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Best Smartwatch 2022: 5 great options tried and tested

Trusted Reviews rounds up the best smartwatches we’ve reviewed, from solid basic models to the most advanced fitness tracking

If you’re on the market for a smartwatch then you’re in luck as the market is currently booming.

From the humble days of Pebble, where smartwatches were essentially just wrist-worn pagers, the market has blossomed and these days there are a wealth of great wearables to choose from for all sorts of interests. Whether you’re looking for a device to control your music or you’re a hardcore triathlete in need of a serious training companion, there’s surely a smartwatch for you,

But while this choice is great, it can also make knowing which smartwatch is right for you fairly difficult. With so many wearables focusing on specific types of user and the market, and many still costing a fair amount of cash, it can be a costly mistake to plump for the wrong option.

There are also a number of often-unforeseen pitfalls that can lead to you outright wasting your money. Apple Watches, for example, still only work when paired with an iPhone, making them a poor investment for Android users. Based on our experience many seemingly-strong smartwatches don’t perform well with real world use, offering terrible battery life and poor build quality, despite having decent specs sheets.

To help you avoid these problems and get the right smartwatch for your specific needs and budget, we’ve put together this buyers’ guide which details all the top performing wearables we’ve tried and tested.

Every wearable on this list has been used by the reviewer for at least a week, during which they test all the key areas most buyers care about. These include tracking accuracy, battery life, ease of use and build quality, so you can count on our buying advice.

If you don’t find exactly what you’re looking for here you can also check out our best fitness tracker, best Apple Watch and best running watch guides, which go into more detail for those specific categories.

At a glance

How we test

Find out more about how we test smartwatches

Every smartwatch we test is used by the reviewer for at least a week, or longer if the battery life lasts beyond that point or we need more time to trial its features.

During testing we will check it for key metrics including app support, usability and battery life. If the device offers fitness, location or health tracking features we will also test these for accuracy and reliability. 

For distance tracking we record how accurately the device recorded runs on tracks we know the length of. We also record how much battery is lost using things like in-built or connected GPS per hour. To check heart rate accuracy we compare the results recorded on the wearable to a dedicated HRM strap.

After recording the data we then pair it with our general experience using the wearable day-to-day, letting you know if it’s comfortable to wear or if we encountered unexpected bugs during use over the review period.

Apple Watch Series 7

The best smartwatch
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Pros

  • Much faster charging
  • BIgger screen is great
  • Wide range of easy-to-use fitness features

Cons

  • Battery life remains a day
  • No neutral black or silver aluminium colour options

If money is no object, you own an iPhone and you want the best smartwatch experience possible then the Apple Watch 7 is the wearable to get. There’s also the Apple Watch 8, which we’re in the process of reviewing, though until we’ve fully tested it we won’t know how well it compares to the outgoing model.

During testing we found it to be easily the best smartwatch on the market, featuring a significantly more developed application library than the competing Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, which is its closest Google Wear OS rival.

The watch retains the same pebble-shaped square screen design as its predecessors, which uses a mix of touch inputs and a physical watch crown on the right side to navigate its menus.

The stellar app offering, which included every fitness app we searched for, Spotify-local music playback and of course more custom watch faces than anyone could want, plus its large OLED screen make it a pleasure to use.

The Watch 7 also comes with a solid selection of health and fitness tracking features. These include the ECG heart rate scanner and blood oxygen sensor, which aims to alert you of any potential health problems, based on the biometric data it collects and fall detection. The latter is a feature designed for older, or vulnerable wearers that lets the Watch 7 push an alert to emergency contacts if it detects its user has fallen over.

The only downside is that it’s very expensive and while we found its fitness and distance tracking services are more than good enough for most runners and gym goers, its battery life is still a little short.

