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What's the best smartwatch? We tested dozens, here are our top 6

There are plenty of smartwatches on the market, but choosing the right one doesn't have to be daunting.
By
January 28, 2023
An Apple Watch Series 8 on a user's wrist displays the watch face.
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Choosing the smartwatch really comes down to answering four questions:

  • Do you care what brand makes it or the platform it runs on?
  • What smart features are you interested in using?
  • What activities do you plan to use the device for?
  • Are there any special features you need?

Once you know what features matter the most to you, picking the right smartwatch is easy. If you want to dig deeper into what to consider when shopping, we can help. If you feel confident about what you are looking for, skip right to our top picks. We’ve reviewed the most popular wearables on the market to narrow down users’ choices. Keep reading to see our finds for the best smartwatch you can buy in 2023.

See also: The best fitness trackers you can buy right now

The Apple Watch Series 8 is the best smartwatch available

Apple Watch Series 8 (Wi-Fi)Apple Watch Series 8 (Wi-Fi)
Apple Watch Series 8 (Wi-Fi)
Excellent Retina display • Premium design and build • Advanced health tracking sensors
A very powerful device for anyone inside Apple's walled garden
The Apple Watch Series 8 with Wi-Fi connectivity features advanced fitness and health tracking tools, including a temperature sensor to monitor body variations and better insights into women's cycles. The device also features a thick front crystal over its display for improved durability. Additional highlights include Crash Detection, Low Power Mode, and extensive third-party app support.

Apple offers the best smartwatch experience full stop. Unfortunately, you have to be an iOS user to enjoy it. If you fit into that camp, the Apple Watch Series 8 lands neatly into Apple’s pattern of launching very successful devices, and we found a lot to like about it. From its user-friendly software experience to its nearly limitless app library, the Apple Watch is a tough device to match.

To start, the Series 8 largely mimics the Series 7’s design, and we’re not complaining about it. The previous generation introduced an upgraded display that was bigger, brighter, rounder, and more durable. According to Apple, the top crystal is 50% thicker than that of the Series 6 for more crack resistance (though we didn’t push the device to prove it during testing). In short, it can stand up to whatever your day holds, and isn’t that the point?

Further reading: The complete Apple Watch buyer’s guide

As always, the touchscreen is highly responsive and the added room for text and other elements makes for an overall better software experience. We still love the Qwerty keyboard and added Apple watch faces. We also love all the features Apple added to its arsenal with watchOS 9. These included tons of upgrades across the user experience including a revamped Workout app with added data screens and new tools like medication management and AFib history. WatchOS 9 also improved Apple’s sleep tracking by adding sleep stages. In fact, the Series 8 even features a new temperature sensor for deeper insights into users’ sleep as well as more detailed cycle tracking. Apple is also leveraging its temperature sensor to help those who menstruate retroactively predict ovulation dates.

Meanwhile, if there is anything missing from the Apple Watch out of the box, the App Store likely has options for filling in the gap. Apps are where Apple leaves other wearables in the dust. Within the App Store, you’ll find everything from popular fitness tools like Stava and MyFitnessPal, to meditation apps, music services, and much more. Wherever Apple falls short in native software, a quick search in the App store brings the device right back up to speed.

Third-party app support for iOS users is unparalleled and the user experience leaves little to be desired.

From apps to notifications, integration with the iPhone is seamless. Navigation is the most intuitive we’ve found on a smartwatch and the list of useful smartwatch features is quite long. In addition to on-wrist phone calls and Siri, we constantly tapped into offline music playback and audiobooks and relied on iPhone controls for times when pulling out a phone was too much effort. Apple Pay is also a great perk for checking out with just your wearable during a workout.

On the topic of fitness, the Apple Watch Series 8 still tracks all of the basics: steps, calories, distance, floors climbed, resting and active heart rate, sleep, VO2 max, blood oxygen saturation, sinus rhythm, and menstrual cycles. All of these Apple does well and the Health and Fitness companion apps are both thorough and easy to use. The Series 8 even now features a new multisport mode for swapping between activities during triathlon training. GPS proved reliable on bike rides as well as outdoor runs throughout our review period.

One pain point worth noting is this device’s battery life. Like older generations, the Apple Watch Series 8 will last just about up to its 18-hour claims. However, now Apple offers Low Power Mode for squeezing out additional use between charges. Add in fast charging and the experience is much more manageable.

