The Best Smartwatches for 2019: Which Smartwatch Should You Buy, If Any?

by Brandon Ackroyd - , Last Updated on December 9, 2019, Buying Guides

As smartphones have become a part of our daily life, not many of us can go for long without checking our mobiles. But if you’ve got a smartwatch, then you can be constantly connected, all without even needing to take your phone out of your pocket. There are tons of smartwatch models on today’s market, so choosing the right one can be tough. That’s why we’ve put together this buying guide, so you can choose the right model for you!

What Is a Smartwatch?

Before we get into details, first we should cover what exactly a smartwatch is. A smartwatch is a “wearable,” a piece of tech that you wear. It will connect to your phone (generally through Bluetooth) and communicate with it. This will allow the watch to show notifications from your phone (alarms, text messages, etc.) and also allow it to send data back and forth (to stream music from your phone, or to log your daily step count into your phone, for example).

Why Do You Need a Smartwatch?

You might not need a smartwatch. For some people, a watch is just another piece of tech to keep up with (and to charge at night). However, a smartwatch does have some advantages. The biggest of these is the ability to get notifications straight to your wrist. Someone sends you an SMS whilst you’re in a meeting? No problem, you can check it out without needing to look at your phone, and in most cases even send a reply.

Smartwatches are also a good choice for the fitness conscious. Many models include fitness apps, measure your heartrate, count your steps, and all kinds of other things. If you’re a serious runner or gym junkie, a smartwatch could be a great buy for you.

Finally, some people opt for a smartwatch simply because it’s cool. If you grew up watching Star Trek and other sci-fi shows, the futuristic idea of a watch that you can communicate with is pretty tempting!

What Are My Options?

It’s pretty difficult to divide smartwatches into categories. Sure, there are price categories, though most smartwatches tend to hover around the same price point. Then there are features, but again, many top smartwatches tend to have the same kinds of features these days, making it tough to choose between them.

The only sensible way to divide smartwatches is by compatibility since this will be the big deciding factor in your decision. In this case, there are three categories of smartwatch:

  • iOS Watches: only compatible with Apple products
  • Android Watches: only compatible with Android products
  • Hybrid Watches: compatible with both iOS and Android

Deciding between these three categories should be pretty easy since you simply need to choose a watch that’s compatible with the kind of phone that you have.

One thing to think about when choosing which of these three categories of watch is right for you is what will happen if you change your phone? Many of us are allied firmly to either iOS or Android. But if you really don’t mind and tend to switch phones a lot, you might want to go with a watch that supports both, just in case!

Samsung Galaxy Watch

Our Top Pick

Samsung Galaxy Watch

At the top of our list is one of the best hybrid watches around, the Samsung Galaxy Watch. This watch simply ticks all the boxes. It gets great battery life, it has wireless charging, there are tons of different looks and strap options, as well as different sizes, meaning it’s great for everyone. It even gets LTE (though you’ll need to pay more for that version) so you can make calls through the watch.

The rotating bezel action combined with a touchscreen makes this watch easy to use. There’s tons of processing power. And you get all the cool stuff, like GPS, heartrate monitor and online payment systems. There are a fair few apps available as well, so there’s plenty of choice.

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What Do I Need to Think About Before Buying?

There are some big concerns that you’ll need to keep in mind when you’re looking at smartwatches, things that should help you narrow down your decision a little:

Compatibility

Yes, it’s already been mentioned, but it is incredibly important. You MUST make sure that any smartwatch you buy is compatible with your phone, this includes not just the operating system (Android or iOS), but also the operating system version that you’re running. Choose a watch that isn’t compatible and it’s just not going to work (and you might end up buying a new phone).

Budget

Finances have to be an issue, and whilst many smartwatches are relatively similar in price there are some outliers (and some very, very expensive models indeed). Decide how much you can spend and stick to that limit.

