The folks at Rebble, an organization that wanted to keep services and software for Pebble smartwatches alive, has announced its open for new submissions for its own app store.After Pebble was bought out by Fitbit and the wearable maker pulled the plug on supported services in 2018, Rebble has worked on helping Pebble owners retain many of its core features.
Essential reading: Remembering the original PebbleOne of those big features was an app store. It imported Pebble’s own app store in 2018 hosting the remaining apps available when Pebble services were officially turned off.
In an announcement on its blog, Rebble revealed it had welcomed its first new app to its own app store. That first app (which you can download now) is a RSS reader and we are sure there are some Rebble users that are already making good use of it.
Rebble also announced that its App Store is now (mostly) open for submissions. It’s now encouraging anyone that has any potential Pebble apps knocking about on their hard disks or devs ready to make something new, that it is now in a place to support bringing them to the Rebble App Store.
Since Rebble sprung into action into 2018 and announced its Web Services, it’s managed to offer an app store, firmware updates and the ability to create mobile apps. This latest development is a major milestone for those who have so passionately sought to keep Pebble smartwatches alive.
Rebble has admitted readily that the process of getting apps on the store won’t necessarily be smooth, but also says that it’ll help developers having trouble through the process. If you’re a GitHub native, you can browse the relevant directories here, to find out more.
The folks at Rebble, an organization that wanted to keep services and software for Pebble smartwatches alive, has announced its open for new submissions for its own app store.After Pebble was bought out by Fitbit and the wearable maker pulled the plug on supported services in 2018, Rebble has worked on helping Pebble owners retain many of its core features.
Garmin has unveiled the latest addition to its Marq line of luxury smartwatches, the Marq Commander.
The Marq range had already featured the Captain, Driver, Aviator, Athlete and Expedition watches, and now adds the stealthy, matte black Commander to the collection.
While the first Marq watches were aimed at flyers, hikers and seafarers, the Commander looks to be more tactically-minded.
Read next: Best Garmin smartwatch to buy right nowIn fact, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a watch made with secret agent shenanigans in mind, so complete is the feature-set. You’ve got an always-on display that’s built to work with night vision goggles, as well as a kill switch function that can wipe the watch’s user memory on command.
There’s also a built-in stealth mode that can stop the watch from storing or sharing GPS position, and disables wireless connectivity. The Commander also comes preloaded with topographic mapping and has the best of Garmin’s navigation tech on board too. That’s in addition to a barometric altimeter, compass and a UTC bezel to make sure you can keep track of your location.
The Marq Commander is built from lightweight titanium, with a sapphire crystal lens to give it that extra layer of protection. It looks like it’ll have the same display as the other Marq watches (the same as the one on the Fenix), which was one of the most disappointing aspects of the range for us in testing.
Away from its unique tactical features, you can expect all of the same sports tracking and smartwatch skills as other Marqs here it seems. So you’ll get built-in music storage, Garmin Pay and notification alerts. There’s plenty of sports and activity tracking modes along with a heart rate monitor and pulse oximeter sensors also in tow.
In terms of battery life, the Commander will run for up to 12 days in smartwatch mode and it should last 28 hours in GPS mode. Putting it into UltraTrac mode will get you 48 hours of playtime. If you’re using GPS and music at the same time, you can expect to get up to 9 hours of use.
The Marq Commander is available to order now, priced at $1,950, which is more expensive than the Marq Athlete $1,500 we tested.
Will Garmin fans be willing to shell out even more for a Marq? We’re really intrigued to see how well the Commander does.
If you’re looking for the best smartwatch but don’t have a whole lot of money to spend, don’t panic – there are plenty of cheaper options out there that don’t suck.
Whether you’re looking for something under $100, or you’re willing to stretch things out to around the $150 mark, you can still live a smartwatch life as full and happy as your Apple Watch and Fitbit Versa 2-owning friends.
While you might have to make some compromises on aspects like advanced sports tracking or luxurious design, you’ll still be able to do things like receive notifications and track your fitness. Of course, these watches are compatible with iPhones and Android smartphones too.
If you head over to Amazon, you can pick up a host of smartwatches for as little as $15, but take it from us, those really cheap ones are awful. We know, we’ve played with a bunch of them. So if your wallet can’t stretch to an Apple Watch Series 5 or a Samsung Galaxy Watch, read on for our list of decent cheap smartwatches you can grab without breaking the bank.
Any questions about our selections? Let us know in the comments section below.
Today’s best smartwatch dealsBest cheap smartwatches under $100Amazfit BipBuy now: Amazon | $79.99Xiaomi spinoff Huami has been making budget smartwatches for a while now, but its latest effort is its most compelling. It looks like the lovechild of a Pebble and an Apple Watch, but it also comes with up to 45 days of battery life (30 days if you cut out some features, like constant heart rate monitoring).
Speaking of features, you’re going to get some solid GPS and heart rate performance. It’s also extremely light and comfortable. We wish it was made out of some better materials and did more, but for the price (and with that battery life) it’s tough to beat.
There are some downsides, like the plastic casing and slightly clunky interface. But the good definitely outweighs the bad here, and the Bip is one of the best cheap smartwatches you can get on your wrist.
