Christmas Tech: Five smartwatches that won’t burn your wallet (much)
Smart watches aren’t cheap but there are options for those on a budget of €250 or less
Fitbit Versa 2
As far as fitness smartwatches go, Fitbit’s Versa 2 manages to balance form with function. You get the essentials with this smartwatch: notifications to your wrist for calls, messages, calendar invites and so on and apps for tracking your fitness, sleep and meditation. You also get Alexa built in - but with no speaker, Alexa will listen to your command and respond silently via text on the watch screen.
What may be a dealbreaker for some is the GPS - it is connected GPS, which means it relies on your phone to provide location data. If you want standalone GPS, the Ionic will give it to you for another €50.
If you want something a bit more rugged for the seriously sports-minded, the Garmin Instinct is a good option. It comes with more sensors than you know what to do with - a 3-axis compass, barometric altimeter and GPS, GLONASS and Galileo satellite systems - the ability to monitor your heart rate, stress levels and activity, plus plenty of sports profiles to help you train more effectively. It has a brilliant battery life too. As a smartwatch, it will last around two weeks; using it in GPS mode will give you 16 hours of use, and UltraTrac battery saver mode gets you 40 hours.
The Garmin Instinct usually sells for more than €300, but if you shop around you can pick it up for €249
Apple Watch Series 3
If you have an iPhone, the obvious choice for smartwatch is the Apple Watch. But if you don’t want the price tag that comes with the latest version, the Series 3 is significantly cheaper without too many sacrifices. What are you missing? The ECG function that can alert you to issues with your heart’s rhythm, for a start. But how often would you use it? More of a loss is the always on display but again it’s a nice feature as opposed to an essential. The Series 3 will track your heart rate and activity, track specific sports such as running or swimming, and with the new Watch OS, you get the ability to monitor your hearing health too. So you get all the important things at a cheaper price.
€179 (usually €249)
Built on Google’s Android Wear platform, the Fossil Sport smartwatch combines the look of a traditional watch with all the smart stuff you’ve come to expect from today’s technology.
You get heart rate tracking alongside smartphone notifications, and enough exercise options to satisfy even the most active user. Because it runs on Android Wear, you can add watchfaces and other features to the watch.
The Fossil Sport supports Google Pay too, so you can make contactless payments without your phone. If there is one thing that could be improved, it is battery life, which lasts the day but requires request access to your charger.
Samsung Watch Active
The Samsung Watch Active is last year’s version of the wearable - this year brought the Watch Active 2 - but if you are looking to keep costs low, the original Active still holds up. It looks like a traditional watch, but hides a smart core. It will automatically track your exercise, and with built in GPS plus water resistance, it covers almost everything you throw at it. If you are feeling a little stressed, the heart rate monitor will detect your abnormal heart rate and swing into action, prompting you to use some stress busting deep breathing techniques.