Person wearing Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
Samsung
Update, 09/22/2022: We’ve reviewed our recommendations and are confident these are still the best smartwatches you can buy.

What to Look for in a Smartwatch in 2022

Smartwatches have come a long way in the last few years. They are no longer just a novelty item and can help you reduce your reliance on a smartphone. However, while buying a new smartwatch, you have to keep a few things in mind.

The first thing you want to consider is compatibility. You want a smartwatch that works with your phone. For example, the Apple Watch only works with iPhones. So if you’re an Android user, Apple Watch doesn’t make sense for you.

Secondly, if you are into fitness and sports, ensure that your smartwatch can track the activities and exercise you participate in. While most smartwatches offer basic fitness tracking, the number of exercises or workouts they can track varies. The presence of GPS in a smartwatch is also helpful for mapping runs or bike rides if you don’t want to take your smartphone with you.

Another feature to pay close attention to is battery life, which is one of the biggest complaints about smartwatches. Many popular smartwatches can only last about a day or two on a single charge. If you don’t want another device to charge daily, pick a smartwatch that can last for at least a few days, if not a week.

Lastly, the design and build of your smartwatch are also important. You want something that you still want to wear after the newness goes away, and also something that fits on your wrist comfortably.

With all this out of the way, now it’s time to jump into our recommendations.

Best Smartwatch Overall: Apple Watch Series 8

Apple Watch 8 with incoming phone call
Apple

Pros

  • Huge selection of apps available
  • Excellent fitness and health tracking
  • Faster charging
  • Improved dust and waterproofing

Cons

  • Mediocre battery life
  • Expensive compared to other smartwatches

The Apple Watch remains firmly cemented in its position as the world’s most popular smartwatch, no doubt due to the sleek design, wealth of available apps, and continual improvements in every new model. The Apple Watch Series 8, although not a huge update, continues to show why Apple deserves that top spot.

The watch is visually identical to the Series 7 in almost every way. The 45mm model features the same 1.9inch sapphire display, body dimensions, and buttons. There are a few new color choices, but that is the limit of the aesthetic changes. The upgrades are all on the inside.

Just like the Series 7, it can measure your blood oxygen level, take ECG, and check your heart rate. Where the 8 begins to differ is in the new temperature sensor and extra motion sensors. The former helps track your body’s cycles, the latter can more accurately detect a crash and automatically initiate an emergency call.

The Series 8 ships with watchOS 9. Like with the watch, this is more of an incremental OS update than a complete overhaul. There are several fitness app improvements, alongside new tools to take advantage of the extra sensors. These include a menstrual cycle tracker and a more detailed sleep monitor.

The battery can last up to 18 hours, even with the always-on display enabled. That estimate jumps up to 36 hours if using low-power mode. Even then, the battery life is one of the few areas where the Apple Watch falls short of its rivals, including the Galaxy Watch 5. Luckily, charging is quicker thanks to the fast-charge capability. An 80% charge takes just 45 minutes.

If you already have a Series 7 Apple Watch, may not be worth upgrading to the Series 8, unless some of the new features are game-changers for you. But if you are upgrading from an earlier model or looking to buy your first smartwatch, the Apple Watch Series 8 should be top of your list.

Best Smartwatch Overall

Apple Watch Series 8

The best smartwatch money can buy right now. Excellent fitness and health tracking, premium materials and a great display. If you have an iPhone, this watch can’t be beaten.

Best Budget Smartwatch: Amazfit GTS 2 Mini

Amazfit smartwatch on table
Amazfit

Pros

  • Long battery life
  • SpO2 and heart-rate sensors
  • Attractive design and bright display

Cons

  • No third-party app support
  • Trouble locking in GPS signal

If you aren’t looking to spend a lot on your smartwatch, the Amazfit GTS 2 Mini is a great value-for-money pick. It features an attractive design that looks elegant and will go well with everything from business attire to workout clothes. The smartwatch also packs a bright OLED screen.

The Amazfit GTS 2 Mini is also full of health and fitness tracking features and can monitor your heart rate, stress levels, and sleep. In addition, the watch has over 70 sports modes to track your workouts and includes a SpO2 sensor to measure blood oxygen levels.

Battery life is another highlight of the GTS 2 Mini, and it will last over five days with an always-on display and heavy usage. If you are a light user and turn off the always-on display, you can increase the backup to over a week.

Among other features, there is support for Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant, so you can ask the smartwatch to check the weather, set alarms, create lists, and a lot more. GPS is also present for mapping your runs and bike rides, but the smartwatch takes a lot of time to lock on the GPS signal.

In addition, the GTS 2 Mini lacks support for third-party apps, so you are stuck with whatever you get pre-installed on the smartwatch. But that’s the sacrifice you’ll have to make for a budget smartwatch.

