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Looking For a Smartwatch or Fitness Tracker? These Are the Best You Can Buy

Illustration for article titled Looking For a Smartwatch or Fitness Tracker? These Are the Best You Can Buy

From smartwatches and fitness trackers to Bluetooth rings and sleep-logging wristbands, if it’s technology you can wear, we’ve reviewed it. Whether you’re an Apple diehard or you stan for Android, these are the wearables you should buy.

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Buying forecast for 2020: Spring launches are pretty much done, and while there’s occasionally a new wearable that shows up in summer, we likely won’t see anything truly notable until fall. Expect to see a refreshed Apple Watch announced sometime in September, and if past launches are any indication, we might be seeing a new Fitbit around then, too. That said, there’s a global pandemic happening, so who knows if things will stick to schedule?

The editorial staff of Gizmodo independently test and review each product found in our Buyer’s Guides. If you purchase something using our affiliate links, G/O Media may earn a commission. Affiliate linking does not influence our editorial content.

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The best all-around smartwatch

Illustration for article titled Looking For a Smartwatch or Fitness Tracker? These Are the Best You Can Buy
Photo: Victoria Song (Gizmodo)

Who are you?

You want the best of the best and don’t mind paying for it.

Our pick: Apple Watch Series 5 ($400-$1,500)

Yes, yes, we know it’s not exciting that the Apple Watch is the best smartwatch out there. The Series 5 didn’t update much in terms of hardware; the biggest change was the addition of an always-on display powered by an LTPO screen. That said, Apple beefed up its health-tracking software for the Series 5. Now you can view 90-day trends, track reproductive health, and monitor environmental noise levels straight from your wrist. Plus, it’s still FDA-approved for ECG readings. More advanced features, like LTE connectivity and NFC payments, still work without a hitch. The only downside is battery life is still pretty short at an estimated 18 hours. However, in testing, we found the Series 5’s battery isn’t likely to run out on you before you make it home, unless you’re using it exclusively on cellular.

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Also consider

The other problem with the Apple Watch is it’s completely inaccessible to Android users. Right now, the best alternative is either the Samsung Galaxy Watch or the Galaxy Watch Active 2. Both watches run off Samsung’s proprietary Tizen operating system, which at the moment is far more intuitive to use than Google’s Wear OS. The Galaxy Watch is slightly more expensive ($330-$350), but you get a solid 3-5 days of battery life and standalone LTE. Meanwhile, the Galaxy Watch Active2 is a gorgeous, slim, full-featured smartwatch for $280. It wasn’t the most accurate at activity-tracking during our testing, but Samsung has since released multiple software updates.

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The best fitness smartwatch

Illustration for article titled Looking For a Smartwatch or Fitness Tracker? These Are the Best You Can Buy
Photo: Victoria Song (Gizmodo)
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Who are you?

You start your mornings guzzling protein shakes and are determined to crush that 10,000-step goal every day. You want a wearable with enough battery life to keep up with your epic lifestyle and don’t mind if it’s a little ugly.

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Our pick: Sunnto 7 ($500)

The Suunto 7 is a big, beefy smartwatch with an equally hefty price tag. That said, it’s also a comprehensive fitness beast. It’s extremely accurate, and also comes with the ability to download offline maps and tracks 70 sports. You also get nifty heat maps, so you can see where other Suunto users like to run, hike, and cycle. As for advanced smartwatch capabilities, you’re not missing out on that front either. You get NFC for mobile payments, as well as access to all the apps in the Google Play store—something Garmins and Polars lack with their closed ecosystems. Plus, despite the huge 50mm case, it’s actually quite light, and amazingly, it isn’t hideous.

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If you’re into working out and want your watch to keep up, Garmin and Polar always offer solid options. Both companies’ smartwatches report in-depth metrics, and while their communities are smaller, Polar and Garmin fans are loyal. We like the Polar Ignite ($230) and Vantage M ($280)—with the former being a better fit for more “casual” athletes who are interested in seeing how recovery impacts their performance. As for Garmins, the company’s Fenix 6 series is as top-of-the-line as you can get, though it also recently released its first touchscreen watch, the Venu ($300). If you’re on a tighter budget, the Timex Ironman GPS R300 ($120) is an accurate, affordable option with a monstrously long battery life.

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The best Android-friendly smartwatch

Illustration for article titled Looking For a Smartwatch or Fitness Tracker? These Are the Best You Can Buy
Photo: Victoria Song (Gizmodo)
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Who are you?

Someone who has an Android phone and wants a smartwatch that works intuitively with it.

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Our pick: Skagen Falster 3 ($295)

Wear OS still isn’t the best smartwatch platform, but as far as Wear OS watches go, the Falster 3 is an excellent choice. It’s gorgeous, and the half-leather, half-silicone strap is a stroke of absolute genius. It’s got the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 chip for speedier performance and better battery life, as well as 1GB of RAM—meaning it’s more powerful than our previous pick, the Fossil Sport.

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Also consider

If you’re not into the Falster’s minimalist look, the Fossil Gen 5 ($295) offers you the same specs and experience. The Fitbit Versa 2 doesn’t run on Wear OS (which is honestly kind of a bonus) and adds a bit more bite to what was already a good smartwatch. There’s still no standalone GPS, but you do get an always-on display and the ability to summon Alexa from your wrist. It’s got even better battery life than the previous version, lasting a whole week on a single charge. Plus, it now has Spotify. One thing that hasn’t changed? That excellent $200 price point.

