- We have tested and extensively researched dozens of smartwatches to find the best makes and models for all sorts of users.
- After much testing, we find that the Apple Watch Series 5 is the best smartwatch overall currently, thanks to a now always-on display, improved design, and extensive health-related features.
- Of course, the Apple Watch is exclusive to iPhone owners, so we have many options for Android users as well from the high-end to the more approachable.
Smartwatches aren’t yet the most necessary tech purchases even in 2020, but they may be one day. For those of you who like to live on the cutting-edge side of the tech world, there’s no better techie status symbol than one of the best smartwatches.
Thankfully, smartwatches are a lot more attractive than they used to be, so you don’t have to worry about strapping a clunky, futuristic gadget on your wrist anymore. We’ve tested dozens of smartwatches over the years, and these are the very best ones we’ve used.
There’s a smartwatch for everyone on this list, whether you’re an iPhone user who needs the latest and greatest Apple Watch, a tech geek who wants to pay for your latte with your wrist, a fashionista, or a WearOS aficionado, we’ve got you covered.
Here are the best smartwatches you can buy:
- Best smartwatch overall: Apple Watch Series 5
- Best smartwatch for Android users: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2
- Best feminine smartwatch: Kate Spade Scallop 2
- Best stylish smartwatch for men: Fossil Q Carlyle HR
- Best fitness smartwatch: Garmin Forerunner 935
Updated on 07/01/2020 by Antonio Villas-Boas: Updated links for accuracy. Added new links to related buying guides to help readers make a more complete purchase decision. Added fitness enthusiast option. Added best option for Android users.
The best smartwatch overall
The Apple Watch Series 5 has a new always-on display and great new fitness features that make the best smartwatch you can buy better than ever.
It doesn’t get better than the Apple Watch Series 5. The unique modern design works for both men and women. The smartwatch comes in 40mm and 44mm styles to fit wrists big and small. You can buy it in several finishes to match your style and there are dozens of Apple-made and third-party watch bands to make the Watch your own.
No other smartwatch offers this much variety and customization, especially when it comes to female-friendly options. The Apple Watch is the only smartwatch I’ve ever worn regularly each day for months on end. I’ve reviewed dozens of WearOS watches, and although many of them are nice looking as well, they’re not as fully featured or easy to use as the Apple Watch.
The Apple Watch boasts cutting-edge smartwatch tech including mobile payments with Apple Pay, stand-alone GPS, full waterproofing up to 50 meters, and thousands of apps. The user interface is very simple and attractive. It’s easy to use and it has advanced, easy-to-use fitness tracking features, thanks to a plethora of sensors and an excellent heart rate monitor. The Series 5 even has a built-in compass for navigation.
The Series 5 now has an always-on display, so you don’t have to raise your wrist to activate the watch face – now you can always see the watch face just like you would on an analog watch. It’s a cool feature that you can turn on or off. Some reviewers have said that it impacts battery life negatively, so keep that in mind if you enable the feature.
Best of all the Apple Watch has several great health-focused features, including the ability to detect when you fall and even alert emergency contacts if need be, as well as an electrical heart rate sensor that works with an app to alert you to heart health issues. The electrocardiogram (ECG) app has been certified by the Food & Drug Administration.
You can also get an LTE version of the Series 5 for standalone smartwatch functions like calls, texts, and internet access. That way, you can leave your phone at home when you go out on a run or a long hike.
The LTE connection will cost you about 10 bucks a month at most carriers, and the LTE model does cost more. There’s a non-LTE version, too, if you’re not interested in the new feature. Most people probably don’t need LTE, frankly, unless you regularly go on hikes or long runs and you don’t want to be weighed down with your phone. Still, it’s a nice option to have.
The Series 5 lasts a full day on a charge, but you can get more out of it if you don’t get notifications from every app on your iPhone.
While other companies struggle to pack tons of tech into bulky smartwatches, Apple effortlessly offers all the tech you need in the most compact and attractive smartwatch you can buy.
Pros: Gorgeous larger screen, slimmer watch case, haptic feedback from the crown, great watch faces, tons of band options, lots of apps, new health-focused features
Cons: Expensive, battery life is short, only works with iPhone
The best smartwatch for Android users
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 is a fantastic fitness-focused smartwatch for Samsung fans.
The Samsung’s Galaxy smartwatch lineup has been getting better every year as more apps and features are added. While it has the word “Active” in its name, the Galaxy Watch Active2 perfectly suitable for fitness or general wearing.
You can get it in two sizes: 40mm and 44mm – just like the Apple Watch. It has a slim, sleek round watch case so it looks more like a normal watch than a piece of tech.
You can get it in a aluminum (WiFi/Bluetooth) and stainless steel (LTE) and choose between silver, gold, and black finishes. The watch has a simple silicone band, but you can also get leather bands for the watch. It’s rated at 5ATM for water resistance, so you can swim with it.
The Galaxy Watch Active2 can automatically track workouts, which is surprisingly a big plus for the Samsung watch, as Google’s Wear OS watches don’t have automatic workout detection. The heart rate monitor also helps the watch track the intensity of your workout.
