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Smartwatches from different manufacturers: usually expensive with a mobile phone connection and music playback

Photo: Matthias Kremp / DER SPIEGEL

Not all smartwatches are as smart as their name would suggest. After testing 20 current smartwatches and five fitness trackers for the current issue of the magazine "test", the experts at Stiftung Warentest come to the conclusion that the devices, left to their own devices, are "often somewhat limited". This is especially true if they do not have their own mobile phone connection. Many of the things you would expect from the smart gadgets, such as sending and receiving messages, music streaming and phone calls, are then not possible.

Meager equipped models can provide such services only in combination with a smartphone. And therein lies the next problem: Not every watch likes to connect to every mobile phone. This is especially true for Apple Watches, which only work with iPhones. Many others, on the other hand, do not work with Apple's smartphones, but only with Android phones. This applies, for example, to the models from Google and Samsung. According to Stiftung Warentest, Samsung's Galaxy Watches only develop their full range of functions if you use them together with a Samsung smartphone.

Deficiencies in data protection

With a narrow lead, the testers chose the Apple Watch Series 8 as the winner. In the areas of fitness, communication, music and handling, the smartwatch of the iPhone group was rated as "very good". Battery life as well as data protection and security, on the other hand, were only rated as "satisfactory".

Incidentally, the latter applies to all tested models, some were even rated only "sufficient". The reason: The data protection declarations had deficiencies, were non-transparent and in some cases incomplete. Stiftung Warentest criticizes the smart watches of the Google subsidiary Fitbit. These would collect data unnecessary for the use of the watches, which could be used for profiling.

Meanwhile, there was praise for the Amazfit GTS 4, which is the cheapest of the smartwatches rated as "good" with a street price of 195 euros. Fitness trackers are even cheaper, but you often have to do without communication skills or the ability to play music. However, the experts at Stiftung Warentest rated only one model, the Garmin Vivosmart 5, as "good", but at 131 euros it is also significantly more expensive than many competing models.

You can read the complete test with all test results at Stiftung Warentest.