Every product is carefully selected by our editors. If you buy from a link, we may earn a commission.

The Best Smartwatches of 2020

Before buying a smartwatch, there are few vital things to know as well.

best smart watches 2020
Courtesy

A smartwatch isn’t going to replace your smartphone. In fact, it’s more of a smartphone accessory these days. They have tiny screens and many of the apps you use every day — Instagram, Twitter, Facebook — don’t have smartwatch apps. Plus, most smartwatches don’t have LTE, meaning they can’t receive calls or texts when not tethered to your smartphone or connected to wi-fi. But smartwatches do have some advantages. They show you who’s calling, texting or emailing you without forcing you to look at your phone. They effectively replace your need for a dedicated fitness tracker. And some look pretty cool. Whatever your lifestyle and which smartphone you use, you’re bound to find something that suits you.

Not all smartwatches are the same, however. Most fall between a fitness tracker and something that relays smartphone notifications to your wrist. Some smartwatches can work untethered, completely autonomously from a smartphone — you can make calls, send texts and navigate directions, all while your smartphone is miles away. There are also hybrid smartwatches, made by mechanical watch manufacturers like Tag Heuer, Fossil and Withings, that have sensors to track fitness and traditional watch battery that lasts months.

Before pulling the trigger on an Apple Watch Series 6, or one of the new Android smartwatches made by Samsung or Huawei, do some research. Make sure it’s a smartwatch that’ll work to its full potential with your current smartphone and matches your budget and how you want to use it. If you work out a lot, get a fitness-focused smartwatch. If you go off the grid, get an LTE-connected one. Whatever your case, make sure you know the basics.

Before Buying, Here’s What to Know

3G, 4G, LTE, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. There are different ways a smartwatch can connect to a smartphone. A Bluetooth-enabled smartwatch pairs with a smartphone just like a Bluetooth speaker. It’s the most basic of connections and has the shortest range; if the smartphone and smartwatch are too far apart, the connection dies. Most smartwatches will connect to a known wi-fi network as well. When connected, the smartwatch can still receive notifications (calls, texts, emails) as long your smartphone has an active data connection.

3G and 4G describe generations of the cellular network technologies and their subsequent transmission speeds — basically, it’s how fast your smartwatch can load data. A smartwatch with built-in 4G is going to be faster than a smartwatch with built-in 3G. However, the difference between smartwatches with 3G and 4G will probably be nominal since neither will be running heavily data-driven apps.

Most smartwatches are available in LTE or cellular models, too. The main advantage of an LTE connected smartwatch is that it can work completely untethered from a smartphone. Since it has a built-in cellular radio, the smartwatch can place and receive phone calls and stream music independent of your phone. There are a few caveats, though. The battery life will likely be worse. The smartwatch will probably be bulky. And you’ll have to pay a monthly fee to add the smartwatch to your cellular plan. (Consult your cell carrier for exact info.) Plus, they just tend to be more expensive than regular “GPS only” models.

For more information on 4G LTE smartwatches, read Computerworld‘s ‘One more time: An LTE smartwatch is a stupid idea.’

Compatibility. Not all smartwatches are compatible with all smartphones. For example, the Apple Watch only works with an iPhone, and all smartwatches running Android 2.0 will work with any Android, via the Android Wear app, but not all iOS features will carry over and some of the apps work wonky together, such as iMessage and every Android messaging app. Basically, if you own an iPhone, I recommend getting an Apple Watch; and if you have an Android smartphone, get one of the numerous Android 2.0 offerings.

Heart rate sensor. Knowing your heart rate is the most important fitness metric — experts agree. The data, taken both during and after your workout, will help you achieve certain fitness goals. If you’re serious about working out or just improving your cardiovascular health, you want a smartwatch with a heart rate sensor.

Built-in GPS. This is still a rare feature in smartwatches and wearables in general. For fitness, the built-in GPS is able to track speed, distance and location, all of which can help calculate calories burned and determine the overall success of a workout. It can also help give you more accurate weather reports and navigation instructions if your smartphone isn’t nearby (and it won’t kill a lot of data). It’s mainly a tool to gauge fitness, however; like heart-rate sensors, it’s mainly for people into fitness.

