Best Smartwatch 2022: Wearables For Android & iPhone – Tech Advisor

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Smartwatches are a great way to receive notifications from your phone and track your health, right from your wrist. We’ve used and reviewed all of the latest smartwatches for Android and iPhone, and here we’ve ranked ten of the best.
The latest Apple Watch may seem like the obvious choice, but there are loads of great rivals to choose from whether you use Android or an iPhone, with excellent hardware from Samsung, Huawei, Amazfit, and others.
In this ranking we’re focussed on fully featured smartwatches, with some level of app and notification support, but check out our guide to the best fitness trackers if you want something simpler – and probably cheaper.
Pros
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While the Series 7 is only an incremental upgrade over 2020’s Series 6, that doesn’t stop it from being one of the best smartwatches you can buy; if you have an iPhone, that is.
Along with all of the additions and improvements from the previous year’s Apple Watch – namely an always-on altimeter and blood oxygen monitoring – the Series 7 also incorporates fast charging (that’s 33% quicker than before) and a new display that’s 20% larger, while bezels are around 40% thinner; giving the Watch a more cutting-edge look while retaining compatibility with existing Apple Watch straps.
Running watchOS 8 out of the box also means newfound support for workout activities like pilates and helpful new safety features, like fall detection whilst cycling.
The Apple Watch SE is also still a viable alternative for those that aren’t too fussed about features like ECG and blood oxygen monitoring, and want to save a bit of money on an Apple Watch.
We’ll also be reviewing the new Apple Watch 8, Ultra, and updated SE soon, so keep an eye out for how those affect our smartwatch ranking.
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The Galaxy Watch 5 has a good claim to being the ‘default’ smartwatch for Android phone owners, though that does come with a big caveat: if your handset isn’t made by Samsung then not every feature will work, including health tracking extras like the ECG.
Even if you don’t use a Samsung phone you shouldn’t write this off though. The Watch 5 comes in two casing sizes, along with a range of colours for personalisation. The whole design is contemporary, complete with a digital bezel that uses haptic feedback, too.
The Watch 5 is a premium feature-packed smartwatch with the Google Play Store and support for a wealth of third-party apps. It’s also surprisingly affordable, so there’s no need to break the bank.
One final word of caution: we found the battery life on the smaller 40mm model erratic and unreliably, but the larger cell in the 44mm variant should make that a safer bet.
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Replacing the Ionic as the most well-rounded Fitbit, the Fitbit Sense adds a lot of new health features at the top-end of the company’s range.
You could call it the hypochondriac’s smartwatch, it’s so full of warning signs, but there’s a lot here that will help indicate serious health problems that you will have the chance to improve upon.
Mindfulness might seem a little kooky to some and a concern for those with too much time on their hands, but there is no denying that stress can affect us all, and managing it will quickly bring not just mental but long-term physical health benefits.
For all-round physical and mental health tracking, the Sense is the Fitbit with it all; provided you can swing the high price. It’s been replaced by the Sense 2, which we’re reviewing right now, so will soon add into this ranking.
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This is the most advanced wearable in Samsung’s collection, offering the same combination of in-depth health and fitness tracking metrics including body composition as the regular Galaxy Watch 5 along with outdoor exercise-focused features like track back and turn-by-turn navigation, a larger display, and much improved multi-day battery.
There’s also the impressive durability to consider, with a display 90% stronger than the Galaxy Watch 4 series, the ability to survive a dunk in the sea and a titanium case that can take a knock or two. It’s certainly more robust than the stylish Galaxy Watch 5, though this does also mean that it’s larger and bulkier, with a single 45mm casing option that looked big even on my fairly large wrists.
The catch is that certain fitness features are locked to those with a Samsung phone, so other Android owners will find the experience slightly limited – and it won’t work at all with an iPhone. It’s also a lot more expensive than the standard Galaxy Watch 5, and a big increase on even the premium last-gen Watch 4 Classic, which makes it hard to recommend for everyone. But, if you’re an avid cyclist or hiker that’ll get the most out of the extra functionality on offer, the Galaxy Watch 5 could be the perfect premium wearable.
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Mobvoi’s TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra is one of the most rugged timepieces we’ve seen from the company; integrating the Pro line’s signature dual-display technology into a hardy form factor, running Wear OS 2 and offering respectable battery longevity.
It can’t quite match the battery life of dedicated premium outdoor watches like Polar’s Grit X Pro, or those with more modest hardware, like Amazfit’s recent offerings, but there’s little else that’s this hardy and this capable in the smartwatch space right now.
As well as the promise of an update to Wear OS 3, the Pro 3 Ultra sports a full-colour AMOLED display and a monochromatic FSTN display that, in Essential Mode, can help extend longevity from 3 to 45 days per charge.
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Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 Classic is an older model, but it still checks out.
The Watch 4 Classic has since been replaced by the Watch 5 Pro, but that newer model lacks the classics distinctive rotating bezel. We love this as a way to navigate Wear OS 3, so we’re heartened to see that you can still pick up the Classic model.
The good news is that otherwise this is pretty similar to the more recent models. You still get the latest Wear OS software, plus health tracking including body composition, ECG, and AFib (irregular heart rhythm) detection – though as with the other Galaxy Watch models, only Samsung phone owners get every feature.
The Watch 4 Classic is best experienced if you’re a Samsung Galaxy user, and you pay a premium for that Classic styling but it’s still a great fit for the wider Android user base after a premium wearable experience.
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While Huawei’s Watch GT series held the torch as its flagship smartwatch line for the longest time, 2021’s Huawei Watch 3 elevated the company’s established smartwatch experience with the debut of its own HarmonyOS, along with more powerful performance.
The Watch 3 comes in an array of finishes and can be paired with any 22mm strap, while a rich sensor setup means it’s great for tracking activity and sleep, with impressive levels of insight from the companion Huawei Health app.
Unlike Apple and Samsung, you don’t pay extra for eSIM functionality either and unlike Wear OS, which is reportedly losing iOS support with Wear OS 3, Huawei’s Watch 3 works with both Android and iPhone, making it one of the few high-end smartwatches to do so.
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The Garmin Venu 2 Plus is a great all-rounder if you’re on the market for a smartwatch that focuses on health and fitness. It’s ideal for runners and cyclists, with custom multi-week workout plans available, accurate HR readings and impressive GPS performance – even in built-up city streets.
It’s not just for runners though, also capable of tracking everything from rowing to golfing and skiing, and the new animated yoga and pilates exercises are a nice touch.
With a microphone and speaker it offers on-demand virtual assistant requests and the ability to take calls mid-run without reaching for your phone. The only downside is that, without LTE, you’ll need a Bluetooth-connected smartphone nearby.
However, if you’re not much of a fitness fanatic and you’re after something that’ll run your favourite apps, provide smart home shortcuts, and more, you’d be better off looking elsewhere, as the vast majority of apps are fitness-focused
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Cons
Zepp’s most ambitious smartwatch yet, the Amazfit GTR 4 boasts new fitness tracking modes and improved GPS, but it does have downsides.
The good is that this supports over 150 different workout types, including new support for strength training. GPS is more reliable, the battery lasts for more than a week with typical use, and the price remains impressively affordable.
Unfortunately we’ve found some fitness tracking a little unreliable compared to rivals, and other than built-in support for Amazon Alexa there’s no real support for third-party apps. That makes this decent enough for fitness tracking, but under-featured compared to other proper smartwatches.
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Considering Oppo’s never released a smartwatch before, the global version of the Oppo Watch – in both its 41mm and 46mm incarnations – is a pretty brilliant first attempt.
The larger 46mm model leads with its evolved Apple Watch-inspired aesthetics and optional cellular functionality but beyond that, both sport a rich feature set.
Expect superb performance (thanks to a smart processor pairing and plenty of RAM), swim-proofing and one of the best Wear OS 2 experiences out there; in spite of the operating system’s misgivings.
We just wished the heart rate sensor was a little more accurate during workouts.
There’s an interesting theory that smartwatches are to the smartphone what wristwatches were to the pocket watch. Picture the way the average gentleman used to have to rummage through his pocket for his watch prior to the 20th century. Now skip forward 100+ years and the average smartphone user still has to dive into their pocket to check their phone.
The kicker now is that your smartphone holds far more information than a pocket watch ever did, all of which is still locked into your pocket.
Smartwatches aren’t for making phone calls – although some can – instead, they (among other things) provide a quick and easy way to check your phone’s notifications, so you can decide whether it’s worth delving into your pocket or searching around your bag to fetch your smartphone and properly action anything.
When testing for the best smartwatch, the important factors to consider are ‘how many of your smartphone’s functions can it perform?’, and ‘how well does it handle each task?’, the final attribute is obviously style – it’s still bling after all.
You’ll also want to make sure it’s compatible with your smartphone – some are only for iPhone or Android while others support most phones.
If you’re an Android user then a Wear OS smartwatch is the obvious choice but it’s not necessarily the best for everyone. Google’s OS tweaked for wearables also plays nicely with iOS (except for on the more recent Samsung Galaxy Watch models) but with cut-down functionality, so iPhone owners will get more from an Apple Watch. Read more on how to use Android Wear with iPhone.
Fitness fans will want to look for a device with a heart rate monitor and built-in GPS, even though they often can’t compare to a chest-worn monitor in terms of accuracy. Many also come with NFC which can be used for contactless payments, via services like Google Pay.
We consider the important factors of a smartwatch to be level of notification detail, battery life, style, water resistance, device compatibility and additional features, such as microphones and WiFi support. Find out how we test wearables for more information.
The difference between smartwatches and fitness trackers is a bit of a grey area – after all, most fitness trackers also double as watches, and many include smart features.
To draw the line we factor in how a manufacturer positions its product, but for the most part the main question is how smart the device is. If all it can do is record exercise then it’s a fitness tracker, but if it also allows you to install apps, take phone calls, and check notifications, then we’re more likely to consider it a smartwatch.
The lines are always blurry though, so make sure to check out our fitness tracker round-up to see more options.
There are two types of smartwatches around at the moment: those with a colourful touchscreen – similarly to what you’d find on your phone – and those which combine a regular analogue watch with smart features.
These are known as ‘hybrid’ smartwatches; some have the smart bits almost completely hidden, while some give you information via a small integrated display (the Withings ScanWatch is a good example of a hybrid watch).
While a fully-fledged smartwatch can do a lot more, that juice-guzzling screen results in shorter battery life. Hybrid watches benefit from longer battery life with some even having separate cells for the watch and smart features. Since they’re not true smartwatches, you’ll find hybrid watches from Withings and others in our separate fitness tracker chart.
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