Why I stopped wearing a $300 smartwatch and switched to a $16 Casio

Discussion in 'Alternatives to iOS and iOS Devices' started by samiznaetekto, Apr 7, 2015.

  1. samiznaetekto macrumors 65816

    Dec 26, 2009
    This post may be informative for #⌚️ "virgins" - people who never used a smartwatch before (or used a primitive one like Pebble) and think #⌚️ will be like a gift from G.O.D. It seems there's a lot of dripping desire here from people who have no idea what a smartwatch is.

    I've been using a very capable smartwatch for about 6 months now. Here are my observations.

    My history. I used a traditional watch up to until late 90-s when I started using a flip phone with an LCD on its flip cover, it was sufficient for me to check time. I got my iPhone in 2007 and continued using iPhones for checking time. However, about 4 years ago, I bought a cheap Casio for 16 bucks at Walmart because in many life situations, seeing time without pulling iPhone out of pocket and unlocking it was much better (being late for a meeting or train or plane, whatever) - glancing at the watch at any angle, light, and without any delay.


    (I'm not a fashionista; this is good enough for me - it tells time, has alarm/timer/stopwatch/memo book, it's waterproof and runs 10 years on the same battery, after which I may just throw it out. It's freaking SIXTEEN bucks!)

    In Nov '14, I bought my first smartwatch. From a smartwatch, I wanted these things:

    1) Stand-alone GPS - I got it.
    2) Offline maps - I got it.
    3) Barometer for altitude when hiking - I got it.
    4) Stand-alone WiFi for streaming music, loading offline maps, urgent web/email tasks - I got it.
    5) Bluetooth for headphones - I got it.
    6) Web browser (yes, web browser!) for urgent tasks, like dealing with cancelled flight, transferring funds between accounts, searching for info on the web I urgently need to find while only having a watch, etc. - I got it.
    7) Ability to write my own apps for it, for free - I got it. (It's quite simple HTML/Javacript web app development - wrote my own altimeter app using it.)
    8) Compass for hiking - I got it.
    9) Voice memos and voice-to-text conversion for spur-of-the-moment thoughts and reminders - I got it.
    10) Ambient mode - I got it.
    11) Good battery life - I got it (42 hours in Ambient mode).
    12) Cellular for emergency - I got it (although my SIM in the watch is not activated, it can still be used to dial the emergency number).

    That's probably all I've ever wanted from a smartwatch. Now, I didn't want it for:

    1) Any Health stuff - not interested. Would prefer it didn't have any health sensors and had bigger battery instead. Although I do run sometimes and hike in the mountains, I know my routine and using the duration of the exercise is more than enough for me. Not interested in any stupid "up-and-down-noise" colorful graphs.

    2) Notifications. I don't want another distraction. My phone is my communication center, everything emanates from it. Aside from loading/updating apps and firmware, my watch is mostly independent from my phone and serves its own purposes.

    3) Be depended on the phone. It doesn't make any sense to me. If I go anywhere with just the watch, I should be able to use most of its functions without the phone. Even maps - they're offline, preloaded maps. (I have more than a gig of them on the watch, great for navigating by foot in unfamiliar cities.) Same with WiFi - if I want to stream some music or check email or (urgently) do something in the web browser - I can do it with just the watch.

    Ok, all that said... After the honeymoon (~1-2 months) was over, I started falling out of love with my smartwatch. Why?

    1) Although it has an Ambient Mode, the screen is virtually unreadable in daylight (even not in direct sunlight!). It made me realize how much I miss the ability to glance at the analog watch at any light, any angle, and see the time. This is the major factor that made me think of returning to traditional watch.

    2) 99.9% of the time, I just want the time function, not any of "smart" functions. I realized that in my mind, the utility of all those "smart" functions was overrated. I can simply wear the smartwatch when I need these functions (like checking altitude gain when hiking to judge the overall progress) and wear normal watch the rest of the time.

    3) My smartwatch only has option of having a rubber (fluoroeuroelastomer? :D) band. I'm a sweaty person and the fluoroeuroelastomer makes my wrist underneath sweat a lot. Something to consider for those getting the fluoroeuroelastomer band.

