While fitness is the focus of the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2, it also supports notifications, calls, and a handful of useful apps. Its combination of useful features and great performance makes it the best smartwatch for Android phone owners.
Smartwatches have brought all kinds of functionality to our wrists. We can stay in touch with people, pay for things, track our fitness activities and even our health, all without having to reach for our phones. The best technology enhances our lives without intruding too much, and smartwatches are a perfect example. After extensively testing the top smartwatches available, we can say with confidence that the Apple Watch Series 7(available at Apple) is the best smartwatch you can buy thanks to its brilliant design and loads of useful features.
If the Series 7 is too pricey, though, the Apple Watch SE (available at Amazon) does a fine job as a stand-in, offers a very similar design and many of the same features. Sadly, both Apple options require an iPhone as a partner. Android phone owners (particularly those with Samsung phones) will want to look at the best Android companion, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 (available at Amazon). But there are plenty of other great options below, and we've tested them all so you can find your Dick Tracy accessory of choice.
These are the best smartwatches we tested, ranked in order:
Apple Watch Series 7
Apple Watch SE
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
Skagen Falster 3
Fitbit Versa 3
Skagen John Hybrid HR
Apple Watch Series 7
With a wide range of features, an understated design, and no major weaknesses the Apple Watch Series 7 is the top smartwatch you can buy. It can track your fitness, provide insights into your health, handle phone calls and messaging, help you navigate or listen to music, and ensure you stay on top of your schedule, all controlled by elegant and intuitive software.
The Apple Watch comes in two updated case sizes (41mm and 45mm) that are slightly larger than previous models, and available in a wide array of finishes. Whether you want an aluminum case with a sports band primarily to help you stay healthy, or a stainless-steel case with a Milanese loop band to keep you connected during a busy workday, there’s an Apple Watch for you. Setup is a breeze, and the Series 7 is the perfect partner for your iPhone. It can help you find your iPhone by triggering an alert sound and even be used as a remote control for the iPhone camera. If you opt for an LTE model, you can leave your iPhone at home and make or receive calls and text messages on your wrist (data plan required.)
The Series 7's OLED touchscreen is bright, sharp, and surprisingly easy to swipe and tap your way around. Additionally, the larger display makes reading text and navigating the watch's menus easier. The Digital Crown on the side of the Series 7 can be rotated for fine control in menus or pressed to call Siri into service. Apple’s onboard apps and digital watch faces are top quality. However, it's also possible to download a seemingly endless number of third-party apps to customize your Apple Watch experience. And with 32GB of storage, there's plenty of space to accommodate them all. The Apple Watch has also sparked the creation of all sorts of accessories, from interesting charging solutions to alternative bands, cases, and screen protectors.
The Series 7's fitness and health features include GPS tracking, heart rate monitoring, reminders when you’ve been sitting too long, and menstrual cycle tracking. Fall detection, automatic cycling tracking, and warnings about atrial fibrillation elevate the Apple Watch Series 7 above most of its competition. Its new sleep tracking functionality is quite basic, but it's a welcome addition that has also rolled out to older models, thanks to a software update. The Series 7 is also a durable and waterproof device that you can wear on your wrist in virtually any scenario.
The main downside is the lack of support for Android, which effectively rules this smartwatch out if you don't own an iPhone—though it's worth mentioning that Family Setup allows you to use a family member's iPhone to set up a cellular Apple Watch and use it without an iPhone. Additionally, unlike other devices in this guide, the Series 7 requires daily charging. However, this year’s model can charge a bit faster than its predecessors.
Even taking the negatives into account, this is the most complete smartwatch on the market. If you like the look of it, but the price is a little too high, we recommend you check out the Apple Watch SE, listed below. It lacks an always-on display, and omits features like the ECG functionality, but is still an excellent product.
Most of what makes the Apple Watch Series 7 so great can also be found in the Apple Watch SE, for a lower price. The SE's exterior design is identical to the Apple Watch Series 6 models, with a rectangular case that comes in two sizes (40mm and 44mm). However, the Apple Watch SE is only available in aluminum and has fewer options in terms of finishes.
