Reviews You Can Rely On

Best Smartwatch of 2021

We put smartwatches to the test from Apple, Samsung, Fitbit, TicWatch, and more to find the best models out there
This watch is very easy to read even in bright light.
Credit: Laura Casner
By Austin Palmer and David Wise  ⋅  Aug 5, 2021
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
We have bought and tested over 30 of the best smartwatches you can get over the past 4 years. For this edition, we focus on the 11 most compelling models you can get in 2021 and tested them head-to-head to find out which timepiece came out on top. We evaluated and compared how comfortable and convenient each watch is, all their different smart features and functions, and their health and fitness tracking abilities, as well as their display and battery life. Keep reading to see which wearable we found to be the smartest, the most stylish, or the best if you are shopping on a budget.

Top 11 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 11
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Awards Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award    
Price $430 List
$329.98 at Amazon
$350 List
$299.95 at Amazon
$400 List
$294.99 at Amazon
$300 List
$195.00 at Amazon
$330 List
$297.00 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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70
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Pros Stylish, multitude of features, exceptional displayEasy to use, great display, impressive battery lifeLooks fantastic, easy to useStylish, great display, comprehensive fitness trackingSpecialized fitness tracking features, good battery life
Cons Very pricey, essentially limited to iOSGiant bezel, could have more smart functionsShort battery lifeUnimpressive battery life, app compatibility could be betterExpensive, not our favorite touchscreen
Bottom Line If you are looking for the absolute best wearable to pair with your iPhone, this is itIf you want a top-notch smartwatch and have a Samsung phone, this wearable is by far the bestThis is a great option for Samsung phone users, but we found the mediocre battery life to be somewhat disappointingThe Active2 is one of the best you can get for those without iOS phonesIf you are looking for a wearable with specialized fitness features, then this is a good option
Rating Categories Apple Watch Series 6 Samsung Galaxy Watch Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 Samsung Galaxy Watc... Fitbit Sense
Ease Of Use (30%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
Smart Functions (20%)
8.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
5.0
Display (20%)
9.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
Fitness Impact (15%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Battery Life (15%)
6.0
9.0
5.0
6.0
9.0
Specs Apple Watch Series 6 Samsung Galaxy Watch Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 Samsung Galaxy Watc... Fitbit Sense
Water Resistant 5 ATM Up to 50 meters 5 ATM 5 ATM 5 ATM
GPS Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
NFC (Android, Apple, Samsung, or Fitbit Pay) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
HR Monitor Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Display 44mm or 40mm 30mm or 33mm AMOLED 1.2-inch or 1.4-inch AMOLED 44mm (1.4") or 40mm (1.2") 1.58-inch OLED
Resolution 368 by 448
324 by 394
360x360 360 x 360 360 x 360 336 x 336
Built-in Microphone Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Built-in Speaker Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Other sensors Electrical heart sensor
Fall detection
Barometric altimeter
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Ambient light
Accelerometer
Ambient Light
Gyroscope
Barometer
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Barometer
ECG
Ambient light sensor
Accelerometer
Gyro
Barometer
Ambient Light
Skin temperature sensor
Ambient light sensor
Electrical heart sensor
3-axis accelerometer
Altimeter
Gyroscope
Processor S6 SiP with 64-bit dual-core processor Exynos 9110 Dual core 1.15GHz Exynos 9110 dual-core at 1.15GHz Exynos 9110 dual-core at 1.15GHz N/A


Best for iPhones


Apple Watch Series 6


81
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Use 8
  • Smart Functions 8
  • Display 9
  • Fitness Impact 9
  • Battery Life 6
Water Resistant: Up to 50m | Heart Rate Monitor: Yes
Packed with smart functions
Amazing display
Super intuitive
Shorter battery life
Pricey

If you want a premium smartwatch to accompany your iPhone, the Apple Watch Series 6 is an easy decision. This popular wearable is one of our favorite smartwatches — it's sleek, stylish, and boasts some of the most comprehensive smart functions and features on the market. The screen is of excellent quality, and we think this is one of the most intuitive and comfortable watches to wear. It's also a highly proficient fitness and health tracker.

