If you happen to search for Smartwatches on sites like AliExpress and GearBest you’d probably find hundreds of $15 – $20 smartwatches, some cheaper ones too.
Obviously these watches are not Apple Watch killers, but are they safe to buy? Will they steal your data or blow your arm right off?
So the question of the hour is “Are Chinese Smartwatches safe?”
The answer to that is yes, Chinese smartwatches are safe to use in terms of health & fitness trackers and maintain their users privacy. This depends on if you go in for a nice Huawei GT2 or end up with a bargain like the MC57. Since China is the hub for cheap products and cloned goods, we get smartwatches from unknown manufacturers that are not reliable.
Let’s take a look at what to avoid, what to look out for and figure out which kinds of Chinese smartwatches are deemed safe to use and which type aren’t.
Smartwatches Not Made in China – Is there a difference?
Fundamentally there is no difference between a smartwatch Made in China and not made in China. And if it’s a big brand smartwatch maker, there’s no difference. The only concern with Chinese made smartwatches that are not from popular brands is the concern amongst Data professionals as to what they do with the data that’s gathered. But in terms of safety and other aspects of human health with regards to smartwatches, Chinese Smartwatches are as good as Smartwatches not made in China.
Are Chinese Smartwatches Safe?
With a rise in demand for internet-connected wearables, the market is not only occupied by brands like Apple and Fitbit, In fact there are more Chinese Smartwatches available online than the reputed brands themselves.
Though these devices look like copies of the Apple Watch and the Galaxy Watch, they’re far from the real thing.
We’ve all had someone approach us and tell us, “Don’t be fooled with these online advertisements, prices of these products may be dirt cheap but you got to remember one thing, your life’s on the line if you opt for a Chinese Smartwatch.”
But that’s not always the fact. See, the thing is Chinese Smartwatches do not necessarily mean copies or fakes with malicious software installed to siphon your data.
There are some renowned brands based out of China like Xiaomi, Huawei, Lenovo and others that actually do a pretty amazing job with the design of their smartwatches and even take their users’ security into consideration
When it comes to Chinese Smartwatches, there are a few things to look at before buying one for yourself;
- Health Related Risks
- Data & Privacy Risks with Chinese Smartwatches
- Safety Risks
- Faulty Trackers in Chinese Smartwatches
Data & Privacy Risks with Chinese Smartwatches
With upgrades in smartwatches like the eSim feature on the Apple Watch, smartwatches are going to store more and more of our personal data on a daily basis.
Well established Chinese companies that deal in making Smartwatches tend to use the highest quality of data encryption to ensure their customers’ data is safe at all times.
Other manufacturers who do not have the right resources to enroll a support team of the highest quality will generally use limited data encryption and lower security standards, these are the brands or manufacturers you have to look out for.
Since the transfer of data between the Smartphone and Smartwatch happens wirelessly your device can be intercepted by any Hacker if the right security standards are not followed by these companies.
Over the years, hundreds and thousands of citizens have fallen prey to hackers simply because their gadgets were not secure. Most cases, it’s the third party apps that are unsafe and any data handled by these applications are deemed insecure.
Typically, poorly designed applications allow the hacker to hitch a ride with your personal data once the apps permissions are granted they will have access to your microphone, messages, transaction details, location and more.
Health Risks associated with Chinese Smartwatches
Smartwatches were initially made with one connectivity feature, Bluetooth. Bluetooth smartwatches emit radio frequencies to the smartphone to communicate with them and this did not have any affect on us.
Today, Chinese Smartwatches come with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and even LTE that emit a type of electro-magnetic radiation that may or may not have any adverse effects on your health. The effects on the human body are still being researched so it’s not conclusive but yes, there is a small percentage of radiation that’s emitted from smartwatches.
Technology has made man lazy, there’s no other way to put it and with Smartwatches in the picture there’s no wonder people who wear smartwatches all day long show signs of low-productivity and lack of concentration.
Furthermore, wearing a Smartwatch for a whole day, especially the low-quality ones made by some unknown Chinese company can result in:
- Loss of Memory
- Change in Moods
- Altered Sleeping Pattern
The main problem is that with Chinese smartwatches that rely on cheap components, the chance of falling sick and having radiation burns on your wrist is greater.
Safety Risks from using a Chinese Smartwatch
Since the Chinese market is flooded with fakes and rip-offs of all kinds, not many know if they’re buying something authentic or a copy.
- Authentic smartwatches from reputed brands will have all safety checks conducted to ensure their device meets all the prescribed safety standards.
- Unfortunately, because their quality is lower and are sold with minimal checks done it’s not recommended to buy a Chinese smartwatch from an unknown brand, no matter how appealing the price is.
Chinese Smartwatches have been known to use sub-standard batteries in their products and are not reliable plus do not come with any warranty of sorts. These can short-circuit and at times catch fire making them rather dangerous to own, let alone wear.
Since using a smartwatch is addictive, anything can happen if you’re distracted from your surroundings even for a moment. They pose a threat to us when we head out in our car or while we ride our bikes, not only to us but to the pedestrians around as well.
One notification can start a chain of events that can result in grievous injuries or even yup, death. Believe me when I say this, the worst kind of drivers are those texting while driving. Sadly, it’s the same case with people who wear smartwatches and drive.
