As smartwatches become more functional and powerful, some people are wondering whether they will replace smartphones one day. It’s true that smartwatches are wearable computers with their processor, RAM, storage, and operating system. They have huge potential and they will become better. However, it is very likely that smartwatches won’t replace smartphones anytime soon.
It’s true that Snapdragon 4100 in smartwatches is a quad-core 1.7GHz processor, much faster than Samsung’s 412MHz single-core processor in the original iPhone. But it’s too weak by today’s mobile computing standards. Hardware performance is still a significant weak point for smartwatches. It’s fast enough to make video calls, play music and track your physical activities, but nothing too significant. With a limited amount of RAM, they are still weak multi-taskers, so it is likely that you will open one app at a time.
Poor battery life
Intertwined with hardware performance, another concern is the poor battery life of smartwatches. If manufacturers want to make their devices faster, they need bigger batteries with higher capacity. Unfortunately, few would trade long battery life with a bulky form factor. Batteries must be compact enough to fit smartwatches, so they will remain fashionable in any social and business setting. Some smartwatch models have one-week long or more battery life on a single charge, but they usually have proprietary operating systems with very limited expandability. So, they can’t compete with Wear OS and watchOS.
Small display on Smartwatches
Compared to early smartphones with 3.5-inch displays, current smartphones with 6.5-inch displays are more useful and convenient to use. No matter how much these devices get improved, they won’t be as practical as smartphones. Reading lengthy emails on a two-inch display is tedious and time-consuming. It’s good for reading short messages and nothing more. Voice commands may be helpful to do certain tasks without using the interface too much, but it’s also something that any smartphone can do. This means that smartwatches may end up becoming companion devices to smartphones, instead of a replacement.
Unlike any smartphone, most smartwatches don’t even have enough space for a USB-C port. Some smartwatches can be docked, which eases synchronizations and data transfers, but missing ports mean that the watches are not as functional as smartphones.
Limited control options
With smartphones, if you want to interact with other than the onscreen interface, you can connect them to gamepads, keyboards, and mice. They can be connected through a USB cable or Bluetooth. For physically impaired, they can control their smartphones with touchless gestures and voice assistants. Fundamentally, smartwatches will never match the control options of smartphones, especially if they lack a USB port, to begin with. Smartwatches are designed to be used as one-handed devices and it’s fairly common for users to use both hands when typing something on their smartphones. Even if you manage to connect a Bluetooth keyboard to your smartwatch, it still doesn’t make sense, especially if you still wear your smartwatch.
It’s quite clear that smartwatches are fundamentally limited in various factors and they can’t match smartphones. Realistically, we will continue to use smartwatches as companion devices for tracking, listening to music, and reading short notifications.