With the current expeditiously paced lifestyle, health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart diseases have become very common among the youth. Because of that, people have now become more cautious about their fitness and growing more aware of keeping themselves healthy. Many people have included a gym, yoga, and other fitness activities in their daily routine. Thus fitness bands have become popular as it helps in keeping a check on the health and fitness activities.
What is Smart Band?
Before we move on to the smart band buying guide, let us first look at the definition for a smart band. Smart bands are connected bracelets or smart bracelets that can help in tracking and analyzing your movements during the day. The smart bands have a pedometer, and some also have an optical heart rate sensor and various other sensors. They have a concept of a bracelet, and they show more information than just time and can perform a lot of functions too. The display is made in such a way that many other features are possible in it, like reading notifications, interacting with them, using apps installed on the smartwatch itself. Here are some of the significant advantages of a smart band:
The hands-free experience, which is offered by a smart band, is unmatchable when compared to any other gadget. There are various functions that you can perform on your smartphone through the smart band without even holding your phone. You can receive calls on your phone or reply to messages on the go. It is very useful if you are exercising or in a scenario where carrying a phone is not feasible. Some watches also have voice support that adds up to the support.
Access to Notifications
The small device on your wrist, capable of holding a significant amount of information. You can have all the notifications, send, and receive messages through it. It is also a constant health meter for individuals.
A smart band acts like a personal manager who can simplify everyday operations. Not only in terms of the fitness updates, but it also takes care of a lot more functions like sleep, to-do things, etc.
Music Playback and Streaming
Offline music playback capabilities are not very common in smart bands, but it has a vast benefit attached to it. You can control your smartphones’ music player and use the smart band as a remote to stream music or operate the Bluetooth headset. You can store music on the device or in cellular watches; you can even stream over the network. Overall, smart bands offer more convenience to users and enhance their hands-free experience.
Smart Band Vs Smartphone
If you plan to buy the band for step tracking, then the applications in your smartphone might be enough. However, if you want to have better results than what your phone can provide, then fitness wearables can provide a better option. Smartphones are not very useful to accurately track the number of calories burned during the day, and the heart rate cannot be measured continuously. There are many other cases like sleep tracking, swimming workouts, automatic workout detection, etc. that make the fitness wearable better than smartphones. For basic movement tracking, smartphones might prove better as there is no extra cost added, but if you need a device where you can log multiple types of workouts, a fitness watch or other high-end fitness trackers may be a better investment.
Difference Between A Fitness Band and A Smartwatch
A fitness band allows you to keep track of your basic movement and includes a sleep tracking system also. It usually has a smaller display and longer battery life. Whereas, a smartwatch will be able to show you detailed notifications, and you can respond to those via the watch itself. They also have support for apps, just like smartphones. Maps related apps can also be added to your smartwatch, and it becomes very convenient for the riders.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying A Smart Band
Before you buy a smart band, it is essential that you have a close look at the following smart band buying guide points. These will surely make selecting the right band for you easier:
While buying a smart band, it is important that the display quality is given high importance. You should be able to read the information shown on the tracker under direct sunlight. The screen should be big enough to display important information such as step data, and the font size is a must.
In this era, we require that our fitness wearable should be waterproof, and it is an important point in the smart band buying guide. For some people, swim-proofing is not imperative unless you are a regular swimmer, but it is I always recommended that your band should work in the shower or during a workout when it is raining.
Heart Rate Monitoring
Continuous heart rate monitoring is not always essential, but it should be monitored when you are working out. This keeps track of the calorie burned as well during the exercise.
Battery life is also one of the key aspects which you need to keep in mind when you buy a smart band. For a basic fitness band, it is important that there is a minimum of 4-5 days of battery life on a single charge. Keep in mind that features like heart rate monitor and OLED displays tend to consume more power, and thus, the battery may get affected because of that.
If you are a person who does a lot of running or walking, then a tracker with a built-in GPS feature is a good option. You can log data like a number of steps walked, approximate distance covered, and more. Moreover, these devices with built-in GPS can also help in finding out the exact route, which would be ideal for you to take when jogging or running.
It will be a good option if your device supports the notification display from your phone. It should vibrate or show some data such as the name and phone number of the person who is calling you. This helps you in situations when carrying a phone is less feasible, especially during a workout. The caller ID feature helps a lot during such situations.
