We have bought and tested 30 of the best smartwatches you can get over the past 4 years. For this edition, we focus on the 8 most compelling models available today, testing them head-to-head to find out which wearable came out on top. We evaluated and compared the comfort and convenience of each watch, the different smart features and functions, their health and fitness tracking abilities, as well as their display and battery life. Keep reading to see which devices we found to be the smartest, the most stylish, or the best if you are shopping on a budget.We've tested several other types of wearable tech items, from dedicated fitness trackers to VR headsets. When it's time for a charge, check out our charging stations and wireless charger reviews to see which ones we ranked the best to get your electronics juiced back up to 100%.
$427.50 at Amazon
$199.00 at Amazon
$160.99 at Amazon
$288.00 at Amazon
$199.99 at Amazon
|Pros||Loaded with smart functions, beautiful display, intuitive||Specialized fitness tracking features, good battery life||Good value, great fitness tracking ability, excellent battery life||Incredible battery life, great fitness tracking||Loaded with smart functions, beautiful display, easy to use, great price|
|Cons||Poor battery life, expensive||Pricey, not our favorite touchscreen||Could be more convenient to use, doesn't have the most smart functions||Lack of smart features, could be easier to use||Subpar battery life, fitness impact tracking could be better|
|Bottom Line||If you are looking for the absolute best wearable to pair with your iPhone, then look no further||Offering features like skin temperature, SpO2, and stress management, this is a great wearable for specialized fitness tracking||The fitness features packed into this wearable make it an excellent choice for the price||Incredible battery life and great fitness tracking abilities make this watch a notable fitness wearable||An incredible smartwatch for Samsung phone users but a little underwhelming when it comes to battery life|
|Rating Categories||Apple Watch Series 7||Fitbit Sense||Fitbit Versa 3||Huawei GT 2 Pro||Samsung Galaxy Watch 4|
|Ease of Use (30%)|
|Smart Functions (20%)|
|Fitness Impact (15%)|
|Specs||Apple Watch Series 7||Fitbit Sense||Fitbit Versa 3||Huawei GT 2 Pro||Samsung Galaxy Watch 4|
|Water Resistance||5 ATM||5 ATM||5 ATM||5 ATM||5 ATM|
|NFC (contactless payment)||Yes, Apple Pay||Yes, Fitbit Pay||Yes, Fitbit Pay||Yes, Google Pay||Yes, Samsung Pay|
|Display||41mm or 45mm Retina LTPO OLED||1.58 inch OLED||1.58 inch OLED||1.39 inch AMOLED||40mm or 44mm AMOLED|
|Resolution||420 x 352 (41mm),
484 x 396 (45mm)
|336 x 336||336 x 336||454 x 454||396 x 396,
450 x 450
Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis
|Processor||Apple S7, Dual-core||N/A||N/A||Kirin A1 + STL4R9||Dual-core 1.18 GHz Cortex-A55|
|Available Sizes||41mm, 45mm||One size||One size||One size||40mm, 42mm, 44mm, 46mm|
Best Overall Smartwatch for iPhones
Apple Watch Series 7
If you want a premium smartwatch to accompany your iPhone, then the Apple Watch Series 7 is an easy decision. This popular wearable is one of our favorite smartwatches of all time. Not only is it sleek and stylish, but it has some of the most comprehensive smart functions and features available on any device currently on the market. It has an incredible-looking display, and we found it was one of the most intuitive watches to use and very comfortable to wear. It's also a complete and accurate fitness and health tracker.
Unfortunately, Android and Samsung users will have to look elsewhere because this wearable is only compatible with Apple's iOS. Unsurprisingly, the premium features also come with a premium price tag, especially if you want cellular capabilities. But if you can afford this watch, feel confident that Apple has built on the success of previous models and made another incredible product. The Series 7 is our top recommendation for iPhone users looking for the best smartwatch available, as long as you're willing to dig deep into those pockets.
