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The best budget smartwatches under $240, according to runners

Keep in touch, in motion, and plugged in with a smartwatch on your wrist that won't cost you an arm and a leg.
Written by Lena Borrelli, Contributing Writer
Reviewed by Christina Darby
Apple Watch SE 2 | Best cheap smartwatch overall
Apple Watch SE 2
Apple Watch SE 2
Best cheap smartwatch overall
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Amazfit Bip U Pro | Best cheap smartwatch for GPS
Amazfit Bip U Pro
Amazfit Bip U Pro
Best cheap smartwatch for GPS
View now View at Amazon
Fitbit Inspire 3 | Best wellness-focused cheap smartwatch
Fitbit Inspire 3
Fitbit Inspire 3
Best wellness-focused cheap smartwatch
View now View at Amazon
Garmin Forerunner 55 | Best cheap smartwatch for runners
Garmin Forerunner 55
Garmin Forerunner 55
Best cheap smartwatch for runners
View now View at Amazon
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 | Best cheap Android smartwatch
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
Best cheap Android smartwatch
View now View at Amazon

The birth of the pocketable smartphone ushered in an age of immediate proximity to our most treasured tech. Whether for work or play, we remain plugged in to the point where leaving our phones behind is not an excuse when there are phone calls to take, emails to respond to, and notifications to check.

And no more is a watch just for telling time. Now you can check emails, make phone calls, play games, and track pretty much everything on your wrist. As smartwatch tech has risen in performance, prices have dropped, meaning a smartwatch doesn't have to cost a fortune. You can even find some brand-leading watches for $100 or less. 

To find out which are the best budget-friendly, yet still top-performing smartwatches, I talked to users themselves and found that these are the best options. 

Also: The best Android smartwatches (and which ones can function without a phone)

Pros & Cons
  • Generous battery
  • Excellent fitness tracking
  • Comfortable fit
  • Lacks always-on screen
  • Slow to charge
More Details

The Apple Watch SE 2 is a popular pick that also serves as the best cheap smartwatch when you want great value. Just ask its users.

"I've been waiting for years for Apple to come out with a lower-budget Apple watch option," confides Troy Portillo, who he uses his watch to track his activity and goes all while keeping up with his busy business day. "It has all of the features I need, with all of the bugs already worked out, and comes with Apple's easy-to-use interface and durable design, as well as a very friendly price point."

Indeed, this watch is packed with features, with an extra focus on health and fitness with heart health monitoring, irregular rhythm notifications, cycle tracking, and even crash detection. It's waterproof up to 50 meters so you can take it along for those daily laps in the swimming pool, and it is a simple matter to stream tunes to create your own soundtrack. You even get to pick your case color from three options, and it is easily compatible with the best Apple watch bands.

Bryan Robinson also appreciates the SE 2 for its overall performance and has already seen a change in his fitness. "I have to say, it's an impressive device," he tells me. "I found it particularly useful for staying on top of my daily activity goals."

Also: Apple SE (2022) vs. Apple Watch SE (2020)

Pros & Cons
  • Fantastic GPS
  • Sleep tracking
  • Alexa
  • Subpar app
  • No third-party app support
More Details

Amazfit Bip U Pro: Screen size: 36 millimeters | Compatibility: Amazfit OS | Water resistance: 50 meters | Weight: 1.09 ounces | Dimensions: 1.61 x 1.39 x 0.44 inches

If you want a break from the usual Android-Apple operating systems, give the Amazfit Bip U Pro a try. It boasts a generous screen size measuring 36 millimeters with a 302 x 302 pixel resolution and a waterproof design, allowing it to dive up to 50 meters before trouble.  Its battery life lasts well over a week for a total of nine days before requiring a charger, greatly simplifying life. 

But where this watch really shines is in its features. There are over 60 different sports modes that you can choose from, covering all sorts of popular activities with modes like Treadmill, Outdoor Cycling, Yoga, Cricket, Table Tennis, and Free Training. There is also a comprehensive health tracker. It tracks your heart rate 24/7,  as well as blood oxygen levels. You can learn more about your stress levels and sleep habits by wearing your watch regularly. Women can even track their menstrual cycles with an easy built-in calendar. 