Unsurprisingly, premium features come with a premium price tag. The Series 6 is at the high end of the price spectrum for a device of this kind. Also, Android and Samsung users will have to look elsewhere because this wearable is only compatible with iPhones. We think the Apple Watch is an incredible product, and it's our top recommendation for iPhone users seeking a top-of-the-line smartwatch — so long as it's within budget.

Read review: Apple Watch Series 6

Best for Samsung Phones


Samsung Galaxy Watch


80
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Use 8
  • Smart Functions 7
  • Display 8
  • Fitness Impact 8
  • Battery Life 9
Water Resistant: IP68 | Heart Rate Monitor: Yes
Extremely easy to use
Awesome battery life
Fantastic fitness tracking
Less comprehensive smart functions
Gigantic on most wrists

The Samsung Galaxy is a remarkable and multifaceted smartwatch. It's super intuitive, with ample smart functions, an impressive amount of fitness tracking features, and a fantastic display. It also delivered top performance in our battery life tests.

This watch can seem huge on small wrists, however. If you're looking for something discreet, this may not be the one for you. It comes in two bezel sizes, 45mm and 41mm, but even the smaller one can still seem large on petite wrists. Otherwise, our complaints were minimal. We highly recommend the Galaxy for Samsung smartphone users who want a top smartwatch to pair with it.

Read review: Samsung Galaxy Watch

Best for Android Phones


Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3


62
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Use 7
  • Smart Functions 6
  • Display 7
  • Fitness Impact 4
  • Battery Life 6
Water Resistant: IP 68 | Heart Rate Monitor: Yes
User-friendly
Great display
Mediocre fitness tracking performance
Battery life could be better

We think the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3 is the best choice out there for Andriod users. This watch doesn't cost quite as much as other top-end Apple or Samsung watches and includes a variety of great functions. It's user-friendly, comfortable, and fashionable. The battery life is above average, and all of the standard smart functions we want in a watch are included.

Our biggest gripe with this watch is the somewhat disappointing display in fitness tracking metrics. When compared to our chest strap monitor, the Pro 3 had some accuracy issues, and it was somewhat disappointing during workout tracking. We still find it to be an excellent smartwatch if you're an Android user, but if it's mainly the fitness tracking abilities that excite you about a smartwatch, we suggest checking out other, more fitness-focused devices.

Read review: Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3

Best Bargain for Fitness-Minded Users


Fitbit Versa 3


70
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Use 6
  • Smart Functions 5
  • Display 8
  • Fitness Impact 8
  • Battery Life 9
Water Resistant: 5 ATM| Heart Rate Monitor: Yes
Plenty of social fitness features
Good battery life
Great display
So-so smart functions
Could be easier to use

If you are searching for a solid smartwatch on a budget and are particularly interested in tracking your health and fitness, then we think the Versa 3 by Fitbit is a great choice. This watch has a solid set of smart functions and is fairly convenient and easy to use. We like its display and battery life but are particularly impressed with its health and fitness tracking. It has lots of different workouts that it can track and an integrated GPS module to ensure you get the most comprehensive set of fitness data possible. It also lets you use all of the community fitness features the Fitbit app has to offer, giving you access to fun challenges with family and friends if you need more motivation.

However, the Versa 3 doesn't have the most comprehensive set of smart features compared to some of the other watches. There are fewer third-party apps that you can install, and its integrated smart features aren't as useful as some of the top-tier models. Still, we think this is a great watch if you are hoping to save some cash and value the fitness-focused features present on this watch.

Read review: Fitbit Versa 3

Best Bargain Option


TicWatch E2


52
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Use 5
  • Smart Functions 4
  • Display 6
  • Fitness Impact 6
  • Battery Life 5
Water Resistant: 5 ATM | Heart Rate Monitor: Yes
Exceptional value
Works with both Android and iOS (iOS functions are slightly reduced)
Average battery life
Not the most stylish watch we have seen

The TicWatch E2 exception value sets it apart from the rest of the group. This watch runs on WearOS, allowing you to use the integrated microphone to activate the Google Assistant and control all of its features and functions. It can run standalone apps and provides access to the Google Play Store — even if you have it paired to an iPhone. This watch also has a built-in GPS and heart rate sensor, enabling you access to a solid set of fitness tracking capabilities.

