Smartwatches are a great way to receive notifications from your phone and track your health, right from your wrist. We’ve used and reviewed all the of the latest smartwatches for Android and iPhone, and here we’ve ranked ten of the best.
The Apple Watch Series 6 may seem like the obvious choice for iPhone users, but there are loads of great Wear OS rivals to choose from via Huawei, Motorola and others. Add in hybrid smartwatches from the likes of Withings and Fossil, and you’re bound to find something that suits your style and has the features you need.
Looking for other wearable tech? Take a look at our recommendations for smart wallets and smart rings.
Best smartwatch 2021
1. Apple Watch Series 6 – Best for iPhone users
It’s unsurprising that the Series 6 is the best Apple Watch to date and remains the best smartwatch you can buy – if you have an iPhone that is.
This model has been improved namely with an always-on altimeter and blood oxygen monitoring alongside improvements to the always-on display. The price varies wildly depending on how luxurious you want to go with the combination of material and straps, but the good thing is that the watch itself is still the same at the base price.
The Apple Watch SE is also a viable alternative for those that aren’t too fussed about features like ECG and blood oxygen monitoring and want to save a bit of money on an Apple Watch.
Read our full Apple Watch Series 6 review
2. Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 – Best for Android users
The Galaxy Watch 3 is among the best smartwatches available at the moment, topped only by the Apple Watch Series 6. The thinner, lighter body and larger display of the Galaxy Watch 3 make for a premium look, and the rotating bezel continues to outshine the competition as the most intuitive way to interact with a smartwatch.
The Tizen OS 5.5 user experience is not quite as extensive when it comes to fitness as dedicated trackers, but it still offers an impressive feature set, with automatic tracking for seven types of exercise, along with the ability to take VO2 Max, ECG and SpO2 readings (in countries where it has certification).
It’s one of the best all-round smartwatches you’ll find on Android, and there’s a lot for iOS users to like too.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 review
3. Fossil Gen 5 – Best for design
Fossil’s Gen 5 is a great all-round smartwatch in its own right but also serves as a triumph for the wider Wear OS contingent too. The new hardware and software render this a truly competitive offering against established players from the likes of Apple and Samsung.
The Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor, additional RAM and tweaks to Wear OS’s power management grant greater control over what gets to sap power from the Gen 5’s 310mAh fast-charging battery, not to mention it offers a genuinely smooth user experience – something that can’t be said for any of its predecessors.
The Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch may still boast a more responsive user experience but the Fossil Gen 5 narrows the gap more than ever before and better yet, it offers some of the most adaptable and flexible styling and aesthetics out there.
Read our full Fossil Gen 5 review
4. Fitbit Sense – Best for fitness & well-being
Replacing the Ionic as the most well-rounded Fitbit, the Fitbit Sense adds a lot of new health features at the top-end of the company’s range.
You could call it the hypochondriac’s smartwatch, it’s so full of warning signs, but there’s a lot here that will help indicate serious health problems that you will have the chance to improve.
Mindfulness might seem a little kooky to some and a concern for those with too much time on their hands, but there is no denying that stress can affect us all, and managing it will quickly bring not just mental but long-term physical health benefits.
For all-round physical and mental health tracking, the Sense is the Fitbit with it all; provided you can swing the high price.
Read our full Fitbit Sense review
5. Amazfit GTS 2 Mini – Great for affordability
The Amazfit GTS 2 Mini looks an awful lot like an Apple Watch, with an uncannily similar metal body and rectangular AMOLED display – though it actually runs a little slimmer than Apple’s own device.
Despite this, it’s still a fraction of the cost of Apple’s latest, despite offering way more battery life (up to a month, as long as you keep the always-on display turned off), plus additional features like sleep tracking.
Software is the only thing that lets the GTS 2 Mini down really. Amazfit’s operating system is slow and a little awkward, and the same problems extend to its phone app, that said, the company’s worked hard to improve functionality and stability since the launch of the standard GTS 2 last year.
The Mini’s feature set falls somewhere between fitness tracker and smartwatch but the experience on offer is just rich enough that you’ll feel like you’re getting more for your money, should you pick one up.
Read our full Amazfit GTS 2 Mini review
6. Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 2020 – Most versatile
The original TicWatch Pro launched in 2018 and two years on, this 2020 refresh doesn’t rewrite the rulebook but that’s really no bad thing.
With such a feature-packed foundation, Mobvoi’s only seen fit to create a hardier and more refined design, as well as adding more memory to deliver a smoother user experience.
The dual display setup is still a very powerful standout feature in the wearable space, though. You can enjoy a fully-featured Wear OS smartwatch for three days or a simple digital watch for up to 30 days on a single charge.