Best Budget Smartwatch

Amazfit GTS 2 Mini

The Amazfit GTS 2 Mini hits the sweet spot between cheap fitness trackers and feature-rich smartwatches. It has a bright screen, long battery life, and an attractive design.

Best Fitness Tracker: Garmin Venu 2

Garmin Venu 2 watches
Garmin

Pros

  • Bright AMOLED display
  • Excellent battery life
  • Plenty of tracking options

Cons

  • Limited smart features
  • No mic
  • Expensive

The Garmin Venu 2 is a serious fitness watch with a pleasing design. It has an understated look that many people will appreciate. You also get a gorgeous AMOLED screen that gets bright enough to remain visible in sunlight.

Being a fitness-centric watch, it has tons of nifty features that fitness enthusiasts will like. For example, the Garmin Venu 2 can track indoor climbing, bouldering, snowboarding, and more, apart from your standard running, walking, and cycling. There are also advanced training modes that let you target muscle areas or record your weight training data. Additionally, the watch packs high-intensity activity timers to work up a sweat. Overall, there are over 25 activity modes.

In other features, the Garmin Venu 2 is swim-proof, includes a heart-rate monitor, and has a SpO2 sensor to record blood oxygen levels.

The app selection is limited, but you get most smartwatch basics, like notifications from your phone, the ability to play music, and NFC payments support via Garmin Pay. The smartwatch supports both Android and iPhone, but you can’t respond to notifications on the iPhone. If you want that functionality, you’ll want another smartwatch.

It’s worth noting the Venu 2 lacks some smartwatch features that are available on other popular smartwatches, like onboard maps or a voice assistant. But the Venu 2 makes up for its relative lack of smart features with battery life. It can go up to three days with an always-on display and heavy usage. If you turn off the always-on display feature, the battery goes up to six days.

The Garmin Venu 2 comes in a single 45mm size and has two color options. You can also buy the Garmin Venu 2S, which has the same features as the Venu 2 but is available in 40mm size and four colors.

Best Fitness Tracker

Garmin Venu 2

The Garmin Venu 2 is a slick smartwatch that focuses on fitness features while keeping many of the smartwatch basics.

Review Geek's Review Score: 9/10

Best Smartwatch for Battery Life: Fitbit Versa 3

Fitbit Versa 3s on grey background
Fitbit

Pros

  • Can last upto six days
  • Bright and crisp display
  • Plenty of fitness and health features

Cons

  • Limited selection of apps

The Fitbit Versa 3 is a terrific option if you want a smartwatch that doesn’t skimp on the fitness and smart features and can still offer an excellent battery life. It lasts about six days without an always-on display and moderate usage. Even with the always-on display enabled, you’ll be able to get three days of battery life. The watch also supports fast charging, which gets you 24 hours of juice in just 12 minutes of charge.

The Versa 3 looks elegant and packs a bright and crisp AMOLED screen that is easy to see in sunlight. Moreover, thanks to Fitbit App Gallery, you get access to over 10,000 watch faces, so you can customize your smartwatch just the way you want.

It also boasts plenty of health and fitness features. You get the basic all-day tracking of steps, heart rate, hourly activity, calories burned, floors climbed, and more. In addition, the watch also pushes you to be really active with Active Zone Minutes.

You earn Active Zone Minutes by spending your workout time in Fat Burn, Cardio, or Peak heart-rate zones. Moreover, there is a built-in GPS, a SpO2 sensor, and sleep monitoring support.

While there aren’t as many apps for the Fitbit smartwatch as Apple Watch Series 7 or Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, you get the most useful smart features like notifications, the ability to take calls, voice assistants, music playback, and more.

The Fitbit Versa 3 is available in a single size and five color options.

Best Smartwatch for Battery Life

Fitbit Versa 3

Those looking for a good smartwatch that excels on the battery front will be happy with the Fitbit Versa 3.

Best Smartwatch for Kids: TickTalk 4

TickTock watches on pink background
TickTock

Pros

  • GPS for location tracking
  • Secure calling and messaging
  • Cameras for video calls

Cons

  • Big and bulky
  • No geofencing

The TickTalk 4 is a feature-rich smartwatch for kids. This smartwatch comes with GPS location tracking, two-way talk, text support, and parental controls. Thanks to the included selfie cameras, your child can also make video calls to family members or send video/photo messages.

In terms of the safety features, an SOS button is present, and you can set it to call 911 or parents. In addition, the smartwatch doesn’t allow internet access and can limit calls to and from a maximum of 53 parent-approved contacts.

A pre-installed iHeart Radio Family app allows kids to stream music, podcasts, and stories for free to keep them engaged. There is also built-in support for activity tracking, and you can set daily step goals for your child.

