Is it necessary to have the best smartwatch? Maybe not, but they can certainly make life a lot easier in various situations. Plus, they're a ton of fun to play with.
Are you in the market for a fancy new smartwatch? If so, I'm here to rank and compare the latest smartwatches available to you right now.
In this guide, I'll share our smartwatch top picks, and evaluate each entry's impressive features, specs, and prices. From there, I'll walk you through what you should know before deciding to make a purchase. Finally, I'll offer some suggestions of fun and useful apps you can use to pair with your new smartwatch.
In This Guide
Our Top Picks
Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Review
- GPS tracking
- Sleek, circular design
- Switchable watchband and watch-face
- Works with most Android and some iPhones
- Standalone cellular LTE connection
- Less app support
- Somewhat big and expensive
Samsung Gear S3 Specs
The Samsung Gear S3 includes GPS and heart rate tracking, stand alone cellular LTE connection, and anywhere wrist payments that act like a digital credit card. The payments are supposedly easier to use than Apple Pay.
This smartwatch has a somewhat chunky, circular design and a 46 mm frame, which may be too big for small wrists. It is also a bit expensive. The Samsung Smart Watch is waterproof and its battery life lasts up to 3-4 days.
Samsung Gear App
The biggest downside to the Samsung Gear S3 watch is that it has less app selection and support with its Tizen-based operating system. Although you'll have access to the Samsung Galaxy app store, many of its apps don't actually work with its standalone LTE capabilities.
Additionally, you won't be able to reply to messages and calls if you have an iPhone; you can only receive notifications. You should be able to reply, however, with Android. Download the Samsung Gear app to connect.
The Samsung Gear watch also provides the option to change the frame and band if you want a new color.
Apple Watch 2 Review
- Sleek, rectangular design
- Switchable watchbands and watch-face
- 18-hour battery life
- Fully waterproof
- GPS tracking
- Only works with iPhones
Apple Watch 2 Specs
The Apple Watch 2 is the best smartwatch for iPhones. If you don't have an iPhone, there is really no point in buying an Apple Watch 2. If you do, however, then this smartwatch is a great choice. Keep in mind that it is also the most expensive.
Apple Watch 2 Features
The newest Apple Watch 2 features complete water resistance, but it is also fragile and somewhat exposed on your wrist. It comes in two different sized rectangles: 38mm and 42mm. If you decide to buy, I would also purchase a screen protector and/or case to prevent scratches and damage. The Apple Watch 2 includes GPS features with run/walk, swim and cycle tracking. It also gives you the ability to receive and respond to notifications from apps built specifically for the Apple Watch as well as regular smartphone apps.
If you are sick of your band or frame, you can purchase a new one for much less than any new watch. Lastly, Apple Watch 2 battery life is pretty good at up to 18-hours. You shouldn't have to worry about charging it throughout the day.
LG Urbane 2nd Edition Review
- Strong, hypoallergenic watch band
- LTE connectivity
- Bright, sharp display
- Strong battery life
- It's a heavy watch
- Does not read 3G cell towers
One of the few smartwatches with built-in 4G LTE, the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition (Now that's a mouthful) gives one thing most of the competition can't provide: connectivity--without the smartphone. With the addition of LTE bands, you can view and respond to messages. make calls, and use apps that need data without having to tether your smartphone. It's a fantastic step in the future of connected wearable that devices that other smartwatches are sure to follow suit.
Alongside the addition of LTE connectivity comes a larger display and battery, meaning you can stay active longer and see important messages in clear detail even in direct sunlight. The whole device is rounded out by its stainless steel casing and thick, rubbery band that is durable enough to withstand the rigors of exercise. The Urbane is water and dust resistant too, so you can use it on a hike or at the gym (When you're all sweaty) without worry.
Samsung Gear S3 Classic Review
- Traditional watch design
- Made with high-quality, premium materials
- The battery will last all day
- Enhanced LTE connectivity
- Lack of app support
- It might feel too big for your wrist
While at first glance, you might think the Samsung Gear S3 Classic is a plain, unassuming smartwatch. And for the most part, it fits that bill quite nicely. It offers all the features you'd expect a smartwatch to have these days: a GPS, heart rate monitor, activity tracker, water resistance, and a slew of other nifty perks for fitness and health.
