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Best smartwatch: connected watches in modern or classic styles

Best smartwatch: connected watches in modern or classic styles
(Image credit: Fitbit)

The humble watch has had an upgrade. These days, your trusty timepiece can do so much more than tell the time. Now there’s a whole category of smartwatches, which range from those that look like regular watches, but with one or two smart features built-in, through to all-singing, all-dancing wearables that can answer calls, track your heart rate and keep tabs on your schedule, all from your wrist.

However, there’s so much choice and such a wide range of different features on offer from traditional watch companies through to the biggest tech giants in the world. For example, some smartwatches are packed with the best tech and allow you to answer notifications, keep track of your schedule, and add an almost limitless amount of apps to a super bright OLED screen. But there are others that can track your steps, your heart rate and a few other metrics while looking almost identical to a traditional watch and winning hands down in the style stakes.

The key to finding the best smartwatch for you is to figure out what’s important. A minimal timepiece that looks great? A sporty watch that’s happy to take a dip in the pool? Keeping on top of your schedule rather than your runs?

We’ve collected together the ten best smartwatches available to buy right now, which will appeal to a wide audience.

So if you want access to notifications, lots of health and fitness data and have a fully-customizable experience, go for the Samsung Galaxy Watch, Apple Watch Series 4 or Fitbit Versa. If fitness is your focus, pick the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active, Fossil Sport, Huawei Watch 2 or TicWatch E2. If you want a smartwatch that looks good and delivers on some maybe more limited smarts, try the Withings Steel HR, Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45 or Fossil Q Venture HR on for size. 

Here are the best smartwatches on the market today to suit everyone.

1. Apple Watch Series 4: Best for tech lovers

Apple Watch 4

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple Watch Series 4

Best smartwatch overall

GPS: Yes | Heart rate: Yes | Screen: OLED | Battery: 18 hours | Notifications: Yes | Apps: Yes | Contactless payments: Yes | Onboard music: Yes | Sleep tracking: Yes

Lovely-looking display
Comfy to wear
Packed with features
Battery could be better

The latest version of Apple’s incredibly popular smartwatch, the Series 4, is one of the best wearable devices you can buy today.

There’s so much that this smartwatch can do. You can download many apps, customize the look and feel of the device and use it to keep in control of your schedule and work life. But in many ways, Apple is going ‘all in’ on health and fitness the most. This Apple Watch has built-in fall detection, heart rate notifications, a breathing app and even ECG-reading features (in some countries).

It’s especially good for tracking fitness, which is why it also tops our best fitness trackers list, and allows you to monitor all kinds of metrics, including workouts, runs, steps and calories burned. It also has some more features packed in specifically for runners too, including detailed pacing and cadence data.

As you might expect, the Apple Watch Series 4 is one of the most expensive devices on our list, that’s because it really does do it all, from bringing notifications to your wrist, and allowing you to reply thanks to a data connection, as well as tracking all kinds of things about your day and your body. Is it worth the high price tag? Absolutely. Will everyone be able to afford one? Not at all.

But those who can’t afford an Apple Watch may be happy to hear this smartwatch isn’t perfect.

The fact it can do so much with such a great-looking, bright screen means it tends to only last about 18 hours to a day on one charge - this could sometimes push to nearly two days with limited use. Although this makes sense, it does mean that it lags behind some of its major competitors. If you don’t like messing about charging your tech, it makes sense to look elsewhere.

2. Fitbit Versa: Best fitness alternative

Fitbit Versa

(Image credit: Fitbit)

Fitbit Versa

Best fitness alternative

GPS: No | Heart rate: Yes | Battery: 4 days | Notifications: Yes | Apps: Yes | Contactless payments: Yes | Onboard music: Yes | Sleep tracking: Yes

Nice-looking design
Comfy to wear
Lots of customization

Granted it doesn’t look exactly like an Apple Watch – and lacks some of the Apple Watch’s features – but we think the Fitbit Versa is a solid alternative. Especially because it does do some things better, including boasting a much longer battery life.

The Fitbit Versa has everything you need from a smartwatch these days, including a big, bright screen, plenty of apps, a number of customizable features, different straps to choose from and notifications from any app on your phone – which you can easily toggle on and off.

It’s a very capable fitness tracker too, which is why it’s one of our favorites in our best fitness trackers guide. It can keep tabs on a range of activities, has 24/7 heart rate tracking, and comes with some built-in, on-screen workouts, including swimming, HIIT and running. The only thing it’s lacking is standalone GPS, so those serious about running should look for an alternative that’s built for running outside. 

