A smartwatch is the ultimate smartphone accessory – and plenty are now able to work on their own. The range of smartwatches on the market today can tell the time, of course, but they can also beam important notifications straight to your wrist, track your fitness stats and pay for your morning coffee.
Today’s best smartwatch models can perform a ton of tricks, such as enabling you to search the internet with your voice, track your location with GPS or even monitor your heart rate to protect your overall health – with our without pairing to one of the best smartphones on the market.
Oh, and some of them look absolutely stunning too. If you’re thinking that a smartwatch is a pointlessly geeky accessory… think again. The choices we’ve ranked below are well-made, powerful and can genuinely make you fitter through some smart nudges.
What’s happening in October?
Google is hosting its Pixel 4 event this month, and it may be we see the introduction of the Google Pixel Watch at the launch.
We’ve tested the vast majority of the top-end wearables you can buy right now from the Apple Watch to Fitbits to Tizen-sporting Samsung smartwatches. There’s also Wear OS (you may have known that in its previous incarnation called Android Wear) which is Google’s own wearable operating system in the vein of Apple’s watchOS.
During our review process, we take into account the design, features, battery life, spec, price and more for each smartwatch, rank it against the competition and enter it into the list you’ll find below.
Best smartwatch at a glance:
- Apple Watch 5
- Samsung Galaxy Watch
- Apple Watch 3
- Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
- Fitbit Versa 2
1. Apple Watch 5
The best Apple Watch money can buy
OS: watchOS 6 | Compatibility: iOS | Display: 1.78″ OLED | Processor: Apple S5 | Band sizes: Varies based on watch size | Onboard storage: 32GB | Battery: 1 day to 36 hours | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: Water-resistant to 50m | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, LTE
Battery isn’t amazing
The Apple Watch continues to define the smartphone category and is the best smartwatch you can buy right now. It works seamlessly with Apple’s phones, and it’s well worth considering if you plan to stick with the iPhone range for at least a few years.
There aren’t many huge upgrades over the Apple Watch 4, but the main change is it comes with an always-on display for the first time. That means you won’t have to raise the watch to see your key stats, and instead it’ll display most of the information you need on a dimmed screen.
The design is similar to the Apple Watch 4 – a look that we loved – so you’ll get a larger display than earlier iterations of the device, and it comes in either 40mm or 44mm sizes.
All of the fitness features you’d expect come on this watch, and that includes a variety of top-end features such as the ECG monitor, GPS tracking, impressive heart rate monitoring and more.
If you’re looking for the very best Apple Watch, this is it… it’s just not our favorite smartwatch money can buy.
Read the full Apple Watch 5 review
2. Samsung Galaxy Watch
The sporty Samsung watch gains some style
OS: Tizen OS | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 1.2″ or 1.3″ 360 x 360 Super AMOLED | Processor: Dual-core 1.15GHz | Band sizes: 22mm or 20mm | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery duration: 4 days on 46mm / less on 42mm | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: 50m | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Impressive battery life
Useful rotating bezel
Bixby isn’t great
One of the best smartwatches you can buy right now is the Samsung Galaxy Watch. Following on from the Gear S3 series and the Gear Sport in 2017, the Galaxy Watch is much improved.
We’ve tested out the larger 46mm version of the watch and it comes with a phenomenal four day battery life even when you’re using it extensively. That’s impressive considering a lot of other watches on this list last a day or so from a single charge.
The rotating bezel remains a highlight of navigating around the Tizen OS on the watch, and the interface is one of the easiest to pick up that we’ve seen on a smartwatch.
Apps available on the watch are more limited than Wear OS or watchOS 4 – two rival smartwatch operating systems – but it still offers the core basics and Samsung had provided a watch that’s good at fitness as well as sporting a great design and lots more functionality too.
Read the full Samsung Galaxy Watch review
3. Apple Watch 3
A better connection with the world’s best smartwatch
OS: watchOS 4 | Compatibility: iOS | Display: 1.53″ OLED | Processor: S2 dual-core | Band sizes: Varies drastically per watch size | Onboard storage: 8GB (Non-LTE) | Battery: 18 hours | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: IPX7 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC
Brilliant fitness tracking
Battery too short for sleep tracking
The Apple Watch 3 (or Apple Watch Series 3, if you’re picky) was the best smartwatch but has recently been bumped off the top spot by the launch of Samsung Galaxy Watch and Apple Watch 5.
With its new much cheaper price point, the Apple Watch 3 offers all the smarts of the Watch 2 but with a longer battery life and faster speeds when flicking through apps. This is the right kind of upgrade on the best smartwatch in the world.
It’s still water-resistant so you can swim with it and you won’t have to worry about getting it wet in the rain when you’re out for a jog. There’s GPS onboard to make running that little bit easier plus it comes running the latest watchOS 4 software and will be updated to watchOS 5 later in the year.
Read the full Apple Watch 3 review
4. Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
Adding in a digital rotating bezel for a nominal price bump
OS: Tizen OS | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 1.2″ 360 x 360 Super AMOLED | Processor: Dual-core 1.15GHz | Band sizes: 20mm | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery duration: Around 2 days | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: 50m | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Rotating digital bezel
Few features for price bump
Still limited functionality with iOS
Samsung shrank the best parts of the the Galaxy Watch into this sportier smartwatch that’s slimmer, lighter and, arguably, more comfortable – then released a second version months after the first that included a few coveted features, including a rotating digital bezel and LTE version.
Overall, not much has changed – which isn’t a bad thing, as it’s still a quality smartwatch at a decent price. Galaxy Watch Active 2 features a 1.2-inch 360 x 360 display that is bright and beautiful yet small enough to be strapped around your wrist than a lot of the other devices in this list.
It still comes sporting all of the top-end fitness features you’d expect from Samsung’s Tizen watch range, with 39 workout modes, a heart rate and ECG sensor, and health app with stress and sleep monitoring.
While it’s still more affordable than the leading Apple Watch, the price was bumped up from the original Watch Active, shrinking its value compared to the competition. It’s certainly not a cheap smartwatch, but when compared to the original RRP of the Galaxy Watch you may prefer to opt for this version that’s remarkably similar.
Read the full Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 review
5. Fitbit Versa 2
OS: Fitbit OS | Compatibility: Android 7+, iOS 11+ | Display: 300 x 300 AMOLED | Onboard storage: 2.5GB | Battery duration: Up to 5 days | Charging method: Magnetic connecting pin | IP rating: Water resistant | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC
Always-on display option
Good battery life
No integration with offline Spotify or Apple Health / Google Fit
The Fitbit Versa 2 is the latest part-smartwatch-part-fitness tracker from Fitbit, one of the most famous wearable companies about.
The Versa 2 brings a host of upgrades to the original Fitbit Versa, including an always-on display, Alexa integration, and a slightly smaller body.
However if the original Versa wasn’t quite right for you, the Versa 2 may not be the best either, as it’s still fundamentally the same device, and it lacks some of the trappings of different smartwatches, like GPS functions or offline Spotify.
But for general wearable fans, the Fitbit Versa 2 is a good option, and it’s more affordable than some of the other options on this list too.
Read our full Fitbit Versa 2 review