Best Smartwatch 2021: 12 smartwatches perfect for all types of users

Apple Watch Series 7 (left) and Series 6 (right).
expansion / / Apple Watch Series 7 (left) and Series 6 (right).

Corey Gaskin

As the holiday shopping season begins, we have updated our guide to the best smartwatches you can buy. The Apple Watch Series 7 has become the top of the Series 6, and Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 has replaced the Galaxy Watch 3 to become the top pick for Android users. We’ve also replaced some new Garmin watches with a focus on running and style. Recommendations.

Believe it or not, there are other smartwatches worth owning besides the Apple Watch. If the important (or less important) notifications on your wrist sound attractive, there’s great news. Most smartwatches can now do that. There are also options for style, form factor, and more dedicated wearable purposes.

There are smartwatches that emphasize the aesthetics of style and classic watches, smartwatches that help train for competition in a particular sport, and everything in between. From casual exercisers to those who need all the data and guidance available, the smartwatch outlook is mature. And recently, we reviewed some of our favorite options and tested the latest releases to help you find the best smartwatch for your needs.

Short (er) version

  • Apple Watch Series 7 still The best all-round smartwatch Available. No other wearable product is close to the variety of apps, ecosystem cohesiveness, and third-party support offered by Apple Watch. Battery life is fine with a single charge of about 1 day, but charging from 0 to 100 takes a little over an hour. The new, larger screen also provides a larger font size and more space for reading fitness data and notifications. Fitness tracking can use more context, but it’s hard to beat the Series 7 all-round package. The Apple Watch SE, on the other hand, can save you a few dollars depending on your needs.
  • our runner up Fitbit Sense. Apple Watch doesn’t have extensive app support, but it has about the same level of fitness hardware (ECG, blood oxygen sensor, heart rate, GPS), one week of battery life, a more detailed companion app, and a stylish design. Android support.
  • If you can find it for less than $ 200, the Fitbit Versa 3 Another option we like.. It has an excellent combination of a sophisticated smartwatch look (both software and hardwear) and the required fitness tracking and notification capabilities you’d expect in its price range. There is no ECG sensor, but otherwise it should be covered with basic to moderate health insights.
  • Garmin Forerunner 745 is our Top runners watch For its deep training statistics, convenient yet readable analysis for all athletes, and a suite of dedicated runner tools. It doesn’t have a touch screen, but with GPS, 24/7 heart rate, all-day blood oxygen monitoring, and music storage for up to 500 songs, it’s perfect for running, swimming, cycling, and most other sports. ..
The Apple Watch Series 7 is a relatively minor upgrade compared to the slightly smaller Series 6 it replaces, but it's still the best all-purpose smartwatch we've tested.
expansion / / The Apple Watch Series 7 is a relatively minor upgrade compared to the slightly smaller Series 6 it replaces, but it’s still the best all-purpose smartwatch we’ve tested.

Corey Gaskin

  • The Garmin Forerunner 55 and 245 Music are two cheap options worth a look. For medium runners.. If you love the 745 approach but don’t need music storage, blood oxygen monitoring, running cadence analysis, etc., the Forerunner 45 can save you a lot of money. Forerunner 245 Music, on the other hand, may be suitable for those who don’t. I need an altimeter and tracking for hiking and other outdoor activities, but I want to maintain most of the activity tracking capabilities of the 745.
  • Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 The best all-round wearable for Android usersEspecially Samsung mobile phone owners. The classic watch styling looks great and the rotating bezel controls are intuitive. Some of its more advanced health tracking features require a Galaxy phone, but overall it’s a very capable fitness tracker. The software, co-created by Google and Samsung, keeps the Galaxy Watch in a well-known and sophisticated state, while increasing the list of popular apps that support it.
  • There are some Stylish smartwatch we like From Garmin. Vivomove Luxe, Style, and 3 / 3S share an elegant look and premium materials at different price points, making them great jewelery without compromising on moderate fitness tracking.On the other hand, Garmin Lily is especially Great for women Or a person with a small wrist.. You need a GPS phone, but fashionable aesthetics provide useful statistics for all kinds of activities and notifications.

Overall the best smartwatch

Apple Watch Series 7

Apple's new watch face emphasizes a wider screen.
expansion / / Apple’s new watch face emphasizes a wider screen.

Corey Gaskin

(Ars Technica can earn sales rewards from the links in this post through the affiliate program.)

If you have an iPhone and you’re looking for a smartwatch, the Apple Watch is your mandatory first stop, and for good reason. Simply put, it’s the best smartwatch you can buy. Is it the best fitness tracker? No. Is it the most stylish smartwatch? Well, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and everyone … but not really. It’s also not the most versatile wearable, as it only works on the iPhone.

But if you need a (general) mirror of your cell phone on your wrist and you need fitness tracking requirements (some bonus features like heart rate, blood oxygen, GPS, and ECG scans), the AppleWatchSeries It’s nothing but. 7. With a wide range of first-party and third-party app support and LTE connectivity, we provide true “leave your phone at home” utility.

