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The best waterproof smartwatches you can buy: Expert tested

We tested all the best waterproof smartwatches from Apple, Samsung, Garmin, and more. Here's how to choose the right one for your swimming and water activity needs.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer
Apple Watch Ultra 2 | Best waterproof smartwatch overall
apple-watch-ultra-underwater
Apple Watch Ultra 2
Best waterproof smartwatch overall
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Apple Watch Series 9 | Best waterproof smartwatch for most iPhone users
apple-watch-9-nike-1
Apple Watch Series 9
Best waterproof smartwatch for most iPhone users
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Garmin Quatix 7 Pro | Best waterproof Garmin smartwatch overall
garmin-quatix-7-pro-3
Garmin Quatix 7 Pro
Best waterproof Garmin smartwatch overall
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Garmin Venu 3S | Best waterproof Garmin smartwatch for most people
Garmin Venu 3S on wrist
Garmin Venu 3S
Best waterproof Garmin smartwatch for most people
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Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic | Best waterproof Samsung smartwatch
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic
Best waterproof Samsung smartwatch
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Coros Apex 2 Pro | Best waterproof smartwatch for long battery life
Coros Apex 2 Pro
Coros Apex 2 Pro
Best waterproof smartwatch for long battery life
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Suunto Race | Best waterproof smartwatch with lap counter
suunto-race6
Suunto Race
Best waterproof smartwatch with lap counter
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Show more (2 items)

Swimming is a fantastic low-impact activity that can help you improve your health and wellness while also helping you relax thanks to the natural effects of being in the water. Water provides buoyancy but adds resistance, so it is light on your joints and helps you stretch and improve your flexibility.

One way to monitor your exercise activity in the water is with a waterproof smartwatch, and there are plenty of options available to buy today. At ZDNET, we've tested all of the best smartwatches on the market, evaluating factors like the ability to function while submerged in water, heart rate accuracy in the water, battery life, smart features, and more. 

Also: The best Apple Watches we've tested

All of the watches in this list have at least a certification for 5 ATM and/or an IPX8 rating. ATM stands for atmosphere, and to be 5 ATM means that the watch can withstand pressure equivalent to 50 meters/164 feet. Lower ratings can withstand some water exposure, but the pressure associated with swimming means a 5 ATM rating is the minimum recommended for this activity.

What is the best waterproof smartwatch right now?

Based on both our hands-on testing and insights from experts, we named the Apple Watch Ultra 2 the best waterproof smartwatch overall due to its 10 ATM rating, diving certification, 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 -- Garmin, Coros, and Suunto compare, to find the best waterproof smartwatch for your needs and your wrist. 

The best waterproof smartwatches of 2024

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Large bright display
  • Automatic water depth utility
  • 100m water resistance
  • Extra button and emergency siren
  • Long battery life
Cons
  • 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. 

The native support for water sports is evident as soon as you submerge the Apple Watch Ultra 2. The first time I saw the depth gauge, it was exciting, and it's clear that this watch is optimized for the pool. If you wear it in salt water, be very careful to rinse it off immediately in fresh water and avoid going too deep with the watch.

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
Pros
  • Temperature sensing for sleep and ovulation estimates
  • Crash detection contacts first responders when you're in an accident
  • WR50 water resistance
  • New advanced workout metrics
Cons
  • 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 Series 9, you no longer need an active connection for Siri, since the watch can now process requests without it. 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
Pros
  • AMOLED display
  • LED flashlight
  • Long battery life
  • Extensive water sports support
  • High-end materials
Cons
  • Expensive
More Details

While most of these watches are focused on use in the water, the Garmin Quatix 7 Pro also excels for functions floating on top of the water. It supports connections to various marine electronics while helping you sail, maintain an anchored position, view the local tides, and more.

Having an LED flashlight readily available on your wrist in the marine environment is important, too. Things are often dropped into the bilges or in tight spaces on a boat, where a flashlight is key to finding items, flipping switches, and checking out the condition of the vessel. The LED flashlight also has red light mode to see things in dark conditions without ruining your night vision. Maintaining night vision on the bridge or helm is important to see navigation lights, buoys, and other objects on the water at night.

AlsoThis is the perfect smartwatch for anyone who loves the water

The watch body is made with ocean-bound plastics while all of your favorite water sports are well supported. This includes open swimming, pool swimming, surfing, and more.

The Garmin Quatix 7 Pro also includes the whole suite of Garmin's extensive health monitoring features, such as heart rate monitoring, stress tracking, pulse ox reading, women's health features, and more. 

Garmin Quatix 7 Pro tech specs: Display: 416 x 416 pixels AMOLED | Battery life: 16 days or 6 days with AOD | Dimensions: 47 x 47 x 14.6mm | Weight: 47 g (without band) | Water/Dust resistance: 10 ATM | LTE cellular option: No    

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

Garmin's watches are GPS sports watches focused on helping you improve your health, fitness, and performance. There are often some features that rival traditional 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. It has a brilliant AMOLED display, its battery lasts for more than a week, it lets you accept and make calls from the wrist, and it 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
Pros
  • Brighter, bigger display
  • Rotating bezel is unique to Samsung
  • Upgraded One UI 5 software update
Cons
  • 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 Watch 6 Classic also has a water lock mode so you're safe to take it swimming.