Wareable verdict: Amazfit Bip reviewWithings MoveBuy now: Amazon | $68.95Following a short tenure at Nokia, Withings is back to scrappy startup status. The Withings Move is one of its first products in the post-Nokia era, a simple hybrid with plenty of character – and a super affordable price. There are actually two versions here, the Move and the Move ECG, the latter offering an electrocardiogram sensor for a bit of a bump in price.With the Move though, you’re getting plenty of features here for your money. There’s reliable 24/7 activity tracking and it’ll even automatically recognise swimming and track your running (with your phone GPS). There’s sleep tracking too, 18 months of battery life and the ability to truly customise your watch. You can select the dial, case, hands and band to help make your Move feel more unique.The Move costs just $68.95 and is out now, while the ECG version is priced at $129.95 and is available in the EU, while Withings is still waiting to get the FDA nod for US sales.Wareable verdict: Withings Move reviewBest cheap smartwatches under $150Fitbit Versa Lite EditionBuy now: Amazon | $129.95The Fitbit Versa was a big hit, already getting a sequel, the Versa 2. The same can’t actually be said for the nonetheless great Versa Lite Edition, which has sold disappointingly, and kills some features in an effort to drop down that price. There’s a single button and no swim tracking or on-screen workouts.
Otherwise, you’re getting many of the same features that the Versa 2 has. That includes 24/7 activity tracking, sleep monitoring and a five-day battery life. You’ve also got that heart rate monitor for continuous and workout based tracking and a SpO2 sensor that further down the line can be used to unlock serious health monitoring features. You’re also getting fitness tracking and Fitbit’s app store plus a good number of watch faces.
If you can live without the swim tracking, payments and music player support you get with the pricier Versa 2, there’s still a whole lot to like about the Lite Edition. You still get a great smartwatch experience that showcases Fitbit’s best features.
Wareable verdict: Fitbit Versa Lite Edition reviewTicwatch E2Buy now: Amazon | $159.99The TicWatch E2 is a little more expensive in the US than it is in the UK, but we still think it can squeeze into this price category.Mobvoi’s budget smartwatch gives you a balanced, affordable entryway into the smartwatch world. Everything you want is here: an intriguing design that’ll remind you of an old Swatch, solid GPS performance and some good customisation from Mobvoi that’ll set your watch apart from the rest of the Wear OS cohort. You now also get a waterproof design with added swim tracking skills, which we found to be a solid performer in the water. It runs on Google’s Wear OS so you get all those staple smartwatch features including customisable watch faces, Google Assistant and the ability to download apps.
Battery life is the 1-2 day norm for Wear watches, but it’s a solid all-rounder that does a great job for the price.
Wareable verdict: Ticwatch E2 reviewFossil Q ExploristBuy now: Amazon | $159Another one that’s slightly pricier in the US, here. Fossil is one of the most prolific smartwatch manufacturers around at the moment, and has a veritable flood of models to choose from. Most are on the premium end of the scale, but with a lot of generations coming out over time you can pick up older models very reasonably.
This is exemplified by the third generation Fossil Q Explorist, which can often be found for less than $150, far less than its more recent counterparts.
Unlike later edition Fossil smartwatches, you won’t get contactless payment support or the same activity-tracking smarts. Considering the stylish looks and quality, though, there’s a good chance these won’t be deal-breakers for you. And, of course, you’ll still get features such as Android and iOS compatibility, step tracking, notifications and music control.
Wareable verdict: Fossil Q Explorist reviewSamsung Gear S2Buy now: Amazon | $139.94With the Galaxy Watch and the Galaxy Watch Active 2 on the scene, the Gear S2 is now the cheapest it’s ever been. But don’t be put off by the price or its age; this is still one of the best smartwatches you can get your hands on, and Samsung continues to roll out updates for the old, but still solid smartwatch.
While it might not boast the same number of apps as the Apple Watch or what’s up for grabs for Wear owners, it does have Tizen OS, which is one of the slickest smartwatch operating systems we’ve used. It’s also got that great rotating bezel for navigation, and battery life is not too shabby either.
In the features department, you’ve got a 1.2-inch 360 x 360 resolution AMOLED display, an on board heart rate monitor, activity tracking, a built-in music player (with Spotify support) and Samsung Pay. Samsung has also done a pretty good job of keeping its older smartwatches updated with new features.
If you’re happy not having the newest Samsung smartwatch, then the Gear S2 is still worth considering.
Wareable verdict: Samsung Gear S2 reviewSkagen Hagen Buy now: Amazon | $77.15Yes we’ve snuck in another hybrid smartwatch, but if you can live with the fact there’s no touchscreen and this is an older model, this is one of the best looking smartwatches you can get on your wrist.
Aside from the gorgeous design, it’ll give you a discreet nudge when you receive notifications, track activity including sleep and has Skagen Link, which unlocks the ability to do things like control music on your iPhone or Android smartphone and take photos. It also runs on a standard replaceable CR2430 coin-cell battery, which means there’s no charger to reach for every night.
In true Skagen style, you can pick this watch up in a host of different looks and the 20mm straps are interchangeable, so you can mix up that look. It’s sleek and smart, does the basics well and is definitely one of our faves. Fossil is promising new hybrid watches sometime soon, so hopefully we’ll see something new from Skagen too.Wareable verdict: Skagen Hagen Connected review
The Apple Watch may have gone through several iterations, but the only two generations officially being sold are the Series 5 and the Series 3.
