Best smartwatch 2019: The best wearables for style, fitness and function

Trusted Reviews reveals the best smartwatches we have reviewed, covering everything from basic notifications to advanced fitness tracking

If you’re on the hunt for the best smartwatch then you’ve come to the right place. 2019 has been another year of dominance for the Apple Watch when it comes to smartwatches, with the Apple Watch 5 once again getting our top recommendation. Of course, if you’re an Android user then the story is a little more difficult.

There have been a couple of high-profile smartwatches this year, however nothing hugely innovation. There are good recommendations for watches running Wear OS, Tizen and Huawei’s own software.

Here’s our summary of the best smartwatches, with options to suit most people. Scroll down to read our full reviews of each, or to see the complete list.

How we pick the best smartwatches

Before we score any smartwatch (or any other wearable, for that matter) one of our expert reviewers will don the device for at least a week before passing judgement. During testing, we see how each smartwatch operates, test all of the advertised claims and features, and conduct a variety of battery tests based on different use cases (logging longevity with and without constant heart rate monitoring, for example).

We try and keep the conditions as uniform as possible so that we can draw fair comparisons between similarly capable devices.


Apple Watch 5

1. Apple Watch Series 5

The best smartwatch on the market – if you’re an iPhone user

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Pros:

  • Always-on display feels like a “proper watch”
  • All the previous straps still work
  • Great at making you want to move and be active

Cons:

  • No huge improvements to battery life
  • No support for Android users

Apple’s wearable remains one of the brand’s finest products and an increasingly useful accessory.

Apple Watch Series 5 might not be packed with upgrades over its excellent predecessor, but the addition of a screen that displays the time whether you’re looking at the watch or not should make lots of people very happy. Finally, the Apple Watch doesn’t feel like a computer on your wrist, and Apple has added this feature without sacrificing battery life.

The screen retains the same OLED panel used in the Series 4. It’s fantastic: bright, sharp, responsive and stretches just about edge-to-edge.

The fitness and activity features really encourage you to move, nudging you to complete your three daily activity goals (move, exercise, stand) and giving badges for hitting targets – plus that satisfying buzz on your wrist.

Combine the updated display with excellent fitness tracking features, sleek design and a huge number of strap options, and you’ve got a seriously tempting iPhone 11 accessory.

Apple Watch 5 review

Fossil 5th Gen Watch – The Carlyle

2. Fossil Gen 5

A near-perfect blend of personal assistant features and fitness tracking capabilities

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Pros:

  • Lightweight, smooth design
  • New battery modes
  • Feature-packed

Cons:

  • Battery life could always be better

With its fifth generation of smartwatches, Fossil finally hits its stride. Fossil Gen 5 includes the Snapdragon Wear 3100 chipset, various new features, and sets a new standard against which Wear OS devices should be measured.

Fossil’s fashion experience has always meant that its smartwatches have the upper hand where design is concerned, and the fifth-generation devices are no exception. The Carlyle (for men) and the Julianna (for women) are not only good-looking and comfortable, but also lightweight and unobtrusive, showing that Fossil now understands the physical parameters it needs to follow if its smartwatches are to be taken seriously as fitness trackers.

A 416 x 416 AMOLED display that packs a vibrant 328 pixels per inch is a substantial jump in quality. Colourful app icons pop against a black menu screen, while some of the more artistic watch faces cram a surprising amount of detail into a small amount of space.

Boasting NFC, GPS, heart rate tracking, water resistance and a built-in speaker, Fossil’s Gen 5 smartwatches aren’t lacking in the feature department. A faster user experience and the new inclusion of life-saving battery modes also contribute to an extraordinary step forward. If you’ve been holding out for a near-perfect blend of fitness tracking capabilities and smartwatch features, Fossil Gen 5 might be the answer.

Apple Watch Series 3

3. Apple Watch Series 3

Best smartwatch for iPhone users on a budget

Pros:

  • Snappy performance
  • Super-bright and clear display
  • Decent battery life (when not reliant on LTE)
  • Apple Pay

Cons:

  • LTE has a big impact on battery life
  • Needs more dedicated watch apps to make use of LTE
  • Siri doesn’t always work
  • No LTE roaming

With the arrival of the Series 4, Apple retired the humble Series 1 and trimmed the Series 3 line down to serve as its replacement as the new “affordable” Apple Watch, and the price of the Series 3 is continuing to drop.

You can still choose between GPS-only and cellular versions of the Series 3. However, the finish options have now been cut right back to just silver or black-bodied aluminium, with a white or black Sport Band respectively.

The Series 3 introduced an altimeter for elevation tracking and, like the Series 2 and Series 4, the Series 3 is still good for swim tracking, with water resistance up to 50m.

Updated watchOS 5 support is also a nice upgrade, meaning a consistent experience with its successor.

