Smartwatches are all the rage these days… at least with device makers. It’s too early to say whether they’ll be a big hit with shoppers. But not all smartwatches are created equal.

Some are designed to pair with your phone and display notifications on your wrist. Others can be used as standalone devices that make phone calls. Some have a few days of battery life. Others have weeks. And some have screens that are always on while others only spring to life when you press a button.

One thing they all have in common is that smartwatches tend to cost more than old school watches, with prices running anywhere from $100 to $300.

I’ve been wondering — with prices like that… who exactly do these devices appeal to?

Smartwatches

Samsung has been leading the way with high-priced smartwatches. The company’s original Galaxy Gear sold for about $300 at launch, and it looks like the Gear 2 will be similarly priced.

While Pebble sells it’s original smartwatch for half that price, a Pebble Steel runs $229 or more. And a Qualcomm Toq sells for $250… after a recent price cut.

There are cheaper alternatives. You can snag a Galaxy Gear clone for around $112. And Chinese reseller marketplace AliExpress is choc full of smartwatches of mixed quality with prices running around $50 to $300.

Now that Google has unveiled its Android Wear platform and LG and Motorola have promised to deliver smartwatches in the coming months, we’re likely to see even more wearable devices in 2014. Rumors of an Apple iWatch have also been making the rounds for years.

While pricing hasn’t been announced on those upcoming devices, I’d be surprised if they cost less than $150 and wouldn’t be surprised at all if they’re priced closer to $250.

And that seems like a lot of money to spend on a device that’s designed first and foremost as a smartphone companion that saves you the 2 seconds it’d take to pull your phone out of your pocket.

So I kind of wonder… assuming it had all the features you could ever want, how much would you be willing to spend on a smartwatch?

[polldaddy poll=”7896494″]

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24 replies on “How much would you pay for a smartwatch?”

  1. Amazing how many people say they won’t wear a watch but will happily walk out in public wearing a Borg-inspired abomination like Google Glass and looking like complete idiots. Rather than a useful, functional device, they’d prefer a privacy invading contraption beaming ads into their eyes. Each to their own I guess, I’ll take a watch and skip being part of the data mining collective, thanks.

  2. I will only buy a smartwatch when they get the formula right, aside from apps and function, they need to be lasting. If I buy a cheap watch, I expect it to last a year or two of daily use and battering about. If I buy an expensive watch, I expect it last years, if not decades. Smartwatches as presented are expensive watches and I have seen nothing that tells me otherwise than that manufacturers see these watches in the same light as tablets or phones, ie. get a year or so out of them, then buy another. (In the last six or so months, Samsung have brought out, the Samsung Gear, the Gear 2 and Neo.) That won’t work for a watch, it needs to last many, many years and be worthy of the prices they ask for, moreover it’s just damn wasteful. I think watchmakers should be leading the way, providing these watches based on an open standard, with electronics companies making standard interchangable cores, each providing various OS’s and functions depending on what people want and prefer, tailored to each brand and style.

    I don’t want a Google watch, or Glass or anything else that will be platform for mining more data, invading privacy or serving ads (and it will), but a smartwatch done right by the right company would be compelling for me.

  3. I stopped wearing watches since the metal back would turn my skin green. If the back of these smart watches are plastic or some other non-metal material, I would wear one. My price range would be around $100, more if it is really cool. If it could connect to my smart phone, it would be great. I tried the bluetooth ear piece but I keep losing them. With it around my wrist, it would be less likely to be lost by me.

  4. At <$100 it's an impulse purchase for many who would buy one. At $200+ it's something that will need a killer app IMO.

    I was thinking about this yesterday, and I think that it's a stalking horse for Glass, if Google can get this on people's wrists, they can test for usability, before rolling out Glass proper. But you'd need a subsidised unit for that IMO. Though giving them away at IO may well be enough, plus any other who would pony up $300

  5. $0 and I won’t wear one even for free. I don’t wear a dumbwatch, I won’t wear a smart one. I’ll use the phone in my pocket. Get off my wrists!

  6. I don’t really want to spend more than $199, but if it were a truly fantastic device, I’d cough up the extra hundred.

  7. I’m interested in any number of wearable computing concepts, but a smartwatch is not one of them, I would spend zero.

    Anything that can be built into sunglasses, possibly with a pocket-worn adjunct to provide additional computing / battery power.

