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The best smartwatches you can buy: Expert tested

We tested the best smartwatches from Apple, Samsung, Google, and more. Here's how to choose the right one for you.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer
Apple Watch Ultra 2 | Best smartwatch overall
Apple Watch Ultra 2
Apple Watch Ultra 2
Best smartwatch overall
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Apple Watch Series 9 | Best smartwatch for iPhone users
Apple Watch Series 9
Best smartwatch for iPhone users
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Google Pixel Watch 2 | Best Google smartwatch
Google Pixel Watch 2
Google Pixel Watch 2
Best Google smartwatch
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Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic | Best Samsung smartwatch
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic
Best Samsung smartwatch
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Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro | Best Samsung smartwatch for outdoor adventurers
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro
Best Samsung smartwatch for outdoor adventurers
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Apple Watch SE | Best value Apple Watch
Apple Watch SE
Best value Apple Watch
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Garmin Venu 3S | Best Garmin smartwatch alternative
Garmin Venu 3S on wrist
Garmin Venu 3S
Best Garmin smartwatch alternative
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Amazfit Balance | Best basic, budget smartwatch
Amazfit Balance
Best basic, budget smartwatch
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Withings ScanWatch 2 | Best hybrid smartwatch
Withings ScanWatch 2
Best hybrid smartwatch
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Show more (4 items)

With advanced features such as voice assistants, crash detection, call and text support, and long battery lives, modern smartwatches are far more than just an accessory. And thanks to powerful sensors and extensive app suites, they've become one of the most popular health and fitness trackers, too.

At ZDNET, we've tested all of the best smartwatches on the market, testing their battery life, durability, features, and more. We also interviewed athletes, fitness experts, and medical professionals to ask what features they loved most about their smartwatches to help you get a better idea of the top health and fitness tracking features, too.

Also: The best Apple Watches we've tested

What is the best smartwatch right now?

Based on both our hands-on testing and insights from experts, we named the Apple Watch Ultra 2 the best smartwatch overall due to its new processor, long battery life, storage capacity, high-quality titanium materials, sleep-tracking capabilities, women's wellness features, and advanced workout metric feature suite. If you're not an Apple user, read on to see how watches from Samsung -- including its newest Galaxy Watch 6 Classic -- Google, Garmin, Withings, and Amazfit compare, to find the best smartwatch for your needs and your wrist. 

The best smartwatches of 2024

Pros & Cons
  • Large bright display
  • Crash detection contacts first responders when you're in a crash
  • 100m water resistance
  • Extra button and dual speakers
  • Long battery life
  • No offline mapping
  • May be too large for small wrists
More Details

The Apple Watch maintained the same form factor and basic design for eight years, but all of that changed in 2022 when Apple released the radical new Apple Watch Ultra, built and optimized for the outdoor adventurer. The Ultra 2 builds on the Ultra with a new processor, a much brighter display, twice the storage capacity, and the use of recycled titanium materials.

AlsoApple Watch Ultra 2 vs. Watch Ultra: Is it time to upgrade?

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 is the most rugged and capable Apple Watch to date and offers a bright, flat 49mm display made of scratch-resistant sapphire glass and 3000 nits maximum brightness. The Apple Watch Ultra 2 is larger than the Series 9, but the titanium case helps keep the weight down, and it is far lighter than competing sports watches. 

Apple's WatchOS 10 launched with APIs for custom workouts and we are starting to see third parties release new versions of applications to support this advanced training functionality. We tested the TrainingPeaks integration and this capability is a serious shot across the bow of dedicated GPS sports watches.

Apple Watch Ultra 2 tech specs: Display: 49mm, 410 x 502 pixels OLED sapphire glass | Battery life: 36 hours | Dimensions: 49 x 44 x 14.4mm | Weight: 61.3 g | Water/Dust resistance: 100m with IP6X | LTE cellular option: Yes    

Pros & Cons
  • Temperature sensing for sleep and ovulation estimates
  • Crash detection contacts first responders when you're in a crash
  • WR50 water resistance
  • New advanced workout metrics
  • Less than two-day battery life
More Details

Released in 2023, the Series 9 model builds upon the Apple Watch legacy. Similar to the Ultra 2, the Series 9 supports a double tap gesture that allows you to control your phone by simply tapping your index finger and thumb together. With this feature, you can do everything from answering calls, snoozing your morning alarm, playing or pausing media, ending timers, and more.