However, while the E2 is an exceptional value, it can't compare to the top-tier offerings from Samsung or Google and finishes at the back of the pack in terms of its overall score. This watch has a very plain — borderline boring — look, so it's not the best choice for someone who wants a chic and sleek watch. Despite its flaws, we still highly recommend it to anyone looking to save some cash and is okay with a relatively bare-bones and simple smart timepiece.

Read Full Review: TicWatch E2

Best on a Tight Budget


Mobvoi TicWatch GTX


44
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Use 5
  • Smart Functions 3
  • Display 4
  • Fitness Impact 3
  • Battery Life 7
Water Resistant: IP 68 | Heart Rate Monitor: Yes
Very inexpensive
Excellent battery life
So-so fitness tracking performance
Limited smart features

If you are shopping for a new smartwatch on the tightest of budgets, then we think it's worth checking out the TicWatch GTX. This watch is by far one of the least expensive wearables in this category and does have some basic functions. It looks alright and is fairly easy to use, along with having a very long battery life.

However, the TicWatch GTX is definitely not without its flaws. Overall, we found this wearable to be considerably more limited than most of its competitors. It can't install third-party apps, and we found its performance in our fitness and health tracking metrics to be somewhat disappointing. It might be a good option if you are looking to spend as little as possible, but we generally would suggest other watches if you can afford them.

Read review: Mobvoi TicWatch GTX

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price Our Take
81
$430
Editors' Choice Award
We think this is by far the best option out there when it comes to wearables for your iPhone
80
$350
Editors' Choice Award
If you don't mind the rather ostentatious size, this is one of the best watches we have seen so far
76
$400
While this watch has plenty of smart functions and is very easy to use, we think this product's middling performance in our battery life metric precluded it from claiming one of the top spots
74
$300
It's hard to do better than the Active2 if you don't have an iPhone, especially if you like a slimmer watch
70
$330
Offering features like skin temperature, SpO2, and stress management, this is a great wearable for specialized fitness tracking but might not be the best choice for everyone
70
$230
Best Buy Award
This watch has plenty of smart features and functions, as well as being a very capable fitness tracker, all at a great price
62
$300
Editors' Choice Award
While we think this watch is a very worthy choice if you are looking for a top-tier, Android-compatible option, it definitely isn't the best model we have ever tested
57
$200
If you want a great value option, but are looking to pay a bit more to upgrade, then the C2 might be the watch for you
55
$200
Finishing close to the back of the group, the Watch GT Classic gave an overall lackluster set of results
52
$160
Best Buy Award
If you are looking for a solid smartwatch without blowing your budget, then this product is our top recommendation
44
$60
Best Buy Award
While this watch is far from being our favorite, we do think it can be an attractive option if you are shopping on the tightest of tight budgets

Some of the best smartwatches you can get.
Some of the best smartwatches you can get.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Why You Should Trust Us?


To decide which watch topped them all, we began with tons of research. We then picked out the most promising models to buy and test head-to-head. We bought all the watches in this review from standard retailers at normal prices; TechGearLab won't ever accept free units to review, and we have no financial incentive to pick one product over another. For the past four years, our smartwatch testing process has been pioneered by Austin Palmer and David Wise. Both have extensive experience reviewing smart home and wearable products, having reviewed dozens and dozens of fitness trackers, pedometers, GPS watches, and VR headsets in addition to smartwatches.

We evaluated practically every aspect of these watches, conducting over 25 different side-by-side assessments. We measured their maximum battery life under simulated general use conditions and checked the accuracy of their step counter against a true count using a mechanical tally counter. We compared app compatibility by using a selection of the most popular offerings currently available and seeing which watches they could be installed on. We also had a panel of judges try out each product to see how comfortable they are, their ease of use, and compare the design and aesthetics of each product.

Related: How We Tested Smartwatches

Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Analysis and Test Results


We split our testing process into five weighted rating metrics — Ease of Use, Fitness Tracking, Smart Functions, Battery Life, and Display — which are each weighted proportional to their importance, with the results and performance of each watch compared below.

Related: Buying Advice for Smartwatches

Value


There is a strong correlation between price and performance when it comes to these products. Our top picks, the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Samsung Galaxy are both impeccable products, but the base price of these products is significantly more than most of the other products, with additional features like a larger screen or standalone LTE connectivity increasing the price even more. These products make sense if you want a ton of functionality right on your wrist, but you are better off considering a less expensive model, like the Versa 3 or the TicWatch E2 if you just want something to show you notifications and have some basic fitness tracking abilities.

