From sundials to pocket watches to those retro calculator timepieces that were great for cheating in tests with, our watches are getting smarter all the time – and none more so than our top picks for the best smartwatches.
Packed full of health-measuring apps, voice-activated helpers, mobile payment options and street-tracking GPS features, smartwatches have grown from being the interesting wrist-worn curios of the tech world to vital independent gadgets in their own right.
And though only a handful of manufacturers are making connected watches worth wearing, there’s actually plenty of variation between them – you can have just as much luck splashing the cash on a premium Apple Watch as you can a relatively inexpensive TicWatch from little-known gadget makers Mobvoi.
Being essentially a souped-up timepiece then, it’s fitting that we’ve saved you a whole lot of time by ranking the very best smartwatches below for you. Whether you’re a hardcore Apple fan looking for the right Apple Watch for you, or a Google nut after a WearOS wristable, our guide to the best smartwatch options on the market will save you valuable seconds – and maybe a few pennies, too.
The best smartwatches available now
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While those after a hardcore fitness watch will find the 18 hour battery life and workout tracking features a little limiting, it can't be denied that the Apple Watch 7 is the best smartwatch currently available.
Rather than honing in on the ultra-fit market, this is simply a high quality, luxury wearable for everyday use. Sure, there's an impressive array of health tracking features in here with plenty of onboard workouts and monitoring. However, Apple has instead focused on the quality of life touches in its latest releases, rather than packing new fitness features in.
That means the always-on display is ready for you whenever you need it, a full-sized QWERTY keyboard eases you into typing on your wrist, and a sloping curved design to the watch face itself (for better angle viewing). The Apple Watch 7 is our best smartwatch because it's been developed exactly as that - a smartwatch, rather than an all-guns blazing fitness tracker.
You are dropping a few features, and those looking to monitor more aspects of their workouts should definitely look elsewhere, but in true Apple fashion it's all about ease of use, streamlined software, and hidden tricks that make this wearable shine.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is the latest Android device to hit the market, and if you're rocking one of Samsung's phones it's the best smartwatch out there. Unfortunately, this model isn't compatible with iPhone, so this is definitely reserved for Android fans.
The physical rotating bezel has been replaced with a virtual one here, to streamline the design and keep everything flush with the gorgeous AMOLED display. With the Exynos W920 chipset and 1.6GB RAM there's plenty of power under the hood to keep everything running smoothly.
That's important, because the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is Samsung's first step away from the Tizen wearable platform. Adopting its own One UI Watch 3 interface on top of Google's Wear OS which means you're getting all the goodness of the Google Play Store with a slick Samsung design on top.
A 3-in-1 BioActive Sensor means the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 can measure heart rate, body composition and blood oxygen levels through one sensor. While it's only the body composition tool that's new to this year's model, the ability to check muscle mass and body fat percentage from your wrist is a unique bonus.
If you’re an iPhone owner looking for all the top-of-the-line features without splashing out on the latest release then the Apple Watch 6 is the best smartwatch for you. Built specifically with Apple’s ecosystem of devices in mind, it’s one of the most polished previous generation devices on this list.
One of the biggest new features introduced with this model is a built-in blood oxygen monitor, which builds on an impressive suite of health and fitness features that also include heart-rate tracking, an ECG monitor, and GPS.
Available in 40mm and 44mm sizes you're getting a fantastic display on both models, along with an always-on display, which is perfect if you don't like having to flick your wrist to activate the watch. Always-on will be a further drain on what is already a fairly poor battery life though.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 replaces the original version (there was no '2' model), at the top of our best smartwatch list. If you're an android phone user, this one's a no-brainer as the best partner device.
A sleeker design cuts down on the bulk and provides a nice leather band too instead of the old rubber one. And while the body is smaller, the displays are slightly bigger this time around on the two models. The bezel returns and remains a strong favorite for methods of navigating menus on a smartwatch.
For exercise/health fans, a new blood oxygen monitor is a neat improvement, although it has to be approved country-by-country, so not every region has it. Reminders to get up and do some stretches are handy, but the gyroscopes aren't great as they often miss your first few lunges, squats etc. Once you get going though, or when out on a run, we found the tracking to be very reliable.
Once topping this list, the original Galaxy Watch is still an excellent smartwatch and is now available for much less than it was at launch or compared to the new model.
So what makes it special? First off is the design – sporty by nature, it manages to retain a traditional-looking style with its round face and smart screen looks. But where it comes into its own is the way its rotating bezel proves genuinely useful. Running Samsung’s own Tizen OS, you can tell that the two have been designed to work from the ground up together in this generation of the watch, making what can otherwise be a finicky navigation process on some smartwatches a dream to play with on the Samsung Galaxy Watch.
Despite having a powerful processor, lush screen, and optional LTE connectivity, we also found the battery life of the Samsung Galaxy Watch to be very impressive – you can get as much as four days use from a single charge, despite it not being a giant chunky piece.
Samsung’s Bixby voice assistant still needs a bit of schooling, and the app selection of Tizen is of a high quality but relatively few to pick from. Those troubles aside, it’s an easy pick for our top timepiece in this list.
Smartwatches don’t have to break the bank to impress, and the Fossil Sport represents perhaps the happiest balance between cost and performance.
Though sports-oriented, its lightweight finish makes it a good match for everyday wear. And while it’s lacking an LTE option and speaker (making it impossible to make calls without a phone to piggyback from), it does manage to squeeze in GPS and a solid two-day battery life.
It’s also running Google’s very respectable Wear OS operating system, which offers one of the largest selection of wrist-based apps on the market. And thanks to the inclusion of a super-charged Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 chipset, the Fossil Sport is actually more responsive than some wearables significantly more expensive than it is.
Keep in mind that though the Fossil Sport launched at an already-accessible $275 / £219 price point, it can now even regularly be found at close to half those price tags. If you’re able to pick up a similar deal, then the Fossil Sport proves to be an absolute steal.
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