• Smart Watch & Fitness Tracker Suppliers in China: Design, Price & MOQ

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    Asia Import Platform: Electronics

    About to import smart watches, fitness trackers or other wearables from China? This complete guide covers everything you need to get started:

    a. How to find a qualified factory

    b. Private label smart watches and other wearables

    c. OEM smart watches and other wearables

    d. Fitness tracker CPUs and other components

    e. Android, Apple, Bluetooth and other licenses

    f. Product regulations, labeling requirements & lab testing

    g. Prices & MOQ requirements

    Looking for Smartwatch or Fitness Tracker Factories? Go to Shenzhen.

    Shenzhen is probably the largest city you’ve never heard of. It’s located right next to Hong Kong, in China’s southern pearl river delta.

    Shenzhen is the world’s electronics manufacturing capital, and the natural place to source smart watch factories.

    Here, you’ll find everything from high tech, fully automated, factories – down to street workshops assembling products using second hand spare parts.

    Finding a smart watch or fitness tracker supplier is not the hard part. That’s finding a qualified supplier.

    This is how I define a ‘qualified’ smart watch and wearable devices factory:

    a. They can provide relevant test reports and certification (i.e., RoHS and FCC Part 15).

    b. They are specialized in making smart watches and/or fitness trackers

    c. They have their own production facility (and they allow you to visit)

    d. They have developed at least a few basic ODM products

    e. They are ISO 9001 certified (and they actually implement it)

    I’d estimate that less than 20% of all factories in this industry can match these requirements. You can, however, identify these suppliers using Alibaba.com and Globalsources.com.

    smart watch suppliers

    What’s the difference between smart watches and fitness trackers?

    These two product categories are identical in many ways. They generally use the same components, and can therefore be assembled by the same supplier base.

    There are, however, several major differences:

    Smart Watch Fitness Tracker
    CPU Mediatek Nordic Semiconductor
    Display Capacitive Touchscreen LED Display / None
    Communication WiFi, Bluetooth Bluetooth
    SIM Slot Yes No
    GPS Yes No
    G-Sensor Yes Yes

    Fitness trackers tend to have a more specific set of functions, based on sending data to a smartphone app. A smart watch, on the other hand, is basically a smartphone on your wrist.

    Fitness trackers are, therefore, much more compact and cheaper to make.

    Currently we are working with customers that are implementing fitness trackers in jewelry. This is a very interesting development that I think we will see more of in the future.

    Product Design, Functionality & Technical Specs

    You should not even think about import smart watches or fitness trackers without understanding the technology that makes them work.

    This section explains the basics of what you must know about design options, components and specifications.

    fitness trackers

    Option A: Private Label (ODM)

    Most smart watches and tracker suppliers can offer a range of ‘self developed’ ODM products. Basically, this means that they have a set of ‘template products’.

    That being said, you can still customize components, colors and branding. I’d even say that most suppliers actually expect you to confirm specifications.

    Take this smart watch on Globalsources.com for example.

    What you see here is an ODM smart watch, with various customization options:

    • CPU: Mediatek MTK6261, MTK6261A or MTK2502C
    • RAM Memory: 512MB, 1GB or 2GB
    • Camera: 2 MP or 5 MP
    • Battery Type: 600 mAh or 1000 mAh

    Option B: Custom Design (OEM)

    Do you want to develop your own custom designed smart watch or bracelet?

    Then you’re in luck. Basically, any supplier in this industry can manufacture customized products.

    Just keep in mind that the suppliers will not develop the product for you. Instead, they expect you to provide the following:

    • Case Design CAD Files
    • PCB Files
    • Bill of Materials
    • Label Files

    Your supplier can then make a functional prototype based on your spec sheets.

    This requires that you have the technical expertise to create these documents.

    OEM Case Design

    There is a third way. I see more and more startups creating products that merge electronics with fashion. They don’t really care about the CPU, or other components.

    And, they don’t have the resources to develop an OEM fitness tracker or smart watch.

    Hence, they take an existing ODM set, with a PCB, display and other components, and place it in a new custom design steel or plastic case.

    But be careful.

    The case must be designed based on the electronic hardware. Thus, you must first find an ODM product to work with, before you get down to designing the OEM case.

    CPU

    Smart watches and fitness trackers normally use low power CPUs. Smart watches tend to use Mediatek CPUs, while simpler fitness trackers run on ‘ulta low-power’ Nordic Semiconductor CPUs.

    Below follows an overview:

    Smart Watches: Mediatek CPU
    • MTK6261
    • MTK6261A
    • MTK2502C
    Fitness Trackers: Nordic Semiconductor CPUs
    • nRF52832
    • nRF51822

    Patent Issues

    You’re probably aware of the never ending IP battles between Apple, Samsung and other tech giants.

    They can afford to settle billion dollar lawsuits. You can’t.

    You need to make sure that your supplier don’t install software from other companies, or use components that require licensing. More on that later.

