The Best Smartwatches of 2018 for Android & iOS

The top three models in our test  all winning an Editors' Choice award.
On the hunt for the hottest new piece of connected tech for your wrist? We have spent the past year researching these products, buying all the best and most promising smartwatches and comparing them side-by-side to see which one is really the absolute best. We rated and judged the various smart features and functions of each watch, as well as their fitness and health tracking stats and the quality of the display of each watch, as well as the comfort, looks, and battery life of each timepiece. After hundreds of hours of testing, we are convinced that our award winners are really the smartest smartwatch that you can get, whether you are an iOS, Android, or Samsung user or if you are shopping on a budget.

Read the full review below ≫

Test Results and Ratings

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Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Editors' Choice Award    Editors' Choice Award   
Price $370 List
$335.60 at Amazon
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$273.39 at Amazon
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$269.99 at Amazon
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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61
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Pros Loaded with smart functions, great display, extremely easy to useEasy to use, great display, best variety of trackable workoutsSmaller than the S3, waterproof, great for fitness trackingFantastic fitness tracking, lots of smart functions, compatible with Android Pay and voice controlLoaded with smart features and functions, good display
Cons Not a great battery life, priceySlow to charge, limited app compatibilityNo built-in speaker, reduced set of smart functionsMediocre display, unappealing aestheticMediocre fitness tracking, average battery life
Bottom Line Earning the top score of the group, the Apple Watch Series 3 netted the Editors’ Choice award and the title of Best Smartwatch for iPhone usersOne of the best models out there, though it loses some functionality with non-Samsung phonesWhile the Gear Sport isn’t meant to supplant the flagship S3 model, this slimmer and sportier version still scored very well and is worth consideringOur top recommendation for Android users but isn't the most stylish watch aroundSleek, stylish, and packed with functionality, this watch knocks it out of the park for Android users
Ratings by Category Watch Series 3 Gear S3 Gear Sport Watch 2 Watch Sport
Ease Of Use - 30%
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Smart Functions - 20%
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Display - 20%
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Fitness Impact - 15%
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Battery Life - 15%
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Specs Watch Series 3 Gear S3 Gear Sport Watch 2 Watch Sport
Water Resistant Up to 50 meters IP68 + MIL-STD-810G 5 ATM IP68 IP68
GPS Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
NFC (Android, Apple, Samsung, or Fitbit Pay) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Analysis and Award Winners


Review by:
David Wise and Austin Palmer

Last Updated:
Monday
June 18, 2018

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Update June 2018
For our summer update, we have added the Versa, Fitbit's second attempt at entering the smartwatch market. While this sleek and stylish smartwatch does have some innovative features and is a definite improvement on the Ionic, we think that it still has a long way to go before it dethrones the Apple Watch Series 3, the Huawei Watch 2, or the Samsung Gear S3 for one of the top spots. We felt the Versa is almost more of a glorified fitness tracker with an extra helping of smart features, only having payment capabilities available with the special edition of the watch and having limited app compatibility. However, it might be a choice if you already are a fan of the Fitbit online community and you want a fitness-focused smartwatch while shopping on a budget. Check out the complete review below to find out just how the Versa stacked up and see if it is the right smartwatch for you!

Best for iPhones


Apple Watch Series 3


The Apple Watch Series 2.
Editors' Choice Award

$335.60
at Amazon
See It

Water Resistant: Up to 50m | Heart Rate Monitor: Yes
Tons of functionality
Fantastic display
Wide app compatibility
Limited display adjustments
Mediocre battery life

Earning the highest score of the group and the coveted title of Best Overall Smartwatch, the Apple Watch Series 3 is the absolute top-of-the-line when it comes to these products. Loaded with smart features and functions, the Series 3 is sleek, stylish, and even waterproof enough to take in the pool. Speaking of swimming, it has an impressive set of fitness tracking features and a top-notch display that is crystal-clear and extremely easy to read. For such a compact watch, there is an impressive number of actions that you can take, using it to take a phone call right on your wrist, locate a lost iPhone, and reply to text messages. This model builds on the success of the previous version by including a faster processor and the option for standalone, LTE connectivity — for a price.

This upgrade comes at an additional cost of about $70, making an already pricey watch even pricier, but allows the watch to make phone calls and utilize other cellular functions without being tethered to your phone — the perfect thing for going to the gym or on a run where you want to leave your phone behind without missing any calls or texts. For those that want the absolute best of the best and have an iPhone, the Series 3 is the clear choice — as long as you are willing to foot the hefty bill.

