Reviews of the Best Smartwatches of 2019
This past year we’ve seen an influx of new smartwatches, each boasting the latest technology and in-demand styles. With so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to determine which one will fit your needs best — and if you really have to invest in the big name brands, or if a less expensive option will suffice. We’ve compiled this guide to take a look at the hottest and smartest in smartwatches.
What is a Smartwatch?
We focus a lot on fitness trackers, so let’s first talk about what a smartwatch is, and how it differs from a fitness or activity tracker. A smartwatch is a wearable technology that connects to your smartphone. It usually has a touchscreen, has different apps that it supports, and tracks your steps and sometimes your heart rate. Most of today’s options have NFC contactless payments (at least the big name brands do), fitness tracking, and add-on apps.
How to Shop for a Smartwatch
There are several different key features that you can look for in order to find the smartwatch that will best suit your needs.
- Fitness tracking: If activity or fitness tracking is important to you, you might consider an activity tracker or a smartwatch that places a high value on fitness (such as Fitbit). Otherwise, check out what the watch tracks and how accurate it is before you buy.
- Compatibility: Make sure the watch you’re interested in works with your smartphone. For example, Apple watches only work with iPhones.
- Apps: Check out the available apps for the watch and also do some investigating about the customer ratings. A lot of the appeal of a smartwatch comes down to what apps it can support and what it can do with them, so make sure the one you get matches your expectations.
- Notifications and communications: All smart watches will notify you, but some will let you respond to texts or answer calls. There are plenty of options when it comes to capabilities, so determine what’s important to you to help you narrow the selection.
- Battery life: The battery life of a smartwatch can be anywhere from a few days to several months. A lot of it depends on the features – GPS and heart rate monitoring will use up the battery faster. Do some checking into both the advertised battery life and what real customers are saying about how long it lasts.
- Design: For many consumers, the design and style of the smartwatch is the key factor in their selection. There’s no shortage of options, either. Many smartwatches look just like a regular watch. Some are sporty; some are sleek. Take into account the design and interface of the display when you decide – not just the overall look of it. Good looks won’t make up for a wonky interface or buttons you can’t push very well.
As we mentioned above, the Ionic and the Versa are the two smartwatches available from Fitbit. The Blaze has been discontinued, but you might be able to find it at a discount if you are interested in picking one up before they are gone forever!
The Apple Watch Series 2 is known for style, functionality, and that familiar apple symbol. The bestselling smartwatch is water resistant, has GPS and a heart rate monitor, and works seamlessly with the iPhone. But that last feature is what makes it so exclusive – it only works with iPhone, so Android users have to look elsewhere (which they’re usually happy to do, and don’t have any shortage of options). The Series 2 isn’t perfect, but plenty of owners are perfectly happy. The upcoming announcement of a new Apple Watch might change things considerably, but for now we’re happy to recommend the Series 2 to anyone who wants an excellent smartwatch experience with one of the best names in the biz.
**For a more fitness-focused smartwatch experience, check out the Apple Watch Nike+
Basically any watch that isn’t Apple, Fitbit, or Garmin will be an Android smartwatch, but it’s worth talking about the sheer number of really excellent choices you have in smartwatches. Apple tends to get all the glory, but there are some really incredible brands making great products right now.
As we mentioned earlier, the soon-to-be-released Samsung lineup sounds pretty great. But the current model, the Gear S3, definitely deserves your attention. Plus, with the new Gear Sport on its way, chances are you can get the S3 at a nice price – keep an eye out for sales! You can find our full review of the Samsung Gear S3 here.
We’ll cover a few of the other popular brands next, but first here are some other recommendations for smart watches to investigate:
- Polar M600: Another fitness-focused smart watch. The M600 boasts GPS and heart rate monitoring, plus plenty of fitness features to help you stay on track. It’s also waterproof.
- ASUS ZenWatch 3: For something different yet stylish, check out ASUS’s venture into the land of smartwatches.
- Motorola Moto 360: Like the ZenWatch, the Moto 360 is an attractive smartwatch that doesn’t look like a smartwatch. It works great with iOS, so it’s also a good alternative to the Apple Watch.
1. Fitbit Ionic
Fitbit’s fitness smartwatch came out in fall of 2017. It generated plenty of buzz by being the wearable giant’s first true smartwatch, but it does feature a bulky design that isn’t loved by everyone. Its functionality puts it into direct competition with Apple watches, but it maintains Fitbit’s mission to focus on fitness. A few of the key features of the Ionic include:
- Water resistance to 50 meters
- Integrated GPS
- Smart notifications
- App store (coming soon)
- Music control and storage
- Activity and fitness tracking
Fitbit’s smartwatch ios is still relatively new, so there continual additions and updates that customers see now and will see in the future. This includes more options the app store and health tracking options such as sleep apnea data and diabetes management.
The Ionic’s unique style and simplified smartwatch capabilities (such as, you get notifications but can’t respond to them) make it unappealing to some. However, because it is Fitbit and because it can be used with any smartphone, it’s a great alternative to the Apple Watch. It also shines on its own if you like the fitness tracking and data options. Plus, it boasts a 4 day battery life (way better than the Apple Watch’s 18 hours).
Related: See our full review of the Ionic
2. Fitbit Versa
With a much more universally appealing design than the Ionic and an even nicer price tag, the Versa is the most recent product from Fitbit. It does a few things for the brand — it replaces the Blaze, offers a slim design, water resistance (something all Fitbits lacked until the past two devices) and some of the best features of the Ionic.
Here’s a peek at some of the favored features of the Versa:
- Water resistance to 50 meters
- Smartphone notifications
- 4+ day battery life
- Phone-free music
- NFC payments (on the special edition version)
- App store
It lacks the built-in GPS of the Ionic, but it’s also offered at a starting price of under $200, so we can’t complain much. It does connect with your smartphone’s GPS, however, and it has phone-free music like the Ionic. Want to read our full review of the Versa? Click here!Read the Full Fitbit Versa Review
3. Gear Sport
Samsung’s devices have received much more positive feedback than older models, so the Gear Sport and the Gear S3 are worth checking out. The difference between these two is in design and style. The Gear Sport is water resistant, offers all day fitness and activity tracking, gives you smart notifications and the ability to reply to texts, and is compatible with Android and iOS.
Related: Best Samsung Smartwatches
4. Samsung Gear S3
The Gear S3 has a classic watch look while the Sport looks like a sporty smartwatch and offers similar functionality to the Gear Sports with a more traditional look.
5. Apple Watch 3
The Apple Watch 3 is a solid version of the popular smartwatch, with a few new features to sweeten the deal.
Related: Full Review of the Apple Watch 3