It’s the most well-rounded, user-friendly smartwatch you can buy, period. There are cheaper alternatives, and there are cheaper Apple Watches, but the Series 8 is currently the best of the best. All that being said, the Apple Watch Series 8 isn’t for everyone. First, quite literally, it’s only for iPhone users. If you’re packing an Android phone but want a similar experience we recommend the Galaxy Watch 5 series. Secondly, while Apple’s a very capable fitness tracker, it’s not the top of the line. The Garmin Venu 2 Plus will provide deeper analysis and more advanced training tools, plus much better battery life.

Alternatively, if you are an iOS user but the Series 8 doesn’t quite line up with your budget, the Apple Watch SE 2 has a lot to offer at a lower price. At the other end of the spectrum, the Apple Watch Ultra comes at a higher price but packs some great tools for adventurous users, plus a new Action Button.

What makes it stand out

  • Unmatched app support: Users can find an app for virtually every need in the App Store. If the watch doesn’t offer something natively, the odds are good you’ll find a third-party option.
  • Seamless user experience: Apple earns its reputation for device integration with the Apple Watch line. The user experience is nearly foolproof.
  • Flawless design: Form and function collide in this good-looking device fit for any occasion.
  • Reliable GPS: Apple’s GPS accuracy is among the best we’ve tested, and we’ve tested a lot.
  • Accurate health tracking: If wellness is a priority, the Apple Watch delivers more than just the basics. You’ll find advanced health tracking that’s accurate and helpful.

Best of the rest: 5 other smartwatches worthy of your consideration

If you own an iPhone, the Apple Watch Series 8 is absolutely what we recommend. It’s well-supported with updates and new apps, it looks good, it runs well, and it has industry-leading features. Of course, many of us use Android phones, and some of us just prefer a different look. Whatever the reason, there are plenty of great smartwatches out there besides Apple’s flagship watch.

  • Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and 5 Pro: Samsung’s latest devices are the best Wear OS smartwatches available. Their hardware is fantastic, as are the overall looks of both available models.
  • Fitbit Versa 3: For users interested in the Fitbit ecosystem, the Versa 3 is the best choice. It’s nearly identical to the pricier Fitbit Sense, only without a few extra sensors.
  • Garmin Venu 2 Plus: The Garmin Venu 2 Plus is the best smartwatch option from Garmin. Building on the success of the Venu 2, it’s a great smartwatch and an even better fitness watch.
  • Mobvoi TicWatch E3: The best cheap Wear OS smartwatch, Mobvoi’s Ticwatch E3 offers a crisp display, a rugged design (with an IP68 rating), and NFC for mobile payments.
  • Withings ScanWatch: The best hybrid smartwatch you can buy in 2023 is the Withings ScanWatch. It stands out with clinically validated AFib detection and all-around great health tracking.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and 5 Pro are the best smartwatches for Android users

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 ProSamsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro
Up to 2 days battery life • Advanced sleep tracker • Fast Charging
Samsung's first adventure watch is a winner
Building on the Galaxy Watch 5's base with a much hardier body, Galaxy Watch 5 Pro also features multiple health and fitness tracking tools, a bigger battery, and a better navigation system. All these improvements make for a great all-round smartwatch whether you're in the boardroom or out on the trail.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
Excellent build and comfort • Improved battery life • Solid GPS accuracy
Subtle upgrades make a huge difference
The Galaxy Watch 5 smartwatch offers a bigger battery, more sturdy body, and more comfortable fit than its predecessor. It supports Google Assistant and Google Maps navigation, while a body composition monitor, skin temperature sensor, and improved sleep tracking makes for an impressive health-tracking product.

If the Apple Watch isn’t in the cards for you, you’re probably looking for something from the Wear OS family. Enter the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 series. This two-pronged product line features the best of Wear OS and currently runs the latest software. The devices don’t represent a huge departure from their predecessors, but considering the Watch 4 lineup already won us over, the new upgrades are icing on the cake.

For starters, both the Galaxy Watch 5 and 5 Pro have bright, AMOLED displays and come in multiple sizes to fit every wrist. We found both variants to be comfortable for all-day wear and suited for everything from the gym to the office. The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is a lot heftier, and we did find it to look quite chunky on petite wrists. This is largely due to the angle at which the watch band and metal band lugs connect. Even so, it was comfortable and didn’t budge once we’d properly adjusted the D-buckle strap.

