The best smartwatch 2023: top wearables you should buy today

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REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
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REASONS TO BUY
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Apple Watch Ultra Best Smartwatch logo
(Image credit: Future)

The best smartwatches can help you track your activities and monitor your health effortlessly. While these wearables shouldn't be used as medical instruments, they are great tools that will allow you to keep an eye on your overall wellness, and they've become a vital everyday device for a lot of people.

Part wristwatch, part smartphone companion, a smartwatch provides motivation if you're struggling to maintain healthier habits. It also encourages you to keep going during a strenuous run or workout. That's on top of providing non-exercise related features like being able to accept calls, play music, or even pay for purchases, without pulling your phone out.

So, whether you lead an active lifestyle, have health concerns, or just want a stylish timepiece with some extra smarts, it might be a good idea for you to invest in one. Don't worry about the cost if you're on a budget either, as there are cheap smartwatches that might suit you, if you don't care about getting top-of-the-line features.

We've tested and reviewed most smartwatches, including prominent entries like the latest Apple Watch and Samsung smartwatches. We've also looked at Fitbit's offerings and Wear OS watches from brands like Fossil and Mobvoi, so there's something for everyone here. So, we gathered the best of them here, keeping in mind the different features, sizes, shapes, and smartphone compatibility.

Our rundown of the best smartwatches should have something for you so take a look at our picks below. If you don't need more than the basics though, one of the best fitness trackers may suit you better.

The best smartwatch 2023

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A photo of the black 40mm Samsung Galaxy Watch 5

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli / TechRadar)
The best Android smartwatch overall

Specifications

OS: Wear OS
Compatibility: Android
Display: 1.4-inch 450 x 450 Super AMOLED
Processor: Dual-core 1.18GHz Cortex-A55
Onboard storage: 16GB
Battery duration: One day
Charging method: Qi wireless charging
IP rating: IP68
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS

Reasons to buy

+
Powerful fitness features
+
Durable and lightweight

Reasons to avoid

-
One-day battery life
-
Optimized for Samsung phones

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is a smart looking watch in every sense of the word. It looks great on your wrist while offering powerful features. A Super AMOLED display is sharp and clear, as well as able to handle very bright outdoor scenes. 

Performance wise, it's fast although you'll reap the most benefits when paired with a Samsung smartphone. There's no iPhone support here either. 

Besides SmartThings integration, the highlight here is the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5's ability to monitor your body composition. It's bordering on the ultimate fitness tool with extensive sleep tracking also helping you get the most from yourself every day. Shame about that one day battery life, though.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review

Image of best Apple Watch Apple Watch SE 2 on someone's wrist

(Image credit: TechRadar)

2. Apple Watch SE 2

The budget but very effective Apple Watch

Specifications

OS: watchOS 9
Compatibility: iOS
Display: 1.78" OLED
Processor: Apple S8
Onboard storage: 32GB
Battery: 18 hours
Charging method: Wireless
IP rating: Water-resistant to 50m
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, LTE

Reasons to buy

+
Light and comfortable
+
Good battery life for price

Reasons to avoid

-
No always-on screen
-
No ECG built in

The Apple Watch SE 2 is arguably the best Apple Watch for most people, as it’s a lot more affordable than the Apple Watch 8, yet has most of that wearable’s core features and even the same chipset.

The main things it lacks are an always-on display, an ECG, and blood oxygen tracking, but the Apple Watch SE 2 still has a wide range of health and fitness features, plus potentially life-saving additions like Car Crash Detection.

It’s also powerful, has impressive battery life for a proper smartwatch, and is very light and comfortable to wear. So it strikes a superb balance between price and performance, and is a great relatively affordable pick.