Apple Watch Series 7 app support is unmatched with almost insurmountable margins, and the full QWERTY keyboard makes basic tasks such as texting even easier. The Series 7 has a slightly larger screen and watch case than the Series 6, and the bezel is 40% thinner. In short, the always-on display is large enough not only to give you more space to view and interact with your app, but also to enable new luxury like a screen keyboard.

Series 7 model changes are confusing unless used side by side with Series 6, and if you already own Series 6, it’s not worth upgrading to the latest model. However, the faster charging speed of Series 7 is very noticeable. With the new charging coil combined with the USB-C Apple Watch charger, the charging time from 0 to 100 has been halved from 2.5 hours to 1.25 hours. This makes the charger quick dash much more effective. That said, the overall battery life is 18 hours, or about a day’s worth of use.

When it comes to fitness, Series 7 bases are covered in over 50 different activity tracking modes, making it easy to see your health vitals from exercise, sleep, and everyday life through Apple’s Health app. This app is primarily trend-focused, so it’s not the most insightful and doesn’t provide most of the guidance on the watches in this guide. But consistency is key to any health regimen, and guidance through Apple Fitness +, Apple’s paid fitness subscription ($ 10 / month or $ 80 / year), provides a bit of missing guidance. Useful. Five ATM water resistance, IPX6 water resistance (the latter is a new feature in Series 7), and a more rugged screen shape make it the most durable Apple Watch ever.

As mentioned earlier, Series 7 is basically a fast-charging, facelifted Series 6 starting at $ 400. Although in stock, the Series 6 is often found at a price about $ 50 cheaper than the equivalent Series 7 model. Or, if you don’t need an always-on display, blood oxygen sensor, or ECG sensor, you can save a lot of changes with a similar Apple Watch SE, which sells for $ 279.

Next is the Apple Watch Series 3. It doesn’t have the same sensor as mentioned in the SE abbreviation and is considerably slower than the SE or Series 7. In addition, intermittent altimeter readings are possible, but the always-on altimeter is lost. However, it’s still tempting to buy the basics at a suggested retail price of $ 200, and they are often sold at lower prices. Users should note that they had a problem updating the Series 3 with the limited 8GB storage of the watch. It’s also better to look at it as a smartwatch than a health tracker or fitness tracker, given all the features it lacks compared to Series 7, Series 6, and most competitors.

runner up

Fitbit Sense

Fitbit's Sense has all the sensors you need for a fitness tracker, especially with Fitbit's premium membership, with deeper health insights and guidance than the Apple Watch offers.
expansion / / Fitbit’s Sense has all the sensors you need for a fitness tracker, especially with Fitbit’s premium membership, with deeper health insights and guidance than the Apple Watch offers.

Corey Gaskin / Ars Technica

(Ars Technica can earn sales rewards from the links in this post through the affiliate program.)

With at least three Apple Watch options worth lowering, it’s hard to create a bunch of separations between runners-up. However, the main attraction of Fitbit Sense is that it has almost all the fitness and health sensors in the Apple Watch Series 6, but it’s universally compatible for use on Android, iPhone, and even computers. .. It also has a battery life that’s two to three times longer than the Apple Watch, which is equivalent to almost a week of use.

Stylistically, it certainly resembles an Apple Watch, with a glossy square case, a bright and vibrant display, and a silicone band. However, a closer look reveals the difference easily. The band’s latch is different and connects to the watch with its own seamless mechanism, but the all-round feel is as comfortable as the Apple Watch. You can also buy a variety of leather, silicone and fabric bands. Some are made of recycled materials or use reflective fibers for hikers and runners.

Sense also offers state-of-the-art fitness tracking hardware such as ECG monitors and blood oxygen measurements, but the latter doesn’t provide spot measurements unless you pay for Fitbit Premium. Without it, the sensor will only be used during sleep. All the requirements for GPS, heart rate monitoring, altimeter, etc. are in Sense, as are skin temperature monitors and skin electrical activity sensors for stress measurement.

As far as smartwatches are concerned, Fitbit Sense fully covers the requirements and allows notifications from almost any app for iOS or Android. However, universal compatibility means less integration with first-party features, especially in responding to text and email. You can’t reply to text messages or emails from your iPhone, but you can reply to text using Quick Reply or Voice Dictation on your Android phone. You can also make Fitbit calls on your iPhone or Android device.

If that’s all you need for your phone, Fitbit Sense is a strong candidate. Sense’s only mainstream third-party app is a few music services like Spotify (which just controls streaming, not streaming from the clock), so don’t expect the complexity of a bespoke app or a shortcut to a particular feature. Please on another device), Deezer, and Pandora.

Mysteriously, unless you have a Pandora Premium or Deezer Premium account (neither is widespread), Sense loses the ability to download your music files to your device (Versa 2 is possible). Therefore, if it is important to hike or run without a cell phone, it may be important to consider this and the lack of cell phone connectivity.

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