Read Full Review: Apple Watch Series 3

Best for Samsung Phones


Samsung Gear S3


The Samsung Gear S3
Editors' Choice Award

$273.39
at Amazon
See It

Water Resistant: IP68 | Heart Rate Monitor: Yes
Easy to use
Great Display
Best for workout tracking
Slow to charge
Limited app selection

Earning the second-highest score overall, the Gear S3 by Samsung claimed an Editors' Choice Award for being our top recommendation for those with a Samsung mobile device. The S3 set itself apart from the rest of the competition by having a solid set of sensors, such as a GPS module, altimeter, and heart rate sensor. Available in two distinct styles, the S3 Classic for a sleeker look and the S3 Frontier for a sportier one, along with a variety of bands to customize this watch to match your personal preference. Overall, this is a fantastic smartwatch that is exceptionally easy to operate, with the unique rotating bezel interface being particularly intuitive.

However, the functionality of this watch does decrease when used with non-Samsung phones — something to consider if you are thinking of purchasing this model. This watch is also exceptionally large, so if you are a fan of wearables that are more on the petite side, you probably should consider something else.

Read Full Review: Samsung Gear S3

Best for Android Phones


Huawei Watch 2


The Huawei Watch 2.
Editors' Choice Award

$269.99
at Amazon
See It

Water Resistant: IP68 | Heart Rate Monitor: Yes
Fantastic fitness tracking
Great set of smart functions
Built-in GPS
Uninspiring Display
Average battery life

Offering substantial improvements to the original Huawei Watch, the Huawei Watch 2 is our new favorite smartwatch for those with Android phones. This is the first offering from Huawei that incorporates Wear OS, the latest version from Google, and makes use of all the new features that this operating system affords. The Watch 2 incorporates a built-in GPS unit and NFC (Near Field Communication) to allow you to use Google Pay. The inclusion of the GPS module boosts the already impressive set of fitness tracking abilities of the previous Watch 1, making the Watch 2 our top recommendation for those fitness-minded Android users out there. This impressive fitness tracking performance and improved suite of smart functions combine to net this watch our Editors' Choice award and the title of Best Smartwatch for Android Phones.

The only real complaint we had with this product was its overall look, resembling a cheap digital watch, and its somewhat small display. While it looks a little less refined than its peers, it makes up for it in performance, making it our top recommendation for Android users.

Read Full Review: Huawei Watch 2

Best Value


Ticwatch E


The TicWatch E by Mobovoi.
Best Buy Award

$159.99
at Amazon
See It

Water Resistant: IP67 | Heart Rate Monitor: Yes
Inexpensive
Works with both Android and iOS (iOS functions are slightly reduced)
Mediocre battery life
Unimpressive fitness tracking

While this didn't deliver the best performance overall, we were quite impressed by just how much functionality is crammed into such a low-profile and low-cost watch. This watch has both a built-in speaker and microphone, allowing you to utilize the Google Assistant and take calls right on your wrist, though we did find it to be a bit finicky to accomplish the latter. It also has other rudimentary smart functions, such as translation, viewing your push notifications, controlling your tunes, and replying to text messages. Thanks to Wear OS, it has the ability to run standalone apps and grants you access to the Google Play Store — even for iOS users. It also has a built-in GPS module and heart rate monitor, allowing you to track your workout progress using the Google Fit.

Unfortunately, this watch isn't terribly accurate at counting your steps or measuring your heart rate. It also lacks the ability to be used as a payment method and has no standalone cellular capabilities. It also has a less than stellar battery life and a screen that is rather lackluster in quality. However, despite these negative aspects, the Ticwatch is by far the best you can get if you are shopping on a tight budget.

Read Full Review: Ticwatch E

Great for Fitness-Minded Users


Fitbit Ionic



$249.99
at Amazon
See It

Water Resistant: Up to 50m | Heart Rate Monitor: Yes
Easy to use
Great Display
Best for workout tracking
Slow to charge
Limited app selection

The first smartwatch offering from Fitbit, the Ionic had plenty of hype leading up to its release. While this is undeniably a sleek and snazzy smartwatch, it fell a little short in our tests. This watch had a great display and has an impressive suite of fitness tracking features. Additionally, it continues to use the Fitbit online ecosystem, allowing you to utilize all of the services that offers, such as competitive and non-competitive fitness challenges, as well as activity coaching.

Unfortunately, the smart functions on this wearable can't really compare to the top offerings from Apple or Samsung, but they are rapidly expanding, as more and more apps are created for the Ionic. While it isn't our absolute favorite smartwatch, it's a decent watch and a solid choice for those already fond of Fitbit and all the fitness tracking capabilities that it has to offer.

