While all devices have their design challenges, there’s one that continues to plague smartwatches: battery life. There are a few ways to mitigate that, but unfortunately, many smartwatch manufacturers choose the worst solution: make the smartwatch bigger.
The latest example could be Samsung. according to a SamMobile report, the company is considering a “Pro” version of the next generation Galaxy Watch. Details were scant, except for one thing: This “Pro” model could have a much larger 572mAh battery.
If true, it would be a significant update. Poor battery life is one of the biggest complaints users have reported with Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Lineup. It’s also common for the “Pro” models to act like the premium option with longer battery life, better materials, and unfortunately, the biggest possible speaker screen.
Samsung may find a way to include a larger battery without increasing the size of the watch. However, recent smartwatch trends suggest otherwise. Take the Apple Watch. The series 7 increased the size of watches from 40mm to 41mm and from 44mm to 45mm. An I fix it demolish revealed that Series 7 batteries were 1.6 percent larger for 41mm and 6.8 percent larger for 45mm. Larger always-on displays would likely need more powerful batteries to maintain the same 18-hour battery life.
Samsung is also guilty of this. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 it came in 41mm and 45mm variants. The Galaxy Watch 4 Classic comes in 42mm and 46mm. What would be a “Pro” version proposal? 43mm and 47mm? You may think that a 1mm increase in size is not much to complain about, but it adds up over time.
As someone with small wrists, I can tell that watches larger than 42mm start to feel uncomfortable. (Not to mention they look absolutely ridiculous.) To get the same performance, especially during workouts, I have to make some adjustments to get it right. And while people of all genders come in all shapes and sizes, excluding smaller options ends up excluding a large number of women. The result is that you end up treating smaller people like an afterthought.
Take Garmin’s Fenix 6 and Fenix 7 lineups as an example. The Fenix 6X Pro was the first to receive solar charging. People with smaller wrists who might have wanted that feature had to wait. And now, two years later, the 51mm Fenix 7X is the first and only model to get an LED flashlight. It’s likely to go down to smaller sizes in the future, but only Garmin can say when. As a woman who occasionally runs at night, I would have loved to have that feature in the smaller Phoenix 7S I tried. But getting that feature meant I would have to sacrifice comfort. And what’s the point of a portable device you don’t want to use?
At a certain point, this becomes untenable. There is a limit to how big we can make these devices before the battery gains are outweighed by the inconvenience. It is bad business to exclude potential clients who reside in smaller bodies. Some of this is just the current limitations of wearable technology. Also, nothing is set in stone yet. Samsung could scrap the whole idea of a “Pro” watch. But still, I hope that these companies are using their resources to create new solutions to that problem instead of always taking the easy way out.