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.
After spending hundreds of hours testing dozens of smartwatches, our pick for best smartwatch has been the Apple Watch Series 5 with GPS (starting at $399), which has a huge, always-on display, built-in Compass, and all of the advanced health features we loved about the Series 4, including fall detection and a built-in electrical heart rate sensor for taking on-the-go electrocardiograms. It also runs watchOS 6, which makes the watch even more useful with period-tracking, a tip calculator, audiobook playback, activity trends and more.
The best smartwatch for Android users is Samsung's $279 Galaxy Watch Active 2. 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 just $79 more than the first-gen Galaxy Watch Active.
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.
What to expect from Black Friday 2019
Black Friday deals are upon us. We're predicting a ton of Apple Watch Black Friday deals this holiday season, as well as steep discounts on the best fitness trackers you can buy. Also, make sure to follow our Cyber Monday deals coverage for the best post-Thanksgiving Day deals.
7 best smartwatches right now
Smartwatch news and updates (Nov. 2019)
- Google just acquired Fitbit for $2.1 billion. Does this mean a Pixel Watch is on the way at long last?
- The Moto 360 is back — sort of. Motorola licensed its smartwatch brand to an outside company, eBuyNow, and a revamped $350 Moto 360 based on Google's Wear OS platform goes on sale in December.
- Xiaomi just announced its new smartwatch, also built on Wear OS, will launch Nov. 5. The watch looks just like an Apple Watch, which isn't surprising.
1. Apple Watch Series 5
The best smartwatch overall
Sizes: 40mm, 44mm | Battery Life (Rated): 18 hours | GPS: Yes | Swim-Proof: Yes | Heart Rate Monitor: Yes | LTE: Optional | Mobile Payments: Apple Pay | Compatibility: iOS
The Apple Watch Series 5's always-on display makes a meaningful difference in user experience, especially when working out. The watch also includes a built-in compass, which comes in handy while hiking or star-gazing, and also makes Maps more useful by showing you which direction you're facing at all times. Series 5 looks identical to Series 4, but the newer model comes in fresh finishes — titanium and ceramic — and offers the same advanced health features we loved in the Series 4. This is the best smartwatch you can buy.
Read our full Apple Watch Series 5 review.
2. Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
The best smartwatch for Android users
Sizes: 40mm, 44mm | Battery Life (Rated): 24-60 hours | GPS: Yes | Swim-Proof: Yes | Heart Rate Monitor: Yes | LTE: Yes | Mobile Payments: Samsung Pay | Compatibility: Android, iOS (works best with Galaxy phones)
The Galaxy Watch Active 2, which works with both Android (and to a lesser extent) iOS smartphones, has GPS, a heart rate monitor and LTE (for a premium), 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 two sizes—40mm and 44mm—and has other such useful features as Samsung Pay, onboard music via Spotify and heart health features, including a forthcoming ECG feature similar to the one Apple offers in the Apple Watch Series 4 and 5.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 review.
3. Apple Watch Series 3
The best affordable 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 $199, 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 4
The best smartwatch for fitness
Sizes: 40mm, 45mm | Battery Life (Rated): Up to 7 days for Vivoactive 4S, 8 days for Vivoactive 4 | GPS: Yes | Swim-Proof: Yes | Heart Rate Monitor: Yes | LTE: Nol | Mobile Payments: Garmin Pay | Compatibility: iOS, Android
Garmin took the best features of its Vivoactive 3, our favorite smartwatch for fitness, and made them even better with the new $349 Vivoactive 4 and 4S. The watch now comes in two sizes, 40mm and 45mm, to offer a better fit for most people, and includes both Garmin Pay and music storage out of the box (instead of having to pay more for premium features like with the Vivoactive 3). The Vivoactive 4 also offers animated on-screen yoga and Pilates workouts to help you improve your poses. A new pulse ox sensor measures your blood oxygen level and gives you more detailed sleep insights. All of that plus 7-day battery life makes the Vivoactive 4 our favorite smartwatch for fitness buffs.
Read our full Garmin Vivoactive 4 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 Gen 5
The best Wear OS watch
Sizes: 44mm | Battery Life (Rated): 18 hours, but longer with extended battery mode | GPS: Yes | Swim-Proof: Yes | Heart Rate Monitor: Yes | LTE: No | Mobile Payments: Google Pay | Compatibility: Android, iOS
Fossil's Gen 5 smartwatch eliminates the most glaring performance lag we saw in past Wear OS watches, thanks to 1GB of RAM. The stylish design and customizable battery modes also make this smartwatch worth a look. But Wear OS still lags behind Apple Watch and Samsung's Galaxy Watch Active when it comes to fitness and heart health features. The fact that its Spotify app can't store music offline is also a disadvantage. But if you want to give Wear OS a try, this is the watch to buy.
Read our full Fossil Gen 5 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.