    In the 90’s, there was a pair of sunglasses with tiny projector to display TV HUD style on the inner surface of the glasses. My very first thought was to hook up a computer instead of their TV receiver.

  8. The problem with even a free smart-watch is that it is one more device that I have to remember to find in the morning. I’m eagerly looking forward to an era when my smartphone can unlock my door, serve as my employee pass and as my transit pass. But for now I have to remember billfold, keys, a holder for both my transit pass and employee pass and smartphone. Why would I want to add one more so that I don’t have to dig my phone out of my pocket a few times a day?

  9. I don’t wear a watch and I don’t find the concept that compelling.

    I do find Google glass interesting.

    1. If one could use Google glass as a way to answer ones phone, it would be better than a smart watch. I read that one could get prescription version of it but it won’t be cheap. Cost wise, I would go for the smart watch, unless they come out with a Google glass like device that costs way less than the Google glass.

  10. A regular watch will run the gamut in price from 5 dollars for a generic digital to 15,000 dollars for a Rolex-branded wearable status symbol, so price may not be an issue for some folks. Me, I wear a stainless steel Casio digital for everyday wear. My fancy watch is also a stainless steel Casio, but an analog diver model with a Rolex-style bezel. Wore it for my wedding and now once in a while to look more dressed up. They were $18 and $57 respectively. To me, they are an excellent value in reliability and durability.

    As such, I want a smart watch that can match that level of quality, and I’m willing to pay more for the useful features that come with such a smart device… but how many features can you really consider useful? Phone notifications, sure. Media player or other controls, yes. Changeable watch faces, you bet. Weather forecast, why not? See who’s calling and send annoying calls to voicemail with just a tap on the screen, oh ho ho my, yes. Video playback, maybe, would be very limited by the screen… but full Internet browsing, gaming? Mmmm, no thanks. The screen is just too damn small. And there’s the matter of battery life and charging. Typical watches (not mechanical ones, obviously) will run for years without need to charge, where full app processing eats battery, and having a watch battery die is a rather large nuisance. Wireless charging for convenience seems not only logical but nearly a requirement in order to minimize the need to fiddle around with it on a daily basis just to keep it running.

    For me, the best watch would be smart but not too smart, can interface with a phone or standalone but not necessarily need to have a bunch of its own apps, uses minimal power, auto-brightness for different light conditions, has wireless charging, has steel construction for durability, still looks like a watch (the Moto 360 has really raised the bar on that one), and a price tag around or under $100. It could be done, but I’m sure engineers are too busy trying to cram top-end smart phone processing power in a device without any need for it… How many pixels do you need to drive on a display less than 2 inches in size? Not enough to put quad-core Snapdragons in there, that’s for damn sure.

  11. It’s funny. I was absolutely ecstatic to dump my watch back in the days of the StarTAC, and have never worn one since. StarTAC was nice because it had an organizer that attached to it, which was pretty revolutionary those days.

    Since those days, I’ve been able to drop more and more ‘devices’ as the functionality was integrated into my smartphone. Although these days my bag still weighs about as much, the last thing on my mind is increasing my devices: I want to replace the last 3 separate items in my bag (laptop tablet phone) with a single one, and I want that one device to be my smartphone.

    I won’t buy a smartwatch, ever.

  12. A smartwatch with an MFA app would rock. I’m much less likely to misplace a watch than a smartphone or keyfob.

  13. My regular watch cost $150+, and all it did was tell time. I wanted something to interface with my phone when I was out running. I waited, then many months later the Pebble Kickstarter was announced. Once I got the Pebble, my intent was only wear it when running…however I liked it so much, I never put my good watch on again.

  14. What’s happening with smartwatches today reminds me of phones a few years ago.
    In gadget-crazy Japan, when people went bonkers over phones, they were reported
    to change their phone every 8 months. In a rapidly changing field, where
    new and better designs emerged every few months (as had motherboards, for example,
    which in their heyday came out with new versions every 3 months), this adds up to
    a very pricey proposition. Those who bought the new stuff when it first
    came out could never recover the inflated prices charged for the then “latest
    and greatest”. Not to mention that the next new shiny toy made what they
    had positively dowdy in comparison.

    Given the above situation, which applies to smartwatches, it makes sense to
    wait for a relative technology plateau, where the incremental benefits of the
    new technology don’t have any compelling new features, unless you absolutely
    have to buy something because that money’s burning a hole in your pocket.
    (If you have money to burn, may I suggest getting a life? Take a vacation
    with your significant other?)