During testing, we never got more than 18 hours of use out of the device, even with battery saving features, like variable refresh rate in the mix. Running with the GPS while listening to Spotify also puts a massive drain on the battery, meaning you will need to charge it daily, or multiple times a week if you’re a heavy user or regular runner. If that’s what you’re after you’ll likely want to look at one of the dedicated sports smartwatches on this list, like the Garmin Fenix 7.

Reviewer: Max Parker
Full review: Apple Watch 7 Review

Apple Watch SE

The best value Apple Watch
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Pros

  • Excellent value
  • Huge range of tracking features
  • The best smartwatch OS around
  • Wide variety of straps available

Cons

  • No always-on display
  • Battery life still only really a day

The only other downside to Apple’s flagship Watch line is that it’s very expensive and a lot of the general perks are also offered on the cheaper Watch SE. This is why we recommend the cheaper Apple Watch SE to people that don’t need the 7’s more advanced health tracking. It’s worth noting though that Apple has recently announced the Apple Watch SE 2, which we’re reviewing at the moment. If it’s good enough, it’ll replace the SE in this list when our review it done.

W found the Apple Watch SE still feels like a premium wearable. Despite being smaller than the Apple 7, it remained wonderfully comfortable to wear throughout and we never once struggled to interact with the screen using touch inputs and the crown control.

The SE also has the exact same software as the 7 and is more than fast enough to run any app or feature we threw at it without any issue. The experience never felt compromised throughout our tests.

There are a few compromises you should be aware of though. First, it’s not as ruggedly built as Apple’s priciest option. Though it feels premium the watch doesn’t have the same dust resistance rating as the 7 and its screen isn’t Sapphire Glass, it’s ionX. We never had any issue with build quality, but this means it will pick up scratches more easily, especially if you take it to the beach or use it for more animated exercise tracking.

Health tracking has also been stripped down with it lacking the blood oxygen and ECG sensors seen on its more expensive sibling. Based on our testing this means it’s not as useful for people that want a wearable to keep tabs on their health and fitness.

Reviewer: Max Parker
Full review: Apple Watch SE Review

Garmin Fenix 7

The best fitness tracker
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Pros

  • Strong outdoor tracking accuracy
  • Responsive touchscreen
  • Improved battery life

Cons

  • It’s not cheap
  • Not the full smartwatch experience
  • Core experience similar to Fenix 6

The Apple Watch 7 and Galaxy Watch 4 might be two capable fitness trackers, there’s one wearable they don’t hold a candle against in this area: the Garmin Fenix 7.

Fenix is one of Garmin’s most premium sports watch lines and if you’re a regular reader you’ll know we’re big fans. Over the past four years Garmin’s Fenix watches have consistently impressed when we’ve gotten them in for testing with every one since the Fenix 5 scoring at least 4.5/5. This remained true when we put the Fenix 7 through its paces.

Out of the box the Fenix 7’s sports focus is immediately obvious with it having a utilitarian black finish that combines a chunky metal chassis with a comfy, but undeniably industrial looking rubber strap. This is a wearable that’s designed to survive everything from tumbles into the open sea while surfing to the extreme temperatures and conditions of an ultramarathon. With our reviewer having accidentally bashed the screen into a rock while using a climbing wall we can personally confirm the Fenix 7 is the most rugged wearable on this list.

But what really sets it apart is its best in class tracking options and post workout analytics. During testing we found the Fenix 7 can track pretty much every activity you could ever think of. These include running and swimming, but extend to some activities we’d never even heard of, such as “Pickleboarding”. Doing our standard suite of tests the device offered best in class location tracking. The GPS connected within milliseconds and after a month using it our reviewer never noticed any serious anomalies in distance or dropouts. Heart rate tracking is also excellent for a wrist based wearable.

The Watch’s real-time directions and mapping powers proved to be a boon when we used them to navigate a cycle route we weren’t familiar with in London and hike in the Lake District, with the watch offering reliable turn by turn instructions.

