Best smartwatch 2017: Apple, Samsung and more

Your guide to the best new smartwatches
The best smartwatch 2017

Picking the best smartwatch out there right now is tough, and the market has come along way since the bad old days of the wrist computer. Picking the perfect model from the plethora of brand new devices is increasingly hard to do.

Gone are those horrible lumps of plastic, with the likes of the Apple Watch Series 2, Samsung Gear S3, the luxury Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45 and the Fossil Q range challenging classic watches in terms of design.

Essential reading: Best budget smartwatches

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

Take a look at our buying guide below, followed by our current picks for the best smartwatches you can buy right now.

Any questions? Let us know in the comments section below.

How to buy the perfect smartwatch

Think about your smartphone

Best smartwatch 2017: Perfect picks for your needs

A lot of choosing the right smartwatch for your needs will depend a lot on your smartphone. Things have opened up slowly over the last year and Android Wear and Samsung Gear devices now work with iOS.

While iOS users now get the luxury of choice, the experience is still pretty basic. You'll find some functionality locked off, and many Android Wear watch manufacturers quote less battery when their device is used with an Apple phone. Annoying.

But to get the best experience, generally, Android users should stick to Android Wear and iOS users' first port of call should be the Apple Watch. That logic offers much more choice for Android Wear users who have the pick of over 40 devices to choose from.

There used to be more choice for Apple users, but the cannibalisation of indie brands like Pebble and Vector has meant a return to the familiar tech battle lines of Apple, Google and Samsung. There is, however, a cheaper option with the Apple Watch Series 1 which forgoes GPS and waterproofing for a discount on the RRP.

Think about features

But putting compatibility aside – choosing a smartwatch is also increasingly about the differentiation of features. Many at the top end (and predominantly made by tech brands) are heavy on fitness features.

The Apple Watch Series 2, LG Watch Sport and Samsung Gear S3 are all laden with GPS, heart rate monitors to replace the running watch. But at the moment they're still jack-of-all-trades devices – tech companies still don't get fitness and wellness. You won't even get the same fitness tracking experience as a top Fitbit – but it's coming.

It's not just the tech. The Apple Watch's heart rate monitor is pretty good, but it doesn't do much. The data barely leveraged from a wellness or sports perspective, the built-in fitness apps are by-and-large terrible, and third parties like Strava are only starting to pick up the mantle.

Smartwatches go stylish

There's also a drive towards cheaper devices from classic fashion brands. Those devices boast fewer features, but are managing to make slimmer, smaller watches – and certainly upping the design stakes.

The final big change in smartwatches is the appearance of luxury brands. The fashion world has started to embrace smartwatches, coaxed by Google onto its platform. That means there's more choice than ever.

Soon enough, writing definitive round-ups like this with be near impossible, as hundreds of watches that all do the same thing flood the market. It will just be about style.

Wareable's best smartwatch 2017

Apple Watch Series 2

Best smartwatch 2017: Perfect picks for your needs

OS: watchOS 3 | Display: OLED | Size: 38mm/42mm | Battery: 2 days | Water resistance: 50m | Heart rate: Yes | Connectivity: GPS, NFC, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth

Water resistance and GPS in a sleeker body than similarly-specced rivals, as well as an eye-popping screen, mean 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 has caught up in terms of features, technology and style, but watchOS 4 is on its ways before the end of the year and there are plenty of new features to look forward to.

Read this: Apple Watch Series 3 investigation

The Apple Watch app selection is still way too small and developers aren't making enough 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, it wins in the pool and there's a genuine feeling that the best is still 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, | Amazon

Highly commended

Samsung Gear S3

Best smartwatch 2017: Perfect picks for your needs

OS: Tizen | Display: Super AMOLED (360 x 360) | Size: 46mm | Battery: 380mAh, 1.5 days | Water resistance: IP68 | Heart rate: Yes | Connectivity: GPS, NFC, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth

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 better battery life, GPS and a screen where Tizen can really shine.

Head-to-head: Samsung Gear S3 v Apple Watch Series 2

It's not quite the ultimate fitness 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 along with the only Spotify smartwatch app to provide offline playback 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 its own Samsung Health – means strong third 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, | Amazon

Best Android Wear

LG Watch Sport

Best smartwatch 2017: Perfect picks for your needs

OS: Android Wear 2.0 | Display: OLED (480 x 480) | Size: 46mm | Battery: 430mAh, 1.5 days | Water resistance: IP68 | Heart rate: Yes | Connectivity: GPS, NFC, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth

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 uses 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 to 1.5 metres 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 that 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, | Amazon

Best for sporty types

Garmin Vivoactive HR

Best smartwatch 2017: Perfect picks for your needs

OS: Garmin | Display: 16 colour MIP (205 x 148) | Size: 28mm | Battery: 8 days | Water resistance: 5AM | Heart rate: Yes | Connectivity: GPS, Bluetooth

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, plus reliably offers weather and calendar details.

It's not a looker, with a 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 eyeing 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, | Amazon

Best for runners

Polar M600

Best smart watch

OS: Android Wear 2.0 | Display: TFT (240 x 240) | Size: 1.3-inch | Battery: 500mAh, 2 days | Water resistance: IPX8 | Heart rate: Yes | Connectivity: GPS, NFC, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth

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, powerful running smarts are placed front and centre, with GPS and 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 notifications, 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.

