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10 best smartwatches for iPhone users: Apple Watch alternatives

Because the Apple Watch isn't right for everyone
10 Apple Watch alternatives for iOS
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If you're an iPhone owner and you're hunting for a smartwatch the Apple Watch is naturally the perfect choice – but it costs a lot and the battery life is terrible. If that bothers you, there are plenty of alternatives.

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There's a whole host of iPhone-compatible smartwatches on the market with features that Apple's devices have yet to include. Plus, of course, Wear OS is compatible with iOS and so are Samsung's Galaxy and Gear smartwatches. So iPhone users have plenty of other options to choose from.

Read on for our guide to the best smartwatches for iPhone users – and find out our list of the best smartwatches 2020.

Apple Watch Series 5

Apple Watch Series 5

For iOS users the Apple Watch Series 5 is as close to smartwatch perfection as we’ve seen to date. It's perfectly designed to work with iOS, and indeed, Android users need not apply.

It offers a huge range of features, including LTE – and now with an always-on display. The Series 5 comes in 40mm and 44mm sizes, with more space for the new features introduced in watchOS 6.

The Series 5 built-in GPS for tracking of outdoor workouts and a swim-proof design – and fitness tracking using the iconicMove, Stand and Calorie rings is a powerful system. There’s still no native sleep tracking here, either, but this can be done via a third-party app.

The Series 5 offers an ECG monitor, which has been been FDA cleared, so can be used to detect heart rhythm irregularities.

Battery life is the main gripe still, and, for all the improvements, Apple can still only offer 24 - 48 hours, which for many simply isn’t good enough.

Read our full Apple Watch Series 5 review.

Price when reviewed: $399 - Apple Watch Series 5 product page

Apple Watch Series 3

Apple Watch Series 3

Yes, the Apple Watch Series 5 is expensive, but Apple has now essentially cleaned up the market by offering the Series 3 for just $199.99. It means you get a smartwatch which was previously the best smartwatch for iPhone users at a price only a shade more than cut-price competitors.

However, be aware that this base price tag is for the 38mm, GPS model. If you want the cellular model, or indeed the bigger, 42mm case variation, will will cost more.

What's more, the Apple Watch Series 3 runs watchOS 6 software, so you're essentially getting all the latest features, watch faces and apps. However, features that rely on hardware such as ECG, always-on display or fall detection obviously aren't supported. You still get GPS for location tracking, 4G/LTE for cellular support, Apple Pay, swim tracking and heart rate monitoring.

All the core features are all still here - and it's currently our pick for the best cheap smartwatch you can buy.

Check out our full Apple Watch Series 3 review.

Price when reviewed: $199.99 - Apple Watch Series 3 product page

Best Apple Watch alternatives

Amazfit GTS

Amazfit GTS

It’s an unashamed Apple Watch clone, but Amazfit has got so much right on the Amazfit GTS – and it's not just the $149 price tag that's worthy of attention.

There's an always-on display and you’re looking at around a week of battery life with all the advanced features turned on, which is certainly more than the Apple Watch's single-day.

The built-in GPS is accurate, as is the heart rate unless you’re doing HIIT. And as a fitness tracker it truly excels, and the use of Mio’s PAI score really works. It’s a single number derived from all your weekly health and fitness activity – and we have a lot of respect for that technology and glad it’s seen the light of day here.

The sleep monitoring is also excellent, with accurate graphs, wakeups properly recorded, and a sleep score feature.

It's not much of a fashion statement. But from a usability perspective it comes recommended. Check out our full Amazfit GTS review.

Price when reviewed $149.99 - Amazfit GTS product page


Amazfit GTR

Amazfit GTR

If you prefer a round-faced option the Amazfit GTR could be for you.

The 1.39-inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 454x454 (for the 47mm version) looks superb, and there's a host of vibrant watch faces to choose from. There's also a 42mm version for smaller wrists, and with 24 day battery life stated on the larger model. There's GPS and heart rate monitoring, and you can get that all for just $179.

Now the bad. In our testing of the 47mm model the battery life was half that stated by Amazfit – although still an impressive 12 days. This is achieved by the custom OS, but that means that third party apps aren't available as they are on Apple Watch or Wear OS.

Price when reviewed: $179 - Amazfit GTR product page

Fitbit Versa 2

Fitbit Versa 2

If Samsung or Wear OS don't do it for you, there's always Fitbit's smartwatch line to consider. And, if we're honest, this is easily the watch that people mistake most often for the Apple Watch when we have it on our wrists.

