At the beginning of the decade, the idea of the smartwatch was laughable. We had smartphones and tablets already. Wasn’t it overkill? Apparently, not. But the smartwatch industry didn’t take off right away.
The decade started with failed (but somewhat innovative) smartwatch offers from Pebble. In 2014, Asus, Samsung, and Motorola released the first batch of mainstream Android smartwatches. However, it was the release of the Apple Watch in 2015 that had insiders believing that the smartwatch industry would take off. However, Apple’s first smartwatch received mixed reviews.
“Apple’s much hyped smartwatch is carefully crafted with a masterful design, but poor battery life and confusing software mean curious consumers should wait,” the Guardian claimed. However, this blog said the Watch certainly had potential, and it would soon be realized.
By 2017, Apple had finally created the smartwatch people had been waiting for — one with long battery life, cellular capabilities, and decent exercise tracking. After two years, you could finally see a good amount of people walking around with an Apple Watch.
Apple owns the biggest share of the smartwatch market, but Samsung is on their heels. They released the first Gear S smartwatch to mostly apathy in 2014, but the Gear S2 (which had 3G service), made consumers take notice. It ran Samsung’s own Tizen operating system and was just as productive as the Apple Watch.
Samsung has expanded on their hero smartwatch, now known just as the Samsung Galaxy Watch. The sportier version of the Galaxy Watch, the Galaxy Watch Active 2, is one of the best-reviewed smartwatches out there, and it is compatible with iOS devices. However, don’t expect to get the same sort of experience with the Watch Active 2 that you get with the Apple Watch.
Competing with Samsung and Apple is Fitbit, a company that — as USA Today notes — tracked out steps before Apple. In 2019, you have the Fitbit Versa 2, Fitbit Inspire, Fitbit Charge 3, and many others. In fact, Fitbit, whose watches work on both iOS and Android devices, has the most diverse selection of smartwatches available today.
So, where does the smartwatch industry go from here? Many are still waiting for LTE (or even 5G in the future) smartwatches that can be set up independently from a smartphone. You can currently use an LTE smartwatch, but it’s always connected to your smartphone through Bluetooth or cellular. The smartwatch that is actually a “phone on your wrist” has yet to appear. But that’s something that will likely change within the next three years.