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Best hybrid smartwatch 2021: great hidden tech in the watch on your wrist

Included in this guide:

A selection of the best hybrid smartwatches Withings Move ECG, Withings Steel HR and Garmin Vivomove HR
Withings Steel HR (left), Withings Move ECG and Garmin Vivomove HR (Image credit: Withings, Garmin)

It's important to know how you're planning on using the best hybrid smartwatch for your needs. Hybrid smartwatches are aimed at those who want the best features of a regular smartwatch but applied to a 'regular' analogue piece of wristwear. That can make it confusing to know what to look for. 

Effectively, a hybrid smartwatch is an analogue watch with mechanical hands that also includes smart features such as step counting, run tracking, and smartphone notifications, but in a more subtle manner than a 'full' smartwatch. They’re the best smartwatches to pick if you want the benefits of key tech features while still maintaining a subtle and potentially more classy look on your wrist.

What is a hybrid smartwatch?

Want a deeper explanation of hybrid smartwatches? We've put together a full beginner's guide to watches with hidden tech under traditional faces so you know what to look out for.

Our full beginner's guide to hybrid watches

Hybrid smartwatches also benefit from a much longer battery life because they don't have battery sapping digital screens. That saves you needing to charge them up as often. 

Like with regular smartwatches, not all hybrid smartwatches have the same functions. Some alert you to your phone’s notifications using mechanical hands while others have small dials for quick-glance readouts. Some hybrid smartwatches also include GPS and heart rate sensors while all of them must link to your phone via Bluetooth and be monitored with a companion app.

The upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales may see some discounts to the smartwatches on this list. Check out our list of the best Black Friday smartwatch deals, but it's likely we'll see more fully fledged smart devices discounted than hybrid options.

We’ve reviewed all the latest hybrid smartwatches to rank the six best below. The watch at number one might not be the best hybrid smartwatch for you though, so make sure to read the full in-depth reviews for each to see which suits your needs.

Best hybrid smartwatch 2021

Withings Move ECG

(Image credit: Withings)

An ECG in a hybrid

Reasons to buy
+Stylish design+12-month battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Plastic scratches easily-Heart rate only works alongside ECG

Our second favorite hybrid watch is from Withings and it's the only device on this list that comes with an electrocardiogram monitor. This is a feature that gives you a reading on your likelihood to suffer from atrial fibrillation, which is a specific heart condition where you can have an irregular beat.

It's not the most accurate tech, but it has been included on watches like the Apple Watch 4 and this Withings to give you an idea of whether it's something you should investigate further with a doctor.

On top of that, you'll also get a slick looking hybrid smartwatch that is well designed and comes with a selection of impressive fitness features. Plus, it's by no means the most expensive device on this list either.

Read our full Withings Move ECG review

Withings Steel HR

(Image credit: Withings)

A hybrid watch with heart

Reasons to buy
+Accurate heart rate monitor+Easy-to-use app
Reasons to avoid
-Limited fitness features-Not the best battery life

Looking for a small hybrid watch that looks fashionable but can track your heart rate and has a comfortable strap for the odd jog? The Withings Steel HR (sometimes known as the Nokia Steel HR) may be the perfect watch for you, and it sits in second place on our list of the best hybrids.

It has a small second dial so you can see your daily step count (your target can be set in the app), and there's a small screen above it to show other stats.

If you want to know your heart rate it'll appear on the screen along with your step count and notifications such as incoming calls, messages and events coming up in your calendar.

There's a single button on the right of the watch that's sort of disguised as a crown, while the watch is waterproof, so you can wear it in the shower without ruining it.

Read our full Withings Steel HR review

Garmin Vivomove HR

(Image credit: Garmin)

Perhaps the best-looking Garmin

Reasons to buy
+Solid gym tracking+Decent battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Screen unclear in bright sunlight-Fiddly touchscreen

While this is perhaps the sportiest device on our list, don't be fooled by the fact that it carries the Garmin name. The Vivomove HR isn't going to give you high-end running watch features like the brand's Fenix 5 range.

It does, however, offer a heart rate monitor and step tracking, and there are also gym tracking features for when you're doing indoor cardio or recording reps during a weights workout.

The Vivomove HR will also work in the pool as it's waterproof, but it's not particularly great at tracking your swimming, so don't buy it specifically for that task. There are stress-monitoring features, which is something you won't get on any other hybrid watch, and we found that these worked well.

If you're after a good-looking watch with some hidden fitness features, the Vivomove HR from Garmin may be the perfect device for you.

Read our full Garmin Vivomove HR review

Withings Steel HR Sport

(Image credit: Withings)

The first hybrid since the return of Withings

Reasons to buy
+Stylish design+Long battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Notifications aren't perfect-Limited fitness features

The Withings Steel HR Sport is very similar to the Nokia Steel and Nokia Steel HR on this list (the company has recently been renamed Withings) and while the design looks similar there are some important differences.

It comes with better notifications as well as VO2 Max monitor that will be able to give you an overall fitness score that you can improve over time.

The battery is meant to last for around a month, and it has connected GPS and heart rate monitoring that means this is suitable for more fitness activities than a lot of other devices on this list.

Read our full Withings Steel HR Sport review

Withings Move

(Image credit: Withings)

One of the most unique looking hybrids

Reasons to buy
+Classy, subtle design+Several color options
Reasons to avoid
-Plastic scratches easily-No heart rate monitor

The Withings Move is one of the cheapest devices on this list and you've got a great variety of different designs to choose from too. This is a good choice from you if you don't need many fitness features and you'd just like a way to track your daily step count and sleep with an attractive watch on your wrist.

You've got 18 months of battery life, according to Withings, and while the watch doesn't come with top-end features like a heart rate tracker it is capable of tracking lots of your basic stats.

The design and price are the key highlights here though, and while it won't suit fitness fanatics it may be your perfect idea of a simple hybrid smartwatch.

Read our full Withings Move review

(Image credit: Fossil)

Subtle and stylish, but lacking killer smarts

Reasons to buy
+Stylish designs+A year of battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Fitness tracking is basic-Notifications not always felt

One of the most stylish hybrid smartwatches available right now comes from Fossil, and it's called the Q Commuter.

Fossil specializes in hybrid watches (although it makes Wear OS watches too), and this is one of the best-looking of the bunch, with a vast array of finish and strap combinations to match your look.

The Q Commuter can give you a variety of notifications – although these are sometimes hard to notice as the vibration isn't particularly strong – and there are some limited fitness features here too.

One of the real highlights is the battery life, which can run to a year or more.

Read the full Fossil Q Commuter review

James Peckham

James is Phones Editor for TechRadar, and he has covered smartphones for the best part of a decade bringing you news on all the big announcements from top manufacturers making mobile phones. James is often testing out and reviewing the latest and greatest mobile phones, smartwatches, tablets, virtual reality headsets, fitness trackers and more. He has also worked on other leading tech brands, such as T3 and Gizmodo UK, as well as appearing as an expert on TV and radio for the BBC and other publications. Be sure to follow him on Twitter for all the latest smartphone news.