14 best smartwatches for iPhone and Apple Watch alternatives

Because the Apple Watch isn't right for everyone
14 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 – and it's now more affordable with the launch of the Apple Watch SE.

But there are downsides. It's certainly more expensive than rivals and single day battery life is a big turn-off for lots of people. Add to that reservations around the square design that many consider too techy, and there are plenty of reasons for iPhone users to look for an Apple Watch alternative.

Variety is the spice of life after all, and there's a host of iPhone-compatible smartwatches on the market to choose from.

Read on for our guide to the best smartwatches for iPhone users.

Update: This article was originally published in 2015 but was updated in 2021 with new Amazfit and Oppo smartwatches.

Apple Watch SE

Price when reviewed: $279 (40mm GPS)

Apple Watch SE

It's not the best Apple Watch, but it's probably the easiest to recommend, with all the core features for significantly less cash than the Series 6.

But don’t think of it as a cheap Apple Watch. It still costs $279.99 for the 40mm version, which makes it on the pricey side given the competition out there from Huawei and Amazfit.

But the Apple Watch SE only makes a few compromises over the Series 6. You don’t get an always-on display so you still have to tilt your wrist to see the time. And there's no ECG and SpO2 sensors, so it doesn't have those in-depth health monitoring features.

But you get the larger screen sizes over the boxy Series 3, GPS, sports and fitness tracking, swim-proof design, LTE options, Apple Pay… all the stuff that makes the Apple Watch our favorite smartwatch.

It also gets the always-on altimeter from the Series 6, all the new watchOS 7 features, and the S5 chip should mean plenty of software updates for years to come.

However, the single day battery life (we got up to around 36 hours) is the major downside compared to rivals.

If you’re not bothered about the high-end medical features, then the Apple Watch SE comes very highly recommended.

Read our full Apple Watch SE review.

Apple Watch Series 6

Price when reviewed: $399 (40mm GPS)

Apple Watch Series 6 44mm

The Series 6 is absolutely the best Apple Watch, with the most features and high-end health tech, if things like ECG and blood oxygen monitoring are a big factor in your decision.

It debuts a SpO2 sensor for the first time on Apple Watch to keep an eye on blood oxygen saturation, and retains the Afib-detecting ECG sensor.

Away from advanced health features, the always-on display is a key reason to invest over the Apple Watch SE – as are the materials. The Series 6 is the only version to offer stainless steel, which is a cut above in terms of design (and price). And there are gold, blue and red case colors, in addition to the usual silver, rose gold and gray, if you're looking for something that stands out.

Elsewhere, it’s the same story and it’s a minor upgrade from the Series 5. There’s GPS, sports tracking, 5ATM water resistance and all the key Apple Watch features. There’s also an always-on altimeter for you climbers and hikers.

Sadly, it’s also the same Apple Watch battery life story.

Apple promises 18 hours, but we found around 36 hours. Of course that heavily depends on use. But using the Apple Watch for sleep tracking means you need to think about when to charge, and that’s now a problematic side to the Apple Watch.

It's an incredible smartwatch with a slick experience that always finds way to delight, but we feel more people will be suited to the Apple Watch SE.

Read our in-depth Apple Watch Series 6 review.

Apple Watch Series 3

Price when reviewed: $199.99 (38mm GPS)

Apple Watch Series 3

The Apple Watch Series 3 seemed great value at $199 compared to $399 for the Series 6.

But things have changed with the Apple Watch SE. Yes the Series 3 is $70 cheaper, but you're sacrificing the newer shape and you're buying a smartwatch running a significantly dated processor and platform. The Series 3 will soon be so under-powered it won't receive watchOS updates, so the money saved now may not be good value down the line.

But we've seen deals as low as $169.99 for the Series 3 – and there's plenty to like if you are tempted.

The base price gets you the 38mm GPS model and there's a 42mm version too, sizes which have been changed for more usable 40mm and 44mm versions on the newer Watch SE and Series 6.

