In a connected world, it’s no surprise that wearable devices have risen in popularity in recent years. Not only do they provide attractive features, designs and accurate timekeeping, they also provide a wealth of tools to keep you organised.
What to look for in a smartwatch
Some of the smartwatches we’ve reviewed have different features, even though they’re generally based around either the Apple or Android systems. Some have more health-related functions, so if you’re committed to this choose a device from a manufacturer like Fitbit if you’re going for a smartwatch over a fitness tracker. Some are more rugged than others, and some take retro analogue design cues for a more stealth approach rather than some of the bulkier watches. Most modern smartwatches have notification systems and apps to mimic what’s happening on your phone screen, and all of these tested we found were easy to pair to devices.
Whether you have an Apple or Android phone also determines which smartwatch to look for – many work with both but features on some of them are only available on native devices (the Samsung smartwatch for Android users, for example). Although the Apple Watch was more or less the first on the mainstream market, there’s less of a difference in quality between the Apple and Android products now, with the Samsung and Huawei models actually just as good as the Apple Watch in some categories, so don’t be put off if your device is of the Google variety.
Here are some of the best smartwatches we tested for 2020:
Apple Watch 5, from £399, Argos
Best for iPhone users
The original and perhaps considered to be the ultimate smartwatch, if you operate within the Apple system and want the bells and whistles, then the Apple Watch 5 is your best bet. The 4 was a big step forward for the device, and the 5 makes further progress with a lengthier battery life, subtle design changes and an ‘always on’ screen so you can easily glance at the time without the screen turning on. It’s one of the best watches on the market too for bridging the gap between smart device and fitness tracker, with plenty of options to keep connected and on track when you’re exercising. The interface works very well, and generally the watch continues Apple’s dedication to functionality and usability.
Apple Watch 3, from £199, John Lewis
Best for iPhone users not worried about latest tech
This Apple Watch 3 is worth a mention on this list, as it has recently hit impressive levels of affordability and will do many of the functions most average users of smartwatches will need. It’s got a significantly better design than the previous two incarnations, with a thicker and sturdier feel, and will still pair with most recent versions of the Apple OS.
Samsung Galaxy Watch, from £250, Currys PC World
Best for Android Users
Historically, the Apple’s Watch’s Android rival, the Galaxy Watch, is a good bet for those with Android phones and has come on leaps and bounds in recent years. It’s a very worthy competitor at the higher end of the market. Unlike some other watches on the market, the battery life is one of the most impressive features of this watch and can last up to four days. We find it to be very comfortable and added waterproofing and fitness software mean it’s well suited to active smartwatch users, too.
Huawei Watch GT2, from £145, Amazon
Best for design
A little newer to the smartphone and smartwatch game, Huawei have hit the headlines recently for the wrong reasons, but it doesn’t necessarily take away from the build quality and functionality of their products, which recently have been up there with the big players like Samsung. One of the things we liked the best from this smartwatch was its design – it’s a really great looking watch that has enough customisation to suit most wearers. Battery life is quoted at two weeks, and although it’s unlikely to reach this if you’re always connected to internet and Bluetooth, it’s a strong claim from a high-end device. One of the best looking smartwatches out there.
Casio ProTrek Smartwatch F30, from £380, Cotswold Outdoors
Best for outdoor adventurers
We liked the rugged styling of the Casio F30 and it’s clear to see this watch means business. It’s at the higher end of the price spectrum but it’s clear there’s a gap in the market for people who will be using it for quite specific reasons. It successfully manages to combine a fitness tracker, outdoor navigation, smartwatch and other tools like a barometer and specific point-to-point orienteering facilities. It even allows you to download offline maps for use on the go. With all features turned on, battery life is only 1.5 days, but in offline mode without connectivity enabled, the battery can last up to a month. If we were high up on a mountain, this would be the option we’d choose.
FitBit Versa 2, from £190, Amazon
Best for health
The FitBit Versa 2 has some fitness and health pedigree, and comes from a long line of health-related products from the American manufacturer. The Versa 2 is their most ‘smartwatch’ offering however, and incorporates a variety of features found on some of the higher end models here, including full notification support and the ability to control all your phone apps through the watch with built in Amazon Alexa for things like home device control, weather and news. Versa 2 also comes with a quality sleep app, measuring heart rate, sleep patterns and time in REM sleep.
Skagen Connected Signatur Smartwatch, from £69
Best for analogue styling
If you think that smartwatches are a bit too digital and brash for your liking, you’re not the only one. There’s a growing trend in creating connected smartwatches that have a more basic, ‘retro’ styling, which are often slightly cheaper than some of the alternatives. We liked the Skagen Connected Signatur for its Scandi-inspired design and stylish black leather strap, and were impressed by the levels of functionality for the price. Granted, features are limited and more basic than some of the more advanced smartwatches, but you do have the benefit of a subtle design that comes in a neatly thought-out package. Functionality is good however, and the watch will work with both IOS and Android and includes smart notifications. Skagen also have an elegant range of digital smart watches including the Falster 3 which combines a wide choice of strap designs with all the usual functionality you’d expect from an inbuilt Google assistant.