Read more: The Samsung Galaxy Watch buyer’s guide

Both devices also got welcome upgrades in the battery department, which was one of our (and 70% of our readers’) few critiques of the Watch 4 lineup. Samsung claims the base model should get 50 hours of battery life (10 hours more than the Watch 4), and the Pro model should get 80 hours of battery life. In our testing, the Watch 5 Pro didn’t manage to match those numbers, but it did last more than two full days and nights of heavy use on a single charge. GPS seems to be the major drain here, consistently running the battery down roughly 10% for each hour-long workout of our review period.

Charging speeds are also improved. Powering up the Pro model takes roughly 90 minutes and just 30 minutes of charging provides nearly 50%. Likewise, charging up the base model only took 90 minutes as well, which is 30 minutes faster than the Galaxy Watch 4.

As far as smartwatch features go, the latest Wear OS continues to impress us. Combined with excellent customization options in Samsung’s One UI Watch 4.5 skin, there are a plethora of options to make the Watch 5 series look and run exactly as you want. We found it very easy to navigate, and the inclusion of the Google Play Store means new-and-improved Google Maps, Google Pay, and even Google Assistant. As expected, all of Samsung’s apps, including Samsung Pay and Bixby, are supported too. We would have liked to see the option to reprogram the hardware button from Samsung Pay to other services.

Apart from excellent smartwatch features, the new Galaxy Watch 5 and 5 Pro also serve as great fitness trackers. All versions feature upgraded Sapphire Crystal and should stand up to quite a beating. They also have all of the basic health stats you’d expect, from blood oxygen levels to resting and active heart rates, in an upgraded sensor package. However, we were not very happy to see that some features, most notably the electrocardiogram (ECG), are still exclusive to Samsung smartphones. Unfortunately, this is because they require the Galaxy-only Health Monitor app. The limitation makes the devices slightly less appealing for non-Galaxy owners. It’s also worth noting that these smartwatches won’t work at all with iPhones, so look elsewhere if you’re in the Apple camp.

While we think both models are among the best you can buy, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is undoubtedly the best smartwatch you can buy for Android users. It’s an extremely well-rounded device with a premium build and upgrades in all the right places. However, it’s very pricey so the non-Pro model may be a better pick for budget-conscious buyers. The Galaxy Watch 4 ($249) or Classic ($349) can also be picked up for even cheaper, but although they largely offer the same great software experience and build quality, you will sacrifice heavily on battery life. Finally, Google’s Pixel Watch ($349) offers a unique mashup of Wear OS and Fitbit features. It’s an alluring prospect, but we found the first-generation device has some kinks to work out before we’d recommend adding it to your watch box.

What makes it stand out

  • Still an active guest at the Wear OS party: The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 series joins the limited ranks of devices running the latest Wear OS, with great smartwatch software perks that you won’t find elsewhere.
  • Plenty of metrics to keep you busy: These devices are packed with useful health sensors for monitoring all your important metrics. However, not all are available at launch, and some are limited to Samsung Galaxy phones.
  • Fit to size (and style): These watches don’t just come in a handful of sizes, they’re also highly customizable. Plus, with plenty of watch faces to choose from, your perfect look is a tap away.

The Fitbit Versa 3 is the best cheap fitness tracker

Fitbit Versa 3Fitbit Versa 3
Fitbit Versa 3
Decent battery life • Accurate health tracking • Built-in GPS
A watered-down version of the Sense
The Fitbit Versa 3 carries all the smart features you could want on a mid-range smartwatch, including Google Assistant support, voice replies, and reliable health tracking. It's effectively a Fitbit Sense without the pricier specialized sensors.

We’d be hard-pressed to leave Fitbit out of most any wearables conversation, and a list of best smartwatches is no exception. In this arena, the company has two devices worth consideration; the Versa 3 and the Fitbit Sense. While the Sense is the technically more advanced device, we assert that the Versa 3 is actually the better value buy. It offers all the basics you’d hope to find on a smartwatch, at a much better price. Fitbit also launched a Versa 4, however, we weren’t terribly impressed with the device during our review period. The new model drops key features that make the Versa 3 so useful, including third-party app support, WiFi support, and Google Assistant.

