The 4 best smartwatches in 2021

The 4 best smartwatches in 2021

Smartwatches can be valuable fitness and health tracking tools, or they can be used for simple time keeping and notification control.

When thinking about buying a smartwatch, you should identify which features are important to you. For example, do you want a smartwatch to have an always-on display so you can quickly glance at the time without making a gesture? Or maybe you want an advanced EKG sensor to check their heart for atrial fibrillation, while others don’t need it.

The Apple Watch is our favorite smartwatch overall, but it only works with iPhones. Thankfully, you don’t have to think about switching to iPhone if you want the best smartwatch – we also love Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 for Android phones.

Here are the best smartwatches you can buy:

The best smartwatch ever
The Apple Watch is one of the easiest to use and has a large set of health and fitness tracking. The 7 Series is the newest and best version to date, although it’s not a big upgrade over the 6 Series.

The best smartwatch for android users
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is basically the Apple Watch for Android users. It is an all-premium smartwatch with a wide range of health and fitness tracking features. It’s just a shame that the advanced ECG feature is only available to Samsung phone owners.

The best sleep tracking smartwatch
The Fitbit Versa 3 is a great all-around smartwatch for health and fitness tracking, and it just so happens to be brilliant for sleep tracking and battery life than the others.

The best fitness smartwatch
The Garmin Forerunner 935 is for the fitness enthusiast. It has incredibly long battery life and metrics that most generic smartwatches don’t include.

The best smartwatch ever

A black and white photo of a hand holding the Apple Watch Series 7

The Apple Watch has long been our favorite smartwatch for its ease of use, comprehensive health tracking, and refined design, and the Series 7 is the best iteration ever, albeit a minor upgrade than to Series 6.

Pros: large always-on display, refined design and software, wide variety of health-focused and smartwatch-oriented features

Against: expensive, shorter battery life than some rivals, offers only basic sleep tracking

The Apple Watch Series 7 is basically the Series 6 with thinner edges around the screen, larger screens, stronger glass, and slightly faster charging. Apple has also added a keyboard for typing messages, as well as generally larger buttons and screen elements for easier touch. It’s an added bonus that Series 7 packs all of these small upgrades into a watch case that’s just slightly larger than Series 6.

There are no new or improved health sensors on the 7 Series compared to the 6 Series, and the processor (performance) and battery life are also the same.

That’s all to say that the Apple Watch Series 7 is an excellent smartwatch – it’s like buying a slightly improved Series 6 without breaking the bank.

Series 7 can easily be expensive for most people with advanced sensors such as an ECG or blood oxygen sensor. For those who don’t need such fancy sensors, there’s the $ 280 Apple Watch SE that still looks new and fast at a more reasonable price. However, it’s disappointed that it doesn’t have an always-on display.

The best smartwatch for android users

Samsung's Galaxy Watch 4 worn on the author's wrist.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is the obvious choice for Android users who are looking for a complete, quality and premium smartwatch experience. However, it is unfortunate that the ECG function is limited specifically to owners of Samsung phones.

Pros: premium construction and design, relatively cheap and comprehensive features and fitness tracking, good battery life, more apps than ever

Against the ECG function is limited to Samsung users, the strap included with the Classic model is bad

With smartwatches running Google’s WearOS 2 out of our recommendation zone, Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 series is the only real contender for Android users in the US. Thankfully, the Galaxy Watch 4 series is truly excellent.

The Galaxy Watch 4 has a number of health and fitness monitoring features that you would expect from a premium smartwatch, including training monitoring, heart rate monitoring, blood pressure measurement, ECG function, sleep monitoring, heart rate measurement. blood oxygen and stress measurement. It also has more advanced sleep tracking than the Apple Watch, but I’ve personally never had much faith in this feature.

Battery life is as expected in a premium smartwatch, meaning it lasts around a day and a half before needing to be recharged. This is with the always-on display, which looks great with the large variety of customizable watch faces.

The best sleep tracking smartwatch

Fitbit pays 3

The Fitbit Versa 3 is a relatively affordable smartwatch that checks all the boxes, but it truly shines when it comes to sleep tracking and battery life.

Pros: deep sleep monitoring, long battery life, numerous fitness features

Against: no LTE version, the software is not as refined as the Apple Watch

Fitbit is far from being the only smartwatch to offer sleep tracking. But if you’re looking for a generic smartwatch that can provide insight into your sleep, the $ 229.95 Fitbit Versa 3 is a better choice for most people.

Fitbit sleep tracking goes beyond the basics by offering time spent in REM sleep, light and deep sleep, as well as time spent awake. It also tells you how much time you spent sleeping and outputs a sleep score that tells you about the quality of your sleep.

In addition to only viewing data that indicates how well you slept last night, you can also view a 30-day average and compare your sleep pattern to others of your age and gender. Some of Fitbit’s sleep-oriented features, such as metrics showing restlessness, are only available if you subscribe to the $ 9.99 / month Fitbit Premium service.

However, even in the free tier, Fitbit offers more comprehensive sleep tracking metrics than most smartwatches, especially the Apple Watch. The Versa 3 also offers impressively long multi-day battery life which makes it much easier to track sleep without worrying about draining the battery during the day.

We recommend the Versa 3 over the $ 299.95 Fitbit Sense as it’s more affordable and still has many of Fitbit’s most important features.

These include heart rate tracking, the ability to send notifications from your phone, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant support, exercise tracking, full sleep tracking, and a swim-proof design.

The downside, however, is that there is no LTE option for the Versa 3 for those who want to receive calls and messages when their phone isn’t nearby. For iPhone owners, the software and app experience is also much more refined on the Apple Watch than on Fitbit watches.

The best smartwatch for fitness enthusiasts

Garmin Forerunner 935

The Garmin Forerunner 935 Running GPS Watch is a fitness enthusiast’s dream that has a long battery life and measures several metrics you won’t find on general purpose watches.

Pros: long battery life, waterproof, durable glass dial, built-in barometer and thermometer, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections, and the ability to measure more metrics than we can list here

Against: expensive, reduced GPS accuracy when running on a track, the built-in thermometer only measures the temperature just above the skin

Smartwatches running Apple, Samsung, and Google’s operating systems come with decent fitness tracking features and capabilities, but then there are smartwatches that take fitness tracking to a whole different level. We are talking about Garmin smartwatches.

We had a competitive distance runner who tried the $ 500 Garmin Forerunner 935 for 1,000 miles – and it’s better than any running watch I’ve ever used. With that testimony in mind, the Forerunner 935 is our first choice for fitness enthusiasts, at least for those who can budget up to $ 500 for a specifically fitness-oriented device.

When you spend that much on a fitness tracking device, it’s best to read the full review to find out what’s good and what’s not about the Forerunner 935. And realizing that the Forerunner 935 is expensive, we know a few less. expensive fitness trackers that will work well for most fitness enthusiasts.

What else have we considered

Fitbit Versa 2

While these are our top picks, there are plenty of other options worth considering based on your needs, preferences, and budget. Let’s take a look at other contenders:

  • Garmin Solar Instinct: The Solar Instinct is an outdoor-oriented watch that has small solar panels that help maintain a whopping one-month battery life (provided you’re in the sun for at least three hours a day). It comes with a wide range of sensors and health and fitness monitoring features and is a great alternative to the Forerunner 935 if you want longer battery life.
  • Garmin Vivoactive 4 : Garmin’s Vivoactive 4 is a cheaper alternative to its Forerunner and Fenix ​​lines that still offers more in-depth health features than your standard smartwatch. It also comes with many of the other connectivity-related features you’d demand from a watch of its price.
  • Fitbit Sense : The Sense is Fitbit’s top-of-the-line smartwatch and the first to offer the ability to measure how your body reacts to stress. The Sense, like Fitbit’s other smartwatches, is an interesting alternative to the Apple Watch for non-Apple users and those looking for a more affordable watch. However, we picked the Versa 3 as one of our top picks because it has many of the benefits of the Sense at a more reasonable price.

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