There can be quite a spread when it comes to the cost of these...
There can be quite a spread when it comes to the cost of these products.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

If these high price tags are causing you to panic, check out the TicWatch E2. This is our favorite watch when shopping on a budget; even though it didn't score the highest overall, it offers a solid performance at a price that is a fraction of the cost of the top models. On top of that, it can usually be found at a discount and has most of the essential functions that you would want from one of these products. The Fitbit Versa 3 is another attractive budget option, especially if you are particularly interested in the fitness tracking features of these products. It is a bit more expensive than the TicWatch E2, but quite a bit better overall, as well as granting you access to the extensive Fitbit fitness ecosystem.

If you are shopping on the tightest of budgets, we think the TicWatch GTX is your best choice. It costs considerably less than just about every other model and is limited in features, but it does have basic smartwatch functions at a very attractive price.

We think this watch is one of the easiest to use.
We think this watch is one of the easiest to use.
Credit: Laura Casner

Ease of Use


Comprising 30% of the total score for each smartwatch, our Ease of Use metric is the most significant of our entire testing process. These products are intended to be used on a daily basis, and we found products that were less than user-friendly to be exceptionally irritating. We awarded points to each product based on its interface method, how difficult it is to swap the wrist bands, how quickly each watch wakes when you raise your wrist, and the overall layout of the menus.


The Samsung Galaxy Watch, Galaxy Watch 3, and the Apple Watch Series 6 all tied for the top score in this metric. These watches all have exceptionally responsive touch screens for navigating through menus on the device and will wake up with practically zero delays when you turn your wrist to view them.

The Apple Watch seamlessly woke when you raised your wrist to view it.
The Apple Watch seamlessly woke when you raised your wrist to view it.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

The Apple Watch Series 6 utilizes a crown scroll — the dial on the side can be rotated to scroll through menus — making it exceptionally easy to navigate quickly.

We liked having the crown to easily scroll through menus.
We liked having the crown to easily scroll through menus.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

The Samsung smartwatches lack a crown scroll and instead utilize a rotating bezel for a physical interface.

The rotating bezel on this watch is a handy interface option.
The rotating bezel on this watch is a handy interface option.
Credit: Laura Casner

The Apple Watch Series 6 uses an inductive charger that mounts to the back of the watch with magnets. The connection is quite strong, but the charger can be knocked off with sufficient force. However, you can purchase bases for the standard charger that turns it into a charging cradle or stand if you prefer a more secure connection.

The charger attaches to the Apple Watch fairly securely but is still...
The charger attaches to the Apple Watch fairly securely but is still easy to remove.
Credit: Laura Casner

These watches are all waterproof enough to take swimming or in the shower. The Apple Watch Series 6, the Galaxy Watch, and the Galaxy Watch 3 are rated for up to 5 ATM or 50 meters of water resistance. All of these watches even have a dedicated profile for tracking your swimming workouts.

It is a little easier to take screenshots on the Apple Watch than on the Samsung Galaxy watches by pressing both buttons simultaneously, which will automatically send the photo straight to your phone.

The Apple Watch makes it easy to swap wristbands, but you have to...
The Apple Watch makes it easy to swap wristbands, but you have to use Apple-specific models.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

It was quick and easy to swap wristbands on all of these models, though it is a tiny bit faster and easier to swap between bands on the Apple Watch. Unfortunately, it is a little more difficult to locate compatible bands for this watch than for the Samsung smartwatches, as the Apple Watch doesn't use the typical watch mechanism.

The Samsung Galaxy Active2 and the Mobvoi Ticwatch Pro 3 came just behind the top-tier watches regarding ease of use. It is comparable to the Galaxy Watch when changing wristbands and is also water-resistant to 50 meters/5 ATM. It has a great touchscreen that is exceptionally responsive to swipes and taps and illuminates almost instantly when you raise your wrist.

These products vary quite a bit when it comes to size.
These products vary quite a bit when it comes to size.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

However, the Active2 does away with a physical rotating bezel interface, replacing it with a capacitive touch bezel. In our opinion, this is still better than the touchscreen-only interfaces, but we liked it a little less than a truly mechanical one. The charging interface on this watch is also similar to the Apple Watch and is a little more prone to being accidentally knocked off than the charging cradle types.

