Smartwatches are a great way to receive notifications from your phone and track your health, right from your wrist. We’ve used and reviewed all of the latest smartwatches for Android and iPhone, and here we’ve ranked ten of the best.
The latest Apple Watch may seem like the obvious choice – and in fact there are now three Apple Watch options to pick from – but there are also loads of great rivals to choose from whether you use Android or an iPhone, with excellent hardware from Samsung, Huawei, Amazfit, and others.
In this ranking we’re focussed on fully featured smartwatches, with some level of app and notification support, but check out our guide to the best fitness trackers if you want something simpler – and probably cheaper.
Best smartwatch 2023
1. Apple Watch SE – Best for iPhone
- Good value
- Solid feature set
- Great integration with iPhone
- No always-on display
- So-so battery life
The Apple Watch SE is the best Apple Watch option for most people with an iPhone. It is very reasonably priced – not something we can often genuinely say about Apple hardware products.
It has many of the features of the more expensive Apple Watch Series 8, including the new car crash detection, while maintaining a modern design with the same chipset and solid battery life – for an Apple Watch, that is.
If you equally value smart features like third-party app integration, music storage, contactless payments, and full fitness tracking, the Apple Watch is still the best smartwatch if you have an iPhone. The SE does everything surprisingly well considering it’s the cheapest one.
2. Google Pixel Watch – Best for Android (& Fitbit Fans)
- Attractive design
- Easy to use
- Smooth performance
- Inconsistent battery life
- Old chipset
- Lacks proper automatic workout detection
- No Qi wireless charging
One of the biggest draws of the first official Pixel Watch is its beautiful design. Not only does it look and feel great, with its own personality, but it’s also compact, light, and comfortable too.
More than that though, it’s packed with loads of great tech and works brilliantly thanks to the combination of the intuitive Wear OS 3 software, a digital crown, and a dazzling screen.
Fitness tracking is handled by Fitbit, which also makes this the best smartwatch right now for anyone who wants to keep their data in the Fitbit family, as it’s comfortably better than Fitbit’s own Sense 2 and Versa 4, which weren’t good enough to feature in this chart.
Sadly, Google hasn’t nailed it in every department, with unpredictable battery life, restrictions when it comes to charging and, most odd of all, lacking proper automatic workout detection despite featuring Fitbit-powered tracking. Still, this sets the bar for the new default smartwatch experience on Android, and gives rivals something to aim for.
3. Apple Watch Series 8 – Full-featured Apple Watch
- Premium design & build
- Fantastic iPhone integration
- Few updates from older models
- Requires daily charging
While the Series 8 is only an incremental upgrade over 2021’s Series 7, it’s still a great buy for iPhone owners, and packs a couple key features that the cheaper SE (above) doesn’t.
The big difference compared to the SE is the support for an always-on display, letting you check the time and other alerts at a glance – with a hit to battery life. Some of the health tracking features are also more advanced, with ECG and blood oxygen measurement plus a temperature sensor for cycle tracking, which is new to the Series 8.
Battery life remains the biggest weak spot – unlike most rivals this still needs a daily charge, and you’ll need to plan that well if you want to make the most of the sleep-tracking features. If you don’t need the top health features then you may want to consider the cheaper SE, while those with more demanding needs should look at the souped-up Apple Watch Ultra, which you’ll find below.
4. Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 – Best for Samsung phone owners
- Best Wear OS experience yet
- Customisable design
- Great performance
- 40mm model has bad battery
- Full functionality for Samsung Galaxy users only
After the Pixel Watch, the Galaxy Watch 5 has a good claim to being the ‘default’ smartwatch for many Android phone owners, though that does come with a big caveat: if your handset isn’t made by Samsung then not every feature will work, including health tracking extras like the ECG.
Even if you don’t use a Samsung phone you shouldn’t write this off though. The Watch 5 comes in two casing sizes, along with a range of colours for personalisation. The whole design is contemporary, complete with a digital bezel that uses haptic feedback, too.
The Watch 5 is a premium feature-packed smartwatch with the Google Play Store and support for a wealth of third-party apps. It’s also surprisingly affordable, so there’s no need to break the bank.
One final word of caution: we found the battery life on the smaller 40mm model erratic and unreliably, but the larger cell in the 44mm variant should make that a safer bet.
