The Best Smartwatches of 2017 for Android & iOS

The top three models in our test  all winning an Editors' Choice award.
Searching for the best of the best when it comes to smartwatches this holiday season? We researched over 40 different models, then bought the top 12 watches available and tested them side-by-side in our quest to find the best. We spent over 200 hours comparing these wearables, ranking and scoring everything from the smart features and functions to whether or not they could track a swimming workout to determine which timepiece came out on top. Take a glance at the complete review below to see which smartwatch is the smartest, the best for iOS, Android, or Samsung users, and which one gets you the best bang for the buck.

Read the full review below ≫

Test Results and Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 12 ≪ Previous | View All | Next ≫
Rank #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product
The Apple Watch Series 2.
Apple Watch Series 3
The Samsung Gear S3
Samsung Gear S3
The Apple Watch Series 2.
Apple Watch Series 2
Samsung Gear Sport
The Huawei Watch 2.
Huawei Watch 2
Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Editors' Choice Award      Editors' Choice Award 
Price $370 List$350 List
$283.96 at Amazon
$370 List
$269.99 at Amazon
$370 List$300 List
$232.91 at Amazon
Overall Score 
100
0
76
100
0
75
100
0
74
100
0
73
100
0
65
Star Rating
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  • 5
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  • 5
  • 1
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  • 5
  • 1
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  • 5
Pros Loaded with smart functions, great display, extremely easy to useEasy to use, great display, best variety of trackable workoutsWaterproof, amazing display, widest range of app compatibilitySmaller than the S3, waterproof, great for fitness trackingFantastic fitness tracking, lots of smart functions, compatible with Android Pay and voice control
Cons Not a great battery life, priceySlow to charge, limited app compatibilityNo automatic brightness adjust, short battery lifeNo built-in speaker, reduced set of smart functionsMediocre display, unappealing aesthetic
Ratings by Category Watch Series 3 Gear S3 Watch Series 2 Gear Sport Watch 2
Ease Of Use - 30%
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
6
Smart Functions - 20%
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
5
10
0
7
Display - 20%
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
5
Fitness Impact - 15%
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
9
Battery Life - 15%
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
6
Specs Watch Series 3 Gear S3 Watch Series 2 Gear Sport Watch 2
Water Resistant Up to 50 meters IP68 + MIL-STD-810G Up to 50 meters 5 ATM 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:
Tuesday
November 28, 2017

Share:
Updated November 2017
As the holiday season rapidly approaches, the field of smartwatches has seen some strong new additions with the Apple Watch Series 3, Samsung Gear Sport, and the Fitbit Ionic. The Series 3 even unseated its predecessor, the Series 2 to claim the top spot and earn the Editors' Choice award. The Gear Sport and the Ionic fell short of claiming an award, but the Gear Sport is a great value option for the Samsung user who is a little more sports-oriented and doesn't want to foot the bill for a Gear S3. The Ionic, the first smartwatch offering from Fitbit, shows plenty of promise, but is held back by its limited smart functionality at launch. It's a solid smartwatch, but definitely leaves plenty of room for improvements. For a full analysis of these new wearables, take a look at their respective individual reviews and the comprehensive comparison review below!


Best for iPhones


Apple Watch Series 3


The Apple Watch Series 2. Editors' Choice Award

$370
List Price
See It

Waterproof to 50m
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, 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.

Read Full Review: Apple Watch Series 3


Best for Samsung Phones


Samsung Gear S3


The Samsung Gear S3 Editors' Choice Award

$283.96
at Amazon
See It

Easy to use
Great Display
Best for workout tracking
Slow to charge
Limited app selection

Finishing in the runner-up position overall, the Samsung Gear S3 also merited an Editors' Choice award as our top recommendation for those who have a Samsung smartphone. This watch distinguishes itself from the pack by having an impressive set of built-in sensors, such as a built-in GPS and an altimeter. 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.

