Looking to extend your everyday connectivity beyond the confines of your smartphone? A smartwatch is one way to do exactly that.
Beyond the mere smart step trackers of the past, the smartwatches of today can support everything from music playback to contactless payments and more. Battery life and price, previously the two biggest barriers to smartphone adoption, have also eroded in recent years.
According to IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Wearables Tracker, the positive momentum in the category is expected to continue with wrist-worn wearables projected to reach 152.7 million units by the end of 2019 with 21.7% growth over last year and 194.1 million units by the time 2023 rolls around.
There’s never been a better time to nab your first smartwatch or upgrade your old one to something shinier. So if you’re looking to take advantage of the holiday seasons bevy of sales events like Black Friday, these are our picks for the best smartwatches.
Apple Watch Series 5
If you’re looking for the best smartwatch money can buy, the latest Apple Watch is it. If you’re looking to save a few bucks, the previous Series 4 is almost just as good. However, if money is no object and you’re after the best, the Series 5 Apple Watch is straight-up as good as it gets.
Unfortunately, unless you’re willing to change ecosystems, it’s only going to be a valid option for iPhone users. You can’t set up, pair or use the Series 5 Apple Watch with an Android phone.
Apple’s latest smartwatch hasn’t changed all that much in its latest incarnation. However, it’s still miles ahead of the competition on both hardware and software. In terms of battery life, you’ll usually get about two days per charge. The one drawback here is sleep-tracking, which the Apple Watch still doesn’t officially support.
In our review of the Apple Watch Series 5, we said that “If you’re already looking at buying a new iPhone, owning an Apple Watch feels like an inevitability. Even if you don’t buy the Series 5 - or the cheaper Series 3 - right away, you’ll probably want to get one sooner or later. And, if you aren’t, this might just be the thing that pushes you to change ecosystems.“
“Even five years in, the Apple Watch remains the gold standard for wearables.”
Fitbit Versa 2
Fitbit’s second-generation Versa smartwatch takes everything that worked about the original and adds a lot of what it lacked.
This time around you get a much better OLED display and a more-mature software experience. The battery life is also exceptional at 5-days per charge, which lets you get a lot of mileage out of the Versa’s sleep-tracking tech.
In Australia, the Fitbit Versa 2 is priced at AU$349. You can buy it through Amazon here.
In our review of the Fitbit Versa 2, we said that “The Versa 2 provides meaningful improvements over the original that make it the definitive Fitbit smartwatch to buy but little in the way of genuine innovation. Honestly, it doesn’t feel like Fitbit’s latest really pushes things forward or changes the smartwatch equation in any real way.”
“The Fitbit Versa 2 is a more than adequate alternative to the Apple Watch but it shouldn’t be confused for a substitute.”
Samsung Galaxy Watch
If you're not particularly drawn to the square displays found in Apple and Fitbit's respective smartwatches, the Galaxy Watch might be more your style.
The new Galaxy Watch picks up where the older Gear S range left off. It retains the snazzy bezel-based control scheme and boasts a lot of the familiar perks and features. It’s got IP68 waterproofing, built-in GPS, mobile payments, sleep tracking and plays nice with any and all other Samsung SmartThings.
In Australia, the Samsung Galaxy Watch is priced at an RRP of $649 for the cellular model and $549 for the Bluetooth model. You can buy it through Amazon here.
In our review of the Galaxy Watch, we said that "if you’re the kind of user who digs where non-Apple smartwatches are at, you’ll probably get a lot out of the Galaxy Watch. It’s got every smartwatch feature you could want and some of the best battery life out there."
"Unfortunately, a tendency to play into expectations ultimately holds the wearable back from being the breakthrough it could be."
You can read our full review of the Samsung Galaxy Watch here.
Apple Watch Series 3
If you’re looking to pair up your iPhone with a watch for a little less than the pricey Series 5 Apple Watch demands, Apple has lowered the asking price for the less advanced but still great Series 3 Apple Watch.
The only features you’re missing out on here is the larger OLED introduced by the Series 4 and the always-on functionality added by the new Series 5. Otherwise, the Series 3 Apple Watch features a fairly synonymous design to the current model and runs on the same WatchOS 6 software. It supports all the same fitness tracking features and contactless payments via Apple Pay.
In our review, we said that “For my purposes, Apple Watch Series 3 is a software update and a couple apps away from being my dream device. But even in its current form, it’s miles ahead of its closest competitors when it comes to functionality and parsecs ahead with design.”
“There’s a reason Apple hasn’t visually changed its watch in three generations: It’s nearly perfect.”
You can read our full review of the Apple Watch Series 3 here.