The best smartwatches in 2024: our 13 favorites


Smartwatches put important notifications from our phones on our wrists, track our health and fitness, and some can even stream music and make calls. The world’s best-known technology brands make them, but a smartwatch is also a fashion statement, and some of the biggest names in watchmaking are on board, giving you a massive amount of choice when it comes time to buy one. Which one is the best?

For most people, we think the Apple Watch Series 9 is the best smartwatch, but only if you own an iPhone. We know there are just as many Android phone fans out there, and since the Apple Watch only works with an iPhone, you’ll want the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6.

However, the varied world of smartwatches goes far beyond these two models, so take a look at all our top recommendations before buying, as you could find one that’s better for your lifestyle. Here are our picks for the best smartwatches in 2024.

apple watch series 9 review pocket snoopy

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Apple Watch Series 9

The best smartwatch for the iPhone

Pros

  • Supreme 24/7 comfort
  • Choice of size, color, and bands
  • Extensive health, fitness, and safety features
  • Fast, smooth, and usable performance
  • Total, easy integration with the iPhone

Cons

  • Less than two days battery life with moderate use
  • Almost no reason to upgrade from previous version

Why you should buy this: It’s the best smartwatch available.

Who it’s for: Anyone who wants a beautifully made, feature-rich, easy-to-use smartwatch.

Why we picked the Apple Watch Series 9: The design of the Apple Watch Series 9 may not be any different from the Series 8 and even the Series 7 before it, but that doesn’t stop it from being instantly recognizable — and also supremely comfortable to wear. This is essential, as all the Apple Watch’s benefits come when you’re wearing it, which you should be doing all the time. The Apple Watch Series 9, with the right band, can be worn 24 hours a day without a problem.

Do this, and you get all the health-monitoring benefits, ranging from heart rate and blood oxygen measurements to an electrocardiogram, as well as fall and crash detection. Plus, the Apple Watch Series 9 tracks all of your movement and workouts. Notifications show up on the sharp, colorful, and bright screen that now reaches up to 2,000 nits so it’s easy to see in bright sunlight, and touch sensitivity is spot-on. The Digital Crown on the case makes navigation simple.

Apple also added the Double Tap feature with the Series 9, which allows you to perform certain actions on the watch just by double tapping your index finger and thumb together. This lets you do things like turn off alarms, answer calls, and more with a single hand, which is helpful when your other hand is busy.

The Apple Watch Series 9 also comes with the brand new S9 chip, which makes it possible to process Siri requests locally on the device, rather than having to rely on a data connection. This results in faster responses from Siri, instead of having to wait around, and more privacy. And if you have an iPhone 15, the new Apple Watch Series 9 (and Ultra 2) can locate your lost iPhone with Precision Finding, similar to how you can locate AirTags.

There are two case sizes — 41mm and 45mm — so it’s suitable for all wrist sizes. There are dozens of bands available that are quick and easy to swap, the battery can last for a full day with normal use, and you can buy it with an LTE connection for use without your phone. The latest watchOS software is reliable, and the Series 9 will receive updates for years to come.

What makes the Apple Watch Series 9 such a winner is the way all the features, functions, accessories, and software come together. It’s by far the most pleasing and rewarding smartwatch to use, the simplest to learn, and the most logically and thoughtfully designed you can buy.

Apple Watch Series 9

Apple Watch Series 9

The best smartwatch for the iPhone

samsung galaxy watch 6 review 15

Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6

The best smartwatch for Android

Pros

  • Very comfortable design
  • Colorful and bright display
  • Smaller bezels are lovely
  • Samsung Health keeps getting better
  • Good, reliable performance
  • Much-improved battery life
  • Still a great value

Cons

  • Wear OS still has its issues
  • Slightly more expensive

Why you should buy this: It’s gorgeously crafted and it has an excellent fitness suite and incredible battery life — all at a reasonable price.

Who it’s for: Android phone owners who want the best smartwatch available.

Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6: The Galaxy Watch 6 is excellent. While your head may be turned by the more luxurious Galaxy Watch 6 Classic, the Galaxy Watch 6 is an exceptional Android smartwatch, with a lower price to boot. The Galaxy Watch 6 is nearly identical in design to last year’s Galaxy Watch 5, but that’s not a bad thing at all — why change a winning formula? Instead, Samsung has added some small upgrades that really add to the overall experience and make this the best smartwatch for Android phone owners.

We’ll start with the fitness features. There haven’t been any major upgrades compared to the Galaxy Watch 5, but that’s testament to how good Samsung’s existing tools were, rather than any sort of neglect. The sensor array on the back of the smartwatch can perform a Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis that analyzes your skeletal muscle, fat mass, body water, body fat, body mass index (BMI), and basal metabolic rate (BMR). That’s essentially everything you might need to know about your body’s makeup. The temperature sensor is available from launch this time around, as is the ECG app, and you’ll also find all the usual smartwatch essentials here too, like 24/7 heart-rate monitoring, stress monitoring, menstrual cycle tracking, and SpO2 (blood oxygen) tracking. New for the Galaxy Watch 6 is advanced sleep coaching and personalized heart rate zones while exercising.

That’s a whole lot of tracking, but it’s also useful for monitoring exercise too. The Galaxy Watch 6 supports tracking for over 90 exercise modes, with automatic detection for a sizable number of those — which is perfect for when you forget to track a jog or cycle. The accompanying Samsung Health app is a great piece of software, and it collects all your data in an easy-to-understand format, and unlike certain rivals, it’s also completely free to use.

As mentioned, the design is largely the same as the previous model, but Samsung has squeezed a little extra display space out of the design, adding 0.1 of an inch to both models. That makes little difference to your screen experience, but it does make the display look as if it fills out all of the watch’s frontage. It runs Wear OS 4.0 with Samsung’s One UI 5 Watch interface on top. Unfortunately, the software isn’t perfect, and there were a few times where it slowed down or the touchscreen froze up entirely, which is not ideal. It’s also lacking in-app support when compared to the Apple Watch.

Battery life was a major issue for the Galaxy Watch 5, and we’re happy to report the Galaxy Watch 6 has solved this problem. We found ourselves ending a day with 60% to 70% battery life remaining, which is truly excellent battery life for a smartwatch. Wearing it overnight saw it lose another 10% of battery life during sleep tracking, which meant we were looking at a two-day battery life with the always-on display and heart rate tracking on.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 comes in two case sizes, and should be your first stop when looking to buy a smartwatch to complement an Android phone.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6

The best smartwatch for Android

apple watch se 2 review top type

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Apple Watch SE 2

The best budget smartwatch for the iPhone

Pros

  • Comfortable to wear 24 hours a day
  • Comprehensive, yet simple-to-use fitness tracking
  • Excellent smartwatch software and support
  • Latest processor provides all the power needed
  • Two-day battery

Cons

  • No always-on screen
  • Slow battery charging

Why you should buy this: It’s almost the Apple Watch Series 8, but for less money.

Who it’s for: Anyone who doesn’t mind not having an always-on screen on their smartwatch.

Why we picked the Apple Watch SE 2: Do not make the mistake of underestimating the Apple Watch SE 2. It has the vast majority of features found on the old Apple Watch Series 8, the same S8 processor, and it operates on the latest watchOS software with the W3 wireless chip for a flawless connection to your iPhone. But it will cost you less than the old Series 8 and new Series 9.

The big functional difference between the Series 8 and Series 9 Apple Watch models is the Watch SE 2 does not have an always-on screen. It means the SE 2’s screen is black until you raise your wrist, while the Series 9’s screen always shows the watch face and time. Other differences include the nylon composite case back, the sensor array from the original Watch SE (so it doesn’t track blood oxygen levels or take an ECG), and slower charging.

But what you do get is everything else. The wonderful easy-to-use software, the extensive health and fitness tracking, fall and noise detection, crash detection, the usual notifications, plus all the customization using different bands. It comes in two sizes, 40mm or 44mm, and several color options. The health tracking features it misses out on won’t affect everyone, and if you can live without the always-on screen, the Apple Watch SE 2 will serve you just as well as the Series 9.