As the watch is enclosed in a thick, water-resistant case to make it more durable, the TickTalk 4 feels big and bulky, and some children may not want to wear it. Also, the smartwatch needs a $10 per month subscription to Red Pocket Mobile in the US for cellular services. You can use AT&T or T-Mobile SIM cards, but their plans will cost more.

Best Smartwatch for Kids

TickTalk 4

The TickTalk 4 is a durable, kid-friendly smartwatch. It has tons of features for both kids and parents, including secure texting, video calls, and GPS tracking.

Best Android Smartwatch: Samsung Galaxy Watch 5

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 on pink background
Samsung

Pros

  • Made from high-quality materials
  • Modern, stylish design
  • Very good fitness features
  • Easy customization through the Play Store

Cons

  • Battery life could be better

Samsung is working hard to close the gap with Apple, the clear smartwatch market leader. The Galaxy Watch 5, the second wearable from Samsung to use Google’s Wear OS, is a step in the right direction. This attractive and feature-rich smartwatch is a very viable alternative to the Apple Watch, particularly if you’re already invested in the Samsung ecosystem.

The Galaxy Watch 5 sticks with the traditional circular form of all Samsung smartwatches, albeit with a more modern style than some earlier models. The watch body is made from aluminum, with a new sapphire display that is significantly stronger than the Gorilla Glass used by many other premium smartwatches.

There are two watch sizes, 40mm and 44mm, and several different colors to choose from. A Pro model is also available, which replaces the aluminum body with titanium and adds a bigger battery for an extra $150. Samsung’s decision to use standard strap lugs allows for even more customization, letting you use any watch strap with a 20mm fitting.

One of the main focuses of smartwatches is health, and the Galaxy Watch 5 has plenty of fitness features on offer. You can track a wide range of workout activities using the Samsung Health app, as well as heart rate, blood oxygen, ECG, sleep patterns, and body composition statistics. You can even wear it while swimming thanks to its IP68 waterproof rating.

Previous Samsung smartwatches that used the Tizen OS suffered from a lack of apps. The recent switch to Wear OS means you can use the familiar Google Play Store to add new apps and watch faces. A small thing, but one that really improves the appeal of the Galaxy Watch 5. The only slight disappointment is battery capacity, which isn’t terrible, but could be better.

Best Android Smartwatch

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5

With the switch to Google's Wear OS, and that impressive sapphire display, the Galaxy Watch 5 is a very viable Android alternative to the Apple Watch.

How-To Geek's Review Score: 8/10

Best Apple Smartwatch: Apple Watch Series 8

Apple Watch 8s on pink background
Apple

Pros

  • Excellent health and fitness tracking
  • Larger display with small bezel
  • Great water and dust protection

Cons

  • Battery life could be better
  • Quite expensive

If you use an iPhone, there is no better choice than the Apple Watch. The two devices work beautifully together, and it just makes sense. The Apple Watch Series 8 builds upon the models that came before it, and the result is unsurprisingly fantastic.

The smaller bezel introduced in the Series 7 remains in the 8, allowing for a larger display with barely any increase in watch size. So too does the sapphire screen, improved water and dust protection, fast charging, and the option of 41mm or 45mm variants.

The health and wellness features of the watch are even more expansive. It can track your heart rate, monitor blood oxygen level, take an ECG, and monitor your sleep. New sensors added to the Series 8 also let you monitor body temperature, which allows you to track your body’s cycles, including menstrual cycles.

watchOS 9 introduces several new features, including new workout views and better ways to track your fitness progress. There are also new apps to take advantage of those new sensors. Extra motion sensors can more accurately detect a crash and automatically initiate a call to one of your emergency contacts.

One of the few downsides of the Apple Watch Series 8 is the distinctly average battery life. The estimated 18 hours of use from a full charge isn’t great, and even when using the new low-power mode, you can only expect 36 hours before you need to plug in.

Best Smartwatch Overall

Apple Watch Series 8

If you have an iPhone, this is by far the best smartwatch choice. Fitness and health tracking options are excellent, and the larger screen, fast charging, and IP68 rating complete the package.

Profile Photo for Gaurav ShuklaGaurav Shukla
Gaurav Shukla is a technology journalist with over a decade’s experience reporting and writing about consumer technology. His work has appeared in Android Police, XDA Developers, and NDTV Gadgets 360.
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Profile Photo for Russ WareRuss Ware
Russ is a freelance writer who specializes in writing about technology. He loves exploring and figuring out how complex things work, and sharing that knowledge with others, something he has been doing online and in print for more than 15 years. When not writing for How-To Geek, Russ can usually be found planning his first novel or taking something apart to see how it works.
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