What is the best smartwatch to buy in 2019?
Apple outclassed itself with 2018’s Apple Watch Series 4 taking over from its predecessor, the Apple Watch Series 3, as the best smartwatch out there, but both are only viable options if you’re an iPhone user. Our best value recommendation would be the Mobvoi Ticwatch S, which has dropped in price considerably since we first reviewed it.
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, enabled for example).
We try and keep the test conditions as uniform as possible so that we can draw fair comparisons between similarly-capable rival devices.
Kathy Griffin Can’t Find Work After Taking Photo With Severed Trump Head
Wednesday July 31, 2019
PA/Kathy Griffin/Instagram American comedian Kathy Griffin has said she was left ‘unemployable’ after sharing a photo of herself holding a fake, bloody, severed head of Donald Trump. The 58-year-old initially apologised for the stunt after she came under fire for posting the photo on social media in 2017, however she later revoked her apology and … "Kathy Griffin Can’t Find Work After Taking Photo With Severed Trump Head"
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1. Apple Watch Series 4
Best smartwatch for iOS users
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Thursday August 01, 2019
Marvel Marvel’s Avengers was finally unveiled during E3 2019, where the Square Enix/Marvel collaboration was met with a fairly lukewarm reaction. Fans took issue with what they saw as slightly dodgy character designs, and less-than-impressive visuals – not to mention a worrying lack of gameplay in the actual reveal. Of course, gameplay was shown off during … "Marvel’s Avengers Is ‘Stunning’ And ‘Blew Me Away’ Says Nolan North"
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Hitman 3 teased by IO Interactive, and it might be going episodic
Wednesday July 31, 2019
Speaking in a recent documentary by Noclip, IO Interactive said that its current vision of Hitman is planned as a trilogy, and could be coming our way as an episodic venture. The documentary, which focuses on the rise and fall of Hitman following its controversial episodic reboot outing and departure from Square Enix, is a … "Hitman 3 teased by IO Interactive, and it might be going episodic"
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Feels great to wear
Screen is gorgeous
Huge amount of strap options
Fantastic array of fitness and health features
It motivates you so well to be active
It won’t last multiple days without needing a charge
Still won’t track sleep natively
No always-on display is irritating
Easily the most fully-featured smartwatch we’ve ever tested, the Apple Watch 4 surpasses everything else on the market with regards to its hardware, performance and broad feature set, not to mention the established accessory and strap ecosystem now in place supporting it.
Standout features include its near bezel-free display, GPS, LTE, Bluetooth, water resistance and swim tracking, fall detection and advanced heart rate tracking with ECG functionality. It’s also beautiful.
Apple Watch 4 review
2. Apple Watch Series 3
Best for iPhone users on a budget
Super-bright and clear display
Decent battery life (when not reliant on LTE)
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, cutting the price to £279/$279.
Unlike the Series 1 before it, 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.
Over its predecessor, the Series 3 introduced an altimeter for elevation tracking and like the Series 2 and subsequently the 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.
Apple Watch 3 review
3. Samsung Galaxy Watch Active
Good data-rich exercise tracking
Looks petite and expensive
Good smartwatch feature breadth (if not depth)
Very bright screen
Few useful apps
Battery life is only passable
Misses out on Samsung’s control bezel
Samsung’s slickest watch yet, the Galaxy Watch Active is feature-packed and a great gym buddy thanks data-rich exercise tracking. There’s a good selection of smartwatch features too – an obvious must for a wearable like this.
Previous Galaxy (and before that Gear) watches stood out thanks to a unique rotating bezel that aided navigation, however the Active ditches this and it loses something as a result. Yet, the circular display is still lovely and bright and the Tizen OS easy to work your way around.
Battery life isn’t the best and apps remain fairly sparse, but this is one of the best smartwatches around.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active review
3. Samsung Galaxy Watch
A smartwatch that looks like a traditional watch
Rotating bezel is a clever trick
Great array of fitness sensors
Bright and sharp display
Offline Spotify support
Lack of apps
Bixby is poor
Samsung Pay support is limited
The Galaxy Watch is the best wearable from Samsung yet. It has an elegant design, a vast array of sensor-tech and still impresses with its general smartwatch features.
Apps are something of an issue and aside from the clever Spotify integration there isn’t much going on. That can be said about most smartwatches though and even the Apple Watch is losing apps.
Battery life is strong at a couple of days; it’s water-resistant to 5ATM and packs a lovely, crisp circular OLED display. There are also multiple sizes and the option to include LTE connectivity if that’s something you require.
Samsung Galaxy Watch review
4. Mobvoi TicWatch Pro
Sublime battery life, sleek design
Flagship-class feature set
Excellent battery life
Limited fitness tracking options
No cellular option
For under £220, the TicWatch Pro is one of the better Wear OS buys right now. The design is stylish and it boasts pretty much every feature you could want: GPS, NFC and excellent battery life. Its coolest addition though is the display, which features a secondary FSTN panel that offers up 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, the performance is merely so-so. The Snapdragon 2100 SoC is old and needs replacing, giving everything an extra laggy feel. There’s also no cellular option and the fitness tracking is limited.
