unveiled during the 2020 CES in Las Vegas

Flexible batteries by Libest, which are built into watch bands to extend the life of smartwatches, are displayed at CES Unveiled during the 2020 CES in Las Vegas

Published Sep 22, 2022


Wearable devices might not be a hit among South Africans. Still, the smartwatch can be an everyday convenience and extension of your smartphone.

Today most mobile manufacturers produce their own smartwatches and other wearables with different features and functionality. Despite this, swarms of reputable manufacturers focus on smartwatch production, such as Garmin and FitBit.

Meanwhile, even lesser-known brands offer powerful devices that could easily suffice as an everyday smartphone companion.

In addition to preventing its wearer from consistently picking up their smartphone to check new notifications, smartwatches house their own set of features which can be a convenience to any smartphone user.

Despite somewhat low adoption locally, connected wearable devices in the Middle East and Africa are projected to reach 46 million by the end of this year, according to Cisco.

That being said, here are some key features that will help you choose the right smartwatch and make your wearable experience that much more practical:

Push Notifications

A smartwatch couldn’t be an extension of a smartphone without the capability to receive push notifications from its parent device. Today smartwatches are well equipped to push through almost all smartphone notifications, from SMSes and phone calls to WhatsApp and other social network notifications.

Without push notifications, the smartwatch experience is quickly diminished. Hence it is important to note that the smartwatch you intend to purchase is compatible with your smartphone.

While Fitbit and Garmin smartwatches are touted to be compatible with almost any Android or iOS device, more affordable devices may feature their operating systems accompanied by their apps. Make sure this app is compatible with your smartphone.

Heart Rate Monitoring

Smartwatches featuring heart rate monitors through electrocardiogram (ECG) scanners might make it useful to get an idea of your calorie burn throughout the day, as they are not always accurate.

For workouts, these monitors make it especially easier to track activities and keep your heart rate within a safe level while exercising.


Today it is especially difficult to find a smartwatch that doesn’t feature a pedometer, meaning almost all smartwatches can track your steps throughout the day, keeping you on track to hit the 10 000 steps a day target.

Activity Tracking

More high-end smartwatches and some more affordable ones offer the wearer the opportunity to track specific workouts when training.

Suppose you spend time in the gym daily. In that case, activity tracking is crucial, especially if your training varies between different exercises during a single training session.

Sleep Tracking

Like pedometer functionality, smartwatch sleep tracking features are standard. Depending on the model and make of your smartwatch, sleep tracking can vary across devices, from just tracking the number of hours of light and deep sleep to further analytics into the quality of your sleep.

Tap to Pay

One of a smartwatch’s lesser but highly useful features is its ability to “Tap to Pay”. The feature offers the convenience of not needing to carry around a wallet of cards to make purchases, instead just tapping your smartwatch at a point of sale unit triggers the same function found on your bank or credit card.

The feature is yet to be found in many smartwatches and is still in the early stages of support by all local banks. Despite this, the feature is one of the most convenient, with many smartwatches allowing users to leave their smartphones behind when making purchases.

IOL Tech