Best smartwatch 2018: the top choices you can buy

Best smartwatch 2018

A smartwatch is the ultimate smartphone accessory. It can tell the time, of course, but it can also beam important notifications straight to your wrist and run native apps too.

What's more impressive is that many of today's best models can also perform a ton of tricks, such as enabling you to search the internet with your voice, tracking your exercise with GPS (and more) as well as letting you pay at the grocery store without reaching for your wallet.

Oh, and they look absolutely stunning to boot. If you're thinking that a smartwatch is a pointlessly geeky accessory... think again. These choices are well-made, powerful and can genuinely make you fitter through some smart nudges.

Below is our full list of the best smart wristwear you can buy today that includes options from the Apple Watch to Fitbit, Garmin to Tizen. Plus there are quite a few watches running Wear OS (previously known as Android Wear) which is Google's own wearable operating system.

Bear in mind there are lots of new smartwatches that we haven't fully tested yet including the LG Watch W7 and Huawei Watch GT that may soon land in this list. Plus there are rumors of a Google Pixel Watch, Apple Watch 5 and other smartwatches we may see more watches launch in early 2019.

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1. Samsung Galaxy Watch

The sporty Samsung watch gains some style

OS: Tizen OS | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 1.2" or 1.3" 360 x 360 Super AMOLED | Processor: Dual-core 1.15GHz | Band sizes: 22mm or 20mm | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery duration: 4 days on 46mm / less on 42mm | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: 50m | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth

Impressive battery life
Useful rotating bezel
Annoying charger
Bixby isn't great

Our best smartwatch you can buy right now is from Samsung, and instead of opting for the expected Gear S4 name it's called the Galaxy Watch. Following on from the Gear S3 series and the Gear Sport in 2017, the Galaxy Watch is much improved.

We've tested out the larger 46mm version of the watch and it comes with a phenomenal four day battery life even when you're using it extensively. That's impressive considering a lot of other watches on this list last a day or so from a single charge.

The rotating bezel remains a highlight of navigating around the Tizen OS on the watch, and the interface is one of the easiest to pick up that we've seen on a smartwatch.

Apps available on the watch are more limited than Wear OS or watchOS 4 - two rival smartwatch operating systems - but it still offers the core basics and Samsung had provided a watch that's good at fitness as well as sporting a great design and lots more functionality too.

Read the full Samsung Galaxy Watch review

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2. Apple Watch 4

The best Apple Watch money can buy

OS: watchOS 5 | Compatibility: iOS | Display: 1.78" OLED | Processor: Apple S4 | Band sizes: Varies based on watch size | Onboard storage: 16GB | Battery: 1 to 2 days | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: Water-resistant to 50m | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, LTE

Larger display
Lightweight design
Battery isn't amazing
Still pricey

Coming in a close second, the Apple Watch Series 4 is our second favorite smartwatch you can buy right now. This is the first time Apple has updated the design of its smartwatch line, and it looks all the better for it.

You get a much bigger screen with the choice of 40mm or 44mm watch sizes, there's a wider display (which is still bright and clear) as well as all the rest of the tech we've come to expect from the Apple Watch.

The speaker on this watch is louder than before, the design is still lightweight (yet it feels premium) and you can use all your existing Apple Watch straps with this latest generation too.

The most exciting tech is the fact there's an ECG feature within the heart rate tracker. It can test your heart to see if you're at a high risk of atrial fibrillation, which will allow you to seek help earlier if your health is in danger.

This tech isn't present at launch, and right now we only know it'll be available in the US. I's not an upgrade relevant to everyone, but for some people this could be some life changing tech.

There are still tons of fitness features and the latest watchOS 5 apps onboard so you'll likely love this smartwatch. The Apple Watch 4 is our favorite watch you can use with an iPhone (this won't work with Android devices), but it's just been pipped to the title of best overall smartwatch.

Read our full Apple Watch 4 review

What's next? The Apple Watch Series 4 was announced and released in September 2018, and we don't expect to see the Apple Watch 5 until the same month in 2019.

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3. TicWatch Pro

Our favorite Wear OS watch comes with two screens

OS: Wear OS | Compatibility: Android 4.3+, iOS 8+ | Display: 1.4" 400 x 400 OLED paired with LCD screen | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery duration: Up to 48h, 5 extra days in Essential mode | Charging method: Magnetic connecting pin | IP rating: IP68 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC

Innovative screen tech
Premium design
Limited app
No LTE features

Our favorite Wear OS watch is the TicWatch Pro, which you can use with either an iPhone or with your Android phone. You may not have heard of TicWatch before, but the latest from the company it a top-end watch with a unique dual-screen feature.

