Theis the best smartwatch you can buy right now. The Series 7 is feature-rich, user-friendly, gorgeous, and extremely reliable.
However, that recommendation comes with caveats — and the biggest one is that you need to own an iPhone to use the Apple Watch. That means that if you're using an Android smartphone, the Apple Watch simply isn't an option. But don't worry, there are plenty of great alternatives. Digital Trends has reviewed more than 100 smartwatches, fitness trackers, and wearables, so we have all the deep insight you need to find your ideal smartwatch.
Casio G-Shock GSW-H1000
Apple Watch Series 7
- Large screen, small bezels
- Easily personalized
- Choice of models and sizes
- Comprehensive health tracking
- Reliable software and notifications
- Fast charging
- Stronger and tougher than before
- Only works with the iPhone
Why you should buy this: This is the best smartwatch currently available.
Who it's for: Anyone with an iPhone who wants a smartwatch.
Why we chose the Apple Watch Series 7: The Apple Watch was one of the few smartwatches we've given a five-star review to, and the Apple Watch Series 7 is one of those perfect products. Simply put, this is the perfect smartwatch, making it the best option if you're shopping for an iPhone companion.
What makes it so amazing? Well, it's not the design. The Series 7 has a slightly larger case than previous models, but it's not an enormous change, and casual glances are unlikely to spot the difference. However, the thinner bezels are obvious, and help to emphasize the larger screen. Durability has been enhanced too, thanks to a new IP6X rating for dust resistance and improvements to the Ion-X glass on the top. These small changes do enough to tweak what was already an excellent design, and go a long way to increase the style and comfort of the Apple Watch.
WatchOS 8 adds a lot to the Apple Watch Series 7, too. New watch faces take advantage of the larger screen with larger fonts and icons, and notifications can include more information. Getting around the watch is slightly faster as well.
Fitness and health options remain a strong focus. The Apple Watch Series 7 can read your heart rate (and any irregularities), take electrocardiogram (ECG) readings, and send emergency alerts if you've fallen and can't get up. Heck, it even starts a timer when you wash your hands. On the fitness side, it reminds you to start a workout if it notices you’re not moving or cycling, tracks your swimming activity, and has dozens of workout plans. If you're into fitness or just keeping an eye on your health, then the Apple Watch is a strong option. The Apple Watch Series 7 does fine with battery life, lasting a solid day and change in normal use.
The Apple Watch Series 7 is an excellent smartwatch. Prices for the Series 7 start at $399 for the 41mm model and $429 for the 45mm model. Add $100 to each for the models with GPS + Cellular, and prices also increase if you want a fancier strap.
Apple Watch Series 7
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
Best smartwatch for Android
- Cohesive, mature design
- Rotating bezel is intuitive
- One Watch UI is neat and logical
- Comprehensive health tracking
- Choice of style and size
- Battery doesn't last two full days
- Wear OS 3 software lacks polish
- Too large to wear at night
Why you should buy this: It's the best smartwatch if you own an Android phone.
Who it's for: Anyone who values a great user interface on a slick smartwatch.
Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic: The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic is the best smartwatch available for your Android phone. It updates the operating system with Watch OS 3 but retains favorite features like scrolling menus and customizable Tiles. There's a mix of Samsung and Google apps, like Samsung Pay and Google Maps. The key feature for the Watch 4 Classic is the incredibly useful rotating bezel that lets you scroll through apps and screens in a natural, ergonomic way.
The Watch 4 Classic comes in 42mm and 46mm case sizes for smaller and bigger wrists, with a sharp and colorful round AMOLED screen. With an IP68 water resistance rating, plus a MIL-STD-810 G-rated case, you won't have any trouble working out, swimming, or showering with it on.
It's packed with an impressive array of health and fitness tracking features in addition to standard notifications, media control, and sleep tracking. You can measure your heart rate, electrocardiogram (ECG), Body Mass Index (BMI), Basel Metabolic Rate (BMR), stress levels, and more. The Exynos W920 processor comes with 1.5GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, allowing apps to open with no noticeable lag, and supports offline playback for Spotify and YouTube Music. Battery life is one day in our testing.