5. Apple Watch Ultra – Best for outdoor sports
- Impressive durability
- Bright display is easy to use outdoors
- Great outdoor-focused features
- Provides the core watchOS experience
- New straps need some more work
The Apple Watch Ultra might just look like a bigger, more rugged Apple Watch, but there’s more to it than that. It’s not only more durable but boasts a number of improvements that benefit outdoor sports enthusiasts, from extreme temperature protection to improved water resistance capabilities.
The new Action button is a welcome addition that I hope makes its way to the standard Apple Watch, providing a handy way to access key functionality without the touchscreen, and the dual-GPS is a real game-changer for those that like to wander off the beaten track.
Sure, it’s bigger, bulkier and weightier than the standard Apple Watch, but if you’re looking for something that’ll take a knock or two and last days on a single charge, the Apple Watch Ultra is a solid premium option. However, if you’re only looking for an Apple Watch for day-to-day use, the cheaper, slimmer Apple Watch SE and Series 8 are better bets.
6. Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro – Best for durability
- Incredibly durable build
- Multi-day battery life
- Impressively in-depth tracking
- Features for hiking and cycling
- Non-Samsung phones lose features
- Big, bulky design
This is the most advanced wearable in Samsung’s collection, offering the same combination of in-depth health and fitness tracking metrics including body composition as the regular Galaxy Watch 5 along with outdoor exercise-focused features like track back and turn-by-turn navigation, a larger display, and much improved multi-day battery.
There’s also the impressive durability to consider, with a display 90% stronger than the Galaxy Watch 4 series, the ability to survive a dunk in the sea and a titanium case that can take a knock or two. It’s certainly more robust than the stylish Galaxy Watch 5, though this does also mean that it’s larger and bulkier, with a single 45mm casing option that looked big even on my fairly large wrists.
The catch is that certain fitness features are locked to those with a Samsung phone, so other Android owners will find the experience slightly limited – and it won’t work at all with an iPhone. It’s also a lot more expensive than the standard Galaxy Watch 5, and a big increase on even the premium last-gen Watch 4 Classic, which makes it hard to recommend for everyone. But, if you’re an avid cyclist or hiker that’ll get the most out of the extra functionality on offer, the Galaxy Watch 5 could be the perfect premium wearable.
7. Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra – Strong battery life
- Durable design
- Unique display technology
- First-party app needs work
- Some synching issues
Mobvoi’s TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra is one of the most rugged timepieces we’ve seen from the company; integrating the Pro line’s signature dual-display technology into a hardy form factor, running Wear OS 2 and offering respectable battery longevity.
It can’t quite match the battery life of dedicated premium outdoor watches like Polar’s Grit X Pro, or those with more modest hardware, like Amazfit’s recent offerings, but there’s little else that’s this hardy and this capable in the smartwatch space right now.
As well as the promise of an update to Wear OS 3, the Pro 3 Ultra sports a full-colour AMOLED display and a monochromatic FSTN display that, in Essential Mode, can help extend longevity from 3 to 45 days per charge.
8. Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic – Best bezel
- Best Wear OS experience yet
- Tactile design
- Great performance
- Full functionality for Samsung Galaxy users only
- Classic styling costs extra
Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 Classic is an older model, but it still checks out.
The Watch 4 Classic has since been replaced by the Watch 5 Pro, but that newer model lacks the classics distinctive rotating bezel. We love this as a way to navigate Wear OS 3, so we’re heartened to see that you can still pick up the Classic model.
The good news is that otherwise this is pretty similar to the more recent models. You still get the latest Wear OS software, plus health tracking including body composition, ECG, and AFib (irregular heart rhythm) detection – though as with the other Galaxy Watch models, only Samsung phone owners get every feature.
The Watch 4 Classic is best experienced if you’re a Samsung Galaxy user, and you pay a premium for that Classic styling but it’s still a great fit for the wider Android user base after a premium wearable experience.
9. Garmin Venu 2 Plus – Best for runners
- In-depth fitness tracking and analysis
- Can take calls and access virtual assistant
- Stylish, understated design
- Up to a week of battery life
- Workout UI isn’t user-friendly
- Need multiple companion apps on your phone
- No LTE model
- Lack of non-fitness apps
The Garmin Venu 2 Plus is a great all-rounder if you’re on the market for a smartwatch that focuses on health and fitness. It’s ideal for runners and cyclists, with custom multi-week workout plans available, accurate HR readings and impressive GPS performance – even in built-up city streets.
It’s not just for runners though, also capable of tracking everything from rowing to golfing and skiing, and the new animated yoga and pilates exercises are a nice touch.
