Top Three Reasons Against Off Brand Smart Watches

Pebble started the recent trend of smart watches via their $10.3 million crowd funding campaign. Being a fan of watches in general I was immediately intrigued and as soon as I could buy one at retail, I did. Now on my third smart watch, the Apple Watch Series 1, I've learned a few things. The biggest thing I learned is that I won't be buying an off brand watch - ie one without a companion phone. Here is the explanation and the top reasons.

Pebble started off on fire with the amount of money it raised via crowd funding and were the ones who got the wearable industry where they are today. Read my initial review of the Pebble from my blog here.

L-R Pebble 301BL, Olio Model One and Apple's Series 1 (38mm)

After wearing it for a few months, the look of it started to bother me so I stopped wearing it. When I purchased it I had a Samsung Galaxy S3 and they worked together quite well. It's just because of the clunky form factor that I no longer wanted to wear it. I tried wearing again in early 2017 because I was trying to see if smart watches were in my lifestyle - secretly eyeing the Apple Watch. By then I had an iPhone and bluetooth connectivity became a huge issue. With the Galaxy S3, connectivity was never an issue. I can't say that about the iPhone (the 6S Plus at the time). Also by the time I started wearing it again Pebble had shut down so any hopes that connectivity would get fixed were squashed.

Next we have Olio. Never heard of them? I didn't either until they were put on Meh for $50. Originally sold for $600, the company went TU and Meh was able to get their hands on them in bulk for sale. I jumped right on it knowing full well it wouldn't be supported but for $50 it was worth a shot. It was much nicer looking than the Pebble.

The Olio at right next to my favorite Tiffany watch

Initially it worked great but within a month of purchase, iOS 10.3.3 came out and that update somehow turned the Olio into a brick losing connectivity forever (or as long as I cared to mess with it).

So that hit the shelf. The next few months I waited and watched pricing for the Apple Watch. Series 3 was announced, Series 2 was discontinued. Best Buy had the Series 2 for a super deal at one point but I passed on it, fearful that Apple would stop support soon after purchase. I continued to wait and during the week of Thanksgiving I was able to get the Series 1 for $200. A month and half later I'm still wearing it every day. It's functional and good looking. I've found no need to install 3rd party apps as the stock apps have everything I need. Connectivity is incredible and was easy to set up with my iPhone 8 Plus. After pairing, the watch connected to WiFi locations where I connected my phone to even without that phone being in that same location (like the gym where I now leave my phone at home and listen to music through the watch). After this experience, it's going to be difficult to go back to separate vendor products as being in the Apple ecosystem has made my life easier.

So here are my top three reasons to never buy a smartwatch that's not from the same company as your phone:

1. Connectivity issues, especially with updates
2. If the company shuts down you're probably hosed
3. The user experience may not be what you think its going to be.

Number three is tricky here. User experience is NOT the user interface, however the UI can help or harm the UX. I'm referring to how may times it takes for the devices to talk to each other, how often that communication gets broken and trying to figure which device is to blame for something not working. In the case of smartwatches, I'll stay within the same ecosystem as my phone.


  1. Great post, thank you for sharing the experience of using a smart watch, which has important reference meaning for me.

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