4. Huawei Watch GT 2

Best smartwatch for battery life

Pros:

  • Reasonable price
  • Good fitness tracking
  • Attractive design
  • Formidable battery life

Cons:

  • No always-on display
  • Few smartwatch functions
  • Limited software

The Huawei Watch GT 2 is the brand’s latest smartwatch running its own software and it offers a nice alternative to Wear OS and Tizen for those using Android. It remains somewhat of a limited OS when it comes to apps but it does have a nice focus on fitness tracking.

The watch itself goes for that look of mimicking a traditional timepiece, rather than the more modern look of, say, the Apple Watch. This will certainly appeal to some and overall it looks very nice. It has a 1.4-inch OLED circular display with a 462ppi – although there’s no always-on option – and two buttons on the side.

Battery life is the biggest hit though and if you’ve been put off switching to a smartwatch because you don’t want to have to charge it every single night then you’ll like the Watch GT2. We managed around two weeks of use on a single charge and this is far better than most of the competition.

5. Samsung Galaxy Watch Active

Best smartwatch for design

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Pros:

  • Good data-rich exercise tracking
  • Looks petite and expensive
  • Good smartwatch feature breadth (if not depth)
  • Very bright screen

Cons:

  • Few useful apps
  • Battery life is only passable
  • Misses out on Samsung’s control bezel

The Galaxy Watch Active is Samsung’s slickest yet and easily a best smartwatch. It’s packed with features and a great gym buddy thanks to its data-rich exercise tracking. There’s a good selection of features too – an obvious must for a high-end wearable like this.

Previous Galaxy (and before that Gear) watches stood out thanks to a unique rotating bezel that aided navigation; unfortunately, the Active ditches this and loses something as a result. The circular display is still lovely and bright, however, and the Tizen OS is easy to work your way around.

Battery life isn’t the best and apps remain fairly sparse, but this is still one of the best smartwatches around.

TicWatch Pro on wrist 2

6. Mobvoi TicWatch Pro

Sublime battery life, sleek design

Pros:

  • Flagship-class feature set
  • Competitively priced
  • Excellent battery life
  • Stylish design

Cons:

  • Limited fitness tracking options
  • Laggy performance
  • No cellular option

Priced under £220, the TicWatch Pro is one of the better Wear OS buys right now. The design is stylish and the smartwatch boasts pretty much every feature you could want: GPS, NFC and excellent battery life. Its coolest addition is the display, which features a secondary FSTN panel that offers basic watch features and extends overall longevity.

This secondary screen is monochrome and always on, with the watch jumping to the more traditional full-colour Wear OS face when you raise it.

As with other Wear OS devices, performance is merely so-so. The Snapdragon 2100 SoC is old and needs replacing, giving everything an extra-laggy feel. There’s no cellular option and fitness tracking is limited.

Mobvoi Ticwatch S

7. Mobvoi TicWatch S

Wear OS on the cheap

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Pros:

  • Comfortable to wear
  • Big, sharp display
  • Solid sports tracking
  • Budget-friendly price

Cons:

  • No NFC
  • Average battery life
  • Proprietary straps

Built by Mobvoi, a company founded by ex-Google employees, the TicWatch S is among the best-value smartwatches currently available. It’s the sporty option in the company’s current line-up, sitting next to the more fashion-focused Ticwatch E.

While it costs a modest £120, it offers some great features. Highlights include a comfortable, fairly slimline design, super-sharp 1.4-inch OLED display and surprisingly smooth performance (for the price).

GPS and a heart rate monitor are included and, as it’s running on Google’s Wear OS, it can double as a running watch or entry-level fitness tracker, which is pretty darned impressive at the price.

The only minor downsides are its so-so battery life and complete lack of NFC – though you’ll struggle to find these on any smartwatch at this price point.

How do I buy the right smartwatch for me?

Those are our top picks of the best smartwatches. If you want to know more about smartwatches and what to look out for when buying one, then read on.

Best smartwatches – which operating system?

Currently, there are three big smartwatch operating systems: watchOS from Apple, Wear OS from Google and Tizen from Samsung. Fitbit, a relative newcomer to the smartwatch space, has its own Fitbit OS but so far none of its smartwatches has made this list. A big reason for this is the lack of app support, and that’s what you’ll want to consider when picking your smartwatch. Right now, watchOS is by far the best supported for apps, followed by Wear OS, with Tizen lagging behind.

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Best Samsung Galaxy Watch Active Deal

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 40mm Silver

A stunning wearable, the Samsung smart watch is also feature packed, complete with all the essential sport tracking functionalities, as well as notifications right at your wrist.

Best smartwatches – what to look for?

Aside from the operating system, consider how you intend to use your smartwatch. Many smartwatches now double as fitness trackers and sports watches – if this is important to you, you’ll want a smartwatch with built-in GPS and a heart rate sensor. Smartwatches with these features are often much bigger.

Water resistance is ideal across the board. Even if you’re not a swimmer, it’s nice to not have to take your smartwatch off to have a shower, or worry about it during a downpour.

Battery life is the other big consideration. In the early days, many smartwatches struggled to last a single day. Most have improved considerably, offering at least two days without a charge, and that’s the minimum we’d recommend.

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