Smartwatches are becoming more than just a way to get smartphone notifications on your wrist. The devices have to be everything in one: a fitness tracker, a wallet and even a phone.
Our top pick for most users is the non-cellular version of the Apple Watch Series 3 (starting at $329), which has a faster processor, barometric altimeter for measuring elevation, built-in GPS, water-resistance for swim-tracking, Siri and a suite of health and fitness features, thanks to watchOS 4.
Only choose the pricier $399 LTE version if you want to be able to use your watch without your phone -- and you’re willing to pay $10 per month through your carrier for the convenience. Update Dec. 11 2018: We've re-evaluated the LTE version of the Apple Watch Series 3, and it fixes several bugs while adding streaming music. However, we still recommend the non-LTE version over the connected model.
Apple’s health and fitness features really shine compared to other smartwatches, and the Series 3 is the best smartwatch for fitness enthusiasts.
Fitbit’s Ionic smartwatch rivals the Apple Watch when it comes to exercise-tracking (and handily beats Apple on battery life and sleep analysis), but lacks the style, variety in size and price, and the full-fledged App Store that make the Apple Watch our top pick.
Samsung's Gear Sport, a Tizen OS watch, is our favorite smartwatch for Android users. In addition to a very sleek design, the Gear Sport offers built-in GPS, heart rate sensor, water-resistance, a speaker, Samsung Pay support, plus a nifty rotating bezel for navigating the interface.
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 Updates (Dec 17)
Google has revealed the first five smartwatches that are getting the Android Oreo update, which includes the LG Watch Sport. A company blog post lists all of the watches getting the Android 8.0 update.
According to 9to5Google, the new update provides more granular control over apps alerts and improved battery lif. You can also control the vibration stretch of notifications.
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.
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