The best smartwatches in 2023: our 11 favorite ones
Smartwatches allow us to live like Dick Tracy by giving us notifications and tracking health and fitness. They also provide the ability to send and receive calls and messages, play music, set timers, perform various tasks via voice command, and so much more — all on our wrists. Smartwatches just keep getting better and better, but what are the best smartwatches?
For most people, we think the Apple Watch Series 8 is the best smartwatch, but only if you own an iPhone. But we know there are just as many Android phone fans out there, and the Apple Watch only works with an iPhone. If that’s you, then you’ll want the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5.
The varied world of smartwatches goes far beyond these two models, so take a look at all our top recommendations before buying, as you could find one that’s better for your lifestyle. Without further delay, here are our picks for the best smartwatches in 2023!
Apple Watch Series 8
Best smartwatch for the iPhone
- Sleek, comfortable design
- Display is big and gorgeous
- Excellent health features
- Fast charge speeds
- watchOS 9 is better than ever
- Car crash detection
Why you should buy this: It’s the best smartwatch available.
Who it’s for: Anyone who wants a beautifully made, feature-rich, easy-to-use smartwatch.
Why we picked the Apple Watch Series 8: The design of the Apple Watch Series 8 may not be any different from the Apple Watch Series 7, but that doesn’t stop it being instantly recognizable — and also supremely comfortable to wear. This is essential, as all the Apple Watch’s benefits come when you’re wearing it, and preferably all the time. The Series 8, with the right Band, can be worn 24 hours a day without a problem.
Do this, and you get all the health monitoring benefits, ranging from heart rate and blood oxygen measurements to an electrocardiogram, along with fall and crash detection. Plus, the Apple Watch Series 8 tracks your movement and workouts too. Notifications show up on the sharp, colorful, and bright screen, and touch sensitivity is spot-on. The Digital Crown on the case makes navigation simple.
There are two case sizes — 41mm and 45mm — so it’s suitable for all wrist sizes. There are dozens of bands available that are quick and easy to change, the battery can last for two days with normal use, plus you can buy it with an LTE connection for use without your phone. The latest watchOS 9 software is reliable, and the Series 8 will receive updates for years to come.
What makes the Apple Watch Series 8 such a winner is the way all the features, functions, accessories, and software come together. It’s by far the most pleasing and rewarding to use, the simplest to learn, and the most logically and thoughtfully designed smartwatch you can buy.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
Best smartwatch for Android
- Lightweight, comfortable design
- Robust health tracking
- AMOLED screen looks excellent
- Easy access to Google apps
- Very fast charging speeds
Why you should buy this: It looks great, is easy to use, has a lot of unique health features, and is even reasonably priced.
Who it’s for: Android phone owners who want the best smartwatch available.
Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: Despite abundant similarities to its predecessor and fairly iterative improvements, Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 5 features a larger battery, faster charging, a durable design, and enhanced health tracking. The only difference is the larger 3-in-1 BioActive Sensor at the bottom, designed for more accurate health data. The Watch 5 is a bit heavy but is so comfy it almost disappears on your wrist and is especially fitting for smaller wrists.
The 40mm model’s always-on Super AMOLED display measures 1.2 inches with 396 x 396-pixel resolution, while the 44mm is 1.4 inches at a 450 x 450 resolution. It has an easy button or swipe interface and bright colors, with an ambient light sensor that automatically adjusts brightness and is easy to see in direct sunlight. It’s powered by Samsung’s Exynos W920 chipset, 1.5GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage. It runs Wear OS 3.5 and Samsung’s One UI Watch 4.5 interface.
The Galaxy Watch 5’s battery life is respectable, with around 24 hours of use with all the health features active before it needs a recharge. There’s also a great fast charging system where 30 minutes adds 60% to the battery. It’s also very comfortable to wear, comes in several colors, and the Wear OS software with Samsung’s customizations is fast and easy to use. There are two case sizes, 40mm and 44mm, so it suits most wrists.
Health tracking on the Galaxy Watch 5 includes step tracking, auto workout detection, manual workout tracking, and sleep tracking — all accompanied by 24/7 heart-rate monitoring, SpO2 tracking, an ECG app, and a Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis sensor for viewing body fat, skeletal muscle, body water, and more. It’s right up there with the Apple Watch in terms of ability, software, and design. It’s the smartwatch to buy if you have an Android phone.
Apple Watch SE 2
Best budget smartwatch for the iPhone
- Comfortable to wear 24 hours a day
- Comprehensive, yet simple-to-use fitness tracking
- Excellent smartwatch software and support
- Latest processor provides all the power needed
- Two-day battery
Why you should buy this: It’s almost the Apple Watch Series 8, but for less money.
