Apple Watch Series 3

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have undoubtedly noticed that smartwatches have become as ubiquitous as cell phones. Smartwatches can track fitness and steps, alert you to calls and texts, and monitor your heart rate. The Apple Series 3 smartwatch has dominated the market, and with good reason—it’s an excellent smartwatch. However, as it goes with technology, many competitors have come out with alternatives to the Apple Watch Series 3. How to decide which smartwatch is best for you? Let’s take a look.

What is Apple Watch Series 3?

The Apple Watch Series 3 is a nifty little device that does a lot of things well. You can use it to make purchases, so you never have to get your wallet out. It has voice assistance, via Siri. It can track your steps and your fitness—even swimming, as the Apple Watch Series 3 is water resistant. It must be tethered to your iPhone in order to work though—your phone has to be close by. That is, unless you get the cellular version which doesn’t need to be tethered. The cellular capability works on all major carriers, in the US at least.

Product Specs

Besides making purchases, the Apple Watch Series 3 can track your fitness. You can even add whatever sport or activity you’re into on it (although it only monitors your heart rate as a gauge for how hard you’re working). It has almost twice as much storage as other smartwatches—either 8GB or 16GB depending on which model you choose. This means if you go for a run outdoors, you can use the watch to play music—it’s stored right on the watch.

Pricing

If you choose the non-cellular version, it can be purchased for around $279. The cellular version is a little more expensive, at $379. However, remember if you do choose the cellular option, you’ll need a data plan for it (currently about $10 a month). If you buy a leather watchband or a fancy Hermes watchband, it’ll be more. It’s available at any big box store, the Apple website, Sam’s Club, Macy’s, Target—almost anywhere.

How It Compares

We picked a few similar products on the market to see how they compare.

Amazfit Bip Smartwatch

Garmin Vivomove HR

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Smartwatch

Apple Watch Series 3                                                               

Price  $279 without cellular, $379 with cellular (+ data plan)                           3 stars

It is a little expensive however, you get a lot of bang for your buck.

Ease Of Use                                                                                                           5 Stars

Set up on the Apple Watch Series 3 is very easy. You have the app on your iPhone, and from there you can add third party apps to the watch. You can also customize the watch faces. The Apple Watch Series 3 syncs to your iPhone seamlessly. If you already have an iPhone, setting up the watch is a breeze.

Performance                                                                                                          4 stars

The Apple Watch Series 3 is a very capable device. It tracks fitness, tells you the weather, you can use it to make purchases. That said, third party apps don’t always work. And if you store music on the watch, it only works with Apple music. You must have an iPhone to consider an Apple Watch Series 3.

The GPS, used for tracking runs or hikes, is reliable. If you’re a serious runner, the fact that the watch starts recording as soon as you tap the run icon might be annoying. It will start by using an accelerometer, but it’s still looking for the GPS signal. This is not as accurate as just waiting for a signal. However, most casual runners will be happy with the watch.

Another feature of the Apple Series 3 watch is the rings it uses to track fitness. Every day, you have a stand goal, and exercise goal and a move goal. Your stand goal is twelve times a day—if you haven’t hit it yet, the watch will remind you to stand up at ten minutes to the hour (if you find this annoying, you can turn it off).  Your exercise goal is thirty minutes a day and your move goal is 600—it tracks everything you do throughout the day.  You get a different color for each ring—blue for stand, green for exercise and red for move. If you’re close to, say, your move goal, the Apple Watch Series 3 will motivate you by telling you that a twenty-minute walk will close the ring.

Finally, if you’re stuck out in the middle of nowhere and your phone is dead, you can send a distress call with the Apple Watch Series 3.

Design Quality                                                                                                         5 stars

Apple went with the rectangular face and silicone strap. It’s attractive and the fact that you can customize it with different watch faces and bands makes it even more attractive.

Warranty                                                                                                                  3 stars

Apple Series 3 Watch included one year of hardware repair coverage and 90 days of support online or over the phone. It also offers “Apple Care+” for extended coverage not covered by the warranty (for a fee). Not everything is included (for example, if the glass shatters) and there is still a fee, even with the Apple Care+.

Pros of the Apple Watch Series 3

  • excellent fitness tracking
  • a visual representation of how far towards your stand, move and exercise goals you are
  • customizable bands and watch faces
  • Apple Pay
  • syncs easily to your iPhone
  • stores and plays music
  • heart rate monitoring
  • can download third party apps via your iPhone
  • SOS call in an emergency
  • water resistant (up to 50 meters) makes it suitable for swimming
  • Apple updates its software all the time, meaning possible new features
  • has a flashlight feature

Cons of the Apple Watch Series 3

  • battery life is abysmal
  • third party apps don’t always work
  • pricy
  • you must have an iPhone

Amazfit Bip Smartwatch

The Amazfit Bip Smartwatch by Huami is a another entry into the smartwatch field. It offers all day activity tracking, GPS, all day heart rate monitoring, sleep monitoring, and an ultralong battery life.

Price                                                                                                                      5 stars

You can purchase the Amazfit Bip Smartwatch from Amazon for about $80.  Yes, $80. It’s hard to argue with that.

