The best smartwatch 2017: We choose between Apple, Samsung and more

Your guide to the best new smartwatches
The best smartwatch 2017

Picking the best smartwatch from the plethora of brand new devices is increasingly tough. Gone are those horrible lumps of plastic, with the likes of the Apple Watch Series 2, Samsung Gear S3, Fossil Q and Huawei Watch 2 challenging classic watches in terms of design.

There are important considerations to be made about the choice of operating system, battery life and fitness features as well. But wearing a watch is also about expressing your personality as well and design is a sticking point for many buyers.

Essential reading: Best fitness trackers 2017

With more than a few new smartwatches set to arrive at Baselworld 2017, there's plenty to look forward to. We've already been treated to the Tag Heuer Modular 45 smartwatch, but you can still expect big announcements from Fossil, Swarovski, Alpina, Casio and more as well.

If you can't wait until then, have a look at our current picks for the best smartwatches you can buy right now.

Best smartwatch 2017

Apple Watch Series 2

Best smartwatch 2017: Apple, Samsung, Android Wear and more

With water resistance and GPS in a sleeker (dare we say unisex) body than similarly-specced rivals, as well as an eye-popping screen – means that the Apple Watch Series 2 pips the competition to our coveted best smartwatch spot.

It's still far from perfect and Android Wear 2.0 – currently running on the Huawei Watch 2 and LG Watch Sport – has caught up in terms of features, technology and style.

The Apple Watch app selection is still way too small and developers aren't making use of the GPS and sensors for untethered experiences. Apple's own fitness services are a tad hit-and-miss and the screen isn't always-on.

But aside from those negatives, it's still a great smartwatch experience which doesn't feel clunky and has more than one genuine killer app. Apple Pay is a triumph, sports tracking works and there's a genuine feeling the best is still yet to come.

Feature check: GPS, swimming friendly, Apple Pay, two-day battery, heart rate monitor.

Wareable's Apple Watch Series 2 review verdict:

"Is the Apple Watch Series 2 the perfect smartwatch? No. But it makes a much more compelling argument than the original that you should own one."

From $369, apple.com | Amazon

Best Android Wear smartwatch

LG Watch Sport

Best smartwatch 2017: Apple, Samsung, Android Wear and more

The flagship model for Android Wear 2.0, the LG Watch Sport guns straight for the Apple Watch. With GPS, LTE and NFC for Android Pay on-board, the LG Watch Sport comes with a revamped Google Fit, and rejuvenated third party Android Wear 2.0 apps such as Strava.

The screen really impresses, and the 1.38-inch, 480 x 480, OLED display using its 348ppi to best the Apple Watch Series 2's tech. And beyond outdoor workouts, it can keep track of reps in the gym, which is a surprising and welcome addition.

However, it's only water resistant just 1.5 meters for 30 mins, which makes it unsuitable for swimming. It's bulky too. For those looking for a sleeker watch, the LG Watch Style is worth a look, but the pay-off in size means most of the great features of the Watch Sport have been discarded.

Feature check: GPS, LTE, NFC, Android Pay, heart rate monitor.

Wareable's LG Watch Sport review verdict:

"The LG Watch Sport is a perfect showcase for Android Wear 2.0. It's big, but it's also clever, with some solid fitness chops and other standalone features that make it feel truly independent from your phone."

$349, lg.com | Amazon

Best for sporty types

Garmin Vivoactive HR

Best smartwatch 2017: Apple, Samsung, Android Wear and more

While the Apple Watch and the LG Watch Sport are great smartwatches that are capable of sport tracking, the Garmin Vivoactive HR is a seriously amazing sports watch that's more than capable as a smartwatch. Let us explain.

With dedicated GPS modes for running, cycling, swimming, golf and indoor gym work (although count out strength training), the Vivoactive HR reports detailed metrics into Garmin Connect and works with services such as Strava and RunKeeper. However, it also handles and displays smartwatch notifications, offers weather and calendar details with alarming reliability.

It's not a looker, thanks to the low-res screen and chunky plastic body. It's pure function over form but that's not all bad. You get a battery life that measures around a week, even with all-day use and a few workouts thrown in. But if you're eying the Apple Watch or LG Watch Sport for tracking your next triathlon, do yourself a favour and opt for a proper sports watch instead.

Feature check: GPS, heart rate monitor, Garmin Connect compatibility, dedicated sports modes.

Wareable's Garmin Vivoactive HR review verdict:

"If, like us, you're a sports enthusiast who isn't obsessive over the details of just one type of activity, it's truly the watch for you. Great notifications and rich data from the HR sensor complete a top performance, and the daily activity tracking is top notch too."

$249.99, buy.garmin.com| Amazon

Best for Samsung users

Samsung Gear S3

Best smartwatch

Now compatible with Android and iOS, the Samsung Gear S3 is surprisingly open-minded with its selection of supported smartphones. Sadly, the size increased slightly from the excellent Gear S2, but that larger body delivers increased battery life, GPS and a screen where Tizen can really shine.

It's not quite the ultimate fitness tracker/sports watch/classic Tag Heuer all-in-one thanks to a lack of water-resistance, which makes swimming out of the question. And the crappy app selection puts it behind the Apple Watch and Android Wear 2.0 in terms of versatility, although new apps from Under Armour including MyFitnessPal and Endomondo make it a much more compelling proposition.

However, strong individual style, the intuitive rotating bezel and great battery life mean it's a strong contender. What's more, Samsung's impressive platforms – such as S Health – means strong 3rd party apps aren't essential for a fulfilling experience, as they are on the Apple Watch.

Feature check: GPS, Samsung Pay, Tizen, heart rate monitor.

Wareable's Samsung Gear S3 review verdict:

"The Gear S3 is destined to divide. After delivering us its best-ever smartwatch with the Gear S2, it has sacrificed that sleek design to cram in more features."

From $349, samsung.com | Amazon

Best for runners

Polar M600

Best smartwatches 2017

While the Garmin Vivoactive HR is the perfect choice for those who flit between a host of sports, the Polar M600 is just for pavement-pounding runners.

Built by running giant Polar, and backed up with Android Wear (update to Wear 2.0 slated for the 'spring'), powerful running smarts are placed front and centre, with GPS, with advanced metrics such as Training Benefit, Running Program, Running Index and Sport Profiles available alongside bog standard speed, pace and time.

But as an Android Wear device it's capable of running apps, offering notification, accessing Google Voice commands and all-day activity monitoring. In many ways it's the best of both worlds for runners, and it makes no compromises when you're pushing the limits of your training, unlike less dedicated devices.

Feature check: Heart rate monitor, GPS, Android Wear 2.0 (coming soon), Polar Flow syncing, water resistant 10m.

Wareable's Polar M600 review verdict:

"It's easy to forget that you're using an Android Wear smartwatch when you've got the Polar M600 strapped on. It's an outright running watch (with decent activity tracking on board too) as far as we're concerned, with Android Wear simply there in the background in case you need it."

$329.95, polar.com | Amazon

Best hybrid smartwatch

Withings Steel HR

Best smartwatch 2017: Apple, Samsung, Android Wear and more

When we talk about smartwatches, we tend to think of full-on OLED screen-toting wrist computers. But there is another way. Withing's hybrid smartwatch is back for a third edition, and uses an analogue watch face to pack invisible tech into the case.

And unlike the host of similar hybrids out there – including Fossil's impressive collection – Withings has really crammed in the features. As well as accelerometer-based step tracking and sleep monitoring, the Steel HR has a heart rate monitor built in, that measures bpm 24/7, reporting useful data such as resting heart rate into the impressive Withings Health app. Withings tracking is some of the best in the business, and it's accurate, too.

There's a screen hidden in the face which will display steps and flash up notifications – it's pretty small, so keen your expectations low – and there's an impressive 25 days of battery life, before you juice up with the supplied dock.

Feature check: Water resistant to 50m, heart rate monitor, 25 day battery.

Wareable's Withings Steel HR review verdict:

"Withings has made a watch that walks the line between smartwatch and analogue timepiece with impressive skill. As a fitness tracker it's among the most feature-packed and best looking; as a running watch it's still quite pared down, despite a heart rate monitor that works like a charm."

$179.95, withings.com | Amazon

Best for budget and battery life

Pebble 2

Best smartwatches

A double winner – not bad for a smartwatch that's essentially DOA. Yes, that the company has been snapped up by Fitbit, buying its smartwatches is arguably a terrible idea. Support is finite and the company could turn its servers off at any moment killing its devices dead.

But when it comes to battery life, Pebble is king. Think a whole week off charge, with an always on scree and bags of functionality.

The best bit is that you can grab a Pebble 2 for a bargain basement price and it will last a week on a single charge thanks to the low-power e-paper screen tech. There's also a heart rate monitor and a decent fitness tracking and health platform, that was really picking up pace before the sell out. There are tonnes of apps to play with and the Timeline interface is pretty useful. If you're dipping a toe into smartwatch waters, the Pebble 2 wins on two counts.

Feature check: Heart rate monitor, week long battery, 1,000s of Pebble apps.

Wareable's Pebble 2 review verdict:

"The Pebble 2 packs in a lot for its price, and there's plenty to love, but it's let down by design. If you're after an entry-level fitness tracker and don't care too much about how it looks, this is a solid choice."

