7 Mistakes Smartwatch Users Make

Analog watch face on the Google Pixel Watch
Joe Fedewa / How-To Geek

Smartwatches are one of the newest gadget form factors to enter our lives. Wearing a little display on your wrist is great, but it’s a very different experience than your smartphone. You’re probably making some common mistakes. Let’s fix that.

Too Many Notifications

Reminder to move on the Google Pixel Watch
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek

One of the primary reasons why many people decide to buy a smartwatch is to see notifications without having to pull out their phone. While this can be very handy, it can easily become too distracting. You don’t have to live like that, though.

You are in control of how annoying you allow your smartwatch to be. Just because you have a smartwatch doesn’t mean it has to mirror every single notification from your phone. Use your smartwatch as a place for only important notifications to go. Start turning off annoying notifications as they appear. You’ll feel a lot better.

RELATED: Your Smartwatch Is Only as Annoying as You Make It

Enabling the Always-on Display

Apple watch in hand
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek

Look, I know an old-school analog or digital watch always shows the time on the display—that’s kinda the point—but a smartwatch is, well, smarter. How often are you actually looking at the display? You’re just wasting battery life by keeping the display on all the time.

Essentially every smartwatch has a type of tilt-to-wake feature that utilizes the accelerometer and other sensors to know when you’re lifting the watch to check it. While certainly not perfect, the feature generally works well. If battery life is any sort of concern, you should disable the always-on display.

RELATED: How to Disable the Apple Watch’s Always-On Display

Wearing the Wrong Size

Google Pixel Watch next to the Galaxy Watch 5
Joe Fedewa / How-To Geek

Moreso than most gadgets in your life, a smartwatch is also a fashion accessory. It’s not hidden away in your pocket or purse, it’s out on your wrist for all the world to see. It’s important to make sure you’re wearing a size that looks good on your wrist.

Most smartwatches come in at least two sizes to choose from. The Apple Watch Series 8, for example, comes in 41mm and 45mm. The Galaxy Watch 5 is available in 40mm and 44mm. While getting a larger watch for slightly better battery life is tempting, the smaller option might be better for your wrist size.

Using the Manufacturer’s Watch Band

Numerous Apple Watch Bands
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek

The size of the watch is a fashion statement, and the band you wear is a fashion statement. Just because smartwatches are tech gadgets doesn’t mean they aren’t fashion accessories. You shouldn’t feel restricted to whatever band came with your watch. Even if you had some options to choose from at checkout, there’s a huge number of third-party watch bands available.

This is especially true if you have an Apple Watch. Apple has been using the same type of watch band connector since the very beginning, so there’s an enormous ecosystem of bands to choose from—any color, pattern, and material you can imagine.

Over on the Wear OS side, there’s still a lot to choose from. This is thanks to many watches using the standard connector that regular non-watches use. The Galaxy Watch 5, for example, is compatible with any 20mm or 22mm watch band. Make it look like your own!

Not Using Mobile Payments

Tap to Pay NFC logo on the side of an Electrify America charging station
Justin Duino / How-To Geek

Having what is essentially a tiny computer on your wrist feels futuristic already, but it can feel even more like a Sci-Fi gadget when you use it to pay for things. The Apple Watch, Wear OS watches, and many others support mobile payment functionality.

For the Apple Watch, you can tap to pay with any card added to Apple Pay Wear OS users can use Google Wallet. And Samsung Pay is another option if you have a Samsung Galaxy Wear OS watch.

All of these services work essentially the same. You simply add a card to the app, then when you see a tap-to-pay terminal at a store, you can open the app on your watch and tap it to the reader. Boom, you’ve purchased something without pulling out your wallet or phone.

RELATED: The U.S. Is Behind on Mobile Payments, But We’re Catching Up

Not Customizing the Shortcuts

A Galaxy Watch 5 Pro open to reveal a d clasp
Josh Hendrickson / How-To Geek

Navigating around a smartwatch interface on a small screen isn’t always easy. That’s why many smartwatches include physical buttons that can be customized to do different things. You should take some time to customize them.

On the Apple Watch, you have the “Digital Crown” and “Side Button,” but Apple doesn’t allow for much customization. You can at least change what the Dock shows when pressing the Side Button. And if you’ve made them jump to the Apple Watch Ultra you can take advantage of its customizable “Action Button.”

Wear OS devices offer much more functionality with their buttons. Even Samsung Galaxy Watches, which come with the company’s Bixby voice assistant, can swap the home key shortcut to launch Google Assistant instead. Make sure to peek in the settings to see what your watch can do.

RELATED: What Does the Side Button on Apple Watch Do?

Buying a Smartwatch When You Need a Fitness Tracker

An Apple Watch Series 8 recording a Traditional Strength Training exercise using the Workout app
Tim Brookes / How-To Geek

Pretty much any smartwatch you buy will have some fitness tracking features, but that doesn’t mean it will be a good fitness tracker. Don’t make the mistake of buying a smartwatch when you need a fitness tracker.

In general, a fitness tracker will have better fitness-centric sensors and functionality. That’s the device’s sole purpose, so accuracy is a critical part of the experience. Companies that make smartwatches often throw in fitness features as an afterthought.

That doesn’t necessarily mean a smartwatch is a terrible fitness device. The Apple Watch, for example, is actually quite good. But if you’re really serious about fitness-focused features, you probably want a Garmin or a Fitbit.

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