The Best Smartwatches
In addition to an increase of Google WearOS smartwatches we also find more and more devices made by Honor and Huawei. Apple and Google's systems can be supplemented with additional functions via apps. This explains why both the Apple Watch and watches with WearOS have a memory of about 1 GB, while the closed systems of Honor or Huawei manage with less than half a megabyte.
In between these are manufacturers such as Samsung, Garmin or Fitbit, who work with their own systems, but also each operate their own app store. What they offer is more limited, but at least popular apps like Strava and Spotify can be found there.
Talking about sports: It's mainly sensors that make the difference with smartwatches. Some are independent during training thanks to their own GPS. Gyroscope and accelerometer sensors activate the display when you raise your arm, log steps and notify you if you don't move enough. Furthermore, many current wearables also measure the heart rate, but only a few also measure the blood oxygen saturation. This reaches 100% in the ideal case and is not only interesting for athletes: In healthcare, pulse oximetry provides information on general physical fitness, including with COVID-19.
The Best Smartwatches
|Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar|
|1.40"||14.9 mm||54 g||⊕||GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, optical heart rate sensor, barometer, compass, gyroscope, accelerometer, thermometer, pulse oximeter||4 Buttons||⊕||transflective MIP-Display||280x280||283 PPI||⊖||⊖||⊖||⊖|
|Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 45mm BT|
|1.40"||11.1 mm||53.8 g||⊕||Accelerometer, Barometer, Gyro Sensor, Light Sensor, Optical Heart Rate Sensor, EKG||2 Buttons, rotating bezel||⊕||Super AMOLED||360x360||364 PPI||340||⊖||⊕||⊕||⊕||1024 MB||Tizen|
|Apple Watch Series 6 44 mm|
|1.76"||10.7 mm||36.5 g||⊕||Electrical heart sensor, Optical heart sensor, Blood oxygen sensor, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Barometric altimeter, Compass||1 Button + 1 combined button/crown||⊕||LTPO-OLED||448x368||328 PPI||⊖||⊕||⊕||⊕||1024 MB||Apple WatchOS 7|
|Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro|
|1.39"||11.4 mm||52 g||⊕||Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Barometer, Geo-Magnetometer, Optical heart rate||2 buttons||⊕||OLED||454x454||326 PPI||455||⊖||⊕||⊕||⊕||32 MB||RTOS|
|Honor Watch GS Pro|
|1.39"||13.6 mm||45.5 g||⊕||Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Geomagnetical Sensor, Barometer, Optical heart rate||2 Buttons||⊕||AMOLED||454x454||326 PPI||790||⊖||⊖||⊕||⊕||32 MB||RTOS|
|Honor MagicWatch 2|
|1.39"||10.7 mm||41 g||⊕||optical heart rate sensor, acceleration sensor, gyroscope, barometer, magnetometer||2 Buttons||⊕||AMOLED||454x454||326 PPI||455||⊖||⊖||⊕||⊕||32 MB||RTOS|
|Polar Grit X|
|1.20"||13 mm||44 g||⊕||Magnetometer,altimeter, 3D acceleration sensor, Heart rate,||5 buttons||⊕||Transflective color touch display||240x240||283 PPI||346||⊖||⊖||⊖||⊖|
|1.40"||12.35 mm||33.5 g||⊕||Gyroscope, altimeter, 3-axis accelerometer, skin temperature sensor, multi-path optical heart rate sensor, multipurpose electrical sensors compatible with ECG app & EDA app||1 button||⊕||AMOLED||336x336||339 PPI||⊖||⊖||⊕||⊕||Fitbit OS|
|Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3 GPS|
|1.40"||12.2 mm||41.9 g||⊕||Accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer, optical heart rate||2 buttons||⊕||AMOLED||454x454||459 PPI||595||⊖||⊖||⊕||⊕||1024 MB||Google WearOS 2|
|Huami Zepp E Circle|
|1.28"||9.1 mm||32 g||⊕||Acceleration Sensor, Geomagnetic Sensor, Optical Heart Rate Sensor||1 Button||⊖||AMOLED||416x416||326 PPI||188||⊖||⊖||⊖||⊖|
The table above contains an overview over the best smartwatches reviewed by Notebookcheck over the course of the past 12 months as well as still relevant and available older products. In cases of identical score the more recent device is listed first. All prices in above table and price comparisons are updated daily and can thus differ.
1st – Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar
Garmin’s high-end smartwatch will support even exotic workouts, such as paragliding. Support for golfing is excellent, with maps for thousands of golf courses worldwide available.
Maps based on OpenStreetMap material can be used for hiking and include points of interest (POIs) nearby that might be worth visiting.
If you are out and about for long periods of time without the possibility to charge in-between you may want to take a look at the more than $800 expensive solar model of Garmin’s Fenix 6X Pro, which will allow you to increase the device’s already long battery life even further. Under optimal conditions you might gain an entire extra day per week. If, however, you don’t see the point and want to save some money you can also opt for a cheaper SKU without solar support.
