Update: The Fitbit Versa has entered our best smartwatch ranking – scroll down below to see where it sits in the list.
The smartwatch is the ultimate smartphone accessory. It can tell the time, of course, but it can also beam important notifications straight to your wrist, and run native apps.
What’s more impressive is that many of today’s best models can also perform a ton of novel tricks, such as enabling you to search the internet with your voice, tracking your exercise with GPS and letting you pay at the grocery store without reaching for your wallet.
Oh – and they look absolutely stunning to boot. If you’re thinking that a smartwatch is a pointlessly geeky accessory… think again. These choices are well-made, powerful and can genuinely make you fitter through some smart nudges.
1. Apple Watch 3
A better connection with the world’s best smartwatch
OS: watchOS 4.3 | Compatibility: iOS | Display: 1.53″ OLED | Processor: S2 dual-core | Onboard storage: 8GB / 16GB (Non-LTE and LTE respectively) | Battery duration: 18 hours | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: IPX7 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC
Brilliant fitness tracking
Non-LTE version much better value
LTE is an unnecessary expense
Battery too short for sleep tracking
The Apple Watch 3 (or Apple Watch Series 3, if you’re picky) is the best smartwatch you can buy right now. Yes, it’s essentially just the Apple Watch 2 frame with some new innards… but they make a big difference.
The LTE connection is the headline event, although that’s not really as useful as some might hope – plus it costs a lot more to use, and drains the battery.
What we like is the non-LTE version, which is a lot cheaper, and offers all the smarts of the Watch 2 but with a longer battery life and faster speeds when flicking through apps. This is the right kind of upgrade on the best smartwatch in the world.
It’s still water-resistant so you can swim with it and you won’t have to worry about getting it wet in the rain when you’re out for a jog. There’s GPS onboard to make running that little bit easier plus it comes running the top watchOS 4 software.
What’s next? We expect one day there will be an Apple Watch 4 running watchOS 5, but we don’t expect to hear anything official until at least September 2018. Rumors currently suggest it’ll have Face ID unlock tech and better battery life.
2. Ticwatch E
A fully-loaded Wear OS watch you’ve never heard of
OS: Wear OS OS | Compatibility: Android 4.3+, iOS 8+ | Display: 1.4″ 400 x 400 OLED | Processor: MediaTek MT2601 | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery duration: Up to 24h | Charging method: Magnetic connecting pin | IP rating: IP67 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1
Accurate GPS and heart rate sensor
Design won’t suit everyone
Not-so-elegant charging method
You may not have ever heard of Ticwatch, and that’s because it’s a relatively small and new brand to the smartwatch world. This is the best Wear OS watch money can buy right now.
That’s mostly because of the low price and the fact everything works really well. We also love the Ticwatch E for its built-in GPS, accurate heart rate sensor and great design.
All of the fitness features you’d expect are here; you can even use it without having to take your phone out while you exercise, but you won’t be able to receive phone calls like on the Apple Watch 3. The design is premium, but it won’t be for everyone so be sure to properly study the photos above and in our review to work out if it’s built for you.
The true highlight here is the low price considering it’s generally around half the price of a lot of the other devices you’ll find on this list.
3. LG Watch Style
LG’s latest has both style and substance
OS: Wear OS | Compatibility: Android 4.3+, iOS8.2+ | Display: 1.2″ 360 x 360 P-OLED | Processor: Snapdragon Wear 2100 | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery duration: Up to 24h | Charging method: Conductive USB charger | IP rating: IP67 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Disappointing battery life
Lacks NFC and broader connectivity
The LG Watch Style (built in collaboration with Google) offers everything that’s to love from the best Wear OS smartwatches, ditches the dreaded flat tire, then fills in the gap with cool, useful features and a whole lot of… style.
Roll that all up and you’re left with an extremely alluring presentation that makes a mighty strong argument for Google’s wearable platform. But there are some familiar wrinkles here including the sub par battery life.
That said, it’s easy to express why the Style is one of the smartwatches we want to put on our wrists.
For a recently-lowered price, it offers just as much utility as prior smartwatch attempts, but ups the ante with a slim, dashing design and several welcome features, like the voice-activated Google Assistant and a refreshed user interface that’s full of clever tweaks.
What’s next? LG reportedly showed off a new smartwatch behind closed doors at MWC 2018, so it may be ready to announce a new watch alongside the LG G7.
4. Fitbit Versa
A smaller and cheaper Fitbit Ionic
OS: Fitbit OS | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: TBC, 1000 nits | Processor: Dual-core 1.0GHz | Onboard storage: 2.5GB | Battery duration: 3-4 days | Charging method: Proprietary charger | IP rating: 50M water resistant | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Relatively low price
Feels a little cheap and childish
Fitbit is one of the biggest names in fitness tracking tech, but until late in 2017 the company hadn’t gone anywhere near smartwatches.
The company has now released two smartwatches, and both feature on this list but first we’re starting with our favorite that was announced in March 2018 and will be ready to buy in mid-April.
That favorite from Fitbit is the Versa that is a touch smaller than the other one (that’s the Ionic) but it comes with Fitbit Pay for contactless payments, 2.5GB of storage for music and battery life that’ll last around three days.
It doesn’t have GPS for tracking your runs and the design doesn’t feel as premium as some of the other watches on this list, but we really like the Fitbit Versa and it’s one of the more affordable choices on this list.
5. Ticwatch S
Another sophisticated smartwatch with a budget price tag
OS: Wear OS | Compatibility: Android 4.3+, iOS 8+ | Display: 1.4″ 400 x 400 OLED | Processor: MediaTek MT2601 | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery duration: Up to 24h | Charging method: Magnetic connecting pin | IP rating: IP67 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1
Comfortable with a nice design
Can’t change the strap
Ticwatch is back again for our fourth entry. This time it’s the Ticwatch S, which is remarkably similar to the Ticwatch E we’ve mentioned above.