    You can’t expect your Shenzhen manufacturer or understand, or even care about, IP issues. It’s up to you to keep track of the bill of materials and make sure they don’t install commercial software that requires paid licenses. Or, use components that require a paid license.

    Further, product design can also be patented. While a fitness tracker or smart watch can only look in a certain way, you must avoid design elements that are unique to certain brands.

    Android OS, Apple MFi & Technology Licensing

    Almost all ODM and OEM wearables manufactured in China come with Android installed. Android OS is free, so you don’t need to pay any licensing fee to Google for using it.

    However, this doesn’t extend to certain apps.

    Further, you must also pay licensing fees for certain components.

    Most smart watches and fitness trackers are Bluetooth enabled. If you import a Bluetooth enabled device, you must pay a $2500 – $8000 licensing fee.

    This also applies to Apple components.

    If you want to make your device compatible lightning connector cable, you must fork out $8 in licensing fees – per unit.

    Smart Watch Product Regulations

    Based in the United States, the European Union, Canada or Australia? Then you need to ensure that your imported smart watches or fitness trackers comply with all relevant regulations.

    Product Standards

    All electronics are subject to product standards, regulating safety aspects (i.e., AC adapters), heavy metals and communication between devices.

    A few examples follow below:

    • EU: Low Voltage Directive, Radio Enabled Devices Directive, RoHS
    • US: FCC Part 15, UL Standards

    As an Importer, you need to confirm which mandatory standards apply in your country, and make sure that your product is actually compliant.

    If you go for an OEM product, you must make sure the design is compliant. If you import an ODM product, you should send a sample for lab testing.

    Labeling requirements

    In addition to ensuring that the product is technically compliant with all mandatory standards, it must be labelled correctly.

    A few examples follow below:

    • CE Mark
    • WEEE Mark
    • Country of Origin (Made in China)
    • FCC Mark
    • UL Mark
    • C-Tick Mark
    • A-Tick Mark

    Keep in mind that there are different labeling requirements in each country (or market, in the case of the European Union).

    Your supplier will not keep track of labeling requirements in your country, so it’s up to you to provide compliant label files.

    Documentation

    In most countries, you can ‘self-certify’ your product. Hence, you create a set of documents, that you show to the customs authorities, CPSC or other agencies – upon request.

    These days, you should also expect Amazon to require documentation before you can list products.

    Below follows a few examples the documents you may need:

    • Declaration of Conformity
    • PCB Drawing
    • Bill of Materials
    • Test Reports
    • Risk Assessment
    • Label Files
    • User Guide

    The exact document requirements depend on the country. You can also pay an agency to issue them for you, but expect to pay somewhere between $4000 to $7000.

    I suggest that you learn the process and create the documentation yourself.

    Laboratory Testing

    Third party lab testing is the only way to be sure that your product is compliant with all applicable standards.

    There are plenty of testing companies in Mainland China and Hong Kong, that can check if your smart watch or fitness tracker is, for example, LVD, RoHS or FCC compliant.

    Expect to pay around $500 – $1000 in lab testing fees.

    This will give you a test report that you can show to the customs authorities, or even Amazon, to prove that the product is compliant.

    Just keep in mind that a test report doesn’t void the other documentation requirements.

    Unit Prices

    When importing smart watches, fitness trackers or other wearables, the cost mainly depends on the following factors:

    • Case Material: (i.e., 316 Stainless Steel, Zinc Alloy or Plastic)
    • CPU
    • Display
    • Memory
    • Sensors

    Smart watches tend to have faster CPUs, larger displays and more memory than fitness trackers, and are therefore more expensive.

    The case material also plays a big part. A zinc alloy case can cost less than $2 to make, while one made of 316L Stainless Steel can cost as much as $8.

    A ‘medium range’ ODM smart watch can cost less than $10, while more advanced versions cost a lot more.

    Fitness trackers are a lot cheaper, and can be priced at less than $3 for simpler models.

    In the end, it comes down to the case material, and the components inside.

    MOQ Requirement

    Most suppliers set an MOQ at 500 pcs or 1000 pcs, per SKU. Some may be willing to offer a slightly lower MOQ when placing your first order.

    Just keep in mind that a lower MOQ result in a higher unit price, and the available component selection (i.e., CPUs and Sensors) may be limited.

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  • 2 Responses to “Smart Watch & Fitness Tracker Suppliers in China: Design, Price & MOQ

    1. Zohar at 8:34 pm

      Dear Fredrick,

      I have an idea of a smartwatch and I am looking for a company that can transform my idea to a real product. Can you please direct me to where should I look for those companies or do you know by any chance names of companies that are doing that?

      Thanks,
      Zohar

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 11:49 am

        Hi Zohar,

        If you want to buy an OEM product, you will need to create a complete specification. This includes PCB, BoM and so on. No supplier will take on a big product development project based on an idea alone. That would cost them thousands of dollars, maybe even tens of thousands of dollars.

        Further, this means that the supplier also owns the IP.

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