Last updated date: January 9, 2019
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We looked at the top 1 Smart Watches and dug through the reviews from 8 of the most popular review sites including Trusted Reviews, Tom's Guide, Tech Radar, The Verge, Engadget, Wired, Consumer Reports, CNET and more. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Smart Watch you should buy.
If you're looking for a health tracking device, you can't go wrong with a Fitbit. The Versa provides advanced sleep tracking and health monitoring, as well as other conveniences, like the ability to read incoming texts. In our analysis of 65 expert reviews, the Fitbit Fitbit Versa placed 4th when we looked at the top 9 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.
Editor's Note March 15, 2019:
Checkout The Best Smart Watch for a detailed review of all the top smart watches.
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From The Manufacturer
Meet Fitbit Versa - an all-day companion that helps you live your best life. This lightweight, swimproof smartwatch empowers you to reach health and fitness goals with 24/7 heart rate, actionable insights, personalized guidance, on-screen workouts and more. Run your day with notifications, quick replies (android only), apps, phone-free music -- all with 4+ day battery life (varies with use and other factors). Plus, wear it your way with fresh accessories and clock faces.
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An Overview On Smart Watches
Watches have gone well beyond merely telling the time. You can read incoming texts and emails, monitor your health stats and even make and receive phone calls, all from the device on your wrist. But there’s more than one smartwatch player in town, and the choices can be overwhelming.
Chances are, one of the top deciding factors when choosing a smartwatch is the type of smartphone you own. If you have an iPhone, you’ll find the best compatibility in an Apple Watch. If, on the other hand, you own an Android-based smartphone, an Android-based watch like the Samsung S3 may be a better choice. While most watches can pair with other operating systems, you’ll get the most out of one with the same operating system as your phone.
Then there’s the Fitbit line of fitness trackers. Once merely designed to measure the steps you take each day, these wearables have gotten much more sophisticated over time. Models like the Fitbit Versa have a few of the same features as the iOS- and Android-based watches, offering functions like texting and contactless payment.
Your choice of smartwatch will probably be driven by your needs. If you just need health tracking, for instance, you may not get enough out of the other features to make it worth the extra expense. However, the price variations are minimal — especially if you’re open to an older model, like the Apple Watch Series 3, rather than needing to have the latest and greatest.
With smartwatches, many features are driven by the available apps. You can play games on both Apple and Samsung watches, for instance, but you’re limited by the apps that have been created for those versions. The Apple Watch is by far the top choice in this arena since third-party developers are lining up to make apps that work with the technology. Before you buy, make sure the apps you want are available for whichever watch you’re considering.
After searching the app store, you’ll also want to consider the look and feel of each of the watches. The Samsung Gear S3 has a more traditional watch look, but you may find more bands you like in the Apple Watch. Since the faces of both types of watches are customizable, you’re sure to find a look that works with your own unique tastes.
DYWM Fun Fact
Like other wearables, smartwatches are expected to continue to expand their functionality in the coming years. The field of medicine has especially been interested in the technology, wanting to move beyond heart rate and step tracking to keep patients healthy. Wearables can already help wearers track their menstrual cycles to know when they’re ovulating, as well as tracking moods to help with stress. But medical professionals hope to eventually refine the technology to monitor glucose levels and warn wearers when there might be a heart-related health issue. Smartwatches can also be built to sense when you’re driving and reduce notifications. Apple is reportedly also looking at ways that users could use hand gestures to control their watches, which will effectively reduce the current reliance on voice commands.
The Smart Watch Buying Guide
- You’ll be wearing your watch every day, so appearance is important. Taste plays a big part in this, but Apple Watches have a very basic look. The Samsung Gear S3 looks the most like a traditional watch. With Apple’s watches and the Samsung Gear S3, though, you can change out the digital watch face to suit your mood — or to match your outfit.
- The Apple Watch, Samsung Gear S3 and the Fitbit Versa all build in advanced fitness tracking, although this is one area where Fitbit outdoes all others. You’ll get accuracy and more information with a dedicated fitness band. Samsung’s tracking is the least accurate of the three watch groups.