If you’re looking to split these two smartwatches, there’s plenty to learn, and, in this guide, we’ll be doing our best to help you make the right buying decision.
Essential reading: Cheap Apple Watch dealsDown below, we have a full comparison of specs and all the key differences between Apple Watch 5 and Apple Watch 3 – read on for all you need to know.
Apple Watch Series 5 v Apple Watch Series 3: Specs comparedKey Specs
Apple Watch Series 5
Apple Watch Series 3
40mm and 44mm
38mm and 42mm
Aluminum (Silver, Gold and Space Grey), Stainless Steel (Gold, Space Black, Polished), Titanium (Natural Brushed, Brushed Space Black, Ceramic (White)
Aluminum (Silver and Space Grey)Screen size
324 x 394 pixels (40mm) and 368 x 448 pixels (44mm)
272 x 340 pixels (38mm) and 312 x 390 pixels (42mm)
4G/LTE model available
Heart rate monitor
Optical heart rate sensor and electric heart sensor for ECG
Optical heart rate sensor
8GB (GPS model) and 16GB (GPS and LTE model)
Apple Watch Series 5 v Apple Watch Series 3: PriceDue to its age, Apple Watch Series 3 is available for much less than the Series 5 – starting at £199, with the 4G/LTE version adding £100 onto this figure.
This makes it the best of the affordable smartwatches, alongside the Fitbit Versa 2.
The Apple Watch Series 5, meanwhile, is on the more pricey end of the scale, starting at £399, rising to £499 for the 4G/LTE version. Apple Watch Series 5 v Apple Watch Series 3: Battery lifeApple may have progressed the Watch every generation, but this pair share the same 18-hour battery life estimate.
However, of course, this is based upon moderate use with the array of features that are at your disposal.
With the Series 5, there’s plenty more potential to suck up battery, thanks to things like the Always-On Retina Display, ECG monitoring and the Compass.
More reading: Apple Watch Series 4 v Apple Watch Series 3Based on our testing, the two last for roughly the same amount of time, though the Series 5 came off slightly worse.
In any case, the equation is the same with both of these smartwatches – you’re going to be forced to charge them at some point every day.
Apple Watch Series 5 v Apple Watch Series 3: DesignThere’s considerable design differences to be aware of, if you’re picking between these two smartwatches.
The Series 4 represented the first real updated design since the Watch’s inception, and the Series 5 is pretty much a carbon copy.
First, you’ll have to pick between the two different sizes, 40mm and 44mm, then compare this to the Series 3’s 38mm and 42mm options.
And though 4mm may not sound like a big difference, this can really affect how your Watch feels on the wrist.
Amazon: Apple Watch Series 5 40mm GPS – Save $15
Naturally, the bigger your wrists are, the bigger case size you should go for.
And, obviously, with everyone’s wrists being different, the only real way to find out which is right for you is to test out a friend’s device or go into an Apple store. Or, alternatively, draw the specs on your wrist with a pen – whatever’s easiest.
As we mentioned above, the Series 5 also debuted the Always-On Retina Display.
So, not only is there a better pixel density (resulting in a crisper display) and a bigger, more rounded screen to consider in the newer model, but you also have the option to have it always showing.
Apple Watch Series 5 v Apple Watch Series 3: FeaturesFor the average user, there hasn’t been much improvement between the day-to-day features in the Series 3 and Series 5. Instead, the most notable changes have been developed in more niche areas.
The best example of this is the Series 5’s ECG monitoring, which is able to read the user’s heartbeat and potentially detect heart conditions. Fall Detection, which leverages the newer model’s gyroscope and accelerometer, is also available.
Amazon: Apple Watch Series 3 38mm GPS
However, if things like this aren’t a priority to you, and you just want a smartwatch that can track your daily activity, heart rate and remain connected when you’re not near your phone, you might not be getting true value for money with the Series 5.
The bottom line: the Series 5 is undoubtedly the better smartwatch if you want the latest features, but the Series 3 offers pretty much all the same core ones, such as GPS, 4G/LTE, Apple Pay and waterproofing.
Don’t forget, they can also run pretty much identical software version, watchOS 6.
With the Apple Watch Series 5, Apple’s smartwatch has finally hit its stride.
It’s easy to forget the Apple Watch hasn’t been around for very long, and the Series 4 represented the biggest leap forward in that short timeline. Yeah, the Series 3 added a cellular connection, but while Apple’s application of this tech was impressive, it was nothing new.
The Series 4, however, introduced an ECG that could detect signs of atrial fibrillation, meaning it could literally saves lives, while also changing the dimensions and shape of the smartwatch.
Essential reading: Apple Watch Series 5 v Series 4The Series 5? Well, it can tell you the time. It has an always-on display, you see.But we jest a little, because with the Series 5 Apple has bounded ahead so far it has the luxury of focusing on more subtle improvements.