\With the new Series 9, you no longer need an active connection for Siri, since the watch can now process requests without it. Not to mention, due to Crash Detection, the watch can also detect when you are involved in a car crash and will connect you to emergency services. 

AlsoApple Watch Series 9: Top 4 features that warrant the upgrade from Series 8

Among other features, the Series 9 is excellent for daily users, and athletes looking to track their health journey. Former University of San Diego track athlete Emma Clark said she replaced her Garmin Forerunner with an Apple Watch when she retired from competition. 

"For someone who lives an active lifestyle but is no longer competing competitively, it makes the most sense to have a watch integrated with important things on my phone, like my calendar and messages," Clark said.

Apple Watch Series 9 tech specs: Display: 396 x 484 pixels OLED | Battery life: 18 hours | Dimensions: 45 x 38 x 10.7mm | Weight: 38.8 g (Al) | Water/Dust resistance: 50m with IP6X | LTE cellular option: Yes  

Pros & Cons
  • Fitbit integration
  • Advanced safety features
  • Small size, extreme comfort
  • Improved battery life
  • Limited customization of exercise details
  • Still only one size
More Details

Google's second-generation Pixel Watch 2 improves in one key area: it has a longer battery life than the original Pixel Watch. This is achieved through a slightly larger battery capacity, but even more of this improvement is due to the modern Qualcomm processor found at the watch's core. 

Fitbit development includes improved stress tracking thanks partly to the cEDA measurements, stress management score, and skin temperature sensor. We also now have pace and heart rate zone alerts that can be set before the start of your exercise. 

AlsoGoogle Pixel Watch 2 review: In one key area, it surpasses every other smartwatch

Another part of the stress management aspect is logging your mood and completing mindfulness sessions. I appreciate this focus on mental health as it helps me take a break during the day and evaluate my physical and emotional state. Slowing down and reflecting is always important to do.

One of the best functions of the Pixel Watch 2, which even beats out the Apple Watch, is the focus on safety. The Apple Watch can appear in your Find My application, and you can share your location with family and friends, but that's a passive setting that requires people to physically check the app to find you. 

Google Pixel Watch 2 tech specs: Display: 320ppi AMOLED | Battery life: 24 hours with AOD | Dimensions: 41 x 41 x 12.3mm | Weight: 31 g (without band) | Water/Dust resistance: 5 ATM | LTE cellular option: Yes    

Pros & Cons
  • Brighter, bigger display
  • Rotating bezel is unique to Samsung
  • Upgraded One UI 5 software update
  • Large display is likely to consumer more battery power
More Details

Samsung's latest smartwatch, the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic, was unveiled along with the Galaxy Watch 6 at its 2023 Unpacked event last summer. Both watches in the 6 Series offer the One UI 5 software update, focusing more on sleep tracking, fitness, and safety features. However, the 6 Classic offers the most extensive Samsung Watch display (1.5 Super AMOLED), bringing back the Samsung-unique rotating bezel. 

After testing out the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic, the rotating bezel became one of ZDNET reviews editor Kerry Wan's favorite features -- it's "intuitive and seamlessly designed," and "there's more precision when setting timers and sifting through settings, as you always know that the next value or tab is a tick away," he writes. Wan adds that the watch's longer battery life and new sleep-friendly settings make it a great choice, too.

The Galaxy Watch 6 Classic comes in both 43mm and 47mm sizes, with the 47mm being the largest option of any Galaxy smartwatch the company has released. 

Also: Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic v. Watch 5 Pro: Which smartwatch is best for you? 

