Smartwatches and activity trackers are more popular than ever these days—consumers globally are expected to spent 73 billion U.S. dollars on wearable devices by 2022, and around 22 percent of Canadian households already own fitness trackers, according to Statista.
And increasingly, it makes more sense to invest in a single wearable gadget that can (almost) do it all, rather than multiple devices designed for one or two niche measurements. But shopping for the right multi-use smartwatch will require some consideration and market research.
Start by thinking about your individual needs. “It really depends on what question you’re trying to answer about yourself, the accuracy to which you need that question answered, and your budget”, says Dr. Dave Clarke, an Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology at Simon Fraser University whose research involves wearable technologies.
Other important factors to consider include ease of use, comfort, and whether you’re looking for just data or also visualization and comprehensive insights, Clarke notes. “People will buy a device [and have these] metrics…then it’s a case of actually explaining what the numbers mean, or they’ll overinterpret what the numbers are giving them—that’s a major concern about all of this,” says Clarke. “As we get more and more data, interpreting those data properly can be very challenging.”
And not every smartwatch offers the same list of features. Devices with heart-rate monitoring have been around for a while, but oxygen saturation and skin-temperature measurements are newer features to the market, says Dr. Clarke. “Oxygen saturation is probably one of the newer variables that are becoming more and more prevalent,” says Dr. Clarke. “This measures how much oxygen you have in your blood, and usually you want that [measurement] to be very high—certain disease states can cause it to be lowered.”
It might take time, and some trial and error, to find the right wearable for your needs. “If you’re really serious about wanting to buy something that measures some aspect of your health, then you need to do a lot of research,” says Clarke. “You’ve got to experiment with it, and then be willing to abandon it and buy something else if [it’s not working].” There are a lot of helpful buyer’s guides, and even academic research, available online that you can reference, he adds.
Ahead, six stylish smartwatches that offer a full suite of fitness- and health-tracking features.
Apple Watch 6
The latest Apple Watch comes with a blood oxygen sensor in addition to features like electrocardiogram (ECG) reading, and activity and sleep tracking. Plus, in Canada its fall detection and location sharing features can connect you to 24/7 emergency assistance through the TELUS Health Companion service. From $529
Available in two colours, the Fitbit Sense smartwatch offers heart-rate tracking, a skin temperature sensor, and heart rhythm assessment through an ECG app. You can even track and manage stress levels with an electrodermal activity (EDA) sensor. $399.95
Garmin Fenix 6 Pro
The rugged Fenix 6 Pro Solar Edition can be used in either smartwatch mode or GPS Mode, and features a solar-charged battery. There’s a pulse oximeter and heart rate tracking, sleep monitoring, and even technology to keep you on pace during runs. $1,259.99
Samsung Galaxy Watch3
Samsung’s Galaxy Watch3 Bluetooth comes in two sizes and has a sleek analog-like design featuring a leather strap. It has an accelerometer for fall detection, can cast workouts to your TV, and can offer sleep-improvement insights. $479.99
Montblanc Summit 2+
Available in multiple luxe finishes, Montblanc’s Summit 2+ smartwatch runs on Wear OS by Google and is compatible with both Android and iOS phones. It includes sensors for heart rate, altimeter, accelerometer, gyroscope, GPS, and more. $1,550
Suunto 9 Peak
The new 9 Peak smartwatch by Suunto is super thin, lightweight, and designed for outdoor adventures. It includes activity and sleep tracking features, heart rate and blood oxygen sensors, and a GPS and barometric altimeter. $899.99