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Best smartwatch for Android users in 2021: Top watches

LG launched the first Android Wear OS watch in 2014, and Google's watch operating system has been through several changes, with lackluster support, since then. There are many smartwatches today that are optimized for Android smartphone users.

Google rolled out Android Wear, now called Wear OS, in 2014, with Samsung, LG, and Motorola the first companies to offer an official Google experience on your wrist. Samsung branched off into Tizen OS for many years, but as we just saw at Google I/O in 2021, Samsung and Google are partnering back up to release watches that share the best of both companies.

While smartwatches today are heavily focused on detailed 24/7 health and wellness tracking, most also provide other advanced features, such as a companion Android application, touchscreen displays, call and/ or text messaging support, installable applications and watch faces, and voice assistants.

In 2021, there are several powerful options available to help you get work done through a wearable device. Keep an eye on this sector in 2021 as we see results from the Samsung-Google partnership that could challenge the Apple Watch for the best smartwatch title. 

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3

Best Samsung Tizen watch

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Image: Samsung

Display: 1.4 inch 360x360 pixels AMOLED | Battery Life: Three days | Dimensions: 45x46.2x11.1 mm | Weight: 53.8 grams (Al) | Water Resistance: 5 ATM+IP68 | LTE Cellular Option: Yes | Starting Price: $429.99 


Samsung is clearly not standing by as Apple continues to update and improve the Apple Watch. Samsung's latest Galaxy Watch 3 offers many of the same advanced health tracking features, such as blood oxygen monitoring, ECG, and sleep tracking, with the ability to connect with both Android and iPhone devices.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 may also be certified to measure and track blood pressure (the feature is approved for use in other countries), a critical health metric that Apple does not track. The Galaxy Watch 3 is an affordable smartwatch with both Wi-Fi and LTE models in two different sizes. A special titanium model is also available.

It has a sleek rotating bezel and an operating system optimized for the round watch design. Fall detection, messaging, phone calls, and more are available on the watch, with advanced fitness data such as VO2 Max and advanced running dynamics data also supported.

Pros: 

  • A slick rotating bezel design.
  • High-quality stainless steel material.
  • Broad support for health and fitness features.
  • Solid battery life for provided features.

Cons:

  • Limited third-party applications. 
  • The large size is not suitable for small wrists.
  • Blood pressure certification taking much longer than advertised. 
$209 at Amazon $240 at Walmart $220 at Target

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

Best Samsung smartwatch for smaller wrists

samsung-galaxy-watch-active-2.jpg
Image: Samsung

Display: 1.4 inch 360x360 pixels AMOLED | Battery Life: Three days | Dimensions: 44x44x10.9 mm | Weight: 42 grams (stainless steel) | Water Resistance: 5 ATM+IP68 | LTE Cellular Option: Yes | Starting Price: $269.99 


Samsung offered smartwatches long before Apple joined the market, and the early model had innovations such as integrated cameras. Prior to the Galaxy Watch 3, we had the Galaxy Watch Active 2, and this model is still a viable option today with a smaller form factor that will appeal to more people than the larger Watch 3.

The Galaxy Watch Active 2 has a traditional round watch face design, a vast number of available watch faces, the ability to charge on the go on the back of a smartphone, and advanced health and wellness tracking capability. The Watch Active 2 was my preferred smartwatch for about six months because I switch phones so often, and it even works with the Apple iPhone.

Pros: 

  • Sleek, minimalist design.
  • Vibrant Super AMOLED display.
  • Affordable.
  • Digital rotating bezel.

Cons:

  • Limited third-party application support.
  • Battery life not as long as expected.
$230 at Samsung $230 at Amazon $230 at Best Buy

Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3

Best Google Wear OS smartwatch

ticwatch-pro-3-5.jpg

Display: 1.4 inch 454x454 pixels AMOLED and FSTN secondary display | Battery Life: 72 hours  | Dimensions: 47x48x12.2 mm | Weight: 41.9 grams | Water Resistance: IP68 | LTE Cellular Option: No | Starting Price: $299.99 


While Google has not put much effort into developing its Wear OS platform, companies like Mobvoi continue to offer solid smartwatch competitors running Wear OS. The latest watch from Mobvoi is the TicWatch Pro 3, the first smartwatch sporting Qualcomm's Snapdragon Wear 4100 platform.

The TicWatch Pro 3 is the best Wear OS device available with a unique layered display design with an LCD display on top of an AMOLED display so users can have extended battery life, up to 30 days more limited watch experience.

While not as well supported as the Apple Watch, Wear OS is still a very capable wearable platform with an extensive number of available watch faces, plenty of popular third-party apps, Google Assistant voice support, advanced health tracking, and much more. The TicWatch Pro 3 has all of the latest advanced health metrics, such as blood oxygen monitoring, and is also a very capable GPS sports watch.