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic tech specs: Display: 1.5-inch 480x480 Super AMOLED (47mm) and 1.3-inch 432x432 (43mm) | Battery life: Up to 40 hours | Dimensions: 46.5 x 46.5 x 10.9 mm (47mm) 42.5 x 42.5 x 10.9 mm (43mm) | Weight: 59g (47mm) and 52g (43mm)| Water/Dust resistance: 5ATM/IP68/MIL-STD-810H | LTE cellular option: Yes  

Pros & Cons
  • Lightweight titanium casing
  • Sapphire glass AMOLED display
  • Large capacity battery
  • Google Wear OS 3 app support
  • Large size not suitable for smaller wrists
  • Blood pressure certification taking much longer than advertised
More Details

As Apple continues to update and improve the Apple Watch, Samsung is clearly not standing by. While it's not the newest Samsung wearable on the block anymore, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro offers many advanced health tracking features, such as blood oxygen monitoring, ECG, and sleep tracking, with longer battery life than the Apple Watch.

The body composition measurements in the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, skin temperature sensor, and high-end materials are typically found in high-end GPS sports watches priced at twice the cost of the Watch 5 Pro. I spent a few weeks with the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro conducting our full review and continue to use it a year later.

Review: Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: The best wearable for Android fans

The Watch 5 Pro runs the Samsung-powered Google Wear OS 3, meaning it still looks like a Samsung smartwatch but also supports Google Assistant, Google Maps, Google Wallet, Google Play Store, and more Google apps.

It has an operating system optimized for the round watch design with a virtual rotating bezel. 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.

Galaxy Watch 5 Pro tech specs: Display: 1.4 inch, 450 x 450 pixels Super AMOLED | Battery life: Two to three days | Dimensions: 45.5 x 45.5 x 15.0mm | Weight: 46.5 grams (without strap) | Water resistance: 5 ATM+IP68 | LTE cellular option: Yes

Pros & Cons
  • Gorgeous, refined hardware
  • Excellent price for a powerful smartwatch
  • Broad support for health and fitness features
  • Extensive third-party application support
  • Less than two days of battery life
  • Limited sleep details
More Details

Apple made an interesting move in 2020 and released a lower-priced Apple Watch designed to expand the use of an Apple Watch to other family members. The newest version of the Apple Watch SE starts at just $249, and if you are an iPhone user, it's an easy wearable to recommend.

Emery Wright, a former ZDNET associate editor who contributed to this article, wears her Apple Watch to track her steps, check notifications, and stay mindful of how she spends her time. She said it helps her accurately track running distance and pace while she trains for her next half-marathon.

With an Apple Watch, iPhone users can answer phone calls, receive notifications, and send messages from the convenience of their wrist. That's why Dr. Richard Newman, MD, Head & Neck Surgical Oncologist, prefers wearing an Apple Watch over a Garmin one during his everyday routine.

Also: Apple Watch SE (2022) vs. Apple Watch SE (2020): Should you upgrade?

Now retired, Newman is training for his 75th marathon. He said he appreciates the convenience of smartphone connectivity: "For daily running, I use the Apple Watch. As a physician, sometimes I get a call, and so I like being able to answer on my watch. It also monitors my heart rate, which is nice" he said.

The next generation of the Apple Watch SE contains many features from the Apple Watch Series 8. You gain Crash Detection technology, meaning the watch can detect if you've been in an accident and contact first responders. 

It also features the enhanced Workout app, giving you access to custom workouts and advanced metrics like heart rate zones, stride, length, and vertical oscillation. Ultimately, the newest version of the Apple Watch SE proves great things can come in small packages. 

Apple Watch SE tech specs: Display: 368 x 448 pixels OLED | Battery life: 18 hours | Dimensions: 44 x 38 x 10.7mm | Weight: 36.5 g (Al) | Water resistance: 50m | LTE cellular option: Yes

Pros & Cons
  • Brilliant AMOLED display
  • More than week long battery
  • Exquisite design, fit, and finish
  • Expensive
More Details

Garmin's watches are GPS sports watches focused on helping you improve your health, fitness, and performance. There are some features that rival smartwatches, but the Venu 3/3S is clearly the best Garmin to take on the Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch.

The Venu 3/3S is extremely well built, has a brilliant AMOLED display, lasts for more than a week, lets you accept and make calls from the wrist, and supports voice assistants via a connected smartphone.

In addition to its smartwatch functions, the Venu 3/3S supports all of the amazing Garmin functions and vast ecosystem. This includes subscription music support, Garmin Pay, Connect IQ app support, and the superb Garmin Connect smartphone application.