The TicWatch Pro 3 is rated to the IP68 level of water resistance, which means it's suitable for a shower or swimming pool. We like the touchscreen on this watch, finding it very responsive and easy to use. The bands are also quite easy to swap, but it does have a slight delay when you raise your wrist.

The touchscreen on this model is very responsive and easy to use.
The touchscreen on this model is very responsive and easy to use.
Credit: Laura Casner

The Fitbit Versa 3 and the Fitbit Sense are both water-resistant, rated for submersion up to 50 meters, making them more than suitable for accompanying you in the shower or the pool. The chargers for both of these watches lock securely into position.

We found it to be slightly harder to swap the bands on the Fitbit...
We found it to be slightly harder to swap the bands on the Fitbit watches.
Credit: Laura Casner

It can be a bit finicky to swap the bands on the Versa 3 or the Sense. The touchscreen is quite responsive, though occasionally, this pair does have a slight lag compared to the top watches when raising your wrist, being a bit slow to wake from sleep mode. There isn't any sort of physical rotational input, like a crown or bezel scroll.

We did notice a slight delay in the screen when you raise your wrist.
We did notice a slight delay in the screen when you raise your wrist.
Credit: Laura Casner

The TicWatch C2 also relies solely on a touchscreen as an input method, which we found to be a bit finicky throughout our testing, periodically misreading a tap as a swipe and vice-versa.

The C2 uses WearOS.
The C2 uses WearOS.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

We also found that the C2 is one of the slower watches to wake when sleeping, taking almost a full second for the screen to light up when we raised our wrist to look at it. We also wished that the water-resistance of this watch had been increased, as it is still only marked as rain or sweatproof, not suitable for total submergence or swimming. However, we did appreciate that it is extremely easy to swap the watch bands — almost on par with the Apple Watch Series 5 — and that the magnetically coupled charger attaches very securely once aligned.

The C2 is relatively secure on its charging base.
The C2 is relatively secure on its charging base.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

The TicWatch E2, the Huawei Watch GT Classic, and the TicWatch GTX are all average for ease of use. The E2 and the GTX are both rated as water-resistant for up to 5 ATM/50 meters. They lack a rotating crown or bezel, so you are restricted to using the touchscreen to navigate the menus, but the screens of both watches are quite responsive to swipes and taps, and they wake quickly when you raise your wrist. The charging setup is so-so, and we think it's about average when it comes to swapping wristbands on both watches.

We found the GTX to be about average to use.
We found the GTX to be about average to use.
Credit: Laura Casner

The Huawei GT Classic also relies on the touchscreen as its sole input method and is water-resistant to 5 ATM.

The Apple Watch has a very comprehensive set of smart features and...
The Apple Watch has a very comprehensive set of smart features and functions, including plenty of standalone ones.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Smart Functions


This metric encompasses the main set of features on these products, comparing the compatibility with popular apps, whether or not you could take phone calls on your wrist, control your music, pay for things, or navigate with a built-in GPS. To test app compatibility, we picked a sample group of 10 common apps (Uber, Facebook Messenger, Spotify, Strava, IFTTT, Evernote, Shazam, Instagram, and a Twitter viewer) and tried to install them on each model. This group of tests makes up 20% of the total score.


The Apple Watch Series 6 took home the top score when it came to smart functions. This model was compatible with Uber, Spotify, Facebook Messenger, Strava, IFTTT (If this, then that), Twitterific, and Shazam.

The Apple Watch Series 6 lets you take calls on your wrist using its built-in microphone and speaker. The sound quality was about average, and we could easily hear the other party talking with an arm bent at a 90-degree angle.

You can answer calls right on your wrist with the Apple Watch.
You can answer calls right on your wrist with the Apple Watch.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

This watch has a built-in GPS that will automatically turn on when the phone is out of range, as well as standalone LTE connectivity if you paid for the upgrade. It also has NFC communication and is usable with Apple Pay. This model also has music control and the capability to open Pandora from the watch itself, as well as voice control through Siri.

