12 Best Smart Watches in 2019

Best Overall

Samsung Galaxy Midnight Black Watch
  • Compatible with both Android and iOS phones
  • Comprehensive fitness monitoring
  • Durable to military-grade standards and protected by Gorilla Glass
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Premium Choice

Apple Watch Series 4 40mm Space Gray
  • Next generation gyroscope and accelerometer
  • Health monitoring features you won't find anywhere else
  • A sleek design that gives you more screen space for a smaller overall size
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Great Value

Huami Amazfit Bip Smartwatch
  • An incredibly great deal for the price
  • Exceptional battery life
  • Call, SMS, and email notifications
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Smartwatches are still in a state of early adolescence, and while they’re starting to become more popular, they still aren’t as ubiquitous as smartphones. It’s been a long hard climb for smartwatch manufacturers to convince consumers why they need to add another technological device to their everyday repertoire, but the market has finally reached a stage where a convincing argument is in place. Smartwatches can bring an added layer of convenience to your life and actually decrease the common disconnect from the world by ensuring you don’t have to be tethered to your phone all the time.

But as a number of tech companies and traditional watch manufacturers rush to bring their own entries to the market, finding the best smartwatches can be difficult. Fortunately, we’re here to help.

Best Overall

1. Samsung Galaxy Midnight Black Watch

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The smartphone market is defined by an entrenched war between Apple and Android, and the same is becoming true for smartwatches. Samsung's Galaxy is the leading option for Android phones, and it looks like that will be the case with the smart watch as well. This Android smartwatch takes all the fundamentals that the Apple Watch is known for and combines them in a frame that's more sensibly designed. Not only is this a waterproof smart watch, but it also sports a strong battery life.

Together, that makes this a great and low maintenance option if you want to get out and explore the world. In terms of functionality, the fitness tracker has been improved significantly over earlier models, while the ability to stream your Spotify list is a huge convenience. Voice activation is available in the form of Samsung's proprietary Bixby virtual assistant.

Key Features
  • Compatible with both Android and iOS phones
  • Comprehensive fitness monitoring
  • Durable to military-grade standards and protected by Gorilla Glass
  • Exceptional daily schedule tracking
OSTizenCompatibilityAndroid, iOSDisplay1.2" AMOLED 360 x 360ConnectivityWWiFi 802.11 2.4GHz, Bluetooth Battery Life3 daysIP RatingIP68 Processor1.15 GHz Dual-Core
Premium Choice

2. Apple Watch Series 4 40mm Space Gray

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The Apple Watch is arguably the device that started the whole wearables trend, and despite an army of competitors coming to the market, it's still a contender for the best smartwatch around. Now in its fourth generation, the Apple Watch has made a lot of progress over the years. The clean face strips away the bezel almost entirely, and its smart design provides you with access to everything you could want in an uncluttered frame. A larger face and a louder speaker make this a more feasible reason to buy this smartwatch for iPhone than ever before.

But where Apple Watch really sets the gold standard is in its fitness tracking capabilities. By working directly with the FDA, Apple has managed to include both an atrial fibrillation feature and an ECG app. It feels in many ways like the fulfillment of a promise that's gone unfulfilled by the smartwatch market.

Key Features
  • Next generation gyroscope and accelerometer
  • Health monitoring features you won't find anywhere else
  • A sleek design that gives you more screen space for a smaller overall size
  • Activity tracker paired with a personalized achievement system
OSiOSCompatibility1.78ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11 2.4GHz, Bluetooth 5.0 Battery Life18 hoursIP Ratingn/a (water resistant to 50 meters) Processor64-bit dual-core S4
Great Value

3. Huami Amazfit Bip Smartwatch

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The Galaxy and the Apple Watch may be the top dogs in the smartwatch market, but they're also pretty pricy options. Customers who want the core functionality that these high end watches while still keeping costs under $100 may want to check out the Amazfit Bip. This budget smartwatch may not be the most feature-rich option available, but it gets the fundamentals right.

In fact, it's maybe the best deal you'll find for a fitness smartwatch. The battery life here is staggering, allowing you to go as long as over a month on a single 2.5 hour charge. Smart watch phone compatibility for this model includes both iOS and Android, so you won't be locked into a single operating system. In terms of features, the options here are basic but solid. GPS and heart rate monitoring are built in, and you can sync it up with your smartphone for notifications.

