It's Wareable Tech Awards time, where we hand out coveted prizes for the top wearables of the year. We're rewarding smartwatches, fitness devices and pure wearable innovation, and the top new consumer health technologies that have come to the market in 2021.
To all the winners, it's a massive congratulations. To all of the brands, big or small, that launched wearables this year, thank you for continuing to innovate and help make wearables play a greater role in our lives.
Let's get into it.
Wearable of the Year - Apple Watch Series 7
Wearable of the Year is our pick of the ultimate wearable device of 2021 β and this year it's the Apple Watch Series 7.
A design change β only the second in the history of the Apple Watch β has made the flagship smartwatch the pinnacle of the range again. The Series 6 offered too few tangible benefits over the cheaper Apple Watch SE (which won our award in 2020), but balance has now been restored.
The Wearable of the Year 2021 award is also recognition of the hugely powerful offering of the Apple Watch, which is still yet to be matched by rivals. None can offer the seamless wrist payments, workout experience, mask unlock mode, App Store and choice of third party experiences of the Apple Watch β with the customization and design options.
The competition has some way to go in 2022.
Smartwatch of the Year - Apple Watch Series 7
There was stiff competition this year for Smartwatch of the Year β but it's another win for Apple's smartwatch.
The Series 7 wasn't the biggest update in terms of new features, but the improved screen technology has kept it one step ahead of the competition yet again.
The near edge-to-edge display is a massive step up in terms of visuals and brightness, and it's hard to go back to older versions of the Apple Watch after β even last year's winner the Apple Watch SE.
Yes, the new screen allows for some new watch faces and an on-screen keyboard β but it's the visual appeal that makes it such a leap forward.
Newcomer of the Year - Galaxy Watch 4 and Wear OS 3.0
In isolation these two wearable tech powerhouses are part of the old guard. After all, the Samsung Galaxy Gear ran Wear 1.0 in 2014 β so hardly a newcomer. But hear us out.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is the first device to run Wear OS 3.0 β pipping the existing army of Wear OS watches to the title. And Samsung and Google collaborated on the project, bringing together elements of Tizen and Wear OS.
The Google Play store is being beefed up for Wear 3.0, in a major clampdown on app standards.
It's a new start for both brands, which is why it's our newcomer of the year.
Fitness tracker of the Year - Fitbit Luxe
The Fitbit Luxe was a brand new addition to the Fitbit family in 2021, and it finally offered fitness tracking in a package (many) women would be happy to wear.
Style has been in short supply in wearables over the years, but the stainless steel, AMOLED display and thin design of the Luxe are a breath of fresh air.
And it didn't shirk on features either. The Luxe packs in sensors to track temperature and blood oxygen, wrapped up in a slim design that was a throwback to Fitbit's stylish Alta tracker. It's a powerful device that doesn't compromise on design.
Affordable Smartwatch of the Year - Amazfit Bip U Pro
Of the many Amazfit smartwatches that landed in 2021, it's the Amazfit Bip U Pro that impressed us the most β delivering a great all-round experience for less than $70.
The Bip U offers a surprisingly strong mix of smartwatch and fitness tracking features including built-in GPS and Amazon Alexa, which is rare to see at this price.
It's proof once again that you don't need to spend big to get a very impressive smartwatch.
Affordable Fitness Tracker of the Year - Huawei Band 6
There's never been more options to pick up a fitness tracker on the cheap, but it's the Huawei Band 6 that feels stands out for the right reasons.
It's hard to pick huge faults with a fitness tracker this cheap that delivers so much, and offers some well-executed smartwatch features wrapped up with a high quality display.
The AMOLED screen, solid fitness tracking features and decent battery life rightfully earn the Band 6 its place as our budget tracker pick.
Sports Watch of the Year - Garmin Enduro
The year in sports watches has largely been a story of minor improvements to big-hitting names. Amid a lot of second-gen devices with modest changes, the Garmin Enduro stood out.
It's our Sports Watch of the Year pick for breaking new ground, delivering impressively huge battery life all while still cramming in many of the best features available on Garmin's extensive range of watches.
And it's not just monstrous battery life β which we have seen on other breakthrough devices. The Garmin Enduro added a host of ultra-event features, that will resonate with long distance runners and cyclists.
It's built for extreme sports users in mind, and does the job in style.
Health Tech of the Year: Fitbit Charge 5
It might have missed out on our Fitness Tracker of the Year award, but with the arrival of an ECG sensor for the first time on an activity band form factor, the Fitbit Charge 5 stood out for the right reasons in this category.
And there's more to like aside from the ECG sensor. Fitbit has put a large emphasis on tracking your mental wellbeing, and it also added its EDA sensor to the Charge 5, too. Add the Stress Score, which has also rolled out across the Fitbit range, along with the Health Metrics dashboard back in 2020.
The Fitbit Charge 5 isn't perfect, but it's a serious wearable, packed full of insights, and possibly the first true health fitness tracker.
Hearable of the Year: Amazfit Powerbuds Pro
We've had truly wireless earbuds coming out of our ears in 2021, but there's been few that have really stood out in terms of evolving what those earbuds deliver in terms of smarts.
That's why the Amazfit Powerbuds Pro was our Hearable of the Year. It went beyond what you'd expect from a strong pair of truly wireless earbuds, packing in smarts like posture tracking, automatic run detection and heart rate monitoring for a really reasonable price.
Innovation of the Year - Myzone MZ-Switch
Chest straps vs wrist-based sensors have always created debate, but the MZ-Switch lets you choose the placement, depending on what you need. And as such, it's our Innovation of the Year.
Myzone's answer is the MZ-Switch, which merges optical and ECG heart rate sensors in one device β which can be placed in different places on the body as required.
You can use optical HR sensors on the wrist or forearm for running, but then use the same module on the chest for a more accurate reading, for HIIT, functional fitness or just the most accurate heart rate standards.
It's a genuine innovation β and gets our pick of the year.
Smart Apparel of the Year: Under Armour Flow Velociti Wind
Smart shoes have been on the cusp of greatness for years, but no-one had truly realized the potential β until now.
We finally got a fine example in the shape of the Under Armour Flow Velociti Wind, and it's a worthy winner of our Smart Apparel of the Year award.
The Under Armour Flow smart shoes are packed with smarts that deliver useful real-time stats, and post-run metrics on things like running form and efficiency.
The data and insights are well presented, easy to take on board and β most importantly β could only be gleaned from this unique position on the foot.
Under Armour has finally managed to make a really standout running shoe we actually wanted to run in β and is a worthy winner.