Review: Garmin Venu 3S

Garmin Venu 3S tech specs: Display: 390 x 390 pixels AMOLED |  Battery life (GPS): 21 hours | Dimensions: 41 x 41 x 12mm | Weight: 27 grams (40 grams with band) | Water resistance: 5 ATM | LTE Cellular option: No 

Pros & Cons
  • Gorgeous AMOLED display
  • Lovely, refined design
  • Two week battery life
  • Low price
  • Extensive health and wellness support
  • No Google Assistant support
  • Overwhelming smartphone app experience
More Details

One company that continues to push the limits of what you can buy for just over $200 is Amazfit. The Amazfit Balance offers an elegantly designed smartwatch with Amazon Alexa support and the ability to answer calls via a Bluetooth connection to your watch, just like all other non-cellular smartwatches. It runs the latest Zepp OS 3.0 operating system, built for a lean and mean experience.

It's tough to beat the low $220 price, and I continue to push the watch to see where the flaws are that could justify such a low price, but they don't exist. The Amazfit Balance has a brilliant AMOLED display, integrated mic and speaker, GPS, various advanced health/wellness sensors, and a battery life that lasts up to two weeks between charges. The battery life alone is something modern smartwatches cannot match and if you want to charge your watch just twice a month rather than every other day, then you might want to consider this watch.

Review: Why I wear this $220 smartwatch even after testing Garmin and Apple watches

Amazfit provides the Zepp smartphone application that provides an exhaustive experience to track every detail of the data captured by the various sensors. The one flaw is that the application may be overwhelming for some users and thankfully, Amazfit continues to refine and simplify the application to make it more useful for Amazfit Balance owners.

Phone calls sound good and it is convenient to make and accept calls from your wrist when your phone is secured in a pocket or your backpack. There is support for more than 150 sports and the available watch faces look awesome.

Amazfit Balance tech specs: Display: 1.5-inch, 480 x 480 pixels AMOLED | Battery life: 14 days | Dimensions: 46 x 46 x 10.6 mm | Weight: 35 grams (w/o strap) | Water resistance: 5 ATM | LTE Cellular option: No

Pros & Cons
  • Excellent battery life thanks to hybrid design
  • Analog hands that adapt to digital display
  • Extensive Withings ecosystem
  • Some advanced metric require a subscription
  • Limited third-party support
More Details

Withings is focused on providing advanced health and wellness products with the ScanWatch series available to capture data from your wrist. The Withings ScanWatch 2 continues to provide 30 day battery life in a hybrid watch with support for Android and iOS smartphones.

To navigate the watch, it's as easy as rotating the crown button through the various displays and pressing in to make selections. There is no back button, so you will need to scroll through the available screens in each widget to get to the back option on the display to return to the original main display carousel.

Review: My favorite hybrid smartwatch just got smarter, and its battery life is still incredible

With a hybrid design, the Withings ScanWatch 2 has standard analog watch hands on its face with a small OLED display that you can scroll through with the rotating crown button. The ScanWatch 2 can also perform an ECG assessment, measure blood oxygen levels, track your heart rate throughout your day, measure sleep, and track your general physical activity. One gripe that I have with the sleep tracking on the watch is that it can't distinguish between deep and REM sleep, so it's not the most informative sleep-tracking device available today. 

Withings ScanWatch 2 tech specs: Display: 0.63-inch OLED| Battery life: 30 days | Dimensions: 42 x 42 x 11 mm | Weight: 52.6 grams | Water resistance: 5 ATM | LTE Cellular option: No

What is the best smartwatch?

My pick for the best smartwatch is the Apple Watch Ultra 2. It may be debatable if an iPhone is the best smartphone or not, but it is clear the Apple Watch is the wearable to beat -- especially for Apple users. The Ultra 2 is lauded by athletes and members of the press as the best Apple Watch ever made. 

If you're an Android user, you may prefer a Samsung Galaxy 6 Classic -- the newest of the company's smartwatch lineup. I picked up the LTE model that provides cellular connectivity independently from my phone, but when paired with the Galaxy Z Fold 4 (or the newest Flip 5 model), it's a perfect combination of elegance and power. Plus, the battery life even exceeds that of the standard, and comparably priced, Apple Watch Series 8. 



