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The best cheap smartwatch 2022: great budget devices for your wrist

PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
One of the best cheap smartwatches against a yellow background
(Image credit: TechRadar / Fitbit)

The best cheap smartwatches are a lot more capable than we give them credit for. While premium models might come with advanced and special features, low-cost smartwatches have all your basic needs covered, which makes them terrific options for budget-minded users. 

An excellent cheap smartwatch will track your fitness workouts and activities as well as send over notifications when you need them. Some models even manage to squeeze in extra features like NFC for mobile payment and even GPS for phone-less run tracking. 

We've tested many of the more affordable smartwatches on the market, as we have their top-end counterparts from our best smartwatches list, so we know which low-priced models are worth considering if you're economizing. Especially now that we're being hit by high inflation, one of them might be a better choice for most people who don't absolutely need the fancy frills.

We put together a list of the best smartwatches for you below, including some Android smartwatches and smartwatches for iPhones. Bear in mind that while we try to keep most of them under $150/£150, 'cheap' also depends on your needs. If you're looking for a cheap smartwatch for diving, for example, you have to be prepared to spend a little more. What you need depends on what you plan on doing with it so you must be willing to make compromises to find the right balance for you.

The best cheap smartwatches 2022

One of the best cheap smartwatches Fitbit Versa 2 against a white background

(Image credit: Fitbit)
The best cheap smartwatch overall

Specifications

OS: Fitbit OS
Compatibility: Android, iOS
Display: 1.37in 300 x 300
Processor: N/A
Onboard storage: 2.5GB
Battery duration: Around five days
Charging method: Magnetic connecting pin
IP rating: WR50
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi

Reasons to buy

+
Improved lightweight design
+
Always-on display option
+
Good battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacks GPS
-
No offline Spotify playback

The Fitbit Versa 2 is proof that Fitbit is always a great bet if you're looking for affordable smartwatches. This model is still the best cheap smartwatch right now, even if it's an older smartwatch at this point, having been succeeded by Versa 3 in 2020 and Versa 4 coming this year. It’s still a terrific choice with lots of great features that budget-minded fitness enthusiasts can appreciate.

Our review found this to be a near-perfect fitness tracker. It boasts a user-friendly interface that makes it easy for even non-beginners to simply focus on the activity at hand instead of trying to figure out where to go to record their workouts. Even if you forget, it’s smart enough to log any activity 20 minutes or longer as exercise. 

Having Alexa is a nice perk, but we found that using Alexa was an inconsistent experience during our testing. In addition, there’s no GPS so you need to have your phone with you to accurately record location and distance-based information whenever you’re hiking or going on a run. However, even we bring our phones with us during hikes and runs so this isn’t much of a downside really.

Read our in-depth Fitbit Versa 2 review

One of the best cheap smartwatches Amazfit Bip U Pro against a white background

(Image credit: Amazon)
The best budget smartwatch under $100

Specifications

OS: RTOS
Compatibility: Android 5+, iOS 10+
Display: 1.43in 320 x 302
Processor: N/A
Onboard storage: N/A
Battery duration: five days
Charging method: Magnetic connecting pin
IP rating: 5 ATM
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0

Reasons to buy

+
Built-in GPS
+
Fitness and tracking features
+
Precise sleep tracking

Reasons to avoid

-
App sync issue
-
Notification management

Amazfit Bip U Pro is the best cheap smartwatch you’ll find at that under-$100 price range. If you aren’t familiar with the brand, know that they are known for their reliable and well-built affordable smartwatches, so there’s probably no better authority on the topic. 

This particular model is an improved version of the highly popular Bip U. And, for a budget smartwatch, it comes with several great features including built-in GPS for outdoor tracking and a voice assistant with Amazon Alexa integration. In fact, it’s one of few budget wearables to have GPS. Amazfit also didn’t just add it for the sake of having it. During our testing, we found that the GPS tracking on this watch works beautifully, giving accurate results.

That might be the most important addition to this update, but there are loads of others to mention as well. It’s got many fitness and health features such as heart rate, SpO2, sleep, and breathing tracking as well as more than 60 workouts and activities, plus a camera shutter.

Read our in-depth Amazfit Bip U Pro review

One of the best cheap smartwatches Garmin Forerunner 55 against a white background

(Image credit: Garmin)
The best cheap smartwatch for running

Specifications

OS: Garmin OS
Compatibility: Android 7+, iOS 13+
Display: 1.04in 208 x 208
Processor: N/A
Onboard storage: N/A
Battery duration: Up to 2 weeks
Charging method: USB-A
IP rating: 5 ATM
Connectivity: 2.4GHz Wireless

Reasons to buy

+
Workout suggestions
+
Recovery time suggestions
+
Well designed controls

Reasons to avoid

-
Relatively low-res display
-
No on-watch sleep widget

Beginner runners, pay heed. The Garmin Forerunner 55, which will set you back for much less than other advanced running smartwatches, is the best cheap smartwatch for running. It’s an entry-level model, to be sure, but it’s a thoughtfully-designed one that’s a step-up from a basic fitness tracker with a design that’s new-user-friendly.

During our tests, we found the new workout suggestions to be the most useful features, as they not only encourage beginners, but also expand their workout options and allow them to discover new ones. The recommended rest time at the end of a workout is fantastic as well. 

