Still haven’t decided on what to get your dad for Father’s Day? If he’s the techie and sporty type, a smartwatch might be the perfect gift for him. The best wearable to augment an iPhone is the Apple Watch Series 5 (or the Apple Watch Series 3 for a lot less), while the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 (or the cheaper Samsung Galaxy Watch Active) works best with Android phones. They all boast the latest in wearable technology and function phenomenally as fitness trackers. Order them today at Amazon and Best Buy for as little as $120 to make sure they arrive in time for the big day.
— $120, was $200
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active is a comfortable and beautiful smartwatch that offers everything you ever need in a wearable at a very attractive price. It has a top-notch fitness tracking, a gorgeous display, a pleasingly simple and sporty design, and a comfortable and lightweight build. But unlike the Samsung Galaxy Watch and its successor the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2, it doesn’t come with a rotating bezel and its capabilities become woefully limited if paired with a non-Samsung phone. Still, this wearable gets so many things right that we won’t hesitate to recommend it. Right now, the 40mm version of the Galaxy Watch Active is on sale at Best Buy for the incredibly low price of $120 — a huge $80 off its normal retail price of $200.
This smartwatch is free of visual distractions and looks uncomplicated, and we like it for that. It’s sportier looking than the Samsung Galaxy Watch and much more compact. But unlike Samsung’s flagship wearable, it’s kind of annoying that this one lacks a rotating bezel. The feature made navigation so much easier and faster and we miss hearing its satisfying clicking sound. Nevertheless, its omission made for a cheaper sticker price, which is a good thing. You’ll be swiping and tapping the Galaxy Watch Active just like any other Wear OS.
The 1.1-inch OLED screen is a bit small and therefore harder to navigate but it’s undeniably stunning and close to perfect. Colors are well saturated, blacks are so deep that the screen blends in with the bezel around it, and text is sharp thanks to a 360 x 360 resolution. You won’t have any difficulty viewing it outside even under direct sunlight.
This watch is powered by a dual-core Samsung Exynos 9110 processor with 750MB of RAM and we’re very happy at how responsive and snappy it is. However, it’s worth mentioning that Samsung’s Tizen operating system is more optimized for, well, Samsung phones. On other Android phones, you’ll need to download various plug-ins to ensure a smooth experience. On iOS, in fact, you’ll find that some features won’t work at all.
Finally, fitness tracking is up to the usual Samsung standard. You’ve got the usual heart rate monitor, distance traveled, step count, and sleep tracking, as well as less prominent capabilities like blood pressure monitoring and torso twists recommendations (you get this if you’ve been sedentary for a while). All data get stored in the Samsung Health app which is nicely feature-packed if a tad cluttered.
If you want a Samsung smartwatch but don’t want to spend too much money, this is for you. Get the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active at Best Buy today for just $120.
— $179, was $199
The Apple Watch Series 3 used to be the best smartwatch that you could buy (that honor has now been bestowed upon the Series 5), with an interface that easily eclipses Android Wear and a design that’s a huge hit among consumers. It also functions phenomenally as a fitness tracker and thanks to a new dual-core processor, it has become faster than ever. However, it still remains a pricey smartphone accessory and not an essential device. Fortunately, since it’s no longer the latest model, it’s not hard to find the Series 3 with massive price cuts on several online retail sites. Right now, you can get the 38mm GPS version of it at Amazon for just $179 instead of $199. What’s more, you can get $50 off instantly upon approval for the Amazon Rewards Visa card, reducing the price even further to $129.
Syncing the Apple Watch Series 3 to your iPhone via Bluetooth allows you to receive real-time notifications and music playback control. You can get notified of calls, text messages, and social media alerts even if your phone is tucked away in your bag. This smartwatch doesn’t have a built-in eSim card, though, so you cannot make phone calls on your wrist. For that, you need to spend a few extra bucks and get the cellular version, although we wouldn’t really recommend it. While making a call without having to get your phone is pretty convenient, the watch’s speaker isn’t very loud. Hearing the person you’re calling when outside can be quite challenging, not to mention that the entire process may make you look a tad ridiculous.
The Apple Watch Series 3 is a very reliable fitness tracker. It boasts a gamut of health-centric sensors, including a heart rate monitor, accelerometer, and gyroscope. With this watch, you can track a multitude of activities, including walking, running, swimming, and cycling. When you’ve been sitting for too long, this watch will remind you to get off your feet and take a brief walk. It also helps you relieve pent-up stress through the Breathe feature. All health stats and metrics are aggregated in the Activity app.
This smartwatch comes with a strap band called a “sports loop.” It has a simple hook-and-eye system that’s guaranteed to fit all wrist sizes. The band is replaceable if you wish to get other styles, colors, and even materials. The watch face is also fully customizable, with a variety of designs to suit your personality.
Even though it’s not the latest or the most feature-packed Apple Watch, the Series 3 is still great value for money.