It also offers Fitbit’s advanced sleep tracking too, which breaks down your sleep into stages so you can better understand how you sleep, when and the quality of sleep you’re getting. Experts believe it’s best to track your sleep over a long period of time to get a great insight into trends – the best way to make long-term changes.

3. Samsung Galaxy Watch: Best for Android users

Samsung Galaxy Watch

(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung Galaxy Watch

Best for Android users

GPS: Yes | Heart rate: Yes | Battery: 7 days | Notifications: Yes | Apps: Yes | Contactless payments: Yes | Onboard music: Yes | Sleep tracking: Yes

Good battery
Looks slick
Charging can be annoying
Best for Samsung phones

If you have a Samsung phone, you’re likely to get the most out of a smartwatch if it’s the Galaxy – although it works with iOS phones too, it plays best with Samsung handsets, allowing you to unlock all the features, including standalone notifications.

This great-looking smartwatch could easily have you fooled into thinking it’s a fancy wristwatch, especially if you customize the screen. But the Samsung Galaxy Watch has an AMOLED circular screen.

With rose gold, black or silver metal work and a decorative bezel, it looks stylish and comes in two different sizes: 42mm or 46mm to suit different sized wrists. The larger version has up to 7 days of battery life and the smaller has 4 days – which is still excellent when you consider the competition.

Features-wise, there’s just so much packed into the Galaxy, including fitness tracking, health monitoring, accurate sleeping tracking, Samsung Pay functionality and much more. If you have Spotify Premium, you can also load it up with your favourite tracks for music on-the-move – perfect for runners or those who workout outdoors and like to leave their phone at home.

The 4G version of this smartwatch allows you to roam without your smartphone, which means you can take calls and receive messages with your regular phone number – as long as you’re on the right data plan with EE or Vodafone.  

4. Samsung Galaxy Watch Active: Best for Android fitness lovers

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active

(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active

Best for fitness lovers with a Samsung smartphone

GPS: Yes | Heart rate: Yes | Battery: 1 day | Notifications: Yes | Apps: Yes | Contactless payments: Yes | Onboard music: Yes | Sleep tracking: Yes

Great, slim design
Good price
No rotating bezel
Less storage than Galaxy

If one of the main reasons you want a smartwatch is to track fitness, you’re better off with the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active rather than the standard Galaxy. This version is smaller and lighter – making it much more run, pool and gym-friendly – although it does lack a few of the standard smartwatch features.

However, it’s a very good fitness tracker. It allows you to keep tabs on your heart rate, which it uses to help you workout more effectively as well as guess how stressed you are. It also comes with a blood pressure monitor, GPS and an auto-tracking mode to monitor all kinds of different activities. 

One of the biggest differences is it doesn’t have an LTE mode, so you can’t answer or reply to calls and messages without your phone, but if you’re never without your phone anyway that won’t be an issue.

5. Fossil Q Venture HR: Best looking smartwatch

Fossil Q Venture HR

(Image credit: Fossil)

Fossil Q Venture HR

Best looking smartwatch

GPS: Yes | Heart rate: Yes | Battery: 1 day | Notifications: Yes | Apps: Yes | Contactless payments: Yes | Onboard music: Yes | Sleep tracking: Yes

Lovely design
Short battery life
Not great for fitness

Fossil is good at creating watches – and always has been. That’s why it’s no surprise that it’s teamed up with lots of high-end fashion names to brand their own smartwatches, including Michael Kors and Emporio Armani. But Fossil has also brought out a smartwatch range of its own – and it’s just as good, but much cheaper.

The first thing you’ll notice about this smartwatch is how nice it looks. It has a metal body, which comes in a range of colors, and an option for different styles of bezel, as well as customizable straps. But it’s not just a pretty face, it’s also slick and intuitive to use, with a high-resolution 1.19-inch AMOLED display.

The Q Venture HR is running on Wear OS and boasts a lot of great features, including a heart rate sensor, standalone GPS and support for Apple Pay, as well as many of the other additions you’d expect with Wear OS, including an alarm clock, calendar and alerts. This model has an NFC chip too, which means you can set up Android Pay.

6. Withings Steel HR Sport: Best hybrid smartwatch

Withings Steel HR Sport

(Image credit: Withings)

Withings Steel HR Sport

Best hybrid smartwatch

GPS: No | Heart rate: Yes | Battery: 25 days | Notifications: Yes | Apps: No | Contactless payments: No | Onboard music: No | Sleep tracking: Yes

Looks good and minimal
Great battery life
Simple fitness tracking

If you care about the style of your smartwatch, you can’t go wrong with the classic-looking Withings Steel HR Sport – although it does have a silicone strap to ensure it’s gym-friendly.

This smartwatch is what’s called a ‘hybrid’ smartwatch, which means it looks like a traditional watch but has some smart features built-in – there are no super bright LED screens to wow you here.

