I reviewed almost every major smartphone that came out in 2022. None of them made as big of an impact on my day-to-day as a year-old smartwatch.
I’ve used every new flagship phone from Apple, Samsung, and Google this year, and they’re great! But they’re also boring. They’re impressive feats of engineering and software smarts, but they’re mostly incremental upgrades. And none of them has changed my day-to-day life as much as finally getting a smartwatch.
I know. I’m an extremely late adopter. Even as they popped up all around me as friends bought them over the past… er, decade… I didn’t think smartwatch life was for me. Why give your phone another way to beg for your attention? Besides, my phone and I had a good thing going, and I didn’t want to introduce another piece of technology into the relationship.
Then I had a kid. Suddenly, I always seemed to be holding a baby, or several large bags with the baby’s things, or both at once. Having enough free hands to check a text on my phone became a luxury. Things got even more complicated when he started moving around on his own. I kept my phone in my back pocket as I chased him from room to room, but I had to take it out every time I sat down with him as he explored some new choking hazard. Then I’d have to remember to pick it up when we inevitably ran to a different room several moments later and do the whole thing over again, for the rest of eternity. It was getting tiresome. So I decided to try an Apple Watch Series 7.
The very obvious thing I learned about wearing a smartwatch is that it frees you from your phone. I know. This is a smartwatch’s whole premise. But I didn’t really appreciate how good it would feel to leave my phone on the dining room table for the evening and not worry about missing an important notification. I can start playing music on Spotify through the smart speaker on the kitchen counter while I’m building a block tower in the living room. I can wake up to an alarm vibrating on my wrist without disturbing the baby in the next room. I can check the chance of rain for the next few hours while I’m pushing the stroller and holding a coffee.
If you too are behind the times and smartwatch-curious, then this is a particularly good year to skip the phone upgrade and spend that money on a watch instead. Verge deputy editor Dan Seifert recently summed up why 2022 was such a good year for smartwatches and such a snoozefest for phones. That’s true across the board: Samsung, Apple, and Google all announced watches this fall, so no matter your phone brand, there’s a high chance you’ve got new options. Even if you fancy yourself an elite athlete, a diver, or a monocle-wearing, super-rich villain, there’s probably a watch for you.
For me, embracing the smartwatch life makes me feel like I’m in charge of my phone rather than the other way around. I don’t need it on my person at all times anymore. Plus, the health tracking is great. I actually look forward to checking my sleep stats in the morning and basking in the glow of a data-verified good night of sleep — something I’ll never again take for granted since caring for a newborn. I’m finally getting credit for all of the steps I take chasing my kid around the house (I was a certifiable Gifted and Talented kid, so I have an unhealthy relationship with external validation).
Maybe next year’s phones will offer more impressive feature upgrades, but for now, the best tech upgrade I’ve made this year is the one on my wrist.