Apple Watch SE 2

Apple Watch SE 2

The best budget smartwatch for the iPhone

samsung galaxy watch4 review watch 4 feature image

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Samsung Galaxy Watch 4

The best budget smartwatch for Android

Pros

  • Comfortable fit and size
  • Excellent fitness and health-tracking features
  • Seamless pairing with Samsung devices
  • Two-day battery life

Cons

  • Finicky digital bezel
  • Automatic workout tracking can be inconsistent

Why you should buy this: It’s not all that different from the Galaxy Watch 6, but it can be found at a cheaper price.

Who it’s for: Anyone who wants a cheaper smartwatch for your Android phone that still looks modern and doesn’t compromise on features.

Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: The Galaxy Watch 4 may have come out in 2021, but don’t pass it by thinking it’s out of date. There aren’t all that many differences between it and the Galaxy Watch 6, and because it can be found for a great price, that makes it a very sensible purchase if you want a smartwatch that’s almost as good as the latest model.

It’s worth noting that although we’re recommending the Galaxy Watch 4, Samsung also released the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic alongside it, which has a more watch-like design and a physical rotating bezel for easy navigation. You’re more likely to find the Watch 4 at a good price, but if you spot the Watch 4 Classic, do take a look as the rotating bezel is more precise than the Watch 4’s touch-sensitive version.

The Galaxy Watch 4 comes in two sizes, 40mm and 44mm, and is IP68 water and dust resistant. The battery life is great, with two days possible with average use, including sleep tracking. Unfortunately, charging is slow at almost two hours to reach 100%. It has a similar biometric sensor on the back to the Galaxy Watch 6, and will measure body composition just like it, along with all the other expected health tracking.

If you don’t have to own the latest tech and prefer to find a bargain that doesn’t have many compromises, the Galaxy Watch 4 is definitely for you.

Samsung Galaxy Watch4

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4

The best budget smartwatch for Android

apple watch ultra 2 review vs 21

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Apple Watch Ultra 2

The best premium smartwatch for the iPhone

Pros

  • Titanium design is still gorgeous
  • Stunning, super bright display
  • Unmatched performance
  • Siri is better than ever
  • Twice as much storage
  • Excellent battery life
  • WatchOS 10 is fantastic

Cons

  • Double Tap is underutilized
  • Virtually identical to last year’s model

Why you should buy this: It’s the ultimate smartwatch for the iPhone, and astonishingly capable too.

Who it’s for: Adventurers, divers, hikers, runners, and anyone who wants a no-compromise, statement-making smartwatch on their wrist.

Why we picked the Apple Watch Ultra 2: Apple may promote the Apple Watch Ultra 2 as an adventure smartwatch, suitable mostly for those who enjoy all kinds of outdoor pursuits. But if that’s not you, don’t ignore this superb smartwatch. It does everything the Apple Watch Series 9 does, with a 49mm titanium case, sapphire crystal over the screen, ceramic on the case back, and a battery that can last multiple days on a single charge. It’s big, tough, and bold, but also supremely capable.

Like the Apple Watch Series 9, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 has the S9 chip, which allows for on-device Siri processing, with no data connection required. It also has the new Double Tap gesture, allowing you to perform certain actions on the watch using your index finger and thumb. And you also have Precision Finding with the iPhone 15 lineup.

What does it do beyond the Series 9? The screen is bigger and brighter (it reaches up to 3,000 nits peak brightness), there’s the customizable orange Action button on the side of the case, LTE comes as standard, it has an emergency alert siren to attract attention, and it’s suitable for dive use. The Low Power battery mode extends use to more than 60 hours, the case meets MIL-STD-810H standards and is IPX8 dust resistant, and the watch has a 100-meter water resistance too. It comes with your choice of unique Ultra band, designed to suit your activity of choice, but works with any Apple Watch strap too.

All the additional features have been well-thought-out, right down to the design and choice of materials, and while it is twice the price of the Series 9 and has otherwise very similar functionality, there’s something very special about the Ultra 2. It has some character to it, and that’s rare to find in a smartwatch. Most people will be fine owning the Series 9, which is more wearable overnight, but if you’re tempted by the Ultra and think you’d make use of its adventurous credentials, we say go for it. You won’t be disappointed by this very special smartwatch.

