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Whether you're looking for a fitness tracker that can keep running tabs on your vitals or just a slick new accessory to take up space on your wrist, we've got the perfect wearable for the job. Smartwatches take all the functionality of fitness trackers and layer on additional features like controlling media playback, checking emails and even responding to messages.
If you're looking for more information on how to best use your smartwatch or you're just curious about what they can do for you, make sure to check out our guide for a quick crash course. Check our list of the best smartwatches for any budget below.
Tracks sleep/steps/water consumption
Reports of phone pairing issues
Hard to read in bright environments
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. Our testing revealed that the Galaxy Fit can last up to 8 days on a single charge. Don’t let its slim, unobtrusive design fool you, this wearable is rugged and durable, apt for taking into the pool, shower, and extreme temperature conditions.
"While the fit can be tight, its generally undetectable for most of the day—including while sleeping." — Yoona Wagener, Product Tester
Optimized for Samsung apps and controls
Reports of Bluetooth connectivity issues
Poor health stat tracking
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.
Besides compatibility, the form factor of the Galaxy Watch proved to be a standout point in our testing. 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.
"Given the bulkier design and heft, however, this doesn't feel like a watch we'd actually want to take into a pool or on a longer run." — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester
No internet connectivity
Built-in games and activities
Screens prone to cracking
If you're serious about tracking your health and fitness goals, the Fitbit Versa 2 is designed with you in mind. This updated model offers 24/7 tracking of things like heart rate, steps, calories burned, and even how many flights of stairs you've climbed. With an improved Sleep Score tracking program, you can see how long you've spent in both light and deep sleep to work towards a better night's rest. The watch body is water resistant and swim-proof, so you can take it into the pool to do laps or other swimming exercises.
When you connect your Versa 2 to the Fitbit app, you can customize over 15 different workout and exercise tracking programs to better help you reach your goals. If you like to jog, hike, or run marathons, you can connect the Versa 2 to your phone's GPS to track mileage and real-time positioning. You can also store and play over 300 songs to keep you motivated on long runs or workouts in the gym. With a battery life of up to six days, the Versa 2 is ready when you are to tackle daily exercise routines. Fitbit built Amazon Alexa into the Versa 2 model for hands-free voice controls over apps and information display so you can spend more time being active and less time fumbling with menus and buttons.
"Unless you're absolutely married to the Apple ecosystem, the Versa 2 is an excellent aesthetic analog to Apple's Smartwatch." — Alice Newcome-Beill, Associate Commerce Editor
Waterproof to 165 feet
Up to four days battery life
Customizable health tracking
Phone syncing issues with Samsung models
May count accidental bumps/vibrations as steps
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. Our testing found the entire setup process to be relatively simple, requiring us to follow just a handful of prompts on the intuitive app.
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.
"It's slimmer than Samsung's Galaxy Watch and even Apple's refined Apple Watch Series 4, plus it's incredibly lightweight. In other words, it's a fitness band that you might put on and even forget that it's there." — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester
Built-in AFib and fall detection alerts
SOS emergency messaging
Short battery life
Weak screens prone to cracking
Thanks to new display technology, the Apple Watch Series 5 finally introduces an always-on display without sacrificing battery life. This means that Apple’s wearable finally works like just about every other watch on the planet, letting you check the time without having to raise your wrist or touch the screen first. Our tests called this the biggest change in this latest iteration of Apple's smartwatch.
Of course, it also packs in all of the same health and fitness features as the Series 4, including an ECG sensor for monitoring heart health and alerting users who may suffer from atrial fibrillation (AFib), along with fall detection that can try to rouse you after a hard fall and even send an SOS to emergency contacts and notify emergency services if you don’t respond. The S5 64-bit dual-core processor also offers the same fast performance, with improved efficiency and 32GB of flash storage so you can pack in more data to take with you when you’re leaving your iPhone behind.
It also ups the bar as one of the most fashionable smartwatches on the market, with the classic aluminum and stainless steel models now joined by sleek titanium and ceramic editions. Per usual, a massive collection of easily-swappable watch bands are available as well.
"It’s a testament to the utility of the Apple Watch that, despite having drawers full of classic, functioning analog watches, I wear the Apple Watch every single day." — Lance Ulanoff, Product Tester
Up to 30 hours battery life
Verizon cellular support
Only supports Gmail for email notifications
Bad charging ports
TicWatch has been working to upgrade its collection of smartwatches, and the TicWatch Pro is the latest to receive the treatment, now with cellular support through Verizon. From your wrist, you’ll be able to make calls, text, check flight notifications, download apps, and stream music, along with using Google Pay to make purchases and accessing Google Assistant.