Who it’s for: Anyone who doesn’t mind not having an always-on screen on their smartwatch.
Why we picked the Apple Watch SE 2: Do not make the mistake of underestimating the Apple Watch SE 2. It has the vast majority of features found on the Series 8, the same S8 processor, and it operates on the latest watchOS 9 with the W3 wireless chip for a flawless connection to your iPhone. But it will cost you less than the Series 8.
The big functional difference between the Series 8 and the Watch SE 2 is the lack of an always-on screen. It means the SE 2’s screen is black until you raise your wrist, while the Series 8’s screen always shows the watch face and time. Other differences include the nylon composite case back, the sensor array from the original Watch SE (so it doesn’t track blood oxygen levels or take an ECG), and slower charging.
But what you do get is everything else. The wonderful easy-to-use software, the extensive health and fitness tracking, fall and noise detection, crash detection, the usual notifications, plus all the customization using different bands. It comes in two sizes, 40mm or 44mm, and several color options. The health tracking features it misses out on won’t affect everyone, and if you can live without the always-on screen, the Apple Watch SE 2 will serve you just as well as the Series 8.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
Best budget smartwatch for Android
- Comfortable fit and size
- Excellent fitness and health-tracking features
- Seamless pairing with Samsung devices
- Two-day battery life
Why you should buy this: It’s not all that different from the Galaxy Watch 5, but it can be found at a cheaper price.
Who it’s for: Anyone who wants a cheaper smartwatch for your Android phone that still looks modern, and doesn’t compromise on features.
Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: The Galaxy Watch 4 may have come out in 2021, but don’t pass it by thinking it’s out of date. There aren’t all that many differences between it and the Galaxy Watch 5, and because it can be found for a great price, that makes it a very sensible purchase if you want a smartwatch that’s almost as good as the latest model.
It’s worth noting that although we’re recommending the Galaxy Watch 4, Samsung also released the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic alongside it, which has a more watch-like design and a physical rotating bezel for easy navigation. You’re more likely to find the Watch 4 at a good price, but if you spot the Classic, do take a look as the rotating bezel is more precise than the Watch 4’s touch-sensitive version.
The Galaxy Watch 4 comes in two sizes, 40mm and 44mm, and is IP68 water and dust resistant. The battery life is great, with two days possible with average use, including sleep tracking. Unfortunately, charging is slow at almost two hours to reach 100%. It has a similar biometric sensor on the back to the Galaxy Watch 5, and will measure body composition just like it, along with all the other expected health tracking.
If you don’t have to own the latest tech and prefer to find a bargain that doesn’t have many compromises, the Galaxy Watch 4 is definitely for you.
Apple Watch Ultra
Best premium smartwatch for the iPhone
- Highly durable build
- Luxury materials
- Three-day battery life
- Expertly judged special features
- Characterful design
- Does everything the Series 8 does
- LTE as standard
Why you should buy this: It’s the ultimate smartwatch for the iPhone, and astonishingly capable too.
Who it’s for: Adventurers, divers, hikers, runners, and anyone who wants a no-compromise, statement-making smartwatch on their wrist.
Why we picked the Apple Watch Ultra: Apple may promote the Apple Watch Ultra as an adventure smartwatch, suitable mostly for those who enjoy all kinds of outdoor pursuits. But if that’s not you, don’t ignore this superb smartwatch. It does everything the Apple Watch Series 8 does, with a 49mm titanium case, sapphire crystal over the screen, ceramic on the case back, and a battery that can last multiple days on a single charge. It’s big, tough, and bold, but also supremely capable.
What does it do beyond the Series 8? The screen is bigger and brighter, there’s the customizable orange Action button on the side of the case, LTE comes as standard, it has an emergency alert siren to attract attention, and it’s suitable for dive use. The Low Power battery mode extends use to more than 60 hours, and the case meets MIL-STD-810H standards and is IPX8 dust resistant, and has a 100-meter water resistance too. It comes with your choice of unique Ultra Band, designed to suit your activity of choice, but works with any Apple Watch strap too.
All the additional features have been well thought-out, right down to the design and choice of materials, and while it is twice the price of the Series 8 and has otherwise very similar functionality, there’s something very special about the Ultra. It has some character to it, and that’s rare to find in a smartwatch. Most people will be fine owning the Series 8, which is more wearable overnight, but if you’re tempted by the Ultra and think you’d make use of its adventurous credentials, we say go for it. You won’t be disappointed by this very special smartwatch.