Like so many modern smartwatches, the Versa 2's strengths are all about fitness. So it's got a waterproof design, along with swim tracking and an onboard heart rate monitor to measure workout intensity. What it doesn't have, however, is built-in GPS – for that you'll have to pay a bit more and get the Fitbit Ionic.

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However, following on from the first Versa, Fitbit's taken the step of adding Alexa to your wrist, an interesting and potentially useful change. If you're a smart home devotee, for example, the ease of giving Alexa commands is great.You can also expect the usual Fitbit fitness tracking features, including arguably the best sleep monitoring features of any wrist-worn wearable.

As far as core smartwatch features are concerned, it supports notifications for messages and from third-party apps, and has the Spotify app packaged in for music streaming and control. You can also download apps from Fitbit's growing app store, and there's also contactless payment support via Fitbit Pay.

Unlike Apple's smartwatch, it does work with Android, iOS and Windows smartphones and with up to five days' battery life you won't need to charge it every night. It's a strong alternative, with a whole heap of health features for half the price of Apple's flagship, the Series 5.

Fitbit does also offer the Versa Lite Edition, which looks very similar to the Versa 2, but is cheaper. You will have to live without features like Alexa and swim tracking though.

Read our Fitbit Versa 2 review and Fitbit Versa Lite Edition review.

Price when reviewed: $199.95 - Fitbit Versa 2 product page


Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

Galaxy Watch Active 2

It's worth saying at the outset that Samsung's already bringing out a followup to the Galaxy Watch Active, the elaborately-named Galaxy Watch Active 2.

But until we get to review that in detail, the Galaxy Watch Active is a great shout if you're looking for a new smartwatch. The sporty, sleek wearable offers under-par battery life, but makes up for it with all of what you'll need if you're looking to get properly active, as the name suggests. It's got GPS, swim tracking and a reliably good heart rate monitor.

It runs on Samsung's Tizen OS, with an expanding range of downloadable apps available, and makes a pretty compelling case for Samsung's position as a challenger to Apple on smartwatches. You get Samsung pay for contactless payments, and it does have Bixby, although Samsung's smart assistant is still a bit of a sorry sort - you're unlikely to use it much.

For the price, which is impressively low, you won't find many better smartwatches than the Galaxy Watch Active. For a full verdict, take a read of our Samsung Galaxy Watch Active review.

Price when reviewed: $200 - Galaxy Watch Active 2 product page

Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music

The 10 best smartwatches for iPhone users

The Apple Watch offers a solid sports tracking experience, but the Vivoactive 3 Music is particularly designed for those who dabble in a lot of sports. It'll cover running, cycling, golf and more via Garmin's Connect IQ store.

It will even cover gym workouts with the addition of rep counting. Garmin Pay has been added into the mix letting you make payments from the wrist, and improved notification support now lets you respond to your messages. It offers a built-in music player and the ability to download offline playlists from Spotify and Deezer.

The battery life is top notch and the new circular design is a massive step up from its predecessor, the Vivoactive HR. In fact, Garmin's has released the Vivoactive 4, and it looks pretty impressive from what we've seen so far. We'll be getting our hands on it to weigh it up against the Vivoactive 3 Music very soon.

In the meantime, get our definitive take on the current model with our Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music review.

Price when reviewed: $299.99 - Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music product page

Michael Kors Access Runway

The 10 best smartwatches for iPhone users

If you want a great looking Wear OS smartwatch, the Fossil Group serves up some of the best options right now. The Michael Kors Access collection is one of its sub brands that stands out for the right reasons.

The Access Runway is aimed toward a fashion-loving female audience, but we won't hesitate to also classify it as unisex for those who want a smaller smartwatch on their wrist.

It's a little more subdued than previous Michael Kors smartwatches, but it also has an undeniable high-end look that works as a statement wearable. While previous Fossil smartwatches lacked high-end smart features in favour of style, that isn't the case with the Access Runway.

NFC for Google Pay, GPS, a heart rate sensor and water resistance are all present, which means you can take your fitness more seriously with this stylish watch too.

Check out our full Michael Kors Access Runway review.

Price when reviewed: $295 - MK Access Runway product page

Ticwatch E2

TicWatch E2

After the demise of Pebble, Mobvoi and its Ticwatch range is now our plucky smartwatch startup of choice. And the Ticwatch E2 builds on the Ticwatch E most notably by adding a waterproof design.

It runs Wear OS, is packed with features including GPS and a heart rate monitor, and has now added swim monitoring to its sports tracking prowess. Crucially, it comes at the tantalising price of just $159.99, so it's a more affordable Apple Watch alternative. It has a 1.4-inch OLED display with a solid 400 x 400 resolution, which matches up well to the Apple Watch's screen.

