Top Problems Plaguing the Five Most Popular Smartwatches

By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2014-05-09 Print this article Print

After a decade of murmurs about wearable technology, it was smartwatches that finally nudged such technology into the mainstream. But while some applause is due, and the category has already improved significantly from the earliest offerings, "smartwatches, on the whole, leave much to be desired," according to a May 7 Swartwatch Report from Fixya, a "community based" California company that helps the millions of monthly visitors to its site repair and improve the things they own. For the report, Fixya collected data from 6,000 of its users and compiled lists of the most common problems with the five most popular smartwatches: The Martian Passport, the I'm Watch, the Samsung Galaxy Gear, the Sony SW2 and the Pebble. "In general, smartwatches now are largely seen as an extension of your smartphone, acting as a notification system to check your phone—rather than being a new way for you to genuinely interact with the digital world," said the report. Too often, however, some fail to do even that. That said, Fixya continued, "It's still a very exciting time in the smart device world." With Apple, HTC and most other smartphone makers expected to introduce smartwatches this year, it's also going to be a crowded and competitive time.

  • Top Problems Plaguing the Five Most Popular Smartwatches

    by Michelle Maisto
    1 - Top Problems Plaguing the Five Most Popular Smartwatches
  • Top Issues With the Martian Passport

    The award-winning Martian Passport is the most watch-looking of the smartwatches and was an early industry favorite. But users aren't without gripes. The top two issues with the Passport, each named by 25 percent of survey participants, are its speaker—which is said not to have high in-call sound quality—and its screen notifications, the small size of which are frustrating to many users.
    2 - Top Issues With the Martian Passport
  • Time for Some Waterproofing

    The next most frequently cited issues with the Passport are its waterproofing (while some smartwatches can be worn while swimming, the Passport should be kept under-cuff on a rainy day) and its Bluetooth connection, which can be iffy. "Users reported that some email notifications would sometimes not even be sent through their watch," said the report.
    3 - Time for Some Waterproofing
  • Top Issues With I'm Watch

    I'm Watch also elicited a tie (each with 30 percent of the vote) between the issues that most irked wearers. They cited a host of issues with the watch's Bluetooth, from a counterintuitive tethering setup process to intermittent freezing between the watch and the phone, as well as complained that the battery drains too quickly, rendering the product moot.
    4 - Top Issues With I'm Watch
  • For Use in (Exclusively) Quiet Places

    "I'm Watch Smartwatch's speaker quality is one of the worst speakers found in this report," wrote Fixya. Tying with gripes about the speaker is a dislike of the watch's software (each received 15 percent of the complaints).
    5 - For Use in (Exclusively) Quiet Places
  • Top Issues With the Samsung Galaxy Gear

    Samsung's original watch (it has since released the Gear 2) has a clear primary problem: its voice control feature, which behaves like an early Siri. While it's a common issue in the industry, that makes it no less frustrating to the user, said the report. "Problems such as words being unrecognized by the voice control device cause complications when trying to tap into the smartphone's features."
    6 - Top Issues With the Samsung Galaxy Gear
  • Score One for Samsung

    The other top reported issues have to do with screen notifications (the size of the text bothers some, but there are also issues with notifications not going through); the Gear's less-than-ideal music-listening features; and its battery life. Its speaker system, though, "appears to be fairly good, compared to other smartwatch devices," said the report.
    7 - Score One for Samsung
  • Top Issues With the Sony SW2

    Battery life was named as the No. 1 issue by users of Sony's SW2. Since it uses Bluetooth in "a lot of its applications and features," said the report, the battery tends to run down before Sony's promised three days.
    8 - Top Issues With the Sony SW2
  • Only Works Perfectly With Sony Smartphones

    Another big issue is compatibility. When not using it with a Sony smartphone, users complained of email not syncing, being forced to download system updates to sync apps and having to download still more software to be able to use widgets.
    9 - Only Works Perfectly With Sony Smartphones
  • Top Issues With the Pebble

    In addition to the classic design that wowed Kickstarter users (it's the site's most successful campaign to date), the Pebble now comes in a Steel model. But following a recent software update, says Fixya, both are alike on the inside. And where both can use some help is in the voice control/speaker department, as the Pebbles have neither. Users can't place calls with the smartwatch or issue voice commands—which 30 percent of users said is an issue.
    10 - Top Issues With the Pebble
  • Time for Touch Screen

    Pebble doesn't have a touch screen, so it's controlled by buttons that users found don't always work on the first push and are frustrating in a touch screen-centric world. Other top issues are battery life and the fact that, though an app store was recently created for the phone, it can only hold eight apps at once. "It serves as a useful corollary to your smartphone, but doesn't do nearly enough to come close to replacing it," said Fixya.
    11 - Time for Touch Screen

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