Read Full Review: Samsung Gear S3

Best for Android Phones


Huawei Watch 2


The Huawei Watch 2. Editors' Choice Award

$232.91
at Amazon
See It

Fantastic fitness tracking
Great set of smart functions
Built-in GPS
Uninspiring Display
Average battery life

Improving on their previous model, Huawei hit it out of the park with the Watch 2. This is the first watch from Huawei to utilize the newly-minted Android Wear 2.0 and showcases a series of improvements from its predecessors. The Watch 2 incorporates a built-in GPS unit and NFC (Near Field Communication) to allow you to use Android 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 Bang for the Buck


Asus ZenWatch 3


The Asus ZenWatch 3. Best Buy Award

$230
List Price
See It

Good battery life
Lots of Smart Functions
Good display
Average battery life
Mediocre fitness tracking

Looking to get a smartwatch, but don't want to drop over $300 on one? Then the Asus ZenWatch 3 is a great choice, earning the Best Buy award. This wasn't the best out there but it gets the job done, displaying basic notifications, has decent app compatibility, and can function as a bare-bones fitness tracker. It can't monitor your heart rate, but it is reasonably accurate at counting steps and has a few different types of workouts that it can track. This is the model you should pick if you don't want to break your budget and can accept a minimalistic set of features.

Read Full Review: Asus ZenWatch 3

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
74
$370
Even though it has been eclipsed by the Series 3, the Series 2 is still an excellent smartwatch
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
58
$300
The Fitbit Ionic shows plenty of promise, but is dragged down by its limited set of smart functions at launch
55
$300
Stylish, but costly
54
$400
Aimed towards hitting the slopes and waves, bulky and expensive
53
$299
Middle of the road watch lacking features
51
$230
Best Buy Award
Not quite as smart as the rest, but intelligent in price
40
$255
Great accessory piece for your outfit, but that's about it

Analysis and Test Results


After conducting extensive research, combing through manufacturer's claims and reading hundreds of user reviews, we purchased the top 12 smartwatches available on the market today. We put these products through an extensive barrage of tests to assess their performance and crown the winner.

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

Our testing protocol was divided into five weighted metrics: Ease of Use, Smart Functions, Fitness Impact, Battery Life, and Display. Each metric had a handful of tests, with each product receiving a subscore out of 10 in each. In total, we compared the performance of these products with over 25 side-by-side tests. Keep reading to see the results!

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, Apple Watch Series 2, Samsung Gear S3 and the Samsung Gear Sport all tied for the top score in this metric, both 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 2 and Series 3 both have 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's 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's 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's. 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 Android Wear 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 Motorola Moto 360 earned a 6 out of 10 for their above average performance in our Ease of Use metric. The Moto 360 has one of the best charging setups of the entire group — on par with the Gear S3

The Moto 360 sat securely in its cradle while charging  ensuring a reliable connection.
The Moto 360 sat securely in its cradle while charging, ensuring a reliable connection.

This model securely fits in its cradle and is exceptionally easy to align properly. This model met a lower waterproof standard, IP67, and states that it isn't meant to be used while submerged and shouldn't be worn while swimming. This model has an acceptable touchscreen, but there was a noticeable delay for the watch to wake when you lifted your wrist. It also lacks a crown or bezel scroll — something all of the top models had.

The Moto 360 did score some points for being decently easy to swap wristbands — about the same level as the Gear S3. It was more difficult to swap the bands than the Apple Watch, but the Moto 360 accommodates a wider variety of wristbands. This model also used the Android Wear app to take screenshots — plagued by similar problems as the LG Watch Sport.

TheHuawei 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 Ionic, Huawei Watch and the Nixon Mission merited a 5 out of 10 for their average performance. The Huawei Watch is rated for IP67 water protection, but states that it should not be used for swimming, diving, or prolonged submersion. The Ionic is rated for up to 50 meters, also having a dedicated profile for tracking swimming.

On the other hand, the Nixon tied for the highest score of the group when it came to being waterproof, with its impressive 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 the touchscreens are about average to use, with the Nixon being slightly less responsive than the Huawei Watch or the Fitbit Ionic.

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.

The Huawei Watch and the Nixon had longer delays to wake when you raised your wrist — about one second for the Huawei Watch and a second and a half for the Nixon, 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 models. It was reasonably easy to swap bands on the Huawei Watch and the Ionic, similar to the Moto 360 and the Gear S3. The Nixon was significantly more difficult, requiring the use of specialized, tiny hex keys. The Nixon and the Huawei Watch both use magnets to align the charging connector, similar to the Apple Watch but much more finicky. However, it was much more difficult to charge the Huawei Watch, as the locating magnets aren't quite good enough to align the connector perfectly every time, requiring you to double-check much more frequently than the Nixon.

