After a long stretch of slim pickings, 2022 has been a huge year for Android smartwatches. The Google Pixel Watch finally launched after what felt like a decade. Samsung released its second-gen Wear OS smartwatches. Meanwhile, Fossil has announced its first native Wear OS 3 watch and begun updating its myriad Gen 6 devices to the new platform.
That said, this is still a transitional era. Wear OS 3 is a work in progress, and while we’re encouraged by the stronger third-party app options, the market is still fragmented. Some features, like Google Assistant, may not be available yet on certain Wear OS 3 smartwatches — though that one will likely come via an update sometime in the future.
If you’d rather wait until Wear OS settles down a bit, there are platform-agnostic smartwatches and fitness watches you can buy in the meantime. A discounted Wear OS 2 watch may also be a smart choice for first-time buyers unsure about smartwatches in general. If you go this route, however, we implore you to make sure that it’s a Snapdragon Wear 4100-powered smartwatch at the minimum. These watches can be upgraded to Wear OS 3 — older watches running on the 3100 chip cannot. Over the summer, Qualcomm also announced its Snapdragon Wear 5 Plus chip — a 4nm processor that will give a much-needed boost to the next round of Wear OS smartwatches.
So long as you keep the aforementioned caveats in mind, Android users have more smartwatch options than ever before, especially now that Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals are here. We’ve rounded up our top picks, but if none of these is the right fit, you can always check out our fitness tracker guide.
Best smartwatch for Samsung phones
If you have a Samsung phone, you’ll get the most mileage out of a Samsung smartwatch. And of the two watches Samsung released this year, the $449.99 Galaxy Watch 5 Pro will get you the best overall experience. It’s not a big upgrade from last year’s Galaxy Watch 4, but it’s stylish, lasts longer on a single charge, and adds some neat GPS features. The Pro edges out a win over the regular Galaxy Watch 5, thanks to its battery life. We got up to 65 hours in testing, though if you enable the always-on display, you’ll more likely get around 48 to 50 hours. Still, that’s a notable bump over either the 40mm Galaxy Watch 5 or the Galaxy Watch 4 lineup. Software updates have improved the battery life on these watches, but you’ll still have to charge them daily or every other day. And the Pixel Watch only lasts around 24 hours.
The 45mm Pro wears surprisingly small for a fitness watch of its size, and the bigger sapphire crystal display makes text easier to read. And while it’s too bad Samsung did away with the physical rotating bezel, the Pro’s raised lip makes the touch bezel easier to use than the flat one on the vanilla Watch 5. We also like the deployant clasp, which is both secure and comfortable to wear. If you want cellular connectivity, you can pay $50 extra plus your carrier’s monthly fee for the LTE version. The watch also has dual SIM support (so long as you have a phone that also supports dual SIM.).
Wear OS 3 is snappy on the Pro, and Samsung’s version of Wear OS is intuitive to use and makes better use of the watch’s circular display than Google’s default UI. Samsung also added some neat accessibility features, like color filters and the ability to rebalance audio.
The switch to Wear OS means you’re getting a much more robust third-party app experience than on Tizen-powered Samsung smartwatches, like the Galaxy Watch 3 and the Galaxy Watch Active lineup. You also get more flexibility on services than with any other Wear OS watch. For example, if you want to kick Bixby to the curb in favor of Google Assistant, you can. The same goes for Samsung Pay and Google Wallet. If you want a more in-depth look at how this watch stacks up compared to the Pixel Watch in particular, you can check out our Versus video.
Samsung Health also delivers a good overall fitness tracking experience, especially since you can enable turn-by-turn navigation for hiking and cycling activities. We weren’t too impressed with nightly SpO2 readings, but Samsung’s overall sleep tracking is good. You also get built-in GPS, body composition analysis, irregular heart rate notifications, fall detection, emergency SOS features, and EKGs.
We don’t necessarily recommend the Galaxy Watch 5 or 5 Pro if you don’t have a Samsung phone. EKGs require the Samsung Health Monitor app, which is limited to Samsung phones. Also, while you can customize the buttons to launch your digital assistant of choice, the shortcut for contactless payments is hard coded to Samsung Pay — which is also gated to Samsung phones unless you sideload the APK — and requires you to sign up for Samsung’s service. You can work around it, but all Samsung watches work best with other Samsung devices.
The Galaxy Watch 5 is also a solid alternative, both in the 40mm ($279.99) and 44mm ($309.99) sizes. You’ll get worse battery life, it’s not as durable, and there’s no turn-by-turn navigation. However, the extra savings may be a worthwhile tradeoff.
Best Android smartwatch for non-Samsung users
The $349.99 Google Pixel Watch is a gorgeous smartwatch, but it is a first-gen device with some notable growing pains. The Galaxy Watch 5 lineup will get you a more polished experience, but the Pixel Watch is the better choice for anyone who isn’t on a Samsung smartphone.
That’s because of ecosystems. Some features of Samsung’s watches only work with Samsung phones. The Pixel Watch doesn’t care what Android phone you have; you’ll get the same experience regardless. Broadly speaking, it’s also always going to have the latest updates to Google services like Google Maps, Google Wallet, YouTube Music, and Google Assistant because, well, it’s Google’s smartwatch. Speaking of which, buying the Pixel Watch will also get you a six-month trial of Fitbit Premium and a three-month trial of YouTube Music.
The Pixel Watch doesn’t care what Android phone you have
While it uses a last-gen Samsung chip, the Pixel Watch has snappy performance, thanks to 2GB of RAM and a co-processor that helps optimize battery life. Its redesigned Wear OS 3 interface is also easy to use, and trust us: you won’t be bothered much by the bezels. While thick, they’re not that noticeable, thanks to the dark backgrounds and watch faces.
If you’re a long-time Fitbit user, this is the smartwatch you’ve been waiting for — not the Fitbit Sense 2 or Versa 4. Not only does it have Fitbit integration, but you’ve also got the option of cellular connectivity for $50 more, better third-party apps than Wear OS 2 watches, and Google Assistant. (Google Assistant is missing from Fitbit’s Sense 2 and Versa 4. Google Wallet and Maps aren’t available yet on those devices either.) The Pixel Watch lacks some staple health features — irregular heart rhythm notifications, automatic workout tracking, and nightly SpO2 percentages are the big omissions — but the bulk of Fitbit’s health platform is there. The Pixel Watch also supports EKG readings, has built-in GPS, and allows you to download offline playlists from YouTube Music.
One thing to be mindful of is durability. While the domed display is beautiful, we cracked one of our review units in a week. (The others were fine, however!) You also won’t get the best battery life at 24 hours — less if you use the always-on display — but it is fairly standard for this category. It’s also got a proprietary strap mechanism, though we’re beginning to see third-party straps hit the market. These tradeoffs are a big reason why this first-gen device isn’t our overall pick. However, it’s still a promising device that’s a good choice for first adopters.
3. Fossil Gen 6
The best watch you can upgrade to Wear OS 3
You could argue that by putting out a horde of Wear OS watches year after year, Fossil has singlehandedly kept Wear OS afloat during its darkest days. On the bright side, that commitment to the platform means the $299 Gen 6 is one of the safest buys in the world of Android smartwatches. Not only is Fossil in it for the long haul, but it’s also taken customer feedback into consideration for future designs.
The Fossil Gen 6 is, for the moment, a Wear OS 2 watch running on a Snapdragon Wear 4100 chip. That’s a big reason why you can find it on sale pretty often, usually for around $220-$230. It’s a modest discount, but this is a smarter pick than a 3100-powered Wear OS watch, like the Gen 5 and Gen 5E, even if you find them for much less. That’s because Fossil started rolling out the Wear OS 3 upgrade to its Gen 6 smartwatches on October 17th. This applies to any designer-branded smartwatch under the Fossil umbrella, like the Skagen Falster Gen 6 and the Michael Kors Gen 6.
The Gen 6 watches have Alexa compatibility, contactless payments via Google Wallet, and access to the Google Play store for third-party apps like Strava and Spotify. There’s no timeline just yet for Google Assistant if you upgrade to Wear OS 3, and it’s been removed from Wear OS 2.
Because the company also just released its $299 Gen 6 Wellness Edition, it’s also beefed up available health features across the Gen 6 devices. That includes SpO2 readings, VO2 Max, automatic workout tracking, heart rate zones, continuous heart rate monitoring outside of workouts, and improved sleep tracking. The Wellness Edition comes with Wear OS 3 out of the box, which is a tad more convenient. However, if you don’t mind the extra step of upgrading, picking up any Gen 6 watch on sale isn’t a bad way to save some extra moolah.
