The best smartwatch 2023: Wearables you should buy today

The best smartwatch 2023: Wearables you should buy today

The best smartwatches are excellent fitness gadgets. They’re built to track your activity levels, record your workouts, and show you health and recovery insights. But they also do much more. The top smartwatches around today connect to your smartphone, delivering notifications, and even phone calls, to your wrist, as well as give you quick and easy access to a range of apps, like meditation apps, timers, weather insights, and so much more.

Wearing a smartwatch can elevate your health and fitness game if you want to maintain healthy habits. Many people find smartwatches keep them motivated to train and move, as they deliver key information, like pace, time and calories burned as they exercise – some even send reminders to stand up and get some steps in.

But the best smartwatches are built for everyone. So whether you need a workout companion or simply want a stylish-looking watch with some extra features, a smartwatch is a great piece of tech to invest in. The good news is that these days there’s a lot of choice – even a sold selection of cheap smartwatches if you’re on a budget.

We’ve tested and reviewed many smartwatches, including the most popular and high-end entries, like the latest Apple Watch and Samsung smartwatches. We’ve also spent time with Fitbit’s offerings and Wear OS watches from brands like Fossil and Mobvoi, too, ensuring that there’s something for everyone in our best smartwatches guide below.

The best smartwatch 2023

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A photo of the black 40mm Samsung Galaxy Watch 5

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli / TechRadar)

The best Android smartwatch overall

Specifications

OS: Wear OS

Compatibility: Android

Display: 1.4-inch 450 x 450 Super AMOLED

Processor: Dual-core 1.18GHz Cortex-A55

Onboard storage: 16GB

Battery duration: One day

Charging method: Qi wireless charging

IP rating: IP68

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS

Reasons to buy

+

Powerful fitness features

+

Durable and lightweight

 

Reasons to avoid

One-day battery life

Optimized for Samsung phones

 

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is a smart looking watch in every sense of the word. It looks great on your wrist while offering powerful features. A Super AMOLED display is sharp and clear, as well as able to handle very bright outdoor scenes.

Performance wise, it’s fast although you’ll reap the most benefits when paired with a Samsung smartphone. There’s no iPhone support here either.

Besides SmartThings integration, the highlight here is the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5’s ability to monitor your body composition. It’s bordering on the ultimate fitness tool with extensive sleep tracking also helping you get the most from yourself every day. Shame about that one day battery life, though.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review

Image of best Apple Watch Apple Watch SE 2 on someone's wrist

(Image credit: TechRadar)

2. Apple Watch SE 2

 

The best Apple Watch for iPhone users on a budget

Specifications

OS: watchOS 9

Compatibility: iOS

Display: 1.78″ OLED

Processor: Apple S8

Onboard storage: 32GB

Battery: 18 hours

Charging method: Wireless

IP rating: Water-resistant to 50m

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, LTE

Reasons to buy

+

Light and comfortable

+

Good battery life for price

 

Reasons to avoid

No always-on screen

No ECG built in

 

The Apple Watch SE 2 is arguably the best Apple Watch for most people, as it’s a lot more affordable than the Apple Watch 8, yet has most of that wearable’s core features and even the same chipset.

The main things it lacks are an always-on display, an ECG, and blood oxygen tracking, but the Apple Watch SE 2 still has a wide range of health and fitness features, plus potentially life-saving additions like Car Crash Detection.

It’s also powerful, has impressive battery life for a proper smartwatch, and is very light and comfortable to wear. So it strikes a superb balance between price and performance, and is a great relatively affordable pick.

Read our full Apple Watch SE 2 review

best Apple Watch Apple Watch Ultra in use on wrist and on table

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The best premium Apple Watch

Specifications

OS: watchOS 9

Compatibility: iOS

Display: 1.9″ OLED

Processor: Apple S8

Onboard storage: 32GB

Battery: 36 hours

Charging method: Wireless

IP rating: Water-resistant to 100m

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, LTE

Reasons to buy

+

Large display

+

Action button is very useful

 

Reasons to avoid

Battery life could be better

Lack of navigation features

 

The Apple Watch Ultra is the ultimate Apple Watch, and it commands an ultimate price. It’s bigger and bulkier, adding an action button that you can customize with genuinely useful features. Designed to survive all kinds of terrain, the Apple Watch Ultra rivals many Garmin watches.

It could still offer better battery life (despite surpassing the regular Apple Watch) but a powerful and accurate GPS is great for exploring, plus there’s a diving sensor for the avid underwater adventurer. Plus, there’s all the benefits that come from other Apple Watches, ensuring you can always see how you’re doing, health wise.

It’s expensive but powerful. And, during testing, we easily found this to be the most capable wearable that the brand has ever made.

