One of the best things about living in the twenty-first century is watching all the sci-fi gadgets from your favorite sci-fi adventures be turned into actual products. The smartwatch is one of the products that have been living in the imagination of nerds and geeks everywhere, thanks to classics like the Dick Tracy comic from the 1930s or Inspector Gadget from the 1980s.
Smartwatches are incredibly convenient and great arm candy for your accessory wardrobe. Whether you are looking for a gadget to help with fitness tracking or looking for a wearable way to interface with your iPhone, a smartwatch is built for your needs.
With so many options to choose from, there are a handful of things you should consider before shopping for a smartwatch.
First and foremost, what kind of budget are you working with? How much do you want to pay for the perfect app ecosystem? Deciding this first can help narrow down the choices significantly.
Shape and size
Your watch must fit well on your wrist and not feel too big or too clunky. After all, you will be wearing them all day, sometimes even all night, to utilize sleep tracking.
It is difficult to pin down a good estimate of battery life on a smartwatch because many factors go into it. For instance, if you listen to music a lot during the day or have an always-on display, your battery will drain quicker than if you don’t.
Smartwatch manufacturers give extensive ranges in their battery life expectancy. Expect your battery life to be towards the lower end of the estimates if you know it will be active throughout the day.
Apps and Features
Some smartwatches come with LTE, which means they can be used in place of the phone, and some don’t, so your phone needs to be close by. To get the most out of your smartwatch, you should get one that is compatible with the apps and phone you currently use.
Without further ado, here are the seven best smartwatches.
The "Smartest" Smartwatches
These watches do everything and then some. They offer a ton of features and serve as fitness trackers as well as cell phone replacements. They also look damn good while doing it.
Arguably, the biggest thing in smartwatches right now is the Apple Watch Series 6.
The Series 6 is rectangular in shape and has a slim, sleek design like all the other Apple watches. What visually sets this watch apart from other Apple watches is larger than ever 44mm OLED, fully customizable display. Combine that with the option of the new Solo Loop band without buckles or clasps, and you'll have the sleekest smartwatch currently on the market.
Choose from a case made from stainless steel, titanium or aluminum, in one of ten colors, and the band style suited for how you'll wear it to create a design exclusively for you.
This watch serves as both a next-level health and fitness tracker and a cell phone replacement. When you purchase the watch's LTE version, you do not need to have your phone nearby to access features like text messaging, emails, and phone calls. The watch will do it for you.
- Price: Starts at $399 - price increases if you want to add cellular data, LTE or other features.
- Compatibility: iOS, Apple Pay and Siri
- Battery Life: Up to 18 hours
- Apps and Features: This watch comes with an extensive list of fitness apps, including a state-of-the-art ECG app, heart monitor, revolutionary blood oxygen app, a menstrual cycle tracker and activity tracking. Other fun features include the always-on display, altimeter, GPS, compass and water resistance to 50 meters. This watch can withstand the waves in the ocean so you can enjoy your vacation and track your calories burned while doing it.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is a slim and sexy watch with a round 44mm AMOLED display, customizable face options and a stainless steel or aluminum bezel to can create your own personal look and feel.
With LTE availability, you can access texts, emails, music and Samsung Pay all while leaving your phone at home. Pair to devices with either Android or select iOS operating systems for additional features. This watch also boasts up to five days of battery life, depending on usage.
- Price: Starts at $299 - similar to the Apple watch, price increases with add-ons.
- Compatibility: Android and iOS, Samsung Pay, Bixby Voice
- Battery Life: 2-5 days
- Apps and Features: This smartwatch uses the Samsung Health app to give you a deep dive into your health insights. It has a heart rate monitor and activity tracker and a sleep tracker with recommendations for getting a better night’s sleep. Use Bixby to access all your watches features with only your voice. The Active 2 is also super lightweight and water-resistant, meaning you can take it from the poolside to your bedside without a worry.
This touch screen smartwatch has a suite of features wrapped in a stylish bow. With four unique designs featuring multiple bezel finishes and band colors/materials to choose from, this smartwatch won't leave any taste preference feeling left out.
Brett Downes, Founder of Haro Helpers, adds why he thinks the Fossil Gen 5 is his favorite. Downes says, "it now has an insane 8GB of storage; this is double what the older version could offer. They have improved the battery life. It now has a battery mode that will give you four different modes and you won't have to charge for several days, as well as having a swim-proof speaker."
"There is no other watch like it. Yes, there are other brands that can do similar things, but there is not one that can offer the latest technology as well as the quality and design," Downes continues.
And while this phone is not LTE compatible, it offers Bluetooth and wifi connectivity and untethered GPS tracking. You can also control your smart home right from your smartwatch with voice activation.
- Price: $295
- Compatibility: Google Wear OS for Android and iOS, Google Pay, Google Nest
- Battery Life: Up to 48 hours
- Apps and Features: The Fossil Gen 5 is a swim-proof smartwatch that features the Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor. It has fitness features like a heart monitor, fitness tracker and sleep tracker and can pair to your smart home through the Google Nest app. With access to the entire Google Play library, you can build the perfect smartwatch for your needs.