Battery Life

Probably the biggest factor in choosing between actual models has to be battery life. A watch that you need to charge every three hours isn’t exactly ideal. Look for solid battery life that will at least get you through the day (and many watches can got two to three days between charges).

Touch/Button

It’s kind of up to you whether you go for a full on touch screen experience, a more old fashioned version with physical buttons, or a model that combines these two approaches. However, do be aware that the tiny touchscreens found on watches can be fiddly to use properly (especially if you’ve got larger fingers).

Display

Which brings us to the question of display size. Smartwatch displays are improving all the time, but there’s still somewhat of a trade off. A bigger display is easier to see and use, but it’s also more clunky to wear and sucks up battery life more quickly. Again, it’s a personal decision, but make sure you’re making a good one! Wearing and using something every day that’s too big or too small is hardly convenient.

Straps

Finally, a watch strap might seem like only a question of aesthetics, but it’s actually pretty important. You want something that’s comfortable and easy to open and close. However, you also want a strap that’s easy to remove and replace. Watch straps break, and replacing a strap is a lot cheaper than replacing an entire watch. Plus, being able to change straps means you get plenty of different looks!

What Features Should I Be Looking For?

There are plenty of features on smartwatches, some of which are useful, others that just aren’t. Here are a few of what we consider the best features to have, so keep an eye out for these when shopping:

Heartrate Monitor

Not all watches have these, but they’re nice to have, particularly if you’re into fitness and are planning to use your watch to monitor running or exercising.

GPS

Again, not a feature that all watches have, but it can come in handy. GPS is good for mapping runs, for getting directions sent to your watch (rather than just your phone), and a host of other things like tagging your location.

App Integration

Not all watches support all apps. Most will have fitness apps, notifications, messaging, calendars and the usual suspects. But if you want social media integration or other specific apps you’ll need to do your research before buying! In general, big-name brands (Apple, Samsung) tend to support the most apps.

Calling Integration

Some watches (most notably the Apple Watch) allow you to make and receive calls from your wrist. Again, not all watches can do this, so if this is something you want or need you’ll need to check the watch specs!

Mobile Payments

If you frequently use a mobile payment system (Google Pay, for example) you might want to look for a watch that will support the system you use most often. Also, your watch will need to have an NFC chip in order to use a payment system.

Wireless Charging

Wireless charging is pretty convenient, you don’t need to plug anything in, you just take your watch off and put it on the charging pad. It’s not standard in all watches though, so it’s something you’ll need to look for.

How We Selected Our Top Models

Before we get to our top models, let’s first tell you how exactly we choose the watches on our list. We looked at the obvious things, compatibility, price, battery life and features. We looked at app support too, since we wanted watches that support as many apps as possible. We checked out spec sheets to get an idea of what watches were capable of.

As well as all this, we checked customer reviews for models so we could get an idea of how satisfied other shoppers were with a product. Plus, we spend most of our time around mobile geeks and professionals, so we got tons of pro feedback from the kind of people who use smartwatches every day.

Right, down to business. What are the best smartwatches on shelves right now?

The Top 8 Smartwatches for 2019

RankProductFeaturesProsCons
1
Samsung Galaxy Watch
Samsung Galaxy Watch
  • 1.2 or 1.3" display
  • 4 day battery
  • 4GB storage
  • Supports iOS and Android
  • Plenty of onboard memory
  • Offers LTE version
  • App selection isn’t quite as good as Apple’s
  • Charging can be inconvenient

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2
Apple Watch 4
Apple Watch 4
  • 1.78" display
  • 1-2 day battery
  • 16GB storage
  • Tons of onboard memory
  • Loads of features and app choices
  • Offers LTE version
  • Battery life isn’t as good as other models
  • Pretty pricey

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3
Galaxy Watch Active
Galaxy Watch Active
  • 1.1" display
  • 2 day battery
  • 4GB storage
  • Supports iOS and Android
  • Waterproof
  • Plenty of fitness monitors
  • No LTE calling
  • Touchscreen is a little small and fiddly

