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The 6 best Apple Watch alternatives, now that it’s banned

apple watch alternatives
Digital Trends

If you were planning to purchase the latest Apple Watch Series 9 or Apple Watch Ultra 2, you may have to hold off for a while. The United States International Trade Commission (ITC) has prohibited the sale of these smartwatches until a patent dispute is resolved. On December 26, Apple pulled the wearable devices from the U.S. market. It’s unclear how long this situation will last, but Apple has assured customers it’s working towards a resolution.

If you’re in the market for a new smartwatch and have your heart set on an Apple device, don’t worry; plenty of alternatives are available, including some of the year’s best ones. Companies such as Garmin, Fitbit, Withings, and even Apple offer a range of smartwatches and fitness trackers to meet your needs. These alternatives have unique features and benefits, such as heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking, and guided breathing exercises to help you stay healthy and stress-free.

Apple Watch SE 2

Workout mode on the Apple Watch SE 2.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The Apple Watch SE 2, released in September 2022, is an affordable alternative to the more expensive Series 9. It’s also not affected by the sales ban and is still actively sold by Apple.

The SE 2 includes most of the expected features of an Apple wearable, such as GPS, heart rate monitoring, workout metrics, and advanced fitness tracking. Additionally, it comes with features like Crash Detection and Emergency SOS to assist users in emergencies. The watch also allows users to track their sleep, mental health, and monthly cycle.

The Apple Watch SE 2 boasts a dual-core S8 chipset that’s up to 20% faster than the previous version. Its Retina display is impressive for a budget wearable device, with 1,000 nits of brightness.

In 2023, Apple announced that some Apple Watch and band combinations were carbon neutral. This decision has been extended to the Apple Watch SE 2, despite its release a year earlier. You can check the Apple website to see which combinations are carbon neutral.

Several critical features are lacking on the Apple Watch SE 2 compared to the (currently discontinued) Apple Watch Series 9 — including an ECG app, fast charging, a next-generation S9 chip, and more. For this, you’re saving about $150 compared to that model. The Apple Watch SE 2 comes in 40mm and 44mm sizes, starting at $249 for the GPS model and $359 for the GPS + Cellular model.

Withings ScanWatch 2

A person wearing the Withings ScanWatch 2.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Withings is a popular French consumer electronics company specializing in connected health devices like watches, health monitoring devices, smart scales, and more. The Withings ScanWatch 2 is one of the company’s newest wearable devices. It provides a sleek, traditional watch design enhanced by the companion Withings app.

The Withings ScanWatch 2 features a premium stainless steel case in various finishes, giving it a sophisticated and stylish look.

With its advanced sensors and technology, the ScanWatch 2 allows users to monitor various health metrics, providing valuable insights to help users stay proactive about their well-being. The device can track heart rate, blood oxygen saturation levels, and sleep patterns and even detect irregular heart rhythms. Integrating an ECG (Electrocardiogram) function elevates the ScanWatch 2 to a new level. Users can perform a medical-grade ECG anytime, anywhere, allowing easy and quick detection of potential heart issues.

The impressive Health Mate app for iPhone and Android sets the Withings apart from similar watches. The app consolidates all your health data, providing a comprehensive overview of your progress and offering personalized insights and recommendations. The Health Mate app seamlessly integrates with other health-related apps, making tracking and managing your overall well-being easy.

The 38mm ScanWatch 2 is priced at $350 and is available with your choice of bands.

Fitbit Charge 6

ECG app on the Fitbit Charge 6.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Fitbit, a well-known brand in the fitness tech industry that Google now owns, has consistently delivered high-quality and feature-rich products to support your health and wellness goals. The Fitbit Charge 6 offers a range of health monitoring features beyond basic activity tracking. It can continuously track your heart rate, providing real-time data to help you optimize your workouts and recovery. The device also includes a blood oxygen saturation sensor, enabling you to monitor the oxygen levels in your blood and gain insights into your overall well-being.

Keeping track of your daily activities is vital to maintaining an active lifestyle. The Fitbit Charge 6 excels in this aspect with its advanced activity-tracking capabilities. It automatically detects and records your workouts, whether running, cycling, or swimming. The device also tracks your steps, calories burned, and distance covered, providing real-time feedback to keep you motivated toward achieving your fitness goals.

The Fitbit Charge 6 also measures the duration and quality of your sleep, including time spent in light, deep, and REM sleep stages. This data can help you learn more about your sleep patterns, allowing you to make adjustments to improve your sleep quality.

To complement the device, Fitbit offers a user-friendly app (for iPhone and Android) that serves as a hub for all your fitness data. The Fitbit app allows you to track your progress over time, set goals, and even join challenges with friends. It provides valuable insights and personalized recommendations to keep you motivated on your fitness journey.