    4) Battery life. Although my watch lasts easily more than a day (I clocked it at 42 hours in always-on Ambient Mode), I charged it daily ("just in case") and while it's not super annoying, it makes you wish you haven't had to do it. Having a watch that lasts 10 years (!!!) on a battery after which you just throw this $16 investment in the trash after using a smartwatch seems like the most amazing thing ever invented! :D

    5) Shining watch face in the dark. I think in the evening/night, the shining screen is like a beacon to the world: "I'm wearing a smartwatch!" Wanted to turn off the Ambient mode, and it was just annoying to do it.

    6) Motion to activate the watch face - doesn't work in all situations, so I mostly keep it off. I don't think #⌚️ will be any better in this regard, so I think most people will keep it off or be annoyed the hell by it activating it too slowly or in inappropriate times.

    7) Using it in the shower - the droplets start "tapping" the screen and before you know, it brings havoc and the moment it pushes "Factory Reset" button on screen will be the last you wear your watch in the shower so you "don't miss any notifications or control music from my watch". :D Touch screens are totally useless in the shower or the pool. Just "forgedaboudid".

    8) Water resistance - well overrated. I think mine is rated IP66 or 67 and it lived a few seconds after I submerged it in several inches of water (not even force-moved it through water like when swimming!). I don't think #⌚️ would be much better. Those holes for mic and speakers, despite possibly having membranes to protect the innards from water, will sooner or later let water in. Also, crown and button will.

    Anyway, now I mostly wear my cheap Casio, and only when I need special functions (like altitude or offline maps without the phone), I wear my smartwatch. In fact, losing my "smartwatch virginity" and realizing the shortcoming of smartwatches made me more interested in traditional watches - something I've been totally ambivalent before. I might even upgrade my $16 Walmart watch to some "luxury" (in my mind, again, I'm not a fashionista) $160 dumbwatch someday.

    For What It's Worth, folks. :)
  2. iBreatheApple macrumors 68030


    Sep 3, 2011
    I can appreciate your opinion, for the most part. But there are a couple of exceptionally assumptive comments such as (but not limited to) the one below.

  3. Bryan Bowler macrumors 68040

    Sep 27, 2008
    I really appreciate you taking the time to post such detailed thoughts. Even though it's against the grain of getting an Apple Watch, you obviously have a lot of real world experience in using a smart watch and most of us here certainly do not. So thank you for giving us all some things to consider.

    I'm hoping that Apple's implementation will be much better and I'm very interested in seeing how this turns out. At first, I said that I would at least wait until v2 before getting an Apple Watch, if ever. However, as someone that has a sizable investment in Apple stock, I'm very much thinking about buying one now so I can get a better feel for just how useful this product may or may not be. Sounds silly, but the acceptance of the Apple Watch will have an effect on Apple's stock price so I want some hands on time to gauge just how well this thing may or may not do. Aside from that, I do own a lot of Apple products and have mostly enjoyed using them.

    At any rate, I love hearing well-reasoned thoughts on why the Apple Watch may not work, and your post was very well written. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts with us.

  4. samiznaetekto thread starter macrumors 65816

    Dec 26, 2009
    Thank you. I think this is the first time in this forum that I'm not getting attacked for criticizing the #⌚️. Thanks again.

    As for gauging what it feels like using a smartwatch, you can simply stop by any of the carrier stores, they carry a variety of smartwatches. Just play with them for half an hour! I know, they're not compatible with iPhone, but it'll give you some ideas about potential usefulness, UI differences, prices, capabilities, etc.

    But then again, as I mentioned in my post, there's the honeymoon effect - you may fall in love with whatever choice you make, and after a month or two realize that the shortcoming are too bad enough that "dumbwatches" don't seem so bad after all! And this is exacly what happened to me.


    You're right, when applied to #⌚️, they're just assumptions, because no one yet has the watch yet. But my smartwatch is rated water-resistant, too, and it died faster when submerged in shallow water than a mosquito. I guess those users who are enthusiastic about showering and swimming with their #⌚️ will find out the truth - good or bad.

