7 reasons why smartwatches are dumb

Smartwatches are the next big thing, or so they been saying for a while now.  I’m still a little skeptical because they also said that about TVs/smartphones with 3D screens which seem all but extinct these days. Everyone is expecting Apple to hit it big with their Apple Watch if and when it is released, but in the meantime there are many other manufacturers making smartwatches and other wrist-mounted wearable gadgets. I’ve been using the Microsoft Band since last October, and while I mainly like to use it as a fitness tracker, I’ve also been using it as a smartwatch since it has plenty of those types of functions too.  While I fully supported and wished for the convergence of mobile phone, digital assistant, and MP3 player back in 2002, the convergence of smartphone and wrist watch makes a lot less sense to me. Last year I even wondered why I would want a smart watch. Now that I’ve been using one for a good number of months, here are a few reasons why smartwatches are kind of dumb.

  1. They require two hands and your eyes to interact with. Having an interface strapped to your wrist instantly makes one of your hands unusable. Whether the smartwatch is on your left wrist or your right wrist, you can’t reach it with the hand that’s attached to that wrist and therefore have to take that hand away from whatever you’re doing in order to see the screen. Then if you have to interact with the watch in any way, you have to take your other hand away from whatever it may be occupied with in order to press whatever buttons are strapped to your wrist. Imagine trying to use a smartwatch while holding a pole standing in a crowded subway car. If you let go of that pole to reach for your wrist, you’re going to fall into some one’s lap.
  2. Your wrist will never be as stable and secure as your hand. It doesn’t matter how tightly you strap an electronic touch screen to your wrist, that wrist is covered with stretchy pliable skin that doesn’t stay put. If you’re trying to draw a picture or write a word on that wrist-based screen, it’s probably going to wobble around.
  3. They interfere with jacket and shirt sleeves. While wearing a smartwatch, putting on or taking off jackets and sweatshirts has become about 10 times more difficult and frustrating. The darn thing just gets in the way all the time. Sure, having a smartwatch on your wrist is supposed to be quick and convenient, but having to reach over with my other hand to move a sleeve out of the way every time it vibrates has been anything but convenient.

    I can feel my smartwatch vibrating, but... Good thing my Nokia Lumia 1020 works while wearing these gloves.

    I can feel my smartwatch vibrating, but… Good thing my Nokia Lumia 1020 works while wearing these gloves.

  4. They have to be recharged frequently. Some people wear wrist watches that last for many years or indefinitely. Not so with a smart watch. In most cases you have to take it off every day, or every other day in order to plug it into a charger.

    You have to take the Band off of your wrist to charge it of course.

    You have to take the watch off of your wrist to charge it of course.

  5. It’s a second device to recharge and it often requires a different charger than your phone. Yeah, you still have to charge your smartphone which you also have to carry in addition to your smart watch (in most cases). So plan on bringing extra chargers if you go anywhere overnight.
  6. They don’t make anything that much easier. If I have to raise my hand up in the air to look at a little screen attached to my wrist, how much different is that than raising up my hand with a phone in it and looking at a larger screen with far more information on it… which I can actually interact with far more efficiently and with only one hand? It’s not that much different, but the difficulty in interacting with a smartwatch is far greater.
  7. They make many tasks more difficult. While, yes, maybe raising your arm and twisting your wrist (if you don’t have sleeves on) is slightly easier than grabbing your phone and raising your arm, having a smartwatch on your wrist actually makes reaching for your smartphone more difficult. More often than not, my wrist watch gets caught on the edge of my pants pocket when I reach for my smartphone (or my keys or anything else) in that pocket. And I need to reach for that smartphone because the smartwatch is not capable of responding to notifications as efficiently or reliably.

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About The Author
Adam Z. Lein
Adam has had interests in combining technology with art since his first use of a Koala pad on an Apple computer. He currently has a day job as a graphic designer, photographer, systems administrator and web developer at a small design firm in Westchester, NY. His love of technology extends to software development companies who have often implemented his ideas for usability and feature enhancements. Mobile computing has become a necessity for Adam since his first Uniden UniPro PC100 in 1998. He has been reviewing and writing about smartphones for Pocketnow.com since they first appeared on the market in 2002. Read more about Adam Lein!