Key Features
  • An incredibly great deal for the price
  • Exceptional battery life
  • Call, SMS, and email notifications
  • Coordinates with a huge variety of social media platforms
OSProprietaryCompatibilityAndroid, iOSDisplay1.28 176 x 176ConnectivityBluetooth 4.0 Battery Life45 daysIP RatingIP68 ProcessorMediatek

4. Garmin vívoactive 3 Smartwatch

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Garmin may be best known for their GPS devices, but they've been moving into the smartwatch market with an admirable level of enthusiasm. The Vivoactive 3 is their flagship mid-range model, and they've smartly made the decision to focus on fitness-related services rather than trying to compete with bigger and more experienced names on a more all-around model. They exceed on that front, and the Vivoactive is an ideal choice if you're looking for a watch with its own unique purpose aside from being a companion to your smartphone.

That's not to say that the Vivoactive is solely a fitness smartwatch. It offers one way notifications and the ability to make payments through the Garmin Pay system, but the real star here is the depth of fitness apps available. Whatever your preferred type of exercise, you'll probably find an app tailored to it in the Garmin storefront.

Key Features
  • 15 different sports and exercise apps come preprogrammed
  • Supports smart notifications from your phone
  • Can be customized with a variety of watch faces
  • Contactless payments via Garmin Pay
OSProprietaryCompatibilityAndroid, iOSDisplay1.2" 240 x 240ConnectivityBluetooth, ANT+Battery Life7 daysIP Ratingn/a (water resistant up to 50 meters) Processorunknown

5. Fossil Men’s Gen 4 Sport

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WearOS is a variation of the Android operating system designed specifically for use with smartwatches, and the Fossil Sport knows how to make the most of its unique capabilities. Combine that with a new Qualcomm processor optimized for the needs of this market, and this Google smartwatch becomes a competent mid-range entry. The name is perhaps a bit of a misnomer. Fossil's watch isn't particularly tailored for the needs of the fitness crowd, and it instead focuses on being a versatile option.

Three separate battery modes allow you to adjust the watch to suit your needs in any given moment, and the design is more aesthetically pleasing than a majority of more utilitarian watches around. If you want a watch that sports Wear OS, there's no more affordable option than this.

Key Features
  • Effective but unobtrusive smartphone notifications
  • Dials can be customized to suit your mood
  • Compatible with a variety of colorful straps
  • Includes heart rate tracking
OSWear OSCompatibilityAndroid, iOSDisplay1.29 in AMOLED 390 x 390ConnectivityBluetooth 4.1, NFCBattery Life2 daysIP Ratingn/a (water resistant up to 50 meters) ProcessorSnapdragon Wear 3100 Quad-core A7

6. Mobvoi TicWatch E2

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A lot of smartwatches bill themselves as the technology of the future, but if you're looking for something a little more simplistic and stylized, the Mobvoi TicWatch is a good choice. This is a gadget that takes the fundamental principles of a smartwatch and executes them without any unnecessary flairs or flourishes. The screen is large and easy to read even when it's holding a lot of information, and the battery life is top notch.

The water resistance of the TicWatch E2 is smartly partnered with swim tracking functionality. The performance of this budget smartwatch is strong.  A single button controls all of your apps, and it even includes Google Assistant so you can more easily navigate its functions with your voice. In a surprising move for a watch at this point, it has WiFi capabilities built in.

Key Features
  • Face and straps can be freely swapped out
  • Sports tracking complemented by sophisticated algorithms
  • Sleep tracking functionality built in
  • Controlled through a single, intuitive button
OSWear OSCompatibilityAndroid, iOSDisplay1.39" AMOLED 400 x 400ConnectivityWIFI 802.11, Bluetooth 4.1Battery Life2 daysIP RatingIP68 Waterproof ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100

7. Huawei Watch 2 Sport Smartwatch

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Huawei's Watch 2 Sport is a rugged but surprisingly lightweight smartwatch, and that makes it an ideal choice for the active user. If you're looking for a watch with the sturdy resistance to suit you in the gym or out in the wild, this Android smartwatch has you covered. A heart rate monitor, scientific sleep tracker, and GPS both come standard, but the most surprising addition is support for a 4G connection. Then there's support for NFC and Google Pay which could conceivably remove the need to carry a wallet with you entirely.

