The 9 Best Smartwatches of 2019

Finally, watches can do more than just keep track of time

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The Rundown

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Fitbit Versa

Fitbit pioneered the fitness tracker but had stayed out of the smartwatch space until recently. That changed with the Ionic, and shortly after, the cheaper and more-compelling Versa.

Running its own Fitbit OS, there’s no mistaking the company’s origins. A wide range of exercise types are available in the dedicated app, from running and cycling to weights, gym sessions and more. Important stats are shown during your workout, with others available with a quick swipe, and a summary pops up at the end.

Waterproof to 165 feet, the Versa handles swimming as well as any other exercise, with the screen surprisingly visible underwater. As is standard with many other non-smartwatch Fitbit models, heart rate tracking is built in, which allows for detailed sleep tracking. There’s no GPS, though — if you want to track your running route, you’ll need to carry your phone or pay the extra for the Ionic model.

Battery life is particularly good, at up to four days, and the square design isn’t unattractive. Most standard smartwatch notifications features are built in, with the ability for Android device owners to reply to text messages coming soon.

If you’re looking for a smartwatch with serious fitness-tracking credibility at an affordable price, check out the Fitbit Versa.

Best for Fitness Tracking: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active

 Samsung.com

The new Active watch from Samsung’s Galaxy line brings with it a new emphasis on fitness and activity tracking. First, the look is notably sleeker and simpler than the standard Galaxy Watch. Available in four colors (silver, black, rose gold, and green) with very little else to draw attention besides the screen, this watch is a low-profile workout companion.

Samsung has also programmed in a host of interesting features aimed at improving your wellness. The Active watch has the requisite Daily Activity tracking, but it also offers stress-level monitoring, built-in breathing exercises, and even a meditation guide. They’ve also provided a health and fitness coach program that aims to help you get ahead of your workouts, rather than just track them. And, because this device runs the Tizen OS 4.0 and features a 1.15 GHz Exynos 9110 processor, it has the power and functionality you'd expect from a flagship smartwatch. There’s 4GB of onboard memory, Bluetooth 4.2 compatibility, a 230 mAh battery, and a beautiful 360 x 360 Super AMOLED display. Overall, it offers a nice spread of features outside of what you’d normally get on a dedicated fitness tracker. 

Runner-Up, Best for Fitness Tracking: Samsung Galaxy Fit

The Samsung Galaxy Fit is a testament to how the best fitness trackers know that simplicity is key. With a clean, elegant design, the Galaxy Fit keeps tabs on all of your activities – from steps to sleep to water consumption — to help you optimize your health while staying connected to the rest of your life. You can receive notifications about texts and calls and keep an eye on your calendar while hitting the gym or trail and will be alerted if your heart rate gets too high or low. The always-on, full-color AMOLED display makes it easy to check on your progress and any updates. 

Affordable and efficient, the Galaxy Fit can last up to seven days on a single charge. But don’t let its slim, unobtrusive design fool you: It is rugged and durable, apt for taking into the pool, shower, and extreme temperature conditions.

Best for iPhone Owners: Apple Watch Series 4

Apple Watch Series 4
 Apple.com

Apple is back with the Apple Watch Series 4, the latest in the smartwatch game that's focused on helping wearers live a healthier lifestyle. Running on Apple’s S4 64-bit dual-core processor and the new WatchOS 5 operating system, it’s twice as fast as its predecessor. Available in two sizes — 40 mm and 44mm — it has a 30 percent larger display than the Series 3 and comes in six different aluminum and stainless steel finishes. New improvements include Walkie Talkie mode and a speaker that is 50% louder than in the Series 3. The microphone has been moved to the watch’s opposite side to reduce noise and create clearer phone calls. The bottom, now made from black ceramic and sapphire crystal for better radio wave transmission, is intended to help with cellular reception and call quality.

The new electrocardiogram (ECG) monitor — the first to be found in smartwatches or fitness trackers — can help monitor heart diseases and other potential physical complications, storing the data in an app to share with your doctor. The watch will also be able to detect if you take a hard fall, calling emergency services to assist you. 

First, you may want to find out if you really do need a smartwatch and read about its typical features.

Best for Samsung Owners: Samsung Galaxy Watch

While you can purchase smartwatches with cellular service, the most practical market-tested use is a companion for your phone. And when you’re choosing which watch to buy, seamless connection via apps and your phone OS is a key consideration. Samsung’s Galaxy Watch is a great option if your phone is a Galaxy or a Note.

The build is fantastic with IP68 waterproof and Corning Gorilla Glass DX+, and the display looks great with a resolution up to 360 x 360 and Circular Super AMOLED tech. On the larger model, the battery sports a capacity of 472 mAh, which powers the snappy Exynos 9110 Dual core processor. You can choose between Silver, Midnight Black, or Rose Gold color options, and the bands are interchangeable to match your style. But most importantly, with the Tizen-Based Wearable OS 4.0 that Samsung has optimized to work with their proprietary controls and apps, this will be the perfect sidekick to your Samsung phone.

