Smartwatches have become much faster and much more useful in the past few years and now there are some genuinely exciting ones.
Some devices, however, do stand out in the crowd, and each one has its own pros and cons. From the popular Apple Watch with its fast performance and great compatibility with the iOS ecosystem, to the Samsung line of smartwatches with their smooth-running Tizen platform and attractive circular form factor, to all the rest. Let's explore all the worthy options that are on the table.
#1: Apple Watch Series 5
Fast, functional, independent and with the best apps
The Apple Watch is the most popular smartwatch out there and the Series 5 (S5) is all about one key improvement: an always-on display. This is made possible to a brand new type of a screen used on the S5, one with a variable refresh rate, so when you are not using it the screen will refresh only once a second compared to 60 times a second when you actively use the watch. This has allowed Apple to maintain the same 18-hour battery life on the S5.
The rest is pretty much unchanged: you have the S5 in either a smaller, 40mm size, or a larger, 44mm version. WatchOS feels incredibly fast, swapping watchfaces is a breeze and happens with a simple swipe, and the watchfaces themselves are beautiful.
The Apple Watch excels in the fundamentals: it's comfortable to wear, it's fast and base apps like the weather that are so crucial to the experience deliver a very accurate and precise info. We also love the health and fitness features: the heart rate monitor is extremely accurate, it gives a detailed breakdown of workouts and the new EKG feature is useful. And of course, the rings system is great for fitness and helps you stay motivated to hit those fitness goals every single day.
#2: Huawei Watch GT2
Amazing 2-week battery life, sleek design
The Huawei Watch GT2 is a smartwatch that beats all the others in one key aspect: battery life. Huawei says it will last you two weeks on average, and in our experience, this number is not far from the truth.
Unlike other long-lasting smartwatches that use a monochrome display, this one uses full color and it also looks extremely well-made and stylish, especially if you opt in for the steel model with a leather band. It comes in two sizes, the bigger 46mm one is the more common, but there is also a small variation.
The good news is that it works with both Android and iOS, it delivers notifications promptly to your wrist, runs fairly well and it even has a loudspeaker.
#3: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
Works with both Android and iOS, looks good and has double the battery life of an Apple Watch
If you don’t want to be tied to the Apple ecosystem yet want a true smartwatch that is comfortable to wear, has reliable performance and a beautiful screen, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 is probably your best bet.
At a price more affordable than the Apple Watch, it still ticks most of the boxes: it comes in two sizes at 40mm and 44mm, it features a more premium stainless steel version that looks beautiful, it performs fast, has great automatic workout tracking and supports a bunch of activities. It doesn't quite have the same amount of apps as the Apple Watch, nor the refined haptics of that wearable, but those seem like details that are not quite all that important.
#4: Samsung Galaxy Watch
Elegant and built to last
The second best option for smartwatches currently is the Samsung Galaxy Watch family: it comes in two sizes, a smaller, 42mm model, and a very big and beefy 46mm one.
This is the familiar Gear-inherited design with rather brute looks and a rotating bezel for navigation.
It's important to know that unlike its smartphones, the Samsung watches don't run on Android: they run the company's own Tizen platform. The Galaxy Watches run smoothly and feature two-day plus battery life.
#5: Garmin Vivoactive 4
Great battery life and tough design
If you want a watch that will exceed your expectations for battery life and reliability, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 is probably the watch for you. It doesn't have the full-color screen you see on other smartwatches and instead goes with a sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel
type of screen that lacks the flare, but is the key ingredient for the multi-day battery life on the Vivoactive 4. Garmin says this watch will last up to 8 full days in smartwatch mode, compared to just a day or two on traditional smartwatches.
Plus, you'd appreciate having physical buttons here and not having to rely only on touchscreen gestures.
The most notable update to the Vivoactive lineup is not a single feature, but just having two different sizes, a smaller and a larger one, making it easier to pick the right one for different sized wrists. Of course, there are also a few new features that come in handy and music is now included in all models.
#6: Fossil Gen 5
The best of Wear OS
If you want a different smartwatch, the Fossil Gen 5 is the best one running Google's Android Wear OS platform. And yes, you are forgiven to think that platform was dead, but it's not and in fact, Google will be investing new effort in it in 2020.
You do get the Google Assistant on board here, which is still the fastest and most knowledgeable voice assistant, you get a very stylish smartwatch, and you get the full set of heart rate monitoring, fitness and health tracking features that you expect on a smartwatch. It's priced reasonably lower than the Apple Watch and it's a generally very likable smartwatch.
#7: TicWatch Pro (2020)
A WearOS durability champ with dual layered displays
The TicWatch Pro (2020) sports a highly power-efficient LCD display on top of a standard AMOLED display. Thanks to this, it can last up to 30 days on a single charge, although without utilizing the LCD display too much, it has a fairly standard battery life of 2 days.
Since it's a WearOS smartwatch, it comes with a built-in Google Assistant and supports all the apps the platform offers. In addition, it has NFC, heartrate, workout and sleep tracking, and is built to be durable and waterproof.