At just $299.99, it's also tough to beat the TicWatch Pro 3. It works with Android and iOS smartphones, too, so if you are considering a smartwatch for multiple platforms, this is a very capable option.

Why not read our full review of TicWatch Pro 3.

Pros: 

  • Innovative dual-display design.
  • Google Assistant and Google Pay on the wrist.
  • Solid third-party app support.
  • Lightweight and comfortable.
  • Affordable price.

Cons:

  • Duplicated health apps.
  • No offline music support.
$300 at Amazon

OnePlus Watch

Most affordable smartwatch for Android phones

oneplus-watch-still-1.png
Image: OnePlus

Display: 1.39 inch 454x454 pixels AMOLED | Battery Life: 14 days  | Dimensions: 46.4x46.4x10.9 mm | Weight: 76 grams (includes strap) | Water Resistance: 5 ATM & IP68 | LTE Cellular Option: No | Starting Price: $159 


The OnePlus Watch supports more than 110 workout types (including automatic detection), phone calls can be handled on the watch, notifications from your phone appear on the watch, and the watch lets you play music from your phone or stored directly in the available 2GB of storage (4GB total).

The 46mm case with 2.5D curved glass looks a lot like the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2, which is great since that hardware is fantastic. It has a dust and water-resistant rating of 5 ATM and IP68 with integrated GPS, blood oxygen monitor, heart rate monitor, and 402 mAh battery that supports active use for a week and standard use for two weeks.

The OnePlus Watch will connect to your phone via the OnePlus Health app. At launch, the watch will connect to Android smartphones, with an iOS app coming soon, too.

At just $159, it's tough to pass up the OnePlus Watch or argue that it isn't providing good value for the money.

Pros: 

  • Bright AMOLED display.
  • Long battery life.
  • Low price.

Cons:

  • No third-party apps.
  • Limited notifications.
  • One standard size and color.
$175 at Ebay

Amazfit GTR 2

Best RTOS option for Android phone users

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Display: 1.39 inch 454x454 pixels AMOLED | Battery Life: 14 days  | Dimensions: 46.4x46.4x10.7 mm | Weight: 34 grams | Water Resistance: 5 ATM | LTE Cellular Option: No | Starting Price: $159.99 (regularly $179.99) 


Amazfit has some very compelling smartwatches powered by a RTOS (real-time operating system) optimized for the watch so that extended battery life is provided. 

There is a companion Android application, Zepp, that provides access, collection, and analysis of an extensive amount of health and wellness data.

After we reviewed the GTR 2 and sister GTS 2, Amazfit released an update that added Amazon Alexa voice assistant support. It's rare to see a voice assistant on a watch that is not from Google, so this is a nice addition to an extremely affordable wearable.

The GTR 2 also has a microphone and speaker on the watch so that phone calls can be managed directly from the watch through a Bluetooth connection to your Android smartphone.

Pros: 

  • Bright AMOLED display.
  • Long battery life.
  • Low price.
  • Onboard music support.
  • Call support from the watch.

Cons:

  • No third-party apps.
  • Limited watch faces.
$179 at Amazfit

Huawei Watch 3

Huawei's first Harmony OS smartwatch

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Image: Huawei

Display: 1.43 inch 466x466 pixels AMOLED | Battery Life: Three days with LTE, 14 days without cellular | Dimensions: 46.2x46.2x12.15 mm | Weight: 54 grams (without strap) | Water Resistance: 5 ATM | LTE Cellular Option: Yes | Starting Price: £349.99 (About $440)


The Huawei Watch 3 was launched in June 2021 and is the first watch running Huawei's own Harmony OS. Like other smartwatches today, it is heavily focused on capturing data 24/7 that is related to your health and wellness. 

It supports all forms of GPS and can be used to track more than 100 activities.

A rotating crown works with the touchscreen to help you navigate the watch. Smartwatches support Google Assistant, Samsung Bixby, and Amazon Alexa, but the new Huawei Watch 3 supports Celia thanks to its Harmony OS foundation. 

Huawei's older generation Android Wear watch was one of the best available, and it looks like this hardware is designed to compete with the best. Unfortunately, it is not available in the US. It is available in Europe and the Middle East. 

Pros: 

  • Elegant hardware.
  • High-resolution AMOLED display.
  • Extensive health support.

Cons:

  • Limited third-party application support.
  • Rather expensive.

Fossil Gen 5 smartwatch

Second best Google Wear OS smartwatch

fossil-gen-5-smartwatch.jpg
Image: Fossil

Display: 1.19 inch 390x390 pixels AMOLED | Battery Life: 18 hours  | Dimensions: 44x44x12 mm | Weight: 99 grams | Water Resistance: 3 ATM | LTE Cellular Option: Yes | Starting Price: $295 


In addition to Mobvoi, Fossil releases new Google Wear OS smartwatches and often uses the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon mobile processors. 