Versa 3 highlights include accurate health tracking, built-in GPS, and voice assistant support. You can actually choose which assistant you prefer between Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. When tested with basic commands, we found the replies quick and accurate. The built-in microphone and speaker are even more useful as you can take phone calls right on your wrist over Bluetooth.

These features make this device more than just a traditional tracker from a household name. With notifications, onboard music storage, and the tools listed above, the Versa 3 is a well-rounded smartwatch. But, that’s not to say it sacrifices tracking stats either. Both fitness and health tracking on the Versa 3 performed well in testing. The useful addition of built-in GPS makes a big difference for runners and cyclists who don’t want to pocket a phone on the road. It took a few moments to lock on before our first few runs but after that, it was quick and easy, and fairly accurate. The device also boasts an improved heart rate sensor for more accurate readings than the Versa 2. Plus, users can tap into Daily Readiness Score to maximize training and balance hard work with adequate rest.

This is important because where the Versa’s tracking really shines, is overnight. As with other Fitbits, the Versa 3 will track your light, deep, and REM sleep, and provide a sleep score from 1-100 based on your heart rate, sleep stages, and time awake. We found these scores compared well to our perceived quality of sleep and subsequent wakefulness/tiredness each day. The Versa 3 will also track your SpO2 readings overnight and Fitbit added snore and noise detection to the device in a post-launch 2021 update.

See also: The complete Fitbit buyer’s guide

Fitbit’s updated software fixed many of the hiccups we originally faced when testing the Sense that would have otherwise carried over to the Versa 3. Namely, we appreciate how it makes the capacitive button less necessary as that was our least favorite part of the device’s design. Compared to other ecosystems, Fitbit’s app library is, however, quite limited. We found all the basics, including an alarm app, a maps app, and a few more, but that’s it. That being said, the company’s native Fitbit app is a stellar companion app. It’s an organized platform for anyone new to tracking and a user-friendly experience for anyone who wants to keep things simple.

The major features missing on the Versa 3 compared to the Fitbit Sense are electrodermal activity (EDA) monitoring (essentially your stress levels), electrocardiogram (ECG) monitoring, and skin temperature tracking. Beyond those advanced health tools, the two devices are essentially the same. Our guess is that those metrics aren’t worth $70 extra bucks to the average user. Instead, we pose that the Versa 3 provides everything you need, and saves you some cash.

What makes it stand out

  • Best value in the Fitbit lineup: The Fitbit ecosystem is full of options, including one with more advanced health sensors than the Versa 3. But this is the device with the best bang for your buck. It’s a powerful smartwatch and a terrific value purchase.
  • A capable companion app: In addition to great devices, Fitbit boasts an arguably even better companion app. Unlike apps overwhelmingly pack with data, it’s approachable and easy to navigate.
  • Accuracy where it matters: For tracking health and fitness basics, the Fitbit Versa 3 is an easy choice. Its proven reliability is especially apparent in sleep tracking.

The Garmin Venu 2 Plus is the best smartwatch from Garmin

Garmin Venu 2 PlusGarmin Venu 2 Plus
Garmin Venu 2 Plus
Excellent display • Fast charging battery • Phone calls
Phone calls and a voice assistant on your wrist.
The Garmin Venu 2 Plus takes all of the fitness- and health-tracking features of the original Venu 2 and adds the ability to receive phone calls and access your phone's voice assistant.

Garmin’s Venu 2 was already a meritorious effort from the company in the smartwatch field. We nearly named it the best device of 2021. With a bit more refinement and some added features, the Venu 2 Plus blows its predecessor away. Beyond sibling comparisons, our reviewer dubbed it “one of the most well-rounded wearables we’ve ever used.”

So what’s different? Well first, if you’re familiar with the Venu 2 and 2S you may be surprised to find the Venu 2 Plus only comes in one size variant. Instead of a 45mm and a 40mm option, the Venu 2 Plus slides in the middle with just a singular 43mm case. It keeps the same 1.3-inch display but the bezels are slightly more diminutive. We found this sizing hits the sweet spot of looking good on wrists of all sizes. Additionally, the Venu 2 Plus adds a stainless steel backplate to its design for a higher-end feel.

Beneath the hood, the Venu 2 Plus also made some strides. Thanks to a built-in speaker and microphone, the Garmin Venu 2 Plus can make and receive phone calls directly on the watch when connected by Bluetooth to your paired phone. We put this to the test and found the feature highly usable with voice quality unaffected by the hardware. Through the same microphone and speaker, users can also access their connected phone’s voice assistant. That means your choice of Google Assistant, Samsung Bixby, or Apple’s Siri. We experienced a slight delay when prompting our assistant but overall the optional access is a big plus.

Don’t miss: The best Garmin watches you can buy

Beyond those big changes, the Garmin Venu 2 Plus carries over much of what impressed us in the Venu 2. These include Garmin’s reputably accurate activity-tracking metrics, Body Battery, sleep tracking, and Health Snapshot. We especially appreciate Health Snapshot as it’s an incredibly useful feature in the Garmin toolbox. Essentially, the device records your heart rate, heart rate variability, blood oxygen levels, respiration rate, and stress for two minutes, then provides a snapshot of all the data, for you to share via PDF with your doctor. The device now offers FDA-approved ECG readings as well with the ability to help users check for signs of aFib.

On the health-tracking front, we hope that Garmin will continue to tweak its heart rate algorithms over time as the sensor didn’t quite keep up with the competition during testing. Compared to the Apple Watch Series 6 for example, the Venu 2 Plus struggled to lock on and occasionally “freaked out” with completely haywire data points. If accurate heart rate tracking is a priority, we suggest sticking with Apple for now.

On the other hand, throughout our review period, GPS data was even better than expected, outperforming Apple on a number of runs. In some instances, it even kept up with the Coros Vertix 2, a particularly strong GPS wearable. Other smartwatch features that round out this device for runners include support for Garmin Pay and storage for roughly 650 songs. These tools completely negate any need to bring a phone with you during workouts as you can pay for snacks or blast pump-up jams right from your wrist.

What makes it stand out

  • It’s a Garmin for the rest of us: This is Garmin’s most approachable device and the company’s watch best suited for the masses. It’s a detailed, precise fitness tracker as well as a well-rounded smartwatch.
  • On-wrist calls round out a great device: We loved the original Venu 2. The Venu 2 Plus keeps everything that made its predecessor a great wearable and adds phone calls from the wrist plus access to your voice assistant.
  • Accurate GPS: GPS tracking on the Venu 2 Plus is incredibly accurate, especially for a smartwatch rather than a dedicated GPS wearable. If you’re a runner or cyclist this is a huge highlight.

The Mobvoi Ticwatch E3 is the best cheap Wear OS smartwatch

Mobvoi TicWatch E3Mobvoi TicWatch E3
Mobvoi TicWatch E3
Well-built hardware • Decent display • IP68 durability
An affordable health tracker on your wrist.
The Mobvoi TicWatch E3 marks a generational update over its predecessor thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100 platform. It also boasts an updated design and improved performance.

Mobvoi’s TicWatch E3 is the budget watch for buyers who want a smart device without breaking the bank. A well-tailored combination of design and features keeps this watch in the same conversation as much more expensive wearables. Plus, with eligibility for a Wear OS 3, it’s an affordable device with a promising future.

Within the Mobvoi stable, the $200 E3 replaced the E2 with a more modern look. The device’s display is smaller with fewer pixels than the outgoing model, however, the screen is still plenty easy to view and interact with, even on a sunny day. The E3 also added a second button to the line, giving users more control. We found the button is a good size for ease of use without bulking up the design. Each also emits a clear click so you’re never left wondering if you pressed it all the way.

As of now, users will find themselves navigating Wear OS 2 on this device, which we found it utilizes pretty well. The platform offers plenty of onboard Google and Mobvoi-made apps, including smartwatch basics such as contacts, reminders, Find My Phone, Google Play Store, and much more. All of the smart features on this watch work perfectly. We synced everything from email to Slack messages and ran into no problems with any of the tools or their notifications.

Dig deeper: The best watches cheap smartwatches

As mentioned, the TicWatch E3 is eligible to upgrade to Wear OS 3 when it becomes available. That means this budget pick will be running the same Wear OS as its much more expensive sibling, the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra. That’s especially noteworthy when some costly devices from other companies won’t be eligible. In the meantime, you’ll already find many of Google’s top features on board including Google Assistant and NFC support for Google Pay.

On the fitness tracking front, Mobvoi offers a little bit of everything. The TicWatch E3 will track 21 different activities, including the obvious as well as the oddballs, such as mountaineering. It will also automatically detect running, walking, and cycling exercises, though our experience wasn’t always spot on. A few times the watch took ten minutes or so to detect our walk. You can also tap into one of the company’s “Tic” apps to measure your heart rate, track your sleep, monitor your blood oxygen level, manage your stress or breathing, and more. We didn’t find sleep tracking particularly accurate so we would recommend the Versa 3 instead if you’re keen on counting Zs.

Mobvoi collects all your health and fitness stats in its companion app. You can view your data as a single day, week, or month. We liked that this setup allows you to easily identify trends or red flags. We just would have liked to see data from the device be more easily shareable. Fortunately, Runkeeper, Strava, and Google Fit are three third-party apps with integration available.

If you are looking for a solid smartwatch and only need basic fitness and health tracking, this is a good device at a great price. Wearables are always going to cost a certain amount but the TicWatch E3 keeps its price approachable without sacrificing standards.

What makes it stand out

  • A very small price tag: The TicWatch E3 makes this list because of its very low cost. It stays on the list because it delivers good hardware and a bevy of smart features.
  • Eligibility: Not every smartwatch can boast Wear OS 3 eligibility and certainly none at this price point. If Wear OS is your preferred ecosystem this is a great budget pick.
  • Delivers on the basics: This isn’t the most accurate fitness tracker or the most advanced health monitor. It sticks to the basics of what shoppers want in a smartwatch, from digital payment support to consistent notifications.

The Withings Scanwatch is the best hybrid smartwatch you can buy

Withings ScanWatchWithings ScanWatch
Withings ScanWatch
Premium, classy design • Long-lasting battery • Clinically validated health sensors
The Withings ScanWatch is more than just a "specialty" smartwatch
A health-focused hybrid device, the Withings Scanwatch features the aesthetic of an analog watch but packs undercover smarts for tracking your health and fitness, including fantastic sleep tracking. It is even clinically validated to detect early signs of AFib and sleep apnea.

For smartwatch smarts buts an analog form factor, a hybrid wearable is the ticket. The Withings Scanwatch is our specialty pick, with a classy design and seriously advanced health tracking. In fact, our reviewer called it “one of the most sensible wearables you can buy to keep track of your health.”

Much more than your average hybrid smartwatch, the Withings Scanwatch offers a medical-grade ECG monitor, pulse oximeter, and 24/7 heart rate monitoring. The Scanwatch will also notify you if your heart rate regularly seems too high or too low, both warning signs of bradycardia or tachycardia. You can also take ECG readings on demand. Our favorite part is that you can easily share a PDF of your overall health report or your readings with your doctor. It took about two seconds to generate a report which was pretty convenient.

See also: The best hybrid smartwatches you can buy

The Scanwatch can also automatically track your blood oxygen levels while you sleep in what Withings calls a Respiratory Scan. This scan can detect warning signs of sleep apnea. To do so, it measures your heart rate, heart rate variability, respiratory rate, and oxygen saturation levels to give you an overview of how many breathing disturbances you experienced overnight. We (luckily) didn’t experience any disturbances during testing but this clinically approved monitoring can be invaluable to anyone at risk.

On top of sleep apnea detection, the Scanwatch also records sleep duration, depth, regularity, and interruptions. It then uses those metrics to provide a sleep score on a scale of 1 to 100. Withings’ sleep scores matched up perfectly with the Fitbit Charge 4 during testing, a device we consider a very accurate sleep tracker. In short, this is a very valuable and very reliable health-tracking tool.

Sure, we’ve seen hybrids with better displays. The Vivomove Sport equips a clever “hidden” option we adore and Fossil features e-ink on its Hybrid HR. But in most instances, the Scanwatch’s small display is adequate and will get the job done. There aren’t as many smartwatch features (i.e. contactless payment and onboard music) on this device as on others in this list but that comes with the hybrid territory. We also wish it offered more fitness features.

Though again, if you are shopping for a device in this style, you’re probably not looking for a hardcore gym companion anyway. This is the choice for anyone looking to keep close tabs on their heart health or overnight breathing. And if a long-lasting battery and an elegant design are just the gravy on top, so be it.

