Smartwatches

The best smartwatches of 2019

The best smartwatches of 2019
Smartwatches continued to dominate the wearable scene in 2019
Smartwatches continued to dominate the wearable scene in 2019
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Smartwatches continued to dominate the wearable scene in 2019
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Smartwatches continued to dominate the wearable scene in 2019
The Apple Watch Series 5 added an always-on display to an iconic design
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The Apple Watch Series 5 added an always-on display to an iconic design
The Fossil Gen 5 is a premium Wear OS smartwatch
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The Fossil Gen 5 is a premium Wear OS smartwatch
The Garmin fēnix 6 is aimed at outdoor adventurers
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The Garmin fēnix 6 is aimed at outdoor adventurers
The Fitbit Versa 2 is Fitbit's Apple Watch challenger
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The Fitbit Versa 2 is Fitbit's Apple Watch challenger
The Galaxy Watch Active2 adds to Samsung's strong smartwatch line-up
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The Galaxy Watch Active2 adds to Samsung's strong smartwatch line-up
The Withings Move adds extra smarts to a conventional watch
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The Withings Move adds extra smarts to a conventional watch
The Misfit Vapor X is a more affordable Wear OS option
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The Misfit Vapor X is a more affordable Wear OS option

It's been a busy year for smartwatches, as they continue to steal the focus from simpler, plainer fitness trackers – almost every fitness tracker now can at least tell the time, blurring the lines even further. Here's a look at the most notable smartwatch launches of the past 12 months, and what they say about the future of the market.

1. Apple Watch Series 5

The Apple Watch Series 5 added an always-on display to an iconic design
The Apple Watch Series 5 added an always-on display to an iconic design

Apple continues to dominate the smartwatch scene, and the Apple Watch is the obvious choice of wearable for anyone using an iPhone rather than an Android phone day-to-day. With the Apple Watch Series 5 launched this year, a minor rather than a major improvement over the Series 4, Apple has consolidated its position at the top of the smartwatch tree, and it continues to keep the Series 3 on sale as a cheaper alternative.

The major upgrade for 2019 is an always-on display, so the time and basic fitness metrics are always on show. Add to that new ceramic and titanium casing options, plus all the usual Apple Watch tricks – great health and fitness features, an optional LTE model, a smooth and slick interface – and it's going to be the smartwatch to beat in 2020. Maybe sleep tracking and a battery that lasts beyond a single day are next on Apple's to do list.

Buy the Apple Watch Series 5 from US$399

2. Fossil Gen 5

The Fossil Gen 5 is a premium Wear OS smartwatch
The Fossil Gen 5 is a premium Wear OS smartwatch

Fossil remains one of the biggest names behind Google's Wear OS smartwatch platform, and the Fossil Gen 5 wearables launched this year are just about the best you can get if Wear OS is the right fit for you. From on-board GPS to heart rate tracking, it's hard to think of a feature that these watches don't offer – they can even track your sleep if you're prepared to wear them through the night, which is something the Apple Watch can't do.

The Gen 5 timepieces certainly benefit from Fossil's years of expertise in making watches – they look stylish and sharp, and come with a variety of case and strap options. As for Wear OS, it's not as intuitive or as speedy as watchOS, but it does have the Google Assistant: you can access the full power of Assistant right from your wrist. Improvements over the Gen 4 model include customizable battery settings for getting more juice out of the watch.

Buy the Fossil Gen 5 from $219

3. Garmin fēnix 6

The Garmin fēnix 6 is aimed at outdoor adventurers
The Garmin fēnix 6 is aimed at outdoor adventurers

Garmin makes all kinds of smartwatches, but the fēnix series is its flagship line: packed with features, sensors and settings, and appropriately bulky as well. The fēnix smartwatches are built to get you down off a mountainside alive in the middle of a thunderstorm, as well as keep track of a huge number of health and fitness metrics, and with the fēnix 6 launched this year Garmin has produced its best smartwatch yet.

You won't find any major upgrades over the earlier fēnix 5 version, but Garmin has improved various tracking technologies this year and made battery management easier, as well as increasing the size of the screen on some models. The fēnix 6 shows there's still a market for premium, high-end smartwatches in 2019: devices capable of much more than counting your steps, showing your incoming phone messages, and telling the time.

Buy the Garmin fēnix 6 from $599.99

4. Fitbit Versa 2

The Fitbit Versa 2 is Fitbit's Apple Watch challenger
The Fitbit Versa 2 is Fitbit's Apple Watch challenger

The original Fitbit Versa appeared in our 2018 smartwatch round-up, and this year we got a Fitbit Versa 2 with Amazon Alexa voice control, an improved screen, and some other goodies on top. The strengths of the original are carried over though: this is a lightweight, good-looking, versatile wearable, that's as good on the health and fitness side as you would expect from Fitbit, and which covers all the basics that a smartwatch needs.

