Which Smartwatch is Right for You?
While a smartphone is way more convenient than using a computer, a smartwatch can be even more convenient than constantly checking your smartphone. Instead of needing to dig your phone out of your cavernous purse to discover whether you've received an important notification, instead you can easily and discreetly take a peek at your watch. If you're listening to music from your phone, you can control your music selections via your smart watch. In a new city? The classic look of a tourist fumbling with a map for directions or clearly looking at directions on their phones can be inviting to muggers or others who want to take advantage of you. Checking your watch doesn't attract the same type of attention. You can also use your smart watch as a fitness tracker to motivate you to be your healthiest self. We've just touched on a few, but really there are so many more possibilities that come along with using a smartwatch. So, which one should you get?
Your phone and phone service already could help you narrow down your smartwatch options. If you use an Android, you shouldn't consider an Apple Watch, for example. Apple users similarly won't want to invest an Android watch. Battery life can vary among smartwatches. Some are water resistant, which could matter to you if you're an avid swimmer, but others aren't. How important is it to you to track your fitness, pay for groceries, or make calls from your smartwatch? You're not going to use your smartwatch if it feels uncomfortable on your wrist, so this is another key factor to keep in mind. Your smartwatch should ideally be easy to set up and use with an intuitive interface. We also have a preference towards smartwatches with a decent price point and a fair warranty.
Best for Fitness Tracking: Apple Watch Series 3
The Apple Watch Series 3 smartwatch is available with or without cellular connection, depending on your desires and needs. This watch is intended for use with iPhones, and you can choose from two different sizes depending on your wrist size. One is 1.51 inches by 1.31 inches and the other is 1.67 inches by 1.43 inches. Both are 0.44 inches thick. The touchscreen is a large, easy-to-ready 1.5 inches or 1.65 inches, again, depending on which size option you purchase. The 1.5 inch one is best for wrists measuring under 7.8 inches around, whereas the 1.6-inch display option fits wrists to 8.2 inches around. The version with cellular has up to 16 GB capacity whereas the one with GPS alone has an 8 GB capacity. You can use it to answer calls, respond to messages, and reviewers found it a great pick for tracking fitness thanks to the GPS, accelerometer, and altimeter. It is waterproof up to 50 meters, so unlike our other smartwatch choices, this one can actually go swimming with you! Reviewers liked that it can also be paired with compatible gym equipment to sync even more data. Smart Coaching encourages you to meet your goals, which reviewers found to be helpful. You can also connect to and share your activity with friends. Siri definitely wins the award when it comes to favorite smartwatch assistants. She was able to provide more information and understand user requests more than other smartwatch assistants that we tried. There are a lot of third party apps that you can connect to with your Apple Watch such as Yelp, ESPN, and Mint. Setup was a breeze, particularly for those familiar with Apple's interface. Apple offers a 1-year limited warranty on their watches.
Best Battery Life: Samsung Gear S3 Frontier
The Samsung Gear S3 is a classy looking smartwatch that gives you a great hands-free experience. It measures 1.8 inches by 1.9 inches by 0.5 inches, which may seem a bit big on some wrists. The full color super AMOLED display measures 1.3 inches. It has 768 MB + 4GB memory. You'll get the most out of this phone if paired with a Samsung Galaxy phone, however it can also be used with other Android phones. iPhone users will get the least out of this smartwatch, though it still offers some compatibility. Twisting the stainless steel bezel allows you to answer calls, adjust volume, scroll through apps, and more.Reviewers appreciated that this watch is dust-dirt- and water-resistant so they felt comfortable taking it anywhere, whatever the weather conditions. Unfortunately, it is only able to withstand submersion in water up to 1.5 meters deep, so it's not a good choice for swimming. Whether you're hiking, at the gym, or simply walking through your city, you can listen to and control your favorite music from this smartwatch too. You just need a Bluetooth headset and you're good to go! The Samsung Gear S3 has a built-in altimeter, barometer, and speedometer. It can also monitor steps, calories burned, heart rate, and more. The Samsung S-Voice assistant may not be as good as Amazon Alexa, but you can still direct it to look up information or do certain tasks for you. You can swap out bands for a different look depending on your mood and style. Battery can last up to four days before it requires recharging, though of course this can vary depending on your settings and usage. Our reviewers noted getting through about 48-hours before needing to recharge. Recharge via the wireless charging dock. Reviewers found setup to be easy. Samsung offers a limited 1-year warranty on this product.
Best Budget Smart Watch: Ticwatch E
The Ticwatch E is a budget-friendly smartwatch option with Google Assistant. You may not have heard of Ticwatch before. It's made by Chinese company Mobvoi, and in 2017 Ticwatch launched with $3 million of funding on Kickstarter. It is compatible with Android and iOS, but you'll get the most out of it with an Android phone. It has a 1.77 inch diameter and is 0.5 inches thick. It has 512 MB of RAM so not as much as higher priced smartwatch models, however it was still enough to download the apps we wanted. Setup was generally simple. Thanks to its heartrate sensor and GPS, the Ticwatch can be used to get workout data. It also will count your steps, estimate calories burned, and note the amount of time that you spend working out. It features a built-in accelerometer, gyroscope, and e-Compass. It is splashproof but not completely waterproof, so don't take this smartwatch swimming with you. Reviewers love the price, but they note that this watch feels cheap since it is made entirely of plastic. That said, it is very lightweight, which reviewers liked. Battery life isn't great, with a max battery life of 48 hours. Reviewers found it was best to charge on a daily basis. One recommendation is not to use the always-on display option engaged in order to extend the battery. The watchbands are interchangeable so you don't have to be stuck with just one look. It is compatible with 3G and has NFC capability. This smartwatch comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee and a 12-month warranty.
Our top Android and top iOS watch tied, so your smartwatch decision is basically made for you depending on which type of smartphone you use! The Apple Watch Series 3 smartwatch is our favorite for fitness tracking and for Siri's wisdom and competence in answering questions and doing almost anything we request of her. It's also our only smartwatch choice that is truly waterproof. The Samsung Gear S3 Frontier has the best battery life of any of our smart watch recommendations, and reviewers loved the look and feel of this watch, down to twisting the bezel to select music and more. You can connect to a wide range of apps from Google Play, and it's not as expensive as the Apple Watch. Finally, for those looking for a budget-friendly smartwatch option, check out the Ticwatch E from Mobvoi. Of course, you won't get all of the same features and capabilities as the Apple Watch Series 3 or Samsung Gear S3 Frontier, but this smartwatch still has a lot to offer for less than half the price.