Smartwatches are in rude health in 2019, and there’s so much choice for every budget, lifestyle or design.
With top options from Apple, Fitbit, Samsung, Fossil – as well as Garmin, Huawei and LG – selecting the right one for your needs is tougher than ever.
And it all depends on what you want it for. There are smartwatches better suited to fitness, some that put more onus on looking good on the wrist, and some that bring full 4G cellular connectivity for calls and messages away from your phone. And thinking carefully about the features you need will help you get the right device, at the right price.For all the in-depth details on the all of the top smartwatches, read on for our comprehensive buyers guides, based on our living-with reviews. However, if you’re looking for a quick snap shot of the top smartwatches to buy right now, here you go:
The best smartwatch 2019The Series 4 brought about the most dramatic design changes to Apple’s smartwatch since it first launched, and the addition of lifesaving features like ECG and fall detection make it an outstanding option.The top Fitbit smartwatchThe Fitbit Versa proves that the fitness tracking heavyweight does know how to make a great smartwatch – and with new features arriving, it will only get better.Samsung’s best smartwatch The emphasis again is on health and fitness, while at the same time retaining Samsung’s most impressive features: that rotating bezel, battery life that goes beyond what most of the competition can offer and an improving operating system.Best smartwatch for less than £150A great Wear OS watch for the price. We love Mobvoi’s suite of health apps, strengthened by the built-in GPS and now a fully waterproof design. The Tic Health app is where you can see your progress from the day, presented in some very Apple Watch-esque rings.
Best multi-sport smartwatchFor the first time on a Forerunner, you can store your own music as well as playlists from select streaming services straight from the wrist – alongside those rich tracking metrics you’d expect from a Garmin.
Best smartwatch…Apple Watch Series 4Apple Watch Series 4: Key specsOS: watchOS 5Display: OLEDSize: 40mm/44mmBattery: 2 daysWater resistance: 50mHeart rate: Yes (ECG)Connectivity: LTE, GPS, NFC, Wi-Fi, BluetoothWorks with: iOSPros: Bigger screen | Lifesaving metricsCons: Battery life not improved | Siri integration Feature check: GPS, swim-friendly, Apple Pay, two-day battery, heart rate monitoring.
The Apple Watch Series 4 is as close to smartwatch perfection as we’ve seen to date – it’s a powerful and versatile wearable that can offer a huge range of features. While those looking for a simple smartwatch might find the Series 4’s huge array of fitness, wellness and connected features to be overkill, it’s able to morph between fitness tracker, sports watch and serious health device at will, making it a serious crowd pleaser.
Apple’s latest Watch addition gives us the most dramatic design change since the original, bringing new 40mm and 44mm sizes (in comparison to 38mm and 42mm). That means more space to show off all the latest software features introduced in watchOS 5.
It has all the same core fitness and sports tracking as the Series 3, including built-in GPS for tracking of outdoor workouts and a swimproof design. Fitness tracking analysis may lag Fitbit, but Apple’s unique goals – signified by the closing of Move, Stand and Calorie rings – is still a powerful motivator. However, there’s still no native sleep tracking here, but this can be done via a third party app.
The headline features are the new ECG monitor that unlocks the ability for serious heart health monitoring. It’s been FDA cleared, so the feature can be used to detect heart rhythm irregularities – however, it’s only going to be supported in the US for now. You also don’t have to do that manually, and the Apple Watch continuously monitors for low and elevated heart rates, as well as AFib. There’s also a new fall detection mode that can let users access Siri to contact emergency services or an emergency contact.
The Series 4 comes packing LTE once again so you can take it out sans iPhone and still make/receive calls, get texts and all other notifications you would on your phone. A new speaker also makes Siri chats and phone calls sound louder and clearer.
Battery life is the main gripe still, and for all the improvements, Apple can still only offer 24-48 hours – which for many simply isn’t good enough.
Read our Apple Watch Series 4 review in full£399.99 (GPS), Amazon | apple.comAlso consider…Fitbit VersaFitbit Versa: Key specsOS: Fitbit VersaDisplay: LCDSize: 34mm diameterBattery: 4+ daysWater resistance: 50mHeart rate: YesConnectivity: Wi-Fi, BluetoothWorks with: iOS, AndroidPros: Attractive design | AffordableCons: No GPS | HR inconsistentFeature check: Waterproof, heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking, Fitbit Pay, notifications, app store, women’s health tracking, GPS (with smartphone).
The Fitbit Versa is the company’s second smartwatch and, along with a change in design direction, it’s crucially available at a more affordable price than the Apple Watch – it can often be picked up for around £179.99. And don’t forget – Fitbit just announced the Versa Lite Edition, which clocks in at £149.