Read Full Review: Fitbit Ionic

select up to 5 products
Score Product Price Our Take
76
$370
Editors' Choice Award
The best of the best, the Apple Watch Series 3 builds on the impressive performance of its predecessors and claimed the top spot
75
$350
Editors' Choice Award
Great for Samsung phones, pleasing aesthetics, almost the best
73
$370
For those that found the flagship Gear S3 to cumbersome, the Gear Sport is a smaller version that focused more on fitness tracking than smart functions
65
$300
Editors' Choice Award
More fitness oriented, not so attractive, top pick for Android users
61
$350
A great, easy to use watch loaded with functions including being able to accept a sim card
59
$200
While the Versa did improve on its predecessors, it still has a long ways to go to become one of the best
58
$300
The Fitbit Ionic shows plenty of promise, but is dragged down by its limited set of smart functions at launch
54
$400
Aimed towards hitting the slopes and waves, bulky and expensive
51
$230
Not quite as smart as the rest, but intelligent in price
49
$160
Best Buy Award
This is a fantastic value option, offering solid performance across that board

Analysis and Test Results


We've spent the past year buying and evaluating the best smartwatches on the market, continually updating our review each time promising new products have been released. In addition to tons of research, going through hundreds of user reviews and all of the available information on each watch, we also test the performance of these products side-by-side, subjecting them to our comprehensive testing process.

The best models currently available  ready to be put to the test!
The best models currently available, ready to be put to the test!

This process is composed of over 25 different tests, divided up among five rating metrics. These metrics — Ease of Use, Fitness Tracking, Smart Functions, Battery Life, and Display — are each weighted proportional to their importance, with the full results of our testing procedure described below.

Value


As you can see in the above chart, there is definitely a strong correlation between price and performance when it comes to these products. Our top picks, the Apple Watch Series 3 and the Samsung Gear S3 are both excellent watches, but retail for well over $300. Our favorite choice for Wear OS models, the Huawei Watch 2 is a little less expensive at $300, but that is still quite pricey for most people. Our favorite watch when shopping on a budget, the Ticwatch E scores relatively poorly overall, but retails for less than half of the cost of the top models and has most of the essential functions that you would want from one of these products. The Versa by Fitbit is only a bit more expensive than the Ticwatch, making it another attractive value pick if you are searching for a fitness-centric smartwatch, but are willing to go without a dedicated GPS, relying on a connected one instead.

The Gear S3 was particularly easy to use.
The Gear S3 was particularly easy to use.

Ease of Use


Initially, you may be surprised that Ease of Use is the highest-weighted metric for these products, comprising 30% of the total score. These watches are meant to be worn daily, seamlessly integrating into your life, all while allowing you to maintain a constant connection to your personal digital ecosystem. A watch that is frustrating to use will quickly cease to be worn, instantly losing practically all of its utility. The following chart shows which models were a pleasure to use and which ones proved quite irritating.


We checked if these watches were waterproof, whether or not there was a crown scroll, how hard it was to take a screenshot, how they charged, and the difficulty of swapping wristbands. We also placed a great deal of importance on-screen responsiveness, evaluating it through two different tests. These products will turn off their displays when your arms are at your side, turning them back on when you swivel your wrist to look at the screen. This proved more difficult in practice, with some model having a much longer delay than others. In addition, we compared the interface of each model — how easy it was to use the touchscreen to navigate through different menus.

The Apple Watch Series 3, Samsung Gear S3 and the Samsung Gear Sport all tied for the top score in this metric, all earning an 8 out of 10. These models all had exceptionally responsive touch screens for navigating through menus on the device and both of these models would wake up with practically zero delay 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.

The Apple Watch Series 3 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.

The Samsung models lack a crown scroll instead utilizing a rotating bezel and a non-touchscreen method of navigating between menus.

The rotating bezel on the Gear S3 is a fantastic way to easily navigate through the menu.
The rotating bezel on the Gear S3 is a fantastic way to easily navigate through the menu.

The pair of Samsung smartwatches both have sturdy connections to their chargers, sitting securely in a charging cradle.

The Gear Sport has a nice charging cradle.
The Gear Sport has a nice charging cradle.

The Apple Watch's inductive charger mounts to the back with magnets strong enough to reliably hold it.

The Series 3 has a magnetic charger and will also display the time while charging if left on its side (Nightstand mode).
The Series 3 has a magnetic charger and will also display the time while charging if left on its side (Nightstand mode).

However, we did find the Samsung's charging cradle to be more secure than the magnets on the Apple's charging cable, with the cable disconnecting with moderate jostling.

These model are both waterproof enough to take swimming or in the shower, but the Apple Watch meets a slightly more rigorous standard than the Gear S3, ISO 22810:10:2010 compared to IP68+. The Samsung Gear Sport is rated for up to 5 ATM of water resistance and even has a dedicated swimming workout setting.

It is a little easier to take screenshots on the Apple Watch than the Samsung's, simply press both buttons simultaneously and it will send the photo straight to your phone. You hold down the "Home" button and swipe right to take the screenshot on the Gear S3 or the Gear Sport, but it won't automatically sync to your phone, requiring you to manually send it from the gallery.