Battery life

Display size 

Apple Watch Ultra 2


36 hours


Apple Watch Series 9


18 hours


Google Pixel Watch 2


24 hours


Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic 


40 hours 

43mm and 47mm 

Apple Watch SE


18 hours


Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro


72 hours


Garmin Venu 3S


10 days


Amazfit Balance


14 days


Withings ScanWatch 2


30 days

38 and 42mm

Which is the right smartwatch for you?

If you're in the Apple ecosystem, we highly recommend the Apple Watch Ultra, Apple Watch SE, or Apple Watch Series 8 due to the easy connectivity and convenience of features like Apple Pay and Apple Music.

The Google Pixel Watch 2 is the prime option for Pixel owners and for those Android smartphone users who want the best available from Google. It doesn't have the battery life of a Samsung Galaxy Watch, but there are other compelling features that stand out.   

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Classic and Watch 5 Pro are great smartwatches built to last with stellar sensors and the ability to work with Android and iPhone devices. 

However, finding the best smartwatch for you can be more complicated, especially if you're looking for one that fits a specific use case. Check out my expert recommendations below.

Choose this smartwatch...

If you need...

Apple Watch Ultra 2

The best, longest-lasting smartwatch with buttons to quickly launch your favorite apps or perform critical functions. It's a durable, rugged watch that can be your iPhone companion in all situations.      

Apple Watch Series 9

A well-rounded smartwatch for fitness and communication. There's also Crash Detection, which can detect when you're involved in a car crash and connect you to emergency services. 

Google Pixel Watch 2

Google is fully engaged in providing compelling smartwatches for Pixel and Android smartphones. The Pixel Watch 2 also serves as the best Fitbit available, along with possibly the best watch for helping keep you safe.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic

Samsung's newest Galaxy watch series has upgraded sleep tracking and health insights, a bigger and brighter display that works seamlessly with a rotating bezel. 

Apple Watch SE

A more affordable option for Apple ecosystems. It also features the enhanced Workout app, giving you access to custom workouts.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro

A reliable Google Wear OS watch for your Samsung phone. It supports Google Assistant, Google Maps, Google Wallet, Google Play Store, and more Google apps.

Garmin Venu 3S

A smartwatch for advanced health tracking. You can see your recovery levels, advanced heart rate tracking, running metrics, and race time predictors. It also supports calls and your voice assistant.

Amazfit Balance

An affordable smartwatch that punches far above its price. Its powerful smartphone application provides access to a wealth of health/fitness data while supporting calls and Amazon Alexa. 

Withings ScanWatch 2

A hybrid watch that looks like a standard watch with analog hands, but underneath this elegant exterior is the power of the Withings health and wellness ecosystem.           

Factors to consider when buying a smartwatch

Smartwatches serve as companions to our smartphones, and there are several things to consider as you explore the many options available to you. Several factors will help you quickly narrow down available candidates, so let's take a closer look and help you select the best smartwatch for you.

  • Primary smartphone: Start by looking at the phone in your hand. If you own an iPhone, then you can consider an Apple Watch, or a watch running an operating system that is not powered by Google's Wear OS. If you own an Android smartphone, forget about buying an Apple Watch, as they do not even work with an iPad or Apple computer, let alone your Android. Android users can consider Google Wear OS watches, as well as those running a real-time operating system like Amazfit offers.

  • Price: Most smartwatches are priced in the $250 to $400 range, so there is not a lot of variance in price, especially if you use your smartwatch daily and want a reliable watch. Apple offers the high-end Apple Watch Ultra 2, while there are some specialized Google Wear OS and Garmin watches that can cost more than $1,000. 

  • Battery life: Expect your smartwatch to last a full day and night, so you can track your sleep and then charge it while you get ready for work. A few new smartwatches are now easily lasting 48 hours between charging, with some pushing that another day or two so we are seeing improvements in battery life.  

