Best Smartwatch 2017: The 8 best smartwatches for style, fitness and function

We help you find the best smartwatch for your wrist, whether you want something stylish, sporty or discreet.

In relative tech-terms, smartwatches are still a new product category, but they’ve come a long way from the early days of ugly designs and lacklustre features.

Nowadays, thanks to newer versions of their operating systems, they’ve become less dependent on a connected smartphone, making them useful gadgets in their own right, with a wealth of standalone apps and separate connectivity.

If you’re considering an Android Wear watch, it’s worth looking to see if it’ll get the Android Wear 2.0 update. You can see what watches will be updated in this article. Android Wear 2.0 brings some important and useful updates including Google’s smart Assistant, as well as support for standalone apps that don’t require a companion on your smartphone, just like on watchOS 3 on the Apple Watch.

As smartwatches have evolved, many have become more feature-packed offering far more beyond just mirroring notifications from your phone. If you’re a fitness enthusiast, many smartwatches now feature added sensors like GPS and heart rate monitors, making them a great companion for your next workout.

Of course, with more sensors comes more battery drain. This means a lot of the more feature-packed smartwatches have to include a physically larger battery otherwise they struggle to get you through an entire day. These can lead to rather cumbersome timepieces on your wrist.

Upcoming smartwatches

IFA 2017 once again saw the announcement of new wearables, including notable smartwatches from both Samsung and, intriguingly, Fitbit.

First up, the Samsung Gear Sport is a smaller take on the Samsung Gear S3, packing in the same Tizen operating system on top of fitness credentials. Considering the size of the Gear S3 was one of our complaints, this could be a smartwatch to keep an eye on.

Then there’s the Fitbit Ionic, which can be considered Fitbit’s first true smartwatch. Having acquired Pebble, Fitbit has incorporated much of its know-how into Fitbit OS, its custom operating system. The best part of the Ionic is its claimed 4+ days battery life, which is exceptional.

Finally, as expected, Apple unveiled the Apple Watch Series 3. It now packs in cellular LTE connectivity for always-on connection, faster performance and a new barometric altimeter to bolster its fitness credentials. It will also come with watchOS 4 out of the box, which includes a number of exciting enhancements including a Siri watchface that can now speak to you, workout tracking improvements and an enhanced Music app.

With so many exciting new smartwatches on the horizon, the demise of the product category clearly has been somewhat exaggerated, but you’ll have to wait on full reviews to see just how these turn out.

We’ve listed the best smartwatches currently available in the list below catering to different needs but be sure to check out the full reviews to help you make the right decision.

Score

Key features:

  • Physical Digital Crown control
  • watchOS 3
  • 18-hour battery life
  • Waterproof to 50m
  • GPS
  • Review price: £369

The Apple Watch 2 or, to go by its official name, the Apple Watch Series 2 is the best smartwatch available right now. It’s corrected many of the flaws of the original Apple Watch and given it some real purpose by augmenting its fitness credentials. The Apple Watch 2 is now waterproof to a staggering 50m, which is an impressive feat. You can now shower and swim while wearing the Apple Watch 2 without worry.

Then there’s the built-in GPS to take the fitness side even further. You’ll now be able to leave your iPhone behind when going for a run or a hike and you entire route will be accurately tracked. The heart rate sensor makes a return, further cementing the Apple Watch 2 as a solid fitness tracker alongside having some serious smartwatch smarts.

The new watchOS 3 updates have made the Apple Watch 2 feel significantly more responsive and useful, with plenty of great upgrades to performance and usability. While the Apple Watch 2 isn’t cheap, starting from £369 and going considerably higher for the fancy ceramic model, it’s the best smartwatch you can buy today.



Read the full Apple Watch Series 2 review

Apple Watch

2 of 8

Score

Key features:

  • Physical Digital Crown control
  • watchOS 3
  • 18-hour battery life
  • Review price: £259

While the Apple Watch Series 2 packs in the most features, the original Apple Watch (now renamed the Apple Watch Series 1) also received an upgrade. It now includes the same S1 chip from the Series 2, meaning you’ll see performance increases alongside watchOS 3, making a marked improvement over when we first reviewed it.

It also comes with some pretty nifty design features, the best of which are its Taptic Engine and physical crown. The Digital Crown is a wheel that can be used to scroll, zoom and navigate the user interface. When pushed it also acts as a home button and returns to the Apple Watch homescreen.

The Taptic Engine is a linear actuator that’s embedded in the Apple Watch’s screen. The tech is used to send vibration alerts and feedback to the Apple Watch wearer. This sounds similar to the alerts you get on 99% of wearables, but Apple’s added some unique uses for it on the Watch.

For example, when out on a run with the Apple fitness app connected and a route planned, the Taptic Engine will help make sure you stay on course by vibrating the direction you need to go – which let’s face it, is awesome.



Read the full Apple Watch review

Polar M600

3 of 8

Score

Key features:

  • GPS & GLONASS
  • Android Wear
  • Built-in optical heart rate monitor
  • Review price: £265

If you’re looking for a sports running watch that serves double duty as an Android Wear-powered smartwatch, you should take a serious look at the Polar M600. While it’s not the most stylish-looking wearable around – it looks like a sports watch – it does mean that it’ll stand up to some serious workouts thanks to its rugged IPX8 water resistance.

With GPS to track your distance and pace, and a heart rate monitor, it checks all the boxes for serious runners looking to get fitter and improve their performance. All of the data pulls into Polar’s Flow app so you can keep tabs on your exercise routine.