Voice activation is available in the form of integrated Google Assistant, while the dedicated Workout Coach provides you with a more natural and motivational means for keeping up with your exercise routine. The Watch 2 ensures that you can ditch all of the things you normally carry with you while out on a jog.

Key Features
  • Independent storage lets you listen to music offline
  • Deep and comprehensive sleep tracking
  • Supports all the standard Wear OS apps
  • Great fitness goal tracking
OSWear OSCompatibilityAndroid, iOSDisplay1.2ConnectivityWIFI 802.11, Bluetooth 4.0, NFCBattery Life3 weeksIP RatingIP68 Waterproof ProcessorQualcomm SnapDragon Wear 2100 Quadcore 1.1 Ghz

8. LG W280A Watch Sport

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More than one smart watch review has identified the W280A as the best Android smart watch on the market. The argument is a strong one. LG clearly understands the intricacies of Wear OS, and they've maximized its potential impressively. The lack of a need to tether it to your phone allows it to effectively serve as an alternative to your mobile device in some situations, as it can be used to text and make calls by installing a SIM card.

Apps can similarly be downloaded directly through the phone's device, and a huge portion of the Google Play store is wide open to you. The value of this watch is reflected in its scarcity. The W280A can sometimes be hard to find new, so you may want to keep an eye out if you want to pick it up for a decent price.

Key Features
  • The most powerful version of a Wear OS watch yet
  • Works incredibly well even without your phone
  • Lightweight and ergonomically designed
  • Smartly redesigned navigation interface
OSWear OSCompatibilityAndroid, iOSDisplay1.38ConnectivityWIFI 802.11, Bluetooth 4.0, NFCBattery Life2 daysIP RatingIP68 Waterproof ProcessorQualcomm SnapDragon Wear 2100

9. Fitbit Versa Smart Watch

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If there's one company that understands what people desire in health-tracking smart watches, it's Fitbit. Their Versa offers some of the most impressive and focused features you'll find in a watch at a price that comfortably hovers in the lower mid-level price range. The Versa has been built from the ground up, and its slim and sparse design emphasizes its role as a utilitarian tool rather than a fashion statement.

The sleep analysis that the Versa offers is some of the best around, and it smartly includes a whole wealth of health tracking options built around the specific needs of women. For the sake of price and portability, a few features had to be stripped out of the watch itself, but music can be saved directly to the Versa, and it gains GPS functionality when tethered to your phone.

Key Features
  • Incredibly thorough health tracking options
  • Receives app, call, text, and calendar notifications from your phone
  • Comes with 15 different tailored exercise modes
  • Can store over 300 songs locally
OSFitbit OSCompatibilityAndroid, iOSDisplay1.34" P-OLED 300 x 300ConnectivityWIFI 802.11, Bluetooth 4.0, NFCBattery Life4 daysIP Ratingn/a (waterproof up to 50m) ProcessorUnknown

10. Michael Kors Access Smart Watch

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A majority of the smartwatches available today are based around streamlined designs that put practicality above fashion, so when luxury designer Michael Kors throws their hat in the ring, you know it's going to be a significant change of pace. The Access Runway sports a beautiful design that's in step with more traditional women's luxury watches, and while it's not the most powerful smartwatch on the market, it's packed with a surprising amount of features.

Built on the Wear OS, the Access Runway comes with both a GPS and a heart-rate sensor, meaning it can work admirably well in the gym or out on the street. The Google Fit app built right in tracks a number of important metrics, while Google Assistant provides you with voice activation. It's not the most advanced smartwatch you'll find, but it's easily the most fashionable.

Key Features
  • Marries functionality with classically elegant design
  • Includes a rapid charging cable
  • Supports NFC payments through Google Pay
  • Can be personalized with different faces
OSWear OSCompatibilityAndroid, iOSDisplay1.4ConnectivityWIFI 802.11, Bluetooth 4.1Battery Life2 daysIP Ratingn/a (waterproof up to 50m) ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 2100 SoC

11. CASIO WSD-F30-RGBAU Pro Trek

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There's no way to argue that the Casio Pro Trek is an expensive watch, but Casio is a company known for their high ratio of quality to pricing, and they certainly don't fail with this model. This is a watch designed for the great outdoors, and it comes with the huge variety of GPS, health, and exercise tracking features that you'd expect from such a gadget.

