Smartwatch Case Study 2018

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Smartwatch Guide for 2018

Are smartwatches created equally?

We wanted to know if there is a drastic difference in the technology of the name brand watch companies and the less expensive models on the market. Notice that I did not say “name brand manufactures.” The reason is quite simple. Many of the watch brands that either you own or someone you may know that has one strapped around their wrist right now may be shocked by our results. Many of the less expensive models are made in the same manufacturing facilities of the high-priced brands.

Have you ever been to the pharmacy and noticed the generic store brand strategically placed directly next to the name brand? Same exact ingredient, but at half the price. Well, in the smartwatch arena the concept is very similar. When you purchase a recognized brand, you incur other costs as well. You’re not only paying for the product, but you are also paying additional fees. From product advertising costs to research and development and the list goes on. And yes, there are many more consumers than you may think that are still under the impression that a well-known brand must mean a better made product.

Smartwatch price vs performance.  

In our study we wanted to evaluate several key factors. First, we decided upfront if the performance of the name brand watches were far superior and justified a premium price we would be the first to admit it. However, from the very beginning we were amazed in what we uncovered. Had we performed this case study 10 years ago, our results would have probably been much different. However, technology has advanced so rapidly and there are not as many proprietary restrictions hindering the production of these devices from one manufacturer to another. Interestingly enough, we found several watches that were identical. The only thing that separated them was the company logo.

We focused on these core elements:

  • Battery Life
  • Display Resolution
  • Audio Quality
  • Features: Activity Tracking, Heart Rate Monitor, Sleep Monitor, etc.
  • Operating System Compatibility: Apple, Android or both

Do all smartwatches have the same battery life?        

This was very interesting. As stated above, we ordered non-branded watches that are made in the same facilities that the BIG-brand smartwatches are. We are purposely not mentioning names because we assume you are smart enough to figure it out. Besides, this review is not intended to insult all the hard work the major brands have put into their products and brand awareness. I can however give you a hint. They start with “App”, “Gar”, “Sam” and “Fit.”

Surprisingly, the non-branded watches had longer battery life. Here’s why. The major brands that have these smartwatch manufactures make their timepieces for them request that some of their proprietary technology be put into the device. These added features (that consume extra battery usage) may be a small difference in screen resolution, audio performance or a feature that only the true tech-head would notice. That’s not a negative. However, when 90% of smartwatch consumers make their purchase based only a few factors these small added benefits are not worth losing battery life. The attraction to these devices is the ability to track fitness, monitor heart rate and the watch’s syncing compatibility with user cell phone. Funny enough, checking the time is not a top feature of why people decide on which product to buy.

Is there a difference in smartwatch voice clarity?      

Testing smartwatch audio was very interesting. Our goal as stated above was to compare these timepieces for the average consumer that makes up 90% of smartwatch purchases. That number is shocking as well. In 2014 worldwide, total units sold were around the 5 million range. The difference a short time can make is amazing. Projected units sold in 2018 is 141 million.

We gave non-branded smartwatches to six individuals that had currently been using very well-known watch brands. Three of the individuals were currently using iOS and the other three were Android users. All we asked from them is to wear the non-branded less expensive smartwatches for a week and give us an honest review when complete.

In an attempt to make this case study as universal and unbiased as possible, we then gave very well-known branded smartwatches to six individual that were currently avid users of less expensive devices. We were very interested in receiving their feedback because we thought they would come back raving on the technological difference the very well-known brands offered. The results were extremely interesting.

Four of the six individuals that forfeited their more expensive name-brand watches for much less expensive models had surprising reviews. Two of the four reported the audio clarity to be just as good as their more expensive models. The other two claimed it to surprisingly be better. That was quite shocking considering there was an average price difference of $160.00 between the major brand devices and the less expensive watches. The remaining two from the group were a mixed bag. One was a self-proclaimed technology junky that reads specification data sheets to pass time. He did not have a negative experience with the less expensive watch, but there was absolutely no way of persuading him. And that was fully understandable. Our goal was simply on the premise of, “Are the less expensive smartwatches suitable for 90% of smartwatch consumers?”

The final member of the group had her opinion as well. She said she missed having the brand itself. From what she could tell, her experience with the less expensive model was equal to that of her App** watch though. Past case studies have revealed that you can take two identical t-shirts and add a swoosh logo to one and suddenly consumers are willing to pay a premium for that one. That is the beauty of the open market. The world of smartwatches is no different.

The six individuals that were accustomed to wearing less expensive smartwatches had an even more interesting perspective. All six did not understand why anyone would pay a premium for the branded models because they reported experiencing no additional benefit from wearing the expensive watches for the week. Two of the six use their smartwatch to make many calls throughout their daily activity. These two actually reported a loss in voice clarity while using the expensive brand of smartwatches. We did not expect that.

Smartwatch display screen reviews.    

Of the twelve individuals selected for this case study, all but one could see no difference in screen resolution between the affordable smartwatches and their more expensive counterparts. The one oddball out was you guessed it, our tech savvy friend. And that is actually a good thing. We need individuals like him that strive for technological advancement. We would have much different results if we were performing a case study on screen resolution of televisions. However, we are talking about screens that are so small that only a selected few will ever notice a difference.

Fitness tracking watch functions.

Here is where the less expensive smartwatches become an even greater value. We discovered that the major brand wrist wearables offer each feature as an up sale to their next model. This can get very expensive if you want to monitor your sleeping habits, heart rate, steps throughout the day, etc. It was much easier to find all the fitness features that we wanted in a non-branded smartwatch for an extremely affordable price.


After working with smartwatch wearers from both sides of the technological isle, we all agree that the less expensive smartwatches are the winner. We found the same performance in the lower priced models and in some cases even better performance. 90% of smartwatch consumers want a reliable device at the best price. After performing this case study, we have no choice but to declare that you can find more features of the same quality for a significant lower cost.


Edgar Windthorpe

Contributing Editor