Skip to main content

Best smartwatch 2021: the top wearables you can buy today

Included in this guide:

Three of the best smartwatches: Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, Apple Watch 6 and Apple Watch SE
Apple Watch 6 (left), Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Apple Watch SE (Image credit: Apple, Samsung)
PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

If you want the best smartwatch, you're looking for a real jack of all trades. You need a watch that'll monitor your health, track your efforts when exercising, last for a long time between charges, have useful tools like flashlights and timers and, perhaps most importantly, come at a reasonably low price.

Here at TechRadar, we've tested all the best smartwatches on the market, including offerings from all the biggest companies as well as up-and-comers and smaller names, allowing us to rank them definitively so you know which to consider.

We've tried everything, from top-tier Apple Watches and Fitbits to Garmin watches and Tizen-sporting Samsung watches. There's also Wear OS, which is Google's own wearable operating system in the vein of Apple's watchOS and, spoiler alert, you’ll see it show up in a lot of these devices – including the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, which is a recent addition to this list and sees Samsung switch from Tizen.

If you're buying the best smartwatch for you, it's worth looking into getting the best phone for you too, as there's sometimes added functionality depending on the handset you've got, though some smartwatches don't even need a phone to connect to. 

You should note that certain smartwatches are limited in compatibility to certain phones. For example, you won't be able to use an Apple Watch with one of the best Android phones.

Compatibility is one of the main things you should consider when buying a smartwatch, but also check whether it has the features you need, be that GPS, an ECG, or good battery life.

When we review each of the best smartwatches, we consider design, feature set, battery life, performance, fitness smarts, price and more, so whatever factor is important to a purchase, you can be sure we've considered it.

Best smartwatches you can buy right now

Apple Watch SE

(Image credit: Apple)

The best smartwatch... but you'll need an iPhone

Specifications
OS: watchOS 7
Compatibility: iOS
Display: 1.78" OLED
Processor: Apple S5
Onboard storage: 32GB
Battery: 18 hours
Charging method: Wireless
IP rating: Water-resistant to 50m
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, LTE
Reasons to buy
+Premium design+Great price for Apple Watch
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks always on display-Battery could be better

The Apple Watch SE is the best smartwatch money can buy right now, but it's only the right choice for you if you own an iPhone. Scroll down for our second choice in this list if you've got an Android phone.

If you do have an iPhone, you may wonder why the Apple Watch 6 doesn't take our title of the very best smartwatch? That's because the Apple Watch SE does almost everything that smartwatch can, but for a much lower price.

The Apple Watch SE comes with some top-end specs, a high-end design and a great range of features that you can't get on every other smartwatch right now.

The battery life isn't the best on the market based on our tests, and there isn't an always-on display, but if you're after a great value for money choice for your next wrist companion you should opt for the Apple Watch SE.

Read the full Apple Watch SE review

A render of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 against a white background

(Image credit: Samsung)

The best 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 4 is a wearable that had a lot of hype around it. This sees Samsung return to Wear OS, having used Tizen for recent models. But this isn’t Wear OS as you might know it – it’s a new take on the operating system, designed alongside Samsung, and with a very Tizen-like skin on the top.

That means you get the best of both worlds, with the functionality and apps of Wear OS, coupled with the look and feel of Tizen.

Add to that great performance, what we found to be a comfortable fit, a lightweight build, and interesting new body composition measurement tools, and this makes for a top smartwatch, especially for those interested in tracking their health and fitness.

But with some of its features requiring a Samsung phone, and no support for iPhones, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 isn’t something we can recommend to everyone. It also arguably isn’t worth upgrading to if you already own a recent Galaxy Watch.

Read the full Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 review

Apple Watch 6

(Image credit: Apple)

The best premium Apple Watch

Specifications
OS: watchOS 7
Compatibility: iOS
Display: 1.78" OLED
Processor: Apple S6
Onboard storage: 32GB
Battery: 18 hours
Charging method: Wireless
IP rating: Water-resistant to 50m
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, LTE
Reasons to buy
+Great color additions+Always-on display
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks a headline upgrade-Battery life needs to be longer

The Apple Watch 6 hasn't taken the top spot in our best smartwatch list, but this is absolute best device you can get if you own an iPhone. Why isn't it ranked above the Apple Watch SE? Because it's a lot more expensive than that option.

