Table Of Contents_
If you’re shopping for the best fitness watches, you first need to consider which fitness metrics are most important to you and find a watch that offers the right options for your needs. Also, think about the OS as this will impact how easily you can pair your watch to your phone — if at all — and whether or not you’ll experience limited functionality. Battery life is another important feature as longer battery life means less time spent recharging your smartwatch. And don’t forget to think about the watch’s design and whether the bands can easily be swapped out for upgraded or premium bands if you prefer. These are some of the factors we considered when thinking about the best smartwatches for our list.
After conducting thorough research through countless customer reviews, we nominated the Apple Watch Series 6 as the Top Pick. Keep reading to learn more about our selection criteria and to shop from our recommendations on the best smartwatches on the market today.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: The best smartwatch for iPhone owners who want a device that can go beyond fitness tracking with water resistance and the ability to send and receive calls and texts.
The Apple Watch in general is a fan favorite, especially amongst iPhone users. This is because a common complaint when using more enhanced smartwatches from other brands is that some functionality is lost when you pair an Android-based watch with an Apple iPhone. So, we’re nominating the Apple Watch Series 6 as the best smartwatch specifically for Apple users. But because of its enhanced functionality, we also think that it’s one of the best smartwatches on the market in general. The Series 6 is available with a 40 or 44-millimeter case size and five case and strap colors for the base model although additional straps can also be purchased. While it requires a line upgrade with your mobile phone carrier, the Series 6 supports sending and receiving calls along with sending and receiving text messages. You’ll get an always-on retina display that’s 30% larger than the other popular Series 3 Apple Watch.]
You Might Also Like: If you’re looking for a gift for that fit femme fatale in your life then check out the best smartwatch for women.
In terms of actual health and fitness activity tracking, you’ll get sleep and fitness tracking, heart monitoring, blood oxygen levels, and ECG sensors that can be linked to the Apple Health app. Additionally, you can control music and connect to Apple Pay for contactless payments on the go. The Series 6 hybrid smartwatch has a water resistance of 50 meters. Another nice feature is the fall detection that automatically notifies emergency contacts of potential injuries. However, one big drawback is that the Apple Watch is notorious for its less than stellar battery life. While the brand promises 18 hours on a single charge, most real-world users admit to barely being able to make it 12 hours between charges — especially for power users that text, make calls, or manage other key apps through the watch. Consider instead the best rugged smartwatch that features the Max Battery GPS Mode that can run up to 145 hours on solar charging or 70 hours without solar.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: A slightly more affordable Apple Watch with premium features that include sending and receiving calls and texts, Apple Pay, and enhanced fitness tracking that syncs with the Apple Health app.
Apple Watches tend to be some of the most premium options for smartwatches when it comes to cost. The Series 5 Apple Watch is slightly less expensive than the Series 6 but still provides much of the same functionality. Just like with Series 6, you’ll get GPS, WiFi, and cellular functionality. Just remember that you’ll need to add a line with your mobile provider to access the cellular support. Other key features include step tracking along with sleep, heart rate, and ECG monitoring. Other key features like fall detection and Emergency SOS call support are also included.
Choose from a 40 or 44-millimeter case size and three finishes. As is common for Apple devices, the Series 5 supports Handoff which allows you to open select apps on the iPhone and continue using them within a single session on the Apple Watch. This slim case is only 10.7 millimeters thick and supports an always-on retina display with a digital crown that includes haptic feedback. Just remember that all of that functionality comes with a sacrifice for poorer battery life. Most negative user reviews center around the battery life which rarely reaches Apple’s claims of 18 hours on a single charge. You may want to consider purchasing the best smartwatch for seniors that comes in a 41 and 45-millimeter case size with up to 56 hours of battery life.
Award: BEST QUALITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: A great smart watch for Android users that provides a long battery life, wireless Qi charging, and a wealth of fitness tracking metrics to give you a complete outlook on your daily habits and activities.
So far we’ve focused exclusively on the Apple ecosystem, but of course, there are plenty of fantastic Android-based smartwatches. Samsung Galaxy owners might prefer the Active 2 smartwatch from the same brand. This smart watch features a sleek round watch face and silicone band and is only available in the somewhat larger 44-millimeter case size. As compared to Apple Watches, the Samsung Galaxy Active 2 has a five-day battery lifespan.
Related: If you’re looking for a smartwatch to take with you on the trails then check out the best hiking watches.