Amazon: Apple Watch Series 5
We’ve been living with it for a short while. We’ve run with it. We’ve danced with it on our wrist. We’ve slept with it. We’ve lived with the Apple Watch Series 5 – here’s our full verdict.Apple Watch Series 5: Design and always-on displayThe Series 4 bumped up the size of the Watch to 40mm and 44mm, and Apple’s sticking with that again on the Series 5.Read this: Best Apple Watch bands to buy nowIn fact, put the Series 4 and Series 5 next to one another and you won’t spot a difference in the overall design. What is different is the new line-up of materials and colors to choose from, including a new brushed titanium finish, which comes in black or grey, and weighs a little less (but costs £100 more) than the stainless steel, which is still doing its thing.
Ceramic also makes a comeback on Series 5 but will cost you £1,299, while the cheapest Series 5 you can get is £399, which is the GPS-only in aluminum.
And with each model you have the choice of GPS-only or cellular, the latter of which will cost more, and starts at £499
Not only do we now have the ceramic and titanium options, but there are leather bands and even a Milanese gold loop. There are a lot more ways to customize your Watch, and in fact Apple has changed the purchase process, online and in-store, so you can buy your Apple Watch with any band you choose.Apple’s also continuing its partnerships with Nike and Hermès, offering bespoke bands and watch faces for both once again.
Want an Apple Watch and don’t mind missing some of the latest features? The Series 3 is now the cheapest entry point at £199. Our hot take: that’s Apple’s killer move with this product cycle, and should give Fitbit and others plenty of reason to worry.But the biggest new feature on the Series 5 is the always-on screen, something made possible by the new low-temperature polycrystalline oxide display, aka LTPO, which can reduce the refresh rate to stop the screen sucking all the power.
When it kicks in – either by putting your wrist down by your side or covering the screen with a hand – the display will dim, and certain animations, such as the second hand, will stop. Apple says it knocks down the refresh rate from 60Hz to as low as 1Hz, so you’ll still see complications update and the minute/hour hands move, but that’s it.An always-on display might not seem like a reason to upgrade, and for those on the Series 4 or Series 3, we’d recommend holding out for Series 6; however, it does have the desired effect of making the Apple Watch feel less like a computer and more like a real watch. You can glance at the watch subtly and still see the time, which was an annoying part of having the screen turn off on Series 0 – 4.
Apple’s reworked some of its own apps to make use of this new feature too. For example, in the Workout app, information like the seconds disappear for a more simple display.
If an app hasn’t been designed to do anything with the always-on screen (and that covers all the third-party apps right now) it will simply blur what’s on the display and give you an overlay of a digital clock.
Apple Watch Series 5: Features & watchOS 6The always-on display is the biggest new feature here, but not the only one. With each new Apple Watch we also get an update to watchOS, which this year comes in the form of watchOS 6 and has now rolled out to all Series bar the very first.
Essential reading: Best Apple Watch faces to try outHowever, the new compass feature is exclusive to Series 5 models. This works, well, just like a compass, and lives in a separate app. Along with elevation and incline measurements, the compass also gives you a cone of confidence to convey how accurate it’s reading.
One thing to be wary of: certain magnetic bands can interfere with the accuracy. More on that here.
The compass doesn’t feel like a must-have feature for anyone but the most ardent of hikers. If you’re lost deep in the wilderness and relying on a smartwatch that barely offers over a day of battery life… we don’t fancy your chances.On the plus side, the Series 5’s SOS function is now improved as it will now let you call the emergency services in any country you’re in, so long as you have the cellular version, and will connect you with the appropriate first responders.
So if that compass isn’t going to save you, there’s a backup option at least.
Another new feature is Apple’s Noise app, which monitors sound around you and gives you a notification if you’re being exposed to noise levels that could damage your hearing. We only had it warn us on two occasions. Once, whilst on the dance floor at a wedding, having grooved our way right near the speakers; the second time was when we were wearing the Apple Watch in the shower and – we suspect – the water hit the mic directly.Which is to say, it seems to work as it should do, and you can even have it as a complication on certain faces.watchOS 6 also finally brings a menstrual cycle tracking app to the Apple Watch, but it’s been deployed carefully. The app can predict both your period and your fertility window, but it won’t display any of this information in a complication (many people would not want this seen by prying eyes).
Speaking of which, we also get a bunch of new watch faces and an on-watch App Store, the latter of which is another major step forward in breaking up with the iPhone.It means that, so long as there’s a connection either to your phone or directly over cellular, you can search for and download apps directly onto the Apple Watch without installing them on your iPhone first. You can search using dictation or by scribbling words in one letter at a time.
What’s less smart about this move is that Apple has removed the App Store from within the Watch iOS app, so the only way to browse is on your wrist. It wants developers to build Watch apps that run independently of an iPhone app, but it’s far easier to search and browse on a phone than it is a tiny watch screen.
For a more detailed look at the new software, check out our full watchOS 6 guide.
Apple Watch Series 5: Heart rate and GPS performanceIn terms of heart rate performance, we’re looking at a similar situation to the Series 4. We performed a number of side-by-side tests against a chest strap – and found that on steady runs, performance of the Apple Watch’s optical sensor largely mirrored that of a Garmin chest strap.
We ran several training runs at various paces, including a 5K race which we spent most of the run in zone 4 – and couldn’t find fault with the heart rate tracking. The average for the 24 minute run was the same on chest strap and Apple Watch – and the sensor had no problems keeping up with our bpm climbing through the gears.
