The best smartwatch 2024: top wearable smartphone companions for fitness tracking

PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

The best smartwatches are excellent fitness gadgets. They’re built to track your activity levels, record your workouts, and show you health and recovery insights. But they also do much more. The top smartwatches around today connect to your smartphone, delivering notifications, and even phone calls, to your wrist, as well as give you quick and easy access to a range of apps, like meditation apps, timers, weather insights, and so much more.

Whether you need a workout companion or simply want a stylish-looking watch with some extra features, a smartwatch is a great piece of tech to invest in, the good news is that these days there’s a lot of choice – even a sold selection of cheap smartwatches if you’re on a budget.

We've tested and reviewed many smartwatches, including the most popular and high-end entries, like the latest Apple Watch models, including the Series 9 and Ultra 2, and Samsung smartwatches. We've also spent time with Fitbit's offerings and Wear OS watches from brands like Fossil, Ticwatch and Mobvoi, too, ensuring that there's something for everyone in our best smartwatches guide below. 

Curated by
Matt Evans
Curated by
Matt Evans

Matt is TechRadar's Fitness and Wearables Editor, which means he's an expert on workouts, smartwatches, and all things fitness tech. Matt's spent years covering the health and fitness beat: a former staffer at Men's Health magazine, he's also written for publications like Runner's World, Women's Health, Men's Fitness, LiveScience and Fit&Well.

The quick list

The best Android watch overall

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6

(Image credit: Future / Matt Evans)
The best Android smartwatch overall

Specifications

OS: Wear OS (One UI Watch 5)
Compatibility: Android
Display: 1.4-inch 480 x 480 px Super AMOLED
Processor: Exynos W930
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 6 is a smart-looking watch in every sense of the word. It looks great on your wrist while offering powerful features. A larger 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 highlights here is the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6's updated chipset, the Exynos W930, and the ability to monitor your body's muscle and fat 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 6 review

The best cheap Apple Watch for iPhone

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

(Image credit: TechRadar)
The best Apple Watch for iPhone users on a budget

Specifications

OS: watchOS 10
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
+
Packs updated features compared to older cheap Apple Watches

Reasons to avoid

-
No always-on screen or ECG compared to higher-priced watches
-
Nylon back

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 Series 9, yet has most of the core features for those models, and even the same chipset as the Series 8.

The main things it lacks are an always-on display, an ECG, and blood oxygen tracking from the 8 (although the current Apple Watch Series 9 is now being sold without blood oxygen tracking), and the Double Tap feature from the 9, 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

The best premium Apple Watch for iPhone

Apple Watch Ultra 2 review

(Image credit: Future / Matt Evans)
The best premium Apple Watch

Specifications

OS: watchOS 10
Compatibility: iOS
Display: 1.9" OLED
Processor: Apple S9
Onboard storage: 32GB
Battery: 36 hours
Charging method: Wireless
IP rating: Water-resistant to 100m
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, LTE, Ultra Wideband

Reasons to buy

+
Large, bright display
+
Action button is very useful

Reasons to avoid

-
Battery life could be better
-
Ultra Wideband only works with iPhone 15

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 is the ultimate Apple Watch with one of the best screens we've ever seen on a wearable, with its sumptuous Retina Display OLED commanding up to 3,000 nits of brightness. It's bigger and bulkier, than the standard Apple Watch, and has a faster S9 processor, enabling that excellent Double Tap gesture available on the Series 9 below. In all other respects, it's identical to its predecessor, the original Apple Watch Ultra

It could still offer better battery life (despite surpassing the regular Apple Watch) but a powerful and accurate GPS is great for exploring, especially with watchOS 10's improved hiking waypoints feature, plus it's a working dive computer with the Oceanic Plus app. 

It's expensive but powerful, and during testing, we easily found this to be the most capable wearable that the brand has ever made, albeit it's still more likely to be found on the wrists of weekend warriors rather than true adventurers due to that limited 36-hour battery life. Still, that's good enough for most of us.

Read our full Apple Watch Ultra 2 review

The best mid-range Apple Watch

Apple Watch Series 9

(Image credit: Future)
The best mid-range Apple watch

Specifications

OS: watchOS 10
Compatibility: iOS
Display: 1.69 / 1.9" OLED
Processor: Apple S9
Onboard storage: 32GB
Battery: 18 hours
Charging method: Wireless
IP rating: Water-resistant to 50m
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, LTE

Reasons to buy

+
New S9 chipset allows for gesture controls
+
Eco-friendly carbon neutral label
+
Brighter screen

Reasons to avoid

-
Average battery life
-
Almost the same as the Apple Watch 8

The Apple Watch is the best smartwatch family of devices, and the Apple Watch Series 9 is the latest and greatest mid-range option from Apple, sitting nicely between the cheap SE and premium Ultra. It gives you all of Apple's latest features from watchOS 10, without splurging on the adventure kit you don't need from the Watch Ultra or Ultra 2. 

Watch Series 9's biggest addition is the new Double Tap feature, allowing the Apple Watch to be controlled at least partially hands-free. While the Watch Series 9's battery life remains average and the watch looks the same as previous models, there's good reason why Apple's iconic squircle look and huge display are so popular. 

We found that the processor boosts the speed a tad, the new Ultra Wideband will sync well with iPhone 15 and future iPhones, and there's that Crash Detection tool that could just save your life (but hopefully you'll never need it). Plus, there's all the benefits of watchOS 10. If you want the Apple Watch experience, the Apple Watch Series 9 is a great all-rounder.

Read our full Apple Watch Series 9 review

The best premium watch for Android

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro

(Image credit: Future)
The best premium 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
+
Robust for adventuring

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited compatibility (Samsung only)
-
Lacks rotating bezel

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro review is big, bold and brash with an eye on assisting outdoor enthusiasts. It's a big departure from the standard Galaxy Watch line, and fulfils the same niche as the Apple Watch Ultra does among iOS enthusiasts. 

The 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. Its 80-hour battery life is better than many other Wear OS watches, and most smartwatches period, although it won't stand up to the weeks you get on a Garmin. 

Read the full Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro review

The best Wear OS watch for style