This is impressive because much like with the Apple Watch, the Active 2 is designed to serve as a hands-free smartphone replacement. It supports sending and receiving calls and texts as well as integration into email, calendar, and Samsung Pay. If you like using voice assistants, you’ll get access to Bixby, the proprietary Samsung voice assistant. In terms of fitness tracking, you’ll get step tracking, a heart rate monitor, calories burned, and even insights into your running style if you need that data. There’s also a stress tracker and integration into the Calm app to help you recharge. All of this content integrates into the proprietary Samsung Health app that you can use on your phone to keep track of all of your health metrics in one place. You may want to compare that to one of the best hybrid smartwatch that features an on-screen display for more than just fitness metrics.
Award: BEST COMPARABILITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: A true fitness tracker that’s compatible with Android and Apple devices with long multi-day battery life, the ability to track a wide array of fitness metrics, and support for select apps.
The Fitbit Versa Light is a great option for people who like the idea of a smartwatch, but might not need access to send and receive calls and texts from their wrists. This fitness smartwatch can be paired with Apple and Android devices and features built-in GPS for enhanced fitness tracking support. By using the Bluetooth function, you can easily pair this device and then download the proprietary Fitbit app to track all of your fitness data in one convenient place. Note that you can also approve permissions to let the Fitbit app share data with your smartphone’s proprietary health app if you like.
If you’re not much for complicated interfaces, you’ll like the single button design on this smartwatch. We like that you get a four-day battery life with this pick. Because it’s a true fitness tracker, you’ll get over 15 exercise modes along with a female health tracking option as well as other common features such as 24/7 heart rate tracking, step counting, calorie burn, and more. Although you can’t send and receive calls and texts, you can still sync your watch to your phone for text, call, and calendar notifications. However, only Android phones have access to quick response options for text messages. And while the watch does support a few apps, keep in mind that iPhone users may have limited functionality for some apps such as Spotify, Pandora, and Fitbit Pay. But if you have an iPhone or other Apple devices, you’ll be glad to know that the best smartwatch for iPhone offers seamless integration with your phone and other Apple devices.
Award: BEST EASY CHARGING
WHY WE LIKE IT: A smartwatch that charges wirelessly and provides a fairly long battery life for a robust option that supports sending and receiving calls and texts.
If you’ve been paying attention to our guide, one key criterion we use to review smartwatches centers on battery life. While the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 doesn’t have the longest battery life in this guide, it does have one of the best battery life ranges for an enhanced smartwatch. Likewise, we like that this pick supports wireless Qi charging that even gives you the freedom to rest it on your Galaxy Phone for a quick recharge. The Watch 3 is designed to be a smartphone replacement so you’ll have access to features such as sending and receiving calls and texts, as well as being able to stream music and share health data to your physician directly from the watch.
As is common with most modern smartwatches, this pick is water-resistant to 50 meters. For health data, this model tracks steps, heart rate, ECG, oxygen levels, female health, calories burned, along with exercise and activity behavior. You’ll also get stress and sleep tracking, along with trip detection. As a smartphone replacement, you’ll get the Bixby voice assistant. For customization, you can choose from over 50,000 digital watch faces and the straps are removable. The Watch 3 is available in two sizes, 41 and 45 millimeters. And for your young ones, consider purchasing the best smartwatch for kids that features a dial pad that can be disabled through the parental controls app on your cell phone.
Award: BEST OVERSIZED CASE
WHY WE LIKE IT: An oversized 45-millimeter case with a sleek textured band that offers up to eight days of battery life with more than 20 pre-loaded fitness apps that work for both Apple and Android devices.
The Garmin smartwatch is a great option for people that want to focus on their fitness needs. This pick combines some of the most essential features such as long battery life and robust fitness tracking. And best of all, it’s compatible with Apple and Android devices. We like that this pick is available in a 40- and 45-millimeter case size, making it one of the largest case options in our guide. This pick comes in six colors with a removable textured band so you can upgrade the band as you prefer. In Smartwatch mode you’ll get up to eight days of battery life, and with GPS on you’ll get up to 18 hours without music and six hours with GPS and music activated.
Fitness buffs will appreciate that the Garmin vivoactive 4 comes with more than 20 built-in fitness apps including apps that help guide you through workout routines such as cardio, strength, pilates, and yoga — along with on-screen workout animations to help you maintain your form. For fitness tracking, you’ll have access to steps, floors, calories burned, distance traveled, intensity minutes, blood oxygen, heart rate, respiration, hydration, women’s health and sleep along with several other features. You’ll get incident detection and safety assistance as well. Smart features include text and phone notifications, calendar, weather, smartphone music controls, music storage for up to 500 songs, find my phone, and the Garmin Connect Mobile and Garmin Pay app access. However awesome functionality such as text response and rejecting phone calls are limited to Android devices only. Professionals will love the best smartwatch for business that promises offers up to 12 hours of usage, especially if you’re a power user.