Garmin’s Fenix 6X Pro Solar is probably the most versatile and functional smartwatch we have ever had in review.
One feature worth highlighting is the watch’s roundtrip routing feature. Based on your current location it will automatically identify a round-trip route with predetermined length for an optimal workout such as running or cycling.
Given its enormous number of sensors as well as its additional features, such as the offline music player, the Fenix 6X Pro Solar offers a great overall connectivity. Unfortunately, it lacks both a microphone and a speaker. One of the reasons for its long battery life is the fact that unless other smartwatches, the Fenix 6X Pro features an energy-efficient MIP (memory-in-pixel) display rather than the traditional and more common LCD or OLED displays. This furthermore reinforces its sporty looks.
What might spoil it for some is the lack of touch support. Instead of tapping on the display you need to use the five dedicated buttons to navigate around the features and menus and given their extensive nature this can get quite arduous sometimes.
2nd – Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
Operating a smartwatch via a touch-sensitive bezel may no longer be new, but it remains a unique feature of Samsung’s Galaxy Watch.
Samsung uses its own Tizen operating system for the Galaxy Watch 3. Fortunately, just like on Apple’s watchOS and Google’s GearOS additional apps are available via Samsung’s own Galaxy Store, many of which are also available on Apple’s and Google’s respective stores.
The watch supports using a paired Android smartphone to make and receive phone calls, and it is capable of measuring your heart rate, your blood oxygen level, and perform health analyses. Athletes can customize the exercise screen to their liking and take a look at aerobe and anaerobe training effects immediately following a workout. When running, the Galaxy Watch 3 recorded ground contact and airtime, and thus more than most fitness trackers.
When it comes to build quality and visual appearance, the Galaxy Watch 3 is closer to traditional watches than most other.
By default, Samsung includes a leather strap with its very well-made watch. Considering its very ambitious price we find the watch lacking in several aspects though, among others battery life. It requires to be charged either every night or at least every other night. The actual act of charging is performed wirelessly.
3rd – Apple Watch Series 6
What was once the laughingstock for its square design has now become the Gold standard for smartwatches. Its bright LTPO OLED display is very fast in switching between always-on mode and regular active usage mode. Its two buttons, one of which is a dial, and touch gestures are all you need to use the device. Reminders or timers can be set via Apple’s integrated assistant Siri, and the watch can be used to make and take phone calls thanks to its integrated speaker and microphone. Where the Apple Watch truly shines is in its third-party app ecosystem. No other manufacturer gets even close, which makes the Apple Watch the most versatile smartwatch available by a longshot.
The Apple Watch is very popular with athletes. Thanks to its built-in ECG, heart rate sensors, and blood oxygen saturation sensors it offers a wide array of health data.
In our review of the Apple Watch Series 6 we found the blood oxygen saturations sensor to be fairly accurate. It can either take automatic readings or perform a manual one. Its sleep tracking feature that Apple introduced with watchOS 7 and that is also available on older watches, on the other hand, was not particularly great. Should your battery charge drop below 30 % before you fall asleep it will not record any data, which means you need to make sure to give it a quick top-up if necessary before you go to bed. The Apple Watch remains a functional and matured smartwatch with a short battery life.
4th – Huawei Watch GT2 Pro
The Watch GT2 Pro is a manifestation of traditional watch design and is optionally available with a leather strap. Its display is protected by sapphire glass, and the case made of titanium and ceramic make for a very noble and elegant design.
Huawei smartwatches have been known for their functionality and offer great fitness and health analyses features.
Huawei does not only visualize these in their Huawei Health companion app but also on the watch itself.
The Watch GT2 Pro also includes a navigation feature for the first time, although at the time of writing it was limited to a simple route-back tour with track recording.
In addition to GPS and altimeter the smartwatch also includes 4 GB of storage for offline music as well as sensors for heart rate readings and blood oxygen levels. It can make and take phone calls via the paired smartphone. However, the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro does not support LTE or NFC, and is thus just as limited as its predecessors. Charging, on the other hand, was improved upon, and the Watch GT2 Pro is Huawei’s first smartwatch with support for wireless charging.
5th – Honor Watch GS Pro
Honor’s sturdy smartwatch is a great companion for outdoor freaks. It is not only very robust and strong but also offers a long battery life. Thanks to its 790 mAh battery it can run for up to 25 days. Hiking or biking without your smartphone are no problem either as the GS Pro will run for up to 48 hours with active GPS use.
Practically indestructible. The Honor Watch GS Pro has passed 14 military-level standards.
The available workouts have been updated to include skiing, snowboarding, and cross country. In addition, we grew quite fond of Honor’s workout tracking and its health data recordings. That said during our review of the Honor Watch GS Pro we did encounter issues with the blood oxygen saturation sensor. The watch comes with 4 GB of storage for offline music.
