Tech for your connected self

Best smartwatch guide: The top smartwatches to buy in 2018

Looking for the best smartwatch for iPhone or Android? Look no further...

Smartwatches are very much a mainstream tech category now, and with 35 million expected to be bought by the end of 2018, there are many contenders for the crown of best smartwatch.

With strong options from Apple, Fitbit, Samsung, Fossil, Tag Heuer, Garmin, Huawei and LG, choosing the best one is tougher than it has ever been.

So, whether you're looking for a top fitness smartwatch, the best smartwatch for your iPhone, the pick of the Wear OS bunch, or simply a good smartwatch for less than $200, we have the current best picks and upcoming smartwatches to look out for.

Got any questions about smartwatches or our selections? Let us know in the comments section below.

Hot smartwatch deals

Apple Watch Series 1
Apple Watch Series 1
Amazon
$221.74
Samsung Gear S3 - save $30
Samsung Gear S3 - save $30
Amazon
$263.95
Fitbit Ionic - $50 off
Fitbit Ionic - $50 off
Amazon
$269.75
Samsung Galaxy Watch
Samsung Galaxy Watch
Amazon
$329

Wareable may get a commission


The best smartwatch you can buy now

Apple Watch Series 4

Best smartwatch guide: The top smartwatches to buy in 2018

Part smartwatch, part fitness tracker, and a much, much better wearable than what we first got in 2015, the Apple Watch Series 4 is still far from perfect and Wear has caught up in terms of features, technology and style. But as far as the overall smartwatch experience goes, Apple is still doing the best work here.

Apple's latest Watch addition gives us the most dramatic design change since the original, bringing new 40mm and 44mm sizes (in comparison to 38mm and 42mm). That means more space to show off all the latest software features introduced in watchOS 5.

It has all the same core fitness and sports tracking as the Series 3 including built-in GPS and a swimproof design. You can also expect improvements in run tracking and new supported activities like yoga. It comes packing LTE once again so you can take it out sans iPhone and still make/receive calls, get texts and all other notifications you would on your phone. A new speaker should make Siri chats and phone calls sound louder and clearer too.

The headline features are the new ECG monitor that unlocks the ability for serious heart health monitoring. It's been FDA cleared so the feature can be used to detect heart rhythm irregularities - in the US only for now. There's also a new fall detection mode that can let users access Siri to contact emergency services or a emergency contact. Apple's new smartwatch offers groundbreaking features and an improved design that makes it the standout option for iPhone owners right now.

Read our Apple Watch Series 4 review in full

$329, apple.com | Amazon


The best smartwatch for fitness tracking

Fitbit Ionic

The top smartwatches for fitness tracking

With the Ionic, Fitbit finally delivered us its first smartwatch, but perhaps more importantly to some, its best fitness tracker too. Running, biking, swimming, weight lifting - the Ionic has algorithms for tracking a range of different workouts, and in our testing it's proven to be impressively versatile.

Fitbit says the Ionic's GPS is better than anything else on the market, and we have to say it performed admirably in testing, while the four-plus days of battery life mean you won't be taking it off your wrist as much as any of the smartwatches above.

The Ionic doesn't have the option of a cellular connection, however, so you won't get the standalone functionality you get with the Apple Watch Series 4 or the Samsung Galaxy Watch for instance. As to whether this is a bad thing or not, it depends if you class LTE as a feature or an excess.

Overall, some blemishes aside, the Ionic is a decent smartwatch that Fitbit fans and fitness trackers will really appreciate. Fitbit knows fitness, and it's not half-assing this that's for sure.

Read our Fitbit Ionic review in full

$299.99, fitbit.com | Amazon


The best smartwatch for less than $200

Fitbit Versa

Best smartwatch guide: The top smartwatches to buy in 2018

The Fitbit Versa is the company's second smartwatch and along with a change in design direction, crucially it's available at a more affordable price than the Ionic.

The Fitbit Blaze replacement looks more Pebble than the first Fitbit smartwatch and comes in a host of different finishes and with a big collection of bands to mix up the look.

It promises all of the same fitness and sports tracking features as the Ionic although the big omission is the lack of GPS. If you want to track runs and rides, you'll need to have your smartphone with you.

Fitbit OS 2.0 brings a new-look UI that offers more insights into your daily data and quick reply support for messages for Android phone users (iOS support coming at a later date). You can still download apps and a whole lot of watch faces, pay from your wrist using Fitbit Pay and tap into Fitbit Coach, while new women's health tracking has also been introduced for the first time, which is also available for the Ionic too.

It's the best all-round Fitbit smartwatch so far and if you are not bothered about the lack of built-in GPS, we think you're going to like it a lot.

Read our Fitbit Versa review in full

$199.99, fitbit.com | Amazon




The best Wear smartwatch

LG Watch Sport

The best Android Wear smartwatch

Now we should say, there is a new wave of Wear smartwatches on the way. Ones that feature slimmer (and waterproof) designs with features like heart rate, GPS and NFC for Google Pay. But a lot of those are not available yet or we are still in the process of testing.

So if you want a Wear watch that offers the all of those things right now including LTE to ditch that smartphone, the LG Watch Sport is still among the very few that can deliver it all.

It's getting a little on the old side and a little more difficult to get hold of, but if you can grab it, you'll get GPS, LTE and NFC for Google Pay. The 1.38-inch screen it's packing is one of the best in the business too.

Beyond outdoor workouts like running, it can keep track of reps in the gym and it'll track heart rate in all your activities. However, it's only water resistant to 1.5 metres for 30 mins, which makes it unsuitable for swimming.

It's also very bulky. 46mm wide might not sound like much, but then you have the depth, and there's a lot of it here. In fact, if we had to pick one criticism of the Watch Sport it's that it crams so much in, it does so to its detriment. The size will be too overbearing for many, but the pay-off in size means that most of the great features of the Watch Sport have been discarded.

Read our LG Watch Sport review

$349, lg.com | Amazon


The best Samsung smartwatch

Samsung Galaxy Watch

Best smartwatch guide: The top smartwatches to buy in 2018

The Samsung Galaxy Watch is the successor to the Gear S3 and is now our pick of the best Samsung smartwatch you can get on your wrist right now.

Compatible with Android and iOS, it now comes in both 42mm and 46mm models. So you can consider it a replacement for the Gear Sport too.

Samsung treads between smartwatch and fitness tracker, also packing in a heart rate sensor along with that GPS and its much-improved Samsung Health software. There's the option of LTE too 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 par with the Watch Series 4.

It's running on Tizen OS 4.0 and feels like a better alternative to Google's Wear OS right now. You still get that rotating bezel and one of the best displays you can find on a smartwatch right now.

Battery life is solid too getting you 2-3 days on the 42mm model and more on the 46mm version. If you're not a fan of Wear and don't want an Apple Watch, this is a solid option to consider instead.

For a full verdict, take a read of our Samsung Galaxy Watch review.

From $329.99, samsung.com | Amazon (42mm) Amazon (46mm)


The best smartwatch for fashion

Michael Kors Sofie

Best smartwatch guide: The top smartwatches to buy in 2018

As wearable tech matures, designer collaborations are popping up everywhere. Tech firms have realized that they might not have the credentials to make the kind of products people want to show off on night out, and fashion and watch companies can skip years of R&D and focus testing.

From Swarovski, Fossil and everyone in between, smartwatches are moving away from horrid shrunken phones and look more like the stylish watches they need to have appeal. Top designers can push the boundaries even further. While there's a lot out of fashion smartwatches out there, we do have our fave.

There's no denying that the Sofie wants to stand out, and fans of a more "dressy" or bigger watches will probably find it a better fit than those who like to keep their wrist wear understated.

One of the most immediately noticeable improvements is that the flat tyre, a blemish on last year's Dylan and Bradshaw designs, is gone, with a nice 1.39-inch, 454 x 454 pixel AMOLED display.


There's often criticism for smartwatches lacking a heart rate monitor or GPS, but unless you're someone who runs with their expensive stainless steel watch on the regular, we don't see it as a problem.

However the lack of NFC, and therefore Google Pay, is a definite black mark. Thankfully, that is being addressed with the upcoming Michael Kors Access Runway Wear watch that does bring Pay along with built-in GPS, waterproofing and heart rate monitoring.

If Michael Kors just isn't your speed, the unisex Skagen Falster is a close runner-up in the fashion category, as is the women's Kate Spade New York Scallop. Also worth a look is the new, slimmer Tag Heuer Modular 41. All of these are great looking Wear smartwatches.

Read our Michael Kors Access Sofie review

$349.99, fossil.com | Amazon

The best smartwatch for multi-sports

Garmin Forerunner 645 Music

Best smartwatch guide: The top smartwatches to buy in 2018

Garmin has been putting out go-to smartwatches for sports lovers for a while now. Running, cycling, swimming, golf - Garmin has had us well and truly covered. Despite the Forerunner name, the 645 Music is more in the mould of the Vivoactive 3 Music. It's got a similar look and also brings the music this time. This helps make the Garmin more of a smartwatch rival to the Apple Watch, Samsung Gear or Fitbit Ionic than before.

While you're not getting Spotify or Apple Music here, you are getting enough storage for 500 songs with a process that's fairly easy. You just boot up Garmin Express, select the Music tab and choose which of your own music you want to port over. If you do want to sync over playlists from a streaming service, your only options are iHeartRadio and Deezer.

That same attractive stainless steel design is here. The 240 x 240 pixel display at the heart of the body is by no means the brightest or most vibrant you'll find, but crucially delivers strong visibility in most workout conditions whether you're sweating it out indoors or outside. However, there is no touchscreen or touchpad here, you'll have to resort to pressing some buttons - that could be a dealbreaker for some, but we're sure it won't be a massive one for most.

