How to choose a smartwatch: the definitive guide

Image of Garmin Venu2 Plus and Apple Watch Series 7 on the table

Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

From left to right: Garmin Venu 2 Plus, Apple Watch Series 7

In a market flooded with options, choosing a new wearable can be difficult. What to look for and how to prioritize options? Features, sensors, and compatibility are just the beginning. Our buying guide can help you choose the right smartwatch for you before you drop a lot of cash. If your new device is on the radar, consider the following questions. Each needs to rotate your wheels on the key side of choosing the right smartwatch.

  1. Is the latest flagship wearable really the best option for you?
  2. What are your wearable needs?
  3. How much should I use?
  4. What is the best device for the current ecosystem?
  5. Are you as happy as last year’s watch?

Why that Apple (or Samsung) flagship smartwatch may not work

Don’t fall into the topic. Just because a watch is up-to-date doesn’t mean it’s the best, especially in terms of value. Apple and Galaxy watches are great for some, but that doesn’t mean they should be your first choice. Many of the biggest competitors are household names, all worth considering.

Similarly, not all new things that drive the price of flagship devices soaring are needed. Or maybe it’s not that new anyway. For example, we recommended Series 6 to most users, even when Apple Watch Series 7 arrived with minimal changes. If you already own a device with well-supported software, you may not need to upgrade yet. Needs: How do you use your smartwatch?

Garmin Venu2 Plus on the wrist, showing the clock face and display

Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

Not everyone who straps a smartwatch uses it the same way. Before you buy, identify what type of user you are most likely to be. Most people fall into three general categories: casual exercise, athletes, and communicators. Each of these types of users needs to consider different factors when choosing a smartwatch to buy.

Casual exercise

Activity tracking is one of the most common reasons to replace an analog watch with a smarter one. With a smartwatch, you can get a feel for your basic fitness without any extra effort. Casual exercise is dedicated to getting in shape, but it doesn’t need the kind of data that users training for the race need. Instead, this user appreciates the motivation for self-explanatory features like Apple’s rings. They may have a temporary interest in other health analyzes such as sleep tracking.


Not everyone is just looking for the basics. Some users are looking for a training companion. Athletes need ultra-accurate fitness tracking and top-level insights. Prioritize features such as advanced heart rate monitoring, workout and recovery tools, and long battery life. Often they are drawn to many sport modes, durable builds to combat sweaty workouts, and water resistant devices for clocking laps. Athletes may also prioritize the built-in GPS to keep their cell phones out of their pockets during long-distance training sessions.


For other users, smartwatches are, first and foremost, auxiliary devices for smartphones. A communicator is a user who needs to stay connected instead of setting up a new 10K PR. Instead of unplugging the phone dozens of times a day, the communicator uses wearables to provide notifications, voice assistance, and even phone support. You need a device that seamlessly pairs with the current ecosystem and has plenty of on-screen space to complete the action from your wrist. It may also appreciate the extensive app library for streamlining more tools and tasks.

Budget: How much do you want to spend on your smartwatch?

Mobvoi TicWatch E3 with phone

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Even better, how much do you need to spend on your smartwatch? Budget discussions are never easy and really vary from shopper to shopper. The point is that you don’t have to spend an exorbitant amount of money to bring back a powerful device. The average smartwatch is somewhere in the $ 200- $ 400 price range, with some budget options cheaper and some feature-packed devices a bit more expensive.

Do not miss it: The best cheap smartwatch you can buy

Fortunately, you may buy something that lasts longer these days. Many companies provide software support for older devices, so you don’t have to replace your smartwatch every year. As with most, the more you spend, the more you can find in terms of feature sets. For example, depending on the level of health and fitness tracking you are interested in, you may need to increase your budget. Similarly, high material and build priorities may require a more expensive model for a particular device. When choosing how much to spend on your new smartwatch, think specifically about which features are more valuable.

Compatibility: Which ecosystem are you using?

Before committing to your device, determine if your current ecosystem is compatible. For example, the Apple Watch is for iOS users only, but the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 doesn’t let iOS users dry. The last thing you want to do is buy a smartwatch that doesn’t sync. Once you know if your device is also an option in terms of compatibility, evaluate how much integration you can expect. Sticking to the current ecosystem often provides the best user experience. Corporate devices such as Garmin and Fitbit, on the other hand, work in many ecosystems.

you For real Do you need this year’s watch?

The Apple Watch Series 7 has a screen that sits on an inactive black mat.

Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

The easy answer is probably not. As mentioned above, most wearable companies provide software support for older generation devices so that users don’t have to fork cash each year. Certain hardware and design upgrades are the main reason to buy a new flagship watch.

For example, if your company adds GPS or SpO2 to a line that did not previously have these features, we recommend that you use the latest model. What about heart rate monitoring and better battery life? Some lines even introduce novelties like solar charging. On the other hand, if your current device is working fine and you’re not particularly crazy about new things with this year’s product, you can probably pass. Similarly, if you want to save some cash, you can still buy old technology that you can trust enough.

Make sure that the device you are considering continues to be updated regularly before you reach far. We also don’t recommend investing in older Wear OS devices that are covered by Wear OS 3. Evaluating the software lifetime of your device is an important step in choosing the right smartwatch to buy.

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