The multi-sport functionality is much more developed than the Apple and Galaxy Watches on this list, with it having dedicated modes and much more intuitive transition controls that let us switch sports in a couple of clicks.

Post work analytics are where the wearable really differentiates itself from its more generalist competition, however. The watch can track blood oxygen, VO2 Max Estimates and a few other metrics that are important to serious athletes or health conscious buyers. But it’s the guidance it offers that’s best. The watch uses heart rate zones, VO2 Max Estimates and all the other data it collects to offer guidance on how effective your workout was and recommendations on how long you should rest before your next session. This made it very easy for our reviewer to tailor their workout to always be productive and gauge when they were close to overstraining during testing.

The 1-2 week battery life we detected during our tests also means the Fenix 7 offers the best battery life of all the wearables on this list.

The flipside of this is that the Fenix 7 offers incredibly limited smartwatch functionality compared to its Apple and Samsung rivals. The app library is limited to fitness, location tracking and a small collection of music streaming services (Deezer and Spotify). Though it supports NFC the watch is also only compatible with Garmin Pay, which doesn’t support every mainstream bank in the US or UK. As a result, we generally just found ourselves using it for basic notifications and music controls for audio coming from our phone during testing.

The only other downside is its upfront cost, with the base model retailing for $700. This, plus its undeniably hardcore focus is a key reason we recommend entry lever runners go for a more affordable wearable: the Fitbit Versa 3.

Reviewer: Michael Sawh
Full review: Garmin Fenix 7 Review

Fitbit Versa 3

The best affordable fitness tracker
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Pros

  • Feature-packed for the price
  • GPS is finally here
  • Six-day battery with intensive use

Cons

  • Fitbit’s apps and app store still need work
  • The step count is just too eager
  • Still no support for offline Spotify
  • Fitbit Premium is essential for getting your money’s worth

Fitbit is a household brand when it comes to health and fitness tracking and the Versa 3 is the best option for casual users looking for a fitness tracker with basic smartwatch functionality, based on our experience using it.

We were impressed how many features Fitbit managed to cram into the tiny square chassis, despite the Versa 3 costing nearly a third of the Garmin Fenix 7.

For starters, the watch is incredibly comfortable to wear, even when exercising. The slim, almost Apple Watch SE sized frame gives it a fashionable and discrete look that let our reviewer comfortably wear it while out of the gym, and at smart casual work events. Based on our experience, it’s only up close that most people will notice it’s not an Apple Watch, due to the slightly larger bezel surrounding the screen.

Despite its low cost the wearable does have a few pluses we’ve not seen on many other wearables at this price. For starters, there’s an inbuilt GPS chip and SpO2 sensor. These let the watch offer reliable fitness tracking without the need to lug your phone along, as you have to on many other affordable wearables, such as the Garmin Vivosmart 5 we reviewed earlier this month. The SpO2 sensor also lets it track your blood oxygen to gauge performance improvements.

With real world use both performed admirably. The GPS does take longer than the Fenix to connect, but once it did the tracking was uniform. The only time our reviewer experienced any drop outs was during city runs and cycles, where tall buildings would on occasion block the signal. Heart rate tracking remained uniform outside of our HIIT test, where it struggled to keep up with the rapid spikes during high intensity segments of the workout.

During testing, Spotify still wasn’t on the app store, though you could download music to play from Deezer and Pandora locally. The ability to store any music locally is again a rare luxury on a tracker this price so the absence of Spotify is forgivable.

The only real downsides are that its app offering is behind Apple and Google’s and Fitbit, unlike Garmin, asks you to pay a subscription to access all the post workout analytics the Versa 3 offers, which feels a bit cheeky.

Reviewer: Thomas Deehan
Full review: Fitbit Versa 3 Review

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro

The best Wear OS smartwatch
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Pros

  • Solid fitness tracking services
  • Rugged, sports-ready design
  • Wonderfully bright display

Cons

  • Route planning process feels clunky
  • Battery life doesn’t match rival fitness trackers

If you’re not an iPhone user but want a top-tier smartwatch that has plenty of apps, then your best bet is currently the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. It might not quite hit the same heights at the Apple Watch 7 for it’s all-round capabilities, but right now it remains our pick of the bunch as far as Android-compatible smartwatches are concerned.

