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The best smartwatch 2024: top wearables for your wrist

The best smartwatches help you stay on track with your health and fitness, play games and organize your life. Find the device that best matches your phone.

Custom image for best smartwatches guide with the Ticwatch Pro 5 facing forward

The best smartwatches are more than just fashion accessories, they give instant access to messages, phone calls, and music, as well as being able to track your fitness and play music. Fortunately, most of the best smartwatches in 2024 work with both iOS and Android devices, eliminating the need to line up your phone and accessories by software.

We’re very familiar with the top smartwatches on the market, testing out products such as the Apple Watch Series 9 review and Google Pixel Watch 2, noting how useful they are in your everyday life. Regardless of your budget, you’ll find something here that fits the bill with our expertise.

Why you can trust our advice ✔ At Pocket Tactics, our experts spend days testing games, phones, tech, and services. We always share honest opinions to help you buy the best. Find out how we test.

Apple Watch 9

Best smartwatch for Apple users

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Apple Watch 9 specifications:
OS watchOS 10
Compatibility iOS (iPhone)
Display 1.69 / 1.9″ OLED
Storage 64GB
Battery life 18 hours
Connectivity Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, GPS, Cellular (extra)
Size 41mm, 45mm
Waterproofing Yes, to 50m (IP68 rating)
Reasons to buy
  • Bright screen
  • Powerful processor
Reasons to avoid
  • Looks identical to previous model
  • Disappointing battery life

If you’ve got an iPhone, the Apple Watch Series 9 is the most obvious choice from our list of the best smartwatches. Of course, the access to Apple’s ecosystem is great, but this thing also has all the lifestyle, fitness, and safety features you could ask for, as well as an elegant design. Even better still, it’s half the price of the Apple Watch Ultra.

While the design is very similar to the last couple of generations of Apple Watch, the performance of the ninth version is much better thanks to the S9 processor – which takes inspiration from the iPhone 14’s A16 chipset. We’re also big fans of the ‘Double Tap’ gesture controls, allowing you to answer calls, view messages, and snooze an annoying alarm without touching the screen.

The biggest letdown is battery life, which averages 18 hours, while the Mobvoi Ticwatch Pro 5 boasts more than 80 hours. But if you’re an iPhone owner, the Apple Watch Series 9 is one of the slickest smartwatches on the market and the best Apple Watch for most.

Read our Apple Watch Series 9 review.

Samsung Galaxy Watch6

Best Android smartwatch overall

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Samsung Galaxy Watch6 specifications:
OS Wear OS (One UI Watch 5)
Compatibility Android
Display 1.5″, 1.3″
Storage 16GB
Battery life One day
Connectivity Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, GPS, Cellular (extra)
Size 40mm, 44mm
Waterproofing Yes, to 50m (IP68 rating)
Reasons to buy
  • Easily customizable
  • Bright, detailed display
Reasons to avoid
  • Display eats battery juice
  • Some Galaxy-only features

The Galaxy Watch 6 is the primo smartwatch for Samsung users thanks to its seamless connectivity with the brand’s fantastic smartphones. It utilizes Google’s Wear OS for silky smoother performance and offers a plethora of fitness and lifestyle features to help you accurately track everything from your average day-to-day activities to marathon running.

The rotating bezel lets you navigate through most of the features without leaving smudge marks on the screen. This is all the better as the display is one of its most impressive features, offering a peak brightness of 2,000 nits and a varied collection of clock faces. The battery life is less impressive, and daily charging is necessary. While Samsung suggests a life of up to 40 hours, or thirty with the Super AMOLED ‘always on’ display, we found it to be more like 20-25.

Like the Apple Watch 9, there are two case sizes, and you get access to excellent fitness monitoring, sleep tracking, navigation, and messaging features. There are some Galaxy-only features, including heart rhythm notifications and phone separation alerts, so we’d recommend this smartwatch with the best Samsung phones.

Overall, there’s little between the Samsung Galaxy Watch6 and Apple Watch Series 9 in terms of features, so it comes down to whether you’re an Android or an iPhone user – as there’s no iPhone support.