  • Cellular connectivity: While smartwatches serve as companions to our smartphones, some models support cellular connectivity. If you buy one of these then you will need a watch line with your carrier, but these are typically $10 per month. The Apple Watch Ultra 2 only comes with LTE support, but you are not required to enable cellular service. Cellular capability is great for those who want to leave their phones behind and still remain connected for communications, application usage, and safety.

How we test smartwatches

All of the smartwatches included in this list were chosen based on how they performed when tested in the real world by the ZDNET team. When we test smartwatches, we typically follow the same routine for each one to see which performs best.

  • Daily wear: We wear the smartwatch as our primary watch with communications, applications, and other elements being tested as if it was our only smartwatch.

  • Application selection and performance: One aspect that makes smartwatches different than standard watches is the support for applications. We load up the watch with apps and then test the performance and functionality of those applications. Apple excels in the area of third party application support with Google's Play Store improving each year. Garmin, Amazfit, and others also are expanding the number and selection of apps available on watches.

  • Workouts: Smartwatch makers have embraced health and fitness so we take our smartwatch out for running with GPS, rowing on the Hydrow, biking on trails, and walking with the family. GPS and heart rate data is tracked and then we evaluate the accuracy against proven GPS sports watches.

  • Sleep and activity tracking: Sleep tracking has improved with smartwatches over time and we evaluate them as compared to smart rings and other watches. Night time is also a good time to charge your smartwatch so you may choose not to use your watch to track sleep so your watch can serve faithfully all day and into the night.

Are there any smartwatches I should avoid?

There are many reasons why a person might want a smartwatch, so depending on your needs, it's hard to recommend watches that will satisfy everyone. However, based on my testing, there are a couple of smartwatches that you may want to leave off your list of considerations as you conduct your research.

Fossil has been offering smartwatches for a long time, and I still have a working Fossil Wrist PDA that is powered by Palm OS and has a tiny stylus. For the past few years, Fossil has been making Google Wear OS-powered smartwatches and offering a fairly compelling option with some unique styles. However, in January 2024 Fossil Group announced that it would no longer be releasing smartwatches, with the last Gen 6 model released in 2021. You can still find some Fossil watches available, and Fossil Group stated that they will continue to update the watches for the next few years, but be careful when you are considering one of these watches.

There was a great promise with a luxury Wear OS watch in 2022 when Montblanc released the Summit 3 smartwatch. While we provided a preliminary review as we looked for a future update that was supposed to add some core functionality, that update never came, and the watch sits idly by running the same older version of Wear OS on a processor that is now a couple of generations old. It's a lovely luxury watch so if you want a basic smartwatch with those good looks, maybe you can find one on sale. 

How do I set up my smartwatch?


Watches in our list, other than Google Wear OS or Apple Watch models, are typically set up by downloading and installing the associated companion smartphone application and then pairing the watch with that application. Some Google Wear OS watches also use this method since those models have additional applications beyond what Google provides on Pixel Watch.

If you own a Google Wear OS smartwatch, primarily from Google or Samsung, then the Google Watch or Samsung Wearable application must first be installed on your Android smartphone. Google Pixel Watch models also now have Fitbit integrated into the watch, but to take advantage of this vast health/fitness ecosystem the Fitbit smartphone application is also required. Samsung also has its Samsung Health application so pairing and set up of a Google Wear OS watch is a bit of a process that generally requires two or more smartphone applications.

Apple Watch users turn on the watch and then follow the prompts to pair it to an iPhone, often with the iPhone camera scanning an image that appears on the Apple Watch face. Apple has the Watch smartphone application preloaded on the iPhone so set up is quick and easy. If you had a previous Apple Watch then you can also have all of that data synced over to a new model, which makes upgrading Apple Watch models one of the experiences that keep people upgrading on a regular basis.

Can you use a Samsung or Google watch with an iPhone?

Google Wear OS watches used to work with both Android and iPhone devices, but the new Wear OS 4 and later watches from Samsung and Google only support Android smartphones. iPhone users should stick with the Apple Watch, while Android phone users should seriously consider a Google Pixel Watch or Samsung Galaxy Watch model.

Garmin, Amazfit, and Withings watches work flawlessly with both Android and iPhone devices.

Can I text from a smartwatch?

You absolutely can! However, most of their screens are too small to type on, so you'll compose messages with speech-to-text or other dictation functions or choose from several generic, auto-generated responses. 

