This fall, the top smartphones from Apple, Google, and Samsung have seen the most iterative updates. But all three have also introduced brand-new smartwatches that are more intriguing than ever before, reviving a market that has been dormant for more than five years.
Phones are now monotonous. The basic concept of what a phone is hasn't changed for a very long time, yet tiny, iterative updates are released every year. Even the much-touted "exciting" folding phones are settling into the same cycle of annual CPU and camera upgrades that ordinary smartphones have been in for years.
This year, with each of the major phone announcements this fall being less than exciting, may be the case where it has never been more true. The most recent Samsung Galaxy Fold 4 and Flip 4 are essentially the same gadgets as the models from a year ago, but with better processors and cameras. Almost identical to the Pixel 6 versions, Google's Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro have upgraded processors and sensors. Apple's iPhone 14 is essentially the same as the iPhone 13; a new processor wasn't even included.
However, despite the fact that this year has seen a further slowdown in smartphone upgrades and advancements, there has been a lot of activity in the half-decade-old market for smartwatches. With more fascinating and distinctive offers for your wrist, all three manufacturers have outperformed their phone debuts, making the wristwatch the centre of attention for the first time—possibly ever.
Start with Samsung first. The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro provides a new tier for Samsung watches, despite the fact that the firm did slip into the iterative update trap a little bit with the ordinary Galaxy Watch 5 (its only advantage over the Galaxy Watch 4 from the previous year is a bigger battery). For when you're out on a run away from civilization, it boasts a more durable titanium case, a bigger screen, an even bigger battery, and greater navigational choices. Although Samsung didn't really move beyond that — the CPU and software experience are essentially the same as those of the Galaxy Watch 4 series from a year ago — the Watch 5 Pro's fresh look and materials are more than enough to draw attention.
Although Apple has dominated the smartwatch market since the release of the Apple Watch in 2015, the company has been willing to release incremental upgrades to the same selection of one small and one large watch. The majority of Apple Watch updates hardly change from its predecessors; the popular Series 8 of this year is essentially identical to the Series 7.
However, the dependable and durable Apple Watch Ultra finally offers something fresh. It has a brand-new look, a larger, brighter display, an entirely new button, and a battery that outlasts prior Apple Watch models.
Although Apple is truly marketing this as a tool for long-distance runners, climbers, and even dives, it will undoubtedly be purchased by many people who don't do any of those things and simply want a large, top-of-the-line Apple Watch that stands out from the competition.
Then there is Google, which is this year making its debut in the smartwatch sector. Google announced the Pixel Watch this year, the first smartwatch in the Pixel hardware family, while maintaining a smartwatch platform for years (the initial Android Wear devices actually predate the Apple Watch).
The long-awaited Pixel Watch combines Fitbit and Google's Pixel hardware projects. Fitbit was acquired by Google in January 2021. With a design and set of capabilities that appear to have been built particularly to compete with the Apple Watch, it is intended to breathe new life into the Android wristwatch market. sleek and little in size? Check.
With a smart strap attachment system and a stainless steel frame? Check. a rotatable crown that provides light haptic feedback? Check. A voice assistant equipped to deliver messages, set timers, and control smart home appliances? Check. Tracking your exercise and fitness, with ECG and heart rate monitoring included? Do a double check.
There haven't been many great alternatives to the Apple Watch, which has kept some people from switching from an iPhone to an Android device. But now Google has one.
Each of these new smartwatches offers something intriguing on its own. However, taken as a whole, they seem to represent a return to wearable technology innovation and advancement, even if some of that advancement can be summed up in the phrase "you don't have to charge it as frequently."
I can't guarantee that any of these businesses will continue to place a high priority on smartwatches as they have this year because I don't know how Apple will upgrade the Ultra each year and Google has a troubled track record with its wristwatch platform. None of this implies that the current generation of smartwatches is faultless; the Pixel Watch, in particular, needs a lot of improvement from Google. Smartwatches are the thing to acquire this year, though, if you're itching for a new gadget.