$99.99, pebble.com | Amazon

New smartwatches incoming

Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45

The best smartwatch 2017: We choose between Apple, Samsung and more

The second iteration of Tag's Connected smartwatch isn't just stronger on the spec sheet, but it's also much more customisable.

The 'Modular' bit hints as much, with the lugs, strap and main unit of the new device now interchangeable. And while this still sits firmly in the luxury smartwatch bracket, the addition of water resistance up to 50 metres and rubber straps makes this much more rugged than its predecessor.

Built-in GPS and the new Google Fit app also means users have the option to get active, while NFC and Wi-Fi help this become a standalone device.

We're yet to complete our review of the fresh Tag, so we'll avoid giving it a full recommendation just now. For a more extended look at the watch, though, you can check out our hands on Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45 review.

Tag's CEO has also confirmed a smaller 39mm Connected Modular will be dropping in October, so women (or just anyone with smaller wrists) should keep an eye out.

Feature check: GPS, NFC, modular design, swimming friendly.

From $1,650, tagheuer.com

Huawei Watch 2

Best smartwatch 2017: Apple, Samsung, Android Wear and more

The Huawei Watch 2 was announced along with its sibling the Huawei Watch 2 Classic, and puts fitness very much front and centre. The standard Watch 2 is packed with biometric sensors inside a lightweight ceramic case, and keeps tabs on heart rate, VO2 Max as well as GPS tracked speeds and distances.

There's also an LTE option on the standard Watch 2, or you can trade up some of the more advanced features and the ceramic build for a stainless steel designs on the Huawei Watch 2 Classic.

We haven't completed our review of the Huawei Watch 2 as yet, so we're holding off on a full recommendation. Read our early first look Huawei Watch 2 review, and keep your eyes peeled for the definitive verdict in the next couple of weeks.

Feature check: GPS, heart rate monitor, dedicated sports modes.

From €329 (US/UK prices TBC), huawei.com


Shop for recommended smartwatches on Amazon

Samsung Gear S3
Samsung Gear S3
$349.99
Pebble 2
Pebble 2
$104.99
Apple Watch Series 2
Apple Watch Series 2
$399
Huawei Watch
Huawei Watch
$279.99

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5 Comments

  • Secor3475 says:

    Hi IMO, the Apple Watch 2 is NOT the overall best smartwatch.  That distinction should be bestowed upon Samsung Gear S3.  What ever the Apple Watch does, the Gear S3 does it better including Samsung pay.

  • raymondpetit says:

    Gear S3-two days battery life under 'normal' usage.  You can get almost four days of you configure it.  LTE version that can stand alone!  Stand-alone mode for Bluetooth version also!  Calls can be made from watch for both versions!  Samsung Pay is the real winner, not AP!  SP will work almost anywhere!  Actually is water resistant to 1.5 metres-you got that wrong!  Charges fast wirelessly and supremely easy to navigate thanks to rotating bezel! Works with Android and Apple's OS! Please, tell me again how the Apple watch is better than this!?

    • jpp1972 says:

      That is insane. My S3 lasts 4 days, it IS water resistant, has more features out of the box than the Apple Watch that barely last a full day but yet it's the Apple that's the best watch???? 

      Have you even USED the watch? 

      Also, EVERY SINGLE MAN I know owns HUGE watches. 

      I was always annoyed at how small smartwatches were and even more annoyed at reviewers bitching about them being too big!!! The S3 is great but I hope they go bigger with the S4! 

  • bsmith1 says:

    Why not ticwatch? 

    Could not go with Motorola due to flat tyre screen, Gear not a Samsung phone user and will never be, same with Apple over priced for the services. Had a pebble but with their demise :(

    Was looking a huawei but better features on the ticwatch. 

  • MarkG says:

    BEWARE - I recently purchased a Fossil Q Crewmaster (hybrid smartwatch) for looks, it's capabilities and value.  It has a step tracker and a sleep tracker along with other attributes (e.g. 2nd zone time).  The step tracker works well.  The sleep tracker, not so well for me.

    I suffer from restless leg syndrome.  As such the sleep tracker (which auto switches on) will not switch on as it's sleep algarithm thinks I'm still doing awake activities.  As a matter of fact, the step tracker (which should be in off mode during sleep) recorded that on one night I did 188 steps.

    I raise this as it might impact other potential purchasers and will probably have the same outcome no matter the brand.  

    I know the Mondaine sleep tracker requires manual activation - but how accurate will the results be if my legs are involuntarily moving during sleep.  It will most likely show me as not sleeping at all during the night.

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