Read review: Apple Watch Series 7
Best Smartwatch for Samsung Phones
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is an incredible, top-tier smartwatch and another one of our favorite wearables. It is intuitive, has a wide array of smart functions and popular app support, and offers impressive fitness tracking features. It also has a fantastic display and incorporates an easy-to-use digital bezel with haptic feedback, making it easy to use.
There's not much to criticize about the Galaxy 4, though it does have unimpressive battery life. Still, the battery life was on par with the Apple Series 7 and pretty typical for such a feature-heavy device. We also had a minor criticism about the margin of error during step counting and heart rate monitoring. And just like the other premium models of wearables on our list, Samsung also commands a higher price, which could be a barrier to ownership for some. That said, if this watch is within your budget, then we highly recommend it for Samsung smartphone users looking for a top smartwatch.
Read review: Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
Best Bargain for Fitness-Minded Users
Fitbit Versa 3
If you are searching for a solid smartwatch on a budget and are particularly interested in tracking your health and fitness, then we think the Fitbit Versa 3 is a great choice. This watch has a solid set of smart functions, we enjoyed the display and battery life, and we were particularly impressed with the health and fitness tracking. It has many different workouts that it can track and an integrated GPS module to ensure you get the most comprehensive set of fitness data possible. It also lets you use all of the community fitness features the Fitbit app has to offer, giving you access to fun challenges with family and friends if you need more motivation.
However, the Versa 3 doesn't have the most comprehensive set of smart features compared to some of the other watches in our review. There are fewer third-party apps that you can install, and its integrated smart features aren't as useful as some of the top-tier models. Still, we think this is a great watch if you are hoping to save some cash and you value the fitness-focused features present on this watch.
Read review: Fitbit Versa 3
Best Choice for Exceptional Battery Life
Huawei GT 2 Pro
The Huawei GT 2 Pro is a great smartwatch, nearing the touchscreen performance and screen quality of top-tier wearables. It is also fairly easy to use, does a decent job fitness tracking, and sports the best battery life in our lineup. If your main priority for buying a smartwatch is working out without having to worry about charging every day and you're okay with sacrificing some smart features and functionality, this is a great choice.
Unfortunately, the exceptional battery life on the GT 2 Pro means there is a limited number of smart functions and features. This watch also does not have a crown or bezel, which would drastically improve user-friendliness, and it's on the pricier side of the spectrum. Still, for the right user, this may be a perfect choice.
Read review: Huawei GT 2 Pro
Why You Should Trust Us?
We began with tons of product research to determine which watches were the most intriguing. We then purchased those models at full price; we don't ever accept free units to review, and we have no financial incentive to pick one product over another. For the past four years, our smartwatch testing process has been spearheaded by Austin Palmer. He has extensive experience reviewing smart home and wearable products, having reviewed dozens of fitness trackers, pedometers, GPS watches, and VR headsets in addition to smartwatches. New to the team is Ben Hickok, an avid outdoor adventurer and tech professional — the ideal combo for assessing a product like smartwatches.
After compiling our team and receiving all the watches, we evaluated every aspect and conducted rigorous side-by-side tests and assessments. We measured their maximum battery life under normal use conditions, checked the accuracy of their fitness tracking abilities, compared popular app compatibility, evaluated ease-of-use, display quality, screen responsiveness, and much more. Read on to learn how each watch measured up in each of these key metrics.
Analysis and Test Results
We split our testing process into five metrics: ease of use, smart functions, display, fitness tracking, and battery functionality. We weighted each metric proportionally according to their importance and share the results and performance of each watch below.
Price and performance have a strong correlation when it comes down to these products. For example, the Apple Watch Series 7 is an exceptional product, but the base price is significantly higher than most of the other products we tested. If you have an iPhone and want all the features and functionality of your phone on your wrist, it may be worth it. But this device isn't affordable for many and may even provide more than you really want or need.
For those seeking a solid smartwatch on a budget and who favor a device geared toward health and fitness tracking, the Fitbit Versa 3 is a great choice. It hits an incredible balance of good performance at a more affordable price point, the true hallmarks of a high-value product. Our top choice for Samsung users, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is a premium watch that, while pricey, retails for less than you might expect. This too is a high-value product for the right user.
