Updated Sept. 10: Apple has unveiled a new Apple Watch. Check out our Apple Watch Series 5 hands-on.
The best smartwatch is more than just a way to get smartphone notifications on your wrist. The device has to be everything in one: a fitness tracker, a wallet and even a phone.
Smartwatch shipments increased by 48 percent year-over-year in the first quarter of 2019, due in large part to the Apple Watch, according to Counterpoint Research. One in three smartwatches shipped is an Apple Watch.
After spending hundreds of hours testing dozens of smartwatches, our pick for best smartwatch has been the Apple Watch Series 4 with GPS (starting at $399), which has a huge display, ultra-fast processor, Raise to Speak Siri, fall detection and a built-in electrical heart rate sensor for taking on-the-go electrocardiograms. It also runs watchOS 5, which makes the watch even more useful with automatic workout-tracking, offline podcast playback and a Walkie-Talkie voice chat feature.
However, the Apple Watch 3 is still a very good value, especially with recent price cuts, so be sure to check out our Apple Watch 3 vs Apple Watch 4 comparison. The improved watchOS 6 arrives Sept. 19 with even more improvements for both models. Even more importantly, Apple just unveiled the Apple Watch Series 5, which introduces new features such as an always-on display, a built-in compass and design enhancements. Expect updated recommendations once we have a chance to spend more time with the Apple Watch 5.
The best smartwatch for Android users is Samsung's $200 Galaxy Watch Active. In addition to a sleek, sporty design, the Galaxy Watch Active offers built-in GPS, heart rate sensor, water-resistance, Samsung Pay support, plus advanced heart health features for $130 less than its predecessor. You can also download music from Spotify to the watch for offline listening. However, it runs Samsung's proprietary Tizen OS, so you get far fewer apps than you would with a Wear OS watch. Samsung also sells a 42-mm Galaxy Watch ($329) and a 46-mm model with a rotating bezel if you're looking for a larger option with better battery life.
The new Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 goes on sale September 27 for $279; based on our hands-on with the new watch, it looks like a winner. Stay tuned for our full review.
Read on for our other top picks, and if you're on a tight budget, be sure to check out our roundup of the best cheap smartwatches.
Smartwatch News and Updates (September 2019)
- The Apple Watch Series 5 goes on sale Sept. 20. It starts at $399.
- The $199 Fitbit Versa 2, on sale Sept. 15, is a worthy upgrade from its predecessor, with built-in Alexa and sophisticated sleep-tracking features. Check out our full review of the Versa 2 to see what makes it one of the best smartwatches you can buy.
- Samsung has started taking pre-orders for its Galaxy Watch Active 2, with the updated smartwatch hitting stores on Sept. 27. Prices start at $279, with Samsung offering a free Wireless Charger Portable Battery if you order the Galaxy Watch Active 2 through its store. Be sure to check out our hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2.
- Puma, best known for its sneakers and sports apparel, is launching the Puma Smartwatch ($275) in November. This Wear OS watch will be powered by a Qualcomm 3100 processor, and have GPS, an AMOLED display, and is waterproof to 100 feet.
1. Apple Watch Series 4
The best smartwatch overall
Sizes: 40mm, 44mm | Battery Life (Rated): 18-24 hours | GPS: Yes | Swim-Proof: Yes | Heart Rate Monitor: Yes | LTE: Optional | Mobile Payments: Apple Pay | Compatibility: iOS
The Apple Watch Series 4 packs a huge display and sophisticated health sensors in a stylish package that's just a smidge bigger than its predecessor. The watch comes in two sizes, 40mm and 44mm, with an option to add LTE for an extra $100. With FDA-cleared features and a faster processor, the GPS Series 4 is the best smartwatch around, but it's pricey.
Read our full Apple Watch Series 4 review.
2. Samsung Galaxy Watch Active
The best smartwatch for Android users
Sizes: 40mm | Battery Life (Rated): 36 hours | GPS: Yes | Swim-Proof: Yes | Heart Rate Monitor: Yes | LTE: No | Mobile Payments: Samsung Pay | Compatibility: Android, iOS (works best with Galaxy phones)
The Galaxy Watch Active, which works with both Android (and to a lesser extent) iOS smartphones, has GPS and a heart rate monitor, and can automatically track your activity and sleep. It runs Samsung's Tizen operating system, so it works with both Android and iOS devices, but there's a limited number of apps you can install on the watch. It comes in one size—40mm—and has other such useful features as Samsung Pay, onboard music via Spotify and heart health features.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Watch Active review.