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The design is fun and quirky, and it's a nice relief from the monotony of the same old brands – but with the certainty and stability of Wear OS under the hood.

Check out our Ticwatch E2 review.

Price when reviewed: $159.99 - Ticwatch E2 product page

Garmin Venu

Garmin Venu

With dedicated modes for running (indoor, outdoor, treadmill), cycling (indoor/outdoor), swimming (pool only thanks to 5ATM water resistance), golf, strength, cardio, elliptical, indoor rowing, yoga and more the Garmin Venu is more than just a smartwatch.

The glossy 390 x 390, AMOLED touchscreen display rivals the Apple Watch, but under the hood it features Garmin's sports tracking tech – and a great choice for serious runners. Everything hooks into Garmin Connect, for everything from deep workout analysis to metrics like Stress Score and Body Battery. There's also a Pulse Ox sensor to add even more data.

You sacrifice some battery life for the AMOLED screen, but you should still get five days of wear as a smartwatch, with one or two short runs or workouts thrown in. GPS battery life is 8 hours – so significantly less than the Vivoactive - but this is no doubt the better looking watch.

Price when reviewed: $399.99 - Garmin Venu product page

Garmin Vivomove HR

The 10 best smartwatches for iPhone users

Like the Steel HR below, the Vivomove HR is a sporty hybrid that packs in a lot of features. Unlike the Vivomove, Garmin's hybrid is available in designs for men and women and is available in a bunch of new luxury looks too. There's a followup coming out very soon, the Vivomove 3, which looks to improve even further on this impressive hybrid; we'll be reviewing it as soon as we can.

Its killer feature is the sleek discreet display that appears on the watch face when you give it a tap. On that screen you can see a whole raft of information including fitness tracking data, resting heart rate, smartphone notifications and it will even let you check in on your stress levels.

If you care about battery life it's a fine performer too, offering two weeks in watch mode and around five days when you're tapping into all of those smartwatch features on a regular basis.

Have a read of ourfull Garmin Vivomove HR review.

Price when reviewed: $199 - Garmin Vivomove HR product page

Withings Steel HR Sport

The 10 best smartwatches for iPhone users

Withings is back, and its new Steel HR Sport gives the Apple Watch a run for its money in terms of wellness tech; a serious fitness tracker disguised as an analogue watch. The optical heart rate sensor is one of the best you can get on the wrist.

It offers a decent analysis of your daily heart rate and tracks resting heart rate over time – arguably doing better than the Apple Watch in this department. New for the Sport is VO2 Max, which will give you a look at how much oxygen you're utilising during workouts.

While it's an analogue watch, it's not without a digital screen. There's a small OLED panel that displays notifications and some relevant health stats. And while the older watch didn't support GPS, the Sport does – though it's the connected kind, which requires piggybacking off your phone's GPS.

It offers automatic detection of exercise and will monitor your heart rate during a session and count that into your daily goal. It's also an excellent sleep tracker, which fills a hole left wide open by the Apple Watch, and it offers 25 days of tracking on a single charge.

It's a different proposition, but those mainly interested in the Apple Watch as a fitness tracker would do well to consider the Steel HR.

Check out our Withings Steel HR Sport review.

Price when reviewed: $199.95 - Withings Steel HR Sport product page

Kate Spade New York Scallop 2

The 10 best smartwatches for iPhone users

The best sign yet that smartwatches for women are improving. We haven't fully put the new Kate Spade New York Scallop 2 to the test, but as it's essentially building on its predecessor with big new features, so we think it's the model you should be going for.

The 42mm watch comes in a rose gold or a silver-and-gold case and is as gorgeous as it gets. You can expect a super sharp 1.19-inch AMOLED display, a design that's now waterproof up to 30 metres and overall just much more unique and attractive than the Apple Watch.

With the second generation, you're getting all the standard features Wear OS has to offer, which includes notifications, app support, accessing Google Assistant and music player features. You now also get built-in GPS for outdoor workout tracking, a heart rate monitor and Google Pay for contactless payments. There's also an array of Kate Spade-designed watch faces to give your watch some added personality, to boot.

And for the price, the Scallop stays accessible to the everyday smartwatch user – it's not confined to the luxury price bracket like the aforementioned Tag Heuer watches – and is competitive with the Apple Watch.

Check out our hands-on time with the Kate Spade Spade Scallop Smartwatch 2 and full review of the Kate Spade Scallop Smartwatch to find out what you should expect from each model.

Price when reviewed: $295 - Kate Spade New York Scallop 2 product page