There are four distinct smartwatch platforms to choose from — watchOS by Apple, Android Wear by Google, Samsung’s Tizen, and Fitbit’s proprietary OS running on its Ionic smartwatch. Except for the Apple Watch, all entries in this list work with both iPhone and Android smartphones.
However, please note that even though Android Wear and Samsung Tizen OS smartwatches can pair with an Apple iPhone, they won’t deliver the same stellar functionality as when connected to an Android smartphone. The notification experience is inferior, and you won’t be able to seamlessly sync apps between the two devices. If you’re an iPhone user looking for a smartwatch, it’s best to go with an Apple Watch.
1. Apple Watch Series 4
The Apple Watch Series 4 is the best smartwatch money can buy — by a massive margin. It has easily customizable looks, excellent hardware, a fantastic set of fitness-tracking features, and a polished user interface that’s incredibly intuitive. The device also comes with an excellent set of apps that’ll help it fit into everyone’s lifestyle.
Apple’s latest smartwatch also has cellular network connectivity, so you can leave your phone behind during your workouts and still stay connected. It’s available for all major carriers, but note that the feature requires a monthly subscription with a fee.
The device’s activity tracking features are also among the best in the business. They include an ultra accurate, EKG-capable heart-rate sensor, a waterproof body up to 50 meters, and a built-in GPS, so you can precisely keep track of your outdoor activities.
2. Mobvoi Ticwatch E Smartwatch
With a price tag that’s barely higher than $100, the Ticwatch E by Mobvoi has all the basics to deliver a good smartwatch experience. They include a sharp, fully circular OLED display, a built-in heart-rate sensor, a GPS chip, and standard 20-millimeter straps for easy customization. The Ticwatch E is IP67 water resistant.
The Ticwatch E runs on Google’s Android Wear platform, so it offers plenty of apps and watch faces to make it your own. Mobvoi claims that the gadget can last up to two days between battery charges. The polycarbonate case of the smartwatch is available in three colors with a matching silicone band ― black, white, and neon green (the manufacturer calls the color lemon).
In order to make the Ticwatch E attractively priced, Mobvoi has used decidedly cheap-feeling plastic in its making, so don’t expect to be wowed by its build quality. The heart-rate sensor of the device is also not the most accurate around.
According to an in-depth review by Digital Trends, the Ticwatch E offers a solid set of features for its affordable price tag. However, the tester also noted that the smartwatch feels a tad cheap.
3. Samsung Galaxy Watch
The Samsung Galaxy Watch is the best smartwatch for Android smartphone users. It has a pleasantly understated design, easily interchangeable bands, and an excellent set of fitness-tracking features, headlined by a case that’s waterproof to 50 meters.
We really like that the Samsung Galaxy Watch is available with a 42- or a 46-millimeter case. The former is available in black or gold, while the latter has a silver case with a nicely contrasting black display bezels. All Galaxy Watch variants are customizable with easily interchangeable, standard-size watch bands.
4. LG Watch W7
The LG Watch W7 has a sophisticated movement with mechanical hour and minute hands, as well as a fully circular touchscreen and Wear OS by Google on board. Combined, they give the user access to all the connectivity features a smartwatch offers, but in a more traditional-looking form factor.
The movement with mechanical hands of the LG Watch W7 is a product of collaboration between the tech giant and the Swiss Company Soprod SA. We really like that the timepiece can last over 3 months in watch-only mode between battery charges.
Other important bits about the smartwatch include a built-in GPS, IP68 rating for water resistance, and standard 22-millimeter lugs for easy strap changes. The watch also features a number of built-in sensor that will appeal to outdoorsy personalities. They include an accelerometer, a gyroscope, and a barometer.
We only wish that LG had equipped the Watch W7 with a heart-rate sensor for precise fitness tracking. However, some might find its lack to be a fair tradeoff for the device’s movement with mechanical hands.
5. Fitbit Ionic
The Fitbit Ionic smartwatch is a great option for buyers looking to upgrade from the company’s excellent fitness trackers without leaving their health and fitness data behind. The device packs one of the best sets of activity-tracking features in the business, including an accurate heart-rate sensor and a built-in GPS.
The Ionic can also guide you through your workouts via instructions on its color screen. The watch is fully waterproof, so you can take it for a swim, too. Fitbit promises up to four days of battery life, making the Ionic one of the longest-lasting smartwatches around.
We only wish Fitbit had opted to use an OLED display instead of the really unimpressive LCD unit used in the Ionic. The screen’s rectangular shape and low resolution make it feel dated compared to other smartwatches.
For a device you’re supposed to wear every day, the Fitbit Ionic is not the most stylish option out there, either. The metal case of the watch is available in three colors — silver, smoke gray, and orange. You can customize the watch further with easily replaceable bands.
Compared to its competitors from Apple, Google, and Samsung, Fitbit’s own smartwatch platform leaves quite a bit to be desired. The Ionic also can’t deliver notifications as comprehensively, nor offer access to a great deal of apps.
In case you don’t need GPS for tracking outdoor workouts, consider the Fitbit Versa smartwatch instead. It’s more elegant and it costs less than the Ionic.