It was very easy to swap wristbands on both of these models, taking very little time at all, though it was faster to swap out the bands on the Apple Watch. Unfortunately, it is a little more difficult to locate compatible bands for this watch than for the Gear S3 or the Gear Sport

The LG Watch Sport was right on the heels of this top group earning a 7 out of 10. The screen wasn't quite as responsive, with a slightly noticeable delay for the watch to wake up when you lifted your wrist to view it. It also wasn't quite as easy as the Apple Watch or Gear S3 to navigate through the menus using the touchscreen. However, this model does have a crown scroll.

We preferred to use the crown scroll on the LG Watch to navigate  rather than the touchscreen.
We preferred to use the crown scroll on the LG Watch to navigate, rather than the touchscreen.

This model also uses a charging cradle to establish a reliable connection for charging and is IP68 rated for waterproofness. Unfortunately, this model missed out on the top score by lacking the ability to swap wristbands and by the difficulty in capturing a screenshot. The LG Watch Sport has an antenna in the band and uses the Wear OS app to capture a screenshot. This app was finicky and we almost always found a discrepancy between the preview of the screenshot and the actual screenshot.

Next, the Huawei Watch 2 and the Fitbit Versa both earned a 6 out of 10 for being above average in terms of ease of use, but each having a few drawbacks that made them slightly more of a hassle than the top watches.

The Huawei Watch 2 also connects extremely securely to its charger, utilizing a plastic clip to catch the body of the watch securely. It is also reasonably water resistant, complying with the IP68 standard. This model does lack any rotational input method, restricting you to the touchscreen to navigate the watch's menus.

The smaller display on the Watch 2 made it a little more difficult to use the touchscreen.
The smaller display on the Watch 2 made it a little more difficult to use the touchscreen.

The screen is reasonably responsive, waking from sleep mode after about a second delay. It was relatively painless to swap wristbands, though the curved shape of the Watch 2 makes it a little trickier and restricts it to bands specifically made for the Watch 2.

The Fitbit Versa is one of the more water resistant models that we have seen, rated for submersion up to 50 meters, making it more than suitable for accompanying you in the shower or in the pool. It also has one of the most secure charging cradles of the entire group, actually clamping the watch in the place to the point where no amount of reasonable shaking would knock it loose.


It's about average to swap wristbands on the Versa, which relies on the standard, sliding clasp style mechanism that is rapidly becoming the standard. It requires a little dexterity, but it can be accomplished quite easily without any specialized tools. The touchscreen is quite responsive, though occasionally the Versa does have a slight lag 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, but it does have a few buttons so you aren't completely reliant on the touchscreen to interact with the watch.


Unfortunately, you can't take screenshots of the information on the screen, though this functionality may eventually show up.

The Ticwatch E, Fitbit Ionic, and the Nixon Mission merited a 5 out of 10 for their average performance. The Ticwatch E is rated for IP67 rating, but states that it is splash-proof for daily wet environments, but isn't suitable for showering or swimming.

Conversely, the Ionic is rated for up to 50 meters and also has a dedicated profile for tracking swimming. The Nixon has essentially the same level of water resistance, possessing a 10 ATM rating, making it suitable for swimming or shallow snorkeling.

The Nixon's water resistance rating meant it was suitable for all sorts of outdoor adventures.
The Nixon's water resistance rating meant it was suitable for all sorts of outdoor adventures.

All of these models lack a crown scroll or rotating bezel and rely on the touchscreen as the primary input method. We found the Ionic to be the most responsive of the group and the Ticwatch being slightly slower, making them about average on the whole. The Nixon was even more laggy, cresting into the point where it became both noticeable and irritating when navigating through its menus.

The Ticwatch and Nixon had longer delays to wake when you raised your wrist — about one second for the Ticwatch. The Nixon is even slower on the draw, taking almost a second and a half to wake up when you raised your hand up. These are all much longer than the fraction of a second for the Apple Watch or Gear S3.


The Ionic is much faster to wake, only taking a fraction of a second more than the Apple Watch. It was reasonably easy to swap bands on the Ticwatch and the Ionic, similar to the Gear S3.

The Nixon is significantly more difficult, making the process of switching wristbands quite a bit more time-consuming. This is mainly because it requires the use of specialized, tiny hex keys. The Ticwatch and Nixon both use magnets to align the charging connector, similar to the Apple Watch but much more finicky.

The Fitbit Ionic has a charging connector that plugs into the back of the watch, but we found it could easily be disconnected with only minor movement.


The remaining watch — the Asus ZenWatch 3, was a little more difficult to use, earning it a subpar 4 out of 10. This model complies with the IP67 level of waterproofness, meaning it is suitable for taking in the shower or for brief periods of complete submersion. The Asus didn't have a crown scroll or the most responsive of touchscreens. It could be twitchy and delayed at times.