It's easy to get up and running, with straightforward pairing to your iPhone. Plenty of handy features are present in the SE, allowing you to ping your iPhone to find it, send and receive messages, make and take calls from your wrist, and even remotely trigger the camera. There is also an LTE version, though you'll also need a cellular plan to go with it. With a bright, sharp, legible display, the Apple Watch SE works well in the dark or in direct sunlight. The main difference between it and the Series 7 or Series 6, is that the SE does not have an always-on display. The screen does come to life instantly when you raise your wrist, but we did miss the ability to take a surreptitious glance at the time.
Pleasingly, most of Apple's excellent fitness tracking features and health functions are present and accurate. Simply fill your three circles for the day to meet your fitness goals. The Watch SE has GPS tracking and heart rate monitoring. It can warn you about irregular heartbeats, it offers fall detection, and Apple's latest sleep tracking is also an option. What it lacks is ECG functionality and blood oxygen monitoring. It is, however, durable, and water-resistant enough to swim with.
Just like all of Apple's smartwatches, the lack of Android support is disappointing, though the cellular models do offer Apple's Family Setup, which lets you use a family member's iPhone to set up your Apple Watch and potentially use it without your own iPhone.
The Apple Watch SE has the same capable processor as the Series 5, which seems perfectly fast enough, but it does miss out on the U1 chip for more precise location awareness. As mentioned, there's no always-on display, no ECG, and no blood oxygen sensor, but that seems reasonable given the bundle you save. We also think that the larger usable display and better performance more than justifies the price bump over the Apple Watch Series 3, making the SE the best-value Apple Watch (and therefore smartwatch) available.
If you’re looking for a smartwatch to pair with your Android phone, we recommend the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4. Its display is bright and vibrant, even in direct sunlight, its health-tracking features make it great for workouts and monitoring your health, and its battery will leave you with plenty of juice at the end of the day.
It does everything you’d expect a smartwatch to do. You can take calls, read or send text messages, field all your notifications, get directions from Google Maps and track a variety of workouts ranging from running or cycling to HIIT training and hiking. It’ll even start automatically tracking some workouts, like runs, and pause them when it detects you’ve stopped moving. There’s also a new bioelectric impedance sensor, which sends a tiny electrical current through your body to check several body composition stats.
Unfortunately, the best features of the Watch4 really only work well with a Samsung phone. So, while you can technically use it with another phone like the Google Pixel, you’ll have to download a bunch of Samsung’s apps to your phone in order to get your watch set up and have all your data sync properly. Additionally, Samsung opted to equip the Watch4 with Bixby, its own voice assistant, rather than the superior Google Assistant. It’s mostly fine, but it’s not as capable as Google’s option, so you can’t do things like run multiple timers concurrently.
If you can get past those caveats, though, there’s a lot to love about the Galaxy Watch 4. Its Tiles interface makes it easy to swipe through information-dense widgets for information like weather, daily calories burned, upcoming appointments, or even just starting a workout without having to whip your phone out.
Combining comprehensive fitness tracking, a sleek and minimalist design, and relatively long battery life, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is a great smartwatch for Android users (though it works with iOS as well).
The Active 2 can make or take calls, handle messaging, and play music on the go. Samsung also offers the Bixby voice assistant, and a reasonably good range of third-party apps can run on its Tizen OS. Like the Apple Watch, Samsung’s watch comes in two case sizes (40mm and 44mm), in a range of finishes, and supports many different bands. Though it’s billed as a sporty smartwatch—with automatic exercise recognition, built-in GPS, and IP68 water resistance—it has all the features you need for a complete smartwatch experience.
Samsung’s large AMOLED screen is bright, crisp, and legible in sunlight or dark environments. There’s a touch-sensitive bezel around the screen, so you can easily scroll through menus. The two buttons on the side enable you to go back, jump into your apps, or conjure up Samsung’s Bixby voice assistant.