TicWatch Pro review
5. Mobvoi TicWatch S
Wear OS on the cheap
Comfortable to wear
Big, sharp display
Solid sports tracking
Average battery life
Built by Mobvoi, a company founded by ex-Google employees, the TicWatch S is one of 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.
Despite costing a modest £120, it offers a number of great features. Highlights include a comfortable, fairly slimline design, super sharp 1.4-inch OLED display and surprisingly smooth performance (for the price).
The inclusion of GPS, a heart rate monitor and the fact it’s running on Google’s Wear OS also means it can double as a running watch, or entry-level fitness tracker, which is pretty darned impressive considering the price.
The only minor downsides are its so-so battery life and complete lack of NFC. Though you’ll struggle to get these on any smartwatch at this price point.
TicWatch S review
6. Huawei Watch 2
Slick looking and feature-packed
Comfortable and lightweight design
Plenty of sports sensors
NFC and Android Pay
We’ve had to revise our view on the Huawei Watch 2, predominantly because its price has dropped so drastically since our initial review. It first launched at £329 but is now readily available for around £200, which makes it a great value combination device offering smartwatch features with sports watch capabilities.
The Huawei Watch 2 comes into its own if you’re looking for a smartwatch that can double as a sports watch, thanks to built-in GPS and a heart rate monitor on its rear. Use the 4GB of built-in storage to save your Google Play Music playlists offline and you can pair Bluetooth headphones for a phone-free experience. The Huawei Watch 2 will work with Huawei’s own suite of fitness apps, Google Fit, or other third-party apps such as Strava, offering excellent choice.
Overall, the updated lower price makes the Huawei Watch 2 a much better prospect if you’re in the market for a smartwatch, especially if you’re an Android user. While Wear OS smartwatches will work with iPhones, the experience is more limited compared to pairing with Android. For this reason, if you’re an iPhone user for whom money is no problem, then we’d still recommend opting for an Apple Watch.
Huawei Watch 2 review
7. Casio Pro Trek Smart WSD-F20
Great choice for serious outdoor trekking
Plenty of sensors
Great hiking features
Versatile two-layer screen
A bit bulky
Typical Android Wear battery life
This isn’t a smartwatch for everyone but if you’re outdoor-inclined then it might just be the best choice for you. Casio’s second Wear OS smartwatch is a serious piece of kit that’s been tested against the MIL-STD-810G standard, so you know it’s capable of withstanding 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 then you’ll be well prepared.
Of course, since this watch runs Wear OS, you can also bolster its capabilities with a raft of apps as well as benefit from having access to the usual smartphone controls.
Casio Pro Trek Smart WSD-F20 review
8. Samsung Gear Sport
Fantastic range of activity tracking features
Rotating bezel interface is still great
Spotify offline playback
Good activity tracking
Shortage of Tizen apps
No Bluetooth HRMs
S Voice is forgettable
Limited Samsung Pay support
The Samsung Gear Sport is, as the name implies, is a sportier approach to the Samsung Gear S3.
It’s a smaller smartwatch and so will be suitable for a greater number of people compared to its predecessor. It shares many of the best elements of Samsung’s other Gear smartwatches, including the excellent rotating bezel that makes navigating intuitive without obscuring the display.
It also has an excellent AMOLED display with vibrant colours. The Gear Sport is water-resistant to 50 metres, which makes it more resilient than the Gear S3 and on a par with the newer Galaxy Watch and recent Apple Watch models.
As you’d expect, it has GPS and GLONASS alongside a heart rate monitor to bolster its fitness credentials. Other features include offline Spotify support, which is great for anyone who wants music without having to carry along their phone. Tizen is currently the only watch operating system to offer offline Spotify, too. Unfortunately, Tizen app support is otherwise lacking compared to rivals.
Samsung Gear Sport review
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 is a relative newcomer to the smartwatch space and 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.
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, then Tizen lagging behind.
Best smartwatches – What to look for?
Aside from the operating system, it’s worth considering how you intend to use your smartwatch. Many smartwatches now double as fitness trackers and sports watches, so if this is important to you then you’ll want a smartwatch with built-in GPS and a heart rate sensor. Often, these watches are much bigger as a result.
Water-resistance is ideally something you’ll have. Even if you’re not a swimmer, it’s nice to not have to take your smartwatch off to shower or worry about it during a downpour.
Battery life is the other big consideration. Many smartwatches have improved considerably in this regard, with most now offering at least two days stamina. That’s the minimum we’d recommend. In the early days, many smartwatches would struggle to even make it through a single day.
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