The stylish, 1.4-inch round AMOLED display has a stainless-steel bezel, a silicone strap, and solid readability, even in bright sunlight. The watch can last up to 30 hours on a single charge and can help you keep an eye on your health, whether you’re just trying to monitor your daily activity or working toward a fitness goal. It keeps track of your heart rate all day and all night and automatically notices and records exercise. Its military-grade durability protects it against sessions in the pool, extreme temperatures, and dust.
One year battery life
Multi-function smart button
The Misfit Command is a smartwatch designed for anyone who wants to track health goals and stay connected but also wants their wearable tech to be as stylish with a suit as it does with casual wear. The traditional watch face is 45mm wide and features a discrete sub-dial to track activity goal progress as well as ping call, text, and app notifications without being distracting.
When you connect the Command to the Misfit Link app, you can track all your health and fitness goals and daily stats as well as tag specific workouts like yoga, jogging, and cycling. The Command is also water-resistant up to 50 meters so you can take it into the pool to track swim laps and other swimming exercises. The integrated smart button can be programmed to automatically take a selfie, access your music, and even locate your smartphone. If you travel a lot for work or pleasure, the Misfit Command smartwatch can track two different time zones for automatic time and date updates to keep you on schedule. The built-in battery gives you up to one year of life.
Includes GPS and heart rate monitoring
Accurate stat tracking
Excellent aesthetic options
Performance could be better
The Fossil Sport Smartwatch brings together all the form and function you would expect from any conventional smartwatch at a fraction of the cost. Powered by Google's Wear OS, this watch punches well above its weight when it comes to connectivity and functionality. The WearOS provides Bluetooth connectivity for both Apple and Android devices providing you with app and calendar alerts and keeping you in the loop with text and social media notifications.
This versatile watch features a 43mm screen to provide ample space to read notifications and the lightweight aluminum case keeps the Fossil Sport from feeling cumbersome.
This trendy smartwatch has a variety of customization options, with bands and colors to suit nearly any user, everything from stylish leather to waterproof silicon. If you're a long-standing skeptic of smartwatches but are in the market for a new timepiece, the Fossil Sport has more than enough functionality to convince you at a price point that's hard to resist.
Store up to 500 songs
15 different fitness apps
Durable glass watch face
iPhone syncing issues
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.
Onboard NFC, GPS, and heart rate monitor
Solid build quality
Waterproof up to 3ATM
Runs on older hardware
Average battery life
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 2. 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.
There's also GPS and a heart rate monitor built into the watch so you can use it for workout tracking.
If you’re after a stylish, dressier alternative to most smartwatches, though, be sure to check out the Skagen Falster 2.
A top-notch smartwatch should be an excellent combination of form and function. For those searching for a slick accessory that brings a litany of high-tech features to the table, look no further than the Samsung Galaxy Fit.
Our expert reviewers and editors evaluate smartwatches based on design, functionality, and features. We test their real-life performance in actual use cases, exercising and wearing as an all-day, everyday accessory, and we weigh their app and software support. Our testers also consider each unit as a value proposition—whether or not a product justifies its price tag, and how it compares to competitive products. All of the models we reviewed were purchased by Lifewire; none of the review units were furnished by the manufacturer or retailer.
Always looking for ways that tech can simplify her life, Yoona Wagener is an avid fan of technology and has been writing for Lifewire since April of 2019 and loves the seamless nature of the Samsung Galaxy Fit.
The Editor-in-Chief for Lifewire, Lance Ulanoff is rarely seen without the latest iteration of Apple's Smartwatch. A long-standing veteran of the industry, Lance has also served as EIC for Mashable and PCMag.com.
Alice Newcome-Beill was always a skeptic when it came to the utility of smartwatches, but she found the sleek aesthetics and customizability of the Fitbit Versa 2 hard to resist. She regularly uses it every day as a simple watch, or for tracking her bike rides around Prospect Park.
Andrew Hayward has been covering the worlds of tech and video games for over a decade from his home in the windy city. He received a journalism degree from Lewis University and has had his work published on TechRadar, Polygon and numerous other sites.
Most of us already tote around a smartphone in our pocket or bag, but many millions of people are also now embracing wearable technology—and today’s smartwatches can do quite a bit.
Whether powered by your smartphone’s cellular connection or completely standalone, smartwatches from the likes of Apple, Samsung, Fitbit, and other makers provide at-a-glance notifications, fitness tracking, and stylish modern jewelry that can be tweaked for just about any occasion. Oh, and it tells time, no less.
