What constitutes the ‘best’ smartwatches for you is more than whether or not it’ll tell you that you have a WhatsApp message. It’s a device that can do many things; be your personal assistant, your fitness coach and even your banker. Some smartwatches can literally save your life by notifying you when your heart rate is irregular. One step more than that, it can even call an ambulance for you if you were to fall.
Some devices do this better than others. Some cater to great volumes of apps that you’re able to download. Others have accurate GPS. Some heart rate sensors are more sensitive than others.
Some offer batteries that you need to change every day whereas some will offer you a week, or more.
Don’t forget how they look. Smartwatches are almost totally bespoke to your style, thanks to the number of customisable options from faces to straps, colour and material options.
How to tell what the best smartwatch is
This article is updated for April 2020 and nothing has changed at the top spot. The best smartwatch you can find is still the Apple Watch Series 5 ($440.36).
You get an Always-On colour display, compass, and more advanced health tracking features than its predecessor, the Series 4. These advanced features include the fall detector we mentioned as well as an electrical HR sensor that will pick up on electrocardiograms.
It comes with a GPS option so you don’t even need to have your phone with you and you can enjoy the freedom of being without it.
The Apple watch has reigned supreme for some time. It has the best development when it comes to apps and ultimately this means you can do far more with it than any alternatives can offer.
The Series 3 is still worth a punt. Since the release of the 4 and 5, the price is now very accessible, at under $200. It doesn’t offer the ECG, but otherwise, there is very little difference to be noted.
The Apple Watch Series 6 is due for release this September, all being well. There are talks of a design having no crown and sleep monitoring capabilities.
If you’re an Android user and aren’t feeling the love yet, don’t worry.
The best smartwatch for you, in this early stage of 2020, is the Galaxy Watch Active 2 from Samsung coming in at less than $200.
This sleek design isn’t all that’s noteworthy. It offers built-in GPS and a heart rate sensor with advanced health features as well as water-resistance for swimming and Samsung Pay.
The battery life can go twice that of an Apple Watch but that’s probably because there are fewer apps to choose from.
Apple Watch Series 5
Still the king of smartwatches
In either a 40mm or 44mm size, water-resistant for swimming, 18 hours of battery life, optional GPS and an advanced heart rate monitor.
The revelation in the Apple Watch series was the introduction of the Always-On display. It makes a big impact on user experience. You’re able to take a quick glance and immediately be able to see the screen. It knows your conditions via an ambient light sensor and adjusts accordingly. You might think this would cause carnage on your battery, but it doesn’t.
You also get a compass which is built-in. It’s handy for when you’re using a map so you know what direction you’re looking at, every time.
Design-wise, there’s zero development from the Series 4. You do get the option of a ceramic or titanium finish, though. You also get the same health features.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
A dream for Android users
Again, this comes in 40mm and 44mm respectively. The battery life is better, at 24 to 60 hours. It’s swim-proof and has a GPS option. It offers a heart rate monitor and Samsung Pay. It does work with iOS phones but works best of all with Android, particularly Galaxy models.
We know the Apple Watch is great. But give the Galaxy Watch 2 a chance. Firstly, it works with iOS and Android, so it’s already more generous.
The rounded aesthetic is really pleasing. You can use the display for apps like Samsung Pay or Spotify, for which it can give you on-board music. It offers some health features, but it’s not a patch on Apple’s ECG (but watch this space, they’re working on it).
The main reasons this is a great option is the value for money and battery life.
Your best option for sleep tracking
The Versa 2 is marginally smaller at 39mm but packs a whopping 4 day battery life. It can offer you GPS, but it needs to be connected to your smartphone. It’s water-resistant and so you’re able to swim in it. It has a decent HRM and offers Fitbit Pay. It’s compatible with both iOS and Android users.
The Versa 3 is an evolved version of the pioneering Versa. It offers Alexa capabilities and much better sleep tracking.
Fitbit has developed an update that allows users to track blood oxygen saturation which is useful if you suffer from sleep apnea.
The 4 day battery life means this is a strong contender for a fitness watch, but ultimately the don of sleep tracking.
It’s friendly with iOS and Android users alike. There’s a new-ish Spotify app so you can control your music on your wrist.
There’s no built-in GPS, but at under $200, you wouldn’t expect it.
The best fitness tracking smartwatch
Now we get a little bigger, coming in at either 40mm or 45mm respectively. Here you get a monster battery life of 7 days if you’re using a 4S or 8 days for the 4. It’s got built-in GPS, is water-resistant, has a HRM, built-in storage for your music, Garmin Pay and is compatible with both Android and iOS.
What Garmin did here is keep the best bits about the Vivoactive 3 and made it better. It can even offer you yoga and pilates on your display!
There’s an improved pulse oxygen sensor that means it can monitor what your blood oxygens levels are saying. It’ll offer you a decent insight into your sleep, too.
The battery life means this is perfect for people who like to keep going.
The best starter smartwatch
This only comes in one size, but does boast a 1.28 inch display. The battery life is anything up to 45 days. It’s not water-resistant, nor does it offer mobile payments but it does have both GPS and HRM. It’s compatible with iOs and Android.
Looks-wise, you can tell it draws, well, everything, from the Apple Watch. If you’re looking for a budget or starter smartwatch, you’ll love this.
The fitness tracking capabilities are decent and they don’t drain the battery, which, you read right, can last 45 days.
Of course, this is a budget watch so there are limited features and functions. You can still choose between 5 faces, which isn’t bad. You can see your notifications, but not respond via the watch.
The price-accessible option costs well under $100 but still offers GPS and a heart rate monitor.
Hopefully, you’ve been given some direction toward your next smartwatch! If like many, you’re denying that 2020 is happening, you can still read our article on the best looking smartwatches of 2019.