How we test smartwatches at ZDNET in 2024

Modern smartwatches are no longer just accessories but have become essential devices for many, offering features such as voice assistants, crash detection, call and text support, long battery lives, and health and fitness tracking. ZDNET evaluates smartwatches by testing their performance with smartphone companions, core functionality, build quality and durability, health and wellness tracking, applications, and advanced features.

Core functionality and performance are critical for a smartwatch to be a reliable daily wearable. A smartwatch should clearly display the time and provide easy access to notifications. The smartwatch’s core functions must work reliably without creating any friction in the user experience. ZDNET evaluates the consistency in receiving notifications, the reliability of launching complications, and tracks any inconsistent behavior when testing each watch.

Build quality and durability are essential factors for smartwatches. Most smartwatches have water resistance, scratch-resistant glass, and durable materials such as polymer fiber, aluminum, titanium, or stainless steel. ZDNET tests the watches in various conditions, documents any screen scratches, and tests out various bands during the evaluation process.

Health and wellness tracking is a significant improvement in smartwatch technology. Smartwatches now offer advanced health and wellness features that were previously found in dedicated health devices. ZDNET tests the accuracy of location tracking, heart rate monitoring, and other health and wellness features by participating in activities and comparing data with various smartwatches.

Applications have become an essential part of smartwatches, with Google, Samsung, Apple, Garmin, and others embracing developers to extend smartphone applications to the watch form factor. ZDNET tests a core set of 10-15 applications that work well on a smartwatch and evaluates which watches these applications work with and how well those applications work.

Advanced features set smartwatches apart from competitors and target specific types of users. Examples of advanced features include music controls, crash/incident detection, navigation, hands-free voice assistance, and blood pressure monitoring. ZDNET explores what a smartwatch can do above and beyond the standard fare by using provided reviewer guides, manuals, and checking out reviews from other testers to discover advanced features.

Smartwatches are engineering marvels, and ZDNET encourages users to spend days and weeks diving into all the details, functions, and options found within them. In the future, we can expect to see even more advanced features and the potential for hologram wearables.

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