With a microphone and speaker it offers on-demand virtual assistant requests and the ability to take calls mid-run without reaching for your phone. The only downside is that, without LTE, you’ll need a Bluetooth-connected smartphone nearby.
However, if you’re not much of a fitness fanatic and you’re after something that’ll run your favourite apps, provide smart home shortcuts, and more, you’d be better off looking elsewhere, as the vast majority of apps are fitness-focused
10. Amazfit GTS 4 – Best on a budget
- Sleek design & comfortable fit
- Week-long battery life
- Wide range of tracking abilities
- Lacks third-party app support
- Some inconsistent tracking
- Zepp app needs improvements
There’s no denying that the Amazfit GTS 4 is a great looking smartwatch, with a sleek, slim and comfortable design that bears more than a passing resemblance to the Apple Watch.
It also benefits from an excellent week-long battery life, among the longest of any smartwatches, despite the fact that it’s also among the cheapest.
The downside is that you’ll have to put up with some slightly less reliable health and fitness tracking than the competition, while without third-party app support there’s also a narrower range of functionality.
It’s sufficient for basic tracking, as is the similar (but circular) Amazfit GTR 4, but for a little bit more money you can get more reliable devices with a wider range of functions.
Buying guide to smartwatches
Why do you need a smartwatch?
There’s an interesting theory that smartwatches are to the smartphone what wristwatches were to the pocket watch. Picture the way the average gentleman used to have to rummage through his pocket for his watch prior to the 20th century. Now skip forward 100+ years and the average smartphone user still has to dive into their pocket to check their phone.
The kicker now is that your smartphone holds far more information than a pocket watch ever did, all of which is still locked into your pocket.
Smartwatches aren’t for making phone calls – although some can – instead, they (among other things) provide a quick and easy way to check your phone’s notifications, so you can decide whether it’s worth delving into your pocket or searching around your bag to fetch your smartphone and properly action anything.
What makes a good smartwatch?
When testing for the best smartwatch, the important factors to consider are ‘how many of your smartphone’s functions can it perform?’, and ‘how well does it handle each task?’, the final attribute is obviously style – it’s still bling after all.
You’ll also want to make sure it’s compatible with your smartphone – some are only for iPhone or Android while others support most phones.
If you’re an Android user then a Wear OS smartwatch is the obvious choice, while iPhone users should probably start by looking at an Apple Watch – but there are alternatives.
Fitbit watches still run their own operating system (despite being owned by Google) and so will work well with iPhones too – and even some Wear OS watches are compatible with iOS too. Meanwhile other manufacturers like Amazfit and Huawei also run their own software, and often work well with both types of phone.
Fitness fans will want to look for a device with a heart rate monitor and built-in GPS, even though they often can’t compare to a chest-worn monitor in terms of accuracy. Many also come with NFC which can be used for contactless payments, via services like Google Pay.
We consider the important factors of a smartwatch to be level of notification detail, battery life, style, water resistance, device compatibility and additional features, such as microphones and WiFi support. Find out how we test wearables for more information.
What’s the difference between a smartwatch and a fitness tracker?
The difference between smartwatches and fitness trackers is a bit of a grey area – after all, most fitness trackers also double as watches, and many include smart features.
To draw the line we factor in how a manufacturer positions its product, but for the most part the main question is how smart the device is. If all it can do is record exercise then it’s a fitness tracker, but if it also allows you to install apps, take phone calls, and check notifications, then we’re more likely to consider it a smartwatch.
This is really why this ranking doesn’t currently feature any Fitbit smartwatches. We reviewed both the Sense 2 and Versa 4, but found that both have had their smart features stripped back so much that they’re difficult to recommend as smartwatches in their own right.
The lines are always blurry though, so make sure to check out our fitness tracker round-up to see more options.
What about hybrid watches?
There are two types of smartwatches around at the moment: those with a colourful touchscreen – similarly to what you’d find on your phone – and those which combine a regular analogue watch with smart features.
These are known as ‘hybrid’ smartwatches; some have the smart bits almost completely hidden, while some give you information via a small integrated display (the Withings ScanWatch is a good example of a hybrid watch).
While a fully-fledged smartwatch can do a lot more, that juice-guzzling screen results in shorter battery life. Hybrid watches benefit from longer battery life with some even having separate cells for the watch and smart features. Since they’re not true smartwatches, you’ll find hybrid watches from Withings and others in our separate fitness tracker chart.