The Apple Watch Series 5 topped our list of the best smartwatches of 2020. It is simply the most well-rounded smartwatch that you can buy right now, boasting a formidable plethora of features, innovative and widely copied design, and an unparalleled user-friendly interface. Of course, it’ll only work with an iPhone and if you’re an Android user, you’re better off getting the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2. Just like the Series 5, this wearable is beautifully designed, multifunctional, feature-rich, and best of all, costs way less than its iOS counterpart. Below you’ll find brief yet in-depth discussions of these two smartwatches plus their respective predecessors, the Apple Watch Series 4 and Samsung Galaxy Watch. Read on to find out which one suits you and your budget best. Save as much as $70 when you get them on Amazon and Best Buy today.
The Apple Watch Series 4 earned a rare perfect five-star rating from us. It boasts the latest in health-monitoring technology, including a second-generation ECG (electrocardiogram) heart sensor that sends out notifications for low heart rate, high heart rate, and irregular rhythm. It also has automatic exercise detection — when you start walking faster or run up a flight of stairs, it will ask you if you’re getting ready to work out. There are plenty of workout programs to choose from, ranging from yoga to hiking and beyond, and all your fitness data is stored in your iPhone’s Health App. Like the Series 3, this watch is obsessed with keeping you active.
The watch is lightning-quick and extremely easy to use, thanks to its fourth-generation S4 processor. Launching apps, checking notifications, and browsing through the menu is a breeze, and the screen is bright and rich in detail. There’s a walkie-talkie mode that lets you chat in real time with fellow Apple Watch owners. The Watch also lets you access Siri by simply raising your wrist and speaking.
Transferring music from your iPhone to the Watch is performed wirelessly and can only be done while it is charging. You can listen to music on Apple Music wirelessly via Bluetooth. The Watch can also be set up to display a range of information, including stock prices, scores from your favorite sports teams, and boarding details on upcoming flights. The battery lasts a good 18 hours on a single charge, enough to get you through the day.
Despite no longer being the latest nor the best Apple Watch that you can buy, the Series 4 is still a formidable digital timepiece. In fact, the Series 5 only managed to get the coveted top spot thanks to a few minor tweaks like its always-on display, a marginally faster processor, and an internal compass. Right now, you can purchase a renewed unit of the Series 4 on Amazon for the discounted price of $320. And if you apply for an Amazon Rewards Visa card and get approval, you can enjoy an additional $60 off instantly, bringing the price even lower to $260.
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 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 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.
The Apple Watch Series 5 is currently on sale on Amazon for $414.
In many ways, the Samsung Galaxy Watch is superior to the Apple Watch. We hit four days on a single charge, it is undeniably beautifully designed, and navigating its interface is fun and easy. However, it presents too much data all at once, Bixby leaves much to be desired, and Samsung Pay isn’t as useful as it used to be. Still, despite its flaws, it is our choice for the best smartwatch for Android users. Right now, the 44mm version of the Samsung Galaxy Watch is available on Amazon for the discounted price of $238. What’s more, you can score an additional $60 off instantly upon approval for the Amazon Rewards Visa Card, reducing the price even further to $178.
This watch also rocks a mechanical rotating bezel and runs on the company’s proprietary Tizen software and a 1.5GHz processor. When it comes to design, it isn’t as modern-looking and minimalistic as the Apple Watch, but it is gorgeous nonetheless. Its watch face is akin to traditional wristwatches, something vintage watch lovers will appreciate. However, it might be a little too big and heavy for some people, especially those with smaller wrists. Fortunately, a smaller 42mm model exists.
The 1.3-inch AMOLED screen is similarly beautiful. The colors really pop, the blacks are rich and deep, and it stays sufficiently bright outdoors. It is protected by Corning’s military-grade Gorilla DX+ glass, which makes it durable and keeps it scratch-free. Two physical buttons can be found on the right side of the watch, and it comes with a silicone band that’s replaceable if you want something fancier like a leather strap.
Navigating the Samsung Galaxy Watch is a hoot. Swipe left and you will see 20 random apps with live notifications, which you can tap for further interaction. Tapping and holding the top button allows you to access Samsung Pay, and pressing the bottom one allows you to access all your apps. We have to mention though that Samsung has removed Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST) technology from this watch, which means you can’t pay anywhere cards are accepted. And while you can double-tap the lower button to ask Bixby (Samsung’s virtual assistant) a question, his responses are pretty limited.
The Galaxy Watch’s fitness tracking, however, is amazing. There are up to 39 workouts that you can track and the watch can detect six workouts automatically, including walking, running, and cycling. The built-in heart monitor is impressively accurate, and all your fitness data gets stored in Samsung’s Health app. The watch can also do sleep tracking (if you wear it in bed, of course), keeping tabs on your sleep time, light sleep, restlessness, and time spent motionless. Sometimes, though, the Galaxy Watch bombards you with so much information that you won’t know what to do with it.
This watch’s battery life is quite impressive. A single charge managed to last for four days. Granted, the always-on screen wasn’t activated, and we used a Bluetooth connection instead of Wi-Fi. When we tested it again with the always-on screen, though, it lasted a still-impressive two days.
— $249, 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’s 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 $249 instead of $280 on Amazon — a cool $31 worth of savings. And if you apply for the Amazon Rewards Visa card and get approval, you can enjoy an additional $60 off instantly, bringing the price down even further to $189.
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 with 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 onboard, 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 FDA 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 44mm version of it on Amazon for the discounted price of $270.
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