What makes it stand out

  • Smarts undercover: Not everyone wants a sporty wearable with high-tech vibes. This hybrid is a classy accessory that packs more than (initially) meets the eye.
  • Seriously advanced health tracking: Not many devices can boast potentially lifesaving health sensors. The ScanWatch ECG monitor and clinically validated AFib could each be invaluable to the right user.
  • Detailed sleep tracking: When hardly anyone seems to be getting enough proper rest, tracking sleep is more important than ever. This device offers in-depth insights and tons of data.

What to look for in a good smartwatch

If you’re shopping for your first smartwatch, it’s not easy to know where to start. Software experience and compatibility are crucial, but they don’t always narrow down the field enough. You’ll also want to determine what your priorities are in terms of features and specs. Do you just want an extension of your phone or are you interested in tracking intense workouts or advanced health stats? Does daily charging sound cumbersome? The topics below are all points worth considering before committing to any of the devices on the market.

  • Compatibility
  • Software experience
  • Budget
  • First- and third-party app support
  • Battery life
  • Fitness tracking
  • Onboard or connected GPS
  • Heart rate tracking
  • SpO2 monitoring
  • Sleep tracking
  • On-wrist phone call support
  • Voice assistance
  • Notifications
  • Digital payment support
  • Companion app

Obviously, there is a lot to unpack here. Want more specific advice on the areas above? Check out our guide on how to pick the right watch for your needs.


Why you should trust us & how we test

Android Authority has a long history with wearable devices, spanning back at least as far as the Pebble in 2013. Since then, we’ve reviewed hundreds of wearables and learned a lot along the way. Our team of dedicated health and fitness experts tests dozens of new wearables and fitness trackers every year, but only the very best make it onto recommendation lists like the one you are reading. How do we determine what’s worthy? When testing we have two main focuses in mind: user experience and accuracy. To that end, we start by utilizing the device as a daily driver:

  • We wear the product 24/7, (except for charging time), to evaluate its day-to-day performance, capabilities, and comfort.
  • We note everything from strap materials and display brightness to navigation and battery life.
  • We tap into as many features as possible, leaving no stone set unturned.
  • We set alarms, chat with voice assistants, and fire off texts, follow breathing exercises, sweat through workouts, and much more.
  • We test sleep tracking accuracy and wear the watch to bed and compared its data to other products well-regarded for their sleep analysis.
  • We test SpO2 sensors against other wearables or a pulse oximeter.
  • For heart rate monitoring, we equip chest straps to test the device’s accuracy and push the sensor through interval training workouts.
  • We also test GPS accuracy on outdoor runs and rides wearing the device, along with a notably accurate GPS device, to see how the review unit performs.
  • When possible, we strap on a comparable device from the current market to analyze how the review subject stands up to the similarly-priced competition.
  • We dig into the companion app. We look to see how the data is organized and analyzed and evaluate the ease of use.

As you can see, we don’t mess around! There is a ton of variety in smartwatches and trackers, and reviewing each product is quite nuanced. A Garmin Fenix 7 review looks a lot different from a Xiaomi Mi Band review, for example. So, we also determine the wearable’s place in the market in terms of form factor, target audience, and budget. Then, we check to see if the device is missing anything important that users might expect to see and verify that it lives up to its brand’s (measurable) claims.

You can trust that our experts put every device through its paces. Typically, our review period lasts about a week, but we can sometimes extend it to weeks or months for especially feature-packed devices. We also revisit watches and trackers regularly to ensure they still hold up through the test of time.


FAQs

Unfortunately, no. Compatibility is device-specific and not all smartwatches are inclusive. On this list, the Apple Watch Series 8 only works with iPhones. Meanwhile, the Galaxy Watch 5 is only compatible with Android phones.

Even little wrists have room for some version of a smartwatch. The best kid-friendly devices offer basic activity tracking and task management tools.

As devices grow more advanced, the line between fitness trackers and smartwatches has definitely blurred. Most smartwatches have fitness tracking tools, and many fitness trackers have a range of smartwatch features. Generally speaking, we refer to wearables with big displays, large app libraries, and notification support as smartwatches. If a device has more of a fitness band form factor, we refer to it as a fitness tracker.