The rich array of features, smooth and responsive OS, and comfortable design and ergonomic controls make the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic the best smartwatch on the market for Android users. iPhone users can also use it with the Samsung Wear app, but you'll be missing a lot of features so we don't recommend it.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
Ticwatch Pro 3 GPS
Best Wear OS smartwatch
- Three-day battery life
- Latest Snapdragon Wear 4100 processor
- Fast performance
- Always-on screen now has a backlight
- Wear OS still frustrates
- No color or strap choices
Why you should buy this: It packs the latest technology, and therefore will last you longer.
Who it's for: When you want the longest battery life and the latest processor inside a reasonably priced smartwatch.
Why we picked the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3: The best smartwatch you can buy with Google’s Wear OS software at the moment is the [Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3. It uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 4100 processor, which is more powerful and more power-efficient than the Snapdragon Wear 3100 found in other Wear OS smartwatches. By getting the latest tech, your smartwatch will last you longer.
The TicWatch Pro 3 has a clever dual-screen system, where a second LCD screen is set over the standard 1.4-inch AMOLED touchscreen, showing the time, date, and other data when the watch is in ambient mode. It saves a lot of battery power, so the TicWatch Pro 3 can last up to three days before needing a recharge.
In addition to the new processor, the watch has a heart rate sensor, measures blood oxygen levels, has exercise and health plans built in, and is IP68 water-resistant.
The TicWatch Pro 3 gets an update to the Google and Samsung-developed Wear OS 3 software in late 2022. At $299 the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3 is good value, and far beyond the competition. Mobvoi has also released a 4G LTE version of the Ticwatch Pro 3, which is so far available in the U.K. and parts of Europe, and we took a closer look at the model here.
Ticwatch Pro 3 GPS
Fossil Gen 5E
Best Wear OS smartwatch for women
- 42mm and 44mm case options
- Stylish, varied design
- Easy to use basic fitness tracking
- Snapdragon 3100 processor is out of date
- Wear OS's notification support is unreliable
Why you should buy this: The Fossil Gen 5e's varied range of designs provides plenty of choice for women.
Who it's for: Anyone who doesn't want a large smartwatch.
Why we picked the Fossil Gen 5e: Fossil’s Gen 5e smartwatch comes in two different sizes, 42mm and 44mm, with designs aimed at women. There’s a choice of a gold or stainless steel finish, with either a silicone strap or metal bracelet, and one with a jewel-encrusted bezel too.
The watch has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 3100 processor, a heart rate monitor, a 1.2-inch touchscreen, sleep tracking, and support for contactless payments. It tracks activity using Google Fit or Fossil’s power-conserving Wellness app, but it doesn’t have GPS, so you’ll need your phone if you want to map your runs. The battery lasts a day with average use.
At around $180 the Fossil Gen 5e is competitively priced. There aren’t that many options for women who don’t want to wear a large smartwatch, so the choice offered by Fossil here is welcome. If the Gen 5e isn't for you, take a look at the Wear OS smartwatches from fashion designer Kate Spade, such as the Kate Spade Scallop 2 and the lightweight, sportier KSNY Sport model. These are good alternatives to the Fossil Gen 5e, depending on your lifestyle.
Fossil Gen 5E
Amazfit GTR 2
Best budget smartwatch
- Pretty design
- Low price
- Comfortable to wear day and night
- Solid casual activity and sleep -tracking features
- Still some software improvements required
- Battery life suffers when many features used
Why you should buy this: It does everything you want a smartwatch to do, and looks great.
Who it's for: Anyone on a budget who seeks all the benefits of a fitness tracker and a smartwatch.
Why we picked the Amazfit GTR 2: Amazfit's hardware and software have matured a lot over the past year or so, to the point where we can happily recommend the Amazfit GTR 2 smartwatch, which has significant benefits over buying a cheap smartwatch with Google’s Wear OS software. The biggest is battery life, as the GTR 2 lasts at least a week even with heavy use, or even longer if you’re careful with the power-hungry features.
Best of all, it looks great on your wrist. It’s slim and compact, so it should suit most people, and the curved glass and metal body give it some style and class. It is comfortable enough to wear for 24 hours, so it’s ready for fitness tracking and notifications during the day, and sleep tracking overnight.
The smartwatch connects to the Zepp app which is available for Android and iOS, and has proven reliable and easy to use, plus provides plenty of insight into your activity and fitness data. Notifications can be finicky and are non-interactive, but it’s no worse than on a Wear OS smartwatch. You can receive calls, it’s water-resistant for swimming, there’s a heart rate sensor and SpO2 measurement, and there's GPS inside too. It has everything you need if you’re looking for a smartwatch that prioritizes activity tracking.