The differences are limited, but this watch is a tiny bit heavier and a little larger because it comes with a thicker bezel around the sides to show you the exact time.
There’s also a different strap on this version that comes with the GPS sensor inside. The makers of the Ticwatch claim this is more accurate than when it’s inside the watch casing, but we didn’t see any major differences.
It does mean you can’t swap out the band on the Ticwatch S, like you can on the Ticwatch E, and that’s a big shame.
It’s a touch more expensive than the Ticwatch E too, but if you prefer the design you may want to go for this as it’s still much more affordable than a lot of our other favorite smartwatches on sale right now.
6. Fitbit Ionic
The fitness brand makes its first big smartwatch play
OS: Fitbit OS | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: TBC, 1000 nits | Processor: Dual-core 1.0GHz | Band sizes: Large | Onboard storage: 2.5GB | Battery duration: 2-3 days | Charging method: Proprietary charger | IP rating: 50M water resistant | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Variety of fitness options
Severe lack of apps
The Fitbit Ionic was always going to be a tough move for the brand, trying to enter the world of smartwatches from fitness bands.
The effort succeeds in some places: namely fitness, as you might imagine, where you can track all manner of things, from running to weight lifting to swimming. There’s also dedicated bodyweight coaching sessions in there, and you can pay for items on the go using Fitbit Pay.
When it first launched, the price was super high and it was a bit too expensive to wholeheartedly recommend. The good news is the price seems to have dropped in recent months so you can get it for at least $70/£70 cheaper than the RRP.
If you’re a Fitbit fan looking to do more than you get on an average band, this is a nice option.
What’s next? Rumors about a new Ionic are few and far between, but we’ve put together a guide on what we want to see from the Fitbit Ionic 2. The company is focusing on its new Fitbit Versa smartwatch right now.
7. Misfit Vapor
Top-end design and specs, but for little money
OS: Wear OS | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 1.3″ 360 x 360 AMOLED | Processor: Dual-core 1.0GHz | Band sizes: 20mm straps | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery duration: 2 days | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: 50m | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Large, vibrant AMOLED display
No Android Pay
Misfit’s first ever fully-fledged smartwatch comes in sixth position in our ranking, and a part of that is down to its low price – we’ve seen the price drop down even further since it launched too.
The Misfit Vapor has a super clear and bright 1.3-inch AMOLED display, a premium design – if it is a little thick – as well as Wear OS software as well.
It’s not the perfect watch as the Misfit Activity app is quite limited and there’s no Android Pay, but mostly this will suit you if you’re looking for an attractive watch with basic fitness and notification features.
8. Samsung Gear Sport
The refreshed, sportier Samsung watch keeps the style
OS: Tizen OS | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 1.2″ 360 x 360 Super AMOLED | Processor: Dual-core 1.0GHz | Band sizes: S (105 x 65mm) L (130 x 70mm) | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery duration: 2 days | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: 50m | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Offline Spotify playback
Poorer battery life
Severe lack of apps
Despite a serious lack of original apps, the Samsung Gear Sport still merits a place on this list. It’s got the same premium build we’ve come to expect from Samsung, has an exceptionally clear screen.
The main draw is the fact it has Spotify offline playback onboard, and combine that with the inbuilt GPS and you’ve got an all-in-one running watch that can supply you with millions of tracks on the go.
It’s also 50m-waterproof, which means you can take this little wrist beast into the water and get swimming – and it’s even compatible with iOS on top of that.
It’s not got the battery life of the Gear S3, lowering the time between charges to make the whole unit a little sleeker – and with a rubberized band in the box, it’s clear this a smartwatch for the fitness fans from Samsung.
What’s next? Whether we’ll see an updated Gear S or a Gear Sport 2 remains to be seen, but we can anticipate a new watch from Samsung will launch in September.
9. Garmin Forerunner 735XT
A fitness watch that sticks it to the smartwatch world
OS: Garmin OS | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 31.1mm Transflective | Processor: Unknown | Band sizes: 23mm | Onboard storage: Inaccesible | Battery: 7 days | Charging method: Clamp | IP rating: 5ATM | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Mega battery life
Excellent tracking accuracy
Fitness tracking not the best
OK, we know this isn’t a true smartwatch – but it’s a brilliant running watch with smartphone connectivity, and to many it’s good enough to achieve what they need.
The notifications are basic but rich enough, and you can control your music from the wrist.
Yes, this will be a bit basic for some, but if you’re in any way interested in fitness this watch can do it all – and it’s a half-decent fitness tracker too, with a super long battery life that puts many on this list to shame.
10. Samsung Gear S3
An older watch, but the price has dropped
OS: Tizen OS | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 1.3″ 360 x 360 Super AMOLED | Processor: Dual-core 1.0GHz | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery duration: 380mAh | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: IP68 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Animated always-on display
Great activity tracking
Very large on the wrist
GPS tracking is suspect
This is the watch the Gear Sport above replaced, but the Samsung Gear S3 is now much, much cheaper than when it initially launched meaning it has re-entered our list of the best smartwatches.
Fitness is the big focus here with some great activity tracking features that comes alongside the heart rate tracker and built-in GPS. Be warned this won’t track your swims, but it is water resistant.
We particularly like the rotating bezel design on the Gear S3 and Tizen OS has improved a lot recently, so the software works really well too.
What’s next? The Gear Sport 2 may have replaced the Gear S3 in a way, but there are still lots of rumors about the Gear S4 or Galaxy Watch, which we may see launch later in 2018.