With fitness on the rise, smart gadgets are a close right hand to monitor our health and wellbeing. The digital watch caused a stir as a revolutionary technological timepiece competing with analog watches. And now, smartwatches increasingly make their debut with up-to-date innovations. But what’s the difference between a digital and a smartwatch?

A smartwatch is known for its innovative technological features – access emails, in-built positioning applications, tracking fitness and health, and the weather. Digital watches tell the time and date – a technological innovation of 60 years that’s battery-operated and replaced analog watches.

The rise of the smartwatch as an exponent of the smart technology revolution brings a range of constantly updated features. Digital watches’ debut was met with circumspection as the innovative wrist watches were heavier than analog watches, big and cumbersome. Digital watches have stayed relatively the same. So how do these techno watches differ?

What Are The Differences Between Digital And Smart Watches?

In the age of smart technology, innovation steamrollers forward. Designs have spearheaded changes to the centuries-old analog wristwatch. And keep reinventing timepieces. Classically associated with keeping time, the analog watch’s invention was wrist-fitted. This hasn’t changed. Nor has the term watch as the descriptor. But the inner workings have been revolutionized!  

As analog watches’ first rival, the digital watch are no longer the forerunner in the watch world. Some return to these after seasons with a smartwatch. Digital and smart watches run parallel, with some features outsmarting the other and others sought after for dependability. Smartwatches don’t all have fitness trackers, which also differ from Fitbits, which aren’t smartwatches.

What follows is an overview of differences based on the uses, features, and design of digital and smartwatches.

Digital v. Smart Watches: Uses

Digital watches have had a longer run in the watch world than their recent rival, the smartwatch. Digital watches have run for nearly six decades, reengineered and refitted over the years, and are still a choice for their dependability. Though avant-garde and trendy, smartwatches are the new kids on the block – often stealing the show, but their dependability still is being tested.

Digital Watches

The most straightforward answer to why a digital watch is a choice is always its functionality. The functions of the watch define its uses. A downright simple watch to use to tell what time it is and the date! The screen is easy to read, and the digits are clear. There’s no fuss, adjustments, or moments to get it wrong. The digital watch serves as an active sport or leisure accessory.

The digital watch is hardwearing and doesn’t damage easily. The watch doesn’t get smashed when accidentally bumped against a wall or dropped. Digital watches are a sound choice for the outdoors – hiking, swimming, and rock climbing. Athletes and runners alike choose digital watches for their hardiness.

And gym enthusiasts use digital watches to track their workouts. Digital watches look equally good in the boardroom! In the past decades, the uses of digital time rose in popularity, and now smartwatches are the new devices through their uses.

Smart Watches

A smartwatch is a design accent as well as a functional accessory. The uses of smartwatches fit contemporary lifestyles – active, interconnected, and fitness orientated. Often called a wearable computer, the smartwatch mimics the functions of smartphones and computers. The uses of a smartwatch are much like those of a smartphone in getting messages.

A smartwatch’s uses depend on its features, including apps for notifications like messages and emails (see features below). A smartphone can be used to tell the time, the date, and your location. You can use a smartphone to tell the weather and get warnings of storms, rainstorms, tornados, or winds.

You can use your smartwatch to measure your fitness level and keep tabs on your health and wellness (see the section below).   

Digital v. Smart Watches: Features

The features of digital and smartphones overlap to a small extent. Still, mostly a smartphone is more like a fitness tracker and a smartphone. The features of the digital and smartwatch differ on the level of the smartwatch’s fitness features and wearable computer likenesses. Its features are evident in the practicality of a digital watch and its uses.

Digital Watches

The design of a digital watch suits its functions. The functions are defined by features that aren’t showy or flashy and not complicated. You sense its robustness when you hold a digital watch in your hands. The digital display happens instantaneously – it’s visible and clear. And the time and date are easy to read.    

Digital watches have no built-in feature for fitness like a fitness tracker or even the smartwatch (see below). But you can use a digital watch to check the flow of time. This means that you can see how much time has passed. You can also measure distance in time. As well as use the digital watch to track workouts.

Digital watches are period pieces of the digital age, and in terms of technology, savvy. The standout features of digital watches are comparatively less flashy than the ones of smartwatches. A feature that places a digital watch above a smart one is that it works with a battery – a long-lasting one, even for months. Digital watches are known as low-maintenance compared to smartwatches.

Digital watches are a stylish accessory and popular with watch enthusiasts. Digital watches are also designed with fewer features. You aren’t kept tethered to your watch – emails, app alerts, all the stuff that nag you about smartphones. You can keep your eye on the time with a digital watch and not be distracted by notifications you have on smart ones. 

Digital watches also don’t lag too far behind time. Technology is always on the cusp of reinvention and innovation. And, so too has the digital watch changed. With adaptations, some of the functions today include tracking workouts and steps, all more than just recording the flow of time. A digital watch is good to get you to set exercise goals too!

Smart Watches

Smartwatches come with surprises – the features are unlike any watch before. Some features include music controls to listen to your favorites while working out, driving, or relaxing! The smartwatch has even got speakers. And, if you were in doubt, yes, you can tell the time on a smartwatch! No wonder the smartwatch is equated with a computer and smartphone first.

