Smartwatches are a great way to receive notifications from your phone and track your health, right from your wrist. We've used and reviewed all the of the latest smartwatches for Android and iPhone, and here we've ranked ten of the best.
The Apple Watch Series 5, may seem like the obvious choice for iPhone users, but there are loads of great Wear OS rivals to choose from via Huawei, Motorola and others. Add in hybrid smartwatches from the likes of Withings and Fossil, and you're bound to find something that suits your style and has the features you need.
Your buying guide to the best smartwatches in 2020
Why do you need a smartwatch?
There's an interesting theory that smartwatches are to the smartphone what wristwatches were to the pocket watch. Picture the way the average gentlemen used to have to rummage through his pocket for his watch prior to the 20th century. Now skip forward 100+ years and the average smartphone user still has to dive into his/her pocket to check their phone.
The kicker now is that your smartphone holds far more information than a pocket watch ever did, yet all of which is still locked into your pocket.
Smartwatches aren't for making phone calls, although some can, but instead, they (among other things) provide a quick and easy way to check what notifications are on your smartphone, so you can decide whether it's worth delving into your pocket or searching around your bag to fetch your smartphone or not.
What type of smartwatch should you look for?
There are two types of smartwatch around at the moment: those with a colourful touchscreen, like you'd find on your phone and those which combine a regular analogue watch with smart features.
These are known as hybrid smartwatches - some have the smart bits almost completely hidden, while some give you information via a small integrated display.
While a fully-fledged smartwatch can do a lot more, the juice guzzling screen results in a shorter battery life. Semi-smart watches benefit from longer battery life with some even having separate cells for the watch and smart features.
If you're an Android user then a Wear OS (formerly Android Wear) smartwatch is the obvious choice but it's not necessarily the best for everyone. Google's OS tweaked for wearables also plays nicely with iOS but with cut down functionality so iPhone owners will get more from the Apple Watch. Read more on how to use Android Wear with iPhone.
What makes a good smartwatch?
When testing for the best smartwatch, the important factors to consider are 'how much of your smartphone's functionalities can it perform?', and 'how well does it handle each task?', the final attribute is obviously style - it's still bling after all.
You'll also want to make sure it's compatible with your smartphone - some are only for iPhone or Android while others support most phones. Note that Wear OS now has iOS support but, like we already said, the experience is cut down in comparison.
Fitness fans will want to look for a device with a heart rate monitor and built-in GPS, although the heart rate monitors are often poor. Many also come with NFC which can be used for contactless payment via services like Google Pay.
We consider the important factors of a smartwatch to be level of notification detail, battery life, style, water resistance, compatibility with a range of devices/smartphones, plus additional features such as microphones and Wi-Fi support so you don't have to connect to a phone for full functionality.
With very similar, if not identical, hardware on offer with many of the Wear OS smartwatches, a large part of the decision will come down to design and price.
1. Amazfit GTS
- Reviewed on: 2 October 2019
The Amazfit GTS looks an awful lot like an Apple Watch, with an uncannily similar metal body rectangular AMOLED display - though it actually runs a little slimmer than Apple's own device.
Despite that this is still a fraction of the cost of Apple's latest, despite offering way more battery life (up to a month as long as you keep the always-on display turned off) and additional features like sleep tracking.
Software is the only thing that lets the GTS down really. Amazfit's operating system is slow and a little awkward, and the same problems extend to its phone app. Plus, since it's all proprietary there's no app support beyond some basic phone notifications. It's enough to make you miss Google's Wear OS, which is really saying something, and is the only major downside to a smartwatch that otherwise punches far above its weight.
Read our Amazfit GTS review.
- Reviewed on: 2 October 2019
It's unsurprising that the Series 5 is the best Apple Watch to date and remains the best smartwatch you can buy. If you have an iPhone that is, although we'd bet plenty of Android users would happily get one if the compatibility was there.
This model has been improved namely with an always-on display along with other minor enhancements. The price varies wildly depending on how luxurious you want to go. The good thing is that the watch itself is still the same at the base price.
Read our Apple Watch Series 5 review.
3. Fossil Gen 5
- Reviewed on: 11 September 2019
Fossil's Gen 5 is a great all-round smartwatch in its own right but also serves as a triumph for the wider Wear OS contingent too. The new hardware and software render this a truly competitive offering against established players from the likes of Apple and Samsung.
The Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor, additional RAM and tweaks to Wear OS's power management grant greater control over what gets to sap power from the Gen 5's 310mAh fast-charging battery, not to mention it offers a genuinely smooth user experience - something that can't be said for any of its predecessors.
The Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch may still boast a more responsive user experience but the Fossil Gen 5 narrows the gap moreso than ever before and better yet, it offers some of the most adaptable and flexible styling and aesthetics out there.
Read our Fossil Gen 5 review.
- Reviewed on: 10 November 2019
With two-day battery life, excellent design, and fitness features that don’t overpower the overall experience, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 is one of the best smartwatches you can buy for an Android phone.
It melds decent fitness tracking, sleek design, a cool touch sensitive bezel and two case sizes into a smartwatch that is more than its 'active' name pigeons holes it as. We recommend the Active 2 as the smartwatch to buy if you use an Android phone.
Read our Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 review.
- Reviewed on: 5 December 2018
The Galaxy Watch is the first to take the Galaxy branding, and its Samsung's best wearable yet. That means it's also the most expensive, but it has GPS, NFC and auto exercise tracking for a complete experience.
Third party apps are not Tizen OS's forte, but the Galaxy Watch nails the basics. It's best used with a Samsung phone so you get the message and email apps on board, but it works perfectly with other phones, even iPhones.
It's not as packed with tech or as refined software as the Apple Watch, but for Android users it's preferable to Wear OS watches - and this is to Samsung's credit.
Read our Samsung Galaxy Watch review.
6. Fitbit Ionic
- Reviewed on: 16 September 2019
The best Fitbit for Sports
The Fitbit Ionic is the most fully featured Fitbit smartwatch and activity tracker. It has it all, and its built-in GPS is great for runners or exercisers who don’t want to lug their phone around with them.
As well as all the usual fitness stats it features automatic multi-sports tracking, Fitbit Coach for on-screen workouts, Caller ID and texts notifications on wrist, can store up to 300 songs with music control and be used for contactless payments, as well as chose from a range of special apps (Weather, Starbucks, Runkeeper, Strava, and more).
The Fitbit Versa 2 (which has the same features minus the built-in GPS) is cheaper and smaller, but the Ionic is still lightweight enough for you not to realise you’re wearing it.
Read our Fitbit Ionic review.
- Reviewed on: 12 July 2019
It might not have quite the same classy look, but the Huawei Watch 2 is a big improvement over the original. There are prettier watches around but the Watch 2 has a lot of hardware on offer.
It's got optional 4G connectivity, GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, so this smartwatch can function fine without your phone. An array of sensors provides in-depth fitness tracking, allowing for a more holistic view of your exercise regime.
It's got a little bit of everything.
Read our Huawei Watch 2 review.
8. Fossil Sport
- Reviewed on: 23 August 2019
The Fossil Sport is a very beautiful sports watch with undeniable advantages such as its bright display, its many pre-registered activities, a heart rate monitor and notification management.
However, it's not all plain sailing as the watch lacks in responsiveness and suffers from poor battery life, something that doesn't stack up against other fitness watch rivals out there.
Read our Fossil Sport review.
9. Amazfit GTR
- Reviewed on: 11 November 2019
The Amazfit GTR is a triple threat: it has a classic design, offers everything you need for fitness tracking and comes in at a low price in comparison to other smartwatches on the market.
This model from Xiaomi offers GPS, heart monitoring, sleep tracking, water resistance, goals for your steps and a whole lot more. It doesn't necessarily have all the fancy features that a more pricey smartwatch would, but the price allows that to slide.
The lack of mainstream firmware may be an issue for some, and the app isn't the greatest we've seen. Nevertheless, this is a great starter watch that should offer everything you're looking for.
Read our Amazfit GTR review.
10. Ticwatch E
- Reviewed on: 15 July 2019
The Ticwatch E is a fairly basic Wear OS smartwatch, but including both a heart-rate monitor and GPS at such a low price makes this one of the most affordable smartwatches around that can also serve as a fitness tracker.
The battery life is a bit of a disappointment - not quite meeting the manufacturer's claim of two days - and we struggled to get it working properly with an iPhone, but if your phone runs Android and you want a no-frills smartwatch to go running with, this isn't a bad choice.
Read our Ticwatch E review.