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The Garmin Epix Pro (Gen 2) is Android Authority's pick for best wearable of 2023
Generational development is the most consistent story of 2023’s wearables market. The top products of the year all build on the success of existing device lines with upgraded specs, added tools, and revamped features. In fact, none of our top five picks represent a brand-new competitor. We’re not complaining; everyone knows a rough draft plus a year of user feedback nearly always results in a more refined device (looking at you, Pixel Watch 2).
Several companies found success in upgrading their established lineups, but what was the very best wearable of the year? Our team chose one device as Android Authority’s Editor’s Choice winner for the best wearable of 2023, and four more devices that came close.
How we chose our winner
Last year, we observed how the wearables market was getting more complex and nuanced than ever, with powerful devices spanning every budget, style, and need. That made voting for the “best” a tricky choice, and unfortunately for us, crowning a top pick hasn’t gotten any easier in 2023. Of course, that’s fortunate for anyone looking to buy a wearable right now!
The fitness trackers and smartwatches of 2023 have continued to push the envelope when it comes to what capabilities we can pack onto our wrists. The available devices offer much more than a clock face, from advanced health sensors to LED flashlights and robust app stores to intricate smartphone integration.
As a result, there are also more details and specs to compare when ranking our favorite products. We take this responsibility seriously, analyzing every measurable we can. We clock workouts to compare sensors, dive into menus to find settings and drain batteries to measure charge times. We make phone calls, take readings, monitor our sleep, and stalk software updates, all while comparing one device to the next, brand to brand, and generation to generation. And yes, we even test Apple Watches.
At the end of the year, looking back on all the launches of the past 12 months is both exciting and daunting. We don’t bestow the title of Editor’s Choice for wearable of the year lightly. Once we rounded up a shortlist of the highest-reviewed devices of 2023, our expert reviewers and content managers each ranked their top five picks. Those results are below.
Android Authority‘s Editor’s Choice wearable of the year: Garmin Epix Pro (Gen 2)
Garmin’s stable is nothing if not reliable, from flawless GPS to everlasting software support. This year, the company brought major improvements to many of its beloved lineups, including the feature-packed Epix multisport watch line. The Epix Pro 2 represents a significant upgrade to the brand’s priciest offering, with new features and sizes earning the device first place as the best wearable of 2023.
Garmin's accurate sensors and everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to features earn the company first place with the Garmin Epix Pro (Gen 2).
The top spot belongs to a device that appeals to the masses, and the Epix Pro (Gen 2) caters to more users than ever with three available: 42mm, 47mm, and 51mm. Each model packs an Elevate Gen 5 optical heart rate sensor for laudable accuracy, which we confirmed in our Epix Pro (Gen 2) review. The sensor is also FDA-certified to take on-demand ECG recordings. Likewise, multi-band GNNS support makes the device a fantastic fitness tracker. We recorded and analyzed some of the most accurate GPS routes yet using the new model.
To put these sensors to use, the Epix Pro is loaded with advanced training tools and more sport modes than any user can ever expect to explore. It also features detailed mapping with relief shading and weather map overlays and houses a wildly useful LED flashlight that our reviewer still talks about. For those prone to nighttime use, the watch also introduced Red Shift Mode. This feature turns everything on the screen into red-only hues to help users preserve night vision.
Though it doesn’t boast solar charging, the device offers significant battery life for a device with an attractive AMOLED display. The 51mm model will last up to 31 days in smartwatch mode or 58 hours in GPS only. It’s a pricey wearable for sure, but Garmin also famously supports its devices for years on end with software updates and new features. Plus, with impressive durability and a 10ATM water resistance rating, the device is bound to last. Toss in Android and iPhone compatibility, and Garmin’s Epix Pro (Gen 2) is an easy king to crown.
Runner-up: Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic
Last year, we named Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 5 Pro the best wearable of 2022. The year before, the Galaxy Watch 4 earned the top spot. Though finally beat out for first place, Samsung earned enough of our editors’ votes for its latest flagship, the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic, to rank second.
The pricey model of the Galaxy Watch 6 series brought back Samsung’s fan-favorite rotating bezel, last seen spinning through menus on the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic. The design feature offers easier tactile navigation while giving the device an upscale, traditional aesthetic. Below the bezel, the new watch debuted Google Wear OS 4, boasting improved performance, upgraded apps, and the best of Google’s toolkit.
Third place: Google Pixel Watch 2
We were genuinely thrilled to see Google produce a wearable worthy of this year’s Editor’s Choice awards. After a glitchy first-generation device, we anxiously awaited the Pixel Watch 2, and our hopes were largely met. The sequel refines several of its predecessor’s shortcomings while still delivering a unique, minimalist look and sneaks onto the podium in third place. Above all, Google’s in-house smartwatch line features the only devices to offer both Wear OS and Fitbit’s health and fitness tracking suite.
The new generation earned votes with added and upgraded sensors, useful safety tools, and new training features like automatic workout detection. It also ships with a faster charging cable to help alleviate the battery woes of the previous model.
Fourth place: Garmin Forerunner 965
Garmin rarely falters and often drops a slew of launches worth getting excited about each year. In addition to winning a first-place spot with its Epix Pro (Gen 2), the company’s device stable grabbed over 50% of the total points available in our tally. A chunk of those votes earned the Garmin Forerunner 965, one of the best running watches money can buy, fourth place.
Boasting a colorful facelift, the device introduced an OLED display to the high-end lineup, trading solar charging capabilities for a more attractive user interface. The upgrade shines most in the Forerunner’s detailed mapping, which taps into its highly accurate GPS. In short, this is a no-nonsense wearable that looks as great as it performs.
Fifth place: Garmin Venu 3
Making our annual roundup is old hat for Garmin’s Venu line, with the Venu 2 earning a runner-up spot in 2021 and the Venu 2 Plus bagging third in 2022. This year’s Venu 3 delivers everything we loved about its predecessors, plus a few key upgrades, earning the last spot in our top five.
With staple features like voice calling and assistant support, the Venu 3 is the device that keeps Garmin competitive in any smartwatch conversation. Like its fitness-focused siblings, it also packs advanced training tools, precise GPS tracking, and an FDA-certified ECG, plus automatic nap detection and sleep coaching. It even comes in two sizes to comfortably equip even more wrists.
With the results settled for our top wearables of the year, check in with Android Authority throughout the holiday season for more 2023 wrap-ups and end-of-year articles. We’ll also be sharing opinions about the future of the tech landscape in 2024.
Until then, we wish you a very happy holidays!