Amazon Alexa comes built right in, giving you a smart assistant right on your wrist. Ask questions, check the weather, forecast, or control smart devices. It will also track your steps and how far you walk or run with its own GPS tracker. Bluetooth support is also included.

Review: Amazfit Bip U review

Pros & Cons
  • Color touchscreen
  • Long battery life
  • Excellent health features
  • Smaller display
  • Subscription required for some features
More Details

Fitbit Inspire 3 features: Screen size: 0.7 inches | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Water resistance: 164 feet | Dimensions: 0.71 x 0.43 x 1.54 inches 

The Fitbit Inspire 3 is the best cheap smartwatch to buy when you want to keep a close eye on your fitness. 

As VP of operations at Casago SB Rentals, Larry Snider purchased this smartwatch for its health benefits throughout the day while he is at work. "It's been great in helping me stay on track with my health and fitness goals," he shares. "The reminders to move and the celebrations when I hit my step goal are a great boost to my motivation." 

Melissa Wasserman Baker is a mom who just purchased the Inspire 3 for her child. She shares her experience, saying, "I was pleasantly happy to see that it was not only inexpensive but also packed with functions that would keep her busy and healthy."

It's working, too, Baker says. "She's been wearing it every day and is eager to see how she's progressing. With its sleek appearance and simple UI, the Inspire 3 is a wonderful choice for youngsters and teenagers."

It's a parent's dream. There is heart rate tracking, sleep tracking, temperature monitoring, and even a stress management score, complete with guided breathing sessions. And, with a ten-day battery, you'll spend less time with the charger and more time enjoying your new cheap smartwatch.

To doubters, Snider says, "Believe me, I was the biggest naysayer before I started wearing a smartwatch. I'm telling you, it works!"

Review: Fitbit Inspire 3 review

Pros & Cons
  • Superior fitness tools
  • User-friendly
  • Excellent battery
  • Okay display
  • Single case size
More Details

Garmin Forerunner 55 features: Screen size: 1.04 inches | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Water resistance: 164 feet | Weight: 1.31 ounces | Dimensions: 1.65 x 1.65 x 0.46 inches

With its built-in GPS and daily fitness suggestions, the Garmin Forerunner 55 is the best cheap smartwatch for runners to use.  

Liz Ho, founder of Camping Guidance, takes it with her on the trail. She heartily endorses the Forerunner 55, saying, "I have used various smartwatches in my escapades in the great outdoors, but I found the Garmin Forerunner 55 to be especially useful for nature enthusiasts such as myself."

The amount of features are what captured her eye. "It comes with an impressive suite of functions tailored for outdoor activities, such as built-in GPS, heart rate monitoring, and even dedicated hiking apps, catering specifically to campers' needs. I couldn't have asked for a better and lighter travel companion!"

Elaine Warren is also a runner and uses this smartwatch on her regular runs. "The Garmin Forerunner 55 catered exquisitely to my running passions with advanced metrics and GPS aptitude," she says.

There are daily suggestions for your workouts, plus personalized guidance based on your own activity so you can live a fit and healthy life. To keep you plugged in, the color display is designed to show in the sun so you can still see your messages and alerts on the trail. 

Review: Garmin Forerunner 55 review

Pros & Cons
  • Lightweight design
  • Fantastic health tracking
  • Easy accessibility
  • Poor temperature sensor
  • Mediocre battery
More Details

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 features: Screen size: 40 millimeters, 44 millimeters, 45 millimeters | Water resistance: 164 feet | Compatibility: Android | Capacity: 16 gigabytes | Weight: 1.16 ounces | Dimensions: 1.7 x 1.75 x 0.39 inches

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is the best cheap smartwatch when you prefer an Android operating system.  

Alister Wood received one as a gift and has since become a regular user. "It's been a great little device that helps me keep track of my business and personal life, receive notifications on the go," he says, "and, if you're a gym rat like me, it keeps check on your fitness goals. It comes with ECG and heart rate monitoring, as well as GPS tracking, so you can easily map out your runs or bike rides."

As a naturopathic herbalist at Deer Antler Velvet, Julius Cermak appreciates the health benefits he receives from this smartwatch. "I recommend the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 because it's excellent at helping you keep track of your nutrition and fitness," he explains. "I can record how many glasses of water I drink a day, how many meals I have, and how many steps I've taken, but that has an automatic counter which makes it easier to keep track of."