However, like Apple Watch smartwatches before it – and every single other optical device out there – we didn’t get quite the same experience for our HIIT sessions. Explosive rises in heart rate aren’t tracked as accurately, especially when flexes of the arm are involved.
The analysis of this is also much better, and you can review workouts in the Activity app on your iPhone. It’s not as easy to explore the data as Garmin Connect, which points to perhaps a less prosumer audience – although curiously the information is presented with some quiet cryptic data about heart rate recovery – which wasn’t really clear how to read it.
Not shown in the Activity app – but present in Apple Health – is VO2 Max data. This isn’t new to Series 5 but is presented more centrally in Apple Health. We haven’t validated the Apple Watch’s reading against a treadmill, but we have had a VO2 Max test.
We’d expect this number to be between 47 and 50, which is also our reading from the Garmin Fenix 5S (49ml/kg/min) which we found to be most accurate against the test. Apple’s reading was 42ml/kg/min – a lot lower.
Resting heart rate average 49 which is in line with both Fitbit, Garmin and chest strap readings.
In short, the Apple Watch is as good an optical heart rate sensor as any sports watch on the market. If you’re into HIIT classes and really focus on the minutiae of your performance data, you will need a device with a chest strap. That’s the same for any device. But the key fact is that in terms of heart rate tracking, you’re just as well off with a Series 5 than any other device.Worryingly, we found some issues with distance accuracy.
The GPS glossed over some of the fine tuning when running with the Workout app. The result was that a 5km run was measured at 4.77km – which isn’t so good. This wasn’t just a one-off either: We had multiple instances where the Watch was under-tracking on distance.
This also has a knock-on effect on pace, which is the holy grail of any runner. It’s this kind of issue that could lead serious runners to choose Garmin over Apple.
Apple Watch Series 5: Battery lifeApple claims the Series 5 can achieve the same 18 hours as the Series 4.
The addition of that always-on display mode (if you choose to have it turned on) does still does reduce that battery life. While Apple does claim that your Apple Watch should roughly last the same amount of time, we did notice a 10% reduction in longevity.
Read this: How to improve Apple Watch battery lifeIt will still last for a full day of moderate use, and we can still stretch that to a day and a half with less interactivity, but while we would often be able to manage our Series 4 through two days, that’s no longer the case on the Series 5.
Amazon: Apple Watch Series 5
Apple Watch Series 5
The Series 5 is a small upgrade on paper, but the always-on display has the desired effect of making this feel much closer to a real watch. You do sacrifice some battery life for it, but not drastically so. Otherwise, the biggest changes come with watchOS 6 – most of which older Watch owners can still enjoy.
More options than everBattery life takes a cut
Some GPS issues
Very minor upgrade
The Fossil Gen 5 Smartwatch is the fashion latest smartwatch, and yes, it continues to run on Google’s Wear OS operating system.
Fossil’s veritable army of Wear watches is one of the few positives for a platform that continues to struggle to make waves against the likes of Apple, Samsung and Garmin.
With Gen 5, it’s about fitting more smarts into a design that continues look and feel like a ‘dumb’ watch. For Gen 4, we got sporty features like a heart rate monitor and GPS. Now Fossil is improving its communication powers adding a speaker to let you take calls from your wrist. That onboard speaker will also improve existing features like Google Assistant.
We also get Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor, which means the Fossil Sport is no longer the only watch in Fossil’s Wear family to reap the benefits of the new smartwatch chipset. Most notably, a promised improvement with battery life.
But has Fossil done enough with Gen 5 to get us excited about Wear OS again? We’ve been putting it to the test to find out. Here’s our verdict on the Fossil Gen 5 Smartwatch.
Fossil Gen 5 Smartwatch: DesignFossil Gen 5 Smartwatch key specsWorks with Android and iOS44mm case12mm thicknessSilicone, stainless steel & leather straps3 ATM (Swim-proof) water resistanceQualcomm Snapdragon Wear 31008GB storage/1GB RAMBuilt-in speaker to make callsNFC for Google PayBluetoothGPSWi-Fi24 hours battery life
In pure aesthetics, this is a beautifully designed watch. If you wear it people will compliment your choice. The 44mm body feels big and bold, but the quality of the design creates an understated effect. It is powerful, but not overpowering and exactly what we were expecting after all the great work Fossil has done to slim things down but still retain that attractive look.
We were testing the black silicone model of the Carlyle HR with Fossil’s Gen 5 watch also coming in a more dressier looking Julianna HR model. Both models offer interchangeable 22mm stainless steel and leather strap options if you need to mix things up on the looks front. There are also a myriad of digital watch faces to pair up with it including Fossil’s own ranging from the classic to something more quirky.
At the heart of this Gen 5 watch is the 1.3-inch touchscreen AMOLED display that packed a 328ppi-pixel-resolution punch. It’s readable in all light conditions and while there is a ‘sun boost’ option, visibility is rarely an issue. The touchscreen generally performed well too and there is the option to set-up basic gesture controls (twist, flick, shake) to replace scroll and swipe, which worked fine day-to-day.
In addition to touchscreen navigation, there are three physical buttons on the side of the body, including the crown, which acts as a scroller and shortcut to activate the assistant.