Google Pixel Watch 2

Best smartwatch for Pixel phones

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Google Pixel Watch 2 specifications:
OS Wear OS 3.5
Compatibility Android
Display 1.2″ AMOLED
Storage 32GB
Battery life 24 hours
Connectivity Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, GPS, LTE
Waterproofing Water-resistant to 5 ATM
Reasons to buy
  • Understated design
  • Integrates with Fitbit
Reasons to avoid
  • One size
  • Lacks blood oxygen sensors

The Google Pixel Watch 2 is Google’s latest smartwatch arena, using its own Wear OS software to offer a lifestyle and fitness-enhancing wearable. It offers real-time location sharing, a check-in countdown to alert your loved ones if needed, and the option to add any medical ID information. If you often feel vulnerable during workouts or excursions, this smartwatch could alleviate some of those concerns.

It’s one of the sleeker devices out there, with a classic design that blends in with most outfits. The display is slightly smaller than others on this list, but the Pixel Watch 2 has improved some of the maligned features of its predecessor, offering 24 hours of juice with an ‘always on’ display’.

Google locks some of the more impressive fitness features and in-depth tracking behind the Fitbit Premium service. You get a six-month subscription on purchasing the device, but then the plan costs $9.99. Still, the Pixel Watch 2 makes the most sense if you’re after a cost-effective smartwatch to pair with the best Google Pixel phones.

Read our Google Pixel Watch 2 review.

Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro review

The best smartwatch for Xiaomi phones

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Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro review specifications:
OS Wear OS
Compatibility Android
Display 1.43-inch AMOLED
Storage 32GB
Battery life Up to 55 hours (LTE) / 65 hours (Bluetooth)
Connectivity GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, LTE
Waterproofing 5ATM water resistant
Reasons to buy
  • Cheaper than alternatives
  • Vast fitness features
Reasons to avoid
  • iPhone connectivity issues
  • Not available in the US

The Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro is the natural fit if you have one of the best Xiaomi phones. It’s cheaper than the latest Google Pixel and Samsung smartwatches but now features Google Wear OS to give you Google apps like Maps and Pay directly on your wrist.

Xiaomi’s latest offering is simple to use while offering a full suite of fitness features you don’t need to pay for through a subscription service like Fitbit Premium. There are over 150 sports modes, plus heart rate, SpO₂, and sleep tracking, but tracking accuracy isn’t as good as the Apple, Galaxy, or Pixel watches.

The design is elegant, with an intelligently placed bezel to guard the glass against scratches and nicks. Our main complaint is that this wearable doesn’t link up well with Apple devices, and there are major connectivity issues with iOS. It’s also not available in the US, which makes it harder to recommend.

Read our Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro review.

Mobvoi Ticwatch Pro 5

A simple but elegant smartwatch, great for working out.

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Mobvoi Ticwatch Pro 5 specifications:
OS Wear OS
Compatibility Anrdroid
Display 1.43-inch always-on AMOLED (466 x 466 pixels) Secondary ultra-low-power (ULP) display
Storage 32GB / 2GB RAM
Battery life 80 hours+ (628 mAh)
Connectivity Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
Reasons to buy
  • Excellent battery life
  • Great for working out
  • Simple but classy design
Reasons to avoid
  • Pricey
  • Not compatible with iPhone
  • Not compatible with Google Assistant

Despite being in the smartwatch game for less than a decade and competing with some huge names like Google and Apple, Mobvoi has built a reputation for delivering solid smartwatches with decent build quality and performance – and the Mobvoi Ticwatch Pro 5 is no different.

The Ticwatch Pro 5 enjoys almost all the features we’ve come to expect from modern smartwatches, plus the addition of a few nifty extras. Its Wear OS offers access to all the essentials including Google Wallet, YouTube Music, Google Maps, Play Store, but its focus on fitness is where it truly shines.

Offering surprisingly accurate GPS tracking, you can rely on precise GNSS-based positioning, so you don’t have to worry about getting lost, even if you’ve got no cellular data signal. It boasts a wealth of features for gym-based workouts, too. TicExercise offers dedicated tracking for a range of activities from running and swimming to the ‘high travelling bear crawl’ (though we’re still not quite sure what that is).

The display is bright and easy to use, and the battery life is very solid – in fact, we found the advertised 80-hour battery life to be an underestimate, beating out the Samsung and Apple entries on this list. Additionally, its Qualcomm Snapdragon W5+ chipset makes for a very smooth experience, allowing you to switch between apps and menus in no time at all.

The only real downsides with this little beauty are the steep price, and the fact that it isn’t compatible with iPhone or Google Assistant. However, if you’re an active person, then it’s certainly worth taking a look at our full Mobvoi Ticwatch Pro 5 review – and is definitely worth picking up if you can find it on sale.