Read our full Apple Watch SE 2 review

best Apple Watch Apple Watch Ultra in use on wrist and on table

(Image credit: TechRadar)
The ultimate Apple Watch

Specifications

OS: watchOS 9
Compatibility: iOS
Display: 1.9" OLED
Processor: Apple S8
Onboard storage: 32GB
Battery: 36 hours
Charging method: Wireless
IP rating: Water-resistant to 100m
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, LTE

Reasons to buy

+
Large display
+
Action button is very useful

Reasons to avoid

-
Battery life could be better
-
Lack of navigation features

The Apple Watch Ultra is the ultimate Apple Watch, and it commands an ultimate price. It's bigger and bulkier, adding an action button that you can customize with genuinely useful features. Designed to survive all kinds of terrain, the Apple Watch Ultra rivals many Garmin watches.

It could still offer better battery life (despite surpassing the regular Apple Watch) but a powerful and accurate GPS is great for exploring, plus there's a diving sensor for the avid underwater adventurer. Plus, there's all the benefits that come from other Apple Watches, ensuring you can always see how you're doing, health wise. 

It's expensive but powerful. And, during testing, we easily found this to be the most capable wearable that the brand has ever made.

Read our full Apple Watch Ultra review

best Apple Watch Apple WAtch 8 on a blue desk and wrist

(Image credit: TechRadar)
One of the best around

Specifications

OS: watchOS 9
Compatibility: iOS
Display: 1.69 / 1.9" OLED
Processor: Apple S8
Onboard storage: 32GB
Battery: 18 hours
Charging method: Wireless
IP rating: Water-resistant to 50m
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, LTE

Reasons to buy

+
Useful temperature sensor
+
Car crash detection

Reasons to avoid

-
Average battery life
-
Almost the same as the Apple Watch 7

The Apple Watch is the best smartwatch family of devices, and the Apple Watch 8 is a great choice within that family. It gives you all of Apple's latest watchOS features without splurging on the adventure kit you don't need. While its battery life remains average and it looks the same as before, there's good reason why Apple's iconic squircle look and huge display are so popular. 

We found that the new processor boosts the speed a tad, while there's a new car crash detection tool that could just save your life (but hopefully you'll never need it). Plus, there's all the benefits of watchOS 9 with improved fitness stats and better interval training features. If you want the Apple Watch experience, the Apple Watch 8 is a great all-rounder.

Read our full Apple Watch 8 review

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro

(Image credit: Future)
An excellent but expensive Samsung smartwatch

Specifications

OS: Wear OS
Compatibility: Android
Display: 1.2" 396 x 396 / 1.4" 450 x 450 Super AMOLED
Processor: Dual-core 1.18GHz
Onboard storage: 16GB
Battery duration: 3 days on 44mm / less on 40mm
Charging method: Wireless
IP rating: IP68
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LTE (for extra)

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent performance
+
Interesting new software

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited compatibility
-
Lacks rotating bezel

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro review is big, bold and brash with an eye on assisting outdoor enthusiasts. Its AMOLED screen is super smooth to use while also being twice as durable as the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 before it. All the improved health features are there with the Pro offering up a route workout GPS function so you can plan your route carefully with turn-by-turn navigation. 

It has the prowess of a Garmin watch with the glamor of a Wear OS device, ensuring you get the best of both worlds with the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. It's 80 hour battery life is better than many other Wear OS watches, and most smartwatches, period. 

Read the full Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro review

Google Pixel Watch always on display

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
The best Wear OS watch for style

Specifications

OS: Wear OS 3.5
Compatibility: Android 8.0 or higher
Display: 1.2" OLED
Processor: Exynos 9110 (10nm)
Onboard storage: 32GB
Battery: 24 hours
Charging method: Wireless
IP rating: Water-resistant to 5 ATM
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, LTE

Reasons to buy

+
Elegant, classic watch-like looks
+
Brilliant screen
+
Fitbit integration

Reasons to avoid

-
One (small) size fits all
-
Band switch system takes practice
-
No blood oxygen sensing - yet

The Google Pixel Watch is an uncommonly beautiful smartwatch. It has a natural rather than a manufactured look, with a glossy face that curves to meet an equally curvaceous body. The construction is close to seamless.

Because of that curve, there's more glass facing you than on the Apple Watch 8, which both adds to the elegance and, we think, hides a larger-ish black bezel surrounding the screen.

