Do you have the best smartwatch? Curious about which ones offer more value? This page is for you.
After spending days researching the top brands and models, I still had trouble figuring out which was the best option for my needs. So, I made it my mission to quantify the various attributes to make a truly educated choice.
6 months later, here are the results!
But first, WHY SHOULD YOU TRUST ME? Well, I geek out about this stuff. I’ve tried more smart devices then I care to admit (lost of money spent…don’t tell my wife).
I’ve done the research and identified the top options based on demographic match, not necessarily my personal taste. In short, if you are into cycling, you need something very different from the casual user.
Follow along below to see which is best for you.
Step #1 – What Operating System do you prefer?
If you already have and Android or Apple smartphone, it generally makes sense to keep your smartwatch on the same OS. Some smartwatches are compatible with both Android and iOS, but there are some that are exclusive to one platform.
Best Smartwatch For Android
If Android is your jam, you can check out this round-up of my top 3 favorite devices here. However, if you just want one recommendation, I’d personally go with the Asus ZenWatch 2
Best Smartwatch For iOS
The obvious choice is to go with the AppleWatch here, but you probably knew that. What’s interesting is that there are actually a variety of other iOS-compatible smartwatches out there.
In fact, there are many good alternatives to the AppleWatch. Let’s face it, the high price of the AppleWatch puts many people off. For my favorite alternative, check out the Fitbit Blaze. It’s an “AppleWatch killer” that checks in at over $100 cheaper. To see the full list of my top options for iOS, check out this page.
Step #2 – How Do you Intend to Use it?
Some smartwatches are best for fitness tracking, some for everyday use, and some are true hybrids meant for all-around use. It’s important to figure out what you want from a smartwatch because you may not ever use certain features.
Best Fitness Tracking Smartwatch
Fitness users have a unique set of needs. While most smartwatches have some element of fitness tracking, certain watches are better than others. In fact, some are geared specifically for fitness.
For example, Fitbit as an entire brand is almost 100% targeted towards fitness users. While this doesn’t make them inherently better in each case, it does give them a stronger understanding of the market.
Best Smartwatch for Swimming
If you are a swimmer, a “generalist” smartwatch will not be suitable. There are certain activity trackers/smartwatches that are specifically designed for swimmers.
You can read my full list of recommended smart swim watches here. If you just want a quick recommendation, I’d personally go with the Garmin Swim Watch for active swimmers, or the Garmin Vivoactive for something versatile that you can wear all day (and in the pool).
Best Smartwatch for Cycling
Cycling enthusiasts also have a unique set of needs. While many fully featured smartwatches have cycling settings, there are a few that do a better job than others.
You can read my full criteria and recommendation list here, but my top option in this category is definitely the Garmin Vivoactive here.
Best Smartwatch for Crossfit
Crossfit is another more specialized area. While many smartwatches are great at tracking runs or cycling, mixed workouts can be hard to calculate. That’s why I like the Moov Now available here. For my full list of recommended options, you can read more here.
Best Smartwatch for Runners
A good activity tracking smartwatch is essential to detail-oriented runners looking for data (to show improvement, etc…). I’ve compiled buying guide and top 5 recommendations here, so dig in for the full story. Otherwise, my top pick was the Garmin Forerunner 735XT available here.
Best Smartwatch for Golf
Yes, there are smartwatches built for golf and many existing smartwatches with quality golf apps. However, my absolute favorite smartwatch for golf is the updated version of Garmin Approach S6, the Garmin Approach S60 available here, which is the standard-bearer in this niche.
If you are specifically looking for something built for Yoga, there are a few subtle activity trackers that get the job done without getting in the way.
Best Smartwatch for Apps
Sometimes having the right apps turns an average phone into a superphone. If having a good app ecosystem is important for you, the AppleWatch 2 (and its predecessor) are hands down my top recommendation in this category. The Apple App store is still King, despite the best efforts of Android (Google Play) devices.
Many smartwatches promise the ability to text on a smartwatch, but the truth is often more complicated. Put simply, it can be very hard to effectively text on a tiny wrist device. Various companies have come up with innovative solutions to this problem. Some are better than others, for sure!
Best Smartwatch for Calls
Being apple to talk to your wrist like a secret agent is probably one of the most interesting features of a smartwatch. While many devices offer some form of remote calling, certain devices are inherently better than others. Here’s our thorough list of best options to consider for Phone Calls.
If jamming out to your tunes with just your smartwatch on hand is your idea of a good time, it’s worth doing the research up front to find the right watch. Not all watches are capable of syncing major apps or controlling music from your wrist.
If you spend a lot of time outdoors, whether, on hiking trips, camping trips, or just generally, there are some specific watches that are better than others. You can see our full list here.
