After a long stretch of slim pickings, 2022 was 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. And Fossil announced its first native Wear OS 3 watch and started updating its myriad Gen 6 devices to the new platform. Now that we’re more than halfway into 2023, it looks like that energy will continue throughout this year, too.
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 arrives this month with the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 series 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. (Though if you can’t wait, summer sales like Amazon Prime Day are a good opportunity to score some deals.) 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 basically 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 is the only one featuring 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. As for when that’ll happen, it’s rumored the Pixel Watch 2 will sport that chip later this fall and it’s possible we’ll see some options from Fossil in the near future as well.
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.
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.
Read my full review of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 series
Best Android smartwatch for non-Samsung users
Sizes: 41mm / Weight: 36g / Battery life: Up to 40–50 hours / Display type: Always-on OLED / GPS: Built-in GPS, plus GLONASS, Galileo, Beidou / Connectivity: LTE (optional), Bluetooth, Wi-Fi / Water resistance: 5ATM / Music storage: 32GB
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 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. 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 watchfaces.
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, though Google Maps is now available.) 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. The good news is Wear OS 4 should improve battery life and add cloud backups when it arrives later this year. 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.
Read my full Google Pixel Watch review
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. Fossil began rolling out upgrades last October 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.
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.
Read my full review of the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5
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.
Read my full review of the Garmin Vivomove Sport
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.
Read my full review of the Amazfit GTR 4
Update August 8th, 12:09PM ET: Swapped out the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro for the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic.