Apple Watch Series 4
Sophisticated health sensors elevate the Apple Watch Series 4 from fun accessory to must-have device. This is the best smartwatch experience you can buy.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active
Samsung makes the best Android smartwatch you can buy, but it needs to push harder to beat Apple.
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 is 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, so be sure to check out our Apple Watch 3 vs Apple Watch 4 comparison. The improved watchOS 6 is coming this Fall with even more improvements for both models.
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.
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 (July 2019)
- Mobvoi just released what might be the Wear OS smartwatch to beat, the $299 LTE-capable TicWatch Pro. The Pro tracks workouts and heart rate automatically, so you don't have to launch an app to log your runs or gym time. It can also last 30 days on a charge if you switch between smartwatch and essential modes. Stay tuned for a full review.
The best smartwatch overall
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.
The best smartwatch for Android users
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.
The best smartwatch for iPhone
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.
The best smartwatch for women
Fitbit's Versa is a sleek, stylish smartwatch that works with both iOS and Android and costs less than $200, which makes it one of the best-valued smartwatches you can buy. The watch lasts four days on a charge, offers female health-tracking, advanced sleep-tracking and an app store with popular apps such as Starbucks and Pandora. You can even store music offline to listen to while you work out.
Read our full Fitbit Versa review.
The best smartwatch for fitness
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.
The best cheap smartwatch
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.
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.
Credit: Tom's Guide