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
Pros
  • Long battery life
  • Lightweight design with premium materials
  • Full-featured Coros Training Hub
  • Digital knob for easy navigation
Cons
  • Limited notification and app support
More Details

Since Coros launched its first GPS sports watch, stellar battery life has been a hallmark of its products, and the Apex 2 Pro continues that trend with an acclaimed 75 hours of battery life (with all GNSS enabled) and 25 hours with multi-band frequency enabled.

Coros is known for producing watches with premium materials at prices less than Apple and Garmin. The Apex 2 Pro is no different, with a scratch-resistant sapphire glass display and a grade 5 titanium bezel and back panel. The sides of the watch are constructed with a plastic material that, while not as shimmery as glass and metal, makes for a durable exterior.

Review: Coros Apex 2 Pro review: Cheaper sports watches are getting good

Supported activities in the water include pool swimming, open water swimming, speed surfing, windsurfing, rowing, whitewater rafting, and flatwater stand-up paddle board. The watch isn't that big either, so it is comfortable to wear when participating in these sports in the water.

One aspect of the Coros experience that stands out from others is the smartphone application and powerful Coros Training Hub website that includes its EvoLab section for custom training plans, activity details, and more.

Coros Apex 2 Pro tech specs: Display: 1.3-inch, 260 x 260 pixels MIP | Battery life: 75 hours | Dimensions: 46 x 46 x 14 mm | Weight: 53 grams (with nylon strap) | Water resistance: 5 ATM | LTE Cellular option: No

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Excellent GPS tracking accuracy
  • Outstanding battery life
  • Useful AI coaching
  • Handy swimming functions
Cons
  • Questionable heart rate readings
  • One size available
More Details

The Suunto Race shines with accurate location tracking, useful health/wellness data, and solid hardware. There are a few areas for improvement, but the reasonable price makes it easier to accept compromises, especially with the assumption that future software updates can streamline its performance.

Many people who swim for exercise spend time in a pool. The Suunto Race supports pool swimming and includes the capability to count your laps with the swim timer. The Race can also be used for swim-run events, with automatic transitions between your open-water swim and your running segment. Surfing stats, including how many waves you surface and your surfing speed, are also supported on the Race.

Review: One of the most gorgeous sports watches I've tested also has week-long battery life

Other data such as sleep tracking, HRV measurements, training load, and recovery metrics matched much closer to other watches I've been testing. I quickly picked up the watch user interface and found the rotating crown button to be useful for scrolling through lists, selecting to open more details, and moving around the colorful maps. I even found the bright AMOLED display useful even though I would love to have some brightness controls and red light options.

Suunto Race tech specs: Display: 1.43-inch 466 x 466 pixels AMOLED| Battery life: 30 days | Dimensions: 49 x 49 x 13.3 mm | Weight: 69 grams | Water resistance: 100 meters | LTE Cellular option: No

What is the best waterproof smartwatch?

My pick for the best waterproof smartwatch overall 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 5, 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 9. 

Smartwatch

Price

Battery life

Face dimension 

Apple Watch Ultra 2

$799

36 hours

49mm

Apple Watch Series 9

$399

18 hours

45mm

Garmin Quatix 7 Pro

$800

6 days

47mm

Garmin Venu 3S

$400

10 days

41mm

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic 

$400

40 hours 

43mm and 47mm 

Coros Apex 2 Pro

$450

14 days

46.1mm

Suunto Race

$450

12 days

49mm

Which is the right waterproof smartwatch for you?

If you're in the Apple ecosystem, we highly recommend the Apple Watch Ultra 2 or Apple Watch Series 9 due to the easy connectivity and convenience of features like Apple Pay and Apple Music. 

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic is a great smartwatch built to last with stellar sensors and the ability to work with all Android phones, but optimized for Samsung phone users.

However, finding the best waterproof 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. 

Garmin Quatix 7 Pro

A high-end watch that works well with any connected smartphone while having features specific to activities in the water. You can't go wrong with the brilliant AMOLED display, LED flashlight, and vast ecosystem that supports swimming, boating, and other activities in and above the water.

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.

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. 

Coros Apex 2 Pro

A watch with a very long battery life that relieves you of any battery anxiety. It is also smaller so less of an issue while swimming, surfing, or paddling.

Suunto Race

A powerful watch that tracks your laps, surfing metrics, and has a long battery life. Your sleep and other health metrics are also captured with the AI coach providing guidance for optimal performance.     

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 proprietary operating systems like those found from Garmin and Suunto.

  • Price: Most smartwatches are priced in the $400 to $800 range, so price is clearly a consideration for your waterproof smartwatch. 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 Apple or Samsung smartwatch to last a full day and night, so you can track your sleep and then charge it while you get ready for work. Other waterproof watches in this list last for days or even weeks so you have lots of options when it comes to figuring out your desired charging strategy.

  • 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, Suunto, 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 swimming in the pool or local lakes, 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.

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, Coros, and Suunto 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.

Are there alternative waterproof 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 swimming workouts. Here's a short list of choices that I thought were great options.

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