Best Smartwatch for Sleep Tracking
After fitness tracking, sleep tracking is perhaps the highest impact capability for your health. However, not all systems are perfect. In fact, many are relatively inaccurate. If sleeping tracking is important to you, there are certain devices that stand out.
For sleep tracking, I’d personally recommend the Fitbit Charge 2 or the Misfit Shine here as good options. For my full list, you can check how I reached this decision here.
Best Smartwatch for Kids
Kids and smartwatches bring their own set of concerns. While many kids have phones these days, it takes a bit of digging to find the right smartwatch devices specifically for kids.
Some are more of a novelty item, but the good ones actually have features (and controls) that parents will like. If fitness tracking for your children is primarily what you are looking for, you can check out my list of the top options here.
Best Smartwatch for Nurses
If you are a nurse it makes a lot of sense if you want to wear a smartwatch for many reasons. Nurses may spend long exhausting hours on the job that requires a lot of attention and alertness to remember a wide variety of things.
The best smartwatches for nurses would allow doing their work more efficiently. To check out our list of best Smartwatch options for nurses, you can go here,
Best Smartwatch for Strava
Strava is a mobile and Web-based app that uses GPS data to track running and cycling activity. You can upload your activity and fitness data to Strava and the service will give you a number of statistics, such as elevation, running pace, and heart rate, among others. You will also see how you compared with other users.
Take a look at the best smartwatches for the Strava here.
Best Smartwatch for Weight Loss
Many fitness professionals recommend that to lose weight, it’s essential is to burn more calories than you eat, but, losing weight is not easy. To help you with that, certain smartwatches provide great assistance, so you can get to make it less painful and less of a hassle.
Without further ado, let’s see which are the best activity trackers for weight loss. Check it out here.
Best Smartwatch for Seniors
The elderly need to take better care of their health, so if you think that smartwatches are only for the young, you are mistaken. Elderly people can certainly benefit from the smartwatch features.
But which smartwatches are best for seniors? Check it out here.
Step #3 – Style: Classic vs Modern Smartwatches
You can find smartwatches that have a very classical high end watch feel, or you can go for the more modern tech style watch. This will in part be dictated by how – and where – you are using your watch (see Step #2), but can be influenced by other factors such as style and aesthetics.
As an example, compared the Fossil Q Dreamer Marshal to the Fitbit Charge 2 below:
Definitely a different look, right?
Step #4 – Smartwatch Pricing
All of this is contingent on your budget. You can generally find plenty of options (with more or less features) in pretty much any budget, right down to the $50 range (not necessarily recommended).
Best High-End Smartwatch (money is no object)
If you want something that truly mixes capability with style, there is a very interesting emerging market for high-end smartwatches. If money is really no object, you can check out the Breitling Exospace B55 here, which puts James Bond to shame.
However, for something high-end, but still reasonable in price, check out the TAG Heuer Connected Modular 45 here. Full Tag Heuer review here.
Check out more reviews of High End SmartWatches here:
- Garmin Vivosport
- Suunto Traverse
- Samsung Gear 2 Neo
- Fitbit Ionic (Best Fitbit Ionic Options)
- Garmin Fenix 5
- Michael Kors Access
- Ticwatch 2
Best Smartwatch under $200
If you have a strict budget of no more than $200, you might have to sacrifice a few features, but you can still generally find good options. A budget of $200 essentially eliminates the AppleWatch, which is admittedly pricey.
Two watches I like are the Pebble Time Steel here as well as the new Fitbit Blaze available here(you can call it the “AppleWatch killer”).
Check out more reviews of SmartWatches under $200 here:
- Fossil Q Gen 2
- Garmin Approach S2
- LG Watch Urbane
- Martian Notifier
- Nike FuelBand SE
- Samsung Gear S2
- Fitbit Charge 3
- Suunto Ambit 3
- Suunto M5
- Garmin Vivomove HR
Best Smartwatch under $150
If $150 is your line in the sand, you can still get a decent smartwatch that covers all the basics. You will definitely have to sacrifice a few features, but depending on your needs this might not matter.
For a great middle-tier smartwatch at this price, I’d go with the Asus ZenWatch 2 available here.
Check out more reviews of SmartWatches under $150 here:
Best Smartwatch under $100
At this price range, you definitely start limiting your options seriously, but all is not lost! $100 can still get you a good basic smartwatch if you know where to look. A reliable and top-selling favorite in this price range is the Pebble Time Round watch here. Its simple, ergonomic interface delivers the best value in this category.
