The importance of smartphones is reflected in how their uses have expanded far beyond the basic functions they’re theoretically meant to provide.
Today, we use our mobiles as mobile data hotspots, tethering them to computers for impromptu internet access.
They’re portable workstations, linked to wireless keyboards while casting their screens onto TVs and monitors.
They even control wearable devices like wireless headphones, smart watches and fitness trackers.
But how easy – or complex – is the process of pairing wearable tech with a smartphone?
Apples and pairs
The sheer diversity of wearables makes it impossible to produce a definitive guide to pairing every wireless device with any smartphone.
However, there are two main ways for wearables to distribute data to a smartphone – Bluetooth and WiFi.
The former has become the default method of wireless device communications. It’s ubiquitous, reliable and easy to operate.
WiFi is only really necessary when a wearable is generating a constant stream of data, like a drone camera.
Early incarnations of Bluetooth had an inferior range to WiFi, but the latest Bluetooth 5.0 standard can reach around 800 feet – far further than WiFi.
WiFi also creates a much greater drain on batteries than Bluetooth, which was designed to require minimal power to operate.
As such, Bluetooth will usually be the default connection method when pairing wearable tech with a smartphone.
Making a connection
The first step in pairing wearable tech with a smartphone involves reading the tech’s instruction manual.
It’s tempting to throw it in the bin and have a go yourself, but wireless devices tend to lack much in the way of screens or interfaces.
For instance, a pair of Enacfire E20 wireless headphones will issue audible instructions through each earbud, but they have no visible status indicator.
To pair wearables with another device, you often have to hold the power button down for five seconds to turn on Bluetooth scanning.
At the same time, the smartphone it’ll be connecting to must (a) have its Bluetooth turned on and (b) be actively scanning for new devices.
If you always leave Bluetooth on, don’t expect it to instantly identify a new gadget as it’s unboxed and turned on.
Ideally, the devices should only be a few inches apart during pairing.
Connection may require the installation of an app that will act as the wearable tech’s interface, while you may need to grant the app access to the phone’s location and storage.
It may also necessitate visiting a webpage to confirm a purchase, or to activate features.
Some wearables need to be charging as they’re paired, while others may generate a pairing code that must be entered before a connection is established.
Once setup has been completed, the phone should automatically recognise (and start sharing data with) a wearable device every time it’s turned on and within range of the handset.