There are two displays on this watch - one layered on top of the other. On the top is a transparent LCD display that can display the time, your heart rate and more when the battery is low.

Below that is a bright and bold full color OLED screen that will give you all of the benefits of Wear OS. That means you can have a normal smartwatch, which we found would last around two days, and then have the time and some other features still available when your battery is running low.

Mobvoi claims the TicWatch Pro can last for 30 days in the low power mode, but we haven't yet been able to test out that claim properly. We did find it lasted for just under a week when in low power mode though.

In terms of smartwatch features there's GPS, NFC for Google Pay, Bluetooth for listening to music and the top Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 chipset in here running the watch as well.

Then there's the price, and with the launch price set at $249.99 / £219.99 / AU$369.99 it's hard to be disappointed with the TicWatch Pro. You probably should be able to find it for a touch less now too.

Read the full TicWatch Pro review

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4. Apple Watch 3

2017's smartwatch is now cheaper

OS: watchOS 5 | Compatibility: iOS | Display: 1.53" OLED | Processor: S2 dual-core | Onboard storage: 8GB / 16GB (Non-LTE and LTE respectively) | Battery duration: 18 hours | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: IPX7 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC

Brilliant fitness tracking
Non-LTE version much better value
LTE is an unnecessary expense
Battery too short for sleep tracking

The Apple Watch 3 (or Apple Watch Series 3, if you're picky) was the best smartwatch but has recently been bumped off the top spot and down a few places since the launch of the Apple Watch 4. 

The Apple Watch 3 is essentially just the Apple Watch 2 frame with some new innards... but they make a big difference. Plus the price has recently dropped, making this a much more attractive proposition.

The LTE connection is the headline event, although that's not really as useful as some might hope - plus it costs a lot more to use, and drains the battery.

What we like is the non-LTE version, which is a lot cheaper, and offers all the smarts of the Watch 2 but with a longer battery life and faster speeds when flicking through apps.

It's still water-resistant so you can swim with it and you won't have to worry about getting it wet in the rain when you're out for a jog. There's GPS onboard to make running that little bit easier plus it you can now upgrade to watchOS 5 too.

Read the full Apple Watch 3 review

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5. Fitbit Versa

A smaller and cheaper Fitbit Ionic

OS: Fitbit OS | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: TBC, 1000 nits | Processor: Dual-core 1.0GHz | Onboard storage: 2.5GB | Battery duration: 3-4 days | Charging method: Proprietary charger | IP rating: 50M water resistant | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth

Lightweight design
Relatively low price
No GPS
Feels a little cheap and childish

Fitbit is one of the biggest names in fitness tracking tech, but until late in 2017 the company hadn't gone anywhere near smartwatches. 

The company has now released two smartwatches, and both feature on this list but first we're starting with our favorite that was announced in March 2018 and will be ready to buy in mid-April.

That favorite from Fitbit is the Versa that is a touch smaller than the other one (that's the Ionic) but it comes with Fitbit Pay for contactless payments, 2.5GB of storage for music and battery life that'll last around three days.

It doesn't have GPS for tracking your runs and the design doesn't feel as premium as some of the other watches on this list, but we really like the Fitbit Versa and it's one of the more affordable choices on this list.

Read the full Fitbit Versa review

What's next? Fitbit can be slow with new iterations of its wearables, so we wouldn't put money on seeing a Fitbit Versa 2 any time soon.

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6. TicWatch E

A fully-loaded Wear OS watch you’ve never heard of

OS: Wear OS | Compatibility: Android 4.3+, iOS 8+ | Display: 1.4" 400 x 400 OLED | Processor: MediaTek MT2601 | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery duration: Up to 24h | Charging method: Magnetic connecting pin | IP rating: IP67 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1

Accurate GPS and heart rate sensor
Fantastic value
Design won't suit everyone
Not-so-elegant charging method

You may not have ever heard of TicWatch, and that's because it's a relatively small and new brand to the smartwatch world. This is one of the cheapest watches on this list, and it's well worth your attention.

That's mostly because of the low price and the fact everything works really well. We also love the TicWatch E for its built-in GPS, accurate heart rate sensor and great design.

All of the fitness features you'd expect are here; you can even use it without having to take your phone out while you exercise, but you won't be able to receive phone calls like on the Apple Watch 3. The design is premium, but it won't be for everyone so be sure to properly study the photos above and in our review to work out if it's built for you. 