Notifications from your phone are easy to manage, and unlike many cheaper smartwatch models, they aren't one way. You can respond easily to text, social media, or email through voice control, an onscreen keyboard, or even touchscreen scribbles. And instead of using the limited, native Wear OS interface for interacting with apps, users have full and direct access to the Play Store.

Key Features
  • Packed with a staggering amount of outdoor tools
  • Great level of interactivity with notifications
  • Rugged and durable design
  • Easy access to Google Assistant
OSWear OSCompatibilityAndroid, iOSDisplay1.32ConnectivityWIFI 802.11, Bluetooth 4.1Battery Life30 daysIP Ratingn/a (waterproof up to 50m) Processordual-core Cortex-A7

12. Samsung Galaxy Watch Active Rose Gold

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Everything that applies to the first entry on our list applies to the Rose Gold version of the Samsung Galaxy as well. This is the same design at its heart, and the only practical difference comes from its more feminine design. And while choosing between this or the midnight black variant is going to come down to a matter of aesthetic preferences, you can trust this one to comfortably suit your needs.

The Samsung Galaxy is one of the most respected smartwatches around, and this model takes those smart features and functions and combines them with an elegant dress design.

Key Features
  • Finds a nice balance between design and functionality
  • Includes a convenient wireless charger
  • Military-grade durability
  • Can be customized with stylish watch faces
OSTizenCompatibilityAndroid, iOSDisplay1.2" AMOLED 360 x 360ConnectivityWiFi 802.11 2.4GHz, Bluetooth Battery Life3 daysIP RatingIP68 Processor1.15 GHz Dual-Core

Smartwatch Buyer’s Guide

Critical Specs

We’ve outlined some of the most critical specs for a smartwatch above, but the details may be lost on some customers. Here’s what you need to know so that you can make an informed decision.

Operating System

The operating system is basically the software platform on which all the functions and apps of your smartwatch run. And since smart watches are essentially small, stripped down smart phones, it makes sense that the two most popular phone operating systems – Android and iOS – dominate the best smartwatches. Apple’s tightly proprietary approach to tech ensures that only their first party Apple Phones utilize iOS. That’s unfortunate since iOS is generally well regarded as one of the best and most well supported operating systems for smart watches.

While Android is the basis for a majority of the smartwatches on this list, it’s a specialized version of their operating system known as Wear OS. Built with the demands of smartwatch manufacturers in mind, Wear OS has something of a troubled reputation. A lack of support from Google has left many disappointed with the versatility of this operating system. Fortunately, the open source nature of Wear OS has allowed more manufacturers to monkey around with it, and a lot of companies have managed to put out impressively respectable smartwatches using Wear OS.

Many other manufacturers make use of their own proprietary operating systems, but the details are too diverse to get into at any depth. The one proprietary operating system that deserves a place beside Wear OS and iOS is Tizen. Designed by Samsung as an open source alternative to the competitors, it’s taking a while to come into its own, but it’s getting better with each passing year. If you’re worried about how well a manufacturer’s own OS functions, you’re advised to look at a smart watch review of their device in greater detail.

Compatibility

Getting the most out of your smartwatch means coordinating it with your mobile phone, but that’s fortunately a pretty simple affair in most cases. Almost all of the phones on our list are compatible with both Android and iOS devices. The one exception is the Apple Watch which is limited only to iOS devices due to their philosophy of maintaining a closed ecosystem.

But compatibility can be a tricky thing. While all open source phones offer cross-compatibility, the features available on Watch OS devices are sometimes limited when used in conjunction with iOS. As a general rule of thumb, a smartwatch that runs on the same core operating system as your phone is likely to work better with it naturally. But this can vary, so you might want to glance at a smart watch review before pulling the trigger on a cross-compatible device.

