3 must have Smart Watch features

Long battery life, Google Fit Sync and Swappable Bands. There is little or no need for full fledge OS with app store.

3 must have Smart Watch features

Over the past few years, I have bought a few smart watches and fitness bands. As usual, before buying each of them, I took effort to analyse options available in the market at the point in time.

After wearing these watches over many months, I have come to the conclusion that there are only 3 critical requirements. I also realised that I do not need a full fledge smart watch with all the bells and whistles. Thankfully, all of them are functioning; which also means product quality is not an issue.

These 3 requirements may be applicable to you too.

Watches (and fitness bands) I own

  1. Sequent Supercharger (Kickstarter - 2017 July 15 - CHF 208)
  2. TicWatch Pro (1st Gen - 2018 Jul 15 - USD 267)
  3. Mi Band 4 (2019 SGD $36)
  4. Huawei Fit Watch (2021 SGD $115)
  5. Amazfit GTR2e (2021 SGD $157)
(Left) Seiko Kinetic SQ50, 1997 given by my wife (Right) Sequent SuperCharger via Kickstarter

Requirement #1 - Long Battery Life

I had been wearing Seiko Kinetic SQ50 (1997) for many years. It was a present from my wife. I liked this concept of a self charging watch powered and thought a self charging smart watch would be a dream come true.

Therefore, when I first started exploring smart watches in 2016, battery life was a main consideration. At that time, battery life was a big issue with many watches lasting less than a day. Saying so, in 2021, we still find some watches that need to be charged daily. This was not a chore I wanted.

As such long battery life became my first requirement and it was critical requirement.

Requirement #2 - Google Fit sync

After wearing TicWatch Pro, I have grown to love Google Fit. TicWatch has the ability to perform almost real time fitness data synced on its own app as well as Google fit automatically.

Since then all watches, I have considered or bought, have the ability to sync with Google Fit. This feature provided a one-stop-shop to view all fitness information. For an owner with a few watches, it also enabled an unforeseen flexibility of switching between them while still tracking fitness information such as step counts, heart rate and GPS locations. The app also show the device that provided each piece of information.

"Work with Google Fit" became my nect critical requirement. It has also become a requirement for other devices such as weighing scale and recently blood pressure measuring machine.

Requirement #3 - Swappable Bands

The band that comes with the watch may not be the most comfortable. For instance, I found after wearing the Huawei fit watch for a few days, my wrist became itchy and sensitive. This is even more important for sleep tracking; finding the right band that provides comfort and does not disrupt sleep is crucial.

Some bands are not suitable for some activities or occasions. The ability to quickly swap to that appropriate band is most useful. For example, for sports, I have those silicon bands or those with silicon back. For other occasions, I can change to different styling such as leather, metal and also milanese loop. They are affordable and easy to find on Shopee and Lazada.

The Watches

Battery Life Google Sync Swappable Band
Sequent Supercharger Unlimited Vil 22mm
Ticwatch Pro 30 days Full 22mm
Mi Band 4 30 days Full Custom
Huawei Fit Watch 10 days Partial Custom
Amazfit GTR2e 10 days Full 22mm

Sequent Supercharger

In 2017, I backed a kickstarter project for Sequent Supercharger, a self charging watch. However, delivery was delayed for a long time.

Having used it for months, I must say that the battery performance for this watch in terms is fantastic. There is no need to charge at all. It is a beautiful watch with plenty of friends asking about it; But, it failed as a smart watch. The implementation of on-demand heart rate measurement and bluetooth connectivity made it less than smart.

Sequent Supercharger is the king in terms of battery life and a beautiful alternative to Seiko Kinetic dress watch.

TicWatch Pro (1st Gen)

Delivery of Sequent Supercharger was delayed for a long time (more than a year eventually). In the mean while TicWatch Pro (Wear OS) attracted my attention.

Their innovative use of a low power second screen enabled the watch to last 30days. The ability to track in real time steps, heartrate and GPS (at a cost to battery life of course) was enticing. I turned on all the monitoring features and was still able to last a week without charging. At that time, this capability out performed other offerings in the market. The watch's build-in WiFi also means that sync happens without the phone being nearby.

After wearing the TicWatch Pro for many months, I realised I don't need all the smart watch features such as apps on Wear OS. They were nice-to-have which were installed but almost never used. I preferred to respond via the mobile phone whenever there is a notification on the watch.

TicWatch Pro (2018) was my default go to watch until Amazfit GTR2e (2021)

There will be interesting developments with Google and Samsung merging Wear OS and Tizen, lets see how Mobvoi will build newer version of TicWatch Pro. I might reconsider having a full fledge OS on smart watches when it is released. For those who are bolder and want to try using custom roms, take a look at the instructions on XDA forum.

It uses 22mm watch band and if an old review interest you, there is a one on mobiletechtalk.

Mi Band 4

Mi Band 4 is cheapest of all and value for money. It has a long battery life despite the tiny size and have real time tracking of steps, heart rate, etc. The default band is comfortable even for sleep tracking. The Mi Fit app synced perfectly with Google fit.

Pairing it with a silver, gold or black milanese loop band, gives the Mi Band a little class for some occasions. Swapping the band easy. Simply pop it out and then pop in into the preferred band; no tools needed.

Mi Band can be stylish too.

Mi Band with Milanese Loop and default band

I chose Huawei Fit Watch as oppose to Mi Band 6 as it was very similar to Mi Band 4.

Huawei Fit Watch

The Huawei Fit Watch is beautiful, especially when matched with a gold milanese band. It tracks steps, heart rate, SpO2 and sleep but does not have have built-in GPS. Many reviews says that it sync with Google fit and it does; but for some reason heart rate does not sync. After a while this failure of their app to sync properly with Google caused me to consider another watch. I am hoping that Huawei will fix this bug.

Battery life is pretty good lasting around 10day with all monitoring switch on and it takes a very short time to charge the watch. There are plenty of reviews available online, such as from wearable.com. A small screw driver or SIM card removal tool is needed for band replacement. The process is simple but might be a little tough for older folks with presbyopia.

Huawei Fit Watch would have been the go to watch if it syncs heart rate properly.

Amazfit GTR2e

This is my current go to watch. In terms of capabilities, it is similar to the Huawei Fit Watch (realtime step tracking, heart rate, SpO2 and sleep). Most importantly, it syncs properly with Google Fit and comes with built-in GPS. You can read a review of the watch at thenewsminute.com. The interface of the Zepp app however, is not as refined as Huawei's health app.

Both TicWatch Pro and Amazfit GTR2e uses 22mm watch band and I managed to find a leather band that is comfortable even for sleeping.

Like the Huawei Fit Watch, battery life is long, lasting around 10 days with all the sensors turned on. It charges up quickly and there is even a temperature sensor on this watch.