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4
Ticwatch E2
Ticwatch E2
  • 1.39" display
  • 2-day battery
  • 4GB storage
  • Supports iOS and Android
  • Waterproof
  • Very affordable
  • No LTE calling or wireless charging
  • Plastic casing and strap mean it lacks the premium feel

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5
Fitbit Versa
Fitbit Versa
  • 1.5" display
  • 4-day battery
  • 2.5GB storage
  • Supports iOS and Android
  • Tons of fitness-related features
  • Waterproof
  • App selection is limited
  • No high end features like LTE calling or wireless charging

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6
Apple Watch 3
Apple Watch 3
  • 1.53" display
  • 18-hour battery
  • 8GB storage
  • Plenty of memory
  • Large, easy to use display
  • Offers LTE version
  • Battery life is poor
  • LTE version is expensive for what it is

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7
Garmin Vivoactive 3
Garmin Vivoactive 3
  • 1.6" display
  • 7 day battery
  • Supports iOS and Android
  • Tons of fitness related options
  • Amazing battery life
  • App selection isn’t great
  • Maybe too big and bulky for some

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8
Fitbit Ionic
Fitbit Ionic
  • 1.42" display
  • 2.5-day battery
  • 2.5GB storage
  • Supports iOS and Android
  • Can download songs so don’t need to carry your phone
  • Waterproof
  • App selection isn’t great

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A Closer Look at Our Selections

You should have a clearer idea now of what you’re looking for, and at this point, you might be wondering which of the slew of smartwatch models is right for you. So we’ve got some model recommendations to help you shop.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch (Hybrid)

Galaxy Watch

Display Size: 1.2 inch or 1.3 inch

Battery Life: Around 4 days

Storage: 4 GB

Connectivity: WiFi and Bluetooth, LTE for an extra charge

At the top of our list is one of the best hybrid watches around, the Samsung Galaxy Watch. This watch simply ticks all the boxes. It gets great battery life, it has wireless charging, there are tons of different looks and strap options, as well as different sizes, meaning it’s great for everyone. It even gets LTE (though you’ll need to pay more for that version) so you can make calls through the watch.

The rotating bezel action combined with a touchscreen makes this watch easy to use. There’s tons of processing power. And you get all the cool stuff, like GPS, heart rate monitor and online payment systems. There are a fair few apps available as well, so there’s plenty of choices. And 4 GB of onboard storage means you’ve plenty of room to store those apps as well.

In terms of negatives, well, the Galaxy doesn’t offer quite as many apps as the Apple Watch does. According to customer reviews, the charging pad/cable (if you choose to use it) is a little fiddly and inconvenient as well. However, if you’re looking for a watch that will do pretty much everything, this has to be the choice for you.

Pros

  • Supports iOS and Android
  • Plenty of onboard memory
  • Offers LTE version

Cons

  • App selection isn’t quite as good as Apple’s
  • Charging can be inconvenient

The Apple Watch 4 (iOS)

Apple Watch 4

Display Size: 1.78 inch

Battery Life: From 1 to 2 days

Storage: 16 GB

Connectivity: WiFi and Bluetooth, NFC, LTE for an extra charge

If you’re an iPhone lover then the natural choice for you will be the Apple Watch, and the most recent model is the Apple Watch 4. It features wireless charging, and there are plenty of strap options and different watch faces to choose from as well. And you get LTE as well (though you’ll need to pay more for that), so you can call through the watch itself.

The interface is touchscreen only, but with such a huge display that really shouldn’t be a problem at all. It features everything you could want in terms of heart rate and pulse monitors, mobile payment accessibility, GPS, and even a surprisingly decent onboard speaker. Apple has the largest selection of smartwatch apps as well, and with a whopping 16 GB of storage you’ve got room for everything.