Unsurprisingly, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 really shines when it comes to health and fitness tracking. You can record all kinds of workout sessions, many of which are tracked automatically. There’s also sleep tracking, heart rate monitoring, and menstrual cycle tracking for women. You can even record food, water, and caffeine intake if you want. Along with tracking, the Active 2 also offers up reminders to be active and coaches you through different exercises.
Samsung rolled out ECG and blood pressure monitoring, making it all the more useful. Battery life is easily good enough to see you through a busy day and can be stretched to two or even three days, depending on the settings.
Beyond the tricky setup, other drawbacks include a lack of some apps, a voice assistant that can’t keep up with Siri or Google Assistant, and slow charging—the slowest we tested, in fact. That said, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 starts as low as $279.99 and offers more than enough to justify its price, especially for Samsung phone users, though the Galaxy Watch4 will provide the best experience there.
Samsung's well-appointed Galaxy Watch 3 has plenty to recommend it. There's a vibrant round display, a stainless steel case measuring 41mm or 45mm, and lots of useful functionality inside.
The high-end design sports a shiny, stainless-steel body with sloping lugs and a choice of bands. There are also two buttons on the right side and a useful, physical rotating bezel that can be used to navigate menus and scroll through messages. Compared to the simpler design of the Watch Active 2, the Watch 3 is classier and more at home around the dinner table than the gym.
Samsung's Tizen platform is easy to use, but there isn't a great choice of apps and you miss out on Google's suite of services. Instead, you have Bixby and Samsung Pay, In fact, there are Samsung replacements for everything and they mostly work quite well. There is also the option to make or take calls and send and receive messages from your wrist.
Battery life is good, and the Watch 3 can go up to two days between charges, even with the display always on. It also boasts excellent fitness tracking with coaching, automatic recognition and tracking of some workouts and activities, and daily targets. Sleep tracking works well and there's also blood oxygen monitoring, though you have to trigger it manually.
Great as it is, the Watch 3 does have some caveats. There's no performance boost and the internal specs are similar to the Watch Active 2. That said, now that the watch has dropped a fair bit in price, it's a fine value for what you get.
If you’re interested in a smartwatch that runs Google’s Wear OS, you have plenty of options, but most of them, including the Skagen Falster 3, are manufactured by the Fossil group. You can find all kinds of facades from brands like Diesel, Puma, Michael Kors, and Fossil itself, but the internal hardware, the software, and the experience of living with these watches are all very much the same.
The Skagen Falster 3 wins our favor with its minimalist Scandinavian aesthetic that carries through from the external design to the watch face, all created in concert with the Danish brand. This is a stylish smartwatch that blends in wherever you are, whether it’s the gym, a restaurant, a bar, or the office.
The Wear OS platform is not as smooth as we’d like, but it does give you access to Google’s suite of apps. Top highlights include Google Assistant, Google Maps for easy navigation from your wrist, Google Pay for mobile payments, and Google Keep for checklists. There are also lots of third-party apps available and support for music. You can make or take calls and send and receive messages from your wrist, too.
On the downside, the Skagen Falster 3 does need nightly charging, Wear OS can be slow and flaky at times, and the fitness tracking is quite basic compared to other smartwatches on our list. There’s also no sleep tracking and you won’t find much in the way of insights into your health. Still, if you are primarily after a stylish smartwatch and fitness is secondary, the Skagen Falster 3 is a good choice.
Along with being one of the best smartwatches, the Fitbit Versa 3 is one of our favorite fitness trackers as well. We were most impressed by how much this fitness-first watch has to offer, especially against the likes of Apple and Samsung, for the price.
Unlike the Versa 2, Fitbit added a dedicated GPS to the Versa 3, so you won’t need to tap into your phone’s GPS to track where and how far you run or walk. Its automated fitness tracking is incredibly responsive, too—no delays or issues tracking the wrong type of workout.