The two remaining buttons can be set up for quick access to selected apps. That crown operation was smooth and very effective when scrolling through apps and alerts and remains still one of the nicer features that comes built into Fossil’s smartwatches.
One thing you can’t question is that Fossil knows how to make a good-looking smartwatch that you’ll want to wear – and be seen wearing.
Fossil Gen 5 Smartwatch: Wear OS and speaker performanceWhile you’re still getting a smartwatch that plays nice with Android and iPhones, it’s clear that the Wear OS experience is still better if you’ve got a Google-powered smartphone. Google has sought to bring greater parity with the features you can use on Wear OS irrespective of what compatible phone you use. But it doesn’t feel that much has changed enough on that front.
Essential reading: Best Wear OS watch facesWhile not a night and day distinction, the range of features available to Android users certainly puts iOS users in the shade. Calls, email, text – the potential for communication is much broader for Android users. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the level of assistance felt different depending on which phone the watch was paired with.Fossil says an iOS fix is coming later this year but until it arrives, rating these experiences does not feel like a fair comparison.The big new hardware feature here is the speaker, which now enables you to listen to music out loud, but perhaps more usefully, take phone calls. With no LTE connectivity here though, you still need to have your phone in close proximity to make use of the added functionality.
Call quality on the Gen 5 is not a pleasurable experience, however. Crackles and hisses, which have been reported by other users, were a regular feature during our testing. This is a pretty glaring deficiency for such a vaunted feature. At times it was impossible to maintain a coherent conversation.Texting on the other hand was a joy, the screen is big enough for comfortable data entry and the voice capability opens up the options for on the hoof messaging. Your phone can stay in your pocket for some operations, but not all.
Interplay with Spotify and podcast apps was good. Google Pay is available here too. The possibilities to incorporate the Gen 5 into a more connected home or lifestyle is certainly there. Saying that, connectivity was not constant in our time with it.
There were instances when connections were lost at random and the vaunted voice assistant didn’t always respond to even simple requests. When it did the interaction with calendar, agenda reminders and other voice activated apps and commands, it was a really positive feature.
Ultimately, this feels like Wear OS as we’ve seen it before. There are some highlights, but as operating system on the whole, it still has some horrible niggles that don’t make it that seamless smartwatch experience we pine for.
Fossil Gen 5 Smartwatch: Fitness & heart rate trackingLike Fossil’s Gen 4 watches, Google Fit is at the heart of all things fitness and sports tracking. Nike Run Club now also comes preinstalled, but you can of course make use of third party apps found inside of the Google Play Store. You’ve still got built-in GPS and a heart rate monitor here too, with the hope you’ll find it a decent sports watch replacement.
Read this: Understanding your running watch statsIn our testing, it generally performed well. In practical terms, the silicone strap was suitable to wear during workouts after pushing that heart rate up. Yes, it’s a fashion watch first, but it can handle getting sweaty too.
It kept pace with the connected GPS tracking skills on the Fitbit Charge 3. Mapped data in a mixed urban-open area didn’t throw up any surprises, which is a marked improvement from what we found with the performance of Fossil’s Gen 4 duo.
HR accuracy compared: Polar H10 chest strap (left) and Fossil Gen (right)In terms of heart rate monitoring, it was pretty consistent for a range of workouts and outdoor bike rides. Though in some sessions against a Polar heart rate chest strap monitor it came up short in terms of accuracy.
The Gen 5 didn’t pick up some of the heart rate spikes and then tended to exaggerate those spikes in other parts of the session. One session saw the chest strap record an average of 92bpm while the Gen 5 clocked the same session at 118bpm.
The results echo a lot of what we found with Fossil’s last-generation smartwatches. They simply don’t cut it for intense heart rate-based training.
Away from fitness, Fossil now pre-loads the heart health monitoring app Cardiogram that can perform regular heart rate checks. Those checks all seemed consistent with chest strap readings, though there were instances when not being connected to a phone meant blank spots in the data.
Fossil Gen 5 Smartwatch: Battery lifeFossil’s claims of 24-hour battery life in the standard battery mode and those were backed up during our tests – with a couple of caveats.After a day of regular use and approximately 6.5 hours of sleep, the battery lasted the course. Night time heart monitoring is a useful feature to tap into, but the drain on the battery may leave you short if you favour early morning workouts. An hour was generally enough to get power levels back up to full.
Gen 5 now brings new battery saver modes, which come courtesy of Qualcomm’s latest processor. These modes only power features when they are in use. As well as a time-only setting that worked fine during 2.5 days of our time with it. With prudent charging this is a smartwatch with strong battery performance.
The magnetic ‘Rapid’ USB charger is easy to use and performed well. Simply align the pins on the charger with the sphere on the back of the watch and let magnetism and electricity take care of the rest.
Fossil Carlyle HR
The Fossil Gen 5 looks great, has some really nice details and is an able, if not spectacular, fitness tracker. There are a range of features that will appeal to Android phone owners, but the distinction between the iOS and Android experience with Wear OS is still so markedly different. Until that is fixed, iPhone users should keep that in mind. The addition of the speaker adds a new dimension to interacting with Google Assistant and generally performs well apart from when it comes to call quality. As a smartwatch, the Gen 5 is another step in the right direction, but Wear OS has to do much more to convince us that it should be picked over its stronger rivals.