The Samsung watches — the Galaxy Watch, Galaxy Watch 3, and the Galaxy Watch Active2 — don't have the largest library of standalone apps compared to the Apple Watch but usually have all the most popular ones, with more being added all the time. They do work fairly well with messaging apps, offering a set of preprogrammed quick responses that you can also edit in the app.

There is a solid set of smart features on this Samsung watch.
There is a solid set of smart features on this Samsung watch.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

All of these smartwatches from Samsung have an integrated speaker and microphone, allowing you to place or answer a phone call directly from your wrist without pulling out your phone. This trio also has built-in GPS and NFC modules for more accurate location data and contactless payments. There are also standalone LTE versions available if you truly want to leave your phone behind without sacrificing constant connectivity.

The Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3 and the TicWatch C2 run on Wear OS, so they essentially have an identical set of app compatibilities. The TicWatch C2 and the TicWatch Pro 3 expand on the smart functions of the original TicWatch E, adding NFC communication so you can use it as a payment option with Google (Android) Pay. They both have a microphone for voice control and an integrated GPS module, as well as the standard set of music controls available on the Wear OS watches. The TicWatch Pro 3 also lets you take phone calls right on the wrist.

Next, the Fitbit Sense and the Fitbit Versa 3 have a middle-of-the-road set of smart functions. Fitbit is a little late to the smartwatch game compared to Samsung or Apple, but these models are slowly getting more and more compatible with third-party apps. They have basic music controls and can be used for transactions with Fitbit Pay. However, neither have a speaker, so you can't take calls on the watch. Both the Sense and the Versa 3 have a built-in GPS module.

The TicWatch E2 is a Wear OS watch, so it has a modest amount of third-party app compatibility, able to work with Uber, Messenger, Spotify, Strava, and IFTTT. This watch doesn't have an integrated speaker, but it does have an internal microphone — mainly used for voice control features. The E2 gives you basic control of your music and has a standalone GPS module but lacks integrated cellular or NFC modules.

You can use Google Assistant with this model.
You can use Google Assistant with this model.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

The Huawei Watch GT Classic and the TicWatch GTX both scored at the back of the pack for their meager set of smart functions. The GT Classic moved away from Wear OS to Huawei's own Lite OS, which unfortunately was accompanied by a significant reduction in smart features.

We think the Watch GT is very stylish.
We think the Watch GT is very stylish.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Neither appears to have any third-party app compatibility, and they won't permit you to take calls on your wrist. They also lack any NFC or standalone cellular unit abilities.

You can customize the different watch faces to match your preferences.
You can customize the different watch faces to match your preferences.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Display


None of the assorted smart features on any of these products are of any use if you can't actually see the information displayed on the watch. We evaluated the screen quality, its visibility in bright light, whether or not the brightness could automatically adjust to changing light conditions, or if an always-on mode was available. We also awarded points if the screen was a complete circle and not truncated at the bottom. This metric made up 20% of the total score.


The Apple Watch Series 6, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, and the Galaxy Watch Active2 all tied for the top spot in this metric. We think they have particularly eye-catching displays that are very easy to read in all lighting conditions.

We found that we slightly preferred the Apple Watch Series 6's OLED Retina display to the AMOLED or Super AMOLED displays on the Samsung smartwatches, but the overall image quality is excellent on all of them. The Apple Watch Series 6 is available with a 40mm or 44mm screen, having a resolution of 324x394 and 368x448, respectively.

It is super easy to see the screen of this watch in both bright sunlight and dimmer conditions. However, the Apple Watch will not automatically adjust the brightness, but you do have the option to set the display to be always on. The Samsung watches all have both of these features.

We found the image on the Samsung watches to be very similar. It's super easy to read the display on all of these watches in even bright daylight, and we found the ability to turn the backlight to be always on or to automatically adjust to be quite handy.

We think this watch has one of the best displays of the bunch.
We think this watch has one of the best displays of the bunch.
Credit: Laura Casner

The Fitbit Versa 3 and the Sense have great screens. These both have a very visually stunning square OLED display, measuring in at 1.58" across and having a resolution of 336x336.

The Versa 3 looks great and is easy to read even in bright light.
The Versa 3 looks great and is easy to read even in bright light.
Credit: Laura Casner

The Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3 was dinged in this metric mainly by how hard we think it is to read in bright light. Aside from that, its 1.4" Retina AMOLED 454x454 screen looks great. It can also be set to automatically adjust its brightness or can set to be always on.