— $230, was $280
This time around, the latest smartwatch from the already impressive Galaxy Watch lineup flaunts a digital rotating bezel (the Gear Sport and Galaxy Watch are conspicuously analog, but they’re still great). Looking like a rounded cousin of the Apple Watch, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 boasts comprehensive fitness tracking, a gorgeous display, a wonderfully fluid interface, and two-day battery life. Simply put, it’s one of the best smartwatches that you can buy right now. Get it for $230 instead of $280 at Best Buy — a cool $50 worth of savings.
This smartwatch is primarily a fitness wearable, but it looks more versatile. It’s pleasantly minimalist, with a black aluminum body that will look good in the gym and at the office. The Active 2’s 1.4-inch screen has a pixel resolution of 360 x 360, and it is stunning and exceptionally bright. The blacks are deep, colors pop, and text is plenty sharp. And even if you set the screen brightness to just three (on a scale from 1 to 10), it’s still bright enough to be seen outdoors even in direct sunlight. There are a couple of buttons found on the right edge for further navigation, and with an IP68 rating, this smartwatch can be submerged in meter-deep water for about half an hour.
As mentioned earlier, the main highlight of the Active 2 is its digital rotating bezel. It’s not as satisfying as the “clicking” mechanical rotating bezels of the Gear Sport and Galaxy Watch, and it makes the watch a fingerprint magnet, but it’s fun and easy to use nonetheless. The Tizen interface also remains fluid and well-organized. Apps and notifications are presented in an orderly fashion (we still prefer the Wear OS’s single-file list view), but we hated the fact that you can’t connect the Active 2 to your computer to transfer music files. Everything must be done over Wi-Fi via a web app interface, and that can get tedious, especially if you don’t have a fast internet connection. Twitter, YouTube, and Google Translate are all on-board, although we have no idea who would want to watch a video on a super tiny screen.
All the basics in fitness and wellness tracking are present in the Active 2, plus plenty more. Walking, running, swimming, cycling, rowing, elliptical training, and dynamic workouts are automatically tracked, and you can measure your stress levels with heart rate data and choose to receive reminders to stand, stretch, or go for a quick stroll. The Samsung Health can give you weekly summaries of your wellness trends, including your sleep patterns, activity levels, and heart rate information. We have to mention though that this device lacks a functional electrocardiogram (ECG) sensor. It’s there, but it hasn’t been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration yet, making it useless as of now.
Finally, with light usage, you can extend this watch’s battery life up to two days, making it possible to do sleep tracking, unlike with the Apple Watch Series 5.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 ranks alongside the Galaxy Watch as the best smartwatch that you can buy for Android. Get the 40mm version of it at Best Buy for just $230.
— $299, was $399
Visually, there’s nothing that sets the Apple Watch Series 5 apart from its predecessor the Series 4. It still sports the same square design and digital crown control system. Its case is made of 100% recycled aluminum (perfect for the environmentally conscious), although it also comes in titanium, stainless steel, and ceramic if you have the money to splurge, with a case size of either 44mm or 40mm. Curvy and ergonomic, it’s small and light enough to let you feel like you’re not wearing it, and it won’t get caught on your shirt cuff.
The biggest difference between the Apple Watch Series 5 and the previous Apple Watch iterations is its always-on display. It will always show the time and you no longer need to raise your wrist in order to wake the screen up. Workout stats are also immediately shown as soon as you start exercising. For example, do some push-ups and the Watch will automatically display the corresponding metrics. There are plenty of watch faces to choose from, with designs that range from the elegant to the quirky. And if you’re thinking that the always-on display will take a serious toll on the battery life, don’t fret. It’s possible to get a full day and a half out of a single charge. Recharging takes about an hour.
The Apple Watch Series 5 also has an internal compass, an even more powerful S5 processor, and a much larger storage capacity. The interface is fun and simple to use. Using the digital crown to zoom in and out of the app screen is great, and the haptic feedback provides an impressively tactile experience. All your basic fitness-tracking needs are covered, plus a few more. It takes care of steps, calories, hourly movement, relaxation, VO2 Max data, hours spent standing, and workout tracking for a range of sports including swimming and biking, and it even handles more unusual activities like yoga and elliptical training.
Probably the most important health feature of the Apple Watch Series 5 is its electrocardiogram (ECG) monitor, which was introduced first on the Series 4. It’s not exactly a heart rate monitor — which is useful for fitness tracking as well as for medical purposes — but instead is designed for use when you feel an irregularity in your heart rate. Having it there will provide peace of mind to anyone with cardiac concerns, as it will send a notification if a problem is detected.
The Apple Watch Series 5 is nearly perfect and is the best smartwatch that you can buy right now. Get it at Amazon today for $299 instead of $399.
Digital Trends may earn commission on products purchased through our links, which supports the work we do for our readers.
- These are the best Samsung Galaxy Watch deals for November 2020
- Amazon discounts Apple Watch Series 6, Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 for Black Friday
- Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 vs. Watch Active: Spec comparison
- The best smartwatches for 2020
- You can currently buy an Apple Watch for $179, because Black Friday