The Apple Watch had a full set of Smart Functions available  like responding to text messages.
The Apple Watch had a full set of Smart Functions available, like responding to text messages.

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 Twitter) and tried to install them on each model. This group of tests made up 20% of the total score, with the following chart showing how all of the models scored.


The Apple Watch Series 3 took home the top score when it came to smart functions, earning an 8 out of 10. This model was compatible Uber, Facebook Messenger, Strava, IFTTT (If this, then that), Evernote, Shazam, Instagram, and Twitter. It was also compatible with Spotify, though the functionality was limited. The Apple Watch Series 3 does let you take calls on your wrist, using its built-in microphone and speaker. The sound quality was about average, being able to easily hear the other party talking with your 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.

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.

Next, the LG Watch Sport earned a 7 out of 10. The LG Watch Sport lacked some of the app compatibility that the Apple Watch had, completely unable to use Instagram, Twitter, and Evernote and only able to use Facebook Messenger with limited functionality. However, this model did have more functionality with the Spotify app than the Apple Watch. This model works with Google Pay and does have a built-in GPS module. You can take calls on the watch and it had slightly better audio quality than the Apple Watch. Music controls will automatically appear when relevant as well.

The built-in speaker and microphone of the Watch 2 allow you to take calls right on your wrist.
The built-in speaker and microphone of the Watch 2 allow you to take calls right on your wrist.

Following this trio of top performers, the Samsung Gear S3 and the Huawei Watch 2 earned a 6 out of 10. This model was compatible with substantially fewer apps than the two previously mentioned models, severely hurting its score. The Gear S3 only worked with Spotify and a limited version of Twitter called Trends for Gear that will show you the trending topics of the day.

The Gear S3 only works with a watered down version of Twitter  only showing current trends.
The Gear S3 only works with a watered down version of Twitter, only showing current trends.

This model does have a microphone and speaker, allowing you to take calls and had about average sound quality. You can control music through the watch, but you can't thumb up or down songs on Pandora. The Gear S3 uses Samsung Pay and has a built-in GPS.

The LG Watch Sport is compatible with an impressive array of apps  almost on par with the Apple Watch.
The LG Watch Sport is compatible with an impressive array of apps, almost on par with the Apple Watch.

The Watch 2 is compatible with Uber, Shazam, IFTTT, Strava, Spotify, and Facebook Messenger, putting it above average in terms of app compatibility. It was difficult to capture a screenshot — like all other Wear OS watches — and has similar music controls. This model does set itself apart by having both NFC and a dedicated GPS — something its predecessor lacked. It also has a built-in microphone and speaker, allowing you to make and take calls right from your wrist.

Next, the Ticwatch E, the Asus ZenWatch 3, the Samsung Gear Sport, and the Nixon Mission all earned a 5 out of 10 for their average suite of smart functions. Every model in this group with the exception of the Gear Sport all had identical app compatibility, working with Facebook Messenger, Spotify, Strava, IFTTT, and Shazam. These watches all have the Wear OS operating system by Google, which means the capabilities of these watches in terms of app compatibility is always changing

Only the Ticwatch E and Asus ZenWatch could be used to take calls, with the sound quality on the ZenWatch 3 to be poor to average. While the Ticwatch claims to have this ability and we have seen videos of users demonstrating it, we never really got it to successfully and reliably work, which might be something to consider if you are extremely attached to that feature. The Nixon Mission lacks a speaker but still will notify you that you have an incoming call.

The Nixon will only notify you of an incoming call  requiring you to pull out your phone to answer.
The Nixon will only notify you of an incoming call, requiring you to pull out your phone to answer.

All of these models could adequately control your music, but none of these had any sort of payment capabilities or NFC communication. The Nixon and the Ticwatch are the only models of this group to have a built-in GPS module, with the Asus ZenWatch and the Watch relying on the phone's GPS unit for navigation.

The Samsung Gear Sport had a smaller range of app compatibility, lacking the ability to work with Strava, IFTTT, or Shazam. It will notify you of incoming calls, though you have to answer them on your phone, rather than on the device itself. However, if you also have your phone paired with a set of Bluetooth earbuds or headphones, it will allow you to answer the call from the watch itself. The Gear Sport does have a built-in GPS, as well as the ability to pay for transactions using Samsung Pay and control your music.

Finishing out this metric is the Fitbit Ionic earning a 4 out of 10 and the Fitbit Versa earning a 3 out of 10 for their overall lackluster showing when it came to being smart. This pair of watches both use the Fitbit app store, which is quite limited currently, though there are more and more apps becoming available as developers jump on the smart Fitbit bandwagon.


Some of the main apps that these watches are currently compatible with are Uber, Starbucks, Strava, and Pandora.
There is no bezel or crown to assist in navigating menus.
There is no bezel or crown to assist in navigating menus.

