Smartwatch Case Study 2018

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

The History of Smartwatches

For over thirty years technology companies have raced to be the first in developing a groundbreaking timepiece. Apple, Samsung and a host of other companies have spent tens of millions of dollars in smartwatch technology. Today, the smartwatch is perhaps the most recognizable and discussed piece of the wearables industry. These gadgets have become almost synonymous with wearable technology. Furthermore, the opportunity for future advancement continues to increase for many years ahead. However, the technology of the smartwatch is not new. Smartwatch history goes back several decades into the past when computer technology was in its infancy.

The first smartwatch.

The Hamilton Watch Company and Electro/Data Inc. released the first digital watch in 1972. This was an LED named the Pulsar. Coated in 18 carat gold, the Pulsar sold for over $2,000. In today’s numbers, that amounts over $12,000. Although users had to press a button in order to see the time and the watch had virtually nothing compared to today’s standards, the Pulsar revolutionized the watch industry.

Seiko takes the next step.

Japanese companies began to experiment on ways to develop more functions into watches. Seiko was one of the very first companies to change the timepiece industry. In 1983, they released the T001 watch. James Bond made this watch famous on the big screen. The T001 watch by Seiko was linked to a portable television receiver and the small screen was split into two separate areas. The top portion displayed standard watch features like showing the time and setting an alarm. The bottom of the screen was used for video output. The resolution quality was poor relative to current technology. However, at the time this smartwatch was a game changer.

Seiko spared no time and soon after released the Data 2000. The watch earned its title because it could store 2,000 characters which could be inputted from an external keyboard docking station. A year later, the RC-1000 was released with a new feature. This watch had the ability to connect to most computers of the time. Users had the ability to interact with their watches and share information by connecting the RC-1000 to an Apple II or their Commodore 64.

Up next, the RC-20 was released into the arms of the tech savvy world. The RC-20 Wrist Computer was equipped with an 8-bit Z-80 microprocessor. This was the gold standard then and lite years ahead of its competition. This smartwatch had 2KB of RAM and 8KB of storage. It included features like the ability to schedule, create memos, display world times and had a calculator.

Timex releases the world’s first wireless smartwatch

Twenty years into this technological competition, Timex releases a smartwatch with wireless capability. This was the first of its kind and in 1994 this was a tremendous advancement in the computer industry. The Timex Datalink which was co-developed with Microsoft could download data from a computer wirelessly. The Datalink smartwatch could illuminate a computer screen with a changing display. This computerized timepiece could encode information to transfer which was detected by an embedded sensor that was inside the watch. The Datalink which was even employed by NASA in space travel was a scientific breakthrough. This was also Microsoft’s introduction into the smartwatch industry.

The Linux smartwatch

In 1998 Steve Mann, an industry pioneer designed and developed the very first Linux smartwatch. Known as the “father of wearable computing”, the inventor changed the industry as known at the time. Mann would go to contribute a host of other significant inventions to modern technology. Other than his contribution to the modern smartwatch arena, he was the first to develop modern HDR imaging methods. Linux went on to me a major player in timepieces.

The first smartwatch to make a call


Samsung was one of the very first companies to introduce smartwatches to Android users. In 1999 this technological empire was actually the first to develop a watch capable of telecommunications. The SPH-WP10 which was capable of ninety minutes of talk time featured a monochrome LCD screen and was equipped with an integrated speaker and microphone. Surprisingly, Samsung discontinued their efforts in the smartwatch arena shortly after the launch of this model. It wasn’t until a few years ago they joined back into the race after recognizing immense profits to be made in the industry. They are now a major player in the field again.

IBM’s contributions

In 2000, IBM introduces their smartwatch called the Watch-Pad. After dismal reviews, they upgraded the watch’s features the following year. In 2001, the Watch-Pad 1.5 had been released with a vibrating mechanism, an accelerometer and a fingerprint sensor. The newer version ran on the Linux 2.2 operating system and had a 320 x 240 QVGA touch-sensitive display. This Bluetooth device had 8MB of RAM and 16MB of flash storage. It was a just the start of things to come because this era of timepiece technology was just getting kicked off.


The Fossil PDA smartwatch

Fossil made a huge impact in the tech industry throughout the early 2000’s. Depending on your age, you may not remember just how many of these models were strapped around the wrist of all the trend setters. Making a bold step forward, Fossil decided to release their revolutionary device called the Wrist PDA. It was actually considered by many as an early predecessor of smartwatches as we know them today. Featuring a virtual keyboard, the Wrist PDA was capable of exchanging data with PCs and featured a touch screen and an infrared port. Furthermore, they designed this model with smaller stylus so that users could interact with it more efficiently. At the time, reviewers praised it for its innovations. The Fossil watch had the ability to use a host of different applications in Palm OS as well.

2018 and moving time forward

Over the last several years, the smartwatch industry has made great strides in becoming the norm rather than the timepiece for the selected few. These days the average consumer can afford one of these wrist wearables. It is not uncommon for an individual to own several of these devices. From fitness features to stylish wrist wear used for daily business operation, these watches have become very affordable. Many of the manufactures of these devices have learned from the successes and mistakes of the early pioneers in this industry. This has resulted in the ability to find the very best technology and in many cases for under $100.00. Although the major brands continue to dominate in overall sales, the non-branded watches are steadily catching up. Most consumers know exactly what features they want in a watch which makes their decision process much easier. At we are very interested in what lies ahead for this technology.


Niles Davis

Lead Tech Advisor