Battery life. The main complaint with smartwatches is battery life. There are very few on the market that can last longer than 24 hours, so manage expectations. Most of today’s high-end smartwatches have a bright LCD screen or AMOLED displays, which are beautiful but tend to kill the battery. Basically, expect to take it off at night to charge.

The overall look and lifestyle. At the end of the day, a smartwatch isn’t just another device — it’s part of your wardrobe. You’re not going to put it away when you want, like your smartphone, so you should like the way it looks. Also, smartwatches come in all sorts of elegant or rugged options. If you want a more stylish option to match your silk shirt and selvage denim jeans, go for the LG Watch Style. If you plan on taking it to the beach or hiking, get a rugged and water-resistant model, like the Garmin Forerunner 235.

Best Overall: Apple Watch Series 6

apple watch series 6
Apple

Sizes: 40mm or 44mm
Sensors: blood oxygen, always-on altimeter, accelerometer, gyroscope, heart rate monitor, electrocardiogram (ECG), GPS, compass, LTE (optional), U1 Ultra Wideband chip
Water resistance: up to 50 meters
Battery Life: up to 18 hours

The Series 6 is the perfect smartwatch for iPhone owners who want the best that Apple has to offer. It's is the only current Apple Watch model that has an always-on display (because Apple discontinued the Series 5), which is the biggest difference that most people will notice when compared against Apple's two other Apple Watch models, the SE and Series 3. It's also unique because has a blood oxygen sensor, an electrical heart sensor (so it's capable of taking an ECG), and it comes in more premium finishes, including stainless steal and titanium. It's available in GPS-only and LTE models.

Buy Now: $399+ (40mm) Buy Now: $429+ (44mm)

Best Budget Smartwatch: Apple Watch SE

best smart watches 2020
Courtesy

Sizes: 40mm or 44mm
Sensors: always-on altimeter, accelerometer, gyroscope, heart rate monitor, GPS, compass, LTE (optional)
Water resistance: up to 50 meters
Battery Life: up to 18 hours

The Apple Watch SE is probably the best Apple Watch for most people because it combines most of the Series's 6 features and overall look, but is considerably most affordable. The big tradeoffs are that the Apple Watch SE doesn't have an always-on display, the blood oxygen sensor or the electrical heart sensor (so it's not capable of taking an ECG). It only comes in an aluminum finish, so it's not going to be as scratch resistant as the Series 6's more premium finishes. However, the Apple Watch SE does have optical heart sensor, similar to the one found in the Series 3, so it's still about to record your heart rate. It also has most of the same sensors, including the gyroscope, compass, fall detection and the brand-new always-on altimeter. It's available in GPS-only and LTE models.

Buy Now: $279+ (40mm) Buy Now: $309+ (44mm)

Best for Endurance Athletes: Garmin Forerunner 945

best smart watches 2020
Courtesy

Size: 22mm
Sensors: accelerometer, gyroscope, altimeter, heart-rate sensor, compass, thermometer, GPS, pulse oximeter
Water resistance: up to 50 meters
Battery life: up to 36 hours using GPS and no music; up to 2 weeks just in smartwatch mode

Garmin’s Forerunner 945 offers most of the same fitness-focused features as the company’s even higher-end Fenix line of smartwatches. It lets you train for specific events, like a triathlon, where it can show your interval and transition times. It also works with most of the popular third-party products and apps, such as Final Surge and TrainingPeaks. Garmin partnered with Firstbeat, a company that specializes in physiology and heartbeat analytics, so the Forerunner 935 can give you deeper insights from your workout, such as your VO2 max and lactate threshold. Compared to its predecessor, the Forerunner 935, Garmin’s new running smartwatch has a significantly bigger battery, has enough built-in storage to hold 1,000 songs, and it supports full-color maps.

Buy Now: $600

Best Android Smartwatch: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

best smart watches 2020
Courtesy

Size: 40mm or 44mm
Sensors: accelerometer, barometer, gyroscope, heart-rate sensor, GPS, electrocardiogram (ECG), LTE (optional)
Water resistance: up to 50 meters
Battery Life: up to 18 hours

The Galaxy Watch Active 2 is arguably one of the prettiest smartwatches out there. It’s petite, round and has a beautiful and bright always-on OLED display. The big differentiator between it and its predecessor, the Galaxy Watch Active (which was released earlier in 2019), is that "version 2" has a touch-sensitive bezel making it much easier to use. It has a decent battery life and works with Spotify Offline (you can download playlists and listen to them without your smartphone nearby). It also has sleep-tracking features that Apple’s offerings lack. It works best with Samsung smartphones.

