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Best smartwatch 2020: Style, sport and smarts compared

The ultimate buyers guide to the top smartwatches on sale now
Best smartwatch 2020 guide
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If you’re looking for the best smartwatch for your needs there are now heaps of options that offer style, top sports tracking and even long battery life.

When it comes to the standout smartwatch in 2019, it’s undoubtedly the Apple Watch Series 5 - but it's held back slightly by the fact it only works with the iPhone. If you're an Android user, you have more of a decision to make.

We've got you covered with our top selections.


Update:
We updated this article in January 2020 to include new smartwatches from CES 2020, and the latest devices from Amazfit and Huawei.

Upcoming, unreleased smartwatches in 2020

Before we kick off our best smartwatches list, the below only includes devices we've tested and reviewed.

But CES 2020 has been seeing releases of plenty of new smartwatches, including a tasty looking Skagen Falster 3 and new $70 Amazfit Bip S. What's more, we're eagerly waiting the Xiaomi Mi Watch to land outside of China.

Apple Watch Series 5

Apple Watch Series 5

Apple Watch Series 5 key features

  • Works with iPhone only
  • Always-on display
  • 18 hours battery life
  • LTE/4G options available
  • Fitness tracker
  • Suitable for swimming
  • Heart rate monitor and ECG
  • Apple Pay
  • Notifications, make/take calls
  • Price when reviewed: $399.99

The Apple Watch Series 5 is as close to smartwatch perfection as we’ve seen to date; it’s a powerful and versatile wearable that can offer a huge range of features, including LTE – and now with an always-on display.

The Apple Watch is able to morph between smartwatch, fitness tracker, sports watch and serious health device – and does so better than any other smartwatch on the market. The Series 5 comes in 40mm and 44mm sizes, with more space for the new features introduced in watchOS 6.

It has all the same core fitness and sports tracking as the Series 3, including built-in GPS for tracking of outdoor workouts and a swim-proof design.

Fitness tracking analysis may lag behind Fitbit, but Apple’s unique goals – signified by the closing of Move, Stand and Calorie rings – are still a powerful motivator. There’s still no native sleep tracking here, either, but this can be done via a third-party app.

The headline feature is the ECG monitor, unlocking the ability for medical-grade heart health monitoring. It's been FDA cleared, so can be used to detect heart rhythm irregularities. It's available outside of the US, too, with Apple adding 19 more countries that can check in on their heart health from the new Watch.

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 Apple Watch Series 5 review


Fitbit Versa 2

Fitbit Versa 2

Fitbit Versa 2 key features

  • Works with Android and iOS
  • 5-7 days battery life
  • 24/7 activity tracking
  • Automatic sleep monitoring
  • Swim tracking
  • Amazon Alexa smart assistant
  • Apps and customizable watch faces
  • Fitbit Pay
  • Price when reviewed: $199.95

More affordable rate than the Apple Watch, the Fitbit Versa 2 is a fitness tracking focused smartwatch with a thin, light build that will suit a lot of users. You should be able to pick up one of these bad boys for around $199.99.

It offers much of the same fitness and sports tracking features you’d expect from the Fitbit ecosystem, though there's no built-in GPS. If you want to track runs and rides, you'll need to take your smartphone with you, and the watch can piggyback your phone’s data. For many this won’t be a massive issue, but serious runners will find this irritating – particularly because the placement of phones can hamper GPS accuracy.

While the smartwatch is one of many to now offer improved sleep metrics, including Fitbit Sleep Score which is now out of beta. There's also the SpO2 sensor, which will leverage big new biometrics in the future (we're promised). Female Health Tracking is available as well.

The headline upgrade is the inclusion of Amazon Alexa, which we found to be a hit-and-miss experience in our initial review, though something we expect to improve as updates continue to roll out.

You can still download apps and plenty of watch faces, pay from your wrist using Fitbit Pay (no matter what model you own, unlike with older Versa devices) and tap into Fitbit Coach.

Battery life is still a huge selling point here. You can five or six days on a single charge, which means less hassle on weekends away, and around three days with the screen turned on full-time.

Read our Fitbit Versa 2 review


Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 key features

  • Works with Android and iOS
  • 40/44mm case size
  • Up to 2 days battery life
  • 24/7 activity tracking
  • Automatic sleep monitoring
  • Swim tracking
  • Spotify offline playlist support
  • Samsung Pay
  • Price when reviewed: $279

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is one of the strongest choices for smartwatch buyers – and a top choice for Android smartphone users. With 40mm and 44mm size options, it should suit most wrists.