Unfortunately, we found it quite hard to read this watch in bright...
Unfortunately, we found it quite hard to read this watch in bright light.
Credit: Laura Casner

The TicWatch C2, the E2, and the Huawei GT Classic all featured slightly above-average displays. These watches have similar-sized displays and are about the same in image quality — good, but noticeably worse than the Apple Watch or Samsung Galaxy. The TicWatch C2 has a 1.3" AMOLED display. It's reasonably high quality, improving on the display of its predecessors, but still can't quite compare to the Retina or Super AMOLED displays of the best models.

The C2 has a nice display, but not as good as the top models.
The C2 has a nice display, but not as good as the top models.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

The E2 has a similar display but is slightly higher quality than the C2. It has a 1.39" AMOLED displays with a resolution of 400x400, compared to the 360x360 of the C2. The Huawei also has a 1.39" AMOLED screen but has an even higher resolution of 454x454.

All of these except the Huawei GT have an always-on mode available, but the TicWatch C2 and the E2 can't automatically adjust the backlight brightness to ambient lighting conditions. Additionally, none of these are that easy to read in bright daylight.

The TicWatch GTX again finished at the back of the group. The screen is on the smaller side, and we found it to be fairly hard to read in bright light. You also can't set the backlight to automatically adjust or to be always-on.

The Apple Watch can track a variety of different water workouts.
The Apple Watch can track a variety of different water workouts.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Fitness Impact


Next, we moved on to comparing and scoring the various fitness tracking and monitoring features each watch offers, which is responsible for 15% of the final score. We based scores on the accuracy of the step counter — as determined by comparing the count shown on each watch to our manual count over a mile-long walk, which workouts each watch can track and what data they collect, how accurately they track the number of stairs climbed each day, and the accuracy of the heart rate monitor by comparing the measured reading against a chest strap control HR monitor.


Taking home the top score in this metric, the Series 6 has excellent fitness tracking performance. This watch was exceptionally accurate in our step count tests, having an average discrepancy from the true count of fewer than 10 steps in our three-mile-long walk. Its heart rate monitor aligned almost perfectly with the chest strap monitor we used as a control when measuring a resting heart rate and was accurate about 85% of the time with an elevated heart rate. The Series 6 also has an ECG and can detect if you are going into Atrial Fibrillation.

There are a wide variety of different workouts you can track with...
There are a wide variety of different workouts you can track with this watch.
Credit: Laura Casner

The Series 6 also has a ton of different profiles to choose from when it comes to tracking your activities and provides a solid amount of data about your workout, as well as automatically detecting if you start or stop a workout. However, this watch only registered about half of the staircases that we climbed in our test.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch, the Galaxy Watch 3, the Galaxy Active2, the Fitbit Versa 3, and the Fitbit Sense are all highly accurate at counting steps, with the largest discrepancy for any of these watches being about 34 steps in any of our mile-long walking tests. This group also delivered solidly accurate results in our heart rate, though we found all except the Galaxy Watch 3 to be more prone to being off with an elevated heart rate than the Series 6.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch and Galaxy Watch 3 are the clear winners when it comes to workout tracking, as they have a wide variety of profiles and automatically detect and record when you begin an activity, even chaining together up to 6 different exercises if you switch activities mid-workout.

This watch is highly accurate when it comes to counting steps.
This watch is highly accurate when it comes to counting steps.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

However, these Samsung watches all fare poorly when it came to counting flights of stairs climbed, with only the S3 even coming close to recording all 10 flights of stairs we climbed in the test.

The Fitbit Versa 3 and the Sense also have lots of different workout profiles that you can choose from. This pair also has a ton of different fitness challenges you can undertake against yourself or family/friends if you need a little more motivation.

The Versa 3 is great if you like the social aspects of tracking your...
The Versa 3 is great if you like the social aspects of tracking your workouts.
Credit: Laura Casner

The TicWatch E2 was decently accurate in our step count tests, only differing from the true manual count by 10-30 steps or so over a mile-long walk. However, it definitely wasn't the most accurate heart rate monitor that we've seen, tending to have a discrepancy of up to 10 bpm at a resting heart rate in our tests. It got even more erratic with an elevated heart rate while working out, exhibiting a discrepancy of 42 bpm at one point in our tests.