3. Apple Watch Series 3
The best smartwatch for iPhone
Sizes: 38mm, 42mm | Battery Life (Rated): 18-24 hours | GPS: Yes | Swim-Proof: Yes | Heart Rate Monitor: Yes | LTE: Optional | Mobile Payments: Apple Pay | Compatibility: iOS
Starting at $279, the Apple Watch Series 3 is a more affordable smartwatch option for iPhone users. It's smaller (38mm, 42mm), but still has a heart rate monitor, GPS, 8GB of storage with offline support for Apple Music playlists, and is waterproof up to 50 meters for swim-tracking. However, it has much thicker bezels than the Series 4, and lacks that model's ability to detect atrial fibrillation with an ECG app.
Read our full Apple Watch Series 3 review.
4. Fitbit Versa 2
The best smartwatch for sleep-tracking
Sizes: 39mm | Battery Life (Rated): 4 days | GPS: Only when connected to smartphone | Swim-Proof: Yes | Heart Rate Monitor: Yes | LTE: No | Mobile Payments: Optional, Fitbit Pay | Compatibility: iOS, Android
Fitbit's Versa 2 is a refined upgrade from the original Versa that adds more advanced sleep-tracking features and built-in Alexa. Like its predecessor, the Versa 2 works with both iOS and Android and costs less than $200, which makes it a great value. Fitbit added a Spotify app to the Versa 2, so you can control music playback from your wrist. However, you can't download Spotify playlists to the watch for offline listening. The Versa 2 also lacks on-board GPS. But overall, it's a solid smartwatch for people who don't want to spend more than $200.
Read our full Fitbit Versa 2 review.
5. Garmin Vivoactive 3
The best smartwatch for fitness
Sizes: 43mm | Battery Life (Rated): Up to 7 days | GPS: Yes | Swim-Proof: Yes | Heart Rate Monitor: Yes | LTE: Optional | Mobile Payments: Garmin Pay | Compatibility: iOS, Android
Garmin’s Vivoactive 3 takes Garmin’s fitness-tracking prowess, beloved by marathoners and triathletes, and puts it in a stylish smartwatch form factor. The Vivoactive 3 comes in three models, ranging in price from $250 to $280: One without many bells and whistles, one with on-board music storage and one with LTE connectivity (for Verizon customers only, and with an extra monthly data plan). The plethora of options makes it easy to pick which features matter most (and how much you want to pay).
Read our full Garmin Vivoactive 3 review.
6. Amazfit Bip
The best cheap smartwatch
Sizes: One size, with 1.28-inch display | Battery Life (Rated): Up to 45 days | GPS: Yes | Swim-Proof: No | Heart Rate Monitor: Yes | LTE: No | Mobile Payments: No | Compatibility: iOS, Android
This ultra-affordable device costs less than $80, yet works with iOS and Android and comes with GPS and a heart rate monitor. Other functionality is limited: You can select only from five different watch faces, and can only view, and not respond to notifications from the watch itself.
Read our full Amazfit Bip review.
7. Fossil Sport
The Fossil Sport is lightweight, stylish and runs on Google’s Wear OS platform, which makes it more seamless to use with Android smartphones. If you want to give Wear OS a try, this is the watch to get. But the watch isn’t the greatest at fitness-tracking, and its cutting-edge Qualcomm processor still lags behind rival watches on Apple’s watchOS platform and Samsung’s Tizen OS.
Read our full Fossil Sport review.
How We Test and Rate Smartwatches
We test every new smartwatch to gauge its design and comfort. If it’s not stylish and comfortable enough to get you from an early morning workout to the office to a night out, you probably won’t wear it every day. Most smartwatches are also fitness trackers, so we put all of its sensors to the test, from step counts to heart rate to GPS (when applicable).
We install apps and use them to see if the device’s app store is robust enough to elevate it to smartwatch status. If the watch has built-in LTE, we test cellular connectivity and call quality to make sure the device can actually stand on its own without a smartphone nearby.
And we measure battery life using everyday scenarios — including workouts, using apps, and getting notifications — to make sure you can get through an entire day without needing to charge up.