The Fitbit Versa 3 also has a long battery life and comes with plenty of other features and apps, making this platform-agnostic smartwatch great for iPhone and Android owners alike (something we can’t say from Apple or Samsung). But the Versa 3 is especially Android owners; While both iPhone and Android owners can answer calls (not place them) from the Versa 3, Android owners can also voice-dictate a reply to text messages.
One major downside to the Versa 3: Unlocking premium features like in-depth health analytics, sleep data, Calm app meditations, and Fitbit workout videos costs $10 per month, or $80 per year. This may be a good fit for you, or it might not. (You can read more about it here).
Compared to Apple Fitness+, which costs the same as Fitbit’s subscription, Fitbit doesn’t integrate its paywalled features as seamlessly, and as our health and fitness team noted, its workout videos feel more like watching workout videos on YouTube. Additionally, things like in-depth sleep analytics are already part of Apple’s and Samsung’s watch ecosystems for no additional cost.
With a smaller subset of features compared to most smartwatches, hybrid smartwatches like the Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR have real physical watch hands atop a smaller display—an e-ink display in this case. While you lose features like voice assistant support and mobile payments, you gain much longer battery life. In fact, the Jorn Hybrid can go two weeks between charges.
Featuring an attractive Scandinavian minimalist design and available in 38mm or 42mm sizes (and a range of bands), the Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR fits in wherever you go, and with whatever you wear. Its companion app lets you customize the watch's face and complications, set up notifications, and dig into its fitness tracking features.
The Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR can track some activities automatically. It also tracks your heart rate throughout the day and night, counts your steps, and tracks calories burned and minutes of exercise. Basic sleep tracking and optional alerts to remind you not to sit still for too long round out the fitness and health features.
The Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR is a little sluggish in operation and can’t accommodate apps or music, or make phone calls. But it does work well for basic notifications and remote music controls with your trusty smartphone. For people who would rather trade minimalism and battery life for fancy features, this scaled-back smartwatch is ideal.
For fitness fanatics, athletes in training, and folks looking to get fitter and healthier, the Garmin Venu is a compelling smartwatch. The first thing that struck me when testing the Garmin Venu is how lightweight and comfortable it is. I could easily forget I was wearing this smartwatch, which is important because it tracks your heart rate and activity throughout the day and your sleep at night. It also offers phenomenal battery life. You can expect at least three days between charges, but you could push the Venu to five or more with the right settings.
The clear purpose of this smartwatch is fitness tracking and the companion app—which works well for Android or iOS—offers up a cornucopia of detailed charts and insights into your workouts, general activity, sleep quality, and more. The usual suspects like step counts and calories burned are there, but you can also gain insights into your respiration, track hydration, and there’s a clever “body battery” score that helps you decide how hard to push yourself.
The Garmin Venu doesn’t win too many style points, but it’s unobtrusive and fits in just fine with formal wear, sportswear, or casual clothing. The AMOLED touchscreen is bright and legible, but it was sometimes less responsive than I wanted, and didn’t always come to life immediately when I raised my wrist. The Garmin Venu is also a little light on smartwatch features with no support for calls or voice assistants, but if fitness is your priority it’s easy to recommend.
The headline here is an astoundingly low asking price. The Wyze Watch comes in two sizes (44mm and 47mm) both with a rectangular design that owes a debt to Apple’s smartwatch line. The grey aluminum-alloy case looks quite smart and there’s a single button on the right. The silicone band is comfortable and the Wyze Watch scores an IP68 rating, so it can be submerged in water for short periods without sustaining damage.
A slower processor in the 47mm model contrasts with the smaller screen and larger bezels in the 44mm model. Either way, the TFT LCD display is not the most responsive and the Wyze Watch requires a little patience. Fitness tracking is basic and includes a step count and calories burned estimate. There’s also a heart rate sensor and Sp02 sensor to measure your blood oxygen levels. Sleep tracking is automatic, but activity tracking has to be started manually and only seems to cover running.