Overall, users recommend this cheap smartwatch for Android users looking to get a better grasp on their health. "The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is worth getting if staying fit and organized are important aspects in your life," concludes Wood. "If you're a busy professional who needs to stay connected but doesn't want to carry their phones everywhere they go, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is definitely worth considering as an alternative solution for staying connected without sacrificing style and comfort."

Review: Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review

What is the best cheap smartwatch?

ZDNET's pick for the best cheap smartwatch is the Apple Watch SE 2. It offers all the usual features like messaging alerts and health tracking, but it also goes one step further to deliver other benefits not seen in other cheap smartwatches. For instance, there is also critical health monitoring and data reporting, with unique features like crash detection and SOS alerts. 

To see how the Apple Watch SE 2 compares, this is a bird's eye view of the best cheap smartwatches. 

Best cheap smartwatch


Screen size

Water resistance

Apple Watch SE 2


40 millimeters, 44 millimeters

50 meters

Amazfit Bip U Pro


36.32 millimeters

50 meters

Fitbit Inspire 3


18 millimeters

50 meters

Garmin Forerunner 55


26 millimeters

50 meters

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5


40 millimeters, 44 millimeters, 45 millimeters

50 meters

Which is the best cheap smartwatch for you?

It isn't always so easy trying to figure out which cheap smartwatch is best. These are my expert recommendations to help you find the best smartwatch for you.

Choose this best cheap smartwatch...

If you want...

Apple Watch Series 8

The best cheap smartwatch for iPhone users. Sync your phone with your watch using this convenient combo.

Apple Watch SE 2

An affordable smartwatch for Apple users. This best smartwatch brings incredible value. 

Fitbit Inspire 3

A cheap smartwatch specifically made for fitness tracking. Check the time and improve your health all at the same time. 

Garmin Forerunner 55

A smartwatch to keep up with your runs. This smartwatch has specific features to benefit runners.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5

The best Android smartwatch. Who says it is all about Apple?

How did I choose these cheap smartwatches?

After considering ZDNET's testing experience, researching, and conducting interviews with current users, we determined that the following are factors to consider when choosing the best cheap smartwatch for your needs. 

  • Operating system: Both Apple and Android are available as operating systems for cheap smartwatches. Before you choose the best cheap smartwatch, consider what kind of phone you use, as an iPhone will pair best with an Apple Watch, while an Android phone will work best with a Google watch.

  • Display: There are multiple screen sizes that are available with a cheap smartwatch. While some smartwatches offer a compact design, others may boast a larger design for easier viewing when it comes to messages. Before you choose the best display size, however, be sure to consider the size of your wrist so you can be sure to have a comfortable fit.

  • Features: Whether it is fitness tracking, sleep tracking, or even health monitoring, there are several additional features that may come with the best cheap smartwatch. If you plan to use your smartwatch while swimming or showering, look for a model that is waterproof.  

  • Battery life: The battery life of a cheap smartwatch is an important consideration because this is an area where some companies can slack. Before you buy, think about how often you are able to charge your battery, and look for a cheap smartwatch with a battery life that will work within that timeframe. 

  • Cost: The cost of smartwatches can vary significantly, so I looked for cheap smartwatches priced below $350. The cheapest smartwatch on the list is the Fitbit Inspire 3 at $100, while the Apple Watch Series 8 costs about $325 for a more expensive splurge. 

How do smartwatches work?

A smartwatch is a modern device that you wear around your wrist to benefit from a number of features such as tracking workout and exercise metrics, sleep, menstrual cycles, stress patterns, oxygen levels, and more

Is it worth getting a smartwatch?

A smartwatch has proven to give actionable insights on your health and wellness as well as serve as a consistent and reliable tracker. If you're interested in access to that information, then yes, a smartwatch can be a helpful investment. 

Are there alternative cheap smartwatches worth considering?

There are many different types of cheap smartwatches that you can buy. These are some of the best cheap smartwatches that almost made our list. 

View at AmazonView at Amazon

In the market for a different kind of watch? Consider our picks for the best Android smartwatch, the best Apple watch, and the best kids smartwatches!

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