Times are changing: smartwatches rise in popularity

Marin Kalista


  No longer is a watch just used to tell time. Modern technology has equipped watches with the ability to track steps, monitor heart rates and respond to texts; these smartwatches are winding up in popularity.

  According to statista.com, 141 million smartwatches were sold worldwide in 2018, which is a huge increase from the 75 million sold in 2017. Smartwatch sales are projected to continue increasing in future years.  

  Junior Bryce Fleshman owns an Apple Watch.

  “The main reason they’re becoming very popular is the social status they bring, and [people like] to stay ‘plugged in’ when they’re away from their phones,” Fleshman said.

   North Assistant Principal William Ragland owns a Fitbit, and he agrees with Fleshman on the reason for the rise in popularity of smartwatches among teens.

  “With youth, it was the newest technology. It was another way to stay connected without having to have their phone on them,” Ragland said.

    Junior Liya Samuel, who owns a Fitbit watch, has a different outlook on why smartwatches’ popularity is ticking up.

  “I believe a lot of people’s goal is to work out more and burn more calories, so they use a smartwatch to help them with their journey to meet their goal,” Samuel said.

  As Samuel alluded to, smartwatches offer features, such as step tracking and calorie monitoring that can help encourage healthy lifestyles.

  Junior Ceci Thomas also owns an Apple Watch.

  “My watch allows me to set goals for my everyday exercise which pushes me to want to achieve them, which has definitely helped me improve my lifestyle,” Thomas said.

  Fleshman also primarily uses his smartwatch for fitness purposes.

  “I mainly use the watch for when I’m doing a workout for track or on my own. It really helps me keep check of the calories I lose, so I can keep a stable diet,” Fleshman said.

  Ragland said, “I use [my Fitbit] to track my fitness and overall exercise…I like meeting my daily goal.”

  Another feature that many of the newer smartwatches offer is connection to text messages and alerts from users’ phones. This feature, while convenient, has made many question whether these watches can be distracting.

  Ragland commented on the issue of smartwatches being a distraction.

  “I don’t struggle with it personally, but I do understand how it can be an overall distraction to learning in the classroom,” Ragland said.

  Thomas said, “Personally, I find my watch to be distracting during my classes but not much more distracting than having my phone on me. When driving, most of the time, I put it on ‘do not disturb,’ so I won’t be tempted to look at it when it goes off.”

  Samuel agrees that, while it can be mildly annoying, her watch does not distract her.

  “I don’t get distracted by it. It notifies me when I haven’t walked in awhile so that can be a little annoying because then I have the urge to stop what I was doing previously to get up and walk,” Samuel said.

  As a result of changing technologies, different brands, including Apple, Fitbit and Samsung, have created distinct versions of a smartwatch.

  Among these brands, Apple has dominated sales in comparison with its competition. According to statista.com, Apple sold 22.5 million watches in 2018, and the brand closest to Apple was Fitbit, with 5.5 million watches sold.  

  Thomas said, “I chose an Apple Watch over other types of watches because it had a visual appeal to it, and it could sync up to my phone with ease.”

  Fleshman explained, “I chose the Apple Watch because it was much easier to use, with the bigger screen and workouts. Also it was the brand to own and is more of a status symbol.”

  Despite the Apple Watch’s popularity, Samuel chose Fitbit over Apple Watch.

  “I got the Flex 2 Fitbit watch because it is waterproof and cheaper than the newer versions. Apple Watches are very cool but also very very expensive,” Samuel said.

  Samuel is correct in her assertion that Apple Watches are more expensive than other brands; according to wareable.com, the Apple Watch Series 4 is priced at $399, while a Fitbit Versa is $199.99.

  However, no matter the brand, all smartwatches offer modern features that demonstrate how time is ticking on with new technology.