India’s smartwatch market has grown to new levels recently, but that depends on how you look at it. While some smartphone makers have already entered the market with their offerings, several Indian brands have recently joined the race with their range of affordable smartwatches starting at Rs. 2,000. These models are considerably cheaper – sometimes about 20 times – than what you have to pay for an Apple Watch or a Samsung Galaxy Watch. The prices of smartwatches nowadays are almost the same as those of fitness bands.
On this week’s episode of Gadget’s 360 podcasts Orbital, host Akhil Arora talks to IDC Research Director for Devices and Ecosystem in India and South Asia Navkendar Singh and internal reviewers Aditya Shenoy and Ali Pardiwala to help you decide what an affordable smartwatch can do. Offer you.
IDC doesn’t view affordable models as smartwatches but as ‘basic’ connected watches. Singh tells us that about 95 percent of smartwatches currently available in the market are below Rs. 4,000. On the podcast, he adds, “For us, a smartwatch can carry a third-party app or have an app store. […] Technically, smartwatches aren’t doing very well in India.”
From this definition, there are only a few options available on the market, namely the Apple Watch series that runs watchOS, the Samsung Galaxy Watch series, and other watches that run on Google/Android’s Wear OS. All other options on the market are mostly based on a real-time operating system, also known as RTOS, which does not support app installations and has a limited list of features.
With basic watches – or the affordable smartwatches, if I may call them – you can get real-time notifications from your connected phone and even include some wellness/fitness features, including heart rate monitoring. Some even allow you to monitor oxygen saturation levels in the blood, known as SpO2 tracking.
And after the expansion of standard smartwatches, fitness bands have lost their market in India. However, Xiaomi is one of the companies that still actively makes fitness bands. Smartphone vendors, including OnePlus, are also planning to enter the affordable smartwatch market due to its continued growth.
The smartwatch market in India saw the strongest year-on-year growth in 2021; local brands beat their Chinese counterparts.
One of the main reasons affordable smartwatches are selling like hotcakes in India – unlike their premium counterparts – is their design, which often resembles the Apple Watch. Companies are also trying to have several headline features to attract customers to their offerings relative to the competition. This can include different fitness modes, watch faces, and color options.
The options in affordable smartwatches are vast as you can get models from brands like Redmi, Realme, Amazfit, and Gionee, as well as Indian players like BoAt, Noise, and Fire-Boltt. Nevertheless, the experience is more or less similar on all these devices.
You may find discrepancies in the high single-digit range when comparing your results to those of an Apple Watch or Samsung Galaxy Watch. For example, most wellness features on affordable watches aren’t as accurate, Pardiwala and Shenoy point out. Traditional players, including Garmin, also offer smartwatches with a range of fitness tracking features that are far more accurate than what you get from an affordable model.
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That said, although Apple Watch apps are FDA-approved and approved as medical devices, they are not designed to be equivalent to advanced medical devices.
Towards the end of the new Orbital episode, we’re giving advice on which smartwatches to consider if you want one on your wrist today. Our talk also includes some industry insights from Singh for those interested in the business side of things.
You can listen to all this and more in our 30+ minute conversation by hitting the play button on the Spotify player embedded above.
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