Both have typical top notch Samsung displays and now have a touch sensitive bezel to help navigate's Samsung's Tizen OS operating system that runs the software show.

It's more of the same on the sports tracking and fitness tracking front with a solid performing heart rate monitor on board, built-in GPS and a new run coach to help you get moving faster and clocking up quicker times. But it's the Active's fitness tracking skills that still really impress us with its ability to keep us moving in small, but purposeful ways.

Smartwatch features are solid too with notification support, music features (offline Spotify playlists FTW) impressing. App support still isn't fantastic, but if you're happy with the core experience, you might not need too many of those anyway.

But it's what will hit the smartwatch in 2020 that may convince you to make the upgrade. Blood pressure monitoring, ECG and fall detection should be turned on next year.

While we were hoping for improved battery life, it's around the same again, maxing out at about two days depending on what features you make use of.

Read our Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 review


Garmin Venu

Garmin Venu

Garmin Venu key features

  • iPhone and Android
  • 43mm case size
  • Dedicated sports tracking modes
  • 5ATM water resistance
  • Heart rate and Pulse OX
  • GPS
  • Garmin Pay
  • Price when reviewed: $399.99

Garmin's first AMOLED smartwatch is still extremely sports-focused, with dedicated modes for running (indoor, outdoor, treadmill), cycling (jndoor/outdoor), swimming (pool only thanks to 5ATM water resistance), golf, strength, cardio, elliptical, indoor rowing, yoga and more.

It's really the same watch as the Vivoactive 4, but with a glossy 390 x 390, AMOLED touchscreen display for those getting their eye turned by the Apple Watch.

It's a nice bit of kit and that screen is really punchy – making stats during runs in the dark easier to read, and notifications look crisp and sharp, too. The fitness tracking experience is also excellent, and the Pulse Ox sensor adds more details to sleep tracking, helping feed into metrics like Body Battery and Stress Score.

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.

Check out our full Garmin Venu review


Apple Watch Series 3

Apple Watch Series 3

Apple Watch Series 3 key features

  • Works with iPhones only
  • Available with GPS and GPS/LTE
  • 38mm and 42mm case options
  • Optical heart rate sensor
  • Built-in GPS
  • Speaker and microphone
  • Waterproof up to 50 metres
  • Apple Pay
  • Price when reviewed: $199.99

As the newest Series 5 was announced, Apple announced that the Series 3 would remain on sale – and at a ridiculously low price of $199.99 (for the 38mm, GPS version). We've also seen regular Apple Watch deals taking the price even lower.

It's astounding value for a smartwatch – offering premium design, build and features for the price of a Chinese-knock off equivalent. Apple tech at Amazfit prices – it's a steal.

So why is it such great value? Well, the Series 3 comes with GPS, gets the watchOS 6 update - so it's packed with the latest features - waterproofing, swim tracking, heart rate and low/high HR detection. It's all in this incredibly low-priced device.

Read this: Apple Watch Series 5 v Series 3

But you don't get everything. ECG is off the menu, as is fall detection, as those two require hardware that was subsequently introduced in Series 4. You're also lumped with the slightly boxier design – although it's fairly subtle to the untrained eye.

Of course, the main problem is that the Series 3 will still only pair with iPhone.

If you want an Apple Watch, but can't stomach paying top dollar for the newest model, the Series 3 still cuts it against most of the smartwatch competition.

Read our full Apple Watch Series 3 review


Amazfit GTR

Amazfit GTR

Amazfit GTR key features

  • Works with Android and iOS
  • Proprietary Amazfit OS
  • 42mm and 47mm
  • 20mm/22mm strap
  • Built-in GPS
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Waterproof design
  • Battery life: 24 days (47mm) 12 days (42mm) – but testing was 50% of that
  • Price when reviewed: $179

We know that not everyone is able or willing to pay top dollar for the best smartwatches on the market, so if you're willing to make some sacrifices, the Amazfit GTR could be for you.

Let's start with the good: a punchy 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.

The GPS took ages to lock and wasn't accurate, nor was the sleep tracking. Essentially, a Garmin replacement it is not – but that shouldn't stop those who don't covet supreme accuracy picking up a bargain.