Read our full Apple Watch Ultra review

best Apple Watch Apple WAtch 8 on a blue desk and wrist

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The best mid-range Apple watch

Specifications

OS: watchOS 9

Compatibility: iOS

Display: 1.69 / 1.9″ OLED

Processor: Apple S8

Onboard storage: 32GB

Battery: 18 hours

Charging method: Wireless

IP rating: Water-resistant to 50m

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, LTE

Reasons to buy

+

Useful temperature sensor

+

Car crash detection

 

Reasons to avoid

Average battery life

Almost the same as the Apple Watch 7

 

The Apple Watch is the best smartwatch family of devices, and the Apple Watch 8 is a great choice within that family. It gives you all of Apple’s latest watchOS features without splurging on the adventure kit you don’t need. While its battery life remains average and it looks the same as before, there’s good reason why Apple’s iconic squircle look and huge display are so popular.

We found that the new processor boosts the speed a tad, while there’s a new car crash detection tool that could just save your life (but hopefully you’ll never need it). Plus, there’s all the benefits of watchOS 9 with improved fitness stats and better interval training features. If you want the Apple Watch experience, the Apple Watch 8 is a great all-rounder.

Read our full Apple Watch 8 review

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro

(Image credit: Future)

The best premium Samsung smartwatch

Specifications

OS: Wear OS

Compatibility: Android

Display: 1.2″ 396 x 396 / 1.4″ 450 x 450 Super AMOLED

Processor: Dual-core 1.18GHz

Onboard storage: 16GB

Battery duration: 3 days on 44mm / less on 40mm

Charging method: Wireless

IP rating: IP68

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LTE (for extra)

Reasons to buy

+

Excellent performance

+

Interesting new software

 

Reasons to avoid

Limited compatibility

Lacks rotating bezel

 

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro review is big, bold and brash with an eye on assisting outdoor enthusiasts. Its AMOLED screen is super smooth to use while also being twice as durable as the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 before it. All the improved health features are there with the Pro offering up a route workout GPS function so you can plan your route carefully with turn-by-turn navigation.

It has the prowess of a Garmin watch with the glamor of a Wear OS device, ensuring you get the best of both worlds with the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. It’s 80 hour battery life is better than many other Wear OS watches, and most smartwatches, period.

Read the full Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro review

Google Pixel Watch always on display

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

The best Wear OS watch for style

Specifications

OS: Wear OS 3.5

Compatibility: Android 8.0 or higher

Display: 1.2″ OLED

Processor: Exynos 9110 (10nm)

Onboard storage: 32GB

Battery: 24 hours

Charging method: Wireless

IP rating: Water-resistant to 5 ATM

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, LTE

Reasons to buy

+

Elegant, classic watch-like looks

+

Brilliant screen

+

Fitbit integration

 

Reasons to avoid

One (small) size fits all

Band switch system takes practice

No blood oxygen sensing – yet

 

The Google Pixel Watch is an uncommonly beautiful smartwatch. It has a natural rather than a manufactured look, with a glossy face that curves to meet an equally curvaceous body. The construction is close to seamless.

Because of that curve, there’s more glass facing you than on the Apple Watch 8, which both adds to the elegance and, we think, hides a larger-ish black bezel surrounding the screen.

This is a bright, colorful, and responsive AMOLED display, considerably smaller than the Apple Watch 8’s rectangular face, but Google does a lot with the reduced screen real estate. We never found ourselves wishing for more.

Read our full Google Pixel Watch review

TicWatch E3

(Image credit: Srivatsa Ramesh)

The best cheap Android smartwatch powered by Wear OS

Specifications

OS: Wear OS

Compatibility: Android

Display: 1.3-inch 360 x 360 LCD

Processor: Snapdragon Wear 4100

Onboard storage: 8GB

Battery duration: Two days

Charging method: Qi wireless charging

IP rating: IP68

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS

Reasons to buy

+

Large display

+

Fast performance

 

Reasons to avoid

Looks simple

Casing feels cheap

 

The TicWatch E3 is a budget smartwatch yet it packs a lot in given its affordable price. That includes two-day battery life, a big screen, speedy performance, and lots of health and fitness features, such as the ability to track exercise, stress, sleep, and more.

The screen is LCD rather than OLED, and the TicWatch E3 looks and feels a bit cheap, but then it is cheap, and it also felt both lightweight and durable in our tests.

So if you want a smartwatch that also makes a fashion statement this isn’t it, but if you want one that does all the core things you’d expect, while beating some pricier rivals for battery life and coming in at an affordable price, the TicWatch E3 is a fine choice.

Read our full TicWatch E3 review

Fitbit Versa 3 sitting next to an iPhone and towel

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The best Fitbit overall

Specifications

OS: Fitbit OS

Compatibility: Android, iOS

Display: 1.58″ AMOLED

Processor: N/A

Onboard storage: N/A

Battery duration: Up to 6 days

Charging method: Magnetic connecting pin

IP rating: Water resistant

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC

Reasons to buy

+

Built-in GPS

+

Lightweight and comfortable

 

Reasons to avoid

Poor side button

No offline Spotify

 

The Fitbit Versa 3 is one of the best wrist companions for those who want to focus on fitness features. Google owns Fitbit, but the Google Pixel Watch doesn’t match the best Fitbit wearable for automated fitness tracking.