Check out more reviews of SmartWatches under $100 here:
- Moov Now
- Cookoo Smartwatch
- Samsung Gear Fit
- Rhino Band
- Samsung Gear Circle
- Fitbit Ace
- Polar H7
Best Smartwatch under $50
Okay, now we enter the territory of the bargain bin! For my full list, see this budget smartwatch guide. While you will only get basic smartwatch features, there are PLENTY of cheap smartwatches entering the market at this price range every day.
The problem is, you have to sift through a lot of dirt to find the diamonds. One of my favorite options to consider here is the Martian Notifier available here. If you want to learn more about why I picked this one, check out the review I did here.
Best Smartwatch Knock-Offs
It’s worth mentioning, that you will invariably start seeing brands you’ve never heard of before at this price range. In recent years, markets like Amazon have been inundated with “knock-offs”. Some companies are definitely of the “fly by night” variety, but you can still stumble upon some good finds.
While it might be just a tad over $50, I think the Alcatel Go Play available here is a decent option in this category. It wins the distinction of being the “best of the worst” in the bargain category.
Popular Smartwatch Comparisons
- Basis Peak vs Fitbit Charge
- Basis Peak vs Fitbit Surge
- Asus Zenwatch vs Moto 360
- Bellabeat vs Fitbit
- Apple Watch vs Pebble Time Steel
- Apple Watch vs Fitbit Surge
- Fitbit Blaze vs Garmin Vivoactive HR
- Fitbit Blaze vs Garmin Vivoactive
- Fitbit Blaze vs Fitbit Ionic
- Fitbit Alta HR vs Charge 2
- Fitbit Blaze vs Garmin Forerunner 235
- Fitbit Blaze vs Fitbit Charge 2
- Fitbit Ionic vs Garmin Forerunner 235
- Fitbit Ionic vs Apple Watch 2
- Apple Watch 2 vs Huawei Watch 2
- Fitbit Ionic vs Asus Zenwatch 2
- Fitbit Ionic vs Samsung Gear Sport
- Fitbit Surge vs Microsoft Band
- Fitbit Versa vs Garmin Vivoactive 3
- Fossil Gen 2 vs Gen 3
- Fossil Q vs Moto 360
- Fitbit Flex vs Withings Pulse
- Huawei Watch 2 vs Moto 360
- Huawei Watch 2 vs Samsung Gear S3
- Garmin Fenix 5 vs 5 Plus
- Garmin Fenix 5 vs Forerunner 35
- Garmin Forerunner 630 vs 235
- Garmin Forerunner 735XT vs 235
- Garmin Forerunner 935 vs Fenix 5
- Garmin Tactix Bravo vs Fenix 5
- Garmin Vivoactive 3 vs Fenix 5
- Garmin Vivoactive vs Fitbit Surge
- Garmin Vivofit vs Fitbit Flex
- iFit Vue vs Fitbit Charge 2
- Metawatch Strata vs Pebble Smartwatch
- Misfit Shine vs Fitbit Flex
- Misfit Shine vs. Misfit Flash
- Misfit Vapor vs Fitbit Ionic
- Moov Now vs Misfit Shine 2
- Moto 360 vs Apple Watch
- Moto 360 vs LG G Watch
- Moto 360 vs Samsung Gear S
- Moto 360 vs Sony Smartwatch 3
- Nike Fuelband vs Jawbone Up
- Nike FuelBand vs. Fitbit Charge HR
- Garmin Forerunner 35 vs 235
- Pebble vs Moto 360
- Polar A360 vs. Fitbit Blaze
- Polar A370 vs Fitbit Charge 3
- Polar Loop vs Fitbit Flex
- Polar Loop vs Fitbit Force
- Polar M200 vs M400
- Polar M430 vs Garmin Forerunner 235
- Samsung Gear Live vs LG G
- Sony Smartwatch 2 vs Pebble
- Striiv Touch vs Fitbit
- Suunto 9 vs Garmin Fenix 5
- Suunto Traverse Alpha vs Garmin Fenix 5
- Suunto Traverse vs Suunto Traverse Alpha
- Suunto Traverse vs. Garmin Fenix 3
- Apple Watch vs Samsung Gear S
- AppleWatch vs Pebble Time Steel
- Fitbit Charge vs Nike Fuelband SE
- FitBit Flex vs Jawbone Up
- Ticwatch 2 vs Ticwatch S vs Ticwatch E
- Withings Pulse vs Fitbit Flex
Final Thoughts on Finding the Best Smartwatch
As you can see, finding a great smartwatch isn’t as easy as it sounds. Depending on your needs, certain watches are definitely better than others.
In short, to answer the questions: “what is the best smartwatch”, it is important to first define the criteria important to you. Thankfully, myself – and my editing team – have spent a lot of time evaluating different watches with specific use cases in mind. Be sure to bookmark this page and check back for updates!