Read our full Amazfit GTR review


Skagen Falster 2

Skagen Falster 2

Skagen Falster 2 key features

  • Works with Android and iOS
  • Runs on Google Wear OS
  • 40mm case
  • 20mm interchangeable watch straps
  • Google Pay
  • Built-in GPS
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Waterproof design
  • Up to 24 hours battery life
  • Price when reviewed: $295

Designer smartwatches are catching on, and one of the finest among them is the excellent Skagen Falster 2. It's a Gen 4 watch, so it runs on older, less powerful technology and doesn't have a built-in speaker. That said, a new Falster 3 has been released with Gen 5 specs, so it's now worth holding out for that.

Slim and light, the Skagen challenges those who complain that smartwatches are too chunky, packing a full 1.19-inch OLED touchscreen.

In terms of size, the case has been shrunk to 40mm (with a 20mm strap), which is small as any smartwatch out there – and it’s extremely light too. At 0.8mm thick, it’s no Daniel Wellington, but it’s as comfortable as any full-screen Wear OS watch. And it still managed to pack in a heart rate monitor, Google Pay and waterproof design.

Battery life and performance aren't the best – and Wear OS is a poor when it comes to fitness and sports features. But if you’re looking for style first and tech second – and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that – the Skagen Falster 2 is well worth your time.

Read our Skagen Falster 2 review


Huawei Watch GT 2

Huawei Watch GT 2

Huawei Watch GT 2 key features

  • Works with Android and iOS
  • Runs on Huawei's Lite OS, not Wear OS
  • 42mm and 46mm models
  • Waterproof up to 50 metres
  • Built-in GPS
  • Built-in music player
  • Speaker and microphone
  • 15 sports tracking modes
  • Heart rate monitor
  • 24/7 activity tracking
  • Two weeks battery life (normal use)
  • Price when reviewed: $250

The Huawei Watch GT 2 runs on Huawei's Lite OS in a bid to deliver impressive two-week battery life – and it doesn't scrimp on specs. It now comes in a smaller, more elegant size option and brings a speaker and full phone call functionality to improve its smartwatch skills.

If battery life is top of your wish list, this is the smartwatch for you. Up to two weeks with normal use, a complete day of GPS tracking and up to a month with features like always-on display and GPS turned off. And it delivers.

You're still getting a gorgeous OLED display to view your data on, built-in GPS, a swim-proof design and built-in music player support to take your tunes with you when you're away from your phone.

Sports tracking is one gripe we do have: data cannot be shared with third-party apps. All of your data can only live inside of Huawei's companion Health app. We also found the heart rate data to lag way behind accomplished sports tracking rivals.

And a word to the wise: if you're in the UK or Europe you can get the near identical Honor MagicWatch 2 for even cheaper.

Read our Huawei Watch GT 2 review


Samsung Galaxy Watch

Samsung Galaxy Watch

Samsung Galaxy Watch key features

  • Works with Android and iOS
  • 42mm and 46mm size options
  • Runs on Samsung's Tizen OS
  • Waterproof up to 50 metres
  • Activity tracking/sleep monitoring
  • Samsung Pay
  • Spotify offline playlist support
  • 4-5 days battery life
  • Price when reviewed: $300

The Samsung Galaxy Watch is the successor to the Gear S3 and is still one of the best watches around, despite the arrival of the Galaxy Watch Active 2. Compatible with Android and iOS, it comes in both 42mm and 46mm model options.

Samsung walks the line between smartwatch and fitness tracker, also packing in a heart rate sensor alongside the GPS and its much-improved Samsung Health software. There's also the option of LTE, if you wish for an untethered connection, with a standalone speaker for taking calls on the watch. It's now waterproof too, adding swim tracking skills that are on a par with the Watch Series 5.

The Galaxy Watch runs on Samsung's Tizen OS 4.0 and still feels like a better alternative to Google's Wear OS right now. You get that proper rotating bezel and one of the best displays you can find on a smartwatch. However, the app selection still lags way behind the Apple Watch and Wear OS devices – that said, the Spotify app is great and offers offline playback.

Battery life, we should say, is also solid, getting you 2-3 days on the 42mm model and more on the 46mm version. That's a bit more than what you can expect on Samsung's smaller Galaxy Watch Active.