The Best Smartwatches for Fitness Junkies
These smartwatches are made for tracking your health. You may not be able to use them in place of your cell phone, but if you just need something small and versatile to monitor your daily health and motivate you through your fitness routine, these are for you.
This Fitbit Sense is similar in look and feel to the Apple Series 6 watch and has many similar features. It lacks LTE functionality, meaning you'll need to be in Bluetooth range to use your watch to take a phone call or Wi-Fi range to use internet apps. But if that feature isn't a deal-breaker for you, this watch can give you the latest tools to monitor your health and fitness.
This watch is only available in two colors, but ten additional band options can be added for customization. With a whopping six-day battery life and a single day charge completed in 12 minutes, this watch is perfect if you don't want to charge your smartwatch regularly.
- Price: $329
- Compatibility: iOS and Android, Fitbit Pay, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa
- Battery Life: 6 days
- Apps and Features: The Fitbit Sense is primarily a cutting edge fitness tracker that can receive push notifications from your phone with access to some phone apps via Bluetooth when the phone is nearby. The enhanced stress management tools featuring an EDA app to measure your body's response to stress. Track your moods and access mindfulness tools to get a complete stress-health picture. The Sense also has a heart rate tracker, ECG app that can report to your doctor, sleep tracker, menstrual tracker, an always-on display option and is water-resistant.
If that wasn't enough, this watch can even take, record and track your temperature, alerting you of significant changes. If you already have the Fitbit Versa 2, the Sense's additional features are going to be worth the upgrade.
If you don't need all the bells and whistles of the Series 6 but still want an Apple watch, the SE is a less expensive alternative that can hold its own in style and features.
This watch has the same 44mm watch face as the Series 6 but is only available in three colors and lacks the always-on display.
As with other Apple watches, the SE is available with LTE functionality making this the perfect, affordable watch for activities where holding your precious iPhone would be dangerous or cumbersome.
- Price: Starts at $279 - price increases if you want to add cellular data, LTE or other features.
- Compatibility: iOS, Apple Pay and Siri
- Battery Life: Up to 18 hours
- Apps and Features: While this watch does not have the newest features in health tracking available like the Series 6, it still offers a wide variety of fitness apps to keep you motivated and a second-generation heart rate sensor. Use the Activity Rings to see how you spend your day moving in easy to understand metrics and be notified if your heart rate drops too low or climbs too high. This watch also includes a sleep tracking app, always-on altimeter and built-in fall detection.
The Best Smartwatches (That Don’t Look Like Smartwatches)
Smartwatch features are great, but you don’t want your wrist to look like something out of Tron. You like the look of your traditional watch but wish it did more. Here are some clever smartwatches that don’t look like smartwatches.
The Galaxy 3 Smartwatch looks and feels like a traditional analog watch. It comes in two sizes and has a round face. This watch has a more limited selection of band selections and comes in only four metal choices. It does, however, have a customizable face with more than a thousand options to choose from.
The beautiful rotating bezel allows you to move between apps easily, and you can leave your phone at home because this LTE-enabled device will replace your phone's basic features. But don't try to go for a swim. Even though it looks like an analog watch, it's only splash-proof.
- Price: Starts at $429 - price increases if you want to add cellular data, LTE or other features
- Compatibility: Android and iOS, Samsung Pay
- Battery Life: Up to 4 days
- Apps and Features: This watch has an always-on display, ECG app, blood oxygen tracking app, fitness tracker, heart monitor, rest and sleep monitor and GPS. It is water-resistant and has LTE, so you can use it in place of your phone.
The TicWatch Pro is perfect for someone who wants a simple smartwatch that doesn't look right out of a space adventure movie. This watch has right side turn dials like old-school watches and comes with a hybrid leather band that is leather on the outside and silicone on the inside for sweat resistance.
What makes this watch unique? A layered and LCD and AMOLED screen give the watch face a special look and power-saving functions. By operating in essential battery mode using only the LCD, you can extend battery life to 30 days while still using your watch for basic heart rate and step counting.
- Price: $249
- Compatibility: Android and iOS, Google Assistant, Google Pay
- Battery Life: 2-5 days with an optional lower power display that will extend battery life to 30 days.
- Apps and Features: Don't let the low-tech look fool you. This watch uses Google’s Wear OS, has a heart rate tracker, fitness tracker, GPS, and is water-resistant. It does not have LTE, so you need to have your phone near you to access your features. This NFC enabled device offers Google Pay compatibility, so you never have to worry about leaving your wallet at home. The AMOLED screen is bright and super easy to read.
With ever-evolving tech, keeping up with the latest tech and current trends can be difficult. Any one of these smartwatches will provide you, the wearer, a piece of the latest developments in tech and fashion and have you living a healthy, more connected life as soon as you open the box.
And, with many smartwatches now having compatibility for both Android users and iPhone users, you'll be able to find the perfect watch regardless of the operating system you prefer.
Have you been good this year? Maybe Santa will bring you one for Christmas, so be sure to add it to your wish list.
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The 7 Best Smartwatches of 2020: