Call it a sign of the times. While simple fitness trackers suffice for many, an increasing number of people are looking at smartwatches to have something more versatile on their wrist. Smartwatches deliver smartphone notifications, fitness features, apps and more, allowing you to leave your phone in your pocket.
In fact, Apple has overtaken Fitbit to become the world's largest wearables device maker, according to research firm Strategy Analytics.
After testing dozens of smartwatches for Android and iOS and evaluating them based on design, features and ease of use, our top pick is the Apple Watch Series 2. It includes built-in GPS, a brighter screen, swimproof water-resistance and other health features, and starts at $369.
The original Apple Watch Series 1 Series 1 is another great option. It now features the same faster processor as the Series 2, and costs a cheaper $269.
Our favorite smartwatch for Android phone owners is the Samsung Gear S3. In addition to a very sleek design, the Gear S3 offers built-in GPS, water-resistance, a speaker, Samsung Pay support, plus a nifty rotating dial for navigating the interface. Plus, the S3 now supports iOS.
The 4G LTE version, the S3 Frontier, even lets you make and receive calls and texts. However, this Tizen-powered watch suffers from a lack of apps.
If you're looking to get a smartwatch on the cheap, the Keoker smartwatch is our top pick among budget smartwatches under $100. Those are just a few of the dozens of smartwatches we've tested.
Latest Smartwatch News and Rumors
The IFA trade show has seen a bunch of new smartwatch announcements, highlighted by the unveiling of Samsung's new Gear Sport. Samsung hasn't announced pricing and availability for its new watch, which places a decided emphasis on fitness tracking. In addition to the Gear Sport, we've also spotted watches from MyKronoz and Fossil that we've added to our New & Notables section.
As Android Wear 2.0 smartwatches keep appearing, we’re now waiting for Apple’s overhauled smartwatch platform. The Cupertino company showed off watchOS 4 at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June, and some software upgrades hint at improvements coming on the hardware side, too.
With watchOS 4, due in early September, Apple is placing a bigger bet on fitness-tracking, and the Apple Watch Series 3 is expected to reflect that. Rumor has it that Apple is working on modular watch straps that add health-focused features like glucose-tracking for diabetics,. A recent patent filing shows the company wants to use the watch to track your breathing, too. And Apple just acquired the sleep-tracking sensor startup Beddit, indicating that sleep-tracking will soon come to your wrist—although the Apple Watch’s battery life will need a big boost to make that more likely.
The Series 3 is also rumored to include a built-in cellular chip for 4G LTE, which would make the watch truly independent of the iPhone. While that rumor has been floating around since the Apple Watch first debuted, a recent Bloomberg report all but confirmed it. Apple has reportedly locked in support from Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T, indicating that the watch will almost certainly need a data plan. We could see the Series 3 as soon as September 12, when Apple takes the wraps off the iPhone 8 (or whatever it’s called), but Apple has also been known to save big watch updates for the spring.
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