Since you will be wearing this device on your wrist throughout the day or for long hours, it is important that it is extremely comfortable. The strap material should be made from a material that suits your skin and doesn’t create itchiness because of sweat. It should not be very heavy for your wrist as well.
Compatibility with Your Smartphone
It is imperative today that fitness wearables are well connected with our smartphones. Some of the bands integrate well with smartphones with Bluetooth connectivity for managing notifications, messages, and calls. These bands may also have their own tracker apps that have the capability to connect with your computer and mobile and analyze your movements and monitor your progress. You should pick up those brands which have the ability to get connected seamlessly, if not with all the devices but with your smartphone for sure.
The smart band comes with two major sensors – an accelerometer and a gyroscope. Some advanced bands come with heart rate sensors along with an altimeter, and some have additional sensors instead of the basic ones. If you are only concerned about the steps, distance, and sleep, then the basic one suits you the best, but for advanced features, you need to have a higher level of sensors when compared to the basic ones.
After considering the above points, the main aspect which we all need to consider is the budget which we want to be spent on a fitness wearable. There is a plethora of options that are available in the market with a wide price ranging from Rs. 1000 to Rs. 20000, and even more. But you need to buy the brand or device which suits your pocket. There are many options available in the range of Rs 2000 to Rs 3000, which have all the major features and suits best for many people. But there are certain premium brands also, and those can range up to Rs. 10000. Contemplating all the features available in one type of smart band, it is essential that a thorough balance between cost and fitness features is done before you make the final buying decision.
Smart Band Buying Guide FAQs
How Long Does It Take to Charge A Smart Band?
It takes approximately one and a half hours to fully charge it and then actual capacity is shown after 30 seconds of charging.
Do Smart Bands Really Work?
Yes, of course. Smart bands help in keeping track of your calorie count and steps. These points are useful for training in the heart rate zones. They also help in sleep tracking, meditation, and other activities, which will help you keep a check on your fitness and health.
Can Fitness Bands Measure Blood Pressure?
Not all but a few bands can measure blood pressure. If you need your band to have that feature, it is essential that you check this before buying it.
Which Is Better: A Smartwatch or A Smart Band?
Smartwatches have more complex operating systems and features. The screen is bigger and better, and thus it smoother for the screen activities and more advanced than a smart band.
This is the age of technology, information, and above all else, awareness. The world is getting serious about health and everything to do with health. Markets are flooded with “healthy” products and accessories. The health products are not limited to food and perishables; they extend to devices that can constantly monitor your vitals and keep you updated with the smallest of changes that might occur. When talking about vitals, you cannot overlook the most important of them all, which is your heartbeat or your heart rate. If you are even the least bit updated with the current trends, then you probably already know about the Smart bands and the Smartwatches. There is no escaping them. So how accurate are these devices in monitoring your heart rate, or are they just another one of those fads that pass with time? Do the devices even work effectively and reliably? This guide will enumerate upon these points for you.
What Is Smart Band and a Smartwatch?
Before embarking on the accuracy of Smart bands and Smartwatches, you should first understand them and their concept.
- Smart Band: Smart band, also known as a smart fitness band is a band that is worn on the wrist. They are connected to bracelets or even smart bracelets. Their main function is to track your movements throughout the day. Further, the devices sport a display and mostly have the following features:
- Heart rate sensor
- Smart bands may also have additional features like touch screen, showing the time and the option to get connected with your Smartphone, but these are in select few and not the usual norm.
- Smartwatch: A Smartwatch is a regular watch with smart features. It comes with additional capabilities or functionalities. Apart from the traditional feature of showing time a smartwatch also:
- Touch screen
- Controls Smartphone to be able to read alerts and write texts or even take calls
- Using various apps
- Tracks your vital rates like heart rate
- Fitness activity tracker
Both Smart bands and Smartwatches are multi-function smart devices with Smartwatch essentially being just a smart band with the added feature of showing the time.