The second-generation Versa still lacks some of the features that its rivals can offer, like LTE connectivity and on-board GPS, but it sells for a very competitive price, and has an impressive five days of battery life (take that, Apple Watch). With Google buying Fitbit for $2.1 billion towards the end of 2019, it's going to be interesting to see where the company goes next in 2020 – we might even see the long-rumored Pixel Watch make an appearance.

Buy the Fitbit Versa 2 from $199.95

5. Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2

The Galaxy Watch Active2 adds to Samsung's strong smartwatch line-up
The Galaxy Watch Active2 adds to Samsung's strong smartwatch line-up

Samsung may have abandoned Wear OS for its own Tizen software on wearables, but it's still keen on the smartwatch form factor and the Galaxy Watch Active2 is one of its best efforts in the space yet: it introduces a touch-sensitive bezel that makes getting around the watch's menus very straightforward and intuitive, and adds an LTE connectivity option so you can make and receive phone calls from your wrist even if your phone isn't connected.

To some extent it feels like Samsung is carrying on with the Galaxy Watch line just so it has a product to compete directly with the Apple Watch, but the Galaxy Watch Active2 is a fine smartwatch for the price – and it's available in two sizes, with a variety of colors and casings to pick from. While it doesn't necessarily have any features that make it stand out from the crowd, it covers all the necessary bases in a stylish and reliable gadget.

Buy the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 from $279.99

6. Withings Move

The Withings Move adds extra smarts to a conventional watch
The Withings Move adds extra smarts to a conventional watch

Withings continues to provide something a little different with its smartwatch offerings, and this year's Withings Move is a classic example – a smartwatch that's mostly a traditional analog watch, priced very affordably, and with a battery that you replace after 18 months rather than recharge every evening. If all the smarts you need in a watch are activity tracking and sleep tracking, then the Withings Move might be the wearable for you.

Of course at this price and with this sort of design you can't do anything fancy with the watch, like display your smartphone messages or track your location on a map, but there are plenty of alternatives that'll do that for you. As an added bonus it's water resistant up to 50 meters (164 feet), and while you can't change the watch faces after you've bought it, you do at least get a wide variety of design customization options when you order.

Buy the Withings Move from $69.95

7. Misfit Vapor X

The Misfit Vapor X is a more affordable Wear OS option
The Misfit Vapor X is a more affordable Wear OS option

If you're looking for an affordable Wear OS smartwatch to strap to your wrist in 2020, you could do a lot worse than the Misfit Vapor X: not only does it offer an appealing design and a very appealing price, its battery also lasts for three days if you dial down some of the more advanced features. It's worth noting that Misfit is now owned and run by Fossil, so you're getting the same watchmaking heritage here as with the Gen 5 models listed above.

It's one of the lighter and smaller smartwatches on the market at the moment, and available in numerous colors, so it'll suit anyone who's going to be spending a lot of time working out, cycling or running (or who just has small wrists). Despite the lower price, you get waterproofing to 30 meters (nearly 100 feet), NFC for mobile payments, a heart rate monitor, and even on-board GPS for tracking your location without a connected phone.

Buy the Misfit Vapor X from $159

6 comments
bhtooefr
Obligatory comment that the best smartwatch of 2019 is the 2015 Pebble Time Steel. (Which I'm still wearing.)
Chow Toon
I replaced my Apple series 2 watch that finally quit working with the Versa 2 Fitbit. Why not Apple again? Price and more importantly, battery life! It pairs just fine with my iPhone X and yes, there’s an app for Fitbit. Tons of downloadable faces and all the functionality I need. Bonus was that it was on sale for $149 during their Black Friday sale. BOOM!
Username
I've been wearing a Lemfo lem5 watch for 3 years. It's a full Android 5 stand alone device. I also have a Finow android 7 smart wrist phone. These are ridiculously inexpensive. It does a dis-service to the readers to ignore these products. I've also never understood why Apple didn't come out with a stand alone Siri watch.
NeilosBarross
Samsung's Galaxy Watch from late last year with it's physical bezel may be more expensive than the newer Active range but is still the best looking of all Smart Watches & with a 472 mAh battery can be used with an always on display for a couple of days without recharging. Though a year old still holds up to if not trumps this years models imo
Shorty
I love all the features of my Samsung Gear S2. However I wish they made a smart watch that is geared towards female, that also includes all of the same features of the S2. It seems like most Smart Watches are made for men. Helo me out here is their such a watch for women? Thanks
L. Turner
Agree with Neilos, I have the Samsung Galaxy Gear S3 and use Facer for hundreds of fabulous chronograph faces that I delight in. I've had the watch for over a year, and the performance has been exceptional. And the large men's version still looks great on my tiny wrist! I don't see anything in 2020 that's better than my Galaxy Gear. Tried the Apple Watch 5 and wasn't happy with face selections. Hoping the future brings some thinner models.