This Gorgeous Garmin Hybrid Smartwatch Is Too Damn Complicated to Beat Fitbit
When it comes to Garmin, most people I know tend to think of GPS navigation for their cars. When I ask them about smartwatches or fitness trackers, the first company that comes to their mind is Fitbit or Apple. If they’re not a runner, they generally haven’t heard of Garmin watches. As a wearables reviewer, I’ve often wondered why that is when Garmin consistently makes some of the most accurate fitness smartwatches out there. It’s a question I pondered when news that Google bought Fitbit. and my Комментарии и мнения владельцев and inboxes started filling up with readers asking for alternatives.
To me, Garmin is the most obvious 1:1 competitor Fitbit has right now—and in some respects. Garmin is just plain better. In general, Garmin devices tend to be more accurate at GPS tracking, the app gives you way more data, and unlike Fitbit’s new premium service, it doesn’t charge you extra for that. (Yet.) Sure, many of the watches have been butt-ugly in the past, but vanity can’t be the only reason to buy or not buy a smartwatch. This was the main concept I grappled with while testing the Garmin Vivomove Luxe this past week—and I think I’ve finally figured it out.
Everything Garmin does is just slightly off.
500 for the Luxe; 300 for the Style and 250 for the Vivovmove 3 and 3S
So pretty. Dual hidden AMOLEDs are clever. Accurate metrics.
Absurdly price for a hybrid, especially compared to the competition
Take the utterly gorgeous Vivomove Luxe. This year Garmin upped its style game. and of all the new Garmins I saw this year, this was by far the prettiest. Compared to previous Vivomove watches, it added a second hidden color AMOLED screen, so now you can see more of your notifications at a glance. Unlike some other Garmin watches, where you have to memorize which button does what, this has an easy swipe interface. Except for ECG electrodes and built-in GPS, it’s got all the sensors you’d expect from a modern smartwatch, including Sp02 and optical heart rate sensors. Plus, it’s got a great 5-day battery life.
Fossil’s New Smartwatch Is Just the Thing Pebble Fans Have Been Waiting For
It’s a truth universally known to smartwatch reviewers that inevitably, a Pebble fan will eulogize…
Going in, my expectations were pretty high—and in many cases, that was completely justified. The hidden screens work well, and resolution wise, it’s only a smidge fuzzy around the edges. While I found previous swipe-based Garmin watches to be occasionally unresponsive, I didn’t have that issue with the Vivomove Luxe. Raising my wrist reliably wakes the watch up. Taps to start, pause or end workouts didn’t leave me hanging. I’ll get a bit more into accuracy later, but overall, the Vivomove Luxe is solid for a connected GPS watch whose main purpose isn’t fitness.
Still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t quite there. Even though this is objectively one of the nicest looking smartwatches I’ve ever tested, I wasn’t as excited about it as I was for Fossil’s new Hybrid HR. And then I remembered. Oh, that watch was 195. This one is 500.
Garmins tend to be on the pricier side, so that wasn’t surprising. The Vivomove Luxe does have a sapphire crystal face. and the case is made of stainless steel. Plus, the default strap is embossed leather. Functionally, however, the only thing the Vivomove Luxe has over the Fossil Hybrid HR is NFC payments and more accurate tracking. That’s not nothing, but I’m not convinced that plus nicer materials are worth the extra 300 for folks interested in a hybrid analog watch. Garmin’s fitness platform is a huge step up over Fossil’s, but again, people interested in hybrids generally aren’t asking for more than basic step tracking.
The Apple Watch Series 5 is the same price for the cellular model, which also comes in with built-in GPS and a much more extensive app ecosystem. Despite Garmin being known for GPS, the Luxe relies on your phone. And while the Fitbit Versa 2 doesn’t look nearly as posh, it gets you all the same features, plus an always-on display, a handful of apps, and Amazon Alexa compatibility for 200—an extra 30 will get you NFC payments on the Special Edition.
There is a cheaper version of the watch called the Vivomove Style. It looks perfectly nice, albeit with fewer color options. Apparently downgrading to Corning Gorilla Glass 3, a silicone strap, and anodized aluminum is enough to knock down the price to 300. That’s more reasonable, but it’s still a bit high for a hybrid. If you’re willing to squint and read notifications off one AMOLED screen (it is noticeably harder), the entry-level Vivomove 3 and 3S are only 50 cheaper at 250. What’s the difference between the 3 and 3S? Nothing, the 3S is just slightly smaller. Four watches, but somehow all of them are just shy of hitting that sweet spot.
I could make the case for shelling out 500 for the Luxe if it had built-in GPS. That would take it to the next level compared to every other hybrid out there, and it would then be a mega stylish watch that even fitness junkies could comfortably use. Alas, it doesn’t.
