The next year is set to be another big year for smartwatches – and we’re set for an impressive array of devices.
And generally there’s a theme. Xiaomi and Amazfit smartwatches arriving out of China, with big specs and tiny price tags. That’s going to put pressure on the traditional smartwatch companies – especially the likes of Fossil. Here’s what we’re expecting from 2020.
Essential reading: The best smartwatches – reviewed and rated.
Xiaomi Mi Watch
Available in China but with no confirmed release date here in the West, we’re eagerly awaiting Xiaomi’s budget smartwatch to land.
As you’d expect from a Chinese powerhouse, it’s big on specs and low(ish) on price – with the smartwatch set to sell for roughly $185.
In terms of design, the watch features a 44mm square face, with a 1.78-inch AMOLED display pumping out a resolution of 410 x 410 pixels and a pixel density of 326 pixels-per-inch.
Internally, the smartwatch is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 3100 platform, Wi-Fi connectivity, GPS for location tracking and NFC for contactless payments.
The personalized skin of Wear OS, called MiUI for Watch, has been designed to enable stripped-down versions of Xiaomi apps, like Mi Home, Tasks and Maps. However, it’s not clear whether the watch will support current Wear OS apps when it lands or be paired with the Xiaomi Mi app.
We already know that Firstbeat has been called upon to license its technology for VO2 Max and heart rate analytics during sport. It’s the same algorithms that Garmin uses – and takes advantage of the Mi Watch’s heart rate sensor and GPS chip.
Check out our first impressions of the Xiaomi Mi Watch ahead of launch.
Xiaomi Mi Watch Color
Not just a color version of its Apple Watch rip off – the Xiaomi Mi Watch Color is a totally different beast. Boasting a 1.39-inch round AMOLED display with an eye-searing 454×454 resolution – it’s a serious piece of kit.
There’s heart rate sensor, NTC and supports tracking for 10 sports. There’s 5ATM water resistance, and Firstbeat has leant its support to handle VO2 Max metrics from exercise.
It uses a custom OS not the MIUI operating system, which is based on Wear OS. That means less chance of usable third party apps, but you are getting a 14 day battery life.
The Xiaomi Mi Watch Color is set to cost $198 – but its wider release outside of China is still a mystery.
ETA: January 2020
Amazfit is going in hard on sports wearables and the T-Rex is just the start. The full screen smartwatch has a 1.3-inch display, 20 day battery life with 20+ hours of GPS tracking.
It’s made to directly compete with Garmins of the word – particularly the eye-wateringly expensive Fenix 6 series. And on paper it does a fairly good impression.
It’s built with US military grade toughness and has 14 sports modes, designed to take the fight straight to Garmin’s door.
There’s also Firstbeat powered VO2 Max and advanced analytics – so the T-Rex has some serious sports chops.
In testing of previous Amazfit devices we’ve found the accuracy of GPS and heart rate sensors to be pretty flaky, so the T-Rex will need to up its game in this respect. However, the $140 price tag will help many look past a few flaws. The full review is incoming soon.
Check out our full early impressions of the Amazft T-Rex.
Amazfit Bip S
ETA: February 2020
Amazfit also unveiled the Bip S at CES 2020 – a follow-up to its Bip budget smartwatch.
It’s a pretty basic looking, boxy smartwatch that certainly looks like a copy of the Apple Watch at first glance – although comparisons quickly stop there with its overtly plasticky build.
There’s better water resistance and it now fits into the PAI health score it licensed from Mio.
The Bip S ups its water-resistance to 5ATM and battery life to 40 days – and just like its predecessor has GPS and a heart rate monitor built in. It weighs just 31g, which is identical to the original Bip smartwatch.
However, here’s the headline: It’s going to cost just $70 when it’s released imminently in the US.
For those looking for the lowest cost way to jump into smartwatches, it’s going to be an extremely attractive proposition.
Check out our first impressions of the Bip S.
ETA: March 2020
The Withings ScanWatch is a stylish looking hybrid smartwatch with serious med-tech power –and it’s able to both take ECG readings and detect medical conditions such as sleep apnea and heart arrhythmia.
There are 38mm and 42mm – and boasts a 30 day battery life.
On the dial is a small PMOLED screen that displays information including heart rate, steps, notifications and instructions on taking ECG readings.
Withings isn’t holding back on fitness tracking either. There’s 24/7 heart rate and step counting and it can track 30 sports. There’s no built-in GPS but it will pair to a smartphone to do the job.
Withings Health Mate app will show you a sleep score based on your night time heart rate, restfulness and sleep stages – and it boasts a Smart Alarm to wake you up in light parts of your sleep cycle.
There is a problem. Withings says its waiting for FDA approval of the sleep apnea features before a Q2 launch – but the company is still waiting for approval on its Move ECG watch that was announced in March 2019. So Withings either has a strong idea that approval is coming, or the ScanWatch could suffer the same fate.
You’ll also be able to pick the 42mm model up for $299, and the 38mm equivalent up for $249.
Read more in our Withings ScanWatch early review.
Skagen Falster 3
The Falster 2 was one of our all-time favourite smartwatches, so we were naturally delighted that the Falster 3 made a showing at CES 2020.
It gets Qualcomm’s latest processor, the Snapdragon Wear 3100, so you get a boost in power, slightly better battery life and some power saver modes, too.
The 42mm case and speaker are swim-proof up to 30 metres, and the new silicon-mesh strap means exercising with the device is a bit easier than before, when only metal or leather bands were available.
So, again, as with other models, the Falster 3 will bring the Fossil Group’s proprietary battery saving modes. There’s even double the storage over the older model, with 1GB of RAM.
The Falster 3 is available now from $299 from skagen.com.
ETA: Feb 2020
Following the lead of Garmin, Suunto has used CES 2020 to unveil its first smartwatch, the Suunto 7.
Sunnto is no stranger to the sports watch game – but this is the first time that it’s used Google’s Wear OS to create a sports/smartwatch behemoth. And it looks damned fine.
Google Pay, Google Assistant and Google Fit will join the typical GPS tracking, though the battery life is dramatically reduced here, offering just 48 hours in standard use.
That’s chiefly down to the full AMOLED screen, which makes it a top alternative to the likes of the Apple Watch or Garmin Venu, while it will be able to access Google’s range of Wear OS apps.
We’ve had an extended hands on with the device already, so check out our Suunto 7 early verdict.
ETA: March 2020
Unlike all of Diesel’s previous offerings, the Fadelite is smaller – coming in a 43mm case – and features a transparent strap and translucent bezel in a choice of four colors.
The design makes it more appealing than any other Diesel Watch for both exercisers and those with small wrists, though the Wear OS experience is identical to what we’ve seen before; Google Pay, Google Assistant, heart rate tracking, customizable watch faces, music control and smartphone notifications are all here.
The smartwatch will release in March for $275 – read our Diesel Fadelite piece for all the details.