Apple Watch Ultra 2

Apple Watch Ultra 2

The best premium smartwatch for the iPhone

samsung galaxy watch 6 classic review pocket

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic

The best premium smartwatch for Android

Pros

  • Rotating bezel
  • A choice of case size
  • Supreme 24/7 comfort
  • High quality materials
  • Comprehensive health and fitness tracking

Cons

  • Spotty notification reliability
  • Performance doesn’t always impress

Why you should buy this: It’s incredibly comfortable, looks great, and is made from high-quality materials.

Who it’s for: An Android user who wants the very best smartwatch, and has no problem paying more to get it.

Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic: The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic is the more expensive companion to the Galaxy Watch 6 above, so a lot of what we wrote about that particular model also applies here, specifically details about health and fitness tracking and Wear OS 4.0. We’re going to focus on the differences between the two watches, and what makes the Classic such a luxurious product.

And luxurious it is, as it’s made from stainless steel with sapphire crystal glass over the display, and it’s been designed in a way that truly mimics classic watch design. Smartwatches are no longer ugly, boxy things that flaunt their technical innards; the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic is a watch you’ll be happy to show off. The rotating bezel makes a very welcome return here, but the real star is Samsung’s comfortable new strap. Made from rubber on the inside and leather on the outside, it’s so comfortable that we genuinely didn’t want to remove the watch once during our time with it.

The battery life didn’t run as long as the Galaxy Watch 6’s, but it’s still very respectable, clocking in at roughly a day-and-a-half, and never less than a full day. That’s about standard for a smartwatch, and not at all disappointing. It’s larger than the Galaxy Watch 6, with the Classic’s two variants measuring 47mm and 43mm, compared to the Watch 6’s 44mm and 40mm, so this is generally going to be a watch for someone with larger wrists and hands.

While the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 is an excellent smartwatch, the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic is the smartwatch to buy if you want that experience, but a little more as well. With a gorgeous high-quality build, a rotating bezel, and a much larger screen, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic is the best premium smartwatch for Android phones.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic

The best premium smartwatch for Android

mobvoi ticwatch pro 5 review wrist pocket

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Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5

The best dual-screen smartwatch

Pros

  • Clever dual-screen system
  • Four-day battery life
  • Highest-performance smartwatch
  • Clean and reliable software
  • Quality haptic feedback

Cons

  • One size and color only
  • No cellular option
  • Fitness-tracking bug requires fixing

Why you should buy this: The latest chip, four-day battery life, and slick software make this a truly excellent smartwatch.

Who it’s for: Anyone who wants the best dual-screen tech and the longest battery life from their smartwatch.

Why we picked the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5: The Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 is going to cost you $350, but it’s worth the additional cost over what you’d spend on the basic $300 Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 if you want a dual-screen watch with great battery life. It’s one of the fastest, smoothest-performing Android smartwatches we’ve used, and it returns battery life most others cannot come close to matching.

Mobvoi’s clever dual-screen layout is the star here. In this clever feature, a standard OLED screen is overlaid by a different panel used solely for always-on duties. It’s more useful than on previous TicWatch models, showing additional information outside of just the time and date, and it’s instrumental in making the battery last as long as it does. It requires no effort to use, but is hugely beneficial.

Inside the TicWatch Pro 5 is the Qualcomm Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1 processor. It’s the first smartwatch to feature the chip, and it’s a seriously impressive performer. Wear OS 3.5 is very fast and super smooth, banishing the memory of so many poor-performing Android smartwatches from the past. It’s seemingly efficient, too — when paired with the dual-screen layout, the TicWatch Pro 5’s battery lasts for around four days before it needs recharging.

To get this truly premium smartwatch experience, you’ll have to put up with the TicWatch Pro 5’s size. It has a 46mm case, and that’s the only size available. The design is slick, but it only comes in black and on a silicone strap, so there’s not much room for personalization here. It is durable, though, with MIL-STD-810G toughness and water resistance.

The Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 is a technical powerhouse. It shows off Wear OS better than any other smartwatch, and it has battery life that makes other models blush. If you value materials like sapphire crystal on your premium smartwatch over power and specs, then take a look at the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic instead.