What draws watch fanciers is that you can plug into your phone calls from a smartwatch. You do this via cellular connectivity. Some smartwatches have Near Field Communication (NFC) to enable you to transfer data to a smartphone. Smartwatches have features for GPS and a touchscreen that is functional, however small. The local touchscreen also links to a smartphone.

A smartwatch is designed to do more than fitness. Though a smartwatch is not a fitness tracker, the device has similar features. Smartwatches can monitor your step counts like fitness trackers focus on fitness and health. But most smartwatches are not as sophisticated as fitness trackers to monitor oxygen levels and some ECG functions.

Smartwatches have mobile apps and operating systems that work with Bluetooth connectivity. Smartwatches can store and play digital media – audio, images, and video files! Other fun features include basic tasks like calculations, translations, and game playing.

Smartwatches are popular, and many make fun of the wearable tech tag associated with these watches. Not only are there many designs and models, but these are relatively affordable. There appears some tacit consensus that smartwatches don’t last as long as digital watches.

Digital v. Smart Watches: Design

The eras that lead to the design of digital and smart watches are vastly different. What was avant-garde six decades ago was the mere seeds for the kinds of technological innovations regarding wearable gadgets we are seeing. The acceleration of technological innovation features when considering digital and smartwatches’ uses and features (as seen above).

Digital Watches

It’s as if the digital watches, that span almost 60 years of innovation, are designed to last. Some say their design will never be out of date. Like the Harley, a digital watch is a relic that acquires panache! This is despite the very first designs being heavy and even cumbersome looking.

The digital watch might not have the smartwatch features, like notifications and connectivity. But a digital watch is prized for its simplicity. Some even say that a smart watch’s features are distracting. The digital watch is practical and has features that can be used much like the smartwatch’s fitness ones. Though, these are not in-your-face reminders.

Digital watches have always been popular with runners and those doing cardio workouts. These easy-on-the-wrist digital watches are also designed with high-tech features to record fitness progress. As technology goes, a super inventor and innovator, some digital watches now too are designed to monitor heart rates.

Digital watches have been a preferred accessory because of their digital time and data displays and use to track physical activity. Digital watches are precise and functional in training and for marathons (professional and recreational). Digital watches are suitable for team sports, and coaches prefer to use these. 

The design of digital watches stands out. Athletes prefer digital watches as they are weather, water, and shock resistant. The hardiness of a digital watch’s design makes these a preferred choice for outdoor activities, like hiking, scaling down mountain slopes, and even crossing rivers! A digital watch, through its design, has been dubbed a never-stop-going watch!

Whereas smartwatches are thought of as having a five-year lifespan, digital watches have vintage appeal! The design features keep changing, and some digital watches now have compasses and GPS. This is besides digital watches’ customized alarms and count-down timers. But what draws people back to these digital watches are their designs – durable and hardwearing.  

Smart Watches

Unlike digital watches’ debut, which resulted in the decline of analog watches, smartwatches enter a different field a decade after its launch as wearable tech. The design influences for smartwatches appear to be between fitness trackers and smartphones. The design of smartwatches is also a fashionable item to suit leisure class exercise and activities.

Smartwatches are designed to fit an active social, sporty lifestyle and a bit of business. The features emulate smartphones, and both smart devices complement each other through their design features. Some even say a smartwatch is a jolly clever PA!

Smartwatches and fitness trackers have similarities in design. A difference is that almost all smartwatches are designed to function as fitness trackers, whereas fitness trackers are not smartwatches. And also, smartwatches do more than fitness trackers through specific embedded apps, cellular connectivity, and touchscreen (as seen above).

Smartwatches have a wide range of features. More than a fitness tracker, a smartwatch tracks and monitors exercise (running and walking) and sends reminders about the weather and moon cycles. Though not designed as a fitness tracker, a smart watch’s health and fitness metrics is a sought-after feature.

Fitness trackers have a history older than smartwatches. The features of fitness trackers that stand out are the devices’ focus on heart measurement and even blood oxygen levels. Fitness trackers are focussed on health and fitness. These are features that are being designed into smartwatches too. However, smartwatches are more.

A smartwatch tells more – the watch gives information at a glance. From personal information to widespread access to the weather, many smartwatch fanciers watch the news, access share and stock prices, and even get the latest sports scores in a board meeting!

It’s easy to want to have a smartwatch. Smartwatches are designed with health and fitness features. Besides, imagine that smartwatches are not only designed to monitor fitness, but you can even get notifications about events, important dates, and series where you’re exercising. And that, on your wrist!

The extended features, in terms of fitness and health, are more than just data. You can build algorithms based on patterns recorded for your heart rate. You can analyze these over time and monitor changes! Smartwatch designs appear to be moving in the direction of fitness trackers – the storing of data and linking this to smartphones.


There seems to be a convergence between smart and digital watches that have to do with the accelerating attributes of technological innovation. As much as we can spot the evolution of the digital watch, we can think about what makes a smart watch smart. Innovative and new, the smartwatch incorporates many of the features of fitness trackers and smartphones.

Digital and smartwatches have specific capabilities, of which durability is a key feature of the digital one. Digital watches are standing up to technological demands and adding in features. The designs of smartwatches are also being reinvented and adapted alongside its defining feature as a wearable computer!


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