The Fitbit Versa comes in a host of different finishes and with a big collection of bands to mix up the look. And thanks to the runaway success of the smartwatch, there’s a bustling market of straps to choose from.
The Versa offers all of the same fitness and sports tracking features you’d expect from the Fitbit ecosystem, though the big omission here is the lack of GPS. If you want to track runs and rides, you’ll need to take your smartphone with you, and the watch can piggyback your phone’s data. For many this won’t be a massive issue, but as serious runners it’s a level of complication we like to avoid.
Fitbit OS 2.0 brings a new-look UI that offers more insights into your daily data and quick reply support for Android phone users (iOS support coming at a later date). You can still download apps and a whole lot of watch faces, pay from your wrist using Fitbit Pay, and tap into Fitbit Coach. Meanwhile the new women’s health tracking has also been introduced for the first time, which is also available for the Ionic, too.
But it’s battery life that really has the power to compel buyers, as well as the attractive price. You can get five days on a single charge, which means less hassle on weekends away, and simpler sleep tracking.
Read our Fitbit Versa review in full£199.99, Amazon | fitbit.comSamsung Galaxy WatchSamsung Gear Galaxy: Key specsOS: TizenDisplay: Super AMOLED (360 x 360)Size: 42mm/46mmBattery: 4 days (42mm), 7 days (46mm)Water resistance: 5ATMHeart rate: YesConnectivity: GPS, NFC, Wi-Fi, BluetoothWorks with: iOS, AndroidPros: Intuitive rotating bezel | Slick Tizen OSCons: Bixby is lousy | App quality not greatFeature check: GPS, Samsung Pay, Tizen, heart rate monitoring.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch is the successor to the Gear S3 and is still one of the best smartwatches around today. Compatible with Android and iOS, it now comes in both 42mm and 46mm models.
Samsung treads between smartwatch and fitness tracker, also packing in a heart rate sensor alongside the GPS and its much-improved Samsung Health software. There’s also the option of LTE, if you wish for an untethered connection, with a standalone speaker for taking calls on the watch. It’s now waterproof too, adding swim tracking skills that are on par with the Watch Series 4.
The Galaxy Watch runs on Samsung’s Tizen OS 4.0 and feels like a better alternative to Google’s Wear OS right now. You still get that rotating bezel and one of the best displays you can find on a smartwatch. However, the app selection still lags way behind the Apple Watch and Wear OS devices. That said, the Spotify app is great and offers offline playback.
Battery life, we should say, is also solid, getting you 2-3 days on the 42mm model and more on the 46mm version. If you’re not a fan of Wear and don’t want an Apple Watch, this is the top option to consider instead.
Read of our Samsung Galaxy Watch reviewFrom £349.99, Amazon (42mm) Amazon (46mm) | samsung.comBest sporty smartwatch options…Garmin Forerunner 645 MusicGarmin has been putting out go-to smartwatches for sports lovers for a while now. Running, cycling, swimming, golf – Garmin has had us well and truly covered. Despite the Forerunner name, the 645 Music is more in the mould of the Vivoactive 3 Music. It’s got a similar look and also brings the music this time. This helps make the Garmin more of a smartwatch rival to the Apple Watch, Samsung Gear or Fitbit Ionic than before.
Not only are you getting enough storage for 500 songs, but you’re getting the offline playlist support for Spotify, Deezer and iHeartRadio. For transferring your own tracks, boot up Garmin Express on your computer, select the Music tab and choose from your own music to port over.
That same attractive stainless steel design is here. The 240 x 240 pixel display at the heart of the body is by no means the brightest or most vibrant you’ll find, but crucially delivers strong visibility in most workout conditions, whether you’re sweating it out indoors or outside. However, there is no touchscreen or touchpad here, so you’ll have to resort to pressing some buttons.
As far as the number of sports available to track: while it’s more of the same, there are some notable exclusions – like golf tracking and open water swimming (pool swimming is there though). Heart rate monitoring is decent if not class-leading, and it won’t keep you waiting around for a GPS signal. There’s also all the stress tracking goodies from Garmin’s fitness trackers. As multi-sport smartwatches go, this is the best in our eyes, and builds on all the good work Garmin did with its previous iterations.
Of course, we’re listing the Forerunner here as a smartwatch, and Garmin has added decent smarts. Fitness tracking is fantastic and Garmin Connect is a decent ecosystem for wellness data from steps and sleep to workouts and stress. You can get everything happening on your smartwatch mirrored to your Forerunner, from calls and alerts, and it will suck in information on weather and the like. And battery life is seriously impressive, with a couple of weeks even for power users.