TicWatch Pro 5

Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5

The best dual-screen smartwatch

google pixel watch 2 review pocket

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Google Pixel Watch 2

The best smartwatch for Fitbit

Pros

  • Battery lasts more than 24 hours
  • One hour battery charge
  • Slick, fast performance
  • Comprehensive fitness tracking
  • Comfortable to wear 24/7

Cons

  • Only one case size
  • Subscription required for all fitness data
  • Small screen, big bezel

Why you should buy this: This is an attractive and functional smartwatch that can track both fitness and stress levels.

Who it’s for: Anyone who needs a watch to help focus on their health.

Why we picked the Google Pixel Watch 2: Though the first Pixel Watch was a bit of a disappointment, Google stepped up in several ways this year with the Pixel Watch 2. It’s definitely a huge upgrade over last year’s model, and this is the best smartwatch to get if you prefer to use Fitbit as your health platform.

The 41mm case size of the Pixel Watch 2 is small, lightweight, and super comfortable to wear, even for sleep tracking. The minimalist design of the Pixel Watch 2 makes it perfect for fitness and activity tracking. It has a 1.2-inch display with 320 pixel-per-inch density, and it can go up to 1,000 nits of brightness. It’s not the very best display you’ll find on a smartwatch, but it looks good for daily use (so long as you don’t mind the huge bezels).

It comes with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon W5 processor and 2GB of RAM, which offers great performance. It’s smoother and less jittery than its predecessor, and apps run without an issue — even Google Maps.

In order to get access to the health information that the Google Pixel Watch 2 tracks, you have to use Fitbit. While there’s a free version of Fitbit, in order to make the most of the Pixel Watch 2, you’ll need Fitbit Premium, which costs $10 a month. However, the purchase of a Pixel Watch 2 gets you six months for free, so you can try it out before committing.

With the Pixel Watch 2, you can track workouts, sleep, steps, heart rate, and other basic metrics that you’d expect from a smartwatch and a fitness tracker. But the Pixel Watch 2 can also track your stress levels, as well as help you manage them. It also has automatic workout tracking that kicks in about 10 minutes into a recognized exercise, and you get to track a lot of various bits of data during your workouts. A Fitbit Premium subscription also gets you more detailed sleep tracking information.

With Wear OS 4, you also have easy and intuitive gestures to navigate around on the Pixel Watch 2, and it has improved battery life over the original Pixel Watch. Notifications are not always reliable, unfortunately, but this is not a problem with just the Pixel Watch — it is an issue on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic as well.

Battery life on the Pixel Watch 2 has also exceeded our expectations. While Google says it will get 24 hours of battery with the always-on display, we actually got closer to 36 hours on average. You can also get 100% charge in about 75 minutes.

If you want to go all-in on Fitbit, then the Google Pixel Watch 2 is the best smartwatch for the job.

Google Pixel Watch 2

Google Pixel Watch 2

The best smartwatch for Fitbit

withings scanwatch 2 review wrist screen on

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Withings ScanWatch 2

The best hybrid smartwatch

Pros

  • Beautiful design
  • Comprehensive health monitoring
  • FDA approved for atrial fibrillation
  • 38mm or 42mm case sizes
  • Long battery life

Cons

  • Unreliable notifications
  • Subscription needed to unlock features
  • App design can frustrate

Why you should buy this: It’s the ideal mix of good watch design and fitness-tracking technology.

Who it’s for: Anyone who doesn’t want their smartwatch to look too techy, but isn’t willing to compromise on health and fitness tracking.

Why we picked the Withings ScanWatch 2: A hybrid smartwatch is one that looks more like a traditional watch with analog hands and no touchscreen, but still includes all the smart connected features and health tracking we love about more techy models. The Withings ScanWatch 2 fits the bill perfectly, with its classy stainless steel case and sapphire crystal, plus an almost hidden OLED screen showing all the information you need.

On the back is a heart rate sensor and body temperature monitor, plus the ScanWatch 2 separates itself from other smartwatches by having Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for its atrial fibrillation detection. It also tracks your workouts, measures blood oxygen levels and body temperature during exercise, and a lot more. It’s also an excellent sleep tracker, with masses of data available.

