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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 check-out 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.
Watch the video below for our thoughts on the top five smartwatches
Choosing the smartwatch that’s right for you isn’t easy, but we hope to make the exciting process of getting paired up with your next (or first!) smartwatch as simple as possible.
- Feeling active? Check out our Best fitness trackers
- Own an iPhone? Check out the best smartwatches if you use an iPhone
- We’ve also put together a selection of the best Android Wear watches too
The Apple Watch 3 (or Apple Watch Series 3, if we’re being 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 – that’s the right kind of upgrade on the best smartwatch in the world, in our opinion.
It’s still water-resistant so you can swim about when using it nor 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.
Read the full review: Apple Watch 3
The LG Watch Style (built in collaboration with Google) offers everything that’s to love from the best Android Wear 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.
Battery life is still a low point, and, as independent as Android Wear 2.0 claims to be, Google is still in the early days of filling the new Play Store with compatible apps that are enticing enough to bother with aside from its own.
The Style’s appeal lies more in what it will be soon, rather than what it is at launch.
That said, it’s easy to express why the Style is the only smartwatch 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.
Read the full review: LG Watch Style
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.
Read our full review: Garmin Forerunner 735XT
Misfit’s first ever fully-fledged smartwatch comes in fourth position in our ranking, and a part of that ranking is down to its low price.
The Vapor has a super clear and bright 1.3-inch AMOLED display, a premium design – if it is a little thick – as well as up to the minute Android Wear 2.0 software as well.
It’s not the perfect watch as the Misfit Activity app is quite limited and there’s no Android Pay features, but mostly this will suit you if you’re looking for an attractive watch with basic fitness and notification features.
Read the full review: Misfit Vapor
Despite a serious lack of original apps, the 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 rubberised band in the box, it’s clear this a smartwatch for the fitness fans from Samsung.
Read the full review: Samsung Gear Sport
LG Watch Sport would be the smartwatch to beat right now, because it’s a full-featured fitness tracker wrapped in a smartwatch running Android Wear 2.0.
While other smartwatches can do “fitness tracking” that just amounts to logging runs and calories burned, this watch tracks your all-important strength training, too.
However, despite supporting an LTE connection ( so if you pop a SIM card into the back of the watch, it can make and receive calls and data – without your smartwatch nearby) it’s been limited to US-only availability.
It doesn’t have the best battery life, despite its bigger-than-normal size, and apps are still being announced for Google’s newly refreshed platform. But it’s a nice step forward for Android Wear and smartwatches in general.
We’re seeing this watch discounted by nearly half earlier this year, so if you can get it for under $199 it’s a bargain buy (sadly, not available in the UK).
Read the full review: LG Watch Sport
If you’re in the market for an Android Wear smartwatch, the Asus ZenWatch 3 should be one to think about. It has a great display, useful hardware buttons and good battery life.
Although it has been slow to adopt Android Wear 2.0, the long-awaited update is finally available.
It’s styling might not be for everyone, and it’s lacking in a few sensors, but Asus did a commendable job designing a watch that looks more like a premium watch than a piece of lifeless technology.
Read the full review: Asus ZenWatch 3
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.
Where it lacks is the price – it’s expensive, and the amount you can do with it compared to other smartwatches is limited. However, if you’re a Fitbit fan looking to do more with the a band, this is a nice option.
Read the full review: Fitbit Ionic review
Perhaps one for the fashion conscious among you, the Fossil Q Venture is a premium looking watch that looks great on the wrist. It comes with Android Wear software, a large and responsive display as well as great battery life.
If you’re looking for a device that you can use to get fit, this won’t be it. There’s no GPS or heart rate monitor here, and you won’t be able to use it for Android Pay either as there’s no NFC.
That said, the price is low considering the premium feel and its fashionable look is why the watch has cemented itself on this list.
Read the full review: Fossil Q Venture
Still on sale as the ‘budget’ Apple Watch, this device is still well worth a look. OK, it doesn’t have the water resistance, LTE connectivity or GPS of the top Apple Watch 3, but it also doesn’t have the price.
Being able to check when you’ve got a message, or see who’s calling and be able to make snap decisions, still is possible here and great when you’re exercising or in another situation where grabbing your phone isn’t practical.
The new enhancements from Apple’s watchOS 4 really do help this smartwatch leap forward, even if the hardware is years old now. It’s now faster, more usable and comes with watch faces that make it feel more personal.
This watch is still on sale from Apple, so deals might be a bit sparse, but the Apple Watch Series 1 can be found at lower cost if you’re sharp.
Read the full review: Apple Watch