Feature check: Heart rate monitor, GPS, Android Wear 2.0, Polar Flow syncing, water resistant to 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, | Amazon

Best hybrid

Nokia Steel HR

Best smartwatch 2017

OS: N/A | Display: OLED | Size: 40mm | Battery: 28 days | Water resistance: 50m | Heart rate: Yes | Connectivity: Bluetooth

When we talk about smartwatches, we tend to think of full-on OLED screen-toting wrist computers. But there is another way. Withings (now part of Nokia) has a pretty slick hybrid smartwatch that 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 – it really crams in the features. As well as accelerometer-based step tracking and sleep monitoring, the Steel HR has a heart rate monitor built in, which measures bpm 24/7, reporting useful data such as resting heart rate into the impressive Nokia Health Mate app. Nokia's tracking is some of the best in the business.

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

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

Wareable's Nokia 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, | Amazon

Best for budget and battery life

Pebble 2

Best smartwatches

OS: PebbleOS | Display: e-paper (144 x 168) | Size: 40mm | Battery: 1 week | Water resistance: 30m | Heart rate: Yes | Connectivity: Wi-Fi

A double winner – not bad for a smartwatch that's essentially DOA. Conventional wisdom says that buying a Pebble smartwatch is a terrible idea, given that the company has been shuttered after its buyout by Fitbit. But hear us out.

The latest and last update guarantees that smartwatches will continue to work even after the servers are switched off, and when it comes to buying on a budget, few can match the Pebble 2 for features and value.

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, which 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 for the first time, the Pebble 2 wins on two counts.

Feature check: Heart rate monitor, week long battery, thousands 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, | Amazon

Best money-no-object

Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45

Best smartwatch 2017

OS: Android Wear 2.0 | Display: AMOLED (400 x 400) | Size: 45mm | Battery: 410mAh, 1.5 days | Water resistance: 50m | Heart rate: No | Connectivity: GPS, NFC, Wi-Fi

Tag's Android Wear second-coming is available with titanium, ceramic and 18K rose gold finishes and, as speculated, will feature what Tag is describing as a modular design. You'll be able to change the smart part for a traditional mechanical Tag module, such as the Calibre 5 or the chronograph Tourbillon Heuer 02-T. You'll also be free to swap out the lugs, the straps and even the buckle. In all, Tag says there are 56 different versions available at launch.

Tag is offering 30 new exclusive watch faces and a companion Studio app to let you create/personalise your own that will be available for Android devices originally – iOS is coming, we're promised.

Wareable's Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45 review verdict:

"The modular design is a big plus and while it's no match for a sports watch, the GPS and waterproofing definitely gives it something over the first Connected. There's still room for improvement, but overall, Tag's second attempt shows proves that this is one Swiss watchmaker that's learning very quickly how to make a good smartwatch."

From $1,650,

New smartwatches incoming 2017

Best smartwatch 2017: Perfect picks for your needs

The smartwatches detailed above are our pick of the bunch currently available, but remember there are a tonne of new smartwatches going on sale later this year. Check out our guide to the best upcoming smartwatch releases for more information.


  • 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.

    • OnkelPer says:

      You are right. To be "the best smartwatch" the watch need to be able to work with more than one Smartphone OS and preferable most of the smartphones out there.

  • 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.

  • shadowwolf2 says:

    What is all this hatred for Apple Watch about? I understand wanting some diversity but all this Apple hate-mail is childish. Yes Apple Watches can be expensive and squarish but" round" watches are pushing above $400-$500.00. 

    In horological history round, barrel shaped, square and rectangular were all favored. So, NO round didn't always rule the day. Once upon a time (like today) a round smartwatch was a novelty but not anymore with most of the industry building (UWO's) eg wrist saucers. Personally I prefer the functionality of a square case myself. Look it up folks, how do these round thingies look like the only thing in the history of watches?

    And what's the necessity of a tying a dinner plate sized beast to your wrists? Might that suggest something more Freundian?. Bigger is NOT necessarily better boys! 

    I have some bragging experiences too: 6 Pebbles, 4 Apples, 1 Nixon, 1 Asus Zenwatch 3 (just for sheer beauty if nothing else) and 1 LG Sport.  Surprisingly my daily watch is a humble Pebble Time Steel and it beats the rest to death with both beautiful well thought through "always on color screens", not to mention incredible battery life. The rest of you go burn more gas in your "8-12" cylinder monsters and impress the ladies. It's possible nothing else we have that large can,  lol.

    • Bostjan says:

      Apple Watch 2 is great for urban use but here needs to be done for the people with left dominant hand - Samsung did a great job with that bezel to operate the watch. additional: I like the option of Samsung to operate the watch with gloves on hand.... at least with the bezel if to thick for touch display. I am often with classic cloth when on meetings and here Apple fits more as it is thinner - Samsung diameter size is fine, but needs top be thinner for the "shirt use".

  • 619alex says:

    Walmart is selling some cool 24k gold plated samsung gear s3 and apple watches for around $600 with 5 year warranty against gold fading..... i bought one 3 months ago and i couldn't be happier with my purchase.... still looking as good as new!


  • Mneill82 says:

    The one thing apple has over the competition is that it has a watch that the ladies can wear as well, and not just in gold or rose gold.  Most android wear watches are geared toward men.  Some of the smaller android watches loss functionality. The new lg style you can't make phone calls. The huawei ladies watch was good for functionality but was bigger then the men's does that make since.  I wish moto would update the 360 to add a speaker.  Best android smart watch to date.  Very disappointed that samsung doesn't have a woman's version of its gear s3.

  • Nomad1221 says:

    Expensive yes, but I don't see how any smart/sports watch list could leave out the Garmin Fenix 5.  The thing does pretty much everything and comes in 3 sizes.  Sadly they don't make a 5 with the 5s smooth face, that's a good looking watch.

    Garmin Fenix 5

  • siddharth27 says:

    What about the fitbit blaze?

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