The Apple Watch Series 8 is the best smartwatch you can buy right now: It is feature-rich, user-friendly, gorgeous, and extremely reliable.
However, that recommendation comes with caveats — and the biggest one is that you need to own an iPhone to use the Apple Watch. That means that if you’re using an Android smartphone, the Apple Watch simply isn’t an option. But don’t worry, there are plenty of great alternatives. Digital Trends has reviewed more than 100 smartwatches, fitness trackers, and wearables, so we have all the deep insight you need to find your ideal smartwatch.
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Joe Maring/Digital TrendsApple Watch Series 8 Best smartwatch
- Sleek, comfortable design
- Display is big and gorgeous
- Excellent health features
- Fast charge speeds
- WatchOS 9 is better than ever
- Car crash detection
- Temperature sensors are limited
- Almost identical to the Series 7
Why you should buy this: It’s the best smartwatch available.
Who it’s for: Anyone who seeks a beautiful, feature-rich, easy-to-use, fitness-oriented smartwatch.
Why we picked the Apple Watch Series 8: The Apple Watch Series 8 follows closely in the footsteps of its predecessor, the Series 7. Apple’s smartwatch is currently the best watch money can buy. Its style has been slightly updated over the years but has mostly stayed consistent with its signature rounded square design. Its large screen and slim bezels combine with 1,000 nits of peak brightness to make all data easy to see and interact with on its always-on display.
Despite the market competition for fitness trackers from the likes of Fitbit, Garmin, Amazfit, and others, Apple Watch’s health and activity apps remain the easiest to use and its activity rings have evolved as a linchpin for the activity metrics genre — covering disparate activities like steps, distance, heart rate, blood oxygen, and sleep.
New features in Series 8 dovetail with the new WatchOS 9 to show real-time heart rate zones and facilitate custom workouts and sleep tracking. New features include car crash detection and automatic contact of emergency services. The Compass app shows current direction and degree and indicates a permanent marker depicting north at the top of the screen. For those with no sense of direction, a new Backtrack feature helps retrace your steps. The Medications app tracks the medicine and vitamin intake, atrial fibrillation patients can use the watch to track their AFib history, and the Calendar app lets you create events directly on the watch. Battery life lasts a day — sometimes longer — and supports fast charging.
The Apple Watch Series 8 with GPS is available for $399 and $429 for the 41mm and 45mm aluminum cases, respectively. Models with cellular connectivity cost $100 more each. The Series 8 with a premium stainless steel case will set you back $749 and $799 for the 41mm and 45mm models respectively.
Apple Watch Series 8
Joe Maring/Digital TrendsSamsung Galaxy Watch 5 Best smartwatch for Android
- Lightweight, comfortable design
- Robust health tracking
- AMOLED screen looks excellent
- Easy access to Google apps
- Very fast charging speeds
- Skin temperature tracking not yet available
- Falls short of battery life claims
Why you should buy this: Those with smaller wrists who want a fully tricked-out smartwatch.
Who it’s for: Anyone who values fast charging and improved health tracking on a Wear OS watch.
Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: Despite abundant similarities to its predecessor and fairly iterative improvements, Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 5 features a larger battery, faster charging, a durable design, and enhanced health tracking. The only difference is the larger 3-in-1 BioActive Sensor at the bottom, designed for more accurate health data. The Watch 5 is a bit heavy but is so comfy it almost disappears on your wrist and is especially fitting for smaller wrists.
The 40mm model’s always-on Super AMOLED display measures 1.2-inches with 396 x 396-pixel resolution, while the 44mm is 1.4 inches at 450 x 450 resolution. It has an easy button or swipe interface and bright colors, with an ambient light sensor that automatically adjusts brightness and is easy to see in direct sunlight. It’s powered by Samsung’s Exynos W920 chipset, 1.5GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage. It runs Wear OS 3.5 and the company’s One UI Watch 4.5.
The Galaxy Watch 5 battery life is respectable, but nowhere near the company’s claims of 40 to 50 hours. Fast charging worked extremely well — better than Samsung’s claims — but the Galaxy Watch 5 uses restrictive WPC charging instead of Qi, so it’s not compatible with third-party chargers.
Google Assistant is available and works well and the watch features a full QWERTY keyboard for tap and swipe typing. The software now supports dual-SIM switching for multiple SIMs. While there’s easy access to a range of Google apps, there’s a paucity of third-party apps available. Health tracking includes step tracking, auto workout detection, manual workout tracking, and sleep tracking, accompanied by 24/7 heart-rate monitoring, SpO2 tracking, an ECG app, and Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis sensor for viewing body fat, skeletal muscle, body water, and more.
The 40mm Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 with Wi-Fi is available for $280, with the LTE model costing $330. The 44mm Galaxy Watch 5 with the same Wi-Fi and LTE configurations retail for $310 and $360, respectively.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
Best smartwatch for Android
Andy Boxall/Digital TrendsAmazfit GTR 2 Best budget smartwatch
- Pretty design
- Low price
- Comfortable to wear day and night
- Solid casual activity and sleep -tracking features
- Still some software improvements required
- Battery life suffers when many features used
Why you should buy this: It does everything you want a smartwatch to do, and looks great.
Who it’s for: Anyone on a budget who seeks all the benefits of a fitness tracker and a smartwatch.
Why we picked the Amazfit GTR 2: Amazfit’s hardware and software have matured a lot, and thus we are glad to recommend the Amazfit GTR 2 smartwatch, which has significant benefits over buying a cheap smartwatch. The biggest advantage is battery life, as the GTR 2 lasts at least a week even with heavy use, or even longer if you’re careful with the power-hungry features.
Best of all, it looks great on your wrist. It’s slim and compact, so it should suit most people, and the curved glass and metal body give it some style and class. It is comfortable enough to wear for 24 hours, so it’s ready for fitness tracking and notifications during the day, and sleep tr