    One thing for certain - no beating or submerging seems to affect this almighty $16 Casio machine on my wrist! :D
  5. RodChester macrumors regular


    Jun 23, 2010
    I'm curious as to what smart watch you have been using.
  6. samiznaetekto thread starter macrumors 65816

    Dec 26, 2009
    I can't mention it, it makes some people on this forum mad and I get banned as they think I'm that company's agent on a mission. But in fact I'm a gadget enthusiast like everyone here is, just not blindly following Apple Religion and feeling like saying what I want to say. (I'm 2007-2014 Apple Monogamist; 2014-present - Happy Polygamist: Apple + Android + Windows + Tizen = ULTIMATE LOVE :D)
  7. Armen macrumors 604


    Apr 30, 2013
    It's pretty interesting how the needs of people differ from one person to another.

    1) Stand-alone GPS - (Not interested in this as I run in my neighborhood)

    2) Offline maps - (Not interested in this as not only do I carry my iPhone with me everywhere I go there are no places I go that I don't have cell coverage)

    3) Barometer for altitude when hiking - (I don't hike)

    4) Stand-alone WiFi for streaming music, loading offline maps, urgent web/email tasks - I got it. (Music on the Apple watch I will listen to with bluetooth headphones as I run).

    5) Bluetooth for headphones - (See above)

    6) Web browser- This makes no sense to me as I carry a 5.5" iPhone with me everywhere I go.

    7) Ability to write my own apps for it- (No interest in this)

    8) Compass for hiking - (As stated above I don't hike)

    9) Voice memos and voice-to-text conversion for spur-of-the-moment thoughts and reminders - (Phone is with me not needed in the watch)
    10) Ambient mode - (Don't really care)
    11) Good battery life - (I will charge my phone and watch together every night. Pointless to have longer battery on the watch when most of its functions relies on the phone being on and connected).
    12) Cellular for emergency- (iPhone for emergency)

    1) Any Health stuff on the watch is welcome to me.

    2) Notifications. The MAIN reason why I'm buying the Apple watch. I get many text messages throughout the day and it would be easier to reply from the watch.

    3) Be depended on the phone. This is no brainer. It's designed to be an accessory device to the phone.
  8. Cashmonee macrumors 6502a


    May 27, 2006
    There is one question I want to see answered, and it won't happen until we've had the watch for several months, maybe more.

    How many people get out of the routine of wearing it and don't go back to wearing it?

    When the day comes, and you forgot to put it on, or forgot to charge it, will you miss it enough to remember to charge it and put it on the next day, and if you don't or can't, what about the day after?

    This is a major pitfall of things such as the fitbit. I know it is a different category completely, but there are stories all the time of people getting out of the habit of wearing it and not missing it. Will the :apple:Watch be useful enough to keep you in the habit of wearing it?
  9. Patriot24 macrumors 68030


    Dec 29, 2010
    I hope he doesn't say. It doesn't really change the feedback he gave and there's no point in devolving the discussion into "X vs. Apple Watch".

    Good thread.
  10. Armen macrumors 604


    Apr 30, 2013
    I don't usually wear a watch but I bought a Pebble a few months ago to try out the smart watch idea. It's been on my wrist every day. You get used to it being there because it offers more than just the time.
  11. Cashmonee macrumors 6502a


    May 27, 2006
    True. That's why I said it will take months. For myself, I have a fenix 3. I was on spring break last week and went hiking. I had packed my charger in a bag, and since I was off work, and didn't really need it, I didn't bother taking the charger out of the bag or putting the watch on again until last night when I was thinking I would want to wear it for work.

    I find the notifications useful for when I am working. Outside of work they are a convenience that I won't work terribly hard to get. So, for me, I suspect the answer would be that I would keep wearing it after a lapse, as I experienced. I wonder how many people that would apply to, versus how many wouldn't come back after the lapse.
  12. samiznaetekto thread starter macrumors 65816

    Dec 26, 2009
    Yes, this is the ultimate question, and only time will tell. I personally found out not having a smartwatch on my wrist and having a traditional watch instead quite refreshing. It's freaking amazing - it tells you time without any gestures, in any light, at any angle, incognito or not... UNBELIEVABLE! :) Now my smartwatch is kind of "special forces" watch for me - use it only when it's actually necessary and smart to do so.

