There are so many great smartwatches out there and it can be hard to work out which is best for you. Some smartwatches act as a true second screen for your phone by pushing smart notifications, letting you respond to messages or take calls on the go. But maybe you want something that’s more fitness-focused with an activity tracker that logs data about your workouts. If that’s not enough, perhaps you want other health features, like a heart rate monitor, sleep tracking or the ability to track your blood oxygen level. Then, there’s the question of whether you want a round or square watch, compatibility with Android or Apple’s operating system and, of course, price.
But that only scratches the surface. Most smartwatches should offer heart rate monitoring, activity tracking, GPS tracking and smartphone notifications on your wrist. Many support contactless payments and others have LTE or cellular connectivity, so you really can leave your phone at home.
We’ve rounded up the top smartwatches you can buy in 2021 based on function, price and compatibility to help you decide which is the best smartwatch for you. This list is updated periodically with new reviews of top smartwatches.
Read more: The best budget smartwatches under $100
Best smartwatches and trackers for 2021
Apple Watch Series 7
The best Apple Watch you can get
The Apple Watch Series 7 is Apple’s flagship smartwatch for a reason. Not only does it have a bigger screen than earlier Apple Watches, it’s also more durable thanks to a dust and crack-resistant design. It has a blood oxygen and electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) sensor and is available in either a 41mm or 45mm case size. You can also choose a cellular or LTE model that lets you take calls and answer messages from your wrist without your phone, although that does cost extra.
But the Apple Watch is iPhone-compatible only and the battery life generally lasts 18 hours with typical use, less than many of its competitors.
Read our Apple Watch Series 7 review.
$399 at Amazon
Garmin Venu 2
A great fitness companion for Android and iOS
The Garmin name has long been synonymous with fitness tracking, but many of the company’s earlier watches haven’t exactly looked or felt that “smart.” The Venu 2 has a sleek, round design with a bright screen that’s easy to see in direct sunlight. It’s also compatible with Android and iOS, has great in-depth fitness features like comprehensive workout tracking, a body battery that tells you if you should push yourself to workout or take a rest day, plus women’s health tracking. It can also take blood oxygen levels and the battery will last several days with moderate use.
The downside is that it doesn’t have as many smart features as other watches on this list, including no LTE or cellular connectivity, plus no speaker or mic onboard.
Read the Garmin Venu 2 review.
$400 at Crutchfield
$350 at Amazon
$350 at Walmart
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
Setting the standard for Android watches
The Galaxy Watch 4 is the first smartwatch to run the new Google Wear platform, co-designed by Samsung and Google. It has a round design with the option of paying a little more for the Classic version with a rotating bezel. ECG and heart-rate tracking are onboard, but Samsung tries to differentiate itself from other watches with a new impedance-based electrical sensor that can tell you more about your body composition.
But some of the key features like ECG are locked to Samsung phones for now and the battery life is not as strong as others on the list.
Read the Galaxy Watch 4 review.
$310 at Samsung
$310 at Crutchfield
$309 at Walmart
Apple Watch SE
The best Apple Watch for your money
If you’ve never owned an Apple Watch, this is the one to get. The Apple Watch SE is a cheaper alternative to the Series 7 with a lot of the same great features plus a slightly longer battery life. Aside from the extra health sensors (ECG and SpO2), the most notable difference between the two is that the SE doesn’t have an always-on display watch face. But you probably won’t miss it if you’ve never had this feature.
Read our Apple Watch SE review.
$280 at Best Buy
$279 at Amazon
Fitbit Versa 3
The best Apple Watch alternative
The Versa 3 is compatible with both iOS and Android phones and lets you choose between Alexa or Google Assistant as your go-to voice assistant. It doesn’t offer all the apps and smart features as some of its competitors, but it’s a well-rounded smartwatch with plenty of health and fitness features to keep you on track like onboard GPS and live heart rate zone notifications. It has the best sleep tracker feature on this list and even gives you a breakout of your SpO2 and body temperature data overnight (Fitbit Premium users). Battery life is also better than most other smartwatch options: I got about four full days (and nights) of battery life use with the screen always-on.
Read more about the Fitbit Versa 3.
$224 at Amazon
CNET Health and Wellness
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