Ease of Use                                                                                                           3 stars

The Amazfit Bip isn’t as seamless as the Apple Watch Series. It’s slow to sync and sometimes certain features don’t work at all. It’s a little clunky. On the other hand, it has an always-on display, which is great and easy to get used to.

Performance                                                                                                          4 stars

It shows steps, heart rate, sleep and works great as a fitness tracker. The Mi Fit app lets you share data with friends although it’s a little clunky.

Design Quality                                                                                                      3 stars

It’s not the most attractive watch. It looks a little cheap. However the gorilla glass face is hard to scrape or scuff. And it’s comfortable to wear.

Warranty                                                                                                                 5 stars

The Amazfit Bip Smartwatch comes with a twelve-month money-back guarantee.

Pros

  • really long battery life
  • remarkably inexpensive
  • always-on display
  • you can get text, call and twitter notifications
  • GPS
  • basic and functional
  • works with any phone
  • good warranty

Cons

  • you can receive notifications but you can’t respond to them
  • looks a little cheap
  • has difficulty syncing with a phone at times

Garmin Vivomove HR

The Garmin Vivomove HR is an analog styled watch that has smartwatch features. It can track your steps, stairs climbed, calorie estimates, stress levels, sleep and VO2 max.  It has a different aesthetic than most smartwatches but it still has many smartwatch features.

Price                                                                                                                     4 stars

At about $200, the Garmin Vivomove HR is a good value.

Ease of Use                                                                                                          3 stars

It has a lot of features, but it doesn’t have any buttons—you have to tap and swipe. It can be difficult to find what features you’re looking for.

Performance                                                                                                         4 stars

As far as the fitness tracking goes, once you use the Garmin app, you’ll have a wide variety of features including workout logs, heart rate and daily activity monitoring, and weekly social and fitness challenges. It connects to third party apps like Strava, so if you are a competitive person you’ll appreciate the opportunity to seize “King of the Mountain” points.

Design Quality                                                                                                      3 stars

Although it has an analog aesthetic, it’s a very basic analog aesthetic. The basic model is a basic black watch although it does come in different styles. The face is prone to scratching. That said, if you’re trying to wear a smartwatch under the radar, this is the watch for you.

Warranty                                                                                                                 3 stars

The Garmin Vivomove HR is guaranteed to be free from defects for one full year.

Pros

  • looks like a regular watch
  • receive text and call notifications
  • share and sync activities with Garmin Connect
  • week long battery life
  • swim friendly
  • reasonably priced

Cons

  • you can’t respond to text messages or calls, only receive the notifications
  • a little difficult to work with
  • scratch prone

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Smartwatch

Samsung’s entry into the smartwatch field has all the notifications you would want, including fitness tracking, heart rate monitoring, water resistance and an altimeter. Also, Spotify has announced you can save off-line playlists to the watch, meaning you don’t have to take your phone or a music player when you go out for a run.

Price                                                                                                                      3 stars

You can purchase the  Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Smartwatch for around $250.

Ease of Use

It stays nicely connected and syncs with both bluetooth and wi-fi and can toggle back and forth between the two. To select an app, you rotate the bezel which is fun but the bezel can be a little stiff. Samsung does not have the access to the huge field of apps that say, the Apple Watch Series 3 does. It’s getting better—like the introduction of Spotify, but it’s limited. However, as a fitness tracking device it is competent by itself. Sort of.

Performance                                                                                                         2 stars

If you’re using the Samsung Gear to track your runs, you may find it annoying. It glitches and drops miles, and then suddenly adds them on in the middle of a run. Like the Apple Watch Series 3, it relies on an accelerometer before it locks onto GPS. It has workout programs, but there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to when it tells you to speed up or slow down. As a running watch, it’s problematic.

Design Quality                                                                                                     3 stars

The frontier edition of the Samsung Gear S3 is huge! If you are petite, you may find it overwhelming. It’s also heavy on your wrist. It does have a very bright and attractive screen and the watch itself is well-made.

Warranty                                                                                                                4 stars

  • Twelve months, parts and labor.

Pros

  • well-built watch
  • can make and receive calls and texts right from the watch
  • the amount of faces you can customize it with is extensive
  • it can have always on display
  • bright, attractive screen
  • good music play though Spotify

 Cons

  • glitchy as a running watch
  • lack of apps available
  • will work with other phones, but it works best with the Samsung
  • heavy and big
  • pricy
  • three-day battery life

  Conclusion        
Which smartwatch you choose will largely depend on what your needs are. If you have the budget, it’s difficult to beat the Apple Series 3 Smartwatch. It offers an amazing amount of apps and features, and if you opt for the cellular feature, it can act like a tiny phone on your wrist. If budget is a concern, then the Amazfit Bip Smartwatch is hard to beat for the money. No, it’s not as nice as the Apple Series 3 Smartwatch, and it doesn’t have as many features. However, for only about $80 is offers a tremendous value for the money. Not into the look of smartwatches? Then the Garmin Vivomove HR is a good option for a stealth smartwatch. Lastly, if you have a Samsung phone and you like big, heavy watches, then maybe the Samsung S3 Gear is your watch. That said, if what you really want is the latest and greatest smartwatch, then the Apple Series 3 smartwatch is the clear winner.

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