What the Gear S3 does best is how it refines and improves upon the standard smartwatch formula. There aren't any shocking additions or game-changing features, but the device offers solid, reliable use whenever you need it. It's fast, for a smartwatch, and has enough storage to house enough apps and contacts to complement your phone. Viewed from the large, high-resolution screen, everything the Samsung Gear S3 does it does with finesse.
Unlike some other smart watches that stick to boxy, plastic appearances, the S3 strives to look more like an actual watch than its competitors. Featuring a traditional watch design with a distinctive face, and made out of premium stainless steel materials, you have a stylish timepiece that keeps you connected and pulls your outfit together.
Fitbit Blaze Smartwatch Review
- Full suite of fitness tracking features
- Thin, lightweight, and unobtrusive on the wrist
- Customizable frames and bands
- Not waterproof
- No smart alarm
- Battery life could be better
Fitbit's first real smartwatch to enter the market, the Blaze takes health and fitness tracking to the next level with this sleek, stylish device. However, the Fitbit Blaze is not a smartwatch in the same way as the Apple Watch or Samsung Gear. Designed to maximize every workout you take. this device was built solely for the die hard fitness junky.
The Fitbit Blaze tackles the normal functionality today's fitness trackers have with added perks and capabilities that let you take it nearly everywhere with you. It tracks steps, calories burned, active and rest time, heart rate, sleep, and more. With the baked in GPS, you can track and map out your runs. There are also several workout videos and guided sessions for anyone needing a more visual element. All in all, the Blaze is the total package when it comes to marrying a fitness tracker with a smartwatch.
Outside of exercise, the Blaze is a decent smartwatch packed in a very stylish case. The touchscreen color display looks nice and calls, texts, and alerts from apps look good when you flick your wrist to turn the screen on. You can also customize the bands and frames to meet your comfort.
Key Considerations When Choosing a Smart Watch
The latest smartwatch sales are expected to reach 141 million units in 2018, according to Statista. There are plenty of things to consider, though, before you enter the smartwatch market and buy from the best smartwatch list. To start, can you afford it?
1. How much does it cost?
Some smart watches can be expensive. The Apple Watch series range from about $250 to over $700 with tax, for example. Therefore, the first question you should ask yourself before you dive into the smartwatch world is how much you can afford. Also, ask yourself what you need a smartwatch for.
If you just want to track your fitness, you can get a cheap watch with a fitness tracker from the smartwatch list to do the job. For example, you can get the Pebble Watch 2 with a fitness tracker for around $100. If you want a dedicated fitness tracker, then consult our buyer's guide instead.
The most advanced smart watches are super convenient and cool, but you may want to go for a less complex smartwatch, an older model, or wait until new models are older if you're a little low on cash.
2. What are the benefits of a smartwatch?
There are plenty of benefits that come along with owning a smartwatch. Here are some to think about:
- Hands-free driving and living: You can read messages and receive app notifications on a smartwatch without even taking your phone out of your purse or pocket. You can also respond to texts and answer your phone with your voice on some smart watches. For example, you can do so with Apple's Siri Voice Command on the Apple Watch Series 2. This is great for motorcycle riders, workers, or those who simply feel like they never have a free hand.
- GPS for fitness tracking and sleep tracking: If you want a fitness smartwatch, make sure it comes with GPS tracking. Otherwise, it won't be able to track how long of a distance you ran or walked. You may also want to make sure the device can track your heart rate for sleep tracking.
- Access apps right from your wrist: You can click on apps right from your wrist. Scroll through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and more without having to get your phone out. Just remember, some watches are not compatible with such apps. Make sure you research compatibility before you buy. You may even be able to access your home automation system from your smartwatch for ultimate control at home.
- You can change your watch band and watch frame: Many smartwatches on the market right now let you change the watch frame, watch face and watchband whenever you want. You will have to purchase the accessories, but it's better than having to buy a whole new watch in a different color.
3. Will it work with my smartphone?
Compatibility is vital to consider when deciding on a smartwatch. Does your smartwatch of choice connect with your phone via Bluetooth and/or Wifi? If not, you will not be able to use it for voice communication or receiving and responding to notifications from smartphone apps. You will only be able to interact with smartwatch apps. Later in this article, I'll discuss some great apps you can use with your smartwatch.
Smartwatch companies will often claim to be compatible with your smartphone but won't actually allow you to respond to notifications, just receive them. Keep this in mind. After making a decision on what smart watch you want, you can use our smartphone comparison tool to see if it is compatible with your phone. This isn't news to anyone, but Apple smart watches are compatible with Apple devices. The same is true for Samsung smart watches and the Android line of phones.