The Fossil Gen 5 Smartwatch is available in various colors with different band options for less than $300.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 powers this Fossil smartwatch, and with Wear OS, users enjoy the power of Google Assistant on the wrist. Google Pay is supported, so you can pay wirelessly with your phone in your pocket. Integrated GPS also means you can track your outdoor exercise with the Fossil Gen 5 Smartwatch.

There are a lot of rumors that Fossil will soon launch its first Snapdragon Wear 4100-powered smartwatch as the Fossil Gen 6 model, so we will continue to monitor these rumors until an announcement is made.

Pros: 

  • Vibrant display.
  • Google Assistant and Google Pay on the wrist.
  • Solid third-party app support.
  • Affordable price.

Cons:

  • Average battery life.
  • Heavy, big watch.
$295 at Best Buy $295 at Walmart $295 at Target

Fitbit Sense

Best basic smartwatch

fitbit-sense-sapphire-fog-grey-sport-crop-left.jpg
Image: Fitbit

Display: 1.58 inch 336x336 pixels AMOLED | Battery Life: Six days  | Dimensions: 40.5x40.5x12.35 mm | Weight: 48 grams | Water Resistance: 5 ATM | LTE Cellular Option: No | Starting Price: $299.95 


The Fitbit Sense has a stainless steel ring around the watch face and additional sensors on the back so that it offers support for ECG, skin temperature, and a few more advanced health metrics. If you want to save $70, then you can buy the Fitbit Versa 3 and lose out on a few advanced wellness metrics.

A significant improvement in this watch compared to previous Fitbit watches is the integrated GPS receiver that will help you track your outside activities more accurately.

The Fitbit ecosystem is well supported, with many people on the platform to help motivate you toward achieving your daily activity and fitness goals. The smartphone app is fantastic and offers a ton of insight, recommendations, and understanding of the data collected by the watches. Android smartphone users enjoy a better experience with support for quick text message replies.

Google Assistant is also now available for the Fitbit Sense, so we see a bit more of Google's influence now that it owns Fitbit.

Pros: 

  • Bright and clear AMOLED display.
  • Lightweight and comfortable for 24/7 wear.
  • Google Assistant and phone call support.
  • Smart alarm support.
  • Extensive health and wellness support.

Cons:

  • A solid-state button is not as reliable as a physical button.
  • Limited third-party app support.
$300 at Amazon

Can you use a Samsung Watch with non-Samsung phone?

You can use a Samsung Galaxy watch with a non-Galaxy Android smartphone. You will need to install a couple of Samsung companion applications on your smartphone, including Galaxy Wearable and watch plug-in. The Galaxy Wearable app is used to manage the connection, settings, and apps on the watch. Samsung Health also provides you with a richer health and wellness experience.

Samsung Galaxy watches are optimized for Samsung phones, including support for Samsung Pay and the Samsung ecosystem.

Do any of these watches have cellular support to function without a phone?

Samsung, Mobvoi (only in the TicWatch Pro 4G/LTE), and Huawei have cellular support. An additional service plan is required for cellular connectivity directly on the watch. Unlike the Apple Watch, your Android phone is not required to be on for the service to work.

While the watch can act as a stand-alone mobile device, a phone is required to set up the watch for cellular connectivity fully. A world with your watch as your phone is not yet an option, but technology is advancing, and we'll get there someday.

What are the hot new features in the latest smartwatches?

Health and fitness tracking have been the areas with the most innovations and improvements in the last couple of years. While these watches are not medical devices, they have sensors, algorithms, and applications that help you track trends in your heart rate, stress levels, blood oxygen levels, and more. You can use it as a basic ECG to check if further investigation is needed.

All of these smartwatches can also serve as capable GPS sports watches to track the details of your outdoor activities. Exercise guidance is provided on the watch with connected health applications on your smartphone so you can keep track of your progress too.

Which is the right smartwatch for you?

A couple of years ago, the Samsung Galaxy Watch was clearly the best smartwatch available for Android smartphone users. However, we have seen Mobvoi continue to release compelling Wear OS watches, Fitbit improve with Google integration, and smartwatches running RTOS variants get better at very low price points.

Price is a good place to start in your decision process, followed by any planned use of a voice assistant. Your desired battery life is also a key factor because there is a huge difference between charging daily or charging weekly. Extensive health and fitness capability is present in all of these watches, so you can't really go wrong with any of them in this area.

How did we choose these smartwatches?

We have spent weeks, sometimes months, with most of these wearables while connecting them to various Android smartphones. We have run, walked, hiked, biked, slept, worked, traveled, played, and more with these watches on our wrists. 

We also read other reviews and reviewer guides provided by the smartwatch makers to make sure we have explored all of the available features.