The best smartwatches can do more than show notifications on your wrist.
From running apps, to displaying smartphone notifications, to monitoring your heart rate, the latest crop of smartwatches do a lot more than just tell time.
Wearing a smartwatch is more than just about style or getting messages: it could be a potential lifesaver. Round watch face versus square, fitness emphasis versus other smart features, iOS versus Android compatibility… Whether you’re looking for your first or replacing an old one, there are a lot of factors to consider when buying the best smartwatch for your needs, especially because it’s going to be strapped to your wrist almost 24/7 if you’re planning on using it to track your sleep.
Here are the best smartwatches available for iPhone and Android users
The Apple Watch Series 5 may be the expensive , but it’s the gold standard when it comes to smartwatches. It has all the smartwatch features we loved about its predecessors, including the seamless compatibility with other Apple devices, advanced fitness tracking and potentially lifesaving health features like a built-in EKG and fall detection.
The biggest downsides to the Apple Watch: It’s iPhone-compatible only, and it has shorter battery life than most of its competitors. Read our Apple Watch Series 5 review.
It’s been nearly three years since the Apple Watch Series 3 made its debut, but it continues to hold its own. It may not have the always-on display, EKG or fall detection feature that the Series 5 has, but it has everything else for half the price. And with the update to WatchOS 7 coming in the fall, the Series 3 will also be adding sleep tracking to its long list of health and fitness features.
The Series 3 comes with GPS, gets the watchOS 6 update so it’s packed with the latest features – and benefits from waterproofing, swim tracking, heart rate and low/high HR detection.
The Galaxy Watch Active 2 can give Apple’s smartwatch a run for its money. Samsung’s watch works with both Android and iOS smartphones, and features GPS, a heart rate monitor and LTE (for a premium). It also can automatically track your activity and sleep.
Secondly, unlike its predecessor, it has a beautiful design that will suit almost all users. It’s a minimal yet classy approach to a smartwatch. The bands are also changeable. The best part is that it too comes with a rotating bezel, which is arguably one of the best ways to navigate a smartwatch.
The Galaxy Watch Active 2’s circular design is visually appealing, whether you get the 40mm or 44mm model. Based on Samsung’s Tizen operating system, this Galaxy Watch boasts other useful features as Samsung Pay, onboard music via Spotify and heart health features. That includes a forthcoming ECG feature that recently earned FDA approval.
The Oppo Watch is one of the best Wear OS smartwatches money can buy.
The Oppo Watch is available in two sizes – 46mm and 41mm. The 46mm variant gets a 1.9-inch curved AMOLED screen which the 41mm comes with a flat 1.6-inch AMOLED screen. You get Snapdragon Wear 3100 SoC with 1GB RAM and 8GB of internal storage. It runs on a deeply customized Oppo skin based on Wear OS. There is also an Ambiq Apollo 3 chipset for the battery saver mode. The watch comes with an HR monitor and GPS is also inbuilt to track your runs or cycles. On a single charge, the watch will last you for about a day and a half.
The Fossil group has become synonymous with Wear OS smartwatches as mainstream manufacturers slowly left the market. The fifth-generation brings improvements to performance and battery life, while bringing Google’s extensive app store to wearables.
While we still don’t think they are the best for the price due to inconsistent performance and battery life, but if you are insistent on a Wear OS watch, there’s no better option than one of Fossil’s Gen 5 watches. Luckily, these come in many options and designs to not just look geeky.
Fitbit’s Versa 2 is a refined upgrade from the original Versa that adds built-in Alexa and more advanced sleep-tracking features, especially now that Fitbit has rolled out a software update that enables a feature to monitor blood oxygen saturation levels.
As one of the best Fitbits, the Versa 2 works with both iOS and Android. Fitbit added a Spotify app to the Versa 2, so you can control music playback from your wrist. However, you can’t download Spotify playlists to the watch for offline listening. The Versa 2 also lacks on-board GPS.
Garmin took the best features of its Vivoactive 3, the best smartwatch for fitness. The watch now comes in two sizes, 40mm and 45mm, to offer a better fit for most people, and includes both Garmin Pay and music storage out of the box.
The Vivoactive 4 also offers animated on-screen yoga and Pilates workouts to help you improve your poses. A new pulse ox sensor measures your blood oxygen level and gives you more detailed sleep insights. All of that plus 7-day battery life makes the Vivoactive 4 our favorite smartwatch for fitness buffs.
This smartwatch is compatible with both Android and iOS devices and checks most of the boxes when it comes to features: always-on display, built-in GPS tracking and the best battery life of any device on this list. You can get up to 40 days of use on a charge, or about two weeks of heavy usage with the GPS on and brightness up (a time that’s still above and beyond the rest).
You may have to make some sacrifices when it comes to aesthetics, though, as it has a plastic casing and the screen isn’t as bright or responsive as the ones on the Galaxy and Apple Watch.
There are two displays on this watch – one layered on top of the other. On the top is a transparent LCD display that can display the time, your heart rate and more when the battery is low. there’s GPS, NFC for Google Pay, Bluetooth for listening to music and the slightly old Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 chipset in here running the watch as well.
Below that is a bright and bold full color OLED screen that will give you all of the benefits of Wear OS. That means you can have a normal smartwatch, which we found would last around two days, and then have the time and some other features still available when your battery is running low.
The second display really shines when you are running on low battery. In our testing, we found that the TicWatch Pro lasted for just under a week when in low power mode. The second transparent LCD display may not have been needed, but it works just fine.
The Fossil Hybrid HR is a slightly different take on a hybrid, as it sits behind analogue arms. It’s quite literally a smartwatch behind a regular timepiece. This gives it a 2-week battery life, but the conventional watch can go on for years without the smart features.
This is possible thanks to the e-ink display which consumes no energy most of the time. Yes, it’s a little slim on functionality where you can’t really respond to notifications, but does show you all messages and emails in a comfortable fashion.
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