The Apple Watch 6 works seamlessly with Apple's phones, and it's well worth considering if you plan to stick with the iPhone range for at least a few years. 

It isn't a huge upgrade over the Apple Watch 5 though. There are new features like blood oxygen monitoring and an upgraded chipset, but largely it's a similar device with the exact same screen and design.

All of that said, if you're after an Apple Watch this is the best from the company ever, we just found the lack of any major upgrades a slight disappointment. Note however that the Apple Watch 7 has now been announced. so expect it to make its mark on this list - just as soon as you can buy it and we've reviewed it.

Read the full Apple Watch 6 review

Fitbit Versa 3

(Image credit: Fitbit)

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

Don't want something from either Samsung or Apple? The Fitbit Versa 3 may be best for your wrist, and this latest smartwatch from the company is one of the best wrist companions for those who want to focus on fitness features.

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.

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

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3

(Image credit: Samsung)

The best Tizen smartwatch

Specifications
OS: Tizen OS
Compatibility: Android, iOS
Display: 1.2" or 1.4" 360 x 360 Super AMOLED
Processor: Dual-core 1.15GHz
Onboard storage: 8GB
Battery duration: 3 days on 45mm / less on 41mm
Charging method: Wireless
IP rating: IP68
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LTE (for extra)
Reasons to buy
+Great, premium design+Rotating bezel is useful
Reasons to avoid
-Battery could be better-Tizen apps are limited

The Galaxy Watch 3 from Samsung is one of the best smartwatches for Android owners. It also works with an iPhone though. It's a sequel to the Galaxy Watch from 2018, and it keeps a lot of that device's design elements but refines them.

The Galaxy Watch 3 features a unique rotating bezel that makes navigating around the smartwatch a joy. We find that a lot easier than trying to use the display, which is something you have to do on a lot of the other best smartwatches in this list.

Apps available on the watch are more limited than Wear OS or watchOS - two rival smartwatch operating systems - but it still offers the core basics and Samsung has provided a watch that's good at fitness as well as sporting a great design and lots more functionality too.

Features are more limited if you're using this with an iPhone, but it's still compatible with those devices. We'd recommend considering an Apple Watch though if that's your phone of choice. Overall, the Galaxy Watch 3 is the full package if you're looking for a smartwatch to track your fitness, look good on your wrist and a whole lot more.

Read the full Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 review

Fitbit Versa Lite

(Image credit: Fitbit)

The best affordable Fitbit

Specifications
OS: Fitbit OS
Compatibility: Android, iOS
Display: 300 x 300 LCD
Processor: N/A
Onboard storage: N/A
Battery duration: Up to 4 days
Charging method: Magnetic connecting pin
IP rating: Water resistance to 50m
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Reasons to buy
+A great price+Solid battery life
Reasons to avoid
-No GPS-Lacks on-screen workouts

The second best Fitbit on our list is the Fitbit Versa Lite, a more affordable version of the Fitbit Versa with a few of the features dropped.

The Versa Lite has a good range of fitness features, a battery that'll last you a good few days (and beat out lots of the other devices on this list), and a body that's quite small and light, and will fit on your wrist easily without you noticing it lots of the time.

Some of the features the Versa Lite misses over the Versa, or the Versa 2 and 3, include no Fitbit Pay, no on-board GPS and a slightly less impressive screen. If you're looking for a good smartwatch on a budget though, you might not mind some of these omissions - we certainly didn't.

Read the full Fitbit Versa Lite review

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

(Image credit: Samsung)

The best fitness-focused Tizen watch

Specifications
OS: Tizen OS
Compatibility: Android, iOS
Display: 1.2" 360 x 360 Super AMOLED
Processor: Dual-core 1.15GHz
Onboard storage: 4GB
Battery duration: Around 2 days
Charging method: Wireless
IP rating: 50m
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Reasons to buy
+High-end design+Rotating digital bezel
Reasons to avoid
-Few features for price bump-Still limited functionality with iOS

Samsung shrank the best parts of the the Galaxy Watch into this sportier smartwatch that's slimmer, lighter and, arguably, more comfortable - then released a second version months after the first that included a few coveted features, including a rotating digital bezel and an LTE version.