Faulty Trackers in Chinese Smartwatches
By now you’re familiar with the fact that most Chinese smartwatches that are sold at $5-$25 range are not up to the mark and can pose a threat to your well-being and safety. Another thing to remember is that these low-quality Chinese Smartwatches that are advertised as health trackers are really not that accurate as compared to something designed for hospital staff.
Applications on some Chinese smartwatches to track your heart rate or SPO2 levels can at times give you bouts of anxiety only because their readings are all over the place. These gadgets are wrongly advertised online to lure in customers into buying their products.
Despite the risks and privacy concerns there are still a few ways you can protect your data as well as your health.
Protection against harmful Electro-Magnetic Radiation
This problem did not arise just yesterday but has been a question on most of our minds since the first Wi-Fi Cellular smartwatch was released. Chinese Smartwatches which are made from sub-standard components can actually cause damage to your skin and health.
Nevertheless, there are ways you can stay protected from the unwanted radiation being emitted from your Smartwatch. You can
You can purchase one of the radiation shields or permanent cases for the smartwatch. These claim to protect you from harmful EM radiations and are quite affordable.
Turning on Airplane mode on your smartwatch will shut down all connection based features like GPS, LTE, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Your watch will act as an analog watch, depending on whether you have a hybrid smartwatch or are using a stand-alone digital smartwatch.
Buying smartwatches with batteries other than Li-ion are not recommended as they can tend to leak, catch fire or blow up. Make sure the smartwatch uses a Li-ion or Li-Po battery.
Protection for your Data and Privacy
The first step in protecting your data and privacy is to make sure to always buy a smartwatch from a trusted company and while doing so always pay attention to the manner by which they handle their privacy and security related policies.
This is exactly what must be done when you install third party applications on your smartwatch, some tend to have fine print which most of us ignore. Restrict applications from accessing your personal information and data by revoking their permissions. You can always trust these applications later after confirming they’re safe.
Always make sure only encrypted data is transferred between your smartphone and smartwatch. Brands like Apple and Samsung have this implemented where payments can be carried out via their smartwatches without having to reveal your credit card information.
Another helpful tip would be to use two-factor authentication for your applications and important data. This enables you to approve and deny access to anyone trying to open your files or application.
Protecting your smartwatch by using lock codes or pin codes adds a bit more protection that when they’re openly accessible.
Ensuring your safety while using a Chinese Smartwatch
There are many companies that claim you can wear their smartwatches everyday for 24 hours each day and everything will be fine. But like everything that runs on a battery, they tend to get overheated and it is not good for our bodies.
When smartwatches overheat they can explode on your hand. This is pretty common with Chinese Smartwatches that have minimal inspection done on them and sold blindly. Buyers think they’re getting a nice product but in reality it’s a possibly ticking time-bomb.
It’s understandable if you want to wear the watch because it looks cool and fashionable but in reality the longer you wear your watch each day the more prone you are to damaging your skin.
There is another concern when it comes to wearing smartwatches, they cause accidents and are really distracting. Wearing a smartwatch for hours together while at work or while riding can cause distractions and you will not be able to focus a hundred percent on the task at hand.
Health Risks associated with Chinese Smartwatches
What do studies say?
Well, over a period of 15+ years, scientists have been studying the effects of radiofrequency energy on the human body. This is the same energy that is emitted from mobile and cellular devices, smartwatches included. While some of the studies have shown a significant change in your biological functions when exposed to prolonged radiofrequency energy, other tests have shown that there is no cause for concern.
While it is evident that Wi-Fi and cellular signals can interfere with our biological functions and make us moody at times, governing bodies like the FDA have stated that since the evidence is inconclusive, there can’t be a ban implemented on smartwatches and other cellular devices.
Can Chinese smartwatch manufacturers be trusted?
In short, yes and no. There are a handful of Chinese smartwatch manufacturers out there that go a decent job and use high-quality components in their products to ensure user safety. Brands like Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi have developed safe to use smartwatches and are equipped with rather accurate sensors and trackers.
Are smartwatches safe for health?
In general, any smartwatch worn for a prolonged period of time is not good for your body. The LED sensors can actually end up leaving burn marks on your wrist and there are chances that the radiofrequency energy released by smartwatches can cause some health concerns. But nothing has been proven yet, so my advice to you is proceed with caution.
Do you really need a Chinese smartwatch?
This differs from person to person, while some might have the budget to opt for an expensive branded device, others are not so fortunate and would rather resort to getting a cheaper copy. In my opinion, the most affordable option for a decent smartwatch will be any of the Amazfit bands. They’re cheap, made from high-quality materials and have a good reputation in the market.
Chinese Smartwatches are really good products but that does not mean all Chinese products are bad. It’s quite similar to the phrase, “Never judge a book by its cover”.
There are reliable and reputed brands selling their smartwatches such as Umidigi, Xiaomi, Colmi, Huawei and Lenovo. Though their smartwatches are priced a bit higher than other Chinese counterparts, name brands are trustworthy and assure you that your data is safe.
It’s not always about who has the best smartwatch in the market, sometimes if you can’t afford it don’t resort to a cheaper product, rather save some money and go in for the original one so there are no regrets later on in life.
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