This is a bright, colorful, and responsive AMOLED display, considerably smaller than the Apple Watch 8's rectangular face, but Google does a lot with the reduced screen real estate. We never found ourselves wishing for more.

Read our full Google Pixel Watch review

TicWatch E3

(Image credit: Srivatsa Ramesh)
The best cheap Android smartwatch powered by Wear OS

Specifications

OS: Wear OS
Compatibility: Android
Display: 1.3-inch 360 x 360 LCD
Processor: Snapdragon Wear 4100
Onboard storage: 8GB
Battery duration: Two days
Charging method: Qi wireless charging
IP rating: IP68
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS

Reasons to buy

+
Large display
+
Fast performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Looks simple
-
Casing feels cheap

The TicWatch E3 is a budget smartwatch yet it packs a lot in given its affordable price. That includes two-day battery life, a big screen, speedy performance, and lots of health and fitness features, such as the ability to track exercise, stress, sleep, and more.

The screen is LCD rather than OLED, and the TicWatch E3 looks and feels a bit cheap, but then it is cheap, and it also felt both lightweight and durable in our tests.

So if you want a smartwatch that also makes a fashion statement this isn’t it, but if you want one that does all the core things you’d expect, while beating some pricier rivals for battery life and coming in at an affordable price, the TicWatch E3 is a fine choice.

Read our full TicWatch E3 review

Fitbit Versa 3 sitting next to an iPhone and towel

(Image credit: TechRadar)
The best Fitbit

Specifications

OS: Fitbit OS
Compatibility: Android, iOS
Display: 1.58" AMOLED
Processor: N/A
Onboard storage: N/A
Battery duration: Up to 6 days
Charging method: Magnetic connecting pin
IP rating: Water resistant
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC

Reasons to buy

+
Built-in GPS
+
Lightweight and comfortable

Reasons to avoid

-
Poor side button
-
No offline Spotify

The Fitbit Versa 3 is one of the best wrist companions for those who want to focus on fitness features. Google owns Fitbit, but the Google Pixel Watch doesn't match the best Fitbit wearable for automated fitness tracking.

There's built-in GPS, we found it comfortable to wear, and the display is easy to view with a crisp image. Like previous Fitbit smartwatches, this is mostly focused on fitness and won't be for everyone.

As we mentioned in our review, "the Fitbit Versa 3 is an excellent wearable, though it's more a fitness tracker than a smartwatch, with very limited productivity apps on offer."

But for general wearable fans, the Fitbit Versa 3 is a good option, and it's more affordable than some of the other options on this list too.

Read our full Fitbit Versa 3 review

The Fitbit Sense on a wrist

(Image credit: Future)
An excellent Android smartwatch with mental health tools

Specifications

OS: Fitbit OS
Compatibility: Android, iOS
Display: 300 x 300 LCD
Processor: N/A
Onboard storage: N/A
Battery duration: Up to 6 days
Charging method: Magnetic connecting pin
IP rating: Water resistance to 50m
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth

Reasons to buy

+
Detailed stress logging
+
On-board GPS

Reasons to avoid

-
Many tools require Fitbit Premium
-
Step counting slightly inaccurate

The Fitbit Sense has a design that's quite similar to the Versa, listed higher on this list, and as a Fitbit it's also quite similar to use. However, this Android smartwatch model comes wtih health features that go beyond the physical.

The Fitbit Sense has the... well, sense, to check in on some aspects of mental health too, logging your mood and stress, as well as providing meditation and mindfulness lessons. Its main issue is that you have to pay for Fitbit Premium for lots of its extra features. There aren't exactly many other watches on this list that require you to keep paying after you've bought it.

Performance-wise, we found it to be impressive during testing. Putting the Sense through a pretty intense spin session, we didn’t see any unexpected dips in heart rate that indicate an issue with fitness trackers. It also vibrates to indicate when you're moving between heart rate zones, which is very useful for training.