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The best hybrid smartwatch

Illustration for article titled Looking For a Smartwatch or Fitness Tracker? These Are the Best You Can Buy
Photo: Victoria Song (Gizmodo)
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Who are you?

A person who takes pride in looking good and needs a smartwatch to match. Someone who values classic design with basic functionality over advanced features.

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Our pick: Fossil Hybrid HR ($195-$215)

The Fossil Hybrid HR is what Pebble fans have been clamoring for since the company was sold off to Fitbit. Not only is it a beautiful watch, its clever display is simultaneously stylish, low-power, and, most importantly, legible. You also get two weeks of battery life on a single charge, plus heart-rate monitoring. The health-tracking is on the more basic side, but you do get pretty detailed metrics for a hybrid. You can log workouts, and monitor sleep and heart rate. To round things out, you also get a good degree of customizability as far as programming buttons and watch faces go. The Hybrid HR lacks NFC payments, voice assistant compatibility, and standalone LTE, but if you’re intrigued by a hybrid, these aren’t features you’ll miss.

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The Garmin Vivomove Style is a bit pricier at $350, but it sure is a classy watch. It’s got five days of battery life, heart-rate monitoring, NFC payments, and a gorgeous hidden AMOLED display. While it looks like a typical analog watch, you can tap the screen to reveal a subtle smart display. This is the better choice for the more fitness-oriented user, as Garmin’s platform is one of the best around.

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The best non-wrist tracker

Illustration for article titled Looking For a Smartwatch or Fitness Tracker? These Are the Best You Can Buy
Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)
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Who are you?

Someone who hates watches, but wants something to track fitness or activity.

Our pick: Motiv Ring ($200)

You won’t get notifications on it, but the Motiv Ring is a fitness tracker that can pass for a minimalist ring. It tracks steps, active minutes, and even your heart rate. A recent update added biometric two-factor authentication. Miraculously, it looks nice on your finger.

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The Oura Ring also rocks that minimalist vibe, and tracks sleep and activity. It’ll just punch a slightly bigger hole in your wallet.

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The best budget fitness tracker

Who are you?

Illustration for article titled Looking For a Smartwatch or Fitness Tracker? These Are the Best You Can Buy
Photo: Victoria Song (Gizmodo)
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You want a basic fitness tracker but don’t want to pay a lot for it.

Our pick: Fitbit Charge 4 ($150)

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Fitbit’s Charge series has always been popular, but the Charge 4 makes some smart additions that make this a better pick than Fitbit’s cheaper Inspire HR band ($100). For starters, there’s built-in GPS, Spotify connectivity, and NFC payments. Fitbit also updated the software so you can now view heat maps and track how many active minutes you’re getting per week—a much better metric than the more well-known (but ultimately meaningless) goal of 10,000 steps.

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Also consider:

The Garmin Vivosmart 4 ($130) is slightly cheaper than the Charge 4, but its screen interface is wonky and you can’t swap straps. The display makes it a bit more frustrating to use during a workout than a Charge 4, and you’ll have to make peace with your color choices at checkout. You’ll get most of the same features as the Charge 4, on top of stress-tracking, and solid battery life to boot.

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How has this list changed? Read back through our update history:

5/15/2019: Added Samsung Galaxy Watch Active to the “Also Consider” for best overall smartwatch. Added Polar Vantage M as best fitness smartwatch, moved Fitbit Ionic to “Also Consider.” Replaced Fitbit Alta HR with Fitbit Inspire HR as best budget fitness tracker.

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11/14/2019: Replaced the Apple Watch Series 4 with the Series 5 for best overall smartwatch; replaced Samsung Galaxy Watch Active with the Galaxy Watch Active2 in the “Also Consider” for the same category. Replaced Fitbit Versa with the Fitbit Versa 2 for the “Also Consider” in the best Android-friendly watch category. Replaced Garmin Vivomove HR with the Fossil Hybrid HR as best hybrid smartwatch; replaced Misfit Path with the Garmin Vivomove Style for the “Also Consider” in the same category.

05/05/2020: Replaced Polar Vantage M with Suunto 7 for best fitness smartwatch; moved Polar Vantage M to “Also Consider,” along with the Polar Ignite, Garmin Venu and Fenix 6 series, and Timex Ironman GPS R300 for the same category. Replaced Fossil Sport with Skagen Falster 3 in the best Android-friendly watch category; added Fossil Gen 5 to the “Also Consider” for the same category. Replaced Fitbit Inspire HR with Fitbit Charge 4 in the best budget fitness tracker category; removed Fitbit Charge 3 from the “Also Consider” in the same category.

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Consumer tech reporter by day, danger noodle by night. No, I'm not the K-Pop star.

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DISCUSSION

I like the Versa a lot in the fitness category.  Its a good price point and has a lot of useful features - most notably sleep tracking. I also think its streamlined design is much nicer then the Ionic. My only major issue is one I’ve had with literally every fitbit, I think its a little to liberal in counting calories.  So I tend to subtract six hundred just to be sure I’m keeping myself in deficit.