There’s built-in GPS, we found it comfortable to wear, and the display is easy to view with a crisp image. Like previous Fitbit smartwatches, this is mostly focused on fitness and won’t be for everyone.

As we mentioned in our review, “the Fitbit Versa 3 is an excellent wearable, though it’s more a fitness tracker than a smartwatch, with very limited productivity apps on offer.”

But for general wearable fans, the Fitbit Versa 3 is a good option, and it’s more affordable than some of the other options on this list too.

Read our full Fitbit Versa 3 review

The Fitbit Sense on a wrist

(Image credit: Future)

An excellent Android smartwatch with mental health tools

Specifications

OS: Fitbit OS

Compatibility: Android, iOS

Display: 300 x 300 LCD

Processor: N/A

Onboard storage: N/A

Battery duration: Up to 6 days

Charging method: Magnetic connecting pin

IP rating: Water resistance to 50m

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth

Reasons to buy

+

Detailed stress logging

+

On-board GPS

 

Reasons to avoid

Many tools require Fitbit Premium

Step counting slightly inaccurate

 

The Fitbit Sense has a design that’s quite similar to the Versa, listed higher on this list, and as a Fitbit it’s also quite similar to use. However, this Android smartwatch model comes wtih health features that go beyond the physical.

The Fitbit Sense has the… well, sense, to check in on some aspects of mental health too, logging your mood and stress, as well as providing meditation and mindfulness lessons. Its main issue is that you have to pay for Fitbit Premium for lots of its extra features. There aren’t exactly many other watches on this list that require you to keep paying after you’ve bought it.

Performance-wise, we found it to be impressive during testing. Putting the Sense through a pretty intense spin session, we didn’t see any unexpected dips in heart rate that indicate an issue with fitness trackers. It also vibrates to indicate when you’re moving between heart rate zones, which is very useful for training.

Read the full Fitbit Sense review

The TicWatch Pro 3 on a wrist

(Image credit: Truls Steinung)

The best Wear OS 2.0 Android smartwatch

Specifications

Compatibility: Android, iOS

Display: 1.4″ 454 x 454 OLED paired with LCD screen

Processor: Snapdragon Wear 4100

Onboard storage: 8GB

Battery duration: Up to 72h, 45 extra days in Essential mode

Charging method: Magnetic connecting pin

IP rating: IP68

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC

Reasons to buy

+

Big battery lasts 3 days

+

Fast chipset

 

Reasons to avoid

Sometimes poor interface

Sleep tracking isn’t the best

 

The TicWatch Pro 3 is a good all-rounder that doesn’t necessarily excel in any one area. But it doesn’t need to because it’s also cheaper than top-end rivals.

It has a lot going for it. For one thing, it was the first smartwatch to use the top-end Snapdragon 4100 chipset, so performance is good in our tests. It also offers two to three days of battery life, or – if you switch it to Essential mode – it can keep going for up to 45 days.

The TicWatch Pro 3 also has a good screen – 1.4-inch 454 x 454 one that’s crisp, bright, and responsive, plus the watch has all the typical health and fitness features you’d expect from a smartwatch. Just don’t buy this for sleep tracking, as we found that wasn’t very accurate.

Read the full TicWatch Pro 3 review

How to choose the best smartwatch

Unfortunately, your choice of smartwatch often depends on your choice of phone, as not all wearables are compatible with competitor devices. Apple Watch only works with Apple iPhones. Samsung and Google watches, and other Wear OS devices, only work with Android devices, but you can use a Samsung watch with a Google phone and vice versa.

Fitness tracking wearables from Fitbit will work with any device and synchronize with the Fitbit app, but those devices tend to focus more sharply on fitness features, and don’t offer all of the robust apps and services you’ll find on other smartwatches.

Most wearables will get about a day of battery life, which will be disappointing if you’re converting from a Garmin watch that lasts weeks. You can find a few watches that last longer on this list.

Finally, smartwatches can be expensive, and frankly they don’t offer much value for what you pay. Before you spring for an Apple Watch Ultra, you might ask if you are really going Scuba diving this year, or if you’re just going to check your text messages without disturbing your dinner mates.

How we test smartwatches

Every smartwatch on this list has been fully and extensively reviewed by the expert team at TechRadar, so we know exactly what makes them tick.

Our review process involves using the devices as if they were our own personal wearables, ensuring every smartwatch gets fully tested in the real world. A comprehensive sweep of features takes place, and usage is varied over multiple days to give us a clear idea of how battery life performs.

Using that knowledge we’ve then ranked them, while also factoring in their price, performance, value, and core specs.

What should I look for when buying a smartwatch?

The first thing to check is whether your phone is compatible with it – you can’t use an Apple Watch with an Android phone, and you can’t use a Google Pixel Watch with an iPhone. Beyond that, consider the battery life and the features – how often will you be happy charging it, and what do you really need out of your watch? A simpler watch can be a better pick.

Which is the best smartwatch?

The best smartwatch changes all the time, but typically you’ll find an Apple Watch or Samsung Galaxy smartwatch topping the list, as these tend to be packed full of high-end features and polish.