There were only a few decent smartwatch options in the early days of Android Wear — mainly from Motorola and LG. Since then, the platform has been rebranded to Wear OS, and many other companies have joined the Wear OS party. We’re now seeing Wear OS watches come from fashion brands and watchmakers as well as smartphone OEMs. There are plenty of options out there, but which ones are the best? Here are our picks for the best Wear OS watches and best Android watches you can buy.
Why choose Wear OS in 2021?
Wear OS has needed a revamp for years, and Google finally delivered one in 2021. Wear OS 3, which was co-developed by Google and Samsung, offers the ability for OEMs to customize the look and feel of the interface. It also provides better all-around performance, more battery efficiency, and new apps. Sounds great, right?
Unfortunately, Wear OS 3 is only available on one smartwatch right now, and only a handful of Wear OS devices are confirmed to get the update in 2022.
With all that said, Wear OS 2, which is available on all entries but the Galaxy Watch 4 on this list, still has some things going for it. First, tight integration with Android: whether you’re interacting with a notification or asking Google Assistant a question, the experience between your smartwatch and your smartphone should be relatively seamless. Wear OS is a lot like Android proper in that it provides choice to the user. Need something sporty for your outdoor activities? There’s a watch for that. Looking for a classier smartwatch that actually looks like a traditional timepiece? Yep, there are watches for that use case as well.
The best Wear OS watches
- The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is the best Wear OS watch you can buy. It has exclusive access to the major Wear OS 3 update until 2022, and the hardware is great, too.
- The Mobvoi TicWatch E3 is the best cheap Wear OS watch. Not only does it have a small price tag, it also has decent hardware.
- The Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3 is the best Wear OS watch for long battery life, thanks to its innovative dual display and power-saving features.
- The Fossil Gen 5 is the best last-gen Wear OS smartwatch. It’s available in lots of styles and still (mostly) holds up today.
- The Skagen Falster 3 is another good Wear OS watch. It has the same hardware as the Fossil Gen 5, only it was designed by Skagen.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: The best Wear OS watch
If you’re planning on buying a Wear OS smartwatch in 2021, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic should be on the top of your list. They’re the only watches running the new Wear OS 3 update, and that’ll be the case until sometime in 2022.
Samsung’s new smartwatches come in multiple size options and a variety of colors and styles. The Galaxy Watch 4 is for the sportier crowd with its lightweight and slim design, while the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic is better suited for the office. Both offer solid activity tracking and heart rate data, and the new body composition metrics can be very useful.
Wear OS 3 shines on both watches, though Samsung’s software can be overbearing at times. For instance, the default voice assistant is Bixby — Google Assistant won’t be available until a later date.
- Classy, durable designs
- Multiple size options
- Wear OS 3 is all-around good
- Large models have decent battery life
- Improved heart rate sensor
- Useful body composition metrics
- No solid software update commitments from Google
- No Google Assistant support
- Slow, slow charging
- Poor GPS performance
- Sleep tracking needs tweaking
- Small models have short battery life
Check out our full review to learn more about the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4.
Mobvoi TicWatch E3: The best cheap Wear OS watch
The Mobvoi TicWatch E3 is the best cheap Wear OS smartwatch you can buy. Available for $200, Mobvoi’s budget-friendly watch offers great hardware, a sleek design, and a battery that can last all day. Mobvoi needed to cut costs somewhere, so you’ll probably want to swap out the cheap-feeling strap right away.
The TicWatch E3 runs Wear OS 2 right now, but it’s eligible to receive Wear OS 3 when it’s released in 2022.
- Well-built hardware
- Good display
- Decent battery life
- IP68 rated
- NFC and Google Pay
- Iffy automatic activity tracking
- Inconsistent sleep tracking
- Wear OS 2 is aging
- Cheap strap
Check out our full review to learn more about the TicWatch E3.
Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3: The best Wear OS watch
Mobvoi’s TicWatch Pro 3 is the first smartwatch with Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon Wear 4100 chipset. This, coupled with 1GB of RAM, makes for overall good performance and long battery life. While some materials seem a little cheap, the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3 is still one of the better Wear OS watches you can buy today.
The TicWatch Pro 3 runs the “old” Wear OS version at the moment but is one of the only current-gen devices slated to receive Wear OS 3 in 2022.
- Great battery life
- Zippy performance
- Dual display is ace
- Improved design
- Accurate heart rate sensor
- Dire companion app
- Inaccurate sleep and fitness tracking
- Cheap strap
- Less durable than previous models
Check out our full review to learn more about the TicWatch Pro 3.
Fossil Gen 5: An oldie but a goodie
The Fossil Gen 5 smartwatch makes the best of a strange software situation with excellent hardware and performance. It has 1GB of RAM and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 3100 SoC, which means the performance is acceptable, though not as speedy as something running the Snapdragon Wear 4100.
Notably, the Fossil Gen 5 and Skagen Falster 3 (below) will not be eligible for the Wear OS 3 update in 2022.
Looking for something with LTE connectivity? You’ll want to check out the Fossil Gen 5 LTE.
- Crisp, bright display
- Plenty of great watch faces preinstalled
- Useful custom battery modes
- GPS, NFC, and heart rate sensor
- Accurate fitness tracking
- The built-in speaker is handy
- So-so battery life
- Pokey performance in 2021
- It can be expensive when not on sale
Check out our full review to learn more about the Fossil Gen 5.
Skagen Falster 3: Same as the Gen 5, but different
The Skagen Falster 3 fixes all the performance and battery issues that plagued the first two Falster smartwatches. It has essentially the same specs as the Fossil Gen 5 (above), as well as its fantastic custom battery modes that help it eke out as much battery as possible. There’s also a built-in speaker, so you can hear Google Assistant talk to you and answer phone calls directly on the watch through Bluetooth.
If I had one complaint, it’d be that this watch is too expensive. So is the Gen 5, but the Falster 3 rarely sees discounts.
- Simple, clean design
- All-day battery life
- Useful custom battery modes
- The built-in speaker is convenient
- Wear OS can be very buggy
- Performance could be better
- It can be expensive when not on sale
Check out our full review to learn more about the Skagen Falster 3.
That’s it for our list of the best Wear OS watches you can buy, but it’s only a fraction of what’s out there. We also want to give an honorable mention to the following products:
- Fossil Gen 6: Fossil’s new flagship smartwatches are launching soon. They’re all slated to get Wear OS 3 in 2022, but for now, they have the same ol’ Wear OS we’ve used for a few years. All devices in the Gen 6 lineup have more powerful specs, better fitness tracking sensors, and more customizable designs. These watches will surely make our best Wear OS watches list once we’ve had a chance to test them out.
- Suunto 7: Suunto’s first-ever Wear OS smartwatch is a solid option if you need a GPS sports watch running Wear OS. Unfortunately, the high price tag hasn’t dropped much since its launch, and there are still some software issues plaguing the device today.
- Moto 360 (2019): If you need a Wear OS watch right now and don’t mind older software, the Moto 360 (2019) could be a good buy if found on sale. It has solid hardware, great battery life, and offers one of our favorite Wear OS designs in recent years.
Why you should trust the editor
Not only does Jimmy Westenberg love wearables, he loves helping people find the right devices to suit their needs. He’s been our resident fitness reviewer at Android Authority since 2016, and in that time, has reviewed dozens of fitness products and other wearables.
Through his rigorous testing of fitness products and deep knowledge of health devices and services, you can rest assured knowing Jimmy will give you honest recommendations. Looking for more brand-specific recommendations? Check out the following guides: