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Best smartwatch 2022: The best wearables for iPhone and Android

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Here are the best smartwatches you can buy in 2022

If you're sick and tired of reaching into your pocket for your smartphone every time your phone buzzes, you’ll probably find the convenience of a smartwatch that delivers notifications to your wrist appealing.

The best smartwatches come with a multitude of preinstalled apps for displaying calendar entries and other useful info, but more often than not, what attracts people to buy their first wrist wearable is the fitness features they offer. If you’re seriously into sports, you might better off looking at our list of best fitness trackers, but now that many smartwatches offer built-in GPS, along with features such as step counting and heart-rate monitoring, the lines between the two types of device have become increasingly blurred – you’ll find most of the devices below will accurately track your run or bike ride without it being tethered to your phone.

Without further ado, scroll down to read our pick of the best smartwatches you can currently buy. Below this, you’ll find our short guide on how to choose the right smartwatch for you.

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Best smartwatch: At a glance

  • Best for iPhone users: Apple Watch Series 7 | Buy now
  • Best affordable Apple Watch: Apple Watch SE | Buy now
  • Best-value smartwatch: TicWatch E2 | Buy now
  • Best Samsung smartwatch: Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 | Buy now
  • Best Garmin smartwatch for everyday use: Garmin Venu 2 Plus | Buy now

The best smartwatches you can buy

1. Apple Watch Series 7: Still the best smartwatch for iPhone users

Price: £390 (45mm) | Buy now from John Lewis

The Apple Watch has stayed consistently at the top of our list as the best smartwatch we’ve ever tested and that hasn’t changed with the release of the Series 7.

Much like previous generations, the improvements here are subtle rather than revolutionary. You get all the same health and fitness features, including heart rate, blood oxygen and sleep tracking. The main changes are a 20% increase in screen size and faster USB-C charging.

Despite that, the one drawback is a familiar one: short battery life. This is up to 18 hours (with the always-on display setting enabled), which is no improvement on previous generations. Nevertheless, the Apple Watch Series 7 is a fantastic smartwatch and it goes without saying that it is the best that an iPhone user can own.

Read our full Apple Watch Series 7 review

Key specs – Operating system: watchOS; Screen size and type: 1.9in 484 x 396 Retina LTPO OLED; Battery life: Up to 18 hours; Replaceable strap: Yes; GPS: Yes; Heart rate: Yes; NFC: Yes

2. Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: The best Samsung smartwatch

Price: £369 (46mm, Classic version) | Buy now from John Lewis

Samsung’s latest flagship smartwatch introduces some big changes. As well as a faster processor chip with twice as much storage, the Galaxy Watch 4 replaces the brand’s own Tizen operating system with a version of Google’s Wear OS that is “powered by Samsung”. This gives users access to a range of Google and third party apps, including Google Maps and the Play Store, though unfortunately this doesn’t include Google Assistant.

The Watch 4 also comes with some new health and fitness features, including continuous blood oxygen tracking during the night, as well as a new-and-improved “BioActive” sensor which can measure your BMI, basal metabolic rate, skeletal muscle mass and more.

There are a couple of downsides, however. This is the first of Samsung’s smartwatches that can’t be used with an iPhone. So if you don’t have a Samsung or Android phone, you’ll have to make do with the Watch 3 (still a great wearable and now at a reduced price). And despite the new processor chip, the Watch 4’s battery life could also be better.

Two versions of the smartwatch are available: the Galaxy Watch 4 which has a digital bezel and comes in 40mm and 44mm sizes, and the Watch 4 Classic (which we reviewed) which has a physical rotating bezel and is slightly larger at 42mm and 46mm respectively.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic review

Key specs (46mm Watch 4 Classic) – Operating system: Wear OS; Screen size and type: 1.4in 450 x 450 AMOLED; Battery life: Approx 40 hours; Replaceable strap: Yes; GPS: Yes; Heart rate: Yes; NFC: Yes

3. Garmin Venu 2 Plus: The best Garmin smartwatch for everyday use

Price: £399 | Buy now from Amazon

The Venu 2 Plus is a bit of a landmark wearable for Garmin. It’s the first of the brand’s smartwatches to feature a speaker and a microphone, allowing you to make and receive calls as well as interact with your phone’s voice assistant (provided you have your phone within Bluetooth range, as there’s no cellular option). This makes it a worthy competitor to rivals from Apple and Samsung.

This, of course, is the main talking point of the Venu 2. Elsewhere, though, you get the same great fitness tracking features we’ve come to expect from Garmin’s wearables, including accurate GPS plus sleep, heart rate and blood-oxygen level monitoring. The battery life is commendable too, lasting over a week in smartwatch mode and beating both the Apple Watch 7 and Galaxy Watch 4. Our only complaint is the price: at just under £400, it’s not a very affordable option (although it’s cheaper than the Fenix 7).

In short, if you have the money, and being able to make and take calls on your wrist is a priority, then the Venu 2 Plus is simply one of the best Garmin smartwatches you can buy.

Read our full Garmin Venu 2 Plus review

Key specs – Operating system: Proprietary OS; Screen size and type: 1.3in 416 x 416 AMOLED; Battery life: Up to nine days (in smartwatch mode); Replaceable strap: Yes; GPS: Yes; Heart rate: Yes; NFC: No

4. Samsung Galaxy Watch 3: The best-value Samsung smartwatch

Price: £242 | Buy now from Amazon

Compared to the original flagship Galaxy Watch, the Watch 3 has all the same features including GPS, NFC and heart rate monitoring, but also adds some key new fitness-tracking abilities such as measuring your blood-oxygen levels and estimating your fitness, which is given via a VO2 max reading.

The Galaxy Watch 3 is also much less bulky than the original (the 45mm model is 1.8mm thinner and 9g lighter than the original 46mm watch), making it appear more stylish and sophisticated.

Since the launch of the Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 4 Classic, its predecessor has dropped in price. Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 3 is now a great-value option if you don’t want to splash out on the brand’s latest wearable. Discounting the Apple Watch itself, it also remains the best option for iPhone users, since the Galaxy Watch 4 works exclusively with Android devices.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 review

Key specs – Operating system: Tizen OS; Screen size and type: 1.4in 360 x 360 AMOLED; Battery life: Up to 56 hours; Replaceable strap: Yes; GPS: Yes; Heart rate: Yes; NFC: Yes

5. Apple Watch SE: The best affordable Apple Watch

Price: £217 | Buy now from John Lewis

As we’ve already mentioned, the Apple Watch SE does the vast majority of what the Series 6 can do for £100 less, making it a very tempting prospect for those on a tighter budget. Indeed, along with having the same physical design and using the same OS as its pricier stablemate, it has the same fitness-tracking sensors and offers the same extensive selection of apps.

There are, as you might expect, a few key features that it lacks, including an always-on display, blood-oxygen measurements, and the ECG app. If you can live with these minor shortcomings, though, it’s a very fine smartwatch indeed. In fact, for a little over £200, we’d argue there’s no better smartwatch out there.

Read our full Apple Watch SE review

Key specs – Operating system: watchOS; Screen size and type: 1.57in 394 x 324 Retina LTPO OLED; Battery life: Up to 18 hours; Replaceable strap: Yes; GPS: Yes; Heart rate: Yes; NFC: Yes

6. Garmin Fenix 7: The best multi-sports wearable

Price: £600 | Buy now from Amazon

It's not the cheapest smartwatch on the market, but the Garmin Fenix 7 offers a winning mix of features for sport fanatics. Quite simply, it has lapped the similarly priced competition.

Alongside a touchscreen, a sleeker design than its predecessor and a longer battery life, the Fenix 7 uses the company's latest optical sensor for more accurate monitoring of your blood oxygen level and heart rate. The GPS has also been improved, while there are three sizes and lots of colours to pick from.

Most importantly, however, there's tracking for pretty much every sport we could think of, as well as plenty of advice and features that will help you make the most of your workout. You'll stay entertained too: the Fenix 7 lets you download tracks from Spotify, Deezer or Amazon Music straight to the device.

If you're serious about sport and your budget allows it, the Fenix 7 is a brilliant choice.

Read our full Garmin Fenix 7 review

Key specs – Operating system: Proprietary OS; Screen size and type: 1.3in 250 x 260 MIP touchscreen; Battery life: Up to 14 days (solar model); Replaceable strap: Yes; GPS: Yes; Heart rate: Yes

7. TicWatch Pro 3 GPS: The best Android Wear smartwatch

Price: £269 | Buy now from Amazon

Wear OS-based smartwatches tend to offer plenty of features and the opportunity to extend their capabilities via third-party apps. However, few offer battery life much longer than two days.

The TicWatch Pro 3 GPS is a little different. Although the battery life doesn't last any longer than the average Wear OS device, its dual-layer screen means when capacity is low it can still keep delivering basic functions -- heart rate monitoring, step counting, sleep tracking and telling the time -- for up to three extra days via its secondary monochrome LCD display.

Elsewhere, the watch has all the features you'd expect of a modern smartwatch: a bright, sharp 1.4in 454 x 454 AMOLED touchscreen; heart rate and blood oxygen monitoring; GPS, GLONASS, Galileo positioning support; NFC for contactless payments via Google Pay; and IP68 dust and water resistance that means it's usable for swim tracking as well as all the usual dry-land activities. Plus you can read and respond to messages and ask Google Assistant for help via the built-in microphone

Couple that with smart looks and the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, which makes the watch extremely responsive to use, and you have one of the best Wear OS smartwatches around. It's expensive but it's a great option for those who want a top-quality smartwatch with decent battery life to pair with their Android smartphone.

Key specs – Operating system: Wear OS; Screen size and type: Dual layer 1.39in 454 x 454 AMOLED and segmented FSTN display; Battery life: Up to three days (smart mode), 45 days (essential mode); Replaceable strap: Yes, 22mm; GPS: Yes; Heart rate: Yes; NFC: Yes

8. Garmin Epix (gen 2): The best high-end sports watch

Price: £900 | Buy now from Goldsmiths

It's even more expensive than the Garmin Fenix 7 above, but the second-generation Garmin Epix does everything you could possibly need from a sports watch: the super-sharp 1.3in AMOLED touchscreen is a pleasure to use and it's absolutely stuffed to the gills with handy features.

There's not enough space to cover them all here, but most eye-catching inclusions are topographic maps from around the world, incredible GPS accuracy, a RealTime Stamina tool that estimates how much energy you have left, Wi-Fi connectivity, the ability to store music from the major streaming services (Spotify, Deezer and Apple Music) and dedicated modes for pretty much every form of exercise, both on dry land and in the water.

Meanwhile, battery life is a respectable 16 days if you set the screen to only switch on when you lift your wrist, which plummets to six days if the display is always on. Its sky-scraping price is always going to be a sticking point, but there's no denying that the Garmin Epix is simply the best sports watch money can buy.

Read our full Garmin Epix review

Key specs – Operating system: Proprietary OS; Screen size and type: 1.3in 416 x 416 AMOLED; Battery life: Six days (screen always on), 16 days (when you lift your wrist); Replaceable strap: Yes; GPS: Yes; Heart rate: Yes; Waterproof: Yes; NFC: Yes

Buy now from Goldsmiths


9. TicWatch E2: The best-value smartwatch

Price: £91 | Buy now from Amazon

The TicWatch E2 is unbeatable in terms of the value it delivers. It's a lightweight Wear OS watch with built-in GPS, swim tracking, a heart-rate monitor and 4GB of storage, along with a microphone for interacting with Google Assistant.

Sure, it's plasticky, but it has a more appealing design than its predecessor and compared to the more expensive watches in this list, it only really lacks NFC and a built-in speaker. If you're on a strict budget and looking for a competent all-round smartwatch, this watch fits the bill admirably. And if you're not worried about swim tracking, the TicWatch C2 is another excellent-value option that comes with NFC.

Read our full Ticwatch E2 review

Key specs – Operating system: Wear OS; Screen size and type: 1.39in 400 x 400 AMOLED; Battery life: Up to two days; Replaceable strap: Yes; GPS: Yes; Heart rate: Yes; NFC: No


How to buy the best smartwatch for you

Below, we’ve outlined the most important criteria to consider when picking which smartwatch is right for you. Of course, we consider all these points in our reviews, so you should be happy with the majority of the smartwatches we’ve picked out below.

Compatibility

The first thing to consider when buying a smartwatch is what type of smartphone it’s compatible with. In most cases, you shouldn’t run into any problems here, but if you’re eyeing up the new Apple Watch Series 5, for example, you’ll need an iPhone to pair it with – sorry, Android users. The majority of other devices from manufacturers including Huawei, Samsung, Fitbit and Garmin should pair with both iOS and Android phones.

Apps

Most smartwatches offer a range of basic apps for displaying calendar entries, checking weather forecasts and monitoring your step count throughout the day. However, if you’re looking for the best selection of third-party apps, for now you’re best off with an Apple Watch (which runs Apple’s watchOS) or something that runs Wear OS (formerly known as Android Wear).

Samsung smartwatches, which run Tizen, and the Fitbit OS both fall considerably behind in this department. Garmin watches, too, predominantly stick to the essentials. Another boon for watchOS and Wear OS devices is their respective voice assistants, Siri and Google Assistant, which let you send messages and make other basic commands without touching the screen.

Sensors

The next important consideration is hardware. Does it have a heart-rate sensor? Is there an altimeter for tracking how many flights of stairs you’ve climbed? Is there a compass for checking your direction? These are the kind of questions you’ll need to ask of your shiny, new wristwatch, depending on how you want to use it.

Built-in GPS is essential if you want to be able to track runs and bike rides accurately, and NFC is required if you want to make contactless payments (you’ll also need to check if your bank is supported). Although most watches have the sensors required for swim and sleep tracking, these features are not universally offered.

Battery life

The single most important thing to look out for when buying a new watch is battery life, which varies enormously among the current crop of wrist-borne devices. The Fossil Sport, for example, will barely stretch past a day, while the new Fitbit Versa 2 offers closer to five days between charges. If you need a watch that’s truly dependable, you’re better off buying something with excellent battery life.

Music playback

The last thing to check is whether it offers music playback, and the streaming services it supports, if any. This won’t matter if you always have your phone with you (in which case, you should still check that it has a music remote app), but if you want to leave your phone and listen to music while exercising, it’s a great feature to have.

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