While some smartwatch brands are much better known than others, there’s a rather wide number of companies making them today. Some, like the Apple Watch, only work with one type of phone, while most others are cross-compatible. But collectively, they span a large number of combinations of screen size, design, fit, capabilities, and price points.
A smartwatch falls right at the crossroads of form and function, but let’s be honest: it doesn’t matter how useful a wearable device is if you aren’t actually going to wear it.
Luckily, there’s a wide variety of smartwatch styles out there. All of the Apple Watch models are similar in approach, and it’s one that doesn’t try to mimic traditional smartwatches—it’s more like a shrunken smartphone screen on your wrist. Fitbit’s smartwatches are similar with their non-traditional approach, although they don’t have quite the same bulk or premium allure.
Meanwhile, many other smartwatches pass for standard watches at a glance, whether they resemble sporty watches with rubber bands or more formal designs with leather or metal straps. These smartwatches have circular screens and typically offer digital faces that resemble classic watch-hand designs (along with more diverse, modern options). Samsung’s watches these days are all circular, plus most of the Wear OS watches—which run Google’s Android software but are manufactured by various other brands—are circular in design.
Nearly any smartwatch on the market lets you swap out the bands to let you personalize the look. Apple makes a bunch of different designs for the Apple Watch, from colorful rubber to high-end metal and leather, plus there’s a large market of third-party options. Other watches don’t have quite the same dedicated support, but many support standard watch band sizes.
Along with style comes size and the way that a watch fits on your wrist. Sure, you can loosen or tighten the straps—but if the watch itself feels too small or too large and heavy on your wrist, then it may never feel quite right. Luckily, makers such as Apple and Samsung offer multiple size options for their watches, and the wide variety of Android Wear models means there’s likely something out there that’s ideal for your wrist. Try it on at a store, if at all possible.
Screen size is probably a secondary consideration to fit for most people, but some people might be willing to tolerate a heavier build to get a larger, more noticeable screen. Otherwise, smartwatch touchscreen sizes are all pretty much in the same size range, at or just over an inch in size, although there can be functional differences—like peak brightness level or whether or not you can enable an “ambient screen” that stays on even when you’re not looking at it.
Depending on the watch you choose, you may get a very different kind of functional experience than another due in large part to the operating system. Apple’s watchOS platform, for example, is different from Samsung’s own Tizen operating system, which itself varies from Google’s Android-based Wear OS that is found on watches from many different makers. How you get around the interface and how various functions work is different with each operating system.
On top of that, some watches have stronger third-party software support than others, which comes in the form of downloadable apps. The Apple Watch easily has the most robust selection of wearable apps and games available, along with “complications,” which are little widgets that you can add into Apple’s watch faces. Wear OS has noticeably fewer notable apps available to download, and Samsung’s Tizen OS has far fewer still. On the other hand, both Wear OS and Tizen watches let you download third-party watch faces, which you can’t do on the Apple Watch.
For many people, this is the main reason to have a wearable device, whether it’s a full-fledged smartwatch or a simpler fitness band: health and activity tracking. Thanks to built-in sensors, a small device on your wrist can automatically keep track of things such as how many steps you’ve walked, when you ran, biked, or swam, and your heart rate. This data can typically be transferred back to your smartphone and viewed within an app, letting you view trends and progress over time.
The Apple Watch currently leads the pack in terms of health functionality, with the Series 4 and Series 5 models including built-in atrial fibrillation (AFib) detection and even fall detection that can try to rouse you after a hard fall and alert emergency services if you don’t respond. We’ve seen a number of stories about people who claimed their lives were saved by an Apple Watch, and that’s surely an appealing angle for some potential buyers.
There’s a wide disparity in battery life between various smartwatches. The Apple Watch, for example, is only rated for a full day’s usage, although you might be able to pull two days between charges depending on how hard you push it. Many Wear OS watches fall into that same 1-2 day target, as well.
Samsung’s Galaxy Watch gave us more than five full days of usage when not leaning on the GPS, meanwhile, and Fitbit’s devices are built to give you between four and seven days of battery life, depending on model. Your experience may vary, of course, but the estimates give you a good idea of whether you’ll need to place your watch on a charger every night or two, or whether you might be able to forget about it for a few days.
The Apple Watch is only compatible with iPhones. That’s it. But pretty much every other smartwatch, including Samsung’s watches and the Android-driven WearOS watches, will work with both Android phones and iPhones. Not every feature will work identically across iOS and Android, particularly when it comes to notifications and third-party app support, but core functionality typically works fine.
