This inexpensive smartwatch highlights health and fitness and is surprisingly good for less than $80.
Apple Watch Series 3
This is the most affordable Apple Watch, and the best smartwatch iPhone owners can buy.
With improved design and new features, Fitbit's Versa edges closer to taking Apple's smartwatch crown.
Smartwatches are fast becoming more popular than fitness trackers, thanks to the Apple Watch. But you don't have to be an iPhone user to wear a smartwatch, because there are a slew of Wear OS (formerly Android Wear) watches from which to choose. Even the Apple Watch itself has become cheaper.
There are also a plethora of smartwatches from a squadron of obscure Chinese vendors on Amazon, most of which cost less than $50. We tested several of them to see if any were worthy of your wrist.
Spoiler alert: Many cheap smartwatches are pretty terrible. You need to spend at least $70 to get the best smartwatch with all the apps and fitness-tracking features you've come to expect. But, there are plenty of smartwatches under $200 — Wear OS, Apple Watches and Chinese watches from Amazon — that we'd be more than happy to have on our wrists.
Best under $100
For less than $100, you can get a stylish touch-screen watch with smartphone notifications, lengthy battery life and built-in heart-rate monitor, GPS and GLONASS for accurate workout tracking. (Cheap heart-rate-tracking devices are notoriously unreliable, but we put the Bip to the test and found it to be almost as accurate as our Garmin Forerunner.) You can eke out 45 days of battery life from the Bip without using any of its smart features, but even using the heart-rate monitor and GPS to track workouts, we went two weeks before the watch dipped below 50 percent. That's incredible for a smartwatch.
MORE: Best Smartwatches
The Bip's 1.28-inch, 176 x 176-pixel color screen is more reminiscent of a Pebble watch than an Apple Watch, but the always-on display is useful for using the watch as, you know, a watch.
The one downside: The Bip lacks an app store, so it's not really playing in the same field as the Apple Watch, Samsung's Tizen OS watches, Fitbit's Ionic and Versa, or Wear OS smartwatches from companies like Fossil and LG. But that's a small price to pay for such a bargain.
Read our full Amazfit Bip review.
Best for iPhone owners
The 38mm Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS is the best smartwatch for most iPhone owners. The watch integrates seamlessly with the phone, so you can easily view notifications and respond to messages directly on the wrist. The Series 3 also has many of the same fitness-tracking and heart-health features that we love about the higher-priced Series 4. The more affordable Series 3 can passively monitor your heart rate and send you a notification if it detects an irregular heart rhythm.
The good news: You don't need to splurge on the LTE model to get the best features. Apple will roll out watchOS 6 this fall, which will bring even more features to the Series 3, including a stand-alone Watch App Store and fully independent watch apps, popular iPhone apps like Calculator and Voice Memos, and new health apps for tracking periods and measuring noise levels.
Read our full Apple Watch Series 3 review.
Best for fitness
Fitbit's Versa offers most of the features we want in a smartwatch: Accurate heart-rate tracking, lengthy battery life, colorful touch-screen display and unique features such as female health-tracking and in-depth sleep analysis.
The Versa doesn't have onboard GPS, which would make it a more capable Apple Watch rival, and its app store isn't as well-stocked as Apple's. But with a four-day battery life, cross-platform compatibility and an affordable price, the Versa is the mainstream smartwatch to beat.
Read our full Fitbit Versa review.
Best for small wrists
Samsung's newest smartwatch is its most affordable — and also the best watch for Android users. The Galaxy Watch Active sports a faster processor and easier-to-use software than other Android watches that run on Google's Wear OS platform.
The only downside: The Galaxy Watch Active doesn't have many well-known apps, especially compared with the Apple Watch. Luckily, Samsung's built-in apps, including its fitness-focused options, are more than capable of handling most tasks.
Rumor has it that a second-generation Galaxy Watch Active is on deck for Samsung's Galaxy Unpacked event Aug. 7. There's no word yet on price, but Samsung's newest watch could put the Apple Watch to shame (and for less money).
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Watch Active review.
The MyKronoz ZeTime hybrid smartwatch is an elegant and versatile timepiece that combines traditional watch functionality with a high-tech touch screen in a fairly organic fashion. I appreciate that the company offers two models, to accommodate different wrist sizes. Paired with an iOS or Android app, the ZeTime delivers a long list of smartwatch functions without overwhelming the user.
Its weakest link is the software, particularly its use of European rather than North American formats, the confusing hand setup instructions and a glitchy music app. Also, the lack of third-party apps, compared with similarly priced Android Wear watches, limits its usefulness.
Read our full MyKronoz ZeTime review.
Great color options
Fitbit's Versa Lite is one of the more affordable smartwatches on the market and offers many of the same features that make the Versa our favorite mainstream smartwatch. It's also more colorful than its higher-priced siblings, with Marina Blue and Mulberry Plum options alongside a classic silver with colorful bands. But the Versa Lite also sacrifices some of the features that make the Versa so well-rounded, including swim tracking and onboard music storage. If those features are less important than price, the Versa Lite is worth buying for the battery life and solid fitness tracking.
Read our full Fitbit Versa Lite review.
Unique rotating bezel
Samsung's Gear Sport is a fitness-focused smartwatch that isn't quite as good as Samsung's newer Galaxy Watch Active, but the older watch can be had for a cheaper price. If you want a larger Samsung smartwatch with a rotating bezel, the Gear Sport is still a solid choice.
Read our full Samsung Gear Sport review.
Some people don't need the bells and whistles of GPS, heart-rate monitoring, swim tracking, onboard music storage or cellular connectivity. They want smartwatches that look like traditional timepieces, albeit with touch-screen displays and smartphone notifications. The Asus ZenWatch 3, launched in 2017, checks those boxes for a more affordable price than newer watches.
Read our full Asus Zenwatch 3 review.
Best affordable GPS watch
The Ticwatch E (for Express) is a simple, fitness-focused Wear OS watch that impresses with built-in GPS and GLONASS for more accurate run tracking. It offers the usual smartwatch features, though, as with all Wear OS devices, you'll get more from pairing it with an Android phone than an iPhone, because then you can answer calls and texts from the watch. The Ticwatch doesn't have an LTE connection, so it relays those calls and texts from your phone.
I also love the band on the Ticwatch E, which is interchangeable if you prefer a less sporty look.
Read our full Ticwatch E review.
Cheapest wear OS with GPS
The Ticwatch S (which stands for Sport) has a more athletic design than the cheaper Ticwatch E. The black version I tested had green numbers around the bezel, more rigid lugs and a chunky piece on the left side that surrounds the Ticwatch's lone button, which is used to call up the watch's list of apps. The Ticwatch S doesn't have interchangeable watch straps because its GPS antenna is built into the band. That also makes the watch larger and less sleek than the Ticwatch E. Mobvoi says its Ticwatch S and E devices last about two days without needing a recharge, but in my experience, it was closer to one.
Read our full Ticwatch S review.
Credit: Tom's Guide