Disclaimer: I am not an professional athlete but I am quite active with a mix of basketball, weightlifting, and cardio.
During the last years I have had my fair share of activity trackers and smartwatches and I am currently using a Fenix 3 HR . Every one of the devices I had, had some strengths but also a few shortcomings. Here are the things I am looking for in my next perfect smartwatch:
- At least 7 days real world battery life: The reason the Apple Watch is out of consideration is the meager 1.5 day battery life. My current Fenix does decharge at a stable rate of 10% per day with 24/7 HR monitoring.
- Buttons: Once again a problem with the Apple Watch. I want to be able to snooze my alarm in the morning without having to open my eyes. While I am running I want to decline a call without having to stop etc etc.
- Smart silent alarms: Over the years I have discovered the beauty of silent vibration alarms. You don’t wake up your better half. It is subtle but efficient. Also some fitness trackers (Fenix 3 does not) include a smart alarm feature that tries to wake you up while you are not in a REM sleep phase. This means it might try to wake you up some minutes before or after the time set, but the difference is quite noticeable.
- Bright screen: This is a problem with the current Garmin lineup. The use a very dim display which is hard to read in everything but the best viewing conditions. Also there is a backlight feature which can be set to activate when you turn your wrist but the option is inverted. You would want the backlight during the day for better viewing angles, but the only option available is after sundown. This option is quite annoying especially during sleep.
- 24/7 HR tracking with HRV: I am currently using HRV4Training to take daily measurement of my heart rate variability and correlate the data with training load and lifestyle. Whoop has taken this a step further with a dedicated tracker with 24/7 HRV measurements especially during the night. In order to be able to have a good HRV reading the sensor needs to be latest gen and the data transfer protocols and sampling needs to be very specific. Nevertheless HRV is a much better marker of overall readiness then resting heart rate which fluctuates with health and stress but quite late in regards to the causes.
- GPS: I consider this the easy part. It is just so much more reliable for pacekeeping during a race.