The good news is the lack of GPS isn’t a major issue when it comes to accuracy—though if you are serious about outdoor fitness, you’d be served better by a GPS-enabled Garmin watch. (Sweating in leather straps is gross anyway.) The Luxe does feature connected GPS—as in it pulls that data from your phone. I did a 4.22-mile outdoor run at an average pace of 11’08” per mile, which the Luxe logged as 4.23 miles with a slightly faster pace of 11’04”. I wore an Apple Watch Series 5, which has built-in GPS, simultaneously and it logged a comparable 4.21 miles and a pace of 11’17”. Not too shabby, though I did note some Bluetooth issues when the Luxe tried connecting with my iPhone. And if you’re a mid-run data nerd, the Luxe isn’t the best option for viewing your stats on the fly as there’s a limited amount of info you can peep on the dual AMOLED screens.
Out of curiosity—and partially because I didn’t want to run outside in freezing temperatures with rain and wind—I also decided to test the Luxe’s accuracy without my phone’s GPS against a treadmill and my Under Armour HOVR Infinite Smart sneakers. The treadmill logged my run as 2.8 miles, while the MapMyRun app with the help of those UA sneakers logged 2.73 miles. The Luxe logged that same run as 2.62 miles. While the Luxe was only a tenth of a mile off overall distance, that did impact my other results. It logged my average pace at 11’42”, compared to my shoes which logged an average pace of 11’06″—and I trust my shoes more given they measure the actual stride and cadence of my feet. Meanwhile, my treadmill was overly generous, logging my average pace at 10’43”. This is pretty consistent with indoor distance tracking and wrist-based fitness trackers (If you prefer treadmills, I find a foot-based wearable and chest strap a more accurate combo). That said, the Luxe did fairly well.
As for heart rate, the Luxe’s average and maximum heart rates were on par with the Apple Watch during a boxing class and with the Polar H10 chest strap during my run. surprising was Garmin’s stress tracking, which it says is based on your heart rate variability. Usually, I write off stress tracking as a load of hokey wellness marketing. Only the Garmin accurately noted down to the minute when my stress levels spiked while calling source, when I was trying to make a deadline, and when I had a particularly emotional moment with my therapist. Color me disturbed and impressed. The Luxe also tracks things like your pulse oxidation score, body battery recovery, and average respiration, but these aren’t metrics I could verify as accurate or not.
One area where the watch did let me down was sleep. On a night where my screamy cat decided to get a four-hour case of the zoomies, the Garmin said I logged 9 hours and 40 minutes of peaceful, uninterrupted sleep. This is even though I was in and out of bed trying to appease my yowling demon fur baby. After a week of testing, I noticed the watch consistently logged my routine half-hour of reading or TV-watching before bed as light sleep. This is a common problem with sleep tracking. but I do find other trackers have gotten better at minimizing that. On average, the Luxe probably said I slept about 90 minutes more per night than I actually did.
But at the end of the day, this avalanche of metrics in luxe packaging isn’t what most hybrid analog fans are looking for. They’re looking for a good looking watch with simple functionality for an affordable price. If the Luxe was priced the same as the Style, maybe I’d be singing a different tune. But it’s not, and ultimately it feels like Garmin went too hard on the wrong things. It had a Smart idea and opportunity here with the genuinely clever dual AMOLED screens. Instead of capitalizing on it, however, Garmin muddied things by offering too many options, all for a slightly too-high price for what they were offering compared to the competition. And Garmin does this not just with the Vivomove series, but with all their various lines. Why are there six types of Fenix 6 watches, ranging from 600 to 1,200? That cluttered approach is also evident in Garmin’s companion app, where data is rich but also haphazardly presented in numerous tabs and widgets. Garmin might have competitors like Fitbit and Apple beat on accuracy and battery life, but not to a degree that excuses the clunky user experience.
In the case of the Vivomove series, Garmin would’ve been better served by one, more reasonably priced watch. A single 250 hybrid with dual hidden AMOLEDs that somehow managed to pack in GPS, heart rate monitoring, accurate tracking, and NFC payments while looking pretty? Honestly, even without GPS that would’ve been killer. I would’ve happily made a case for the higher price. Instead, we have an overabundance of “almost perfect” hybrids. That’s a freaking shame, but I guess at least the Luxe is nice to look at.
- Gorgeous smartwatch. Garmin’s prettiest yet.
- The addition of an extra AMOLED screen makes it easier to read, yet still cleverly discreet.
- Accurate tracking, though no built-in GPS means it’s not as accurate as other Garmin watches.
- Even with nicer materials, NFC payments and continuous heart rate monitoring, the 500 price tag is too steep for a hybrid.