The best wearables on show at IFA 2018
The biggest names in technology descended on Berlin this week for IFA 2018, Europe's premier tech show, and that meant we were treated to a host of new product launches. Here are the five best wearables New Atlas saw on the show floor, and why you might want to strap them to your wrist.
1. Fitbit Charge 3
Fitbit's newest tracker (or is it a smartwatch?) just about qualifies as an IFA launch, even though it was announced a week earlier. Whatever the technicalities of the timing, the Fitbit Charge 3 was certainly on show in Berlin, with its impressive choice of colors and band types (standard rubber, silicone, fabric, and leather).
The waterproof wearable is as close as you'll get to a smartwatch without being a smartwatch: It features heart rate monitoring, sleep and swim tracking, support for third-party apps, notifications from a connected phone, and the SpO2 sensor blood oxygen sensor previously only available in the Versa and Ionic.
Compared with the 2016 Charge 2, the Charge 3 has a bigger display that now fully supports touch input, as well as all the usual step and activity tracking. Prices for the Charge 3 start at US$149.95, with shipping scheduled for October.
2. Garmin Vivosmart 4
Garmin has a reputation almost as good as Fitbit's at the moment in the wearable market, and the Vivosmart 4 is its latest tracker – all curved lines and elegant colors. It mostly sticks to the basics (no third-party app support here), but does them all very well.
And there are a lot of the basics covered – steps and elevation, activity, heart rate, sleeping, swimming, simple smartphone notifications and more. New this time is what Garmin calls a "Body Battery," which combines several metrics to tell you when you might be too tired to exercise. Garmin hasn't explained exactly how it works, but it sounds like the perfect excuse not to hit the gym.
With a handful of colors to pick from and a lightweight, stylish design, it joins the Fitbit Charge 3 at the premium end of the fitness tracker market. Orders are now open at $129.99, with shipping estimated to be around five weeks.
3. Casio Pro Trek Smart WSD F30
There are bigger names in the smartwatch field than Casio, but the company keeps on churning out very good devices, the latest of which is the Pro Trek Smart WSD F30. It's perfect for the outdoor adventurer who wants a chunky and reliable smartwatch.
The device has GPS on board, and offline support, which immediately puts it above a lot of its immediate competitors – this will get you home even when your phone has died or got lost. It also has a secondary monochrome mode to help it eke out up to three days between battery charges, which is handy if you're heading into the wilderness.
The watch runs Wear OS from Google, so you're got plenty of apps, the Google Assistant, and some rich smartphone notifications to play around with too. It'll cost you though: the wearable can be yours from January for $549.
4. Diesel On Full Guard 2.5
It's a close battle between the Diesel On Full Guard 2.5 and the Casio Pro Trek Smart WSD F30 for the chunkiest smartwatch we saw at IFA 2018 – we're not sure who has the edge, but this definitely isn't a wearable for those with slender wrists.
If you can live with the size, Diesel's newest smartwatch is packed with features. All the activity tracking and smartphone notification functionality you could want, plus waterproofing, heart rate monitoring, NFC for mobile payments, and GPS for logging locations without a smartphone nearby. It's an impressive specs list.
With Google's Wear OS on board, you know you'll have access to plenty of apps, options, and watch faces, as well as the Google Assistant, so it's one of the most complete smartwatches out there. It goes on sale in October, but we're still waiting on a price.
5. Sony Fes Watch U
We have to give Sony points for innovation here, if not for practicality – the Sony Fes Watch U uses e-ink paper not just for its display (which is bold enough), but for the strap as well. That means you can set it up with all kinds of weird and wonderful designs.
It runs Sony's own proprietary software though, so don't expect the same kind of app support and the rich notifications that you get with Wear OS or the Apple Watch. This is very much for the wearable owner who wants something different from the norm – and something that can look completely different every day of the week.
Consider the Fes Watch U less of a smartwatch and more of a fashion statement – one that will set you back in the region of $700 or so (US availability and pricing has yet to be confirmed). It's an eye-opener though, and isn't that what tech shows are all about?