Read our Garmin Forerunner 645 Music review£399.99, Amazon | garmin.comSamsung Gear SportIf you’re eyeing a smartwatch with sport in mind, it would be remiss of us not to mention Samsung’s older wearable. The Gear Sport is smaller and cheaper than the all-new Galaxy Watch, which makes for a slightly more comfortable fit in the gym or out for a run.
The 42.9mm case fits in a 1.2-inch AMOLED screen with a whopping 360×360 resolution, controlled by the rotating bezel which enables you to flit around the circular menus. It’s swimproof with 50ATM water resistance and boasts a dedicated Speedo branded swim tracking app, and there’s GPS for outdoor workout tracking. There’s an optical heart rate monitor too.
There’s a nifty Spotify app that lets you offline sync playlists – something missing from iOS and Wear smartwatches – and while Tizen lags for apps it’s got the full Endomondo, MyFitnessPal and Under Armour app suite – but Strava is still missing from the lineup.
£169.99, Amazon | samsung.comJust announced, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active is the company’s latest sporty smartwatch. The watch has a 1.1-inch, 360 x 360 screen, 20mm interchangeable straps and weighs just 25g. The 40mm case makes it smaller than the Galaxy Watch – but it sacrifices the rotating bezel.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active still runs Tizen, and isn’t a slouch when it comes to health and fitness. It differentiates from the Apple Watch by adding a blood pressure monitoring feature as well as stress scores, both of which utilize the optical heart rate sensor. There’s still GPS on board with Samsung Health.
We’ve added the Galaxy Watch Active here because it’s a high-profile smartwatch that you should know about when making a purchase decision – but we’ve not reviewed it yet and can’t vouch for its performance. That review will be landing soon, so check back for our verdict.
£229.99, Amazon | SamsungTicwatch E2Another top budget option, the Ticwatch E2 offers access to the benefits of Wear OS in a stylish and wallet-friendly package.
The 46mm watch measures in at around 13mm thick and is only available in black. You do get a choice of interchangeable bands to make it less sporty though.
The fitness tracking as been “inspired” by the Apple Watch, and offers a neat and well-designed tracking experience. And when it comes to real sport, you can tap into Wear OS’s range of apps from the likes of Strava, Runkeeper and more.
There’s GPS built in and a heart rate monitor too, although we found the latter lacking in our stress tests. The headline feature is that it’s now swimproof and does offer decent swim tracking skills in the pool too.It’s by no means a complete fitness experience, but we like the Ticwatch’s funky design and bargain price. For casual users, is an interesting smartwatch option.
£177.99, Amazon | mobvoi.comStylish smartwatch options…Skagen Falster 2Designer smartwatches are catching on, but the majority of options out there likely come from Fossil Group’s ranks – and one of the finest among them is the excellent Skagen Falster 2. It’s a unisex watch that comes in a unisex size, although it’s undoubtedly one of the more masculine finishes in the Fossil Group line-up.
Slim and light, the Skagen challenges those who complain that smartwatches are too chunky, packing a full 1.19-inch OLED touchscreen. In terms of size, the case has been shrunk to 40mm, which as small as any smartwatch out there – and it’s extremely light too. At 0.8mm thick it’s no Daniel Wellington, but it’s as comfortable as any full-screen Wear OS watch out there.
It takes a standard 20mm strap, so you can pretty much choose anything from the analogue watch world to pimp out your smartwatch.
There are downsides for a tech perspective. It used older Qualcomm technology so battery life is mired around a single day’s use and we did notice some performance issues. But if you’re looking for style first and tech second – and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that – the Skagen Falster 2 is well worth your time.
Read our Skagen Falster 2 review£269.99, Amazon | fossil.comFossil Q Venture HRFossil Q Venture HR: Key specsOS: Wear OS Size: 40mmBattery: 1 dayWater resistance: IP67Heart rate: YesConnectivity: Wi-FiWorks with: Android, iOSPros: Beautifully designed | Google PayCons: Weak GPS accuracy | Poor Battery lifeFeature check: Works with iOS and Android, heart rate monitoring, GPS, Google Pay, swim-friendly.
Fossil Group may be holding the umbrella over a bunch of fashion houses producing smartwatches, but that doesn’t mean it’s not competing in the arena itself. And with its fourth-generation smartwatches, it’s produced perhaps the most attractive smartwatch on the market, from a fashion perspective.
Sharing some similarities with the older Michael Kors Access Sofie (our previous best fashion watch pick), the Fossil Q Venture HR wants to stand out, and fans of a more dressy watch will probably find it a better fit than those who like to keep their wrist wear understated.
