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The best Wear OS watches: Samsung, Mobvoi, and more
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 2022?
Wear OS needed a revamp for years, and Google finally delivered one in 2021. Co-developed by Google and Samsung, Wear OS 3 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 a handful of smartwatches right now, and only a select few others are confirmed to get the update in 2022. Luckily, Wear OS 2 still has some things going for it. That includes 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. Need something sporty for your outdoor activities? There’s a watch for that. Looking for a classier smartwatch that looks like a traditional timepiece? There are watches for that as well.
The best Wear OS watches
- The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is the best Wear OS watch you can buy. It’s one of the few watches with access to the major Wear OS 3 update 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 6 is the best last-gen Wear OS smartwatch. It’s available in lots of styles and still (mostly) holds up today.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro: The best Wear OS watch
We already had the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 series pegged as the top Wear OS watches you could buy, and Samsung’s newest generation brings even more to the table. The premium model, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro offers extra battery, more durability, and a few exclusive features, making it the best option available. With some features exclusive to Samsung phone users, this is an especially great choice for that specific crowd.
For starters, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro has a titanium case and a stronger Sapphire glass display than the base model. Neither model employs a rotating bezel but the Pro does feature a raised metallic edge for even more protection. It also sneaks in a significantly larger battery, with Samsung promising up to 20 hours of battery life in GPS mode, plus a new charging cable that can juice the watch up from zero to 45% in just 30 minutes. We weren’t able to eke out quite that much use during our review period, but there is certainly a significant battery life improvement compared to the Galaxy Watch 4. The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro also comes with Samsung’s D-buckle band, an elevated metal clasp reminiscent of luxury analog watches.
As far as features, users will find all the usual suspects, including health and fitness tools that rival even the best fitness trackers you can buy. The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro also adds a few key navigational upgrades that you won’t find on its cheaper sibling. We made use of the new TrackBack feature on multiple hikes and loved turn-by-turn navigation right on the wrist.
- Durable, premium build, and D-buckle clasp
- Improved battery life and faster charging
- New hiking and navigation features
- Reliable heart rate monitoring
- Solid GPS accuracy
- Rich software and app support
- No skin temperature monitoring at launch
- No more rotating bezel
- GPX file sharing not applicable to runs
Check out our full review to learn more about the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro.
Mobvoi TicWatch E3: The best cheap Wear OS watch
The Mobvoi TicWatch E3 is the best cheap Wear OS smartwatch you can buy. The budget-friendly watch offers great hardware, a sleek design, and a battery that can last all day. It also offers NFC support for Google Pay. In short, its a solid smartphone companion at a reasonable price.
On the other hand, this option won’t offer especially accurate fitness or health tracking. Sleep tracking too is unreliable. If these advanced features are a priority it is probably worth saving up for something a little more expensive. If you just want the smartwatch basics, this is a great pick. The TicWatch E3 runs Wear OS 2 right now, but it’s eligible to receive Wear OS 3 when it’s released in 2022. Mobvoi did need to cut costs somewhere, so you’ll probably want to swap out the cheap-feeling strap right away.
- 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 Ultra: The best option from Mobvoi
The TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra is the best Wear OS device from Mobvoi. Compared to its predecessor it’s a more rugged device with a MIL-STD-810G body and a Corning Gorilla Glass face. It also offers faster performance. While reviewing the watch we consistently had a smooth, responsive user experience, seamlessly running multiple apps and features without any lag. The device is powered by Wear OS and currently runs an older version but is eligible for the fancy new Wear OS 3 upgrade sometime this year.
The Ticwatch Pro 3 Ultra also offers a few advanced health-monitoring features. These include irregular heart rate and atrial fibrillation (AFib) detection as well as mental fatigue and energy level assessments. Fitness tracking is good enough for the average user, though not quite detailed or accurate enough for serious athletes. We were a little disappointed with the watch’s GPS accuracy in particular. Luckily though, Mobvoi still allows users to share data with Google Fit, Strava, and Runkeeper.
Finally, this is a particularly oversized wearable. It is only available in one bulky size offering that may not be a good fit for everyone. It is, however, very comfortable, lightweight, and sleek.
- Multi-day battery life
- Unique dual-screen display looks great and saves juice
- Customizable backlight in 18 colors
- Durable design meets military specs
- Decent heart rate monitoring
- Runs on old software
- So-so sleep tracking
- GPS can struggle at times
- Only one bulky size option
- Rudimentary smartphone app
Check out our full review to learn more about the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra.
Fossil Gen 6: A watch waiting on promises
Fossil excels at combing classic style with smartwatch smarts. The Fossil Gen 6 features a bright, full-color display, perfectly placed buttons tons of classy strap options for personalization. We love wearing this watch everywhere from dinner to the gym. The device’s basic performance is also stellar with an accurate heart rate monitor and a blood oxygen sensor for monitoring heart health.
However, the watch also currently has a lot of unfulfilled potential as the wait for a Wear OS 3 update grows long. Fossil committed to a “future update” to the newest platform at launch but the software has yet to arrive and there’s still been no specific date provided. The device also leaves us wanting in the battery department. We found it made it just 24 hours before needing to charge up during our review period. Luckily, a recharge to 80% will only cost you 30 minutes on the charger. Finally, GPS accuracy isn’t the best you’ll find on a Wear OS device so if distance training is a priority, this might not be the watch for you.
On the other hand, Fossil has a winning formula in terms of aesthetics and user experience. The Gen 6 is both timeless and modern with traditional design cues integrated into a contemporary accessory. It may only feature entry-level fitness tracking, but for nonathletes that might be enough.
- Respectable design
- Bright, colorful display
- Accurate heart rate monitor
- Accurate SpO2 monitor
- Plenty of color options
- Solid performance
- Only 24-hour battery life
- Inaccurate GPS
- Inaccurate sleep tracking
- Not for swim workouts
- Limited fitness apps
- A long wait until Wear OS 3
Check out our full review to learn more about the Fossil Gen 6.
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:
- 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.
- SKAGEN Falster Gen 6: With excellent hardware and eligibility for a future Wear OS update, the SKAGEN Falster Gen 6 is another solid, albeit pricey, device worth a look.
- Galaxy Watch 4 series: If you don’t mind older software, the Galaxy Watch 4 series still has a lot to offer and can likely be found on sale now that it has been outshone but Samsung’s latest devices.
Looking for more brand-specific recommendations? Check out the following guides: