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The best smartwatches you can buy (October 2021): Apple, Samsung, and more
Smartwatches are still a very new thing to a lot of people. You don’t absolutely need one to get through the day, and some of the best smartwatches are much too expensive for many folks out there. Even so, they are good for a lot of things. They can provide you with an easy way to get information, allow you to dismiss or reply to new messages without having to pull out your phone, and much more. Looking for the best? We can help point you in the right direction. These are the best smartwatches you can buy in 2021.
BLACK FRIDAY 2021
How to choose the right smartwatch for your needs
Many different factors go into making a great smartwatch. It needs to look good, feel comfortable, have a variety of apps to choose from, and it needs to receive regular software updates. Fitness tracking is also welcome, but many devices that prioritize smart features don’t excel in the fitness realm and vice versa. For this list of the best smartwatches, we focus mainly on devices that deliver a good software experience.
The best smartwatches
- The Apple Watch Series 6 is the best smartwatch you can buy, at least until the Series 7 becomes officially available. It’s customizable, receives regular updates, and it’s a fantastic fitness smartwatch.
- The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 series is the best Wear OS smartwatch you can get. The hardware is fantastic, as is the overall look of the two watches.
- The Fitbit Versa 3 is the best Fitbit smartwatch. The Versa 3 is nearly identical to the pricier Fitbit Sense, only without a few extra sensors that you may not use anyway.
- The Garmin Venu 2 is the best Garmin smartwatch. Garmin’s second smartwatch with an OLED display is a great smartwatch and an even better fitness watch.
- The Mobvoi TicWatch E3 is the best cheap Wear OS smartwatch. It offers a great display, an IP68 rating, as well as NFC for mobile payments.
- The Withings ScanWatch is the best hybrid smartwatch you can buy in 2021, thanks to its clinically validated AFib detection and all-around great health tracking suite.
Apple Watch Series 6: The best smartwatch you can buy
The Apple Watch Series 6 is the best smartwatch you can buy. It has unmatched first- and third-party app support, receives regular major software updates, and has tight integration with Apple’s messaging apps. It’s really the gold standard for what a smartwatch should be.
It’s also one heck of a fitness tracker. Heart rate monitoring is more accurate than other wrist-based heart rate sensors, and GPS performance is solid. We do think Apple’s new sleep tracking metrics are too basic, but you can always download a third-party sleep tracking app if you need it.
If you’re interested in the Apple Watch but don’t want to pay for the Series 6, check out the Apple Watch SE.
Also keep in mind that Apple has already announced the Apple Watch Series 7, which offers a few new bells and whistles. However, the watch isn’t available just yet, but the good news is that the release date is just around the corner. Sales officially kick off on October 15.
- Premium design and accessories
- Big, bright screen with always-on display
- Stellar heart rate monitoring
- Accurate, reliable GPS
- Unmatched app support
- Sleep tracking is too basic
- Battery life could be better
- No third-party watch faces
Check out our full review to learn more about the Apple Watch Series 6.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: The best Wear OS smartwatch
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic should be at the top of your list if you’re in the market for Wear OS watch. There’s plenty to like about Samsung’s new wearables, which come in multiple size options and a variety of colors. They are the only two watches running Wear OS 4 at the moment, and that won’t change until sometime next year.
The Galaxy Watch 4 is more suited for the sportier crowd, while the Classic model has a more elegant design that makes it more versatile. Both offer plenty of features which include everything from activity tracking to notifying you of the latest messages you’ve received. You also get a solid heart rate sensor on both as well as access to the new body composition metrics.
There are some drawbacks to keep in mind, though. The charging is slow, there’s no Google Assistant support, and the GPS performance isn’t the best. But despite their shortcomings, the Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 4 Classic are still the best Wear OS watches you can currently get.
- 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.
Fitbit Versa 3: The best Fitbit smartwatch
The Fitbit Versa 3 is our pick for the best Fitbit smartwatch you can buy right now. It’s not the most technically advanced, but it’s the one most people should purchase when seeking out a new wearable.
We found that the Versa 3 strikes the right balance between smartwatch, fitness tracker, and advanced workout wearable. It has both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa built-in, Fitbit Pay support, and onboard music storage. It’s also an all-around fantastic fitness tracker and even boasts onboard GPS for runners and cyclists.
The Versa 3 is also cheaper than the Fitbit Sense, Fitbit’s other flagship smartwatch. We found that the extra sensors in the Sense likely aren’t useful enough to most people to warrant a big price increase, making the Versa 3 our top pick overall.
- Decent battery life
- Pretty accurate health tracking
- Built-in GPS
- Google Assistant and Alexa support
- Speaker with phone call support
- Good price
- Very small app library
- Onboard music limited to two services
- The capacitive button isn’t ideal
- Proprietary charging cable
Check out our full review to learn more about the Fitbit Versa 3.
Garmin Venu 2: The best Garmin smartwatch
The Garmin Venu 2 is the company’s best smartwatch. It upgrades the original Garmin Venu in many ways, especially in terms of software and health-tracking features.
Garmin completely revamped the software experience for the Venu 2. It now showcases the watch’s crisp OLED display with its vibrant colors on nearly every data page. The Venu 2 also carries over many of the original Venu’s great smartwatch features, including message replies (Android only), Garmin Pay support, and even more onboard music storage than before.
It’s not cheap — no Garmin watch is — but we feel the Garmin Venu 2 is a big step in the right direction for Garmin’s smartwatch ambitions.
- Now comes in two sizes
- Crisp AMOLED display
- Accurate fitness, sleep, and health tracking
- Excellent GPS accuracy
- Health Snapshot is useful
- More music storage
- Battery life can be finicky
- Uneven heart rate sensor data
- High price tag
Check out our full review to learn more about the Garmin Venu 2.
Mobvoi TicWatch E3: The best cheap Wear OS watch
If you’re looking for the best cheap Wear OS smartwatch you can get, the Mobvoi TicWatch E3 should be right up your alley. This budget-friendly device offers great hardware, a sleek design, and a battery that can last all day. It comes in at just $200, which is a steal, and that’s despite the fact that the strap feels quite cheap.
The TicWatch E3 runs Wear OS 2 right now, but it’s eligible to receive Wear OS 3 in 2022. It’s water-resistant thanks to its IP68 rating, making it great for various sports activities. It also supports Google Pay, allowing you to leave your wallet at home.
Like all smartwatches, this one has its flaws as well. The sleep tracking is inconsistent and the automatic activity tracking can be a bit iffy, but we can live with that because of the low price point.
- 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.
Withings ScanWatch: The best hybrid smartwatch
The Withings ScanWatch is our pick for the best hybrid smartwatch you can buy. Its been clinically validated to notify users of signs of AFib and overnight breathing disturbances. It has an ECG, pulse oximeter for SpO2 readings, connected GPS, and a fairly accurate heart rate sensor, too.
On-device navigation isn’t the greatest (let’s be honest, what hybrid smartwatch gets this part right?), but the small OLED display is good enough for basic functions. Add to that month-long battery life, fantastic build quality, and all-around great sleep tracking, and you have yourself a winner.
Just one problem: the Withings ScanWatch still isn’t FDA-approved in the US, so be sure to check Withings’ website to see if it’s available in your region.
- Premium, classy design
- Long-lasting battery
- Health Mate app is well-designed and easy to use
- Potentially lifesaving and easy-to-use ECG monitor
- Clinically validated AFib and breathing disturbance notifications
- Fantastic sleep tracking
- Limited availability
- Small display limits smart features
- Few advanced fitness features or insights
Check out our full review to learn more about the Withings ScanWatch.
Why you should trust the editor
Not only does Jimmy Westenberg love wearables, but he also 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 recommendations? Check out the following guides: