After a long stretch of slim pickings, 2022 was a huge year for Android smartwatches. That energy has carried into 2023, and now Android users have more watch options than ever before.
But 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 may come via an update sometime in the future. And because Google is gonna Google, Wear OS 4 is already here despite the fact that Wear OS 3 hasn’t rolled out to every possible smartwatch just yet.
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. At this point, I don’t recommend buying a Wear OS 2 watch that can’t be upgraded, even if the discounts are tempting. Wear OS 4 is here, but Google hasn’t said yet whether Snapdragon Wear 4100-powered devices will support the update — or, if they do, when upgrades will roll out. In summer 2022, 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. Mobvoi’s TicWatch Pro 5 was the first to sport the new chip in the US, and while it’s a great watch, you may want to wait until there are more W5 Plus watches to choose from. The Pixel Watch 2 has the W5 (no Plus) chip, and the result so far has been zippier performance and better battery life.
So long as you keep the aforementioned caveats in mind, Android users have more smartwatch options than ever before. I’ve rounded up my 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
Sizes: 43mm, 47mm / Weight: 77g, 85g / Battery life: Up to 30 hours with AOD, 40 without AOD / Display type: Always-on OLED / GPS: Built-in GPS/ Connectivity: LTE (optional), Bluetooth, Wi-Fi / Water resistance: Up to 50 meters, IP68 / Music storage: 16GB
If you have a Samsung phone, you’ll get the most mileage out of a Samsung smartwatch. And of the three watches Samsung has in its 2023 lineup, I recommend the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic.
First off, it’s got a rotating physical bezel — and said bezel is now 15 percent thinner than the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic. The updated design is sleeker than its predecessor, and the larger display is easier on the eyes and is only slightly bigger at 43mm and 47mm. I have small wrists, but the 47mm was still quite comfortable for everyday wear. It’s launching with Wear OS 4, which adds extended battery life, and finally, cloud backups. One UI 5 Watch also adds some minor health and sleep tracking improvements, but this will eventually make its way to older models. While I prefer the Classic, the base Watch 6 model may be the better option if you want a smaller, lighter, sleeker, and cheaper smartwatch.
Overall, the Galaxy Watch 6 series is an iterative update, but I appreciate that battery life has improved to the point where I’m no longer anxious whether it’ll last me the entire day. Of course, your mileage will vary depending on your individual use and which settings you enable. For example, turning on continuous SpO2 sensing at night can make the battery drain faster, but using bedtime mode can mitigate that so you only lose 10–15 percent overnight instead of 25–30 percent.
Last year’s $449.99 Galaxy Watch 5 Pro will also get you a great overall experience. It’s not a big upgrade from the Galaxy Watch 4, but the main benefits of the Pro over other models are extra durability, neat GPS features, and battery life. I recommend picking the Pro if you’re a weekend warrior or if multiday battery life is your top priority. 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 the Galaxy Watch 6 series, the base Watch 5, and the Watch 4 lineup. Software updates (and bigger batteries on newer models) 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.
Samsung’s top-of-the-line flagship smartwatch has EKG readings, body composition analysis, turn-by-turn navigation, and a new body temperature sensor. Read our Galaxy Watch 5 review.
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. If you want a more in-depth look at how the Galaxy Watch 5 stacks up compared to the Pixel Watch in particular, you can check out our Versus video. (The majority of the points still apply to the Watch 6, as not a whole lot has changed.)
Samsung Health also delivers a good overall fitness tracking experience, especially since you can enable turn-by-turn navigation for hiking and cycling activities. Samsung is expanding this to include walks and runs when One UI 5 Watch launches later this year. We weren’t too impressed with nightly SpO2 readings, but Samsung’s overall sleep tracking continues to improve. 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 6 series 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 / Wallet — 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 6 series ships on August 11th, so now is a good time to take advantage of promotional and trade-in offers, especially since Samsung slightly raised the price of the base Watch 6 to $299.99 and the Classic now starts at $399.99. If you’re okay buying refurbished models, you might also want to keep an eye on upcoming sales as retailers try to get rid of Galaxy Watch 4 and 5 inventory.