Priced at less than $160, the Fitbit Charge 6 is one of the cheapest Apple Watch alternatives. It’s available in three color combinations and comes with six free months of Fitbit Premium membership, which unlocks additional health and wellness metrics.

Garmin Vivoactive 5

The Garmin Vivoactive 5 laid down on painted wood, face up.
Mark Jansen / Digital Trends

Garmin remains one of the most popular health and fitness consumer product providers. The Garmin Vivoactive 5 is ideally suited for fitness enthusiasts and tech-savvy individuals.

The watch offers excellent visibility, even under direct sunlight, featuring a sleek design and a vibrant 1.3-inch touchscreen display. Its sleek and modern design makes it a stylish accessory for casual and intense workouts. Equipped with a range of sensors, including a GPS chip, heart rate monitor, accelerometer, and more, this smartwatch can track various activities accurately.

Whether you are running, swimming, cycling, or engaging in other indoor or outdoor workouts, the Vivoactive 5 provides detailed insights. It tracks distance, pace, calories burned, heart rate zones, and advanced metrics like ground contact time and vertical oscillation for runners.

In addition to its exceptional fitness tracking capabilities, the Garmin Vivoactive 5 functions as a full-fledged smartwatch. It integrates seamlessly with your smartphone, providing access to notifications, calls, texts, and more while on the go. The watch also supports music control, allowing you to play, pause, and skip tracks from your wrist. Its built-in storage lets you download your favorite playlists and listen to music without carrying your phone.

Are you worried about your smartwatch running out of battery during long workouts? With the Garmin Vivoactive 5, you can put those concerns to rest. The device offers an impressive battery life of up to eight days in smartwatch mode and up to 15 hours with continuous GPS usage. These are remarkable numbers.

The 30mm Garmin Vivoactive 5 is priced at $300 and is offered in four colors.

Fitbit Sense 2

The Fitbit Sense 2 in moss.
Andy Zahn / Digital Trends

If you’re looking for a stylish and feature-packed smartwatch, the Fitbit Sense 2 is worth considering. This watch will turn heads with a stunning, larger AMOLED display and a range of interchangeable bands to match your style.

What sets Sense 2 apart the most is perhaps its wellness features. From heart rate monitoring to stress tracking, EDA measurements, and sleep monitoring, this smartwatch helps you stay on top of your health and make informed decisions. And if you’re into fitness, the built-in GPS accurately tracks your workouts, providing real-time data on distance, pace, and heart rate zones.

But that’s not all – the Sense 2 is a full-fledged smartwatch that seamlessly syncs with your phone. You can receive notifications, texts, and calls directly on your wrist and use voice commands to control your smart home devices. The watch includes music control, weather updates, contactless payments, and a built-in voice assistant.

The Fitbit Sense 2 can last more than six days on a single charge, so you can wear it day and night without worrying about running out of juice, with a price point of $250 and three different color combinations.

Garmin Forerunner 265

Someone wearing the Garmin Forerunner 265 on their wrist.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Are you passionate about running and looking to improve your performance? Look no further than the 46mm Garmin Forerunner 265. This state-of-the-art GPS running watch is the ultimate tool to help you take your journey to the next level.

With its advanced GPS technology, the Forerunner 265 accurately tracks your distance, pace, and route, no matter where your run takes you. Its satellite reception is reliable, so you can trust your data’s accuracy. But the watch doesn’t stop there. It offers an in-depth performance analysis with features like cadence tracking, stride length measurement, and ground contact time analysis. These metrics provide insights into your running form and efficiency, helping you optimize your technique and improve your results.

The Forerunner 265 also includes built-in heart rate monitoring, allowing you to track your effort levels and optimize your training zones for maximum results. With three customizable heart rate zones and tailored alerts, you can ensure you’re pushing yourself to your full potential.

With its impressive battery life, the Forerunner 265 lets you keep your eyes on your training without worrying about running out of power. You can use it for up to eight weeks in watch mode and up to 10 hours with GPS turned on, meaning fewer interruptions and more time to hit the road or trail.

The Forerunner 265 provides a lot of features. However, at $450, it’s the most expensive Apple Watch alternative.

Can I still buy the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2?

Renders of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 next to each other.
Digital Trends

You can still purchase the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 in the U.S. from third-party retailers such as Best Buy and Amazon. However, until the patent dispute is resolved, those companies won’t receive new stock from Apple once the existing stock is exhausted. Therefore, if you want one of these models, you should do it immediately or plan on waiting.

It’s also unclear how long the sales ban on these two Apple Watches will last, so if you want a Series 9 or Ultra 2, you’re better off buying sooner rather than later. Alternatively, if you cannot pick up either model before supplies run out, any of the above alternatives will do the trick.

Editors' Recommendations

Bryan M. Wolfe
Bryan M. Wolfe has over a decade of experience as a technology writer. He writes about mobile.
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