Ease of Use
Comprising 30% of the total score for each smartwatch and our most heavily weighted metric, this metric tested features and functions that add or detract from a product's user-friendliness. We awarded points for the ability to take screenshots, water resistance, charging setup, crown or bezel scrolling, screen responsiveness, and the ease of swapping wristbands. Our tests identified a few winners, some average performers, and devices leaving a lot to be desired.
The Apple Watch Series 7 and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 were the leaders overall for ease of use, with Apple barely edging out the top spot. But to our surprise, the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3 was a close runner-up, only trailing top-tier models because of the lack of a crown or bezel scroll. The ability to navigate using a crown or bezel greatly improves user-friendliness. The Galaxy 4 actually replaces the mechanical bezel of previous models with a completely digital bezel that makes good use of haptic feedback for an overall incredibly user-friendly experience. All three of these watches also make capturing screenshots very easy, setting them apart from many other models.
The Fossil Gen 6 made good use of a crown for scrolling and navigation as well. It didn't work with every menu we tested, but it added significantly to a positive user experience.
A device that is essentially only splashproof, or only water-resistant enough to withstand an accidental submersion into shallow water, is less convenient, especially for fitness tracking a pool workout. Fortunately, whether you are prone to accidents or intend to track intense pool workouts, many of the models we tested have you covered. The Apple Watch 7, Samsung Galaxy 4, Fitbit Sense, Fitbit Versa 3, and Huawei GT 2 Pro all have water-resistance ratings of 5 ATM, or in layman's terms, can survive depths up to 50 meters.
A few of the wearables we tested, like the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3 GPS, Mobvoi TicWatch E3, and Fossil Gen 6 were less water-resistant, and some even had ambiguous claims and ratings that left us confused about whether or not we could wear them into the shower. The need to remove those devices for showers, pool workouts, or just doing dishes seriously impacted their ease of use scores.
Swapping wristbands on the different devices was a fairly simple task across the board. The Apple Watch Series 7, Fitbit Versa 3, and Fitbit Sense all make use of straightforward mechanisms for releasing and replacing wrist bands. Others, including the Samsung Watch 4, have a simple lever-type release.
Overall, there were no completely non-user-friendly devices that we tested. Even the devices that scored on the lower end were all reasonably user-friendly, especially once you get in a groove.
This metric constitutes 20% of the total score for each watch. Here we tested the compatibility with popular apps, whether or not you could take phone calls on your wrist, control your music, pay for things, and leave your phone behind with onboard cellular capability. We tried to install and use the apps on each device and tested support for popular apps, focusing specifically on Uber, Messenger, Spotify, Strava, IFTTT, Evernote, Shazam, Twitterrific, Instagram, and Pandora. Of note: many of the watches we tested run Google's Wear OS at their core, so they essentially share the same modest amount of third-party app compatibility.
Again the Apple Watch Series 7 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 took home the top scores. They provide the broadest support for popular apps, with the best smart features and functionality available today. And, as you might expect from wearables expanding on the performance and success of previous models, the Series 7 and Galaxy 4 proved to be very capable of handling calls, controlling music, making wireless payments, and both include an onboard GPS. Both models are also available with cellular capabilities (for a bump up in price); you can put them on their own data plan, and they will function completely independently of a phone.
While not as great as our top offerings, the TicWatch E3, Ticwatch Pro 3 GPS, and Fossil Gen 6 all have more modest smart features and functions and were proficient at taking phone calls, controlling music, making wireless payments, and include onboard GPS. However, the three models all lack a cellular capability upgrade, meaning there is no option for the user to leave the phone behind. However, the E3 did an exceptional job handling phone calls and has the added ability to scroll through call logs and even dial out from the smartwatch.
Smart features are useless if you can't see the information displayed on the screen of your smart device. The metric focused made up 20% of the final score of each product and assessed: screen quality, visibility in both bright and dim light, whether or not the brightness could automatically adjust to changing light conditions, and if an 'always-on' mode was available.