While most smartwatches are designed to piggyback off of your smartphone alone and borrow its cellular connection, there are 4G LTE versions of watches such as the Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch that can work entirely on their own via a dedicated connection. That’s handy if you don’t want to carry around your phone all the time.
When shopping for a smartwatch today, these are the brands that you’re most likely to see. Here’s a look at what each has to offer:
Apple makes the Apple Watch, of course, and it’s easily the best-known smartwatch on the market today. Across five core Series releases, Apple has gradually improved both the hardware and software experience to make the rectangular-faced watches more responsive and much more capable of serving your fitness and health needs. Apple offers a number of models today, including the current Series 5 and discounted Series 3 models, higher-end Edition models, and collaborative models with Nike and Hermes.
Samsung’s Galaxy Watch models all have a very unique hook: the physical bezel around the screen can be rotated left or right to navigate through the menus and apps, offering a handy perk that’s not replicated in any other smartwatch. The Galaxy Watch is sold in both standard and streamlined, fitness-centric Active models. Samsung also has slimmer, cheaper Galaxy Fit trackers that aren’t quite as robust as their smartwatches.
Fitbit’s square-shaped watches eschew the traditional look in favor of a slim, streamlined design. As the name suggests, Fitbit watches are heavily fitness and health-centric, plus they put a large focus on battery life. Fitbit has multiple Versa and Ionic models, which offer different looks and feature sets, plus the company sells slimmer fitness trackers.
Google doesn’t make its own smartwatches, but the company’s Wear OS operating system is found on dozens of watches from a wide variety of brands: Fossil, Michael Kors, Mobvoi, LG, Diesel, TAG Hauer, Kate Spade, Huawei, Motorola, Casio, Armani Exchange, and more. Wild, right? That’s a very good thing, though: it means there’s a refined, well-supported mobile OS that’s shared across numerous brands, rather than each company trying to make its own software. You’ll find all sorts of styles, sizes, features, and price points in this group.
Garmin makes a number of smartwatches—some in full color with apps, others simpler and black and white. The company also has unique Vivomove models that have real watch hands and hide the screen, with notification text shining through the face only when needed. That sort of hybrid approach offers a nice balance between traditional watches and more robust smartwatches.
We mentioned Misfit above in the Wear OS section, but the company also makes an intriguing smartwatch called the Misfit Command that doesn’t have a touchscreen at all. Instead, it looks like a standard watch but it quietly tracks fitness data, vibrates when your phone has a new notification, and even lets you control your phone’s music.
You can still buy Pebble smartwatches from retailers such as Amazon, but it’s worth noting that the company is no longer producing or selling products at this point. Pebble had one of the first major smartwatches on the market before the Apple Watch came along, offering core functionality for less money, but its fortunes gradually faded as the market expanded. Fitbit acquired the company and ultimately discontinued its servers, but a group of fans has since brought some of that functionality back online.
As mentioned above, watch bands are the most common accessory for smartwatches. Some watches require custom bands, such as the Apple Watch, although there’s a seemingly endless number of options between the official Apple bands and many third-party alternatives. Many Wear OS watches use standard 22mm straps, however, so you can mix and match if your chosen watch is one of those.
Every smartwatch will come with a charger, typically a charging pad or dock. You might consider buying another charger that is more convenient, such as a dock that can hold both the Apple Watch and an iPhone. Some third-party accessory makers also sell protective cases for the Apple Watch that help it avoid scratches and cracks.
Lastly, if you don’t already have Bluetooth wireless earbuds, then you might consider picking some up if you’re considering using the watch by itself to listen to music. For example, you can connect Apple’s wireless AirPods to an Apple Watch and go for a run without carrying your iPhone in your pocket.
The smartwatch market is large and still growing, with dozens of notable options that span various styles, materials, functionality, and price points. The lowest-priced version of a premium smartwatch like an Apple Watch or Samsung Galaxy Watch will run you $300+, but since watches are also fashionable, there can be more luxurious versions of certain smartwatches that cost a lot more money—such as the ceramic or titanium Apple Watch Edition models.
Luckily, that’s the higher end of the price scale. Wear OS watches have a particularly broad range, given the large number of manufacturers, with some available for just north of $100 (discounted) and others selling for several hundreds of dollars. And a quick glance at Amazon shows that there are much simpler, entry-level smartwatches that sell for $35-40—with thousands of positive user reviews.
Unlike smartphones, a smartwatch is a want-to-have rather than a need-to-have, but since it’s something you’ll wear in plain sight, it’s also something that you’ll want to ensure that you would actually want to wear. Given that, it’s best to try out a watch in person when possible, rather than buying it sight unseen, so that you can get a good sense of the look, feel, heft, and functionality of the device.