Take a peek at some of the other best Android smartwatches and Samsung smartwatches you can buy.

Best Value: Huawei Watch 2

When Huawei introduced the second version of its smartwatch, it was generally viewed as being a step backward in terms of value. With subsequent price drops, however, it’s now a much more compelling option as a smartwatch that won't break your bank.

The Watch 2 comes in two varieties, Sports and Classic. The former is a little cheaper, looking unsurprisingly much like a standard sports watch. The Classic is noticeably more attractive, with a premium-looking shell and included leather band. If you’re after something that’s appropriate at a nice restaurant as well as the gym, you may want to pay the extra money, but all features are otherwise the same.

There are two buttons to control the Wear OS 2.0 operating system, plus an on-screen keyboard for tapping out quick replies. GPS, water-resistance, heart rate monitoring and sleep tracking is included, so the Watch 2 does a fine job as a fitness tracker.

There’s Bluetooth support, along with NFC for using Android Pay and 4GB of storage for downloading music. You’ll get up to two days out of the battery if you don’t use GPS, but expect to charge it every day otherwise.

Read up on the best cheap smartwatches on the market.

Best for Music: Garmin vívoactive 3 Music

Garmin, known primarily for its GPS and fitness devices, has taken one step closer to full-featured smartwatches with their vívoactive 3 Music. This model doesn't run on Wear OS (Google's increasingly-popular OS for wearables), but it does offer thousands of free apps, watch faces, and more via Garmin’s ConnectIQ store. The vívoactive 3 Music also comes preloaded with 15 sports apps to monitor your progress whether you're running, swimming, lifting, or doing yoga — because, at its core, Garmin is still all about fitness tracking

The watch's face is made from chemically-strengthened glass, with a 240x240 resolution display that's visible even in bright sunlight. The battery is pretty impressive, too, lasting up to seven days with light use, and up to five hours of continuous use with full GPS functionality and music playing.

Speaking of music, that's what really sets this smartwatch apart (especially compared to Garmin's other wearables). The vívoactive 3 Music has enough internal storage for 500 songs — and they're easy to download to your device using the Garmin Express software. Once your songs are downloaded, you can listen to music without a smartphone. Just connect some Bluetooth headphones to the watch and you're good to go. If streaming is more your game, then you can also download some popular media apps as well. 

Best for Minimalists: Skagen Falster

If you’d prefer your smartwatch looked more like a piece of jewelry than a small computer on your wrist, you’ll like Skagen’s Falster range. The straps of these slimline watches come in a few different leather or stainless steel options but coupled with the included minimalist watch face designs, they all look sleek and stylish in a way few other smartwatches manage.

All of the usual Wear OS features are included such as calls, texts, e-mail and calendar, with a simple button on the side to handle power, apps and activating the Google Assistant. Battery life is typical, at up to 24 hours between charges.

Note there’s no GPS or heart rate monitor built into the watch. You can still use it for basic exercise and workout tracking, but if you’re after a serious activity tracker, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere.

If you’re after a stylish, dressier alternative to most smartwatches, though, be sure to check out the Skagen Falster.

Best for Kids: VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch

Smartwatches for children are unsurprisingly very different to those aimed at adults. Fashion styling gives way to primary colors and rugged designs. Fancy features are replaced with easy-to-use apps, and the focus is on education and fun rather than staying in touch with the world.

The VTech Kidizoom is a great example. The water-resistant watches are available in bright shades of blue and purple, with strong silicone straps. There’s no Internet access, but instead, two cameras let kids take photos and video of both themselves and their surroundings. Over 50 watch faces are available, in both analog and digital styles.

Step tracking is built in, as are several bundled games and activities. When connected to a computer via the micro-USB charging cable, extra apps can be downloaded to the 256MB storage, and photos and videos uploaded. 

Ideal for kids aged around four to eight years old, it’s an affordable, well-featured introduction to the world of smartwatches.

Perhaps read up on some tips for getting started with a smartwatch.

Best Rugged: Casio Pro Trek Smart WSD-F20

Casio Pro Trek
 Courtesy of Amazon

When you think about hitting the great outdoors, a smartwatch isn’t usually the first thing you think to pack. Casio has other ideas, though, with the stylishly-rugged Pro Trek WSD-F20.

Waterproof to 165 feet and tested to military standards for durability, it includes features like a digital compass, altimeter, and barometer that you won’t find in most other smartwatches, as well as more standard tools such as GPS. The WSD-F20 can also function as a flashlight — handy in an emergency — and lets you download maps for offline navigation when you’re far from the nearest cell signal.

Running Wear OS 2.0, the watch tracks specific activities such as kayaking, cycling, and trekking, storing the route and duration.

It’s expensive for an Android smartwatch, and you’ll need to carry a portable charger for anything longer than a day trip, but if you’re after a durable and genuinely useful smartwatch for heading into the backcountry, the Casio Pro Trek Smart WSD-F20 is unmatched.

Want to read more reviews? Check out our picks for the best smartwatches for women.