This model has a built-in HR monitor.
This model has a built-in HR monitor.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

It also has a ton of different workout profiles in the Google Fit Workout app but does not count the number of flights of stairs you climb throughout your day.

The Huawei GT was equally accurate in our step counting tests as the TicWatch E2, but we thought it was just a little bit less accurate in our heart rate assessments. It was about the same as the E2 at a resting heart rate but was wildly inaccurate compared to the chest strap while exercising. It also has a modest amount of workout profiles and lacks an altimeter to track flights of stairs climbed.

The TicWatch C2 is about average in terms of fitness tracking functions. It has a fairly accurate step counter and a decent suite of different workouts you can track, either by using the default Google Fit app or a third-party app, like Strava or Runkeeper. It also will try and auto-detect the type of workout you are doing, though it needs a bit of training before it starts to work correctly.

The C2 was an average of 2% off during our step trials.
The C2 was an average of 2% off during our step trials.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

However, this watch does not monitor the number of stairs you climb each day, and there was usually a huge discrepancy between the chest strap heart rate monitor and the heart rate recorded by the C2 in our tests, particularly with active heart rates.

The TicWatch Pro 3 and the TicWatch GTX finished out the back of the group in this metric. They did alright in the step counting test but disappointed us in the heart rate monitor and workout tracking tests.

Battery Life


Similar to our display metric, none of the various features and functions of these products are any good when the battery is dead. We tested how long each watch lasted with normal use, how long it would take to completely charge a dead watch, and how long it would take to charge to 50%, all combining to be worth 15% of the overall score for each smartwatch. This is because the batteries in these watches don't charge linearly; they rapidly charge up most of the way, then slow down to top off. We sent a variety of notifications, texts, and calls to each watch throughout the test on an identical schedule for each model and recorded how long they lasted.


Delivering an unmatched performance, the Huawei Watch GT Classic easily claimed the top spot for this metric. This watch did significantly better than the rest, lasting for 1.5 - 2 weeks in our tests, but its smart features are so limited compared to the rest that it almost seems unfair to compare them. It also charges exceptionally fast, only taking about 30 minutes to reach 50% from being completely depleted and 87 minutes to completely recharge.

The Watch GT has one of the longest battery lives to date.
The Watch GT has one of the longest battery lives to date.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

The Samsung Galaxy, the Fitbit Versa 3, and the Fitbit Sense all displayed exceptional battery life. The Samsung Galaxy lasted for a whopping 118 hours in our test, or just shy of five days — solidly impressive for a watch that has a decent set of smart functions. It also states that you can get up to 24 hours of use from the GPS with a fully charged battery. However, this watch does take a long time to charge, taking over an hour to reach 50% and almost three to completely recharge.

The Fitbit Sense and the Versa 3 both charge decently fast and last for around six days with normal use. The TicWatch GTX performed similarly, lasting for around seven days, largely buoyed by its limited functionality.

The Galaxy Active2 by Samsung lasted for approximately 48 hours with typical use. We also like that it doesn't take too long to recharge, completely charging in 105 minutes and only taking 40 minutes to hit 50% charge when starting with a fully depleted battery. The TicWatch Pro 3 is similar, lasting for around 40-44 hours in our tests.

The Apple Watch Series 6 and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 were neck and neck with the Pro 3 in our tests, lasting for around 36-40 hours.

The TicWatch E2 lasted for about 25 hours in our normal usage test — one of the shortest times of the group. This means you could get two days out of the watch, but most likely, you'll want to charge it every night or at some point every day. However, this model does charge quite quickly, only taking about 32 minutes to hit 50% and 75 minutes to completely top off a dead battery.

The magnetically coupled charging cable attaches quite securely.
The magnetically coupled charging cable attaches quite securely.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

The TicWatch C2 is about the same, though it usually lasts 3-5 hours longer than the E2 and has a roughly identical charging profile.

Comparing the best smartwatches side-by-side.
Comparing the best smartwatches side-by-side.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Conclusion


Sorting through all the different specifications and matching different models to your needs can be quite a difficult challenge, but hopefully, we've helped you narrow it down to a few top contenders to make your final decision.

Austin Palmer and David Wise