The Apple Watch Series 7 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 were virtually tied for the top spot in this metric. They have eye-catching displays that are very easy to read in all lighting conditions. We found the Retina display on the Apple Watch to be equally as impressive as the AMOLED display of the Samsung. The Galaxy only outshone the Series 7 with respect to an auto-brightness setting; otherwise, the differences in exceptionalism between these top-tier offerings were negligible.
Both offerings from Fitbit, the Sense and the Versa 3, also offer excellent displays. They both have lovely image quality, and everything about the display is easy to read and appealing, even when in dim settings and bright sunlight. Both can be set for 'always-on,' though there's no auto-brightness setting for ambient lighting conditions.
The lower-scoring models left a lot to be desired when trying to read the screens in a range of different lighting environments. That's not to say they have bad screens; they simply were outshined by the exceptional quality screens used by other models. It's worth mentioning that the Fossil Gen 6 has an auto-brightness setting, which other more premium models lack.
Next, we compared and scored the various fitness tracking features each watch offers. We weighted this metric at 15% of the final score for each device. We based scores on the accuracy of the step counter (as determined by comparing the count shown on each watch to our manual count over a mile-long walk), which workouts each watch can track and what data they collect, how accurately they track the number of stairs climbed each day, and the accuracy of the heart rate monitor (again by comparing the measured reading against a chest strap HR monitor.)
We may be starting to sound like a broken record, but the Apple Series 7 performed the best across this metric. This watch is incredible for anyone wanting to keep on top of every part of their health and wellness. Not only can you track any kind of workout (with great accuracy, as confirmed by our heart rate and step counting control tests), but the watch can also remind you to stand up every hour, remind you to take deep breaths, monitor your heart rate and blood oxygen level and much more. You can even set it up to track your sleep patterns and recognize when you're washing your hands, encouraging you to wash for a full 20 seconds. Conversely, if some of these health and fitness monitoring add-ons feel too invasive, they can all be disabled in your settings.
Our other top performers for this metric are the Fitbit Versa 3, Fitbit Sense, and Huawei GT 2 Pro. Fitbit is known for fitness tracking and does it well, providing access to many different kinds of workouts and social connections with other Fitbit wearers to help keep you motivated (the Apple Watch is great for this too). The GT 2 Pro lagged a bit due to its lack of a stair-counting feature but made up for it (at least in smiles) by offering a workout for laser tag.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 took an unexpected step back, pun intended, compared to previous models and was less accurate in step and stair counting. It still offers exceptional workout selection and heart rate monitoring, with options based on both the Wear OS and the proprietary Samsung Health.
Finally, we tested how long each watch lasted with normal use, how long it took to completely charge a dead watch, and how long it took to charge to different charge levels. The combined scores of the battery metric made up the final 15% of the overall score for each smartwatch.
We sent various notifications, texts, and calls to each watch at identical intervals to measure the battery life under normal use, noting how long it took for their batteries to deplete. Interestingly, the charging rate of the batteries in these devices isn't linear. They charge more rapidly for a large percentage of the battery capacity, then slow down as they approach a full charge. That's why we tested the time it took to recharge each battery to a 25%, 50%, and 75% charge level, as well as a full charge.
Unmatched in performance, the Huawei GT 2 Pro easily claimed the top spot for this metric. It did significantly better than others by lasting 4.5 days. This is undoubtedly due to its limited number of smart features and functions, so consider if the tradeoff is worth it to you. Both Fitbit models also fair well here. Any one of these three devices would be ideal for folks prioritizing battery life and tracking simple workouts and who don't really need (or want) a ton of fancy smart features.
While the Apple Series 7 and Samsung Galaxy 4 dominated every other test we threw at them, this is the area where they aren't so impressive. Both operated for about 21 hours under normal use. Premium performance consumes power, and therefore comes at the cost of shorter battery life. Fortunately, for Apple fans, the Series 7 recharges fairly quickly compared to other models.
Sorting through different specifications and feature sets to find the best model for your needs can be a challenge. We hope that we've helped you narrow down your choices to a few top contenders and provided you with the insight needed to make your final decision.
— Austin Palmer and Benjamin Hickok
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