There has never been a better moment to consider a smartwatch because Wear OS is far better than it formerly was.
2022 has been a tremendous year for Android smartwatches after an extended period of sparse pickings. After what seemed like an eternity, the Google Pixel Watch finally became available. Samsung’s second-generation Wear OS smartwatches were released. In the meantime, Fossil has started updating its numerous Gen 6 devices to the new platform and unveiled its first Wear OS 3 watch.
Nevertheless, we are still in a period of transformation. Although we are excited by the more robust third-party app alternatives, Wear OS 3 is still a work in progress, and the market is still dispersed. On some Wear OS 3 smartwatches, some features, like Google Assistant, might not yet be available. However, that feature will probably be added via an update in the future.
There are platform-independent smartwatches and fitness watches available right now if you’d like to wait till Wear OS calms down a bit. For first-time purchasers who are hesitant about smartwatches in general, a cheap Wear OS 2 watch might also be a wise decision. But if you choose to take this path, we beg you to at least get a smartwatch with Snapdragon Wear 4100 power. Older watches powered by the 3100 chip cannot be upgraded to Wear OS 3; however, these watches may. The Snapdragon Wear 5 Plus chip, a 4nm processor that will give the upcoming generation of Wear OS smartwatches a much-needed boost, was also unveiled by Qualcomm over the summer.
Android users now have more smartwatch options than ever, provided you remember the aforementioned warnings. Our top options are listed below, but if none of them are the right match for you, you can always refer to our fitness tracker buying guide.
1.Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro
Most effective smartwatch for Samsung phones!
You’ll get the most use out of a Samsung smartwatch if you own a Samsung smartphone. And the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, which costs $449.99, offers the best overall experience of the two watches Samsung offered this year. Although it isn’t a significant improvement over the Galaxy Watch 4 from a year ago, it is attractive, has a longer battery life, and includes some useful GPS features. Due to its longer battery life, the Pro surpasses the standard Galaxy Watch 5. We tested for up to 65 hours, but if you turn on the always-on display, you’ll probably only get 48 to 50.Even so, that is a significant improvement over the 40mm Galaxy Watch 5 or Galaxy Watch 4 lines. Although these watches’ batteries now last longer thanks to software updates, you will still need to charge them every day or every other day. And the Pixel Watch only has a 24-hour battery life.
For a fitness watch this size, the 45mm Pro wears remarkably compact, and the larger sapphire crystal display makes text easier to read. Although it’s unfortunate that Samsung eliminated the physical rotating bezel, the raised lip on the Pro’s touch bezel makes it easier to operate than the flat one on the standard Watch 5. The deployant clasp, which is safe and easy to wear, is another feature we enjoy. The LTE version costs $50 more and your carrier’s monthly subscription if you desire cellular service. The watch also supports dual SIM cards (so long as you have a phone that also supports dual SIM.).
On the Pro, Wear OS 3 is quick, and Samsung’s variation of the operating system is simple to use and makes better use of the watch’s circular display than Google’s stock user interface. Additionally, Samsung incorporated some cool accessibility features, including color filters and the capacity to adjust audio balance.
By switching to Wear OS, Samsung smartwatches like the Galaxy Watch 3 and the Galaxy Watch Active series offer a considerably richer third-party app experience than those powered by Tizen. Additionally, you have more service freedom than with any other Wear OS watch. For instance, you have the option to replace Bixby with Google Assistant. The same is true of Google Wallet and Samsung Pay.Check out our Versus video for a more detailed analysis of how this watch compares to the Pixel Watch in particular.
A solid overall fitness tracking experience is also provided by Samsung Health, particularly now that cycling and trekking activities can be navigated with turn-by-turn directions. Although the overnight SpO2 measurements left us unimpressed, Samsung’s overall sleep tracking is good. Additionally, you get a GPS that is built-in, body composition analysis, notifications for abnormal heartbeats, fall detection, emergency SOS functions, and EKGs.
If you don’t already own a Samsung phone, we may not necessarily recommend the Galaxy Watch 5 or 5 Pro. The Samsung Health Monitor app, which is only available on Samsung phones, is necessary for EKGs. The shortcut for contactless payments is hard coded to Samsung Pay, which is similarly gated to Samsung phones unless you sideload the APK, and necessitates signing up for Samsung’s service, even if you can customize the buttons to launch your preferred digital assistant. Although there are ways around it, Samsung watches are designed to work best with other Samsung products.