Fossil is still keeping screen resolution and other specs under wraps, but we do know this generation (which includes the men’s Fossil Q Explorist HR) is the most feature-packed we’ve seen from the company. Building on the design improvements of the third-gen devices, which saw the flat tyre removed and a slimmer form factor, the Q Venture HR now also harbours some serious tech under the bezel.
There’s now a heart rate monitor, as the name suggests, for tracking beats throughout the day and during exercise, a GPS monitor to keep up with your workouts, and an NFC chip to enable Google Pay. Add to that the ability to take this underwater up to 50 metres, all on the top of the refreshed Wear OS, and it all rounds out as a very complete smartwatch experience.
Read our Fossil Q Venture HR review£249.99, Amazon | fossil.comMontblanc Summit 2 Luxury smartwatches are a thing and some of them are actually very good. It started with Tag Heuer’s smartwatches then the likes of Louis Vuitton joined the connected party too. Now Montblanc wants in.
Its first smartwatch was underwhelming but, in its second coming, the Summit 2 is a watch that delivers on design and on features.
Montblanc has modelled its second generation watch on its 1858 collection offering sleek original watch faces, a high grade construction and a top notch 1.2-inch, 390 x 390 resolution touchscreen display.
Google’s Wear OS runs the show, but Montblanc manages to leave its mark with additional apps and those watch faces we mentioned to help things feel more unique. It’s now packed with more hardware features including built-in GPS, a heart rate monitor and a fully waterproof design to add any extra layer of durability.
This is also one of the first Wear OS smartwatches to run on Qualcomm’s new smartwatch tech that offers performance improvements across the board including battery life. You’re not going to get a week out of it, but it should make it through the day and maybe a little extra.
The new fitness features might not be perfect, but it’s nice for the casual gym goer. When you’re not sweating it out, it’ll sit there looking beautiful.
Wareable verdict: Montblanc Summit 2 review£845, montblanc.comHybrid smartwatches and others…Withings Steel HRThe majority of smartwatches in our list have been full-screen devices, but the Withings Steel HR approaches things a little differently – yet is still a powerful connected watch in a package that weighs just 49g.
The analogue display shows the time on the main dial (with a month of battery life) and progress towards your step goal on the second dial – but there’s so much more going on than this.
The Withings Steel HR has a 24/7 heart rate monitor that will keep tabs on VO2 Max and it will pair up with a smartphone to track outdoor workouts via GPS, although the tech isn’t built into the watch itself. It’s also swimproof to 50m and isn’t too shabby in the pool either, tracking laps and lengths
What’s more, Withings Health Mate app is one of the best out there for keeping tabs on all your assorted health data.
It’s no slouch as a connected watch either, and will alert you to notifications on your smartphone using vibrations and the tiny OLED screen build into the bezel. This is capable of offering quick and fairly crude alerts, but can show you when a message/call/calendar alerts are coming through using quick icons.
It’s a stripped back smartwatch experience but one that’s packed into a stylish, small and comfortable hybrid that doesn’t make as many compromises as you’d think.
Read our Withings Steel HR review£189.99, Amazon | withings.comHuawei Watch GTHuawei is still going with its Watch 2, but in 2018 came back to the table with something completely different. The Huawei Watch GT packs a huge set of features but on top of a custom operating system – those are words we usually utter with a huge amount of trepidation, but the Watch GT offers two weeks of battery life, which is a compelling sell.
And it doesn’t scrimp on tech. Huawei has packed in a 1.39-inch, 454 x 454 AMOLED screen. Which is among the best we’ve played with, comfortably matching up with the vibrancy and sharpness found on the Galaxy Watch and Apple Watch Series 4
Lite OS may take away some of the deeper elements previously found in Huawei smartwatches, it’s still an impressive activity tracker with heart rate monitoring and sleep tracking.
Sports tracking on the general is good, but there is one gripe we do have: data cannot be shared with third-party apps. All of your data can only live inside of Huawei’s companion Health app. We also found the heart rate data to lag way behind accomplished sports tracking rivals.
Huawei makes big promises in the battery department: up to two weeks with normal use, a complete day of GPS tracking and up to a month with features like always-on display and GPS turned off. And it delivers. Even with continuous heart rate monitoring turned on, we’ve only had to charge the Watch GT once during our three weeks of use.
For those looking for Pebble-esque longevity, but are willing to forgo the glitz and lure of a fully formed operating system and all the apps and glamour – the Huawei Watch GT is an interesting choice.
Read our Huawei Watch GT review£199, Amazon | huawei.com
Smartwatches are in rude health in 2019, and there’s so much choice for every budget, lifestyle or design.