4. How are the size selection and battery life?
You should also think about size selection and battery life before you buy. Would you rather have a larger or smaller sized screen? Would you prefer a rectangular shape touchscreen or a circular one? This is going to determine which brand of the best smart watches is best for you.
For example, Apple Smartwatches only come in rectangular sizes. On the contrary, the Samsung Smartwatch Gear S3 Smartwatch comes in a traditional circular watch shape. Some smart watches, like the Fossil Gen 2 Q, even provide a size chart on their site for you to make sure the watch will fit your wrist.
5. Is it built well and water resistant?
Before you buy, you should probably consider how fragile your smartwatch is and whether or not it's water resistant. For example, the Apple smartwatch consists of extremely exposed glass that scratches easily without a screen protector.
On the other hand, it is water resistant, so you don't have to worry about it getting wet when you wash your hands or take a shower. If you decide you want to buy a fragile smartwatch, make sure you also buy the protection it needs to prevent destruction. If you buy a watch that isn't water-resistant, you better remember to take it off.
6. How are the display and processor?
If you want to buy a smartwatch, you should also consider the display and what type of processor it runs on. The best smart watches have an advanced super AMOLED display and a dual-core processor. A super AMOLED display ensures speedy response time when you tap and the best viewing experience for a small screen.
7. Do you like the look?
Before you buy a smartwatch, you have to like the look of it. You can go with something sleek like the Apple Watch Series 2, in which you can pick your watch face color and switch your watch band whenever you want. You can also go with a simpler, cheaper design like the Pebble Watch 2. If you want something a little more classic, you can go with the Fossil G 2 and a leather strap. The leather strap makes it look more like a traditional watch than a smartwatch.
Great Apps to Pair with Your Smartwatch
Every brand of smartwatch has tons of apps to choose from. Here are some of the best Apple iOS apps and Android phone apps for smartwatches.
Apple Watch Apps
- Strava - a top of the line fitness app to track running, heart rate and more.
- Standland - a fun fitness app that motivates you to move around during the day.
- Runkeeper - another fitness app, Runkeeper allows you to leave your phone at home while you run and has a customizable activity screen.
- Round Health - an app that will track your medicine and remind you to take it if you have a condition.
- Onefootball - receive team updates and scores right to your smartwatch.
- Sleep**- track your sleep throughout the night.
Android Phone Apps
- Spotify - stream music from your watch with Android device's Android Wear Smartwatch Spotify technology.
- TripAdvisor - search for nearby hotels, food, events and more.
- Instaweather - track the weather from your Android smartwatch.
- Wear Audio Recorder - If you want to record meetings or interviews, this app will help you out.
- Google Keep - Take notes on your smartwatch with this Android Device Wear app from Google.
Related: The Best Wearable Tech of 2017!
I researched far and wide to come up with the best smartwatches on the market right now. I read through smartwatch reviews, news articles, rankings, comparisons and more. After my smartwatch review, I believe the Apple Watch 2 is the best smartwatch on the market right now unless you don't have an iPhone. In that case, I would go with the Samsung Smartwatch Gear S3.
The Apple Smartwatch 2 is extremely waterproof (up to 50 meters) and compatible with nearly all iPhone apps. If you have an iPhone, this is more than ideal. It also comes in two different sizes, has switchable straps and various watch face colors including gold, silver, rose gold, space gray, stainless steel, and white ceramic. The stainless steel and white ceramic are new and meant to prevent scratches.
With the Apple Smartwatch, you can use Siri voice command to respond to text messages and phone calls without taking out your phone. You can even answer phone calls and pay for things right from your watch. If you're a fitness buff, Apple has fantastic GPS tracking, heart-rate monitoring, and even swim-tracking. This watch has everything you could seemingly want or need in a smartwatch with a dual-core processor.
Now that you're well-versed in what the smartwatch market has to offer, go out and get one! If you can afford it, a smartwatch can make everyday life more convenient and fun to navigate through. It can also help you track your choices and activities to create more balance in your life. Plan on getting a smart watch with a data plan? You'll need one of these SIM cards to activate it.
There are also wearable device smart watches for kids that prioritize safety and security. These GPS trackers for kids are also a great device to get kids motivated and going outside.
For more great tech, check out our buyer's guide to tablets.