Impressive voice interaction
Solid fitness trackingPoor call quality
Slow to react to commands
Michael Kors took to IFA earlier in the month to unveil three brand new smartwatches in the MKGO, Access Bradshaw 2 and Lexington 2. Well, right now you can save 25% off all of them in a somewhat surprising sale.
Michael Kors: Save 25% off latest smartwatches
Frankly, there are too many models and styles for us to list here. Both with the discount, you can get the MKGO for just $221.25 instead of $299.95; the Lexington 2 as low as $262.50 instead of $350 and the Bradshaw 2 for $262.50 instead of $350.
There are other variants with different pricing, but they’re all subject to this big 25% saving. If you’re after something sporty, it’s the MKGO you want – with built-in heart rate monitor and GPS – otherwise the other two models win out in terms of sheer fashion.
The MKGO is the smallest of the three, with a 43mm watch face, whereas the other two have 44mm designs. The MKGO is also significantly lighter, owing to its sports focus.
Needless to say, with the entire range of smartwatch on sale, you’re bound to find one that matches your sense of style.
Michael Kors: Save 25% off latest smartwatches
Considering the new Michael Kors range of smartwatches were only released earlier in the month, seeing such a big discount this early is a real surprise. We’re not sure how long they’ll last, so snap them up before they’re gone.
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American watchmaker Movado has officially unveiled the Connect 2.0, its second generation Wear OS smartwatch.
A follow-up to the Connect smartwatch it launched in 2017, the new Connect now comes in two sizes and packs in new features into a unisex design including a heart rate monitor and built-in GPS.
Essential reading: Your ultimate guide to Wear OSYou’ve got your pick of 40mm and 42mm size options, with a variety of styles to choose from – 15 in total. The watch duo also have interchangeable bands, and some impressive hardware additions from the last few years of smartwatch design. There’s a rotating digital crown to the right of the watch’s body, à la Apple Watch, as well as two buttons that are programmable to your own choosing.
Both watches have always-on AMOLED displays, much like the Apple Watch Series 5, though we don’t have precise details on resolution or sizes.
Performance is powered by Qualcomm’s now more widespread Snapdragon 3100 chipset, with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of on-watch storage, meaning you can transfer some music across for offline playback. That Snapdragon processor also brings new battery modes with the Connect 2.0 said to deliver up to 24 hours battery life with a few more days possible thanks to those new modes.These watches do run on Google’s Wear OS bringing features like Google Pay, activity tracking through Google Fit and access to Google Assistant. There isn’t a speaker here though like some other new Wear watches, so you don’t have the ability to play music or take calls. You can fully expect some Movado-branded watch faces that you’ll be able to customise to add in more of the data you care about.If you want in on the new Movado smartwatches, they’re available to pre-order now from Movado, ahead of an October release. Prices start from $495 and can go all the way up to $795. That means it’s jumping up a little bit in price on its similarly expensive predecessor.
The first Connect was a decent enough smartwatch, but wasn’t all that drastically different from other Wear watches already out there. Hopefully we’ll feel differently about the Connect 2.0 once we get some time with it.
Tag Heuer will launch its next Connected smartwatch in March 2020 according to a former employee of the Swiss watchmaking giant.
That revealing information about Tag’s future plans was shared in Business Insider’s look into Google’s smartwatch strategy, which also revealed that Google had cancelled plans to launch a Pixel watch in 2016.
Essential reading: Best smartwatches to buy right nowThe former employee spoke about the watchmaker’s struggles to convince consumers to pay big bucks for a luxury smartwatch with Tag having shipped 15,000 of its first watch and 50,000 of the second generation Connected watch.
They added that the launch of that new smartwatch in 2020 was for Tag’s image and to convince the industry that it had not failed to enter the digital market. Aside from when we’ll see it, there was no discussion of features we can expect to see. We’d imagine Google’s Wear OS will still be running the software show.Tag Heuer launched a Golf Edition smartwatch earlier this yearTag Heuer launched its first Connected smartwatch in 2015, which was followed by the Connected Modular 45 in 2017. In 2018, Tag launched the Connected Modular 41, which took the features of the 45 and put them inside of a smaller body.At Baselworld earlier this year, we also got a Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45 Golf Edition, that brought some intriguing golf watch features to its luxury Wear watch.
Next year’s Baselworld will be taking place at the end of April, which is later than previous years. A March launch for a new Connected smartwatch would mean Tag have it to display at the show it continues to be part of, despite some major watch brands deciding not to participate in recent years.
Hopefully, come March 2020 we will have more reason to be excited about Wear OS and the prospect of seeing it inside of a new Tag Heuer smartwatch.
Fitness trackers are no longer Fitbit’s most exciting devices, with smartwatches now paving the way for the company’s future.
After the first Fitbit Versa and Versa Lite, Fitbit has swiftly followed up with the Fitbit Versa 2, which takes its place as one its flagships smartwatches alongside the Fitbit Ionic. These two watches present a bit of a quandary for customers, though: which one is the better choice?
Wareable verdict: Fitbit Versa 2 review | Fitbit Ionic reviewWe’ve taken a hard look at both models and placed them in direct comparison to work out which holds the advantage depending on your needs. We’ll run through a few areas, including the watches’ designs, pricing and features, to make sure that you can work out which model is right for you.