Award: BEST BATTERY LIFE
WHY WE LIKE IT: One of the best fitness trackers for gym workouts that’s great for outdoor activities thanks to the rugged design, along with water resistance and up to 68 days of battery life in solar Expedition GPS Activity Mode.
No one likes waiting around to charge their smartwatch. While you can’t entirely avoid needing to charge your device, not having to do it every other day can be a nice compromise. We’re including the Garmin Instinct Solar because it has the longest battery life that we found in our research for this guide. The Instinct Solar has several modes and depending on the one you pick, you’ll get an unbelievable battery range. In Expedition GPS Activity mode, you can get as much as 68 days with solar power or 28 days without solar charging. Battery Saver Watch Mode gives you unlimited supply with solar charging and 56 days without solar charging. In Smartwatch mode, you can get up to 24 days of battery or up to 54 days with solar charging. Max Battery GPS Mode gives you 145 hours with solar charging and 70 hours without solar. And in GPS mode, you’ll get 38 hours with solar charging and 30 hours without solar.
As impressive as that is, we do like that this is one of the best fitness trackers for gym workouts. While some features are limited to premium upgrades, you’ll have access to tracking heart rate, energy levels, breathing, sleep, hydration, women’s health, steps, movement, calories, floors climbed, distance traveled, and intensity minutes. With more than 20 built-in fitness apps, you can create workout routines and track your activity on gym equipment too. You’ll also get a water rating of 10 ATM or water resistance for a depth of 100 meters. And while it does support notifications for text and phone calls as well as some app functionality, remember that iPhone users won’t have access to some apps or quick response for text or calls. And if you’re a clinical worker, you will be interested in the best smartwatch for nurses that offers hands-free support so that you don’t need to glance at your phone between patients.
Award: BEST LOW PROFILE DESIGN
WHY WE LIKE IT: One of the best fitness trackers with a heart rate monitor featuring a simplified interface that’s easy to use with a low-profile design that isn’t clunky or oversized.
Not everyone likes the look of many modern smartwatches which can be a bit oversized and overpowering — especially if you have smaller wrists. Likewise, if you really don’t care about finding a watch that acts as a smartphone replacement, then most smartwatches won’t appeal to you. In that case, we recommend the Fitbit Charge 4 which is a slim and simplified choice. We think it’s one of the best fitness trackers with a heart rate monitor for people who don’t need all of the add-on options from other devices.
This simple pick gives you up to seven days of battery life on a single charge and relies on GPS to track movements. It’s water-resistant to 50 meters and provides simple notifications for text and calls. It’s compatible with Apple and Android devices. For fitness tracking, you’ll get access to sleep stages and a sleep score, along with active zone minutes, and 24/7 heart rate tracking. And because it’s a Fitbit tracker, you can download the proprietary Fitbit app to track all of your fitness data in one place. There’s also access to more than 20 real-time goal-based exercise modes. The only real drawback we found with this Fitbit pick is that it lacks app support like some of the premium models from this brand. Consider comparing this model to the best smartwatch with a camera that features WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity that functions without phone tethering.
Award: BEST FOR PROFESSIONAL ENVIRONMENTS
WHY WE LIKE IT: The best fitness band for people who want a smartwatch with an upscale design that runs on Wear OS for Android and Apple compatibility and quick charging.
If silicone bands aren’t your thing, and you’re a fan of Fossil, you’ll like their entrance into the smartwatch category. The Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle is an upscale interpretation of a smartwatch, giving you the freedom to rock wearable tech in a way that won’t clash with your business casual or business professional attire. This watch runs on Google’s Wear OS so it’s compatible with both Apple and Android devices. The case size is 44 millimeters with a band size that’s 22 millimeters and can be swapped with other Fossil bands, proving that it has some of the best fitness bands from our research.
We like that this pick has a water-resistant design for depths of up to 3 ATM or 30 meters. However, keep in mind that at this rating, it’s best to avoid extended exposure to water as it’s not rated safe for showering or swimming. Through Google Fit you’ll get access to heart rate, step, breathing, and sleep monitoring along with control for G Suite apps such as calendar, Gmail, Google Assistant, and Google Pay. While this is a great option if you want a watch that looks like a traditional wristwatch, you’ll find through consumer reviews that Wear OS is an incredibly buggy platform. Common complaints center around the terrible battery life along with the inconsistently in step counting, settings reverting themselves, and that the watch frequently disconnects from your paired phone. If you’re a cyclist you will be interested in the best smartwatch for cycling that offers you enhanced safety features with a live track, group live track, live event sharing, incident detection, and assistance.
