July 1, 2019

If you own a smartwatch, chances are, you’ve been duped. Sure, it sounds cool to own a piece of gadget that makes you feel like an MI6 agent, but you’re not exactly shooting missiles out of your smartwatch. What you can do, however, is talk to your clock face (an awkward circular phone) in public, which really just looks foolish and impractical. In terms of aesthetics, the smartwatch is basically made for folks who are shameless enough to sport AirPods too. Contrary to what you may think though, this article isn’t about the fashion of tech wearables. Smartwatches are worthless investments, money down the drain, because they’re ultimately useless.

Let’s break its functions down. What does a smartwatch do? It is the marriage of a smartphone and a fitness band, offering seemingly enticing capabilities such as texting, making phone calls, notification alerts, GPS, and fitness tracking. The latest Apple Watch is also equipped with a fall sensor that detects when you have fallen. If it doesn’t detect any subsequent movement, it’ll send for the appropriate authorities—a nifty feature in theory that may also be susceptible to errors.

Smartwatches tend to be heavily dependent on its smartphone counterparts as well. It’s not a replacement, and might never be, yet as a supplement, it doesn’t offer anything spectacularly new to the table. It is a non-essential device that is designed to help brands such as Apple, Samsung and Google milk the cash cow, making consumers spend more because an Apple Watch doesn’t function with an Android phone. While certain Samsung smartwatches are compatible with Apple devices, the connection may be unstable when using certain smartphone models.

Unless you’re some kind of hardcore athlete training for the marathon, or someone who is particularly vulnerable to accidents and cardiovascular attacks, there’s no real need to track your heartbeat, sleeping patterns and steps taken. Just like how simply eating well makes counting calories a moot endeavour, you don’t need a fitness tracker to live a healthy lifestyle. As for owning a smartphone supplement, you’ve already got a fully functioning and versatile device in your pocket. What’s the use of spending a few hundred dollars for a lesser doppelganger—one with a smaller screen that makes it harder to tap on specific buttons on the screen?

It’s the same reason why I don’t believe in investing in tablets, which are rather strange gadgets that are neither here or nor there. It’s bulkier than a smartphone without the capability to make calls, yet smaller than a laptop without the convenience of typing on an actual keyboard. The two arguably most essential features of two different devices are removed from the hybrid.

Likewise, a smartwatch is a more tedious investment than an analogue timepiece, due to its need to be charged. It also boasts less craftsmanship and doesn’t sell as a prized luxury heirloom, but a fad-driven plaything. Smartwatches are more painfully limited than a smartphone, on which you can do more things such as trawl the Internet and pen emails. You can’t possibly spend an hour scrolling through social media on your watch, considering the awkward position your hands will be in. On a device where you’re largely communicating through voice recognition, you’re also forgoing much of the privacy you’ve previously enjoyed on the much more discreet smartphone. In fact, our smartphones are supposed to have made regular watches obsolete, so you certainly won’t need a smartwatch to tell the time.

Not to mention, having a smartwatch does nothing for your productivity. Imagine being deep in the zone at work. You’re focused and on a roll. Then, a string of buzzes on your wrist interrupts your concentration. In real life, these interruptions are more likely to occur multiple times throughout the day. At a time when being more connected to the digital world leads you farther away from reality, being hyper-connected to your devices can spell rather detrimental consequences. To me, a smartwatch feels more like a smartchain, eternally shackled to your wrist, leaving you hopelessly tethered to your devices with no escape. The excuse of “getting with the times”, especially in an era of constant tech disruption, is an illusion. All you’re buying is a tool that aids depression and disrupts your ability to live in the moment. You’re just adding yet another gadget to your sea of devices.

If it makes sense that smartwatches are pointless purchases, why have so many joined the bandwagon? The answer could lie in marketing. The original concept of a smartwatch, hyped up by our ingrained sci-fi fantasies and various masterful marketing tactics, remains undeniably cool. It’s become a status symbol of sorts. And besides, we’re living in a culture that constantly pines for the Next Big Thing. Whether it’s the latest iPhone model, the thinnest tablet, or the sleekest smartwatch, it doesn’t matter if it’s a useless paperweight. We’ll still want in.