The lack of a touchscreen means the battery has less work to do, and should last for about two weeks on a single charge when you use all the features (or longer if some are inactive). The app is informative, but not all that well laid out, and there are a lot of niche features — plus an unwelcome subscription to pay if you want more. Otherwise, the ScanWatch 2 is a superb choice if a full touchscreen smartwatch doesn’t appeal to you.

Alternatively, if the design isn’t sporty enough, the Garmin Vivomove Trend may be more suitable, and we love its cool looks and hidden screen, along with Garmin’s excellent health and fitness platform. Failing that, Casio’s connected G-Shock watches like the GPR-H1000 Rangeman and the GBD-H2000 are both excellent too.

Withings ScanWatch 2

Withings ScanWatch 2

The best hybrid smartwatch

tag heuer connected calibre e4 review front

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Tag Heuer Connected Calibre E4

The best luxury smartwatch

Pros

  • Tag Heuer Sports app is excellent
  • Luxury sapphire, ceramic, and steel build
  • Sharp, high-resolution screen
  • 42mm size suitable for most people

Cons

  • No Sp02 sensor
  • Can’t take calls

Why you should buy this: It’s the definitive smartwatch made by a luxury watchmaker.

Who it’s for: If you appreciate a luxury watchmaker’s approach to design and wearability, the Connected Calibre range is for you.

Why we picked the Tag Heuer Connected Calibre E4: There are two different Connected Calibre E4 models, one with a 42mm case and the other with a 45mm case. We recommend the 42mm case overall, as it’s going to suit more wrist sizes, but if you’re happy wearing a bigger watch, the 45mm Connected Calibre E4 has a slightly different design that may appeal more. Tag Heuer has also released various special editions, including a golf-specific model and one in collaboration with Porsche.

But why buy a luxury smartwatch? It’s all about the design, materials, and strap. The Connected Calibre E4 is made from stainless steel and has a ceramic bezel, and comes with either a steel, rubber, or leather strap equipped with Tag Heuer’s excellent folding clasp. The pushers feel almost mechanical, the crown rotates, and the design is elegant and classy. It’s a world apart from tech-forward smartwatch designs.

On the back is a heart rate sensor so it’ll track all your workouts, the watch receives notifications from your phone, and it is compatible with both Android and iOS. It comes with Google’s Wear OS software, and the good news is an update to Wear OS 3 should be available as you read this, bringing the smartwatch right up to date. It also keeps it competitive, as the Montblanc Summit 3 had Wear OS 3 installed at launch. The Montblanc smartwatch is a good alternative if you don’t like the Tag Heuer design or its watch face options.

Any luxury watch must make you feel special when you wear it, and the Tag Heuer Connected Calibre E4 manages to bring that special something into the world of smartwatches.

Tag Heuer Connected Calibre E4

Tag Heuer Connected Calibre E4

The best luxury smartwatch

garmin forerunner 265 review 4

Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Garmin Forerunner 265

The best fitness smartwatch

Pros

  • Extremely comfortable
  • Lovely AMOLED screen
  • Incredible health/fitness tools
  • Highly customizable
  • 4-plus days of battery life
  • Doesn’t require any subscriptions

Cons

  • Limited smart features
  • Proprietary charger

Why you should buy this: You get all Garmin’s fitness expertise and features in a neat smartwatch with a touchscreen.

Who it’s for: It’s best for runners and sports addicts, but can also prove motivational for anyone wanting to improve their fitness.

Why we picked the Garmin Forerunner 265: Garmin’s Forerunner series, as the name suggests, targets runners — and the 265 model sits in the middle of the options available. But just because it’s most suited to running, don’t think that it can’t do anything else, because this is a fully featured fitness wearable that will keep most fitness addicts motivated and satisfied.

The 46mm case and 47 gram weight mean it’ll look and feel sizable on your wrist compared to the Apple Watch Series 8 or the Galaxy Watch 5, but the 22mm band has lots of adjustment or can be quickly swapped for another one if you want to jazz up the rather plain look. Data is presented on a high-resolution AMOLED touchscreen, and there are buttons on the case to make it easy to navigate on the move or when wearing gloves.

