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The best smartwatches you can buy (October 2021): Apple, Samsung, and more

With so many smartwatches on the market, choosing the right one can be a bit daunting. Allow us to help!
The Best
By
November 23, 2021
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic lying flat on a brick.
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
Table of contents

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

Products in this category are discounted for Black Friday 2021! Check out our best smartwatch deals overview and our roundup of the best Black Friday deals for more details.

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

apple watch series 6 review artist watch face display 4
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

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.

Apple Watch Series 6 Widget Image
Apple Watch Series 6
The best Apple Watch, at a price
The Apple Watch Series 6 adds a pulse oximeter, a brighter always-on display, and two new colors. This is Apple's highest-end smartwatch to date; just be ready to pay up.

Pros

  • Premium design and accessories
  • Big, bright screen with always-on display
  • Stellar heart rate monitoring
  • Accurate, reliable GPS
  • Unmatched app support

Cons

  • 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 Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic being held in someone's hand.
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

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.

samsung galaxy watch 4 44mm green
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
Samsung's best smartwatch, now with Wear OS
Samsung and Google combined forces to improve the software situation with smartwatches on Android. The result is the new Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, running the new, co-developed Wear OS. The standard Galaxy Watch 4 is for the sportier crowd, while the Watch 4 Classic is for those who'd like a watch they can wear to the office.
samsung galaxy watch 4 classic black
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
The classiest smartwatch Samsung has to offer
If you're looking for a high-end follow-up to Samsung's Galaxy Watch 3, look no further. Now with Wear OS on board, the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic will be perfect for your trip to the office or a night out.

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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

Fitbit Versa 3 Review Watch with Glasses
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

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.

Fitbit Versa 3 Smartwatch
Fitbit Versa 3
One of the best smartwatches for most Android users
If you're looking for the best all-around smartwatch at a pretty good price, you're likely looking for the Fitbit Versa 3. Fitbit's cheaper flagship smartwatch sports standalone GPS, an accurate heart rate sensor, and plenty of nice smartwatch features.

Pros

  • Decent battery life
  • Pretty accurate health tracking
  • Built-in GPS
  • Google Assistant and Alexa support
  • Speaker with phone call support
  • Good price

Cons

  • 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

garmin venu 2 review glances body battery pulse ox stress
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

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.

Garmin Venu 2 press image
Garmin Venu 2
Garmin's new mid-range multisport watch
If you liked the original Garmin Venu, you're in for a treat with the Venu 2. It comes in two sizes, has lots of new features, and refines many of Garmin's existing health tracking modes to make an all-around more comprehensive wearable.

Pros

  • Now comes in two sizes
  • Crisp AMOLED display
  • Accurate fitness, sleep, and health tracking
  • Excellent GPS accuracy
  • Health Snapshot is useful
  • More music storage

Cons

  • 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

Mobvoi TicWatch E3 profile with face on
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

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.

Mobvoi TicWatch E3
Mobvoi TicWatch E3
The Mobvoi TicWatch E3 marks a generational update over its processor thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100 platform. It also boasts an updated design and improved performance.

Pros

  • Well-built hardware
  • Good display
  • Decent battery life
  • IP68 rated
  • NFC and Google Pay

Cons

  • 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

withings scanwatch review clock face design 4
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

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.

withings scanwatch black hybrid smartwatch
Withings ScanWatch
The new Withings ScanWatch is taking health tracking to the next level. It has built-in ECG and SpO2 sensors to help detect early signs of AFib and sleep apnea. Plus, it acts as a hybrid smartwatch, giving you notifications, HR data, and more on your wrist.

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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: