The wearable tech era is here, and a smartwatch is a great way to introduce yourself to gadgets you can wear on your body. The first generations of smartwatches reinvented the watch, adding fitness tracking capabilities, notification, and music playback to the seemingly humble watch. But, in 2021, the slew of smartwatches available on the market can make it pretty tricky to pick a wearable companion, and there are loads of them to choose from on Amazon.
Fear not! This list compiles the latest and greatest smartwatches at many different price points, so you can make an informed decision on what watch to buy.
Best smartwatches for Android phones
Priced at a modest $179, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is an affordable, sleek, and stylish offering from the South Korean tech giant. Powered by Tizen OS, the Active 2 is best paired with a Samsung Galaxy phone, with its integrations with Samsung Health and Bixby, making this watch a very handy, feature-rich watch.
Active 2 has a more sophisticated fitness tracking system than its hugely popular predecessor, going beyond just tracking steps and calories. The watch analyses your workout routines to give you detailed insights on everything from your running style to your heart rate.
You can respond to texts and read them out loud from your watch. Unlike the first Watch Active, this new one has a speaker. Bixby can finally talk back to you. Want to know your calendar whilst you’re running? Get Bixby to read it to you? Want to make a phone call? Just say, “Hi Bixby… call Mum,” and the watch will start a call all through the watch!
This watch runs Tizen OS, Samsung’s bespoke Linux-based OS for non-Android tech. It’ll connect to your Android phone, but unlike any watch running Google’s Wear OS, you’re limited to apps made for Tizen.
Tizen’s home screen is based on widgets. You can arrange the widgets in any order, add and subtract Apps, and navigate by scrolling between them or use the digital haptic bezel. The digital bezel adds a bit of class to the watch and works flawlessly. The Active 2 forgoes the bulk of other smartwatches, and Amazon reviewers appreciate how light and comfortable the watch is.
If you’re an avid Samsung user, you can’t go wrong with the Watch Active 2.
Taking one look at the Amazfit GTS 2 smartwatch makes it pretty obvious where the main inspiration comes from. From its boxy cube design to its singular scroll wheel mimicking Apple’s ‘digital crown,’ the GTS 2 takes many cues from the Apple Watch line of smartwatches, and for a good reason.
With a 1.65” AMOLED HD display covered in their patented “3D glass” – which is marketing mumbo for curved glass – the big, bright, and beautiful display is the highlight of this smartwatch. Amazon reviewers prefer the GTS 2 over the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active for its bigger display, making it easy to use for sweeping functions and intricate apps.
The GTS 2 boasts a whopping 20 days of battery life for basic usage or 7 days for a typical power user charge. Amazon reviewers comment a realistic estimate of its battery life is around 8-10 days, which especially compared to other watches on the market (my Galaxy Watch Active only lasts a day) this is super impressive.
With Alexa built-in, you can talk to Amazon’s virtual assistant: allowing the watch to send texts by voice commands, make calls on the watch using the included speaker, and even control your smart home appliances connected to your Alexa app! And for when you’re not connected to the internet, Amazfit has included a handy offline voice control feature.
Powered by Amazfit OS, the GTS 2 doesn’t support third-party apps or watch faces. There’s no Spotify, no Google Fit, nada. The watch offers 3GB of storage for music and photos, so you could download MP3s and transfer them over. Also, Amazon reviewers comment on a markedly poor GPS performance.
Overall though, if you know you’re not going to be making use of third-party apps like games and connected services, the GTS 2 is a fantastic choice for someone who wants a watch that performs great and lasts a heck of a long time on a single charge!
Back in 2014, when the first generations of smartwatches brought us sluggish brutes like the Asus ZenWatch and the Pebble Steel (oh, the Pebble watches were the worst!), the Moto 360 1st gen stood out to me as the sleekest and most stylish of the bunch. Now, Motorola is back with the 3rd gen Moto 360, and it’s as good as ever.
Named by PCMag as the “best looking smartwatch you can get right now,” the main focus of this piece of tech is style and build quality. Crafted from stainless steel, with titanium screws, and with a genuine leather strap, this watch screams premium, even at its modest price of $179.
The Moto 360 2020 is powered by Google’s Wear OS (formerly Android Wear), and it is hands down the best watch OS to swear by if you’re not rocking a Samsung phone. Wear OS boasts the best selection of apps on this side of Android, including Spotify, Google Music, Google Pay, Shazam, Viber, and more!
The watch features a quick charge mechanism, giving it full juice in just over an hour! This may be useful as the battery life isn’t as great as its Amazfit counterparts. If you’re a power user, you could kill it at the end of the day, but given how quick it charges, this does seem manageable.
With built-in GPS, intelligent heart rate tracking, and sleep sensors included, the Moto360 was designed to be a beautiful looking smartwatch and powerful fitness aid.
The Moto 360 was one of the first and most popular smartwatches, and the latest edition keeps up the streak of providing a great wearable experience on Wear OS.
Looking for less smartwatch, more affordable fitness tracker? The HONOR Watch ES is a fantastic pick if you’re a fitness fanatic who wants a fitness tracker with even more bells and whistles.
The watch’s bright 1.64-inch AMOLED display makes this great to view your notifications and track your daily exercise with multiple workout patterns. This can track your heart rate, monitor your stress levels, and track your sleep. Your watch can record your step count, distance covered, calories burnt, and other data. Your watch also records data such as duration of moderate to high-intensity activity and standing.
Whilst this is a great fitness tracker, this is less so a feature-rich smartwatch. You can’t respond to texts or make calls, and so like a Fitbit, only purchase this if you want a fitness tracker first, a smartwatch second.
And it’s a fitness tracker that’ll last; with 10-day battery life, you can go ages without juicing the Watch ES up.
With its bright and beautiful display that’d rival even the Apple Watch, the Honor Watch ES falls into the camp of a premium fitness tracker. If it’s this or a Fitbit Charge, Honor’s offering comes out on top. Though, if it’s the smartwatch connected life you’re after, look elsewhere on this list. Amazfit perhaps?
Another offering running Google’s Wear OS is the premium watch brand Fossil’s Gen 5 Carlyle. Powered by Snapdragon’s Wear 3100 SoC, this watch performs like a champ, bringing smart sensing and great connectivity.
Gen 5’s improved heart-rate sensor is battery efficient so that you can check your heart rate anytime you’re on the move. The Gen 5’s integration with Google Fit makes it super easy to track your workout, giving you real-time progress on your fitness goals.
Wear OS’s superior choice of apps, and use of Google Assistant make this great if you’re super into the Google ecosystem. Control your smart home appliances from your watch, check the weather, send messages, and take calls straight from your phone.
The battery is rated to last 24 hours on typical usages, but there are multi-day modes to stretch how long your watch will last between charges. Battery life isn’t anything special, but if you keep on top of charging it every night, you shouldn’t run into issues.
With excellent hardware and excellent software, the Fossil Gen 5 is often regarded as the reigning king of Wear OS smartwatches. And until Google do us all a favor and make a Pixel Watch, that’ll be your best bet for team Google.
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