You don't have the ability to take phone calls on the Ionic and it lacks standalone LTE connectivity, but it does have Fitbit Pay and the ability to control your music.

The Fitbit Versa mostly shares the same app compatibility with the Ionic and also lacks a built-in speaker or microphone to take calls on your wrist, but it will allow you to answer or decline them.


You can set which push notifications you want the watch to display, as well as respond to messages with a set of pre-programmed responses or fitness-themed emojis.


However, the response function is only available to Android or Samsung users at the time of writing. The Versa has the standard music controls and can also pair directly with a pair of Bluetooth earbuds for standalone music playback if you don't want to bring your phone. Unfortunately, the Versa lacks a dedicated GPS module, instead using the one in your smartphone, forcing you to bring it along if you want GPS-based fitness tracking or other location services. The standard edition of the Versa also lacks an NFC chip to utilize the Fitbit Pay. The special edition does have this chip, but retails for about $30 more, but still lacks a dedicated standalone GPS.

Most smartwatch faces will let you customize them with what you want to see  even your favorite photo.
Most smartwatch faces will let you customize them with what you want to see, even your favorite photo.

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 scores and the following chart shows how the watches stacked.


Once again, the Apple Watch Series 3, Samsung Gear S3 and the Samsung Gear Sport all tied for the top score in this metric, all earning an 8 out of 10. All of these models were very easy to see in bright and dark lighting conditions. The Apple Watch is square shaped, while the Samsung Gear S3 and the Gear Sport sport fully-circular displays, without a clipped, "flat tire" section at the bottom.

The Gear S3 has a fully-circular display.
This model has a clipped  flat tire display.

We did think the Apple Watch Series 3 had a slightly higher-quality screen with its OLED Retina Displays than the Gear S3 with its AMOLED screen. The Apple Watch comes in two sizes: 42m and 38mm, with the larger screen having a slightly better resolution.

The display on the Apple Watch was the best of the group and made it very easy to use.
The display on the Apple Watch was the best of the group and made it very easy to use.

However, the Apple Watch lacks automatic brightness adjust and does not have an always-on mode — both features are present on the S3 and the Gear Sport.

The Gear Sport has a super AMOLED screen, but we still felt that the quality of the Apple Retina displays is slightly higher.

The pair of smartwatches from came next, with the Versa and the Ionic both earning a 7 out of 10 for their excellent, but still second-tier screens. The Fitbit Versa has a very visually stunning square LCD display, measuring in at 1.34" across and having a resolution of 300x300.


Unfortunately, it is a bit hard to read the text in bright lighting conditions, mainly due to the white-on-black color scheme they picked, with the sun usually washing out the text when outside on a sunny day. We did like the automatic brightness adjustment modes, but would have liked to see the ability to set the display to be always-on at any time, not just when using the watch to workout.


The Fitbit Ionic also has a great display, almost matching that of the Samsung Gear Sport or the Gear S3. It is a rectangular 348x250 display that will automatically adjust its brightness to ambient light conditions, but it is still a little harder to read than the Apple or Samsung watches in bright lighting conditions. It also can only be set to be always-on during workouts, rather than at any time, like the Samsung watches.

You can setup the display to be always on or auto adjust brightness.
You can setup the display to be always on or auto adjust brightness.

Next, the bulk of the group all scored the same, with the Nixon Mission, LG Watch Sport, and Asus ZenWatch 3 all earning a 6 out of 10. These three watches all had essentially identical screen, ranging from a 1.39" to 1.4" full circle AMOLED or P-OLED screen.

The LG Watch Sport had a very easy to read display.
The LG Watch Sport had a very easy to read display.

All three of these have an always-on mode available and automatic brightness adjustment. The main differentiating factor between this group of three watches was reading them in bright light. The LG Watch Sport was the easiest to see but it was still harder to see than the Apple Watch Series 3and Samsung Gear S3. The Asus was just a little bit dimmer than the LG and the Nixon was the dimmest and hardest to read of the entire group.

The display of the Watch 2 was a little on the small side.
The display of the Watch 2 was a little on the small side.

The Huawei Watch 2 and the Ticwatch E rounded out the back of the pack in our display metric, both earning a subpar 5 out of 10. The display on the Watch 2 was one of the smaller ones of the group, measuring in at 1.2". This 390 x 390 AMOLED screen appeared even smaller than it actually was, due to it being recessed in the watch bezel significantly more than other models.


The Ticwatch has a slightly larger 400x400, 1.4" fully circular display, though it has a slightly lower dpi than the Watch 2. It's not super easy to read in bright conditions and won't automatically adjust the brightness of the backlight. However, there is an always-on mode that you enable if the time to wake is too long for you, at the expense of battery life.