Built for those who care just as much about fitness tracking as wearing the latest smartwatch, it boasts some cool features that aren’t in every smartwatch, including multi-sport tracking (of more than 30 activities), heart rate monitoring and VO2 max estimation.

It’s also very good at tracking sleep, differentiating between deep and light sleep, as well as providing you with a ‘sleep score’ each night. 

If you’re not fussed about fitness, check out the similar Withings Steel HR, with less sporty features and a more minimal approach to smartwatch design.

7. TicWatch E2: Best on a budget

TicWatch E2

(Image credit: TicWatch)

TicWatch E2

Best on a budget

GPS: Yes | Heart rate: Yes | Battery: 1 day | Notifications: Yes | Apps: Yes | Contactless payments: No | Onboard music: No | Sleep tracking: Yes

Solid fitness tracker
No NFC chip
Design might not appeal to everyone

If you’re not entirely convinced by a smartwatch, you don’t want to spend a fortune on one. Luckily, Mobvoi has a great range of TicWatch watches that may not be cheap, but they’re a little more affordable for most people.

The E2 is one of the brand’s latest smartwatches with everything you’d expect from a capable smartwatch and fitness tracker rolled into one. It can keep tabs on a range of exercises and it’s 5 ATM water resistant, so it’s just as at home in the pool as it is at the gym. It also has built-in GPS, which means it’s good for runners.

8. Huawei Watch 2: Best sports-look watch 

Huawei Watch 2

(Image credit: Huawei)

Huawei Watch 2

Best sports-look watch

GPS: Yes | Heart rate: Yes | Battery: 1 day | Notifications: Yes | Apps: Yes | Contactless payments: Yes | Onboard music: Yes | Sleep tracking: Yes

Both GPS and NFC
A 4G option
Screen a little small
Design won’t suit everyone

One of the older models on the list, Huawei has since launched a newer smartwatch called the GT. But it does away with Wear OS, which means this version is actually our favorite.

It’s great for those who like the look of sporty watches but need some added smarts. In that way it’s not as slick as modern-looking smartwatches, like the Apple Watch, or stylish ones, like the Fossil range, but it’s fairly understated and bound to suit most people.

It comes with optional 4G connectivity, which means it’ll work well without your phone – ideal for those who run or workout outdoors. Speaking of working out, this is a decent fitness tracking smartwatch with a heart rate monitor, GPS and some built-in workouts.

The only downside to the watch, if you like the look of it that is, is that the display can feel a little small. Especially when you want to take a quick glance at messages or workout stats.

9. Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45: Best for style

TAG Heuer Connected Modular 45

(Image credit: TAG Heuer)

Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45

Best for style

GPS: Yes | Heart rate: No | Battery: 1 day | Notifications: Yes | Apps: Yes | Contactless payments: Yes | Onboard music: Yes | Sleep tracking: Yes

Looks fantastic
Great display
No heart rate tracking

If you like your timepieces to be both stylish and premium, then this is the smartwatch for you. It brings a luxury look to your wrist that’s notoriously hard to find in the current crop of modern smartwatches – if you dress formally for work or go to a lot of events, this is likely to fit in well.

It’s not as capable at tracking sports as some of the more fitness-focused smartwatches, but it does have on-board GPS, as well as waterproofing, making it more than capable for casual gym goers and runners.

However, although the Connected Modular 45 from Tag Heuer may look good, if you’re on a budget there are plenty of cheaper Wear OS smartwatches that’ll get the job done with less damage to your bank account.

10. Fossil Sport: Best for style and fitness

Fossil Sport

(Image credit: Fossil)

Fossil Sport

Best for style and fitness

GPS: Yes | Heart rate: Yes | Battery: 2 days | Notifications: Yes | Apps: Yes | Contactless payments: Yes | Onboard music: No | Sleep tracking: No

Lightweight and comfy to wear
Gym and pool-friendly
Pricey for a fitness watch
Design won’t appeal to everyone

One of our favorite smartwatches for those who want to track fitness, the Fossil Sport is another great design from the watch experts at Fossil. It has a light and comfy design, which makes it a perfect workout companion, and you can switch out different wristbands easily. 

It’s a great fitness option because it has an accurate heart rate monitor and built-in GPS, It’s also swim-proof to a depth of 50 meters and the silicone strap it comes with makes it ideal for dealing with both water and sweat.

The design of the Fossil Sport is like a small stopwatch, with little dials sticking out at the side a little more than you’d get on a regular watch - this is bound to be appealing to some people, but not everyone. It also isn’t as capable as some of the higher end smartwatches on the list, but for lightweight fitness it’s perfect.