- If you choose a watch with cellular built in, you’ll be able to accept and make calls and texts even when you’re away from your phone. You’ll have to pay an additional monthly fee for that, though, in addition to paying more for the watch. Only the Apple Watch Series 3 and 4 and the Samsung Gear S3 have this feature. To use this phone capability, you’ll need to have a device that’s compatible with the watch you choose, which means a phone with iOS for the Apple Watch or an Android-based one for the Samsung watch.
- In addition to phone functionality, you’ll also need the right smartphone to take full advantage of the Apple or Samsung watch’s features. The Fitbit can sync with either iOS or Android, allowing you to accept texts and connect to the Fitbit app.
- When you put your smartwatch on, you want it to run on battery power for at least the entire workday. The Apple Watch Series 3 or 4 will run for up to 18 hours on a charge. Both the Samsung Gear S3 and the Fitbit Versa promise battery life of up to four days, but this will vary depending on use.
- If you own a smartphone, you’re probably already aware of the apps that are available for your operating system. The same situation will apply to your smartwatch. Apple has far more apps than Samsung, although both manufacturers suffer from a shortage of apps specific to smartwatches. Fitbit’s bands are even more limited, with these bands primarily used to track health data.
- Since you’re wearing it on your wrist every day, it’s important to find a band that won’t weigh you down. Apple’s smartwatches are the lightest, with the Series 3 weighing 1.12 ounces and the Series 4 weighing 1.69 ounces. Samsung’s Gear S3 weighs slightly more, at 2.24 ounces, while the Fitbit Versa weighs 5.1 ounces.
- In addition to weight, it’s also important to consider how much real estate the watch will take up on your wrist. The Apple Watch is available in two sizes, 40 mm and 44 mm, so you can choose the size that works best with your wrist. The display area of the Gear S3 is smaller, totaling only 33 mm, or 1.3 inches.
- One popular feature of today’s smartwatches is the ability to pay at the register without taking out your wallet. All of the watches have payment built in. You’ll just need to add your credit card before you start shopping. There are benefits to Samsung Pay, though, including wider acceptance and the ability to earn points through shopping. With Fitbit Pay, you’ll have a tough time finding a place that accepts it, so it might be best to go with the other watches if that’s important to you.
- With limited screen space, voice control is essential in a smartwatch. Apple Watch builds in Siri, while Android watches use the Google Assistant. One plus in Apple Watch’s favor is that you can activate Siri through Raise to Speak, as long as you set it up in settings. The Fitbit does not have voice control.
- Previously, active smartwatch wearers were disappointed that they couldn’t track their activity while swimming. Newer watch models correct that, but you’ll need to keep an eye on their limits. The Gear S3 is designed to be submerged in up to 1.5 meters for only 30 minutes or less. The Fitbit Versa and Apple Watch Series 3 and 4 are limited to up to 50 meters with no time constraint mentioned.
- No matter which band you choose, you’ll still have to charge it at least every few days. Apple watches use a magnetic charging cable that’s easy to connect. The Gear S3 and Fitbit Versa use a charging dock that you rest your watch on when you’re ready to charge.
- Sleep tracking can provide valuable information, and the Fitbit Versa excels in this area. The Apple Watch still can’t track this without an additional app, but you can download apps to help with that. The Samsung Gear S3 provides better sleep tracking, but you’ll still only see how long you slept, not how many hours you spent in light, deep and REM sleep.
- When you’re tracking your heart rate and sleep, you likely don’t want to be without your watch for long. The Apple Watch and Fitbit Versa take up to two hours to charge to 100 percent, while the Samsung Gear S3 is just over that, at 127 minutes.
- The band is an important part of the look and feel of your watch. The bad news is, each smartwatch comes with a similar-looking plain black band. But the good news is that there’s no shortage of bands available for purchase for each watch type, both from the manufacturer and third-party resellers. Look around at your options before you make a decision.
- If you plan to stream music from your watch, Apple or Samsung watches will be the best option, since the Fitbit Versa requires you to manually transfer music in a multistep process.
- For those who are on a budget, the Apple Series 4 will likely be off the list since prices top $400. But you can get a Series 3 for under $279. The Gear S3 undercuts that price even further, at roughly $230, and you can get the Fitbit Versa for around $180. Plus, there are regular sales on smartwatches to keep an eye out for.