    I don't think I'll buy another smartwatch anytime soon until they invent one that can show time all the time in any light and angle.
  13. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Jul 17, 2008
    While it was very interesting to read a detailed recounting of a smartwatch user's perspective, I have to note that OP is not interested in the health tracking or notification functions of a smartwatch. But those are two of the things I'm most interested in from the Aple watch, along with the possibilities of using the watch as a key for smart locks, boarding pass at airports, wave your watch at a scanner to get in to theaters, etc. So in the end, I have to say that OP's experiences are not very relevant to how I expect to use my Apple watch. I do appreciate the OP taking the time to share why the smartwatch was not for them. It's always good to hear a different perspective.
  14. Flow39 macrumors 68000


    Sep 7, 2014
    At the Apple Store
    I have somewhat opposite experiences with smartwatches. I picked up a Pebble in September 2014, just a week after the iPhone 6 launch. I didn't know how useful it would be, as I was a skeptic of the whole "smartwatch" category, but I was guessing it would be useful. I bought it with high hopes, and I didn't expect to be let down.

    Fast forward down the road, I honestly can't leave my Pebble at home. Even with its limited functionality, it is indispensable in my opinion for my uses. Since I am still in high school, teachers don't really like when phones are out. From my Pebble, I can read texts, dismiss notifications, dismiss phone calls, and (with Android only) reply to texts. Also, while driving, I can see my notifications so I don't miss something important. It has become a useful tool for me and I honestly wear it any time I leave the house.

    So the Apple Watch for me is a no-brainer. It basically expands on everything the Pebble has to offer and does it in a much more premium feeling package along with *seamlessly* integrating with my iPhone. I am excited for it and all that it can do!

    P.S.: Thanks for sharing your view on it. It was refreshing to see from someone else's point of view. :)
  15. Armen macrumors 604


    Apr 30, 2013
    I get pinged so often at work via text/iMessage I welcome the ability to quickly reply a "yes" "no" "dont know".
  16. cwosigns macrumors 68000


    Jul 8, 2008
    He has a Samsung Gear S.


    I have had the opposite experience with my smartwatch (Pebble Steel). It has become increasingly indispensable over time, and with the expanded capabilities of the Apple Watch, I anticipate that it will be even more so.

    I use my Pebble for:

    • Notifications. I love that I can leave my iPhone docked at my desk, and still get all of my notifications anywhere in my office. And during meetings it's easy to glance quickly and see if anything requires action; it lets me triage my emails and text accordingly.
    • Remote control of music. I do this in the shower and in my roadster (not enough room to have the watch anywhere but the console).
    • Fitness tracking. The Jawbone Up app on the Pebble does a great job at counting steps and tracking exercise.
    • Controlling my Hue lights at home

    Looking forward to everything that the expanded capabilities of the Apple Watch will bring (health monitoring, convenience apps associated with being a frequent traveler, enhanced and actionable notifications, higher quality watch faces with distractions).
  17. matrix07 macrumors 601


    Jun 24, 2010
    I appreciate the long and well thought out piece but let me ask you one thing: are you thinking just because you had smart watch that it will be equivalent to having Apple Watch? When you buy a product you never care for experience but always looks for features?
  18. samiznaetekto thread starter macrumors 65816

    Dec 26, 2009
    Thank you.

    It's interesting that you have an experience with a smartwatch that has always-on time, and are switching to a watch that will only have on-demand time (and even that will be an effort to read outdoors).

    I only realized the benefit of always-on, always-readable time after several months of using an on-demand, or always-on-but-hardly-readable-outdoors watch...
  19. Lloydbm41 macrumors 68040


    Oct 17, 2013
    Central California
    GPS is used for various apps, not just working out apps.

    Offline maps is something that can be used for indoor malls/stores and can direct you to specific areas of said mall/stores. Additionally, offline maps is excellent for underground subways and parking structures to mark parking space. What if you are carrying luggage and a backpack/briefcase? You gonna stop to take your phone out every time you need to look at which stop you are getting off at or which exit you need? You might, but having a simple look at a watch would be much easier and less complicated.