For $180 the Amazfit GTR 2 is good value, and if that’s too much, the slightly less feature-rich but cheaper $140 Amazfit GTR 2e is worth a look too.
Amazfit GTR 2
Best smartwatch for running
- Comprehensive fitness features
- Two-day battery life
- Smooth performance and software
- Hard-wearing, water resistant case
- Annoying buttons can frustrate
- Expensive compared to the competition
- Only best for dedicated fitness fans
Why you should buy this: It's packed with all the right fitness features for serious runners.
Who it's for: Anyone who wants a smartwatch looks with tons of fitness-specific features.
Why we picked the Suunto 7: The Suunto 7 smartwatch brings all of Suunto's popular running, walking, and hiking tech to Google’s Wear OS platform for the first time. The Suunto app shows local routes based on difficulty, time, and popularity, meaning wherever you are you always known which routes are best, all based on other Suunto users’ experiences. The map even shows when popular routes are likely to be busy, so you can choose accordingly.
The data shown is comprehensive, ranging from calories burned and time elapsed, to peak training effect and recovery time. Runners will appreciate the onboard GPS, the data on pace, cadence, and altitude too. The watch and app sync with Suunto’s dedicated platform, so you can continue to track your fitness levels over time. It’s as hardcore as you want it to be, but there’s plenty for less enthusiastic fitness fans too, including 70 different workout modes and a heart rate sensor.
Expect 12 hours of use with GPS active, or seven hours with Suunto’s mapping while the GPS is active. Otherwise, the battery should last around two days before needing a recharge with normal use.
The lightweight body and comfortable strap make it wearable all day, but the design is sporty, so it won’t go with every outfit, especially if you choose one of the brighter colors. The Suunto 7 is more accessible than non-Wear OS fitness watches, works with Android and iOS, looks great, and performs well too.
Garmin Quatix 6
Best smartwatch for swimmers
- Multiple fitness sensors
- Battery life
- Build quality
- Music storage
- Day to day usability
- Only one size
- No touchscreen
Why you should buy this: It's specifically designed for people who spend time in the water, whether it's on a boat or swimming.
Who it's for: Swimmers, or those who require a water-resistant smartwatch.
Why we picked the Garmin Quatix 6: The Garmin Quatix 6 is described as a marine smartwatch, due to its strong features for anyone who likes to spend time in the water, whether it’s on a boat or swimming. Water-resistant to 100 meters, the Quatix 6 has activity profiles for pool and open water swimming, where it measures distance, pace, stroke count and rate, swim efficiency (SWOLF), and will even detect your stroke type and take heart rate measurements underwater.
If you’re into boating, the Quatix 6 connects to a host of Garmin equipment from chart plotting GPS hardware to wind monitors, and from there it can interact with the autopilot function, displays data including engine RPM and water depth, and marks waypoints on a map. It has GPS, a heart rate sensor, and a blood oxygen (SpO2) sensor, plus all the activity tracking functions found on the Garmin Fenix 6, including kayaking, golf, cycling, and running.
Garmin has overhauled its interface with the Quatix 6, with watch faces now providing plenty of information without sacrificing attractiveness, and a handy widget feature that provides data in an easy scrolling list. This is all displayed on a 1.3-inch screen with a 260 x 260-pixel resolution. It works with both Android and iOS and has plenty of storage space for music too.
The Garmin Quatix 6 is made from tough polymer with a stainless steel bezel and comes in either a 47mm or 51mm case size, with a choice of upgrading to a model with a sapphire crystal over the screen for added scratch protection, and to one with solar charging for extended times away from the charger. Expect to get 14 days of battery life with normal use, but this will drop when you add GPS tracking.
Garmin Quatix 6
Best smartwatch with mechanical watch looks
- Clinically approved ECG and SpO2 monitoring
- High-quality materials and build
- Easy to use, informative app
- Long battery life
- No sleep apnea monitoring yet
- Watch hands often obscure the screen
Why you should buy this: A superb health tracker with basic fitness and smartwatch features, inside a classy, high-quality case.
Who it's for: Anyone who likes traditional watches, but still wants the best health tracking features.
Why we picked the Withings ScanWatch: Smartwatches tend to look like pieces of tech, mostly because of the touchscreen, but what if you want a smartwatch that looks more like a traditional watch? Well then, you want a hybrid smartwatch, which does away with the touchscreen but still includes smartphone connectivity for notifications and fitness tracking.