A good alternative is the Galaxy Watch 5, which is available in two sizes: 40mm ($279.99) and 44mm ($309.99). It won’t last as long on a charge, won’t be as sturdy, and won’t include turn-by-turn directions. The additional savings, though, might be worth the trade-off.
2. Google Pixel Watch
Best Android smartwatch for those who don’t use Samsung
Beautiful as it is, the $349.99 Google Pixel Watch has some noticeable first-generation growing pains. The Galaxy Watch 5 range offers a more refined experience, but for those who don’t own a Samsung smartphone, the Pixel Watch is the superior option.
The reason for that is ecosystems. Only Samsung phones may use some functionalities of Samsung watches. No matter what Android phone you own, you’ll get the same experience with the Pixel Watch. Because it’s Google’s smartwatch, generally speaking, it will also always have the most recent updates to Google services like Google Maps, Google Wallet, YouTube Music, and Google Assistant. Speaking of which, if you purchase the Pixel Watch, you will also receive a three-month trial of YouTube Music and a six-month trial of Fitbit Premium.
The Pixel Watch features quick performance despite using a last-generation Samsung CPU, thanks to 2GB of RAM and a co-processor that helps to maximize battery life. Its updated Wear OS 3 interface is very simple to use, and we assure you that the bezels won’t disturb you too much. Due to the black backgrounds and watch faces, despite being thick, they are not particularly obvious.
This wristwatch, not the Fitbit Sense 2 or Versa 4, is what long-time Fitbit users have been waiting for. Along with having Fitbit integration, it also offers superior third-party apps than Wear OS 2 watches, Google Assistant, the option of cellular connectivity for $50 more, and Fitbit integration. (The Fitbit Sense 2 and Versa 4 don’t have Google Assistant. Neither Google Wallet nor Maps are presently accessible on those gadgets.) The biggest exclusions from the Pixel Watch are nocturnal SpO2 percentages, automatic workout monitoring, and notifications for unusual heart rhythms, but the majority of Fitbit’s health platform is included. Additionally, the Pixel Watch supports EKG readings, has a GPS that is built-in, and lets you save YouTube playlists for offline use.
Durability is something to take into consideration. Although the domed display is lovely, one of our test units cracked within a week. (The others, though, were fine!) The battery life is also not the best at 24 hours, and it will be even worse if you utilize the always-on display, but it is still about average for this category. Although third-party straps are starting to appear on the market, it also has a proprietary strap mechanism. These compromises play a major role in why this first-generation tablet isn’t our top selection overall. It’s still a promising device, though, and a nice option for early adopters.
3.Fossil Gen 6
The top watch with Wear OS 3 compatibility
You might say that Fossil has single-handedly kept Wear OS afloat through its most difficult times by releasing a slew of Wear OS watches year after year. Fortunately, that dedication to the platform makes the $299 Gen 6 one of the safest purchases among Android smartwatches. In addition to being committed to the long term, Fossil has considered user input when developing new products.
Currently, the Fossil Gen 6 is a Wear OS 2 watch powered by a Snapdragon Wear 4100 processor. That’s a major factor in why you can purchase it frequently on sale for between $220 and $230. Even if you locate a 3100-powered Wear OS watch, such as the Gen 5 or Gen 5E, for much less, this is still a wiser choice. That’s because on October 17th, Fossil began rolling out the Wear OS 3 upgrade to its Gen 6 smartwatches. This holds true for any Fossil-branded designer smartwatch, including the Skagen Falster Gen 6 and the Michael Kors Gen 6.
The Gen 6 watches support Alexa, Google Wallet contactless payments, and the Google Play store, which gives users access to third-party apps like Strava and Spotify. Google Assistant has been removed from Wear OS 2 and there is currently no timeline for when it will be available if you upgrade to Wear OS 3.
The business has bolstered the health features that are available on all Gen 6 smartphones because it recently debuted its $299 Gen 6 Wellness Edition. SpO2 measurements, VO2 Max, automatic workout tracking, heart rate zones, continuous heart rate monitoring outside of workouts, and enhanced sleep tracking are all included. The Wellness Edition has Wear OS 3 preinstalled, which is a little more practical. Nevertheless, purchasing any Gen 6 watch that is on sale isn’t a terrible approach to save some extra money if you don’t mind taking the extra step of upgrading.