You can configure the notifications you want to come through from your phone, but they are one-way only, so you can’t answer calls or respond to messages. Connectivity is occasionally flaky, but it works correctly most of the time. There’s no support for apps, music, mobile payments, or navigation. On the upside, battery life is very good, and most people will only need to charge the Wyze Watch once a week.
Ultimately, the Wyze Watch is a very basic smartwatch that offers one-way notifications, basic fitness and sleep tracking, long battery life, and not a great deal else, but that’s reflected in the bargain price.
With a colorful and bright AMOLED screen, detailed fitness and health tracking, and up to 14-days of battery, the Amazfit GTS has a lot going for it. This unashamed Apple Watch clone comes with support for Android phones, as well as iOS, and is offered at a very affordable price.
At a distance, you could easily mistake the Amazfit for an Apple Watch, though the single button is located centrally on the right of the case. The build quality is inevitably nowhere near as good as Apple’s, and my review unit picked up a couple of tiny chips to the case during the first week, though it is waterproof and had no issue going through the shower. Setup is convoluted and requires lots of time-consuming updates, making the Amazfit GTS by far the worst out-of-box experience on our list.
The software and the companion app are a little confusing, but the fitness tracking features are impressively detailed. You’ll find heart rate tracking, the ability to record workouts, standalone GPS, and detailed sleep tracking. The Amazfit GTS also offers something called PAI (Personal Activity Intelligence), which has been inspired by a scientific health study to push you toward enough physical activity to reduce your risk of heart disease and other health problems. While the scope of the fitness tracking features is impressive, and there’s lots of data to review, the accuracy is sometimes questionable—especially the step count.
The main weakness of the Amazfit GTS is the smartphone notifications. I had difficulty getting message and call notifications to come through and they remained inconsistent throughout testing. There doesn’t seem to be any facility to send or reply to messages, simply a notification that a message arrived on your phone, and the Amazfit GTS can’t make or receive phone calls.
There are also no third-party apps, mobile payments, or voice assistant support. While this is a very affordable smartwatch, with a great screen and some interesting fitness tracking features, for most people it will be worth spending a little more for something better.
Hey, I’m Simon Hill, a freelance technology journalist with more than a decade of writing experience covering consumer technology, including wearables. I find smartwatches are a useful extension of smartphones, and I like to wear one to help me stay fit. I’ve been testing and reviewing smartwatches for years now, and they have improved enormously in that time. This guide highlights the absolute cream of the crop, and only the very best smartwatches you can buy today made the list.
Hi, I’m Jordan McMahon. I’m a tech reviewer focused primarily on laptops, tablets, smartwatches, and apps. I’ve been writing about technology since 2017, and mashing buttons since the mid-90s. I've covered products ranging from tablets and apps to fanny packs and home office gear. I've also written extensively about digital well-being and building better relationships with the tech in our lives.
Like the smartphones they’re designed to tether with, smartwatches are becoming more competent and, consequently, more complicated. Many allow folks to customize their user experience with downloadable apps and watch faces. Most come packing perks like onboard GPS navigation and cellular hardware that’ll allow you to find your way and stay in touch via text message and phone calls, without a smartphone.
In order for us to recommend a smartwatch, it needs to do a few basic things well:
It should be built well and capable of standing up to casual abuse.
It should be fashionable and comfortable enough that you’ll actually want to wear it
Its user interface should be easy to navigate
Its display should be visible in direct sunlight
It needs to provide enough battery power to get you through the day
It shouldn’t cost more than your smartphone
Beyond these basics, we also pay attention to whether or not each smartwatch in our guide has access to downloadable apps and if they're actually useful. We pay attention to how quickly each smartwatch responds to commands, whether its speakers and microphone work for a hands-free conversation (where applicable), and if the watches provide the at-a-glance information we need quickly enough to make leaving your smartphone in your pocket worthwhile.
Finally, what a smartwatch doesn’t do is just as important as what it does: We take note of how much unnecessary information each wearable pumps and how easy it is to decide which notifications we wanted to see and which we’d be happier not hearing about until we check our smartphones.