It has a full sensor array to monitor heart rate and blood oxygen levels, plus Garmin’s platform provides masses of additional data on your workouts, lifestyle, and sleep. It returns plenty of motivation too and can help you improve your fitness and try different plans to keep things interesting. The battery lasts for between four and seven days, depending on your use, and it recharges in around an hour.

If the Garmin Forerunner 265’s high price and chunky design puts you off, then we recommend checking out the slightly cheaper and more stylish, but equally capable, Polar Pacer Pro instead.

Garmin Forerunner 265

Garmin Forerunner 265

The best fitness smartwatch

garmin forerunner 955 solar review on wrist 7

Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends

Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar

The best smartwatch for marathon runners

Pros

  • Incredible battery life
  • Consistently accurate GPS tracking
  • Touch screen and 5-button navigation
  • Easy-to-read screen in all conditions
  • Great fitness and health features

Cons

  • Solar version is overkill for most runners
  • Core features identical to lower Forerunners

Why you should buy this: It’s the best smartwatch for reliability, health and fitness, and speed tracking your run.

Who it’s for: This watch is for high-level runners who need a large, accurate device to track their progress.

Why we picked the Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar: Garmin is a huge favorite of runners, and for good reason: It has the right combination of features, design, and performance, including a face that’s easy to view even in direct sunlight. This watch features a 1.3-inch always-on, high-resolution, glare-free color touchscreen, a variety of health and fitness GPS tracking modes and sensors, training and performance stats and analytics, a waterproof rugged exterior, 32GB of storage, a huge battery, and solar charging that can pair with both an iPhone and an Android phone. While it may be overkill for your morning jog, those involved in triathlons or ultramarathons will appreciate the Forerunner 955’s top-line functionality. It doesn’t come cheap. The watch costs $600 for the Solar model, and $100 less for the non-solar model.

The Forerunner 955 is not a fashion watch — the Garmin plastic body is utilitarian with a solar ring around the screen. The screen cover is shatter-free Gorilla Glass DX glass. You can navigate via a touch screen or use the Garmin five-button physical buttons. Garmin excels at accurate GPS tracking, and the 955 comes with additional GPS tracking modes.

For the Garmin brand, battery life is paramount. The Solar model gets 20 days of battery life in simple smartwatch mode while connected to your phone, plus 42 to 49 hours of use in GPS mode. The solar-enhanced battery life is based on some three hours per day outdoors in 50,000 lux sunlight or seven hours in GPS mode with continuous exposure to 50,000 lux. Let’s just say that outdoor runners will probably benefit from the solar feature. The watch lasts for two weeks without charging.

Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar

Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar

The best smartwatch for marathon runners

garmin epix pro gen 2 review hero

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Garmin Epix Pro (Gen 2)

The best smartwatch for outdoor sports

Pros

  • High quality materials
  • Durable construction
  • Hugely customizable
  • Comprehensive sporting platform
  • No subscription needed

Cons

  • No Qi wireless charging
  • Operating system takes some learning

Why you should buy this: It’s the best smartwatch for outdoor enthusiasts and the seriously sporty.

Who it’s for: This watch is for anyone serious about their sport.

Why we picked the Garmin Epix Pro (Gen 2): If you’re a hiker, cyclist, runner, or adventurer, then you’ll want a smartwatch that can keep up, and probably one that’s both durable and customizable too. The Garmin Epix Pro (Gen 2) is just about the most feature-rich sports smartwatch you can get, as it’s filled with focused features and linked to the in-depth Garmin health platform.

There are several versions of the Epix Pro (Gen 2) to choose from, including massive 51mm versions with a sapphire crystal. And when you get it, the entire look of the software on-screen can be tailored to match your sport of choice. It’s very focused, and expects you to be focused too.

The battery can last up to a week. There’s GPS, a compass, altimeter, thermometer, a heart rate and blood oxygen sensor, and even a tiny flashlight built in. The Epix Pro (Gen 2) has new metrics for endurance and hill climbing, and even more internal storage space compared to the old model. There’s a steep learning curve attached to the software, and you really have to be dedicated to a particular sport to get the most from it, but the Epix Pro (Gen 2) is an incredibly feature-packed smartwatch.