The watch even has sleep tracking built in, something the Apple Watch doesn’t come with. Based on your metrics, the companion app generates insights to help improve your overall fitness.
Just like with any other smartwatch, you’ll also get notifications from your phone and you can access many popular apps.
Pros: Sleek design, gorgeous screen, great fitness tracking, heart rate monitor, LTE option, auto workout tracking, sleep tracking, swim-proof
Cons: Requires a bunch of extra Samsung apps to work if you don’t own a Samsung smartphone
The best feminine smartwatch
The Kate Spade Scallop 2 is a truly feminine, whimsical, and charming smartwatch that packs serious tech features like a heart rate monitor, GPS, and NFC for mobile payments.
Most smartwatches are unisex and are not specifically made for women. Even though Fossil, Skagen, and Apple make very convincing unisex watches that women can wear, none of them are unapologetically feminine. If you, like me, have been waiting for a super feminine smartwatch that’s made for women, you’re in luck.
The Kate Spade Scallop 2 is the ultimate women’s smartwatch. The round metal watch casing is relatively slim, very sleek, and absolutely adorable because it has the cute little detail of scalloping around the watch face.
The watch face options are classic Kate Spade designs. You get a sultry winking moon face with perfectly curled lashes, calling you a leading lady; cute bubbly balloons for a digital watch face with numbers; a speeding cab that reassures you that you’ll be there in a New York minute; and a daisy that loses petals as the time ticks away in a classic game of “He loves me; he loves me not.”
The cute scalloped silicone band in black or a leather band in blush pink and the well-made, slim metal bracelet style watch band complete the feminine look. It is these little touches that make this watch so fun.
Google’s WearOS software (formerly Android Wear) lies underneath the cute exterior with all its skills and limitations. Like all the other WearOS watches in our guide, you can pair it an iPhone or Android device to get apps and all your notifications.
The second-generation Scallop even has GPS, NFC for payments, and a heart rate monitor, making it more high tech than the original.
Pros: Adorable design, feminine watch faces and casing, cute straps, subtle details for fun, GPS, NFC, heart rate monitor
Cons: A bit expensive
The best smartwatch for fashionable men
Fashion-forward men who aren’t into the high-tech futuristic look will love Fossil’s Q Carlyle HR with its classic design and smartwatch powers.
Fossil is one of the few fashion brands and watchmakers that’s making actively gorgeous smartwatches. The Q Carlyle HR is the ultimate WearOS watch for men who want their smartwatch to look like a high-end wristwatch.
It’s a hefty smartwatch that feels luxurious, but it doesn’t cost a couple thousand dollars like the Tag Heuer Connected smartwatch. Our guy friends just love the stainless steel casing with the chunky metal watch band, but you can choose a number of different finishes.
You can get the smartwatch in dark gray, black, and silver finishes with metal or leather straps. The straps are interchangeable with any 22mm watch band you can buy from Fossil and others.
When it comes to tech, the Q Carlyle isn’t the most high-end one on this list, but it runs WearOS and it’s compatible with thousands of apps. You can send texts, view your notifications, and track your activity – just like you would on any smartwatch. The latest generation also has NFC for mobile payments, GPS, and a heart rate monitor.
Pros: Classic watch look, WearOS, use any 2mm watch band you like
Cons: No LTE
Best smartwatch for fitness enthusiasts
The Garmin Forerunner 935 Running GPS Watch is a fitness enthusiast’s dream that has long battery life and measures several metrics you won’t find on general purpose watches.
Smartwatches running Apple’s, Samsung’s, and Google’s operating systems come with decent fitness tracking features and functionality, but then there are smartwatches that bring fitness tracking to a whole other level. We’re talking about smartwatches from Garmin.
We had a competitive distance runner try the $500 Garmin Forerunner 935 for 1,000 miles – and it’s better than any running watch he’s ever used. With that testimonial in mind, the Forerunner 935 is our top choice for fitness enthusiasts, at least for those who can allocate up to $500 for a device that’s specifically geared towards fitness.
When you’re spending this much on a fitness tracking device, you’re better off reading the full review to find out what’s good and what’s not about the Forerunner 935. And realizing that the Forerunner 935 is expensive, we know of some less expensive fitness trackers that will work just fine for the majority of fitness folk.
Pros: Long battery life, waterproof, durable glass face, built-in barometer and thermometer, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections, and the ability to measure more metrics than we can list here
Cons: Expensive, reduced GPS accuracy when running on a track, built-in thermometer only measures temperature right above your skin
What else we considered
We’re currently in the process of testing several new smartwatches that were just released, so stay tuned for a bigger update. Here are the ones we’re currently looking into and testing.
- Garmin Vivoactive 4S: Garmin makes great fitness-focused smartwatches, and the 4S looks to be a good Apple Watch alternative, as it has many of the same specs.
- Fitbit Versa 2: The Fitbit Versa 2 could be a great contender for the best smartwatch upgrade for people who have an old Fitbit tracker and want to try out a smartwatch for the first time.
- Michael Kors Access Lexington 2: Michael Kors has been making smartwatches alongside Fossil for years now. If you like MK, you’ll probably like this watch as it has many of the same features.