The smartwatch is the ultimate smartphone accessory. It can tell the time, of course, but it can also beam important notifications straight to your wrist, and run native apps.
What’s more impressive is that many of today’s best models can also perform a ton of novel tricks, such as enabling you to search the internet with your voice, tracking your exercise over GPS, and letting you check-out at the grocery store without reaching for your wallet.
Oh yeah – and they look absolutely stunning to boot. If you’re thinking that a smartwatch is a pointlessly geeky accessory… think again. These choices are well-made, powerful and can genuinely make you fitter through some smart nudges.
1. Apple Watch 3
A better connection with the world’s best smartwatch
OS: watchOS 4 | Compatibility: iOS | Display: 1.53″ OLED | Processor: S2 dual-core | Band sizes: Varies drastically per watch size | Onboard storage: 8GB (Non-LTE) | Battery: 18 hours | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: IPX7 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC
Brilliant fitness tracking
Battery too short for sleep tracking
The Apple Watch 3 (or Apple Watch Series 3, if we’re being picky) is the best smartwatch you can buy right now. Yes, it’s essentially just the Apple Watch 2 frame with some new innards… but they make a big difference.
In the UAE, we are only getting the non-LTE version, which is the one we like because it’s cheaper than the LTE version, and offers all the smarts of the Watch 2 but with a longer battery life and faster speeds when flicking through – that’s the right kind of upgrade on the best smartwatch in the world, in our opinion.
It’s still water-resistant so you can swim about when using it nor worry about getting it wet in the rain when you’re out for a jog.
There’s GPS onboard to make running that little bit easier plus it comes running the top watchOS 4 software.
Read the full review: Apple Watch 3
2. Samsung Gear Sport
The refreshed, sportier Samsung watch keeps the style
OS: Tizen OS | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 1.2″ 360 x 360 Super AMOLED | Processor: Dual-core 1.0GHz | Band sizes: S (105 x 65mm) L (130 x 70mm) | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery duration: 2 days | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: 50m | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Offline Spotify playback
Poorer battery life
Severe lack of apps
Despite a serious lack of original apps, the Gear Sport still merits a place on this list. It’s got the same premium build we’ve come to expect from Samsung, has an exceptionally clear screen.
The main draw is the fact it has Spotify offline playback onboard, and combine that with the inbuilt GPS and you’ve got an all-in-one running watch that can supply you with millions of tracks on the go.
It’s also 50m-waterproof, which means you can take this little wrist beast into the water and get swimming – and it’s even compatible with iOS on top of that.
It’s not got the battery life of the Gear S3, lowering the time between charges to make the whole unit a little sleeker – and with a rubberised band in the box, it’s clear this a smartwatch for the fitness fans from Samsung.
Read the full review: Samsung Gear Sport
3. Fitbit Ionic
The fitness brand makes a big smartwatch play
OS: Fitbit OS | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: TBC, 1000 nits | Processor: Dual-core 1.0GHz | Band sizes: Large | Onboard storage: 2.5GB | Battery duration: 2-3 days | Charging method: Proprietary charger | IP rating: 50M water resistant | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Variety of fitness options
Severe lack of apps
The Fitbit Ionic was always going to be a tough move for the brand, trying to enter the world of smartwatches from fitness bands.
The effort succeeds in some places: namely fitness, as you might imagine, where you can track all manner of things, from running to weight lifting to swimming. There’s also dedicated bodyweight coaching sessions in there, and you can pay for items on the go using Fitbit Pay.
Where it lacks is the price – it’s expensive, and the amount you can do with it compared to other smartwatches is limited. However, if you’re a Fitbit fan looking to do more with the a band, this is a nice option.
Read the full review: Fitbit Ionic review
4. Samsung Gear S3
Samsung’s latest goes big against Apple – literally
OS: Tizen OS | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 1.3″ 360 x 360 Super AMOLED | Processor: Dual-core 1.0GHz | Band sizes: S (105 x 65mm) L (130 x 70mm) | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery duration: 3 days | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: IP68 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 4G
Great activity tracking
Very large on wrist
Severe lack of apps
Despite a serious lack of original apps, the Samsung Gear S3 is one of the best smartwatch options on the market.
The intuitive controls and Super AMOLED screen from the Samsung Gear S2 are back in full form here. Plus, GPS makes its debut on the Gear S3.
While its look is more executive than the Gear S2, it rocks a IP68-protected build and can last up to 3 days of use before needing a charge.