Best Android smartwatch for non-Samsung users
Sizes: 41mm / Weight: 31g / Battery life: Roughly 24 hours with AOD enabled / Display type: Always-on OLED / GPS: Built-in GPS / Connectivity: LTE (optional), Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Safety Signal with Fitbit Premium / Water resistance: 5ATM / Music storage: 32GB
The $349.99 Google Pixel Watch 2 is a significant improvement over the original. The Galaxy Watch 6 lineup will still get you a more polished overall experience, but the Pixel Watch 2 is the better choice for Android users who aren’t on a Samsung smartphone.
That’s because of ecosystems. Some features of Samsung’s watches only work with Samsung phones. Broadly speaking, the Pixel Watch doesn’t care what Android phone you have; you’ll get the same experience regardless. That said, Google did say a forthcoming call screening feature will only work if you pair it with a Tensor-equipped Pixel phone. It’s a little disappointing, but compared to Samsung, the Pixel Watch 2 doesn’t gatekeep health features based on what phone you have. 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. With the Pixel Watch 2, Google also added Calendar and Gmail to its list of supported apps. Speaking of which, buying the Pixel Watch 2 will also get you a six-month trial of Fitbit Premium and a one-month trial of YouTube Music.
The most important upgrade from last year is that the battery reliably lasts 24 hours with the always-on display enabled. Some of this is due to the more power-efficient Wear OS 4 and a new Qualcomm Snapdragon W5 processor. (It also means zippier performance overall.) It’s also switched to a pin-charging system, which translates to much faster charging. You can get about 50 percent in 30 minutes, and a full charge takes about 75 minutes. Because of a firmware update, the original Pixel Watch now charges more slowly — so the difference is extra noticeable.
The Pixel Watch doesn’t care what Android phone you have
Compared to last year, Google has also done a better job this year of integrating Fitbit’s health and fitness features. The Pixel Watch 2 now has a multipath sensor that enables 40 percent more accurate heart rate tracking for vigorous exercises. Plus, you can utilize heart rate zone and pace training — features other fitness smartwatches have had for a long time. The exercise views are also easier to read. It also now has a skin temperature sensor and the Fitbit Sense 2’s continuous electrodermal activity sensor (cEDA). This means the Pixel Watch 2 is now capable of proactive stress tracking. When signs of physiological stress are detected, you’ll be prompted to reflect on your mood, take a walk, or do a breathing exercise. It’s imperfect, but it’s one of the best implementations of mindfulness features we’ve seen thus far.
Google has also introduced new personal safety features. Safety Check is a proactive timer that will send your location to loved ones if you’re in a pickle. You set an activity (i.e., taking public transportation or walking alone) and a timer duration. If you don’t check in when the timer goes off, your location will automatically be shared with your emergency contacts. Another neat feature is Safety Signal. If you get an LTE watch and have a Fitbit Premium subscription, you don’t need an active LTE plan in order to utilize emergency services.
One thing to be mindful of is durability. While the domed display is beautiful, we cracked the screen on the original Pixel Watch and got deep scratches on the Pixel Watch 2. Google doesn’t offer any repair options, but with the Pixel Watch 2, it has started offering its Preferred Care extended warranty, so you have more replacement options should something happen. It’s not ideal since it’s limited to the US and Canada, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Best smartwatch you can upgrade to Wear OS 3
Sizes: 44mm w/22mm straps / Weight: 51g / Battery life: 24 hours / Display type: OLED touchscreen / GPS: Built-in GPS / Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi / Water resistance: 5ATM / Music storage: 8GB
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, out of the box, 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. But if you do want Wear OS 3, there’s good news. In October 2022, Fossil began rolling out upgrades to all of its designer-branded smartwatches, 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. Also, after a long and uncertain wait, Google Assistant is returning to the Fossil Gen 6 watches.
