Best smartwatch for 2016

Apple Watch, Android Wear smartwatches and Pebble top the list

The smartwatch is the mother of all smartphone accessories. It can tell the time, of course, but it can also beam important notifications straight to your wrist, and run native apps.

What's more impressive is that many of today's best models can also perform a ton of novel tricks, such as enabling you to search the internet with your voice, tracking your exercise over GPS, and letting you check-out at the grocery store without reaching for your wallet.

Oh yeah – and lots of them look absolutely stunning to boot.

For some time, jumping into the world of smartwatches was a risky move. But now, with competent efforts put forward from Google with Android Wear, Apple with watchOS, and more, there's never been a better time to strap up with wearable technology.

There's a lot of exciting smart wristwear you'll be able to put on by the end of the year including the Withings Steel HR, Pebble 2, Samsung Gear S3 Classic and Gear S3 Frontier. Even Misfit is joining in with a new watch called the Phase, but so far we don't know where it'll land - if at all - in our best smartwatch ranking.

Choosing the smartwatch that's right for you isn't easy, but we hope to make the exciting process of getting paired up with your next (or first!) smartwatch as simple as possible.

1. Apple Watch 2

Fitness takes over the Apple Watch

OS: watchOS 3 | Compatibility: iOS | Display: 1.53" OLED | Processor: S2 dual-core | Band sizes: Varies drastically per watch size | Onboard storage: 8GB (only 2GB and 75MB allowed for music and photos, respectively) | Battery: 18 hours | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: IPX7 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC

Water-resistant
GPS onboard
Expensive
Lack of useful apps

The Apple Watch 2 is the best smartwatch you can buy right now. It's water-resistant, which means it's more durable than most of the other devices on this list and you won't have to worry about getting it wet in the rain when you're out for a jog.

There's GPS onboard to make running that little bit easier plus it comes running the newest watchOS 3 software. Design wise it's looking very similar to the original Apple Watch. Be warned though, the Apple Watch 2 is expensive.

If you already own an Apple Watch, the Apple Watch 2 may not be worth the upgrade but there are a few solid improvements that mean it's worth spending that bit extra if this is your first wearable from Apple.

Read the full review: Apple Watch 2

Samsung Gear S2

2. Samsung Gear S2

Samsung is finally a real smartwatch contender

OS: Tizen OS | Compatibility: Android | Display: 1.2" 360 x 360 Super AMOLED | Processor: Dual-core 1.0GHz | Band sizes: S (105 x 65mm) L (130 x 70mm) | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery duration: 1.5 days | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: IP68 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC

Innovative rotating bezel
Works with many Android phones
Too few apps

The Samsung Gear S2 is one of the best smartwatches on the market. It really feels like a step forward in smartwatch design. Plus, its rotating bezel and Tizen OS are genuinely useful innovations.

The Super AMOLED screen on the Samsung Gear S2 is also a real standout feature, it's incredibly sharp, vibrant, and fully circular. It's the sharpest screen available on a smartwatch, equal to the Apple Watch's 302ppi.

This is definitely worth considering over similarly priced Android Wear devices.

Read the full review: Samsung Gear S2

Moto 360

3. Moto 360

Moto's latest smartwatch is a thing of beauty

OS: Android Wear | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 1.37" or 1.56" LCD | Processor: Quad-core 1.2GHz | Case dimensions: 42mm or 46mm diameter, each 11.4mm thick | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery: 1.5-2 days depending on size | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: IP67 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth

Beautiful design
Improved performance
Battery life remains iffy
Flat tire bezel is back

The new Moto 360 certainly gets our vote as the best-looking smartwatch that came out in 2015. It's also one of the most comfortable wearables around.

The new size options give the Moto 360 the extra reach it needed the first time around. That, and the new-found comfortable fit (along with the added customization to the design), brings it all together as one of the best smartwatches of 2016.

Read the full review: Moto 360

Sony SmartWatch 3

4. Sony SmartWatch 3

A powerful, affordable and well-equipped wearable

OS: Android Wear | Compatibility: Android | Display: 1.6" LCD | Processor: Quad-core 1.2GHz | Case dimensions: 36mm diameter, 10mm thick | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery: 2 days | Charging method: via microUSB | IP rating: IP68 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, GPS

Slick performance
Built-in GPS
Not super-stylish
Counterintuitive charging port

The Sony SmartWatch 3 stands out from much of the competition with its impressive performance, a good screen and solid battery life, not to mention the inclusion of GPS, which makes it a better fitness accessory than most smartwatches, despite an imperfect implementation.

This wearable just about nails the tricky blend of being a smartwatch with competent fitness tracking capabilities.

Read the full review: Sony Smartwatch 3

Huawei Watch

5. Huawei Watch

Huawei's wearable debut makes a striking entrance

OS: Android Wear | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 1.4" AMOLED | Processor: Quad-core 1.2GHz | Case dimensions: 42mm diameter, 11.3mm thick | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery: 2 days | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: IP67 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth

Premium build and materials
Sharp and fully-circular screen
Expensive
So-so battery life

The Huawei Watch is not perfect, with iffy battery life and a high price tag watering down the gorgeous presentation. But it's a near seamless blend of fashion and technology, and edges closer to earning the 'smartwatch I'd actually wear' title.