The Apple Watch Series 3 does run the latest watchOS 7 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.

We would seriously recommend against the Apple Watch Series 3, as we feel it might not get watchOS 8 later this year. But with payments, Apple Music on the wrist and LTE support, it still out-strips many current devices.

Check out our full Apple Watch Series 3 review.

Best Apple Watch alternatives

Huawei Watch GT2e

Price when reviewed: $169

Huawei Watch GT2e

The Huawei Watch GT2e doesn’t offer that much over its predecessor the GT2, bar a visual redesign that’s a little more sporty.

But it makes a great Apple Watch alternative because of its 14-day battery life, which is the main gripe about Apple's smartwatch.

It boasts a rich 1.39-inch AMOLED display, and many people find round-faced smartwatches much more attractive on the wrist than square devices.

It doesn't scrimp on features either. Sports fans are especially looked after with a bunch of sport profiles including swimming (thanks to 5ATM water resistance), cycling and an excellent running experience. That's thanks to a ton of metrics and Firstbeat’s VO2 Max and recovery stats.

The big downside was the lack of third-party support, but Huawei has decided to open things up to developers and there's already been one fitness-focused app that plays nice with it. Hopefully we see the likes of Strava and LifeSum jump onboard, but there's no guarantees.

Sleep tracking is also excellent, and while not quite as informative and deep as Fitbit, data was in the same ball park.

And after some initial delays getting the GT2e to the US, it's now available through mainstream retailers for around $169.99 – and regularly on sale for even less.

If you want a more high grade look as well, you can look at the Huawei Watch GT 2 or the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro instead.

Read our Huawei Watch GT2e review

Fitbit Versa 3

Price when reviewed: $229

Fitbit Versa 3

The Versa 3 now plays second fiddle to the Fitbit Sense health watch, but it's still a very capable smartwatch and an equivalent to the Apple Watch SE.

You don't get the ECG and Afib, stress sensors or body temperature you'll find on the Fitbit Sense, but the Versa 3 has GPS added for the accurate tracking of outdoor workouts. It also gets the excellent fast charging, which can add a day’s worth of battery life in just 10 minutes.

And battery life is one of the biggest success stories, with six days on offer, which is truly excellent compared to the Apple Watch's single day.

Of course, a Fitbit smartwatch is always going to be a fitness tracking powerhouse. That means top-notch sleep monitoring with a single sleep score, workout detection and heaps of sport profiles. That’s on top of the standard step, elevation and Active Zone Minutes.

And there’s still an SpO2 sensor on board that will keep tabs on blood oxygen as you sleep.

As a smartwatch it delivers notifications with aplomb, but you’re not getting the breadth of apps you’ll find on Apple Watch. And the general smartwatch experience is definitely inferior.

But there is Fitbit Pay and you can choose between Alexa and Google Assistant voice controls from the wrist. We didn’t find the experience that useful, but if you’re a regular with smart home control then it might appeal.

Check out our full Fitbit Versa 3 review.

Oppo Watch

Price when reviewed: $279 and currency usd="484" gbp="369"]

Oppo Watch

Oppo's first smartwatch runs on Wear OS, but the combination with its own ColorOS makes it an Apple Watch-look-alike worth considering.

It comes in 41mm and 46mm sizes, with the larger offering a higher resolution display, fast charging support and LTE support.

Both versions feature aluminium cases with the larger model offering a nicer-looking dual curved display. Both screens are high quality even if you get more of a resolution bump on the 46mm version.

Wear OS runs the show so you get all the usual suspects here like Google Pay, notifications and native Google apps. But it's Oppo's software presence that elevates it with great activity tracking support and an improved app menu screen.

There's built-in GPS and support for swim tracking too, which on the whole is best suited for casual fitness folk.

Like the Apple Watch, it struggles on the battery front giving you a day, even when using the LTE connectivity.