6th place - Honor Magic Watch 2, 46 mm (1.8 inch)
Basically, the Honor Magic Watch 2 shares the same place with our number 2 pick: It's a replica of Huawei's Watch GT 2 of the same size, apart from fine optical differences on the bezel and upper key. Thanks to the loudspeaker and microphone, you can also make calls with the Magic Watch 2 via Bluetooth and a connected smartphone.
The Magic Watch 2 supports sports and leisure activities with GPS and altimeter, as well as an optical heart-rate sensor and the measurement of blood oxygen saturation. The latter was also only activated by Honor a few weeks after the launch of the watch through an update. Unlike Fitbit, Honor doesn't show the value in the sleep log; if you want to track a change, you have to measure the value manually on a regular basis so that the Watch Magic 2 feeds the corresponding log into the health app on a smartphone with the recorded values.
The Honor Magic Watch 2 is almost identical to the Huawei Watch GT 2, only cheaper.
For athletes, the Magic Watch 2 offers numerous sports, training plans for runners and great graphics on the sharp AMOLED screen. Apps like Strava are missing, like with the Huawei device, because the software is the same, including the lack of expanding its feature-set via additional apps. In comparison to Huawei's Watch GT 2, the Magic Watch 2's price speaks for itself and, for those who love color, there is a red accent on the top button.
The runtime was 10 days in the real-life scenario of our test of the Honor Magic Watch 2.
7th – Polar Grit X
The Polar Grit X is a robust sports watch with five well-pronounced buttons to emphasize its sporty appearance. Instead of a TFT or OLED display the watch comes with a MIP (memory-in-pixel) display for added energy efficiency. As a result, even with heart rate monitoring enabled the Polar smartwatch can run for up to a full week on a single charge.
During workouts, the Grit X will record your VO2max and will offer not only extensive analyses of recorded workout data but can also help you setup interval training and individual workout schedules, for example when preparing for a competition, using the companion app.
The Polar Grit X does what many users have been asking for: you can upload GPX tracks onto your smartwatch.
The Grit X is also capable of navigation. In our review, we used among others Komoot to test its GPS capabilities. Alternatively, you can upload your own GPX tracks – a feature that the Apple Watch also includes but that other smart watches are mysteriously lacking in.
The Polar smartwatch will notify you of incoming phone calls and messages, emails, and calendar events but lacks typical smartwatch features such as storing and playing offline music or a remote control functionality for your paired smartphone.
8th – Fitbit Sense
Fitbit wearables tend to emphasize fitness tracking. Among others, the watch supports an app with workout instructions and GPS tracking for outdoor workouts. It also supports offline music with up to 2.5 GB of storage available. Both Spotify and Deezer were already preloaded on our Fitbit Sense, and other apps are available through Fitbit’s own app store.
The Fitbit Sense is one of the more advanced health tracking wearables available right now.
The Sense is very similar to Fitbit’s own Versa series but offers a variety of additional health features on top of it. For example, it can display an ECG, read and record your skin temperature at night, and track electrodermal activities in order to detect typical stress symptoms. It will read your heart frequency all day long but limits blood oxygen saturation readings to nighttime in order to detect sleep apnea.
9th – TicWatch Pro 3 GPS
The TicWatch Pro 3 GPS’s and its predecessors’ unique feature is the additional incredibly energy efficient FSTN LCD above the main OLED screen. During our review, the battery lasted for 3 days. This may not be particularly long when compared to other smartwatches but keep in mind that on average most other wearables running Google’s WearOS ran out of juice a full day ahead of the TicWatch Pro 3 GPS.
Among the Google WearOS wearables the TicWatch Pro 3 GPS offers a comparatively long battery life.
This dual-screen smartwatch was one of the first equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon WearOS 4100 SoC. The increased performance became very obvious during the benchmarks that we ran as part of our TicWatch Pro 3 GPS review.
Mobvoi also includes in-house apps for health and exercise. We liked its graphical representation of recorded data both on the smartwatch display as well as in the Mobvoi smartphone companion app. Thanks to WearOS you can install a variety of third-part apps via Google’s Play Store.
10th – Zepp E
For its first Zepp-branded smartwatch Huami, the OEM behind Amazfit wearables, combined its matured software ecosystem with the technology and experience of multisport sensor manufacturer Zepp.
Unlike Amazfit smartwatches this new brand puts an emphasis on style and elegance. The Zepp E, for example, can be purchased with either a circular or square display, both of which feature a bezelless AMOLED display and are comparatively sophisticated and delicate.
So far, Huami has made a name for its functional and long-running wearables. With its Zepp brand, the OEM is now establishing a more fashionable line.
Hardware connectivity and equipment is a mixed bag. One the one hand, the Chinese manufacturer includes modern technologies such as blood oxygen saturation sensors. On the other, features required for mobile payments such as NFC or even a GPS sensor required to be independent of your paired smartphone during outdoor workouts are missing.
In our review, the Zepp E showed a good battery life and good graphical representation of health and fitness data both inside the companion app and on the smartwatch itself.