The charging connection on the Huawei Watch was a little temperamental and required you to double check to make sure it was actually connected.
The charging connection on the Huawei Watch was a little temperamental and required you to double check to make sure it was actually connected.

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 watches — the Asus ZenWatch 3, the Fossil Q Marshall. were a little more difficult to use, earning them a subpar 4 out of 10. Both of these models comply with the IP67 level of waterproofness, meaning they are suitable for taking in the shower or for brief periods of complete submersion. Neither of these models has a crown scroll or had the most responsive touchscreens. The Asus could be twitchy and unresponsive at times, and while the Fossil was a little better, it wasn't by much. The Fossil would take about a second to wake up — just slightly slower than the Asus ZenWatch.

The Asus was far superior to the Fossil in terms of charging, on par with the Watch and Nixon. You need to line up the pins, but it will stay connected relatively easily.

It was a struggle to establish a reliable charging connection with the Fossil Q.
It was a struggle to establish a reliable charging connection with the Fossil Q.

The Fossil was extremely temperamental when it came to charging, becoming disconnected at the slightest touch. Both the Asus and the Fossil use the Android Wear app to capture a screenshot, and have the same issues as the other models that use this method.

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, boosting it above the Apple Watch Series 2 in this metric. 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 and the Apple Watch Series 2 both earned a 7 out of 10. The Apple Watch Series 2 has the exact same set of attributes as the Series 3, but lacks the standalone LTE connectivity. The LG Watch Sport lacked some of the app compatibility that the Apple Watch models 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 models. This model works with Android 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 models. 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 Android Wear 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 Asus ZenWatch 3, Huawei Watch, 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. Only the Huawei Watch and the Asus ZenWatch could be used to take calls, with the sound quality on the Huawei Watch being slightly superior to the ZenWatch 3. 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 three of these models could adequately control your music, but none of these had any sort of payment capabilities or NFC communication. The Nixon was the only model 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 were the Fitbit Ionic, Fossil Q Marshal and the Motorola Moto 360, all earning a 4 out of 10 for their slightly below average performance. The Fossil Q and the Moto 360 are both compatible with Spotify, Strava, IFTTT, and Shazam — identical to the other Android Wear 1.0 watches.

The Moto 360 had subpar app compatibility when compared to its peers.
The Moto 360 had subpar app compatibility when compared to its peers.

Neither the Fossil nor the Moto 360 had a speaker or microphone to take calls, but would notify you of an incoming one — similar to the Nixon Mission. This duo also lacked NFC technology, and thus can not be used as a payment method — though they do an average job at letting you control your music. This pair also lacks a built-in GPS in the standard version, though the Moto 360 Sport version does include one.

The Ionic launched with a limited selection of apps, only working with Strava, Pandora, and a few others.

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 Huawei Watch 1 had a reasonably good display  but not quite on par with the Apple Watch or Gear S3  and is about average to use.
The Huawei Watch 1 had a reasonably good display, but not quite on par with the Apple Watch or Gear S3, and is about average to use.

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, Series 2, 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 models are 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.
The Fossil Q Marshall has a clipped  flat tire display.
 

We did think the Apple Watch Series 3 and Series 2 had a slightly higher-quality screen with their 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 Fitbit Ionic has a great display, matching that of the Samsung Gear Sport or the Gear S3. It is a square 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.

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

All four of these have an always-on mode available, and only the Watch lacks automatic brightness adjustment. The main differentiating factor between this group of four 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 2, Samsung Gear S3, and the Fossil Q Marshall. The Huawei Watch and the Asus were just a little bit dimmer than the LG and the Nixon was the dimmest and hardest to read of the entire group.

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

The Moto 360, Huawei Watch 2, and the Fossil Q rounded out the back of the pack on our display metric, earning a subpar 5, 5, and 4 out of 10 respectively. Both the Fossil Q and the Moto 360 had slightly larger screens than the four models listed above, measuring in at 1.5" and 42mm respectively. However, these displays were LCD and LED types and just weren't as nice as the Retina, P-OLED, or AMOLED varieties. We did find that the display on the Moto 360 was vastly superior to the Fossil Q's LCD.