If you prefer a square smartwatch with a bigger display and there's elements of Wear OS you do like, then this is one to consider.

Read our Oppo Watch 41mm review and Oppo Watch 46mm LTE review.

Amazfit Bip U Pro

Price when reviewed: $69.99

Amazfit Bip U Pro

If you're looking for a cheaper option than the Apple Watch without compromising on features then the Bip U Pro is worth your attention.

It's the follow-up to the Bip S and improves on its predecessor with more smarts and a robust list of fitness features too.

The square design made from plastic, but it does find room for a 1.43-inch HD color screen and makes room for an optical sensor that delivers heart rate and blood oxygen measurements.

There's built-in GPS like the Bip S and the 5ATM water resistance rating brings swim tracking support again too. Outdoor tracking was pretty solid for us, though supreme heart rate accuracy for exercise is something that is lacking. It's much better suited for continuously monitoring heart rate instead.

It largely keeps smartwatch features to the basics, but it does include Amazon Alexa that works when paired to your phone. It misses out on the offline voice assistant you will find on pricier Amazfit watches. What's here though does work well.

To top things off, you've got the promise of up to 9 days battery life, which you can get if you're not hammering out outdoor runs and ride everyday.

For the money, you'd be hard pressed to find a watch that delivers as much. You do make compromises but there's certainly more good than bad here.

Read our full Amazfit Bip U Pro review.

Amazfit GTS 2 Mini

Price when reviewed $99.99

Amazfit GTS 2 Mini

There are three different watches in the Amazfit GTS 2 range and while the GTS 2 mini is the cheapest of that 'fashion watch' range, we think it's the one that offers the best value for money.

It still offers that square look with watch crown-style button and houses an impressively bright 1.55-inch 354 x 306 AMOLED screen. It misses out on the more high grade materials of the pricier GTS 2 watches, but still a nice-looking smartwatch overall.

On the smartwatch front, you're getting basic notification support, music controls, a rich collection of watch faces and the new handy Pomodoro face to aid productivity.

When it's time to turn to fitness and sports tracking, there's plenty here with GPS, 70 sports modes, a heart rate monitor an 24/7 fitness tracking and sleep monitoring. Performance-wise, it's a really solid performer and it's a nice bonus that you can fire workout data to Strava as well.

You can expect a week's worth of battery life and while the other GTS 2 models offer more on paper, we'd say they all offer around the same with all features in use.

It's great value and crucially, holds up well for those smartwatch staples and as a workout companion too. If you want a bit more in the way of a nicer look and additional smartwatch features like a music player, Amazon Alexa and an offline voice assistant, you can spend more to pick up the Amazfit GTS 2. If you can live without those extras, you'll be well served here.

Check out our full Amazfit GTS 2 mini review

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

Price when reviewed: $200

Galaxy Watch Active 2

The new Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is too expensive to easily recommend over the Apple Watch, given that ECG and blood pressure monitoring features aren't available for iOS users. It's a shame as it's a gorgeous smartwatch – at the same price as a Series 6, it's not a good buy for iPhone owners.

But the Galaxy Watch Active 2 is still a feature-rich smartwatch that offers plenty of decent fitness and wellness features at a good price – and you'll regularly see big discounts at retailers.

The sporty, sleek wearable offers similar battery life to the Apple Watch, 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, although admittedly nowhere near the amount you'll find on the Apple Watch.

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.

Like the Galaxy Watch 3, you also get an ECG sensor, fall detection and blood pressure monitoring – but you can't use those with iPhone.

For the price, which is impressively low, you won't find many better smartwatches than the Galaxy Watch Active 2.

Garmin Vivoactive 4

Price when reviewed: $269.99

Garmin Vivoactive 4

The Vivoactive 4 is Garmin's sport focused smartwatch, designed to offer the benefits of notifications and smart features with a jack-of-all-trades sports tracking which supports up to 20 activities.

It rivals the Apple Watch with its laser focus on sports tracking, so includes running (indoor, outdoor, treadmill), cycling (indoor and outdoor), swimming (pool only), golf, strength, cardio, elliptical, indoor rowing, yoga and more. That enough for you? And, yes, you guessed it, 5ATM water resistance is on board.

You can track all that on an Apple Watch, but Garmin watches – and Garmin Connect – put much more focus on training. If you love to dig into workout data, this is a clear choice.

None are tracked with the insane level of detail used by the specialist Forerunner or Fenix devices, so you'll miss out on stuff like recovery, training load, training status, VO2 Max and the like. It's more of a jack-of-all-trades device, which makes it a great smartwatch.

Notification support is great, although you can't reply from the watch itself or take calls, like you can on the Apple Watch. That functionality is reserved for Android users only.

You will get decent fitness tracking, and sleep is aided by the pulse ox sensor that will deliver advanced sleep stages and information on your respiration as you sleep. Hardcore stuff.

And when you think that the Apple Watch Series 5 will only last a single day and won't get you through a marathon unless you turn off the heart rate monitor, the seven days battery life as a smartwatch and 13 hours of GPS on the Vivoactive 4 seem even more impressive.

Full test: Garmin Vivoactive 4 review

Skagen Falster 3

Price when reviewed: $299

Falster 3

The Falster 3 can't really compete technically with the Apple Watch on any level, but it's undeniably a great looking smartwatch. And if you care more about what your smartwatch looks like than the features, performance, apps or biometrics then this is a worthy Apple Watch alternative.

It runs on Fossil Group's Gen 5 platform, with Google's Wear OS in the background. That means it's powered by the latest Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor, has upgraded memory, water resistance and heart rate monitor. Battery life is still only 24 hours.

It's 42mm, so directly between the two Apple Watch sizes, and boasts a case with great looking (if fiddly) straps.

The 1.3-inch AMOLED display is really punchy, with good colors for some well-designed Skagen watch faces.

The beauty of the Falster 3 is still its thinness, and at 11mm there are few devices that look and feel so sleek on the wrist.

Performance of the watch itself is great, although the accuracy of the heart rate sensor isn't anywhere near good enough when working out. However, the design and strap are hardly suited to sweaty workouts – so this is one for general day-to-day wear.

The only real bugbear here is Wear OS. The platform is stagnating, with poor health and wellness features in particular, and it's not an ecosystem we'd heartily recommend. But we love the Falster 3 design, so it gets the nod for those who care about style more than features.

Read our full Skagen Falster 3 review.

Garmin Venu

Price when reviewed: $399.99

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 glossy 390 x 390, AMOLED touchscreen display rivals the Apple Watch, but under the hood it features Garmin's sports tracking tech – and is a great choice for serious runners.

It features the same multisport modes as the Vivoactive 4, with support for running, swimming, cycling and even golf, with 41,000 courses supported for yardages and hazards.

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 for blood oxygen data.

You sacrifice some battery life for the AMOLED screen, but we still got 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 thanks to that battery-sapping display – but this is no doubt the better looking watch.

Read our Garmin Venu review.

Garmin Vivomove 3

Price when reviewed: $219.99

Garmin Vivomove 3

Like the Steel HR below, the Vivomove 3 is a sporty hybrid that packs in a lot of features. Garmin's hybrid is available in designs for men and women and is available in Luxe and Style versions, which pushes the price up to $319.99

Its killer feature is the sleek and 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 and smartphone notifications, and it will even let you check in on your stress levels.

If you care about battery life its an okay too, offering 5 days in watch mode where it had previously been weeks for earlier Vivomove models. Overall though, it's a pleasing watch to live with that offers a good halfway house between full smartwatch and something that feels like a nice sporty smartwatch.

Have a read of ourfull Garmin Vivomove 3 review.

Withings Steel HR Sport

Price when reviewed: $199.95

Withings Steel HR

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.