Garmin watches support quick-response text messaging via a connected Android smartphone. Apple restricts third-party text messaging on the iPhone.

Can you use a cellular Apple Watch as a standalone device?

While you can leave your iPhone at home while you run, go to the store, or stroll on the beach, you must have an iPhone turned on and connected to the internet at this other location. This is one reason why connecting to an iPhone and switching to an Android makes the Apple Watch useless with an Android phone.

After initial setup, a cellular-enabled Samsung Galaxy Watch can act as a stand-alone mobile device. With the latest Galaxy Watch 6 or Watch 5 Pro running Wear OS powered by Samsung, many more apps can be used on the go, so you can leave the phone behind in most cases.

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 few 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, and blood oxygen levels, even allowing you to detect when ovulation occurs. You can use it as a basic ECG to check if further investigation is needed. The latest Galaxy Watch 5 can also measure your body composition; testing indicates it matches other methods reasonably well.

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.

What's the future of wearable technology?

We will likely continue to see expansion of the health and wellness features in smartwatches, but what's next on the horizon for these wrist-based computing devices? With increased connectivity and widespread adoption, smartwatches will likely become more integral to our daily lives. This may include connectivity to other devices in our lives. For example, as you approach your electronic door lock, your paired smartwatch could unlock your door so you can keep both hands on your groceries or luggage when you return home. 

People also regularly have video calls with family and friends, not just coworkers, so future smartwatches may integrate tiny cameras so that users can communicate in this same manner while out and about.

In addition, as AI continues to integrate into our lives, having this technology available in our watches should help provide data faster and more accurately than simple web search queries that we may carry out with Siri or Google Assistant.

What's the best smartwatch for health monitoring?

All smartwatches today integrate advanced heart rate sensors, temperature sensors, blood oxygen sensors, and more, as our health data is tracked 24/7. Samsung led the way with its smartwatch health monitoring, which includes body composition, advanced sleep tracking, ECG, blood oxygen, running power, and even blood pressure measurements.

Apple has advanced its health monitoring technology, and the upcoming watchOS 11 will bring even more capability with detailed data measurements in its Vitals application. Training Load will also be coming with this next version of the operating system, challenging the likes of Garmin, Coros, and Polar with this advanced fitness metric.

Can smartwatches monitor blood sugar?

The FDA released a safety communication to the public that advises consumers not to use smartwatches or smart rings that claim to measure blood glucose levels without piercing the skin. That said, there are indeed FDA-authorized blood glucose level devices that attach to your body and then send that data to smartwatch applications so that you can use your smartwatch to view the readings from an approved device.

Devices, like those from Dexcom, send real-time glucose data directly to a compatible watch. For Dexcom monitors, this includes most versions of the Apple Watch. Make sure to check both your glucose monitor and your smartwatch compatibility before deciding whether or not to use your smartwatch to connect to your monitor and smartphone.

What about tracking blood pressure?

There are a few models out there that can measure health stats like blood pressure, which are great for giving you a general idea of how your health journey is going so you can keep your doctors up-to-date with your healthcare plans. However, they're not as accurate as a blood pressure monitor, so you shouldn't rely solely on your smartwatch to monitor your heart or general health.

Samsung provides blood pressure monitoring via its Galaxy Watch models in countries outside the US, with rumors that Apple may launch watches supporting this functionality in 2024.

Should I choose a smartwatch based on compatibility?

Eric Potter, USA weightlifting Level 1 Coach and Performance Coach at Future Fitness, encourages people to choose a smartwatch based on compatibility, recommending an Apple Watch for iPhone users and a Samsung Galaxy Watch for Android fans. He notes that both smartwatches can track steps, heart rate, and exercise, but there are also crucial differences.

"The Apple Watch has a larger interface allowing for easier viewing," he said. "On the other hand, the Samsung Galaxy Watch is cheaper than the Apple Watch, and the battery life tends to last longer."

Are there alternative smartwatches worth considering?

There are many options if you're looking for a smartwatch to pair with your phone to keep up with calls and messages or track your workouts and morning jogs. Here's a short list of choices that I thought were great options.

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