Why are Smartwatches so Expensive?

Woman using smartwatch with digital assistant

Smartwatches have seen a meteoric rise in popularity over the last 10 or so years. Now it’s hard to go a day without seeing one. You may even be interested in buying one yourself, but there’s one prohibiting factor: the price. For such a small piece of technology, smartwatches tend to run an incredibly high price tag. So, why are watches so expensive, and is there any way to find something a bit more affordable? Let’s take a look.

Portability

Portable technology is expensive in general. Generally, technology rises in price as it becomes more convenient or more capable, and smartwatches are both. You can’t get much more portable than a piece of technology that lives on your wrist. So naturally, R&D costs are high and sales costs are higher.

Range of Features

Man paying with his smartwatch

Of course, expensive smartwatches make up for their cost by having an extremely wide range of useful features.

  • For example, many costly watches feature a touchscreen display. Touchscreens give smartwatches a huge amount of added functionality and ease of use. From replying to messages to quickly pulling up apps. Of course, this technology doesn’t exactly come cheap. If the smartwatch you’re eyeing features a touchscreen, it’s most likely going to be on the expensive side. So be ready to shell out a fair chunk of change.
  • Blood oxygen monitors are a much more advanced feature, though they have become more and more common in recent years. Older smartwatch models may not feature one, but if you purchase a current-gen model from a large company like Apple or Samsung, it’s just about guaranteed to feature one. We’ve written about pulse oximeters for one of our sister blogs before, so if you’d like to learn more about them, feel free to give it a look. Keep in mind that the accuracy of smartwatch pulse oximeters can vary, so it’s best to use the smartwatch as a frame of reference, and use a dedicated pulse oximeter when you want a more precise reading.
  • A heart monitor is likely the least expensive feature on this list, and is seen even in cheap smartwatches. Because of its general usefulness and affordability, we strongly recommend that you purchase a smartwatch that features one.
Use of smartwatches to monitor heartrate
  • GPS technology is an invaluable tool for anyone, and having a fully functional GPS on your wrist makes it that much easier to use. The problem? GPS capabilities typically only found in costly watches. That capability is worth the extra cost for some people, but not everyone. At the end of the day, the choice is yours, so purchase whatever you feel will work best for you.
  • A built-in microphone allows you to see, take, and respond to calls without ever having to pick up your phone. This is useful for people who constantly find themselves busy allowing them to easily communicate hands-free without having to take their focus off of the task at hand. It’s not a rare feature by any means, but there are plenty of smartwatches without a microphone. If you want one, be sure to confirm it’s there before buying anything.

Not all smartwatches have the same sets of features, though, so if you’re looking for a cheap smartwatch, consider which features you’re willing to do without. The best cheap smartwatches strike a balance between functionality and price. So look for something that has all the features you want and leaves out the ones you don’t.

Branding

Girl using smartwatch to play music

Of course, the price of a smartwatch isn’t completely due to the capabilities of the watch. Often, the brand producing the watch affects it too. For example, Apple smartwatches are extremely expensive because of the reputation that the company has built up over the years. While buying from a less-known brand is a great way to save money, you can’t be as sure of the quality, so it’s up to you to decide whether or not an expensive brand name is worth it.

Durability

Smartwatches are built to go wherever you go, and this includes strenuous conditions. Many are water-resistant or even waterproof, and built to withstand the various bumps, scrapes, and other impacts that you experience in your day-to-day life. Of course, this also leads to an increase in price. Though cheap smart watches often still meet your day-to-day needs, they won’t have the same durability as more expensive models. This naturally means that they have a shorter lifespan, so be sure to keep that in mind when deciding how high-end of a smartwatch you’re willing to buy.

Smartphone Compatibility

Smartwatches connected to smartphone

Returning to the cost of convenience, the price typically rises if your smartwatch links seamlessly with your smartphone. Of course, most true digital ecosystems sold under the same brand name. Major tech companies like Apple, Samsung, and Google all have their own ecosystems, with their respective smartwatches often serving as the lynchpin to bring it all together.

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