Overall, not much has changed - which isn't a bad thing, as it's still a quality smartwatch at a decent price. The Galaxy Watch Active 2 features a 1.2-inch 360 x 360 display that we found bright and beautiful yet small enough to be strapped around your wrist than a lot of the other devices in this list.

It still comes sporting all of the top-end fitness features you'd expect from Samsung's Tizen watch range, with 39 workout modes, a heart rate and ECG sensor, and health app with stress and sleep monitoring. There's even a way to monitor your blood pressure, but that won't be activated for some time. 

While it's still more affordable than the leading Apple Watch, the price was bumped up from the original Watch Active, shrinking its value compared to the competition. It's certainly not a cheap smartwatch, but when compared to the price of the Galaxy Watch 3 you may prefer to opt for this version that's remarkably similar.

Read the full Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 review

Honor Magic Watch 2

(Image credit: Honor)

The best for battery life

Specifications
OS: LiteOS
Compatibility: Android , iOS
Display: 1.2-inch / 1.39-inch 454 x 454 AMOLED
Processor: N/A
Onboard storage: 4GB
Battery duration: 7 days / 14 days
Charging method: Magnetic connecting pin
IP rating: Water resistant
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC
Reasons to buy
+Strong suite of fitness features+Great battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Limited non-music features-Attracts dust

If you're a fond exerciser but don't think a dedicated sports watch is for you, then the Honor Magic Watch 2 might be the right smartwatch for you thanks to its set of fitness features.

The Honor Magic Watch 2 tracks a range of sports with detailed information, and can even provide workout advice and feedback for certain activities. It's great for people looking to get fitter.

The watch also lasts for a long time without needing to be charged in our tests, up to a week or two weeks depending on which version you buy, and it looks pretty sleek too.

There are a few issues with the watch like its relative lack of non-fitness features, the fact its design can often get very dusty and need cleaning, and the fact lots of its fitness features aren't available on iOS, but even then we can still recommend it as a good smartwatch.

Read our full Honor Magic Watch 2 review

TicWatch Pro 3

(Image credit: Mobvoi)

The best Wear OS watch for battery life

Specifications
OS: Wear OS
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 one of the best Wear OS watches - you can use this with your iPhone or Android phone - and it offers some solid battery life as well as some intuitive functionality.

This uses the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100 chipset with 1GB of RAM, and we found this smartwatch to be one of the most powerful devices on this list. Apps load quickly, and we didn't find any time where you'll be left waiting for something to boot up.

Battery life is where this smartwatch truly sings though with the smartwatch able to last for over a month in what the company calls 'Essential Mode'. Want to keep your smartwatch features running? You'll still get three days from a single charge of this smartwatch.

Plus, the price means it undercuts a lot of other top-end smartwatches as well so it's a touch cheaper than many other options on this list.

Read the full TicWatch Pro 3 review

Apple Watch 3

(Image credit: Apple)

The best cheap Apple Watch

Specifications
OS: watchOS 7 (with update)
Compatibility: iOS
Display: 1.65" OLED
Processor: Apple S3
Onboard storage: 16GB
Battery: 1 to 2 days
Charging method: Wireless
IP rating: Water-resistant to 50m
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, LTE
Reasons to buy
+Cheapest Apple Watch+Clear, bright screen
Reasons to avoid
-Battery isn't amazing-Only for iPhone users

Wait, what is a four-year-old Apple Watch doing on this list we hear you cry? The Apple Watch 3 may not be the best piece of wristwear from the iPhone company, but it is the cheapest you can buy right now.

Apple continues to sell the Apple Watch 3, and the renewed price at its lowest ever has encouraged us to include the smartwatch on our list of the ten best again, albeit right at the end.

The design is looking a little dated when compared to the Apple Watch 6 above - or the Apple Watch 4 and Apple Watch 5 - but it's still a gorgeous piece of wristwear with a lot of the tech you'd want, and we remain impressed by the screen.

It's also able to upgrade to the latest watchOS 8 software, making this a great addition to your Apple collection of gadgets. It isn't for you if you don't have an iPhone, but if you're after a cheaper smartwatch this may be perfect.

Read the full Apple Watch 3 review

How we tested

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.

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 Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 with an iPhone. Beyond that, consider the battery life and the features - how often will you be happy charging it, and what do you need out of your watch?

Which is the best smartwatch?

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

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.