Samsung recently made the Gear S3 (and Gear S2, for that matter) compatible on iOS. So, if you’re looking for a more traditional-looking alternative to the Apple Watch, you may have found your match.
Read the full review: Samsung Gear S3
5. Asus ZenWatch 3
ZenWatch grows up with its third iteration
OS: Android Wear 2.0 | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 1.39″ 400 x 400 AMOLED | Processor: Snapdragon Wear 2100 | Case dimensions: 44mm diameter, 9.9mm thick | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery: 2 days | Charging method: via proprietary USB charger | IP rating: IP67 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Excellent battery life
Lacks heart rate sensor, NFC, GPS
If you’re in the market for an Android Wear smartwatch, the Asus ZenWatch 3 should be near the top of your list. It has a great display, useful hardware buttons and good battery life. And although it has been slow to adopt Android Wear 2.0, the long-awaited update is finally available.
It’s styling might not be for everyone, and it’s lacking in a few sensors, but Asus did a commendable job designing a watch that looks more like a premium watch than a piece of lifeless technology.
Read the full review: Asus ZenWatch 3
6. Huawei Watch 2
A well-equipped smartwatch with too many features
OS: Android Wear 2.0 | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 1.2″ AMOLED | Processor: Snapdragon Wear 2100 | Band sizes: Fixed, replaceable band at 140-210mm | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery: Up to 2 days | Charging method: Wired | IP rating: IP68 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, 4G (In select regions)
Built-in GPS and NFC
Screen is too small
Design is less premium than predecessor
Not quite the successor that we imagined that it would be, the Huawei Watch 2 appeals to a sporty crowd that values function over form. And in terms of functions, this smartwatch is filled with them. GPS, NFC, even 4G connectivity is available in some regions.
For all its perks, we wish that the Huawei Watch 2 stuck with a premium design. The bulky, mostly plastic build doesn’t fare well against the tougher competition. Also a downside is that its screen is smaller in this iteration, but on the plus side, it has gained the spiffy Android Wear 2.0 software.
Read the full review: Huawei Watch 2
7. Apple Watch
The iPhone-tailored smartwatch is expensive, but convenient
OS: watchOS 3 | Compatibility: iOS | Display: 1.53″ OLED | Processor: S1 System-in-Package (SiP) | Band sizes: Varies drastically per style | Onboard storage: 8GB (only 2GB and 75MB allowed for music and photos, respectively) | Battery: 18 hours | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: IPX7 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC
Expensive at any level
Battery life is one day
Once you get past the high price, this is a genuinely useful thing to have around at times. Being able to check when you’ve got a message, or see who’s calling and be able to make snap decisions, feels like the future, especially when you’re exercising or in another situation where grabbing your phone isn’t practical.
The new enhancements from Apple’s watchOS 3 really do help this smartwatch leap forward, even if the hardware is over a year old. It’s now faster, more usable and comes with watch faces that make it feel more personal.
And as more app developers use the new tools, there will be loads more to come too.
Plus, with the Apple Watch 2 now out it’s not quite as expensive as it once was.
Read the full review: Apple Watch
8. Huawei Watch
Huawei’s wearable debut makes a striking entrance
OS: Android Wear | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 1.4″ AMOLED | Processor: Quad-core 1.2GHz | Case dimensions: 42mm diameter, 11.3mm thick | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery: 2 days | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: IP67 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Premium build and materials
Sharp and fully-circular screen
Only comes in one size
So-so battery life
The Huawei Watch is not perfect, with iffy battery life watering down the gorgeous presentation. The impending update to Android Wear 2.0 should hopefully help to improve that.
But that shouldn’t stop you, as its once-high price is rapidly dropping and overall, it’s a near seamless blend of fashion and technology that edges closer to earning the ‘smartwatch I’d actually wear’ title.
Read the full review: Huawei Watch
9. Samsung Gear S2
A smartwatch that has stood the test of time
OS: Tizen OS | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 1.2″ 360 x 360 Super AMOLED | Processor: Dual-core 1.0GHz | Band sizes: S (105 x 65mm) L (130 x 70mm) | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery duration: Over 1 day | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: IP68 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 4G (in select regions)
Polished Tizen OS
Unique rotating bezel controls
Good apps are hard to find
Although it’s outpaced by the Samsung Gear S3, the S2 is still a solid choice for those looking to enter the world of smartwatches on the cheap.
From a value perspective, there’s a lot to love here, with only the lousy app selection being forgettable.
For a smartwatch that’s compatible on both Android and iOS, you can’t do much better for the price than Samsung’s last-gen model.
Read the full review: Samsung Gear S2