Garmin Epix Pro (Gen 2)

Garmin Epix Pro (Gen 2)

The best smartwatch for outdoor sports

Frequently Asked Questions

Which smartwatch works with my smartphone?

Although it sounds like a complicated question, this is surprisingly straightforward. If you own an Android phone, then you can use any smartwatch with Google’s Wear OS software. You can also use most smartwatches from companies like Withings, Huawei, Amazfit, and others. The only one you can’t use is the Apple Watch.

If you own an iPhone, you can use the Apple Watch (obviously) and most other smartwatches too, provided they have a compatible app. Wear OS watches used to be compatible with iPhones, but more recent models like the Galaxy Watch 5 and Galaxy Watch 5 Pro are not.

What’s Wear OS?

Google and Samsung teamed up to create a software operating system for wearables called Wear OS 3. The joint project incorporates both the Wear OS and Tizen platforms, along with fitness expertise from Fitbit. The first smartwatches with the software were the Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, but now there are more, especially newer Samsung models like the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic.

How durable is a smartwatch?

Because it’s on your wrist, smartwatches are exposed to danger. They’re easy to knock against things and can often get wet. Does this mean you must be extra careful with your watch? Many have an IP68 water resistance rating today, and some smartwatches meet military standards for toughness and will withstand harsher treatment than others. If you want to make sure you can wear your chosen device in the shower or to go swimming, then you need to think about smartwatch water resistance and look for an IP or ATM rating.

Do I need a smartwatch with GPS?

If you are a runner and intend to use your smartwatch to track routes, and you don’t want to run with your phone, then yes, you do need GPS. Most modern smartwatches come with GPS as standard anyway, so you may find it’s ready and waiting if you need it. If your smartwatch doesn’t have GPS, then some can use your phone’s GPS when connected, but it will be slower to operate. One thing to remember is that using GPS will drain the battery in the watch faster than usual. If you’re really concerned about GPS accuracy, consider getting the Apple Watch Ultra or the Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar.

Can my smartwatch use my data plan?

If your smartwatch connects to your smartphone using Bluetooth, then all the data it requires comes from your phone at no extra charge to you. This changes if you buy a smartwatch with 4G LTE, like the LTE version of the Apple Watch. When a smartwatch has its own data connection, it can be used on its own without being connected to your smartphone, ready to make calls, receive messages, and plenty more. However, you will have to pay extra for the privilege. The amount varies depending on your carrier and current plan, but expect to pay around $10 per month to enable the 4G LTE connection on your smartwatch.

Will a new smartwatch work with my older phone?

If your Android phone or iPhone was purchased in the last three or four years, then the answer is almost certainly yes. For some context, the Galaxy Watch 6 and Watch 6 Classic work with any Android phone running Android 8.0 or later. The Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 are compatible with iPhones running iOS 16 — meaning any models from the iPhone 8 and newer.

Which smartwatch OS is best?

Each smartwatch operating system is different, which is to say that one operating system isn’t objectively better than the other. Instead, the “best” OS is the one that’s compatible with your smartphone. If you have an Android device, a watch running Wear OS is most likely the best choice. It’s relatively easy to use, has a decent selection of apps, and has a robust feature set. If you have an iPhone — and this comes as no surprise — you should get an Apple Watch.

Should you buy a smartwatch?

So, you think you want a smartwatch? Are you sure? After all, unlike a smartphone, no one really needs a smartwatch.

However, because manufacturers are finally coming around to the realization that a smartwatch needs to look good, they’re a lot more tempting than they once were. One-day battery life and a touchscreen on a watch are still hard to swallow for some people, but that’s why hybrid smartwatches were invented — and battery performance and control methods are constantly getting better.

If you’re not ready to commit to a touchscreen smartwatch but still want to try out some smart features, the huge choice of hybrid watches has got you covered. They often cost half of what you’ll pay for the cheapest Apple Watch, link with any smartphone, and provide traditional watch looks matched with a connected smart experience.

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