The Withings ScanWatch bridges the gap between serious health tracking features and basic smartwatch functionality very well, and it’s all wrapped up in a classy, high-quality stainless steel body. It looks good on your wrist and doesn’t fall behind in any essential connected features.
It has a heart rate sensor, an ECG, and an Sp02 monitor. Like the Apple Watch, the ECG and Sp02 measurements aren’t everyday features, but on the ScanWatch they serve more of a purpose. It has a comprehensive sleep tracking capability and the Sp02 monitor can help identify sleep issues. The ECG has continuous monitoring to warn against atrial fibrillation, and it’s the first wearable to be approved to use these features overnight, making it excellent for tracking and improving your sleep.
While its sleep monitoring is the best out there, the fitness and activity tracking is quite basic in comparison. It provides workout tracking, plus a step count with distance, and calories burned, but nothing more. It’s a health wearable, rather than a fitness wearable, and the data it collects helps you live a more healthy lifestyle instead of focusing on improving your lap times.
Important activity data and notifications from your phone are shown on a small screen on the watch face. It’s bright and easy to read, and controlled using the digital crown on the side of the watch. It’s not as informative as the Apple Watch or Galaxy Watch, but it gives you the essentials in an easy-to-read format. The ScanWatch connects to both Android and iOS phones, and the battery should last 30 days before it needs recharging.
Overall, though, the Withings Scanwatch offers a nice combination of strong health-tracking features, basic but effective fitness and smartwatch features, plus it looks and feels just like a regular, traditional watch.
Casio G-Shock GBD-200
Best hybrid watch
- All-day comfort
- Reliable, informative notifications
- Very durable
- Only basic fitness tracking
Why you should buy this: This durable fitness watch combines a slim case and a comfortable strap, and features no battery, making it ideal for wear every day and everywhere.
Who it's for: People who want a true hybrid smartwatch that's durable but easy on the wrist.
Why we picked the Casio G-Shock GBD-200: The GBD-200 is the first connected G-Shock you’ll be happy to wear all the time. This highly durable, distinctively designed hybrid G-Shock watch has just the right amount of activity tracking and smartwatch functionality to make it an ideal hybrid smartwatch. It looks exactly like a "normal" watch and has the comfort level exactly right. It has basic smartwatch connectivity but includes reliable and informative notifications and respectable fitness tracking without a battery charge.
The GBD-200 does not have a touchscreen, so you use the five buttons on the case to control the software and activate the backlight. All are easy to locate, but require a little effort to press. The Mode button cycles through the menu, showing the interval workout screen, the stopwatch, activity data, and the notification window. A long press of the Adjust button opens a varied settings menu, while a short press changes the main time display’s layout.
The GBD-200 uses a single internal battery which should last for about a year before it needs replacing — if you use the Bluetooth connection all the time and track an hour of activity each day. With less use, the lifetime may be up to two years. It gets the balance between design and technology just right and is a great choice for a hybrid smartwatch.
Casio G-Shock GBD-200
Which smartwatch works with my smartphone?
Although it sounds like a complicated question, this is surprisingly straightforward. If you own an Android phone, then you can use any smartwatch with Google's Wear OS software, a Samsung smartwatch with Tizen software, and almost any other smartwatch operating system, like the one found on the Amazfit GTR 2, the Fitbit Versa 3, or Huawei's Watch 3. The only one you can't use is the Apple Watch.
If you own an iPhone, all smartwatches work with your phone provided you use the required app to sync the two up. However, be aware that neither Wear OS nor Tizen watches will provide the same level of functionality as they do when connected to an Android phone. This is due to certain restrictions that Apple applies to third-party devices. For this reason, and many others, we don’t recommend iPhone owners buy any other smartwatch than the Apple Watch.
What's Wear OS?
Google and Samsung teamed up to create a software operating system for wearables, called Wear, also referred to as Wear OS 3. The joint project incorporates both the Wear OS and Tizen platforms, along with fitness expertise from Fitbit. The first smartwatches with the software are the Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic.
Google has confirmed the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3 and the TicWatch E3 will both get an update to the software during the second half of 2022, but outside of some as-yet-unreleased Fossil smartwatches, no other models are on the list. This won't stop any smartwatch from working, but it does mean you should think carefully about buying a model with the new software if you plan to keep it for several years.