It’s got a highly robust design, including a titanium bezel and sapphire screen, along with IP68 impermeability and 5ATM water resistance. The Super AMOLED screen may lack a variable refresh rate but it’s brilliant bright and packs excellent contrast, while it’s large enough that text and icons are shown off well too.

We found the health tracking options to be varied and useful, with the focus on sleep tracking being a particular highlight, and the on-board route navigation is a brilliant boon if you’re an outdoorsy adventurer (although can be finicky to put into place). Fitness tracking is generally accurate as well, though you may not get quite the same wealth of post-workout analytics as you would from a top-end Garmin.

Battery life tends to last 3-4 das of moderate use, which is decent for a smartwatch such as this, and the charge speeds (1 hour 22 minutes to full) are decent but not best-in-class.

Apple Watch Ultra

Best rugged smartwatch
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Pros

  • Improved battery on previous Apple Watches
  • Surprisingly light design
  • Good sports tracking performance
  • Bigger, brighter Retina display

Cons

  • It’s not cheap
  • Design could be sleeker
  • Some outdoor features are a work in progress
  • New straps are a mixed bag

The Apple Watch Ultra packs in all the great features that we saw in the excellent Apple Watch Series 8, but it comes in a very different shell that is ideally suited to all weathers. Made with titanium metal and with a sapphire crystal screen, the watch is capable of putting up with extremes of temperature and altitude (as attested to by its military-grade MIL-STD-810H standard).

If you’re into ultra running, diving, or long-distance cycling then this would be a good choice as it can stand up to the environment and has much-improved battery life by comparison to the standard line of Apple Watches, lasting up to 60 hours when in low-power mode.

Activity tracking was generally accurate, with strong dual-band GPS cover even when surrounded by high-rise buildings, and you’ll once again have access to Apple’s brilliant software and app library, which is the best of the bunch when it comes to smartwatches, as far as we’re concerned.

However, we would note that the likes of the Garmin Fenix 7 offer better mapping support if you’re a keen hiker, and the Apple Watch Ultra is a large and relatively bulky watch to wear on your wrist especially if you want to use it for sleep tracking.

FAQs

How much do you need to spend on a smartwatch?

This depends on what you want to do with it. If you want a brilliant smartwatch that can do everything from local music to reliable, in-depth wellness and fitness tracking you’ll likely have to spend over $400/£400. If you just want a basic wearable to count your steps and push incoming notifications from your phone there are plenty of good options that retail for less than $200/£200.

Do you need LTE on a smartwatch?

LTE is useful if you use your watch a lot while away from your phone. But for most people it’s not an essential purchase. The majority of users will always have their phone nearby and smartwatches can easily tether to them and share their data.

What other smartwatches are there other than Apple?

Apple is the biggest smartwatch make in the world, but there are plenty of other smartwatch platforms. Google develops a competing Wear OS platform that’s used by most mainstream watch makers, including the Fossil Group and Samsung. Fitness companies, like Garmin and Polar, also develop their own proprietary smartwatch software.

We also considered…

We’ve reviewed

2,360

Wearable & Fitness

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Comparison specs

You can see a full breakdown of all the smartwatches in this lists specifications in the table below. As you can see the main differences stem around the screen tech used, and features like GPS and battery life. Holistically the Apple Watch 7 is the most developed device in everything but battery life.

UK RRP
USA RRP
EU RRP
CA RRP
AUD RRP
Manufacturer
Screen Size
IP rating
Waterproof
Battery
Size (Dimensions)
Weight
ASIN
Operating System
Release Date
First Reviewed Date
Colours
GPS

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