Read our full TicWatch Pro 2020 review
7. Moto 360 2019 – Great design
The Moto 360 is back, complete with a more refined design than its 2015 predecessor. The flat tyre bezel that plagued previous models is gone, much to the joy of Moto fans, but the chunky surround isn’t a perfect alternative.
The inclusion of a Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor and 1GB of RAM means that performance is great, with no noticeable lag, while the 355mAh battery is enough to keep the watch going all day, although it’ll still need a top-up every now and again. Still, with a 0-100 percent charge time of an hour, it’s not a huge issue.
Throw in a heart rate monitor and 3ATM water resistance for basic fitness tracking and you’ve got a capable, albeit slightly expensive smartwatch.
Read our full Moto 360 (2019) review
8. Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro – Most luxurious
If its luxurious design, which incorporates titanium, ceramic and sapphire glass into the mix, not to mention the promise of up to 14 days battery life, isn’t enough to convince you, the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro also brings the most robust fitness tracking in the series to the table.
It includes support for over 100 workout types and offers professional-grade tracking on 17 of those categories, covering everything from heart rate and VO2Max, to altitude and pace.
The Pro also boasts Apple Watch-rivalling SpO2 blood oxygen measurements, stress and sleep monitoring, and voice coaching to guide you through new workouts without drawing your attention to the display.
Read our full Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro review
9. Suunto 7 – Great for runners
This capable outdoor-centric smartwatch may cost a pretty penny but that’s not without reason.
The Suunto 7 is well suited to all-weathers, it’s surprisingly thin and lightweight, boasts superior GPS accuracy for route tracking and Suunto’s own fitness apps offer a far more robust experience than the base Google Fit app that comes with Wear OS.
We just wish battery life surpassed its two-day maximum.
Read our full Suunto 7 review
10. Amazfit GTR 2e – Best for affordability
The Amazfit GTR 2e is a triple threat: it has a classic design, offers everything you need for fitness tracking and comes in at a low price in comparison to other smartwatches on the market.
This model offers GPS, heart monitoring, sleep tracking, water resistance, goals for your steps and a whole lot more. It doesn’t necessarily have all the fancy features that a more pricey smartwatch would but the price allows that to slide.
The lack of mainstream firmware may be an issue for some and the app isn’t the greatest we’ve seen. Nevertheless, this is a great starter watch that should offer everything you’re looking for, not to mention it offers some of the best battery life on any smartwatch we’ve tested of late.
Read our full Amazfit GTR 2e review
Your buying guide to the best smartwatches in 2021
Why do you need a smartwatch?
There’s an interesting theory that smartwatches are to the smartphone what wristwatches were to the pocket watch. Picture the way the average gentlemen used to have to rummage through his pocket for his watch prior to the 20th century. Now skip forward 100+ years and the average smartphone user still has to dive into his/her pocket to check their phone.
The kicker now is that your smartphone holds far more information than a pocket watch ever did, all of which is still locked into your pocket.
Smartwatches aren’t for making phone calls – although some can – instead, they (among other things) provide a quick and easy way to check your phone’s notifications, so you can decide whether it’s worth delving into your pocket or searching around your bag to fetch your smartphone and properly action any.
What type of smartwatch should you look for?
There are two types of smartwatches around at the moment: those with a colourful touchscreen – similarly to what you’d find on your phone – and those which combine a regular analogue watch with smart features.
These are known as ‘hybrid’ smartwatches; some have the smart bits almost completely hidden, while some give you information via a small integrated display.
While a fully-fledged smartwatch can do a lot more, that juice-guzzling screen results in shorter battery life. Hybrid watches benefit from longer battery life with some even having separate cells for the watch and smart features.
If you’re an Android user then a Wear OS (formerly Android Wear) smartwatch is the obvious choice but it’s not necessarily the best for everyone. Google’s OS tweaked for wearables also plays nicely with iOS but with cut-down functionality, so iPhone owners will get more from an Apple Watch. Read more on how to use Android Wear with iPhone.
What makes a good smartwatch?
When testing for the best smartwatch, the important factors to consider are ‘how many of your smartphone’s functions can it perform?’, and ‘how well does it handle each task?’, the final attribute is obviously style – it’s still bling after all.
You’ll also want to make sure it’s compatible with your smartphone – some are only for iPhone or Android while others support most phones. Note that Wear OS now has iOS support but, like we already said, the experience is cut down in comparison.
Fitness fans will want to look for a device with a heart rate monitor and built-in GPS, even though they often can’t compare to a chest-worn monitor in terms of accuracy. Many also come with NFC which can be used for contactless payments, via services like Google Pay.
We consider the important factors of a smartwatch to be level of notification detail, battery life, style, water resistance, device compatibility and additional features, such as microphones and WiFi support. Find out how we test wearables for more information.
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