The LG Watch Sport was subpar at fitness tracking but could track your bicycle rides.
The LG Watch Sport was subpar at fitness tracking but could track your bicycle rides.

Fitness Impact


The technology in these products has progressed to the point that it is now possible to fit in a full suite of fitness tracking abilities, in addition to all of the smart functions. We compared the accuracy of the step counter and heart rate monitor, as well as evaluated the workout tracking and stair tracking abilities. You can see how each product scored in the chart below.


The Huawei Watch 2 lead the pack in this metric, earning an unparalleled 9 out of 10 for its superior fitness tracking performance. While this watch had quite an accurate step counter, we did note a discrepancy of about 1.8% off of our manual count on a mile walk, or about 39 steps.

While it wasn't the most accurate step counter  the Watch 2 was quite accurate.
While it wasn't the most accurate step counter, the Watch 2 was quite accurate.

We did like that this model had its own app for monitoring heart rate and would monitor your pulse continuously when using the "Workout" app, refreshing about 12 times a minute. It will also log the vertical feet climbed each day as a daily tracking metric. While this model did well in our rankings of step counts, stair counts, and heart rate measuring, it was the workout tracking that vaulted this watch to the front of the pack. With three different workout apps (Google Fit, Runtastic, and Workout) to choose from, you have a plethora of different athletic profiles to choose from.

The Watch 2 had by far the largest set of workout profiles available.
The Watch 2 had by far the largest set of workout profiles available.

There are a ton of different athletic metrics logged for each activity, such as duration, speed, average heart rate, pace, and route, to name a few.

The Samsung Gear S3 and the Gear Sport tied for the runner-up position, both earning a score of 8 out of 10. These watches did very well at accurately counting steps, giving some of the most accurate counts of the group. The Gear S3 only differed from our manual step count by 0.8%, while the Samsung Gear Sport was even closer, only deviating by about 0.15%. Only the Nixon was more accurate at tracking steps. The Gear S3 and Gear Sport also tied for the best score in our heart rate accuracy test, along with the Huawei Watch 2 being within five bpm of the chest strap heart rate monitor on average.

While these models did well at step and heart rate tracking, the Gear S3 did an exceptional job at tracking workouts and flights of stairs climbed. It will automatically detect workouts after you have been doing them for over 10 minutes, recording a whole host of stats for a wide variety of activities. This model did the best out of the bunch at tracking flights of stairs, only missing one in the course of our testing.

The Gear S3 had one of the widest variety of trackable workouts.
The Gear S3 had one of the widest variety of trackable workouts.

The Gear Sport exceeded the performance of the S3 at tracking workouts, adding in swimming, but tended to miss a decent number of flights of stairs climbed.

The Fitbit Versa and the Apple Watch Series 3 are right on the heels of the S3 and Gear Sport, both earning a 7 out of 10 for their exceptional fitness tracking capabilities.

The Apple Watch Series 3 performed practically the same as the S3 in terms of step count and heart rate accuracy but lagged behind at tracking workouts. You need to initiate the workout by tapping the icon of a running figure. The Apple Watch lacks an altimeter, have fewer activity profiles than the Samsung models, and lack the ability to track flights of stairs climbed.

The Apple Watch does a solid job at fitness tracking.
The Apple Watch does a solid job at fitness tracking.

The Versa scored exceptionally well in our step count accuracy assessment, only wavering from the true manual count by 5 steps or so in each of our mile-long trials. It also scored quite highly in our heart rate monitoring test, matching up with our control chest strap heart rate monitor very closely. It would waiver if your heart rate was changing rapidly, but this is a common problem for almost all wrist heart rate monitors.

This smartwatch has a respectable set of workout tracking profiles built into the device and you also have the option of adjusting these in the app.


You can track basic fitness stacks, such as distance, speed, estimated calories burned, average speed, and duration, though you do need to take your phone for the connected GPS to get the full set of tracking data. Additionally, the Versa also offers a built-in app called "Coach" that offers short guided workouts for when you need some extra inspiration about what to do.


The Versa also very accurately tracked the flights of stairs climbed in our test, accurately registering and recording 10 out of 10.

Following in the footsteps of the top scoring models, the Fitbit Ionic earned a 6 out of 10. The Fitbit Ionic didn't do terribly well in this metric, a bit of a surprise with Fitbit's origins as a fitness tracking company. It was decently accurate at counting steps, only deviating about 1.8% from the true manual count, but we weren't terribly impressed by its performance at measuring a heart rate in our tests. We found it to be a little erratic and it took a long time to settle on a stable reading. It also deviated substantially from the chest strap heart rate monitor we were comparing the reading to during a mild workout. The Ionic did have a decent number of workout profiles and is quite accurate at tracking flights of stairs climbed.

The Ionic is accurate at counting steps.
The Ionic is accurate at counting steps.