In late 2022, the company also recently released its $299 Gen 6 Wellness Edition. As a result, 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, and the elevated design is quite fetching. 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. Especially since the Wellness Edition has many of the same flaws as the regular Gen 6 anyway.
Best fitness smartwatch for Android
Sizes: 50mm w/24mm straps / Weight: 44.3g / Battery life: Up to 80 hours / Display type: OLED touchscreen and secondary ultra-low power display / GPS: GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, Beidou / Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi / Water resistance: 5ATM / Music storage: 32GB
Mobvoi’s TicWatch lineup has its devoted fans for a reason: super long battery life. The $249.99 TicWatch Pro 5 is no exception. It’s got an estimated 80 hours of battery life with standard use, a secondary ultra-low power display, and a massive (for a smartwatch you wear on your wrist, at least) 628mAh battery. I didn’t quite get 80 hours in my testing, but I did get a solid 48-60 hours even with heavy GPS use. That outclasses most of the watches in this category and is useful for backpackers and endurance athletes. 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.
Battery life aside, Mobvoi’s watches are a great alternative to the Fossil Gen 6, and the Pro 5 is a good option for fitness-focused people who aren’t keen on giving up smart capabilities for a Garmin or Polar. It’s also more durable than Fossil’s fashion watches or the Pixel Watch. This time around, Mobvoi has also added a digital crown so you don’t have to worry about scrolling through menus with sweaty fingers. The flatter side button also reduces the risk of accidental presses.
The Pro 5 also has an ingenious method of displaying heart rate. When you lift up your arm, the backlight changes color depending on which heart rate zone you’re in. That means you can instantly gauge whether to up the intensity or slow your roll. The Pro 5 also adds new training metrics, like VO2 Max and recovery time.
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 multiple GNSS systems, and there’s a new barometer and compass app, as well as a one-tap measurement app that gives you a quick look at five metrics (heart rate, blood oxygen, stress, respiratory rate, and overall heart health).
It’s also pretty capable on the productivity front. You get contactless payments, access to the Play Store, notifications, and the ability to take calls. It’s also the only Android smartwatch available in the US with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon W5 Plus chip, which is a plus in terms of futureproofing. The only major concerns are the 50mm case that may not suit smaller wrists and the lack of a digital assistant.
Best hybrid smartwatch
Sizes: 40mm w/20mm straps / Weight: 19g / Battery life: Up to 5 days / Display type: “Hidden” OLED touchscreen / GPS: Tethered GPS / Connectivity: Bluetooth, Ant Plus / Water resistance: 5ATM / Music storage: N/A
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.
Alternatively, you can opt for the next step up with the $269.99 Vivomove Trend. While the Sport is the perfect price for a hybrid, there are a few scenarios where shelling out a little extra for the Trend makes sense. For starters, the hidden LCD display fills the entire watchface. (The Sport only displays information on the bottom half of the screen.) That’s easier to read entire notifications. Plus, it’s more legible as you benefit from larger fonts. The Trend also has a dressier look thanks to the stainless steel bezel, making it better suited for business meetings or formal events. Lastly, the Trend supports Qi charging. If you’ve already got Qi chargers, that means less clutter on your nightstand.
Best platform-agnostic fitness smartwatch
Sizes: 43mm w/20mm straps / Weight: 51g / Battery life: Up to 9 days / Display type: OLED touchscreen / GPS: GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO / Connectivity: Bluetooth, Ant Plus, Wi-Fi / Water resistance: 5ATM / Music storage: 8GB
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, Garmin recently announced the Venu 2 Plus has an FDA-cleared EKG app to detect atrial fibrillation. Otherwise, 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.
Best budget Android smartwatch
Size: 46mm w/ 22mm straps / Weight: 34g / Battery life: Up to 14 days / Display type: OLED touchscreen / GPS: Dual-frequency and 6 GNSS systems / Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi / Water resistance: 5ATM / Music storage: 2.3GB
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.
Update October 16th, 5:53PM ET: Swapped out the Google Pixel Watch for the Pixel Watch 2.