The best fitness smartwatch for Android
Like the Fossil Gen 6, the $299.99 Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS is a Wear OS 2 watch running on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 4100 chip. That means it’s eligible for an upgrade to Wear OS 3, though Mobvoi hasn’t begun rolling that out just yet. Still, the TicWatch lineup has its devoted fans for a reason. Mobvoi’s watches are a great alternative to the Fossil Gen 6, and this one, in particular, is good for fitness-focused people who aren’t keen on giving up smart capabilities for a Garmin or Polar. It’s also more durable. While it lacks a sapphire crystal display, you do get military-grade durability, which is stronger than smartwatches without it.
The TicWatch supports stress tracking, all-day blood oxygen monitoring, fatigue assessments, as well as atrial fibrillation and irregular heartbeat detection. For outdoorsy types, it also has access to GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, and Beidou. Plus, you get 72 hours of battery life. It might not hold a candle to a top-of-the-line Garmin, but it’s also a smarter watch for a fraction of the price.
The best hybrid smartwatch
If all you want is simple fitness tracking and notifications in a more subtle device, the $179.99 Garmin Vivomove Sport is a great, affordable option. It looks like a Swatch, complete with real analog hands, but has a hidden OLED for notifications. Basically, if you don’t want people to know you’ve got a smartwatch on, a hybrid smartwatch is the way to go. Plus, it’s compatible with both iOS and Android if you want to reserve the option to switch between both ecosystems.
You are giving up certain smart features, like contactless payments, digital assistants, and built-in GPS. The hidden display can deliver the basics, like notifications, the time, and basic health stats. However, what it lacks in smarts, it makes up for with battery life. You get an estimated five days on a single charge. On the fitness front, it’s an accurate tracker despite its lack of built-in GPS. As for health tracking, you get access to a ton of in-depth data from Garmin’s platform.
The best platform-agnostic fitness smartwatch
Garmin is best known for making rugged GPS watches that have excellent fitness features but aren’t so smart otherwise. But the $449.99 Venu 2 Plus caters to people who want top-notch fitness tracking without sacrificing productivity features.
It’s got a colorful and vibrant always-on OLED display and a whopping nine days of estimated battery life. It’s also added a microphone and speaker, meaning it’s one of the few Garmin smartwatches that will let you make and take calls from the wrist (as long as it’s in Bluetooth range of your phone; it doesn’t have cellular connectivity). It also has a clever workaround for digital assistants — it uses Bluetooth to work with whatever assistant is already on your phone. You’d think more fitness trackers would do this, but they don’t. It worked well in testing, though digital assistants aren’t always the smartest at understanding commands.
The Venu 2 Plus doesn’t have the best third-party app ecosystem, but it has Spotify, Deezer, and Amazon Music for offline playback. Android users can also send quick responses for texts, and the watch works with either iOS or Android for folks who want to keep their options open. As for health features, you get built-in GPS, continuous heart rate monitoring, all of the advanced coaching features in the Garmin Connect app, and Garmin’s famous in-depth health data. This isn’t the most hardcore Garmin that money can buy, but it’s definitely the smartest. The price is a bit high compared to most smartwatches, but by Garmin standards, it’s middle-of-the-pack.
The best budget Android smartwatch
Amazfit’s made a name for itself making budget wearables that punch far above their weight. I’ve been consistently impressed by the GTR line of smartwatches over the years, and the $199.99 GTR 4 is no exception.
Not only does it have a classic look, but you also get 14 days of battery life and a color, always-on OLED display. New to the GTR 4 is dual-band GPS — a feature that Apple and Garmin only recently introduced to their higher-end smartwatches. Or, if you like to plan your own trail runs or hikes, you can import your own GPS routes, too. It tracks 150 sports and features all-day continuous heart rate monitoring. You can also monitor stress, sleep, and SpO2 levels. For smart features, you can take calls on the wrist, and it has two digital assistants: Alexa and a proprietary offline assistant. The device also syncs with Strava and Adidas Running.
The GTR 4 isn’t the best smartwatch around. Flagship watches can do everything the GTR 4 can do but in a sleeker, more polished package. However, they can’t do it at this price. If price is your main priority, this gets you incredible bang for your buck. Plus, you can frequently find Amazfit devices on sale. The icing on the cake is it works just as well on Android as it does on iOS.