The Moto 360 had a slightly subpar display but wasn't too difficult to use.
The Moto 360 had a slightly subpar display but wasn't too difficult to use.

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 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.

However, the Fossil Q was much easier to see in bright light, much better than the Moto 360 or the Watch 2 and even slightly surpassing the LG Watch Sport. Neither the Fossil nor the Moto 360 have full-circle screens but all three models have an always-on mode. Only the Moto 360 and the Watch 2 will automatically adjust the brightness of the screen out of this trio, with the Fossil having manual control only.

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%, about the same as the Apple Watch Series 2, while the Samsung Gear Sport was even closer, only deviating by about 0.15%. Only the Nixon and the Fossil Q were 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 Apple Watch Series 3 and the Series 2 are right on the heels of the S3 and Gear Sport, both earning a 7 out of 10 for their fitness tracking capabilities. These models 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 models lack 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.

Following in the footsteps of the top scoring models, the Huawei Watch and the Fitbit Ionic both earned a 6 out of 10. This Huawei Watch wasn't quite as accurate as counting steps, with an average difference of 0.94% between its count and the mechanical step counter. The HR monitor was about average, being reasonably accurate (within 5 beats) but doesn't continuously refresh. This forces you to hit update to get your new measurement. The Huawei Watch does not track stairs climbed and had a much more reduced set of activity profiles — about half as many as the Gear S3.

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

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.

Next, the Fossil Q Marshal, the Motorola Moto 360, and the Nixon Mission all earned a 5 out of 10 for their reasonable fitness tracking capabilities. While the Nixon and the Fossil Q were the most accurate at counting steps, both of these watches had relatively lackluster scores in other fitness tracking aspects, dropping their scores considerably. Neither of these had heart rate monitors or stair tracking. The Moto 360 didn't have a stairs climbed tracker, wasn't a terribly accurate step counter, averaging about 3.1% off of the manual count, but it did have a heart rate monitor that was reasonably close to the chest strap heart rate monitor. All three of these models used the Android Wear Fit Activity app.

The Moto 360 uses the Google Fit app to track your workouts and logs a basic set of fitness data.
The Moto 360 uses the Google Fit app to track your workouts and logs a basic set of fitness data.

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 Asus ZenWatch 3 and the LG Watch Sport 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 par with the Moto 360. 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.

However, the LG Watch does have a heart rate monitor similar to the Watch, while the Moto 360 completely lacks one. Both the LG and the Moto 360 lack the ability to count flights of stairs, but have average workout tracking abilities — identical to the other Android Wear watches, such as the Asus ZenWatch , Fossil Q, Huawei Watch, and the Nixon Mission.

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 with 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 Gear S3, Gear Sport, and the Asus ZenWatch 3 tied for the runner-up position in this category, all earning a 7 out of 10. 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. Both of these watches substantially outlasted the meager 30 hours of the Asus. However, the Asus 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.

Next, the Apple Watch Series 3, Apple Watch Series 2, Huawei Watch, Huawei Watch 2, Moto 360, 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 Apple Watch Series 2 and Series 3 lasted about 36 hours, followed by the Moto 360 with a 34-hour battery life. These were closely followed by the 33.2 hours the Huawei Watch survived and the 31.5 hours that the Nixon held on for. 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.

Both the Huawei Watch, 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. Next was the Moto 360 with its 42 minutes to charge to halfway and just over two hours to complete. Finally, the Apple Watch Series 2 took close to an hour (55 minutes) to hit halfway but did complete in 128 minutes. The Series 3 took 75 minutes to hit 50% and 110 minutes to completely charge.

The LG Watch Sport earned a 5 out of 10 for its average battery, just narrowly being beaten by the above group of watches. It lasted for 31.5 hours of normal use, just slightly less than the Huawei Watch and 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 Fossil Q did poorly in this test, taking a very long time to charge and barely lasting a full workday. This model died after 9.2 hours of light use and took almost four hours (220 minutes) to completely charge.

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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