  15. I wouldn’t buy a smart watch. I’d buy a “smart band” like the Razer Nabu. It does everything I want with the exception of not having Google Now / Search voice input. I want all the fitness functionality and the smart alarm which vibrates to wake you at the best time in your sleep cycle. I want to be able to read my texts and instant messages (especially on a more private screen on the bottom). And I want the device to be very shock resistant, water proof, light, and have a long battery life. The Nabu is supposed to do that and for under $100.

    There are some things it lacks that I’d like to have–the new Sony fitband does a more quantified self style life logging function which would be nice. I’d like to analyze my productivity, use of apps and know more about myself rather than just know how many steps I’ve taken (who cares? I’m physically fit without knowing that information already). There has been no mention if the Nabu would include stop watch function, and that is the number one most useful function for me at the gym.

    An actual expensive smart watch with touch screen display? I can only see it being useful when riding a bicycle. Otherwise it is something that saves me half a second to use Google Now. Lifting my arm from my side to my face is only slightly faster than lifting my hand from my pocket to my face with a phone.

    1. Wow, this one is interesting. I voted for < 100€ but had this kind of device in mind.

      My ideal one would have a low DPI/color display (for low resources/power needs), many sensors (with local storage), very hackable/open.

  16. I voted for up to $200, but I would be willing to go considerably higher for a very nice looking watch (moto x 360) except for one concern, obsolescence. I have spent quite a bit on a watch before, but I still have it and it still works like the day I bought it. I’m sure the capabilities of these will grow tremendously as more apps are created to take advantage of them, but what about a few years down the road when new hardware and software come out? Will my watch keep getting new updates? Will it be capable of communication with my Android 6.0 phone without an update, if at all? What if I get a phone with a different OS? Will new apps be able to run on the old hardware with a slower processor and lower resolution screen? What will it cost to replace the aging battery? Maybe I’ll be able to upgrade some hardware in certain models (a big maybe), but I’d imagine that, as is typically the case, it’d be almost as cheap to replace it. I just can’t see the usable life of these devices extending beyond a few years without some sort of fairly expensive upgrades/repairs. I love a nice watch, but unfortunately these devices, buy the very nature of what they are, will undoubtedly have a finite usable life. Smart-watch manufacturers are going to have to walk a fine line between high enough quality and low enough price or somehow convince consumers that these devices are worth a lot of money even though they will probably only be useful for a few years.
    On a side note, I am really happy to finally see a smart-watch that looks like a nice watch. I like the idea of a smart-watch but I don’t want a giant chunk of colorful plastic on my wrist. I also prefer that when not in use as a smart-watch, it look just like any other watch. I want a useful and tasteful device that blends into the background more than it draws attention.

  17. “who exactly do these devices appeal to?” I have read a good explanation – if you take your phone out of your pocket more than 10 times an hour you might appreciate a smartwatch. I don’t do that.

    I like gadgets, looked seriously at a buying smartwatch a few months ago just for fun, but didn’t get one. What kept me from buying is the style. They just don’t look good to me.

    1. Do people really keep phones in pockets? They usually seat on those pockets and phones are on their desk. Looking at the screen of the phone when something happens takes no time and you don’t need a watch to notify you about it. Smartwatches are a solution to problems that don’t exist. Mainly they are a solution to the problem of how to lift money from the pockets of people.

      1. Ya, a lot of people put their phone in their front pockets. You know, the ones that people don’t sit on.

        I agree that smartwatches are for those with money to throw away and add little usefulness.

  18. Oooops, seems like I am a (smart)watch geek. 300 and up for a seriously waterproof watch with all the bells and whistles the Omate has, but with good quality (aka not this ridiculous waterproofness claim that ends when you unscrew the back cover to put the SIM in) and customer service would be oK.

  19. Because a watch is a device that I’d wear everyday and check more often than a smartphone I’d be willing to pay up to $200 dollars for one. A smart watch as a one time purchase without any additional charges, (i.e. monthly cellular plans) is ideal for me.

  20. I bought a Pebble when they were on kickstarter, and it’s the project I use most frequently. Even before the recent firmware update that allowed it to run apps, it was super-useful for things like checking to see who was texting to know if I needed to take the time to reply, control music playback with my phone tucked away, vibrate on my wrist for a silent alarm reminder, etc. Now that anyone can develop an app that has access to the accelerometer and other functions, I think we’ll see an explosion of use scenarios that even pebble didn’t predict.

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