Android Wear is the icing on the cake, meaning there’s a good selection of apps and smartwatch functionality. The great news is that the Polar M600 is among the list of confirmed smartwatches getting the Android Wear 2.0 update, too, so you won’t feel left behind.



Read the full Polar M600 review

Score

Key features:

  • GPS & GLONASS
  • Android Wear 2.0
  • Built-in optical heart rate monitor
  • Magnetometer, barometer
  • Review price: £450

This isn’t a smartwatch for everyone, but if you’re outdoor-inclined it might just be the best choice for you. Casio’s second Android Wear smartwatch is a serious piece of kit that has been tested against the MIL-STD-810G standard so you know it’s going to withstand some serious wear and tear. It’s also water-resistant to 50m.

It has all the sensors you might want if you’re an avid runner, but it goes so much further. If you’re a hiker, you’ll love the altimeter, air pressure read-outs, the clock showing the sunrise and sunset times, compass and the indicator of the day’s tide levels. You can also download map data for use offline, meaning if you’re the Bear Grylls type you’ll be well prepared.

Of course, as this watch runs Android Wear 2.0, you can also bolster its capabilities with a raft of apps as well as benefitting from having access to the usual smartphone controls.



Read the full Casio Pro Trek Smart WSD-F20 review

Huawei Watch

5 of 8

Score

Key features:

  • Stainless steel body and sapphire crystal
  • Android Wear
  • AMOLED screen
  • Review price: £289

The Huawei Watch is the prettiest Android Wear smartphone around. The stainless steel chassis and sapphire crystal over the screen make the Huawei Watch look and feel like a top-end timepiece. In terms of design, the original Huawei Watch beats out the newer Huawei Watch 2 although it loses out on much of the fitness tracking side.

But it’s not just a looker; it also houses some nifty tech. The Huawei Watch’s 1.4-inch AMOLED display is a key selling point, with the 400×400 resolution making it one of sharpest available on a smartwatch. The Snapdragon 400 CPU and 512MB of RAM also do a decent job keeping things running and ensure that the Huawei Watch is smooth to use. The Huawei Watch has been confirmed to be getting the Android Wear 2.0 update, too.

The only real downside to the Huawei Watch are its slightly small 300mAh battery, which struggles to survive a full day with heavy use.



Read the full Huawei Watch review

Score

Key features:

  • Android Wear 2.0
  • 1.2-inch 360×360 P-OLED display
  • IP67 water- and dust-resistance
  • Review price: £230

The LG Watch Style was announced alongside the sportier LG Watch Sport, and both smartwatches were the shining lights to showcase Google’s new Android Wear 2.0 operating system.

While the Watch Style lacks many of the sporty features of the Watch Sport, it does mean it’s far sleeker for it, with it being one of the slimmest Android Wear watches available. Pair this with its rotating crown for interacting with Android Wear 2.0 and it makes for one attractive smartwatch.

Of course, Android Wear 2.0 brings a raft of improvements including much better handling of notifications, an on-watch keyboard for responding and Google’s clever Assistant for interacting. If you don’t need advanced sensors such as GPS for sport, the LG Watch Style is a great choice.



Read the full LG Watch Style review

Score

Key features:

  • Tizen OS
  • AMOLED screen
  • Two-day battery life
  • Review price: £250

Now that the Samsung Gear S3 has been released, the older Gear S2 is now a little cheaper at around £200. In many respects, we still prefer it over the much chunkier Gear S3 even if it does miss out on a load of added sensors that will appeal to outdoor adventurers.

The Gear S2’s 1.2-inch circular screen has a 360×360 resolution and uses AMOLED tech, making it one of the sharpest and most vibrant displays available on a smartwatch. The rotating bezel is also one of our favourite methods of interacting with a smartwatch, as it means your fingers don’t obstruct the display.

Add to this its solid two-day battery life and the Gear S2 becomes one of the best smartwatches around, at least from a hardware perspective.

Its only drawback is its use of Samsung’s own Tizen OS, rather than the more common Android Wear. Tizen is a custom OS that’s based on Linux. On paper it’s pretty good and will let you pair the Gear S2 with any Android smartphone, not just Samsung Galaxy phones. But it’s nowhere near as developed as Android Wear, which itself isn’t perfect. There’s not nearly as many apps available as the Android Wear app store but the core functionality is at least present from what is available.



Read the full Samsung Gear S2 review

Score

Key features:

  • Android Wear
  • Physical crown button
  • Snapdragon 400 CPU
  • Review price: £150

The ZenWatch 2 was already pretty light on your wallet when we first reviewed it, but now that it’s a little older it’s even greater value as the price has dropped closer to £100. This makes it a great option if you don’t want to spend a lot on a smartwatch. The great news is that Android Wear 2.0 is confirmed to be coming as a software update.

Despite being cheaper, Asus hasn’t cut any major corners on the ZenWatch 2. The device has a metal, premium-feeling body, and a wide selection of strap options. The square face might look a little dated when compared to most newer Android Wear options that have a circular design, but that’ll be down to personal taste. The Apple Watch isn’t circular and most people like its design after all.

It’s also pretty well specced, with Asus having loaded it with an impressive AMOLED touchscreen, Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 CPU and 512MB of RAM.

The ZenWatch 2’s only serious shortcoming is its lack of a heart rate monitor, which makes it a poor choice for fitness nuts.



Read the full Asus ZenWatch 2 review