Next was the Nixon Mission earning a 5 out of 10 for its reasonable fitness tracking capabilities. While the Nixon was accurate at counting steps, this watch had a relatively lackluster score in other fitness tracking aspects, dropping its scores considerably. This model didn't have a heart rate monitor or stair tracking. It did utilize the Google Fit Activity app.

This app is about average, covering a handful of different activity profiles. The Nixon also has an additional Ski and Surf tracking features — a perfect match for its rugged, waterproof case.

The Mission by Nixon can track your skiing  riding  and surfing sessions  as well as provide a report on the conditions at your favorite spots.
The Mission by Nixon can track your skiing, riding, and surfing sessions, as well as provide a report on the conditions at your favorite spots.

Rounding out the back of the pack, the Ticwatch E, the Asus ZenWatch 3, and the LG Watch Sport all earned a 4 out of 10 for their overall lackluster fitness tracking performance. The Asus' step count only differed from the manual by 3.2%. On the other hand, the LG Watch Sport had the largest discrepancy of the entire group with a difference of 8.1% in our test, or 172 steps. The Ticwatch is almost as bad, exhibiting an average discrepancy of 7.25% in our tests,

However, the LG Watch and the Ticwatch both have a heart rate monitor that we found to be somewhat accurate. They were both usually within 5 bpm of the chest strap while resting, but the Ticwatch would usually exhibit discrepancies that were quite large when exercising, usually differing from the chest strap by at least 10 bpm.


Neither of these watches has an altimeter for tracking the flights of stairs climbed throughout the day, but both have built-in GPS modules for tracking workout data when you leave your phone behind. These both rely on the Google Fit app for this, having the identical set of workout profiles to choose from.


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%. This is because the batteries in these watches don't charge linearly, and will 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. This set of tests made up 15% of the total score and the following graphic shows the results.


The Fitbit Ionic took home the top spot in this metric, earning an 8 out of 10 for its superb battery life. It lasted a whopping 96 hours of normal use --- about 20 hours longer than the next closest contender.

The Ionic has great battery life.
The Ionic has great battery life.

It also charged decently fast, hitting 50% in just 45 minutes of charging and 100% after 123 minutes.

The Fitbit Versa, the Gear S3, the Gear Sport, and the Asus ZenWatch 3 all tied for second place in this group of tests, all meriting a 7 out of 10 for their solid battery life.

The Gear S3 lasted the longest of this group, holding on for an amazing 76 hours before the battery was completely dead, followed by the 72 hours of the Gear Sport. The Versa came next, remaining on for 57 hours of our testing process before calling it quits.


This trio of watches all lasted significantly longer than the Asus ZenWatch3, which only stayed on for about 30 hours. However, the Asus redeemed itself in our charge time test, boosting its score greatly. This smartwatch charges amazingly fast, hitting 50% charge after only 10 minutes on the charger and 100% after 55 minutes. This is substantially better than the Gear S3, which took 63 minutes to get to 50% and over two hours to completely charge and the Gear Sport, which took about 75 minutes to get to 50% and about three hours to charge.

The Versa did a bit better than the pair of Samsung watches, but couldn't come close to matching the ZenWatch3, taking about 37 minutes to reach 50% battery and 105 minutes to completely recharge.

Next, the Apple Watch Series 3, Huawei Watch 2, and the Nixon Mission all earned a 6 out of 10. The Watch 2 made it 36.5 hours before entering a low-power, limited functionality "Watch Mode". The Series 3 lasted about 36 hours, followed closely by the Nixon with a 31.5-hour battery life. A key thing to remember is that this test was based on normal, light use and battery life will be significantly shorter by using more power hungry components, such as the built-in GPS.

The Watch 2 and Nixon did quite well in our charge time tests, both taking around 30 minutes to charge to 50% and 80-90 minutes to totally top off. The Series 3 took 75 minutes to hit 50% and 110 minutes to completely charge.

The LG Watch Sport and the Ticwatch E both earned a 5 out of 10 for their average battery. The LG Watch Sport lasted for 31.5 hours of normal use, comparable to the Nixon. However, it takes a little longer to charge — about 50 minutes to hit halfway and 105 minutes to complete, just slightly faster than the Apple Watch.


The Ticwatch E lasted for about 21.5 hours in our normal usage test — one of the shortest times of the group. This means you might get 2 days out of the watch, but most likely you are going to want to charge it every night or at some point every day. However, this model does charge quite quickly, only taking about 35 minutes to hit 50% and 75 minutes to completely top off a dead battery.

Conclusion


Finding the perfect piece of wearable technology for your wrist can be exceedingly difficult, with an enormous variety of makes and models available, all compatible with different operating systems and apps. Hopefully, this review has helped to thin down the pack and put you on the right path to finding your new smartwatch.
David Wise and Austin Palmer

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