Of course, specifically for runners, it features Garmin’s brilliant on-board GPS. In our tests it established a lock extremely quickly and recorded a three-mile route to within a few yards. That’s on top of the other tools included specifically to help you become a better runner.

Read our in-depth Garmin Forerunner 55 review

One of the best cheap smartwatches Apple Watch Series 3 against a white background

(Image credit: Apple)
The best cheap Apple Watch

Specifications

OS: watchOS
Compatibility: iOS 11+
Display: 1.65in 312 x 390, 1.5in 272 x 340
Processor: S3 SiP with dual-core processor
Onboard storage: 8GB – 16GB
Battery duration: 18 hours
Charging method: magnetic pin, wireless
IP rating: WR50
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.2 and 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi

Reasons to buy

+
Good smartwatch battery life
+
Clear, bright screen
+
Fantastic fitness features

Reasons to avoid

-
Only iPhone compatible
-
Siri still patchy

Though older, the Apple Watch Series 3 is the only real cheap option for Apple fans who are on a tight budget – although the Watch SE might be a better choice if your budget is a tad more flexible. The Series 3, a non-4G version of Apple’s popular wearable family, still delivers good value for your money, touting top fitness capabilities for Apple fans who want to stay in the Apple environment.

The newly-announced watchOS 9 won't be compatible with this smartwatch, unfortunately, but if being on top of every update isn’t vital – and to many regular users, it isn’t – that shouldn’t be a big deal. More to its credit, it remains to be a powerful option. We found it to be focused on the goal of helping you live a better, healthier lifestyle with features like improved heart rate monitoring that we found to be more accurate than ever, daily inspiration to help motivate you, and a reliable built-in GPS.

It also packs other fitness capabilities, including the ability to track your high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts, monitor a large number of workouts, and connect to enabled gym equipment. That’s a lot of features for a budget smartwatch.

Read our in-depth Apple Watch Series 3 review

One of the best cheap smartwatches Garmin Descent G1 against a white background

(Image credit: Garmin)

5. Garmin Descent G1

The best cheap divers watch

Specifications

OS: Garmin OS
Compatibility: Android, iOS
Display: 0.9in 176 x 176
Processor: N/A
Onboard storage: N/A
Battery duration: Up to 48 days
Charging method: USB-A charging clip
IP rating: 10 ATM
Connectivity: Bluetooth, ANT+

Reasons to buy

+
Great as a lifestyle smartwatch with dive-specific features
+
Much more affordable than other options

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as powerful as dive computers
-
Still pretty expensive if you’re just looking for a smartwatch

Although we haven’t reviewed the Garmin Descent G1 just yet, it’s a highly-recommended smartwatch for divers looking for a more affordable option. Dive watches aren’t cheap for good reason, but this one from Garmin offers budget-minded and beginner divers an option that’s almost half the price of its rivals while still boasting many dive-specific features.

That includes its display that’s crystal clear especially in dive mode, leak-proof buttons, and an up to 100m dive rating. There are several dive modes on hand as well, including apnea and apnea hunt mode as well as freedive modes. Meanwhile, the display will give you access to vital dive information such as a 3-axis compass, depth, deco-stop requirements, and residual nitrogen.

As this is more of a lifestyle-slash-dive smartwatch hybrid, you’ll find lifestyle-specific features as well like health monitoring, biometric tracking, and sleep monitoring. Best of all, it has a battery life of 25 hours (diving) and up to four months when used as just a smartwatch.

How to choose the best cheap smartwatch for you

Besides the price, it's important to check its compatibility with your phone, as some smartwatches aren't compatible with an iPhone, for example. There's also the battery life and the features. 

If you're a runner, it's important to get the best cheap smartwatch for running as it'll have running-specific features that others might not have. If you need to track your sleep, a longer battery life certainly important as you don't want to be charging twice a day.

Don't expect the latest Apple or Samsung flagships to be on the last, ass those tend to sit at a much higher price point and out of people's reach if they're looking for a cheaper option. However, as we mentioned earlier, 'cheap' can be relative. A cheap regular smartwatch is going to be considerably more affordable than a budget smartwatch for divers. Keep that in mind when looking at your options.

How we test smartwatches

Although not every smartwatch on this list has been fully tested by us, our smartwatch experts have more than enough experience to know exactly what makes them tick and what makes an excellent choice. 

Those we have reviewed, however, we have put through their paces. To ensure that every cheap smartwatch gets fully tested in the real world, we use it as our own personal wearable for a week or so. We also perform a comprehensive sweep of its features – at least the most important ones, and varied usage over multiple days to give us a clear idea of how battery life performs. Once we have all the information we need, we compare it with its price tag to see if it's a great value and worth recommending to readers. 

James Peckham
James Peckham

James is Managing Editor for Android Police. Previously, he was Senior Phones Editor for TechRadar, and he has covered smartphones and the mobile space for the best part of a decade bringing you news on all the big announcements from top manufacturers making mobile phones and other portable gadgets. James is often testing out and reviewing the latest and greatest mobile phones, smartwatches, tablets, virtual reality headsets, fitness trackers and more. He once fell over.

With contributions from