The true highlight here is the low price considering it's generally around half the price of a lot of the other devices you'll find on this list.

Read the full TicWatch E review

What's next? You may want to hold off buying the TicWatch E as the company has already teased a follow-up product. Here you can read all about the TicWatch E2,

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7. TicWatch S

Another sophisticated smartwatch with a budget price tag

OS: Wear OS | Compatibility: Android 4.3+, iOS 8+ | Display: 1.4" 400 x 400 OLED | Processor: MediaTek MT2601 | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery duration: Up to 24h | Charging method: Magnetic connecting pin | IP rating: IP67 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1

Affordable
Comfortable with a nice design
Lacks NFC
Can't change the strap

TicWatch is back again for our seventh entry. This time it's the TicWatch S, which is remarkably similar to the TicWatch E we've mentioned above.

The differences are limited, but this watch is a tiny bit heavier and a little larger because it comes with a thicker bezel around the sides to show you the exact time.

There's also a different strap on this version that comes with the GPS sensor inside. The makers of the TicWatch claim this is more accurate than when it's inside the watch casing, but we didn't see any major differences. 

It does mean you can't swap out the band on the TicWatch S, like you can on the TicWatch E, and that's a big shame.

It's a touch more expensive than the TicWatch E too, but if you prefer the design you may want to go for this as it's still much more affordable than a lot of our other favorite smartwatches on sale right now.

Read the full TicWatch S review

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8. Misfit Vapor 2

A revamped watch from the fitness experts

Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 1.2-inch or 1.4-inch display, 360 x 360 AMOLED | Processor: Dual-core 1.0GHz | Band sizes: 20mm straps | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery duration: A day | Charging method: Proprietary | IP rating: N/A | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS

Affordable price
NFC for Google Pay
No LTE option
Kind of flimsy

The second attempt at a smartwatch from Misfit has gone down even better than the first. This watch is designed to sit somewhere in between a premium, fashionable smartwatch and a must-have for fitness lovers.

It doesn't do either of those things perfectly, and instead does both quite well. It's a good looking watch that doesn't cost the same amount as some of the more expensive Wear OS watches you can buy.

It is sporting the older Snapdragon 2100 chipset, but it features built-in GPS, NFC for Google Pay and a variety of other features that may make you want it.

Read the full Misfit Vapor 2 review

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Fitbit Ionic

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9. Fitbit Ionic

The fitness brand makes its first big smartwatch play

OS: Fitbit OS | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: TBC, 1000 nits | Processor: Dual-core 1.0GHz | Band sizes: Large | Onboard storage: 2.5GB | Battery duration: 2-3 days | Charging method: Proprietary charger | IP rating: 50M water resistant | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth

Bright display
Variety of fitness options
Slow interface
Severe lack of apps

The Fitbit Ionic was always going to be a tough move for the brand, trying to enter the world of smartwatches from fitness bands.

The effort succeeds in some places: namely fitness, as you might imagine, where you can track all manner of things, from running to weight lifting to swimming. There's also dedicated bodyweight coaching sessions in there, and you can pay for items on the go using Fitbit Pay.

When it first launched, the price was super high and it was a bit too expensive to wholeheartedly recommend. The good news is the price seems to have dropped in recent months so you can get it for at least $70/£70 cheaper than the RRP.

If you're a Fitbit fan looking to do more than you get on an average band, this is a nice option.

Read the full Fitbit Ionic review

What's next? Rumors about a new Ionic are few and far between, but we've put together a guide on what we want to be improved if it releases a Fitbit Ionic 2.

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10. TicWatch C2

Another TicWatch to round off the list

Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 1.3-inch 360 x 360 AMOLED | Processor: Dual-core 1.0GHz | Band sizes: 20mm or 18mm straps | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery duration: A day | Charging method: Proprietary | IP rating: IP68 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS

Low price
Google Pay and GPS
Limited straps
Outdated internals

This isn't the greatest TicWatch you can buy - there's already three other devices from the manufacturer Mobvoi on this list - but instead it's an option if you're looking for a more premium device than the TicWatch E or S but don't want to opt for the Pro.

The TicWatch C2 comes with a more high-end design than those two cheaper watches, but it doesn't cost as much as the TicWatch Pro. That makes it a solid Wear OS choice if you want a watch that looks good on your wrist with a few fitness features mixed in for good measure.

You can't currently buy the watch without a leather band, which is a little bit odd but if you're happy with that or you don't mind buying another third-party strap, this could be a good smartwatch choice for you.

Read the full TicWatch C2 review