As far as the number of sports available to track: while it's more of the same, there are some notable exclusions - like golf tracking and open water swimming (pool swimming is a there though). Heart rate monitoring is decent if not class-leading, and it won't keep you waiting around for a GPS signal. There's also all the stress tracking goodies from Garmin's fitness trackers, too. As multi-sport smartwatches go, this is the best in our eyes, and builds on all the good work Garmin did with its previous iterations.

Read our Garmin Forerunner 645 Music review

$499, garmin.com | Amazon

The best hybrid smartwatch

Garmin Vivomove HR

Best smartwatch guide: The top smartwatches to buy now

If you want a fantastic blend of design and smarts, then the Vivomove is your best bet - it's our choice for the best hybrid smartwatch you can buy right now.

The Vivomove HR offers watch designs for both men and women, adding a discreet display that only appears when you tap on the watch face. It's also waterproof up to 50 metres so you can take it for a dip too.

On that nicely disguised display you'll be able to see fitness tracking data, check in on your heart rate readings, view your smartphone notifications and even check on your stress levels. It's essentially the Garmin Vivosport fitness tracker minus the built-in GPS in a much sleeker and stylish body.

Battery life is two weeks in watch mode and five days when you're taking full advantage of the smartwatch features. On the whole, it's a winner - quite literally: it picked up the best hybrid watch award at the 2017 Wareable Tech Awards.

Read our Garmin Vivomove HR review

$199, garmin.com | Amazon


New smartwatches incoming...

Best smartwatch guide: The top smartwatches to buy in 2018

Yes, more full fat and hybrid smartwatches are on the way and here's a taster of what to look forward to and what we have confirmed is dropping in 2018.

On the Wear front, there is a lot. We've got (wait for it) the Fossil Q Venture and Explorist HR, the new Diesel On Full Guard 2.5, the feature-packed Skagen Falster 2, the Emporio Armani Connected 2018 and Michael Kors Access Runway. Outside of the Fossil Group, we're waiting for the Casio Pro Trek WSD-F30 and Montblanc Summit 2.

On the hybrids front, there's the just announced Withings Steel HR Sport and MyKronoz's ZeTime 2 and ZePop.

So there's plenty to look forward to, and you can bet there'll be plenty more announcements before the end of the year.



8 comments

  • RoseX12 says:

    I just bought a Sophie Mk smart watch. When I try to link Instagram and fb to my iPhone 10 - the face recognition keeps running over running over again. I can’t just manually type anything because it won’t allow me as it keeps refreshing over and over. Please help! Should I just reset everything? And the Android wear app?

  • yogibimbi says:

    The LG Sport has the specs box from the Fitbit.

    • m.sawh says:

      Good spot. We've updated it now!

  • thesachinbhatt says:

    Its kind of tricky question in my mind that can we connect a smartwatch to smart display in any way in the upcoming future, there are lots of upcoming smart displays so just curious if they both can be connected in a useful way.

  • Matt_ says:

    How frustrating. I really -like- the idea of a smart watch... but it's so hard to find the right one. I'm not an exercise freak so heartrate monitors etc are useless to me. I really like the design of the Samsung watches with their bezels to control it, but the Tizen OS with it's limited apps puts me right off. The Access Grayson watch is beautiful, but the lack of NFC is a deal breaker for me - Google Pay with the convenience of a watch is part of the reason I'd buy one. I don't need to be able to put a sim in it... that's what my phone's for, but GOS would be nice for when I travel, and as a motorbike rider some level of waterproofing is a must. Guess I'm waiting for the next round of watches to see what's on offer.

  • justinionn says:

    All I want is a Wear OS watch with:

    • NFC
    • At least three-days battery life
    • A transreflective screen
    • Standard interchangeable straps
    • At least three hard buttons for shortcuts
    • Metal case
    • Slim profile
    • A microphone and speaker


    I've yet to find anything that fits this criteria.

    I don't care about heart-rate monitoring, GPS, storage for music, and waterproofing. I'm not going to go scuba diving any time soon!!!


    I'm not sporty. I do walk a lot though, and if I'm carrying stuff, I want to be able to interact with messages and calls, without having to stop walking and take my phone out of my pocket.

  • Jesusaves says:

    I am not very knowledgeable about smart watches, but I need a smart watch for my sixteen year old grandsons birthday he does not have a phone so I need one that will allow him to get and make calls etc thx sign Paulette

  • Chedderbeef says:

    The Huawei smartwatch 2 should be in the list. It has loads of specs, great battery life and unlike the LG sport watch you listed which can only work with a sim in America, the Huawei does work as a standalone in UK.

What do you think?

Connect with Facebook, Twitter, or just enter your email to sign in and comment.