Heart Rate and Target Heart Rate Defined
Your heart beats to pump out blood for your body to function. The heart rate is calculated as the number of times your heart beats in a minute or BPM. Sometimes the heart beats faster, and yet sometimes it beats slower. This depends on external and internal factors like exercise, stress, age, activity, and physical exertion. Target heart rates are the defining range of your heart rate when you exercise. It tells you how fast your heart should beat while exercising. It is mostly expressed in percentage form of the maximum level of safe heart rate. The range is from 50 to 85% of maximum heart rate or exertion. To do the math, the maximum rate is 220 minus your age. So for a 30-year-old, the maximum heart rate is 220 – 30 or 190 BPM. The target heart rate then is expressed with the exertion level. At 50% exertion the THR is 190 * .50 = 95 BPM. It is these calculations that the fitness device saves you from doing, providing you with an easier and convenient way of knowing, and tracking your target heart rate.
How Does the Smart Band And Smartwatch Monitor Heart Rate?
Smart fitness devices be it Smart Bands or Smartwatches use a sensor to measure the rate with which your heart is pumping. This sensor works with the help of an LED light that makes the capillary veins of your wrist carrying blood visible to this sensor. The sensor then analyses this information by gauging the blood flow and pumps regarding your heart and displays it for your benefit in the BPM format. This method of using the blood flow to measure heart rate is known as the Optical Heart Rate Monitoring (OHRM). The OHRM is, in turn, a fancy term for PPG (Photoplethysmography)
Problems Faced by the Devices in Giving Accurate Measurement
The principle behind smart device heart rate tracking is simple enough, so what is the catch? Many fitness wearable devices fail to give accurate results. The reasons for this are:
- Movement: The catch is that for the smart device to track your heart rate accurately, it requires you to be still. Any form of activity like talking, moving, or even sweating can throw the reading of the sensor off-track, yielding inaccurate heart rate results. However, these are the very activities that you would be indulging in while wearing such a device.
- Position: The heart rate reading also depends on the position of the device. The heart rate slows when blood flows down to the extremities of the body. This is not factored in by the smart devices which stay on the wrist and hence give a lower reading. They readings based on PPG will be much more accurate if the devices are positioned near to the heart.
Does the Smart Device Make Use of ECG And EKG?
ECG and EKC are essentially the same things. EKG is an Electro Cardiograph that is German for ECG (Electrocardiography). This machine measures the electric impulses around your heart. It is these impulses that facilitate the contraction and expansion of your heart muscles. Hence the ECG machine is a much more accurate and superior way of heart rate monitoring. Unfortunately, the smart devices do not come equipped with the ECG function and do not use the ECG method.
How to Tell If Smart Device Is Working Correctly?
Apart from the reading inaccuracy due to movements, which is something you just have to contend with, how do you tell if your wearable smart device is at least giving you reasonable results otherwise? It’s simple, really. All you have to do is monitor your pulse by keeping your finger on the inside of your wrist for 6 seconds. Multiply it by 10 to get your heart rate per minute. Then cross-check the result with that displayed by your smart device.
Wearable smart devices are it Smart Bands or Smartwatches are not accurate at measuring heart rates. They are suitable only as an accessory but not recommended for any type of critical monitoring. Other devices like a heart rate monitor watch are much more suitable and appropriate if you are looking for accuracy.
What is a smartwatch, and how is it different from a regular wristwatch? This question often comes to mind whenever we hear about Apple Watch, Moto 360, or any other wearable device that comes out every year.
What Is a Smartwatch?
The answer to the main question, what is a smartwatch, is that a smartwatch is a computing device that could 0be put on your wrist like a regular watch. What makes a smartwatch different from a wristwatch is that it does more than just telling the time. And by more, I don’t mean features such as altitude, stopwatch, and the lunar cycle. A smartwatch can be connected to your mobile phone with the help of Bluetooth and use functions such as receiving a phone call, play music, display text messages and e-mails and control the digital assistant on your phone.
Functions of a Smartwatch
Now that we know what a smartwatch and some of its basic functions is, let us take a look at what more can a smartwatch offers us. Many smartwatches can work as a standalone device. It means that you don’t need to keep them connected to your mobile for use. These watches come with a sim card slot or, in some cases, an e-sim. This feature allows the smartwatch to function as a GPS and even help you in making and receiving calls. Most people use smartwatches along with a fitness app to monitor their daily activities. Smartwatches, today come with in-built heart rate monitors that are accurate and, in some cases, had proven helpful in diagnosing heart-related problems before any symptoms appeared.