Read the full Fitbit Sense review

The TicWatch Pro 3 on a wrist

(Image credit: Truls Steinung)
The best Wear OS 2.0 Android smartwatch

Specifications

Compatibility: Android, iOS
Display: 1.4" 454 x 454 OLED paired with LCD screen
Processor: Snapdragon Wear 4100
Onboard storage: 8GB
Battery duration: Up to 72h, 45 extra days in Essential mode
Charging method: Magnetic connecting pin
IP rating: IP68
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC

Reasons to buy

+
Big battery lasts 3 days
+
Fast chipset

Reasons to avoid

-
Sometimes poor interface
-
Sleep tracking isn't the best

The TicWatch Pro 3 is a good all-rounder that doesn’t necessarily excel in any one area. But it doesn’t need to because it’s also cheaper than top-end rivals.

It has a lot going for it. For one thing, it was the first smartwatch to use the top-end Snapdragon 4100 chipset, so performance is good in our tests. It also offers two to three days of battery life, or – if you switch it to Essential mode – it can keep going for up to 45 days.

The TicWatch Pro 3 also has a good screen - 1.4-inch 454 x 454 one that’s crisp, bright, and responsive, plus the watch has all the typical health and fitness features you’d expect from a smartwatch. Just don’t buy this for sleep tracking, as we found that wasn’t very accurate.

Read the full TicWatch Pro 3 review

How to choose the best smartwatch

Unfortunately, your choice of smartwatch often depends on your choice of phone, as not all wearables are compatible with competitor devices. Apple Watch only works with Apple iPhones. Samsung and Google watches, and other Wear OS devices, only work with Android devices, but you can use a Samsung watch with a Google phone and vice versa.

Fitness tracking wearables from Fitbit will work with any device and synchronize with the Fitbit app, but those devices tend to focus more sharply on fitness features, and don't offer all of the robust apps and services you'll find on other smartwatches. 

Most wearables will get about a day of battery life, which will be disappointing if you're converting from a Garmin watch that lasts weeks. You can find a few watches that last longer on this list. 

Finally, smartwatches can be expensive, and frankly they don't offer much value for what you pay. Before you spring for an Apple Watch Ultra, you might ask if you are really going Scuba diving this year, or if you're just going to check your text messages without disturbing your dinner mates. 

How we test smartwatches

Every smartwatch on this list has been fully and extensively reviewed by the expert team at TechRadar, so we know exactly what makes them tick.

Our review process involves using the devices as if they were our own personal wearables, ensuring every smartwatch gets fully tested in the real world. A comprehensive sweep of features takes place, and usage is varied over multiple days to give us a clear idea of how battery life performs.

Using that knowledge we've then ranked them, while also factoring in their price, performance, value, and core specs.

What should I look for when buying a smartwatch?

The first thing to check is whether your phone is compatible with it - you can't use an Apple Watch with an Android phone, and you can't use a Google Pixel Watch with an iPhone. Beyond that, consider the battery life and the features - how often will you be happy charging it, and what do you really need out of your watch? A simpler watch can be a better pick.

Which is the best smartwatch?

The best smartwatch changes all the time, but typically you'll find an Apple Watch or Samsung Galaxy smartwatch topping the list, as these tend to be packed full of high-end features and polish.

Philip Berne
US Mobiles Editor

Phil Berne is a preeminent voice in consumer electronics reviews, having reviewed his first device (the Sony D-EJ01 Discman) more than 20 years ago for eTown.com. He has been writing about phones and mobile technology, since before the iPhone, for a variety of sites including PCMag, infoSync, PhoneScoop, and Slashgear. He holds an M.A. in Cultural Theory from Carnegie Mellon University. 


Phil was the internal reviewer for Samsung Mobile, writing opinions and review predictions about top secret new devices months before launch. He worked at an Apple Store near Boston, MA, at the height of iPod popularity. He has been a High School English teacher at Title I schools, and is a certified Lifeguard. His passion is smartphones and wearables, and he is sure that the next big thing will be phones we wear on our faces.

With contributions from