On the downside, the Apple Watch is pricey. Plus, battery life isn’t great, definitely not as good as some other options on our list. But if you’ve got an iPhone, this is really the natural choice for you.

Pros

  • Tons of onboard memory
  • Loads of features and app choices
  • Offers LTE version

Cons

  • Battery life isn’t as good as other models
  • Pretty pricey

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active (Hybrid)

Galaxy Watch Active

Display Size: 1.1 inch

Battery Life: Around 2 days

Storage: 4 GB

Connectivity: WiFi and Bluetooth

Yes, another Samsung on our list, but hear us out here. The Active version of the Galaxy Watch is smaller, lighter and cheaper than the regular version, which could be a real selling point for some. You still get decent enough battery life and wireless charging, as well as plenty of different strap options and looks. The Active doesn’t offer LTE calling, but it is waterproof and sweatproof.

Other than that, you get a lot of the same features as on the regular Galaxy Watch. There’s GPS, heart rate monitor, a range of fitness monitors, and a decent selection of apps to add to your new buy. And a solid 4 GB of onboard storage as well. The interface is touchscreen only. The main plus point of the Active is that it’s so small and light and comfortable, far less bulky than many smartwatch options.

As for negatives, you don’t get LTE calling. And that touchscreen is a little small and fiddly. However, if you’re on a budget and still want something great, then the Galaxy Watch Active is going to be a great choice.

Pros

  • Supports iOS and Android
  • Waterproof
  • Plenty of fitness monitors

Cons

  • No LTE calling
  • Touchscreen is a little small and fiddly

The Ticwatch E2 (Hybrid)

ticwatch

Display Size: 1.39 inch

Battery Life: Around 2 days

Storage: 4 GB

Connectivity: WiFi and Bluetooth

You’ve probably never heard of the Ticwatch, but you really should have. If you’re on a budget, this is the watch for you. It’s by far the cheapest watch on our list, but you won’t be making too many sacrifices here. Battery life is good, though you don’t get wireless charging, and there are plenty of strap options available to you. You don’t get LTE calling though. What you do get is a watch that’s water resistant and perfect for swimming, showering or diving.

The interface is touchscreen only, but it’s nice and large and pretty easy to use. There are plenty of features, including heart rate monitors, GPS, and step counters. You can use any app from either iOS or Android app stores, so you get plenty of choice there, as well as 4 GB of space to store your apps. And the watch supports both iOS and Android, always a plus.

No, this isn’t the greatest watch around, but it is a bargain. You don’t get LTE calling, and the look is pretty basic (most straps are plastic, rather than metal or leather). It doesn’t feel quite as premium as other models. But it has plenty of features, can take a knocking in terms of water and bumps, and it’s very affordable, all of which are wins in our book.

Pros

  • Supports iOS and Android
  • Waterproof
  • Very affordable

Cons

  • No LTE calling or wireless charging
  • Plastic casing and strap mean it lacks the premium feel

The Fitbit Versa (Hybrid)

Fitbit Versa

Display Size: 1.5 inch

Battery Life: Around 4 days

Storage: 2.5 GB

Connectivity: WiFi and Bluetooth

Another lower budget option, but one that’s a little more expensive than the E2 above, is the Fitbit Versa. The Versa is slim and light and a very good looking watch, with a much more premium feel than the E2 for not much more cost. Battery life is excellent, but no wireless charging again. There are plenty of strap options to choose from. You won’t get LTE calling though.

The Versa supports both iOS and Android but apps are available through the Fitbit store. There isn’t a huge app selection, and as you might imagine many apps are fitness related. You do get heart rate monitors and GPS and a host of fitness-related features, and the Versa is pretty waterproof too. With only 2.5 GB of on-board storage though you’ll need to choose which apps you download carefully.

The main downside of the Versa is the limited selection of apps, as well as the lack of high-end features like LTE calling, payment apps, and big storage capability. However, at this price point, we can’t complain, and the Versa is the best mid-budget range smartwatch around.