Award: BEST ON A BUDGET
WHY WE LIKE IT: A simplified fitness tracker that’s water-resistant to a depth of 50 meters with support for push notifications that makes this a great beginner pick for the tech-averse.
If you like the idea of a smartwatch but you’re not the most tech-savvy, you might not be interested in some of the more robust options from brands like Apple and Samsung. But we like this Garmin Forerunner 35 because it gives you exactly what you need without being overwhelming. This simplified monochromatic display fitness tracker has a solid battery life range with up to nine days in Smartwatch Mode and up to 13 hours in GPS mode. While this pick doesn’t offer as many tracking features as even other Garmin fitness watches, you do get heart rate, sleep, hydration, women’s health, steps, calories, and distance traveled to name a few.
You’ll also get access to gym tracking and a few select running and cycling profiles. Although the Forerunner 35 is compatible with Apple and Android devices, smart features are somewhat limited. You’ll get access to smart notifications, weather, and find my phone. Smartphone music controls are limited to Android devices only. The Forerunner 35 is available in four colors. Compare this model to the best smartwatch for running that features more accurate tracking, along with an altimeter barometer compass (ABC) sensor.
When you’re specifically looking for a smartwatch to track fitness metrics, it’s important to give weight to specific features so you pick the right option for your needs. To create our guide, we focused on the following key features — OS compatibility, fitness metrics, functionality, app support, battery life, and design. Expect for the Apple Watches, the remainder of our recommendations are designed to work with both Android and Apple devices. Apple Watches, while they require Bluetooth connections, cannot be paired with Android devices.
Depending on your fitness and daily routines, you’ll want to think about which metrics a smartwatch can provide. Key options that almost all smartwatches offer include steps, floors, heart rate, women’s health, sleep, and activity monitoring. But more robust features such as ECG, breathing, or even access to more enhanced fitness profiles are often viewed as premium features.
If you’re only interested in fitness support, then most fitness trackers will more than do the job. However, people who swim for workouts or want to shower and spend significant time in the water with their watches on should prioritize watches that are water-resistant to at least 50 meters. Another functionality concern is if you’re looking for your smartwatch to serve as a hands-free alternative to your smartphone. Not all smartwatches provide comprehensive smart controls such as sending and receiving calls and texts or accessing calendars and email. If this is important to you, we also recommend that you pay attention to the smartwatch’s OS. This is especially true for iPhone users because except for the Apple Watch, you’ll find that functionality for some apps and activities is limited on other smart watch interfaces.
Battery life is another important consideration, especially if you like the idea of being able to wear a watch for days without needing frequent recharging. Hands down, true fitness trackers tend to have longer battery life than watches made by smartphone brands. While the Samsung watches outperform the Apple Watches for battery life, both are still far inferior — in terms of battery life alone — to the Fitbit and Garmin options.
And finally, smartwatches are considered an essential accessory. So, you’ll want to think about the design and how easily you can swap out the bands or add covers to the case. The cases can be ultra-slim if you’re solely interested in a basic fitness tracker. But if you prefer more robust features, you’ll find that most smartwatches range from 38 to 45 millimeters in size.
While we’ve outlined our top picks above, this is going to depend on your priorities. If you’re solely focused on tracking and reviewing fitness metrics and don’t need a cell phone replacement, then some of the more premium options from brands like Apple and Samsung may not be a fit. In contrast, if you want a fitness smartwatch that can do more than track your heart rate and steps, then picking a watch from a smartphone brand makes a lot of sense.
Yes and no. This is going to depend on whether or not you find the idea of tracking fitness metrics or having quick access to premium features like sending and receiving calls and texts from your wrist beneficial. Smartwatches come in a range of price points, so it’s not necessary to spend top dollar if you don’t want to.
One of the biggest disadvantages — depending on the brand you pick — is poor battery life. We’ve found through research across several smartwatch buying guides that the more enhanced features a watch offers, the lower the total battery life. In some cases, a watch may not even last 24 hours before it needs to be recharged. For example, consistently Apple Watches tend to have the worst battery life. Part of this is because their watches are designed to be smartphone replacements. This means that you’re more likely to use an Apple Watch frequently to send and receive texts and calls or manage mail, calendar, payments, and other routine activities which will drain the battery life faster.
Since many smartwatches promote their ability to track sleep metrics, there’s nothing wrong with wearing your watch to bed or throughout 24 hours. There’s no real scientific evidence supporting the myth that routinely wearing a smartwatch is bad for your health. However, if you have concerns about data breaches or general privacy concerns, you might want to limit wearing your smartwatch to when you’re engaged in fitness activities.