If you're not a fan of Wear OS and don't want an Apple Watch, and like a more eye-catching Samsung smartwatch, this is the one for you.

Read our Samsung Galaxy Watch review


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TicWatch E2

TicWatch E2

TicWatch E2 key features

  • Works with Android and iOS
  • Runs on Google's Wear OS
  • 46mm watch case
  • 1.39-inch, 400 x 400 AMOLED display
  • Built-in GPS
  • 5ATM water resistance
  • Dedicated swim tracking
  • Heart rate monitor
  • 1-2 days battery life
  • Price when reviewed: $159.99

Another top budget option, the TicWatch E2 offers access to the benefits of Wear OS in a stylish and wallet-friendly package.

The 46mm watch measures in at around 13mm thick and is only available in black. You do get a choice of interchangeable bands to make it less sporty though.

The fitness tracking as been “inspired” by the Apple Watch, and offers a neat and well-designed tracking experience. And when it comes to real sport, you can tap into Wear OS’s Google Play Store, which hosts the likes of Strava, Runkeeper and more.

There’s GPS built in and a heart rate monitor, too, although we found the latter lacking in our stress tests. The headline feature is that it's now swim-proof and does offer decent swim tracking skills in the pool too.

It’s by no means a complete fitness experience, but we like the TicWatch’s funky design and bargain price. For casual users, this is an interesting smartwatch option.

Read our TicWatch E2 review


Fossil Gen 5 Smartwatch

Fossil Gen 5

Fossil Gen 5 Smartwatch key features

  • Works with Android and iOS
  • 44mm case
  • Silicone, stainless steel & leather straps
  • 3 ATM (Swim-proof) water resistance
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100
  • 8GB storage/1GB RAM
  • Built-in speaker to make calls
  • NFC for Google Pay
  • 24 hours battery life
  • Price when reviewed: $295

Fossil Group may be holding the umbrella over a bunch of fashion houses producing smartwatches, but that doesn't mean it's not competing in the arena itself. And with its fifth-generation smartwatches, it's setting the standard for what all of the watches it launches are capable of.

The Carlyle HR and Julianna HR are the successors to the Explorist HR and the Venture HR watches that still come in a host of bold, 44mm sized case options.

Everything we got on the Fossil's Gen 4 watches is here again, including built-in GPS, heart rate monitor, a swim-proof design and Google Pay to make contactless payments. A speaker has now been added into the mix letting you play music sans headphones, hear Google Assistant responses and make calls from your wrist.

Adding in a speaker isn't a groundbreaking addition by any stretch of the imagination, but it does swell the already decent smart capabilities of Fossil's watches.

The Julianna and Carlyle HR are some of the best looking Wear OS watches you can get, and the Gen 5 builds on all the good stuff that Fossil has already achieved with a platform that still needs some refining.

Read our Fossil Gen 5 Smartwatch review


Withings Steel HR Sport

Withings Steel HR Sport

Withings Steel HR Sport key features

  • Works with Android and iOS
  • 40mm size
  • Features OLED sub-display
  • Connected GPS
  • Heart rate monitor
  • VO2 Max estimates
  • Phone notification support
  • Up to 25 days battery life
  • Price when reviewed: $199.95

The majority of smartwatches in our list have been full-screen devices, but the Withings Steel HR Sport approaches things a little differently – yet is still a powerful connected watch in a package that weighs just 49g.

The analogue display shows the time on the main dial (with a month of battery life) and progress towards your step goal on the second dial – but there’s so much more going on than this.

The Withings Steel HR Sport has a 24/7 heart rate monitor that will keep tabs on VO2 Max and it will pair up with a smartphone to track outdoor workouts via GPS, although the tech isn’t built into the watch itself. It’s also swimproof to 50m and can track basic swim stats.

What’s more, Withings Health Mate app is one of the best out there for keeping tabs on all your assorted health data.

It’s no slouch as a connected watch, either, and will alert you to notifications on your smartphone using vibrations and the tiny OLED screen build into the bezel. This is capable of offering quick and fairly crude alerts, but can show you when a message/call/calendar alerts are coming through using quick icons.

It’s a stripped back smartwatch experience but one that’s packed into a stylish, small and comfortable hybrid that doesn’t make as many compromises as you’d think.

Read our Withings Steel HR review



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