Fitbit Versa 2 v Fitbit Ionic: DesignStarting up, you’ll notice some really immediate differences between the designs of the Versa 2 and Ionic – they’re quite distinct in terms of look.
We’re not going to dress it up for you – the Fitbit Ionic’s square form-factor and boxy looks aren’t really up our street, though we got used to them in the time we’ve been using it.
The Ionic has a lot of other things going for it, but it came early in Fitbit’s move towards smartwatches, and still shows a lot of the sporty influence typically found on fitness trackers.
The Versa 2, meanwhile, is a slightly refined version of the original Versa’s design, smoothing away some of the corners and losing the Fitbit logo on the lower bezel. The Versa 2 often gets mistaken for an Apple Watch on our wrists, which has become something of a compliment in 2019.
The Versa 2 has NFC, a heart rate monitor and SpO2 sensors to the rear of the watch unit. It’s also water resistant to 50 metres, with a five-day battery life. The one major miss is standalone GPS tracking, which we’ll examine more later. It comes in a range of finishes and colors, and has a multitude of bands to pick from, including any that work with the Versa and Versa Lite.
The Ionic packs plenty of hardware into its shape too, including all the aforementioned features like SpO2 and the same water resistance. Its main advantage however is built-in GPS, while the battery should get you through four to five days, along with the same degree of waterproofing and fitness tracking.
You’ve got three colors to choose from: charcoal/grey, blue/orange and grey/silver. There are a range of bands for the Ionic available from Fitbit, and an Adidas edition in the range, too.
For us, the Versa 2 is the clear winner on the design front – it’s simply a more subtle and refined unit to have on your wrist. The big range of bands is also a big plus, allowing for a whole heap of customisation for those that want to explore their options.
Fitbit Versa 2 v Fitbit Ionic: FeaturesAs we mentioned above, there’s an immediate difference in features between the Versa 2 and the Ionic – the newer Versa 2 doesn’t pack its own GPS. It can piggyback on your phone’s, as so many other trackers can. The Ionic, by contrast, can keep track of your movements, runs or walks under its own steam, freeing you from your phone.
If that’s a bit of a miss, though, the Versa 2 does have a big hitter in its locker that the Ionic can’t match. It’s Fitbit’s first watch to include Amazon’s voice assistant, Alexa. With a microphone to pick up requests you make, it can respond on-screen and obey commands.
If you’re a smart home user this could be a major bonus, letting you control your appliances or lights through your wrist. The Versa 2 also brings improved Spotify integration, although it still can’t play music offline, so this doesn’t put it that far ahead of the Ionic, really.
Aside from these additions, there are a lot of shared features between the Ionic and the Versa 2. Both pack heart rate tracking, VO2 Max monitoring, step counting, exercise detection and sleep tracking, all to the usual high standard of Fitbit’s metrics.
Read this: Fitbit Ionic tips and tricksThey also both have Fitbit Pay, notification support, and (non-Spotify) music storage, and a range of watch faces to choose from to switch up the look of your device as you like.
We think the debate on features comes down to two key questions:
How important is GPS tracking to you?Do you use Alexa a lot already?If GPS is a priority for you, whether because you like jogging or walking without your phone, or for any other reason, the Ionic is the clear choice, since the Versa 2 doesn’t have the option of untethered GPS.
Alternatively, if you’re already using Alexa on a day-to-day basis, and having its functionality baked into your wrist would be useful, then the Versa 2 should win out. With it, you’ll gain a shortcut to Alexa commands and queries wherever you are and without needing your phone or a smart speaker.
Fitbit Versa 2 v Fitbit Ionic: PriceIn any tech comparison, price is a seriously massive factor. If one of these smartwatches were hundreds cheaper than the other, it would swing the conversation one way or another.
Well, there is a bit of difference in price in this case. The Fitbit Ionic, despite being a fair bit older, will set you back $249.95 compared to $199.99 for the Versa 2. That’s after a bit of a price cut for the Ionic since its release. That puts both watches in roughly the same mid-range price bracket, and both have a heck of a lot of competition in that space. The latest switch-up for this debate is that Apple’s lowered the price of the Apple Watch Series 3 to $199, which we think is seriously big news for the market. If you’re firmly of the view that Fitbit is the watchmaker for you, though, the Versa 2 comes in as the cheaper model, and new as it is, there’s plenty of potential for its price to go down a bit over time and with deals on the horizon. Fitbit Versa 2 v Fitbit Ionic: Which is right for you?We come to the moment of truth, then: which should you pick? By reducing the price of the Ionic, Fitbit’s made this a bit more of a fight, but one of those key questions about your priorities that we asked above is still the key.
Is built-in GPS a deal-breaker for you? If so, then the more expensive Ionic has to be your choice.
If it’s not, though, we really can’t look further than the Versa 2. For $50 less, you’re getting basically the same set of trackers and functions, plus Alexa, in a more attractive design with more customisation options. That’s pretty definitive, for us.
Still, if you’re a fan of the Ionic’s distinctive looks, you won’t be making a bad choice by picking it up. It’s still a great smartwatch, bringing Fitbit’s tracking smarts to the table.
Which model are you going to opt for? Let us know in the comments, or shout if you have any questions we haven’t addressed.