4.Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS
The top Android smartwatch for exercise
The $299.99 Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS is a Wear OS 2 watch powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 4100 processor, just like the Fossil Gen 6. That makes Wear OS 3 an upgradeable option, though Mobvoi hasn’t started releasing it just yet. But there’s a good reason why the TicWatch line has such ardent followers. A excellent option to the Fossil Gen 6 is one of Mobvoi’s watches, and this particular model is ideal for fitness enthusiasts who don’t want to give up smart features for a Garmin or Polar. It is also tougher. While the sapphire crystal display is absent, it still has military-grade durability, making it more robust than similar smartwatches.
The TicWatch allows for the tracking of stress, continuous blood oxygen monitoring, tiredness evaluations, and the identification of atrial fibrillation and irregular heartbeats. It also provides access to GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, and Beidou for those who enjoy being outside. You also get a 72-hour battery life. It may not be as advanced as a top-tier Garmin, but it is still a smarter watch at a far lower cost.
5.Garmin Vivomove Sport
The top smartwatch hybrid
The $179.99 Garmin Vivomove Sport is a fantastic, economical option if all you need is straightforward fitness tracking and notifications in a more discrete gadget. It boasts authentic analog hands and a Swatch-like appearance, but it also contains a covert OLED for notifications. Basically, a hybrid smartwatch is the best option if you don’t want people to notice that you are wearing a smartwatch. Additionally, if you want to keep the ability to switch between two ecosystems, it works with both iOS and Android.
You are giving up certain intelligent features, including as built-in GPS, digital assistants, and contactless payments. Basic information like notifications, the time, and health statistics can be delivered through the concealed display. It makes up for its lack of intelligence with battery longevity, though. On a single charge, you get approximately five days of use. Despite not having a built-in GPS, it is a reliable tracker when it comes to fitness. Regarding health monitoring, Garmin’s platform gives you access to a wealth of detailed information.
6.Garmin Venu 2 Plus
The top cross-platform fitness smartwatch
The robust GPS watches that Garmin is best known for producing have good fitness features but are otherwise not very intelligent. However, those who want superior fitness tracking without giving up productivity capabilities can get the $449.99 Venu 2 Plus.
It has an incredibly long estimated battery life of nine days with an always-on, vivid, and colorful OLED display. One of the few Garmin smartwatches that allows you to make and receive calls from the wrist (as long as it’s within Bluetooth range of your phone; it lacks cellular connectivity) has also incorporated a microphone and speaker. Additionally, it features a cunning workaround for digital assistants that makes advantage of Bluetooth to connect to the assistant that is already installed on your phone. More fitness trackers ought to support this, but they don’t. Although digital assistants aren’t usually the best at interpreting commands, it functioned well in testing.
It has an always-on, vibrant, and colorful OLED display and an exceptionally long estimated battery life of nine days. A microphone and speaker have been included into one of the few Garmin smartwatches that enable call making and receiving from the wrist (as long as it’s within Bluetooth range of your phone; it lacks cellular connectivity). It also includes a clever hack for digital assistants that uses Bluetooth to connect to the assistant currently installed on your phone. This should be supported by more fitness monitors, but it isn’t. Even though digital assistants aren’t always the best at understanding commands, in testing it worked effectively.
7.Amazfit GTR 4
The top inexpensive Android smartwatch
Amazfit has established a reputation for producing inexpensive wearables that are incredibly powerful. The GTR line of smartwatches has constantly impressed me over the years, and the $199.99 GTR 4 is no exception.
It has a timeless appearance in addition to a color, always-on OLED display and a battery life of 14 days. Dual-band GPS, a capability that Apple and Garmin have only lately added to their higher-end smartwatches, is new to the GTR 4. You can also import your own GPS routes if you like to create your own trail runs or walks. It provides continuous heart rate monitoring throughout the day and monitors 150 sports. The levels of stress, sleep, and SpO2 can all be tracked. For smart features, it boasts two digital assistants: Alexa and a custom offline assistant, and you can answer calls on the wrist. Additionally, the device syncs with Adidas Running and Strava.
The GTR 4 is not the top smartwatch on the market. Flagship watches have the same functionality as the GTR 4 but in a more streamlined, refined design. However, at this price, they are unable to achieve it. If cost is your top concern, you get a lot for your money with this. Furthermore, Amazfit equipment is usually on sale. The cherry on top is that it functions equally well on Android and iOS.