    Barometer can be used for multiple things not just hiking, but for 3D spacial awareness. Like say the parking structure I mentioned above.

    BT is used for connecting to phone, unlocking another device like say a Mac when you are close to it, and so on... Are you saying you have your phone in your pocket 24/7, even at home? The answer is likely no.

    Web browser on a watch is pretty useless, but you never know?

    You would be surprised how useful this can be, especially if your phone is not next to you or iin your pocket.

    I'm not saying you would still use any of this stuff I mentioned, but there are things that the Apple Watch will (and in the future, can) do. Having used a smartwatch for a while, there are many instances that you would normally use a phone, but the smartwatch was the one thing available at that time. Like a transformer, there is more than meets the eye with a smartwatch.
  20. samiznaetekto, Apr 7, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2015

    samiznaetekto thread starter macrumors 65816

    Dec 26, 2009
    >When you buy a product you never care for experience but always looks for features?

    For me, the exclusive, necessary to me features take precedence over the experience with absent features.

    For example, when I hike in the mountains, I want to go light - without the phone, yet I want to tell my altitude and position, check the weather conditions and have the ability to make an emergency call. #⌚️ doesn't have these standalone abilities, so it's automatically out. When I'm traveling in Europe, walking the convoluted streets with unfamiliar names in old Italian towns, for example, I want to navigate without using a phone and roaming cellular data - my watch has offline maps for any country in the world, but #⌚️ doesn't even have a built-in GPS, so it's automatically out.

    No matter what amazing heartbeat-sharing and doodling experiences #⌚️ has, it doesn't have features I want in a smartwatch.
  21. Supermallet macrumors 65816


    Sep 19, 2014
    That's because you didn't criticize the Apple Watch. You criticized your current smartwatch, which is in fact not an Apple Watch.

    Now, some of your criticisms may also be applicable to the Apple Watch, and I'm sure some people will try it and decide to go back to standard watches or no watch, but that doesn't meant that all of the criticisms of your current smartwatch will apply to the Apple Watch.

    Just as we can't know if the Apple Watch will be great until it's out, you also can't know if it's not great until it's out. And for some people, it will be great anyway. For others, it will be awful no matter what. Apple isn't forcing anyone to buy the watch, so I doubt it will be a problem.

    As for why you get attacked for criticizing the Apple Watch, it's because you say silly things like "The watch will be encrusted with gunk within half a year!" as if you have some kind of special insight into the world of watches that no one else has, and then you repeat ad nauseum. If you got over yourself, you might not get such a negative response.
  22. Blakjack macrumors 68000


    Jun 23, 2009
    That's all Huh? Just pierce a whole on each end of your iPhone, go to JoAnn's by some Velcro, attach them to the iPhone, and place it on your wrist.

    Because that's really what you want.
  23. sterl320 macrumors 6502

    Apr 3, 2015


    Guys. He already admitted he doesn't want the Apple Watch to succeed because he doesn't like Tim Cook.

    There's no point in even trying to talk to him about this lmao. People like that aren't worth convincing. It'll just be a waste of keystrokes that you could give to people who are as optimistic and excited as you are.
  24. dannyyankou macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2012
    Any company that tries to put a web browser in a watch is probably lost in direction and probably has an overall lousy user interface.
  25. samiznaetekto thread starter macrumors 65816

    Dec 26, 2009
    The company that makes a web browser for my watch is not the watch's maker. You don't HAVE TO install their app. You don't HAVE TO to use it.

    However, in a pinch, it might be useful. Flight got cancelled while your phone is dead and you can't recharge it now? You can make new arrangements in the browser, cancel hotel reservations, etc. Went shopping light, without the phone? How about price of this item, wouldn't it be cheaper on Amazon? Can check it on the watch. Wrote a check to someone but forgot to add money to your account? You can transfer funds between your accounts in the browser. Etc. etc. Only very seldom, urgent situations when having a web browser will save your day.

    I only used it a couple of times in 6 months, just to confirm that in a pinch, it's quite useable and capable browser, and the keyboard is amazingly accurate, and voice recognition - even with my heavy accent that Siri fails to understand 100% of the time - is also amazingly accurate.

    To each their own. :)

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