Pros

  • Supports iOS and Android
  • Tons of fitness-related features
  • Waterproof

Cons

  • App selection is limited
  • No high end features like LTE calling or wireless charging

The Apple Watch 3 (iOS)

Apple Watch 3

Display Size: 1.53 inch

Battery Life: Around 18 hours

Storage: 8 GB, or 16 GB on the LTE version

Connectivity: WiFi and Bluetooth, LTE for an extra charge

Yes, there’s another Apple Watch here too, and this is for those that find the Apple Watch 4 a tad pricey. The 3 version is still a great watch, and you’ll save yourself a couple of hundred pounds, especially if you go for the non-LTE version. You get wireless charging and plenty of strap and face option, which is always nice. And if you opt for the more expensive LTE version you get calling as well.

The interface is a touchscreen, with a couple of buttons in addition, and it’s nice and easy to use. That large display makes tapping icons simple. You get plenty of storage space and tons of apps to choose from on the Apple store. And obviously, you get heart rate monitors, GPS and all the usual options.

Where the Apple Watch 3 really falls down is its battery life. A mere 18 hours isn’t great. And if you’re willing to pay for the LTE version then you might as well opt for the Apple Watch 4. But if you’re looking for a budget iOS watch, then the Apple Watch 3 is your best bet.

Pros

  • Plenty of memory
  • Large, easy to use display
  • Offers LTE version

Cons

  • Battery life is poor
  • LTE version is expensive for what it is

The Garmin Vivoactive 3 (Hybrid)

garmin vivoactive

Display Size: 1.6 inch

Battery Life: Around 7 days

Storage: Unknown

Connectivity: WiFi and Bluetooth, NFC, LTE for an extra charge

Another great mid-range option, especially for fitness fanatics, is the Garmin Vivoactive 3. Battery life is incredible here, which is a big selling point. And it’s completely waterproof, allowing you to shower, swim or do whatever you want. You get wireless charging too. However, styles are limited and the watch may be too big for some.

The large touchscreen is easy to use, and you get plenty of features. There are a heartrate monitor and GPS, but also a stress tracker and a sleep tracker. There aren’t a whole lot of apps available when compared to Apple or Samsung models, but there are enough for most people, including tons of sports-related apps.

As for negatives, well the size might be a turn off for some, as might the limited amount of apps. However, this watch is a favourite amongst sportspeople and marathon runner, so if you’re into keeping fit you might want to give the Vivoactive 3 a shot.

Pros

  • Supports iOS and Android
  • Tons of fitness related options
  • Amazing battery life

Cons

  • App selection isn’t great
  • Maybe too big and bulky for some

The Fitbit Ionic (Hybrid)

fitbit ionic

Display Size: 1.42 inch

Battery Life: Around 2.5 days

Storage: 2.5 GB

Connectivity: WiFi and Bluetooth

Finally, another offering from Fitbit, and the Ionic is a little pricier than the Versa, but it’s still a great choice. Battery life is pretty good here, you won’t be constantly charging the Ionic, but you don’t get wireless charging, nor do you get LTE calling. You do get plenty of style options though, and the Ionic is nice and lightweight.

The interface is touchscreen only, and it’s big and bright and easy to use. There are tons of fitness related features, including heart rate and sleep monitors, GPS, swim tracker and pace tracker. You can download up to 300 songs from streaming services so you don’t need to take your phone running, and the Ionic is waterproof too. On board storage isn’t great, but it should be enough for most people.

As for the downsides, well, the lack of LTE and wireless charging isn’t great. And there aren’t too many apps in the Fitbit app store yet. However, the Ionic is a great, affordable option and a good choice if sports are your thing.

Pros

  • Supports iOS and Android
  • Can download songs so don’t need to carry your phone
  • Waterproof

Cons

  • App selection isn’t great