Buy Now: $249 (40mm) Buy Now: $269(44mm)

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3

best smart watches 2020
Courtesy

Size: 41mm
Sensors: accelerometer, barometer, gyroscope, heart-rate sensor, GPS, electrocardiogram (ECG), LTE (optional)
Water resistance: up to 50 meters
Battery Life: up to 18 hours

The Galaxy Watch 3 is more advanced than Samsung's smartwatch, the more fitness-focused Galaxy Watch Active 2, but it's also considerably more expensive. What that extra dough gets you is a physical rotating bezel (instead of the all-digital one on the Active 2), some more advanced sleep tracking and running features, a slightly better battery life, and an the option of more premium finishes (such as titanium). For the most part, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 and the Galaxy Watch Active 2 are actually pretty similar. The flagship model is just more geared for Samsung Galaxy smartphone owners who want a more substantial smartwatch that looks like it maybe could be Swiss-made.

Buy Now: $370

Apple Watch Series 3

apple watch series 3 gear patrol full lead
Apple

Sizes: 38mm or 42mm
Sensors: heart rate monitor, GPS, altimeter, accelerometer, gyroscope
Water resistance: up to 50 meters
Battery Life: up to 18 hours

Released in 2017, the Series 3 is the oldest and cheapest Apple Watch that Apple currently sells. It has the same original body as the Series 1 and Series 2 — meaning a smaller display and ] larger bezels — and it definitely looks old compared to the newer Series 6 and SE. The Series 3 does have a built-in GPS and an optical heart sensor, so it's still a good fitness tracker (although, the Series 3 does lack some of the SE and Series 6's key sensors, such as the always-on altimeter and the built-in compass, so it's probably not as great of hikers and outdoors enthusiasts). Apple just recently discontinued the Series 3's cellular model, so you have to buy a GPS-only model from now on. If you're somebody who just wants a cheap Apple Watch to track your workouts, the Series 3 is a good option (although you should seriously consider going with the Apple Watch SE).

Buy Now: $199+ (38mm) Buy Now: $229+ (42mm)

Fitbit Versa 3

fitbit versa 2 gear patrol
Fitbit

Size: 36mm
Sensors: accelerometer, optical heart rate monitor, altimeter, gyroscope, ambient light sensor, NFC
Water resistance: up to 50 meters
Battery Life: up to 6 days; ~3 days with always-on display

Released in 2020, the Fitbit Versa 3 is a good entry-level smartwatch for iPhone or Android users alike. It's a big upgrade over the Versa 2 mainly due to the fact that it has a built-in GPS and a significantly better heart-rate tracking. It also has a built-in speaker and microphone, which the Versa 2 lacked, so you can actually hear what Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa has to say when ask it a question, instead of having to read the voice assistant's response on the smartwatch's screen. With the lowered price of the Apple Watch Series 3, it’s actually pretty difficult to recommend the Versa 3 for people who have an iPhone.

Buy Now: $230

Fitbit Sense

best smart watches 2020
Courtesy

Size: 36mm
Sensors: ECG, EDA, skin temperature, accelerometer, optical heart rate monitor, altimeter, gyroscope, ambient light sensor, NFC
Water resistance: up to 50 meters
Battery Life: up to 6 days; ~3 days with always-on display

The Sense replaces the Ionic as Fitbit's new flagship smartwatch. That said, the Sense shares a lot in common with the Versa 3, with the only major differences being health/wellness related. Unlike the Versa 3, the Sense has three brand-new sensors: an ECG (to potentially give you an early detection of atrial fibrillation), an EDA (to detect stress) and a skin temperature sensor (to give you early indications if you're coming down with a fever or other illness). Overall, the Sense is a good third-party smartwatch for people want a lot of wellness data, but it's kind of expensive considering how similar it is to the Versa 3.

Buy Now: $330

This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
More From Buying Guides