Read the full review: Huawei Watch

Asus Zenwatch 2

6. Asus ZenWatch 2

A fantastic, budget-friendly Android Wear option

OS: Android Wear | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 1.63" AMOLED | Processor: Quad-core 1.2GHz | Case dimensions: 40mm diameter, 9.3mm thick | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery: 2 days | Charging method: via proprietary USB charger | IP rating: IP67 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth

Very affordable
iOS compatible
Too much bezel
Which results in a small screen

The ZenWatch 2 is good, but not great. It's far better than the original ZenWatch, and much closer to the other, fully-featured Android Wear wearables.

Simply put, if you want to test out Android Wear, but you're on a budget, there currently isn't a better starting point – and even if this isn't your first smartwatch there's a lot to like here.

Read the full review: Asus ZenWatch 2

LG Watch Urbane

7. LG Watch Urbane

It's beautiful and deluxe, but not for everyone

OS: Android Wear | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 1.3" P-OLED | Processor: Quad-core 1.2GHz | Case dimensions: 45.5mm diameter, 10.9mm thick | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery: 2 days | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: IP67 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth

Fashionable
Passable battery life
A bit bulky
No GPS included

LG's fetching smartwatch nails the look, with its classic circular face and simple timepiece feel.

It's rather large, though, so those with small wrists need not apply, and we feel that the Urbane is a bit light on features. But if you can nab this on a deal, you won't regret it.

Read the full review: LG Watch Urbane

Tag Heuer Connected

8. Tag Heuer Connected

Premium and powerful, with a price to match

OS: Android Wear | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 1.5" LCD | Processor: Dual-core 1.6GHz | Case dimensions: 46mm diameter, 12.8mm thick | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery: 2 days | Charging method: via proprietary USB dock | Waterproofing: IP67 | Connectivity: Bluetooth

Premium feel and style
High-end internal specs
Expensive
Relatively low-res screen

The Tag Heuer Connected is premium in every sense of the word, from its wallet-worrying $1,500/£1,100 (around AU$2,100) price, to its stylish design and beefy 1.6GHz processor and 1GB of RAM, which make it the most powerful smartwatch on the market.

It looks and feels like a truly premium wearable – or even like a piece of jewelry, as the best watches should. The price ensures it will remain a niche device, and Android Wear feels at odds with such a high-class piece of hardware, but if you put style and prestige above all else the Tag Heuer Connected is tough to beat.

Read the full review: Tag Heuer Connected

Pebble Time

9. Pebble Time

A simple, clean and slightly smart smartwatch

OS: Pebble OS | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 64-color e-paper display | Processor: N/A | Case dimensions: 37.5mm diameter, 9.5mm thick | Onboard storage: N/A | Battery: 7+ days | Charging method: via proprietary charger | Waterproofing: 3ATM | Connectivity: Bluetooth

Colorful display
Impressive battery
Too much bezel
More limited than Android Wear / watchOS

As a successor to the Pebble, the Pebble Time excels. As a smartwatch on its own, it feels like a digital watch with some extra tricks, but not much more.

Some people may really enjoy the limited but fun functionality found in the Pebble Time, especially as it's coupled with week-long battery life. But its feature set pales in comparison to pricier wearable devices stocked with Android Wear and watchOS.

Then there's the Pebble Time Steel. It's the same experience, but it's wrapped in a much sleeker, stainless steel body. Of course, it'll set you back a little more: £200/$250/AU$340, to be precise.

Read the full review: Pebble Time / Pebble Time Steel

Apple Watch

10. Apple Watch

The iPhone-tailored smartwatch is expensive, but convenient

OS: watchOS 2 | Compatibility: iOS | Display: 1.53" OLED | Processor: S1 System-in-Package (SiP) | Band sizes: Varies drastically per style | Onboard storage: 8GB (only 2GB and 75MB allowed for music and photos, respectively) | Battery: 18 hours | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: IPX7 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC

Stylish design
Clever interface
Expensive at any level
Battery life is one day

Once you get past the high price, this is a genuinely useful thing to have around at times. Being able to check when you've got a message, or see who's calling and be able to make snap decisions, feels like the future, especially when you're exercising or in another situation where grabbing your phone isn't practical.

The new enhancements from Apple watchOS 2 really do help this smartwatch leap forward. It's faster, more usable and comes with watch faces that make it feel more personal. And as more app developers use the new tools, there will be loads more to come too.

Read the full review: Apple Watch

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Phones, Tablets and Wearables UK Editor

John (Twitter, Google+) got his first phone aged 12 and since then he's been fixated on all things mobile, churning his way through a multitude of handsets, tablets and wearables. Signalling his arrival at TechRadar by becoming a Guinness World Record holder in his first week, John hasn't looked back since.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cameron is the US mobile editor at TechRadar, covering the tech that's in your pocket, wrapped around your wrist, and strapped to your face. He's based in New York City.

Find him on Steam, or listen to some of his favorite tunes on Google Play Music.