Display

Two major factors constitute our analysis of the screen. The first is its dimensions. With the exception of the Apple Watch, all of the phones on our list sport round faces, and the positives and negatives of the screen size are somewhat obvious. A larger screen can be bulkier to wear, but it provides you with more real estate to navigate your apps. If you’re worried about the fit, you may want to take the width of the screen’s bezel into consideration as well. Also keep in mind that how intuitively the watch’s interface is to navigate can have a major effect on its usability as well.

We’ve also identified the number of pixels for each watch. More is better with pixel density, since the more pixels are, the more detailed and crisp the resolution of your watch’s face. And while the quality of the resolution is proportionate to both the size of the phone and the pixel density, most of the watches on our list are approximately the same size, so it’s not something you’ll need to worry about.

Connectivity

A smart watch wouldn’t be very smart if it didn’t have a way to communicate wirelessly, and there are a few different protocol that these devices use for wireless connectivity.

The most common, available in any smartwatch on the market, is Bluetooth. Many smartwatches aren’t standalone devices and instead rely on information from your phone to access information. If your smartwatch only has access to Bluetooth and you want to access anything that requires internet – from music streaming to weather reports to Google Assistant – that information is pulled from the internet via your phone and then delivered via Bluetooth to your smartwatch.

NFC is a less commonly used but increasingly more popular technology that allows you to translate information by simply tapping one device to another. This is commonly used to trade information between devices, and it can be used to swap music between your phone and your smartwatch on some models. But more commonly it’s used as a means for automatic payments. Simply log into your digital payment account on your watch and then use it in lieu of a traditional card. Just keep in mind that WiFi is still required to work.

WiFi is the ultimate level of connectivity for smartwatches, but it tends to mostly be prominent in more expensive models. Watches that connect to WiFi can get all the information they need without having to use as an intermediary, and they can essentially serve as an alternative to a traditional phone in limited circumstances.

Battery Life

If you’re the type of user who only wears your smartwatch out with you on your daily jog, battery life isn’t going to matter that much. For those who use their smartwatch as a constant aid and a way to track their sleep patterns, it’s significantly more important.

You may have noticed that some of the watches on this list promise truly staggering battery lives that stretch credibility. That’s because battery life is evaluated in conditions where apps aren’t being used or the watch is only making use of its most basic functions. While these can provide you with a good starting point to understand the battery life, you may want to dig a little deeper to see how well they stand up to high energy usage.

IP Rating

Ingress Protection is a universal standard that determines how sturdy a watch is. It’s identified as a double digit number. The first digit determines how resistant the device’s exterior is to solid objects like dust, while the second digit evaluates moisture protection. All of the watches on our list that are IP certified have a rating of IP68. That means they’re protected against harmful dust and can be submerged for short periods underwater.

If the device you’re evaluating doesn’t come with an IP rating, that may be a reason to pause, but you shouldn’t discount the watch entirely. Many watches offer great durability despite not being officially IP certified. The Casio Pro-Trek, for instance, is potentially the sturdiest watch on our list and tested to military standards, but it doesn’t bear an official IP rating.

Processor

Smart watches are essentially miniature computers, and just like with computers, the CPU processor serves as their brain. The processor determines how effectively your watch can run and the power of the apps it can support. In many cases, a processor can bring a level of functionality to an operating system that it otherwise doesn’t have.

That’s what makes Snapdragon processors by Qualcomm such a popular choice for manufacturers. You can count on any Snapdragon 2100 processor to suit you well, and the higher numbered models are even better. The 3100 (available on the Fossil Gen 4 Sport) can even counteract a number of the weaknesses of the Wear OS operating system by improving battery life and offering more integrated options for fitness tracking and NFC payments.

Apple uses its own proprietary processor, and the A7 is also relatively popular. Both are reliable choices. Some manufacturers don’t release the specifications of their processor, but that shouldn’t scare you off entirely. No manufacturer on this list is going to implement features that their processor can’t support, so evaluating the functionality should give you a good impression of what each watch can accomplish.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve been considering investing in a smartwatch but you’ve been skeptical, there’s no better time than now to start. The market has just reached the point where the potential of what smartwatches can accomplish are finally showing promise, and constant improvements to the existing operating systems means that a smartwatch purchase today can grow to meet your needs more effectively over time.