The best smartwatches of 2020
Wrist-based technology continues to evolve and improve, and the smartwatches of 2020 have packed in more features, sensors and general intelligence than any that have come before them. If you're looking for one of the best smartwatches launched over the last 12 months, these are our top picks.
1. Apple Watch 6
If you own an iPhone, the Apple Watch is the obvious choice for an accompanying wearable. Since 2015 Apple has gradually improved these little gadgets to be the sleek, reliable, intuitive and feature-packed wearables they are today. Add in the host of casing and band options you've got, and they really stand out as the leaders in smartwatches.
The Apple Watch 6 isn't actually much of a jump forward from the Apple Watch 5, but that's not a huge problem. New this year is a blood oxygen monitor for tracking your health in even greater depth, and a brighter always-on display. There's a small speed boost from 2019, and of course there are new watch faces to enjoy, as usually happens whenever Apple has a new smartwatch to show off.
Equally important is the continuing evolution of watchOS. With watchOS 7, Apple has added more intelligent activity tracking, sleep monitoring, and instant Siri translation features. If you want your smartwatch to be able to do something, then chances are the Apple Watch 6 is going to be able to do it.
Pricing for the Apple Watch 6 starts at US$399.
2. Fitbit Sense
The Fitbit Sense is Fitbit's newest and most advanced smartwatch, bringing a wealth of health-related features to the table – it can track all the usual metrics, plus skin temperature, blood oxygen saturation and stress, and it even comes with an ECG app to look for signs of irregularities in your heartbeat. It's a comprehensive package.
There's on-board GPS for tracking your location without a phone, support for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, sleep tracking (complete with a smart alarm that will buzz your wrist when your body is most suited to waking up), heart rate monitoring throughout the day, and much more besides.
While smartphone integration isn't quite as polished as it is on some other smartwatches, the Fitbit mobile app is excellent, and you can still get notifications and manage calls from your wrist if needed. The six-day battery life is impressive too, though that's assuming you don't have all of the sensors (like GPS) activated all of the time. The watch can also work alongside the Fitbit Premium subscription service that delivers personalized workouts and coaching routines to your phone.
Pricing for the Fitbit Versa 3 starts at US$329.95.
3. Samsung Galaxy Watch3
While Samsung's smartwatches are geared towards interacting with Samsung phones, you can use them with any Android phone or even iPhones to some degree. Though native app support isn't great, the Galaxy Watch series is a polished, speedy and premium option for strapping a miniature computer to your wrist.
The Galaxy Watch3 adds blood oxygen and blood pressure monitoring on top of the usual array of activity tracking features and sensors. The smartwatch can keep tabs on your steps, your sleep, your location, your workouts and just about everything else you'll be during the day – it'll even sync tracks across from Spotify so you can listen to your tunes without your phone (if you're a Premium subscriber).
With a large, crisp and clear display, and lag-free operation, the Samsung Galaxy Watch3 stakes a strong claim for being the best smartwatch that's not made by Apple. The raised, rotating bezel around the display is a particular highlight – it makes navigating the watch's interface much easier than it is if you're jabbing at the screen with a finger.
Pricing for the Samsung Galaxy Watch3 starts at US$429.99.
4. Apple Watch SE
If the Apple Watch 6 is a little too pricey for your budget, then the Apple Watch SE is a very appealing alternative. We're assuming the SE stands for Special Edition, though Apple hasn't specified, and it's obviously designed to fill the sort of niche in Apple's smartwatch line-up as the iPhone SE does in its range of smartphones.
While the design is similar and the software is the same, there are a few differences between the Apple Watch 6 and the Apple Watch SE, besides the price. Advanced features such as the ECG analysis and the blood oxygen monitoring are exclusive to the Apple Watch 6, and the pricier watch comes with a few more options in terms of colors and bands. It also has slightly superior display tech, though most users are unlikely to notice the difference – unless you really want the always-on display, which the SE lacks.
The Apple Watch 6 has a faster processor too, though again the difference isn't a huge one. The Apple Watch SE still brings with it almost all of the standard health and fitness monitoring features you're likely to want, including heart rate monitoring, GPS tracking, and sleep analysis, so it's an excellent buy for the price.
Pricing for the Apple Watch SE starts at US$279.
5. Garmin Forerunner 745
Though it might not attract the same amount of attention as Fitbit, Apple, or Samsung, Garmin has built up a solidly impressive range of smartwatches. The Forerunner series is one of the more lightweight and affordable Garmin options, and the 745 model is the newest in the line for 2020.
This is for serious athletes – or at least those who'd like to be serious – with the ability to track swims, bike rides, runs, triathlons and more, it'll tell you how training is affecting your body and how much time it's going to need to recover. There's heart rate, blood oxygen saturation and VO2 max monitoring, plus integrated GPS so you can keep tabs on your location without your phone.
On top of all that, you get the ability to view smart notifications from your phone, and support for offline Spotify playback (if you pay for Spotify Premium). It's on the more expensive and bulky side, but you won't find many smartwatches with as many features and functions as the Garmin Forerunner 745.
Pricing for the Garmin Forerunner 745 starts at US$499.99.
6. Fitbit Versa 3
The Fitbit Versa 3 was launched at the same time as the Fitbit Sense, and although it doesn't have quite as many bells and whistles as the more expensive smartwatch, it's still got a lot going for it – all kinds of activity tracking, GPS, heart rate and oxygen saturation monitoring, sleep tracking, notifications from your smartphone, and more.
As with every Fitbit smartwatch, the software on board the device and the accompanying app on the phone is as good as the hardware. You'll be able to dig all the way into your stats, from sleep time to steps walked, and checking up on your progress (and setting new goals) is straightforward. If you need more, there's the option of a Fitbit Premium subscription that delivers customized workouts straight to your phone.
The Versa 3 is lightweight, stylish, and available in three different color combinations – and you can even access Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa through it. The six-day battery life helps as well, making this a great all round choice if health and fitness features are the main reason that you're picking up a smartwatch.
Pricing for the Fitbit Versa 3 starts at US$229.95.
7. Skagen Falster 3
It was announced all the way back in January, but the Skagen Falster 3 remains one of the best smartwatches of 2020, especially in the Wear OS category. If you want a smartwatch with Google software on board, then this series of watches stands alongside the Fossil and TicWatch brands as the very best of your options.
Part of the appeal of the Skagen Falster 3 comes with the looks, a choice of vaguely industrial designs that certainly stand out from the Fitbits and the Apple Watches of this world. Add the extensive selection of bands and colors to the wide choice of watch faces and customization options that Wear OS gives you, and this is a watch you can really make your own. Seamless integration with Android phones is a given of course, though the wearable will also work to a lesser extent with iPhones too.
You've got GPS and a heart monitor on board, plus all the usual step and movement tracking features that come with every Wear OS smartwatch on the market. It's possible to make and receive calls through the watch too, as long as your phone is nearby, and we also like the choice of four battery modes for conserving energy (you should be able to get at least a day's use out of the watch, no matter which mode you choose).
Pricing for the Skagen Falster 3 starts at US$295.