Each smartwatch on our list was worn for at least four days. We try out the full range of functionality, from fitness tracking to messaging to third-party apps, and score every aspect. We also examine the ease of setup, functionality, and how each watch looks and feels. We then weigh and compare the results to determine precisely how they measure up.
Smartwatches are also more likely to support third-party apps, have microphones and speakers, and boast extra functionality like mobile payments, voice assistants, and customizability.
Terms You Should Know
You don’t necessarily need to know what goes on under the hood of your smartwatch to enjoy it. However, understanding a few names and definitions will help you better decide which smartwatch is best for you.
Android: Google’s open-source Android operating system runs the majority of the smartphone handsets in the world (although you can also find it used to operate some tablets and laptops, too.) Popular phone models such as the Google Pixel, the Samsung Galaxy, and OnePlus use Android.
iOS: Apple’s iOS operating system is the backbone of what makes Apple’s mobile devices tick. Without it, all those apps that you use to stay productive and, sometimes, fritter away your time with, wouldn’t be able to work.
Wear OS: When Google first offered an operating system for wearable devices, it was called Android Wear. This made sense, as it was an iteration of the company’s Android operating system, designed specifically for wearable devices. However, to differentiate between smartwatches and other mobile gear, Google changed its wearables operating system’s name to Wear OS. You’ll find it running on a number of the smartwatches featured in this guide, including the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 uses Google Wear OS too, marking a notable shift away from Tizen OS.
Watch OS: Apple’s operating system for the Apple Watch, Watch OS is based on the company’s iOS operating system, sharing many of the same features and visual elements. For Apple Watches t’s been optimized for use on the small display and to leverage health monitoring, notification, and other features.
Tizen OS: Developed and primarily used by Samsung, Tizen OS was designed to reduce its dependence on Google’s Android OS. When used in Samsung’s Galaxy Watch, Tizen OS is a powerful, easy-to-navigate operating system. Unfortunately, at the time that this guide was written, both Watch OS and Wear OS offered significantly more apps than Tizen OS does.
How to Choose a Smartwatch
Smartwatches vary wildly in price and feature sets, but there are several elements beyond budget that can help you narrow down your choice.
Which smartphone do you use? Even smartwatches that can be used as standalone devices with their own mobile data connection are designed to be tethered to a smartphone. The Apple Watch runs Watch OS and will only work with an iPhone. Samsung watches run Tizen OS and work with Android phones or iPhones. Wear OS smartwatches will also work with Android or iOS, but there are limits on the functionality with iOS. Before you pick a smartwatch, check up on the compatibility.
What features do you need? If fitness tracking is important, look for heart rate sensors and GPS support. If you want to pay from your wrist, check up on the mobile payment system and make sure your bank is supported. If you want to leave the smartphone at home, look for a smartwatch with onboard storage and cellular data support but bear in mind that you’ll need a mobile plan for it.
What style do you want? Watches are also fashion accessories, so you’ll want to choose a smartwatch that looks good on. While we are starting to see smaller and more elegant designs, with some smartwatches offered in two sizes, many are still chunky. One of the best things about smartwatches, however, is the ability to customize the watch face. You may also want to consider how easy it is to change bands and how many types are available.
What kind of battery life do you need? Battery life is still a big problem for smartwatches, with the most full-featured devices requiring daily charging. If you’re happy with a routine that involves placing your smartwatch on the charger every night alongside your phone, take your pick. If you want to go several days between charges, you may want to look at a hybrid smartwatch, which will lose some features but pay the debt back with incredible battery life (some offering weeks without a charge).
Simon Hill is a freelance technology journalist with a decade of writing experience covering everything from smartphones to smart home gadgets. For the last few years, he served as Associate Editor at Digital Trends where he wrote features, reviews, analysis, how-tos, and more.
Joanna specializes in anything and everything gaming-related and loves nerding out over graphics cards, processors, and chip architecture. Previously she was a staff writer for Gizmodo, PC Gamer, and Maximum PC.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.