How durable is a smartwatch?
Because it’s on your wrist, smartwatches are exposed to danger. They’re easy to knock against things and can often get wet. Does this mean you must be extra careful with your watch? Many have an IP68 water resistance rating today, and some smartwatches meet military standards for toughness and will withstand harsher treatment than others. However, our recommendation for a tough smartwatch is the Casio G-Shock GBD-200.
While many smartwatches are water-resistant today, not all have sapphire crystal over the screen. This adds an extra level of scratch resistance to the screen and also provides a beautiful reflective sheen, but you’ll have to pay a little more for the pleasure. The Tag Heuer Connected Modular 41, the Montblanc Summit 2, Huawei's Watch GT2 Pro, and G-Shock's top connected watches all have sapphire crystal over the screen.
If you want to make sure you can wear your chosen device in the shower or to go swimming, then you need to think about smartwatch water resistance, and look for an IP or ATM rating.
Do I need a smartwatch with GPS?
If you are a runner and intend to use your smartwatch to track routes, and don’t want to run with your phone, then yes, you do need GPS. Most modern smartwatches come with GPS as standard anyway, so you may find it’s ready and waiting if you need it. If your smartwatch doesn’t have GPS, then some can use your phone’s GPS when connected, but it will be slower to operate. One thing to remember is that using GPS will drain the battery in the watch faster than usual.
Can my smartwatch use my data plan?
If your smartwatch connects to your smartphone using Bluetooth, then all the data it requires comes from your phone, at no extra charge to you. This changes if you buy a smartwatch with 4G LTE, like the LTE version of the Apple Watch. When a smartwatch has its own data connection, it can be used on its own without being connected to your smartphone, ready to make calls, receive messages, and plenty more.
However, you will have to pay extra for the privilege. The amount varies depending on your carrier and current plan, but expect to pay around $10 per month to enable the 4G LTE connection on your smartwatch.
Will a new smartwatch work with my older phone?
If your Android phone or iPhone was purchased in the last three or four years, then the answer is almost certainly yes. To make sure, here are the requirements for each version. Google's Wear OS requires an Android phone running version 4.4 or later, or an iPhone on iOS 9.3 or later.
The Apple Watch varies a little. The Series 3 and later with a cellular connection need an iPhone 6 or later to work. If you buy an Apple Watch Series 3, 4, or 5 without a cellular connection, they will operate with an iPhone 5S or later, while the Apple Watch Series 6 and Series 7 and Apple Watch SE require an iPhone 6S and iOS 15 or later to operate.
operating system, found on the Galaxy Watch and others, requires Android version 5.0 or later, and on an iPhone it needs iOS 9.0 or later installed on at least an iPhone 5. The 4G LTE version of the Galaxy Watch is only compatible with Samsung phones and may also only operate on certain carriers.
Which smartwatch OS is best?
Each smartwatch operating system is different, and things are changing now that Google and Samsung are working together on Wear. Right now, WatchOS on the Apple Watch is the best wearable software platform, followed by Samsung's Tizen. Both are simple to use and navigate, have great fitness tracking systems, mobile payment options, and will run apps available from their individual app stores. Google's Wear OS offers the same features, but is not always as easy to use, or as reliable.
Should you buy a smartwatch?
So, you think you want a smartwatch. Are you sure? After all, unlike a smartphone, no one really needs a smartwatch.
However, because manufacturers are finally coming around to the realization that a smartwatch needs to look good, they're a lot more tempting than they once were. One-day battery life and a touchscreen on a watch are still hard to swallow for some people, but that's why hybrid smartwatches were invented — and battery performance and control methods are constantly getting better.
If you're not ready to commit to a touchscreen smartwatch, but still want to try out some smart features, the huge choice of hybrid watches has got you covered. They often cost half of what you'll pay for the cheapest Apple Watch, link with any smartphone, and provide traditional watch looks matched with a connected smart experience.
We test smartwatches just like we test smartphones. We use them every day and try out every single feature. We strap them to our wrists (no matter how silly they may look) and walk around town with them, making calls and exercising to test out the workout features. We pair them with different phones and try them with different operating systems.
We dunk water-resistant smartwatches in water and take outdoorsy watches on hikes. We download tons of apps and discard the lame ones to determine how strong the app ecosystem is, and we go to cafes that accept mobile payments and buy lattes with our wrists. We get lots of weird looks, but, so what?
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