Which Companies Sell Smartwatches?
Now, we know what a smartwatch is and what all facilities does it provide. So, let us look at some of the most prominent smartwatch manufacturers and what all features do they deliver. The prominent smartwatch manufacturers are Apple, Samsung, Fossil, Asus, and Fitbit, Mi, among several others.
Out of these manufacturers, the most famous is Apple and its Apple Watch. Apple introduced its Apple Watch line-up in 2015 with the series 0. This iteration had a single-core S1 SoC and was mostly dependent on the iPhone for its functioning. The watch featured a heartbeat monitor, 8 GB storage, and allowed users to control music on their iPhone with the help of this watch. The second generation of Apple Watches came out in 2016 and offered a GPS receiver, S2 SoC, water-resistance up to 50m, and a much brighter display. The third generation of Apple Watch featured an altimeter to calculate how many stairs did the wearer climb, more RAM, and LTE connectivity. This series of watches were also able to support Siri. The fourth and fifth generation of Apple Watches came out in 2018 and 2019, respectively. They improved on the features provided by earlier models and offered much bigger displays. The watches were also capable of alerting emergency services in case the user needs help.
Samsung Gear Watch
Samsung is another famous brand when it comes to smartwatches. The first smartwatch from Samsung made its debut in 2013. It used a dual-core and ran on Android 4.3. It was succeeded by Samsung Gear 2 and later by Samsung Gear S, S2, and S3 series of watches. Over the years, the functionality of all these watches remained pretty much the same, and nothing much changed apart from the storage size. Samsung changed the operating system with the launch of its S series of watches. These watches came with Tizen OS, and all the previous watches were updated to Tizen OS as well.
Smartwatches vs. Smart Bands
A question that comes after what smartwatch is what smart band is. In simple terms, a smart band is a smartwatch with its functionalities reduced. A smart band would offer you basic features such as telling the time, alarms, health monitoring features, and ability to receive messages and call alerts, and most of the time, that is it. You don’t get a GPS, ability to accept or make calls, send messages, and anything to do with communications abilities. Unlike smartwatches, which can be used as a standalone device, smart bands need to be paired with a smartphone for proper functioning.
Which Companies Sell Smart Bands?
When it comes to smart bands, the most popular brand is Fitbit, followed by Samsung and Xiaomi.
The first product launched by Fitbit was called Fitbit, and it made a debut in 2009. It was capable of calculating the number of steps taken by the users, monitor sleep, and work as a watch. It was a clip-on device as Fitbit didn’t release a fitness band until 2013. Since 2013, Fitbit started to become a key player in the smart band industry and is currently the most popular brand for smart bands across the world.
The Mi Band from Xiaomi is not only one of the most affordable but also one of the most popular smart bands in the world. The first Mi Band made its debut in 2014 and was an instant hit due to its affordable price and was capable of monitoring sleep, track fitness activities, unlock phones without code, and was water-resistant, making it popular among fitness enthusiasts. It was succeeded by Mi Band 2, 3, and the latest one, Mi Band 4, which came out in 2019 and offered lots of additional features.
So, now that we have discussed what a smartwatch is and what is a smart band. Now, you might want to know which one to choose. The answer is if you’re going to do more than tracking your fitness activity and receiving or making phone calls, messages, and navigating are important for you, select a smartwatch. If your primary target is fitness, then go with the smart band.
What Is Smartwatch?
A smartwatch is a computing device that could be worn on your wrist. It offers the functions of a watch in addition to receiving text messages, playing music, and in cases work as a standalone device and offer functions of a mobile phone.
What Is the Difference Between Smartwatch and Smart Band?
Smart bands are similar to smartwatches, but most of the time, their features are restricted to that of a watch and monitoring fitness activities.
Which Companies Sell Smartwatches?
Apple, Xiaomi, Fossil, Fitbit, Huawei, and Samsung are the most popular smartwatch manufacturers. Casio, Timex are traditional watchmakers that offer smartwatches as well.
How Long Does A Smartwatch Battery Last?
Most smartwatches last up to a week on normal uses. Some Fitness bands can last up to a month.