Carbinox Vortex

Best rugged smartwatch

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Carbinox Vortex specifications:
Compatibility Android and iPhone
Display 1.96-inch AMOLED
Battery life 100+ hours
Connectivity Bluetooth
Reasons to buy
  • Long battery life
  • Very durable
Reasons to avoid
  • Connectivity issues
  • Divisive design

The Carbinox Vortex is an excellent, rugged smartwatch. With an IP69K waterproof rating, you could practically live in a lake and have no problems with this thing, making it perfect for any avid adventurers who like to keep track of health data while exploring the wilds.

Of course, as any good smartwatch should, the Vortex has plenty of health tracking features and can even keep you up to date on goings on with social media notifications. It’s not as elegant a system as you might get with a Samsung or Apple watch, but it works, and if you’re happy with the basics, it’s a fair bit cheaper, too.

There are a couple of caveats with the Vortex, though. For one, we’ve seen some reports of connectivity issues, though not from all users. It’s also worth saying, though it’s pretty obvious, that the military-style design isn’t for everyone, even if it’s pretty standard in the rugged watch arena.

Xiaomi Smart Band 8

The best cheap smartwatch

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Xiaomi Smart Band 8 specifications:
Compatibility Android and iPhone
Display 1.62″ AMOLED (192 x 490 pixels)
Battery life 100+ hours (190mAh)
Connectivity Bluetooth
Reasons to buy
  • Budget friendly
  • Lightweight
  • Great fitness features
Reasons to avoid
  • Slim display
  • Struggles with iPhone

If you’re looking for a smartwatch under $50, there aren’t many to choose from, but the Xiaomi Smart Band 8 is the pick of the bunch. This thing marries a lightweight and minimal design with excellent fitness and sleep-tracking features for the smartwatch user who doesn’t want to break the bank on something new.

The big caveat here is that Xiaomi smartwatches don’t always play nice with iPhones, so this might be a no-go if you’re an iOS user who isn’t willing to make the leap to Android just for the sake of a budget smartwatch. The Smart Band 8 and iPhone are technically compatible, but it often doesn’t feel like it.

It’s also worth pointing out that the slim display isn’t for everyone, though you have to stretch your budget a little further to get something with a more traditional clock face.

Is it worth buying a smartwatch?

Regardless of how you use it, our answer is a resounding ‘yes.’ Unless you don’t like wearing anything on your wrist, there’s unlikely to be a better option than a smartwatch. They don’t have to be gaudy, brightly-lit touchscreen devices; hybrid smartwatches take the best of both worlds with a variety of smart features and the looks of a classic Swiss-made timepiece.

To determine the best watch for you it’s best to look at features. Some, such as the Apple Watch 9, boast impressive fitness features, while the Mobvoi Ticwatch Pro 5 offers one of the best batteries on the market to ensure you get more use before charging.  With this in mind, we’ve tried to include options for all needs and budgets, and we’re always keeping an eye out for new smartwatches to add to the list.

Apple, Android, or platform agnostic?

It’s always worth considering what type of phone you use before opting for a new smartwatch. It’s pretty obvious, but the best Apple watches work seamlessly with iPhones, while Android brands like Xiaomi and Samsung’s wearables fit neatly into the Android smartphone ecosystem. Still, if you don’t want to commit yourself to a type of smartphone, there are some platform-agnostic devices out there that work with Androids or iPhones to allow you to switch up your smartphone without worrying about buying a new watch, too.

For example, if you have a personal Android device and a work iPhone, you may want a smartwatch that can integrate with both. In that case, a platform agnostic or even a hybrid smartwatch is your best option.

What is a hybrid smartwatch?

A hybrid smartwatch offers the best of both worlds, with all the fitness and lifestyle tracking features of a contemporary smartwatch with the style appeal of a classic analog timepiece. If you’re a bit old school, this might be the best option for you.

Several hybrid smartwatches on the market offer everything from basic step tracking and notifications to fairly advanced fitness and health monitoring. Most are also platform-agnostic and will allow you to connect to iOS or Android devices.

What is LTE on a smartwatch?

If a smartwatch has Long Term Evolution (LTE) that means it can connect to the best cell phone providers and be used independently of your smartphone to send messages, use calls, and use data. Without LTE, a smartwatch will connect to your phone via Bluetooth and you won’t be able to access data if you want to go out and leave your phone at home, during a run, say.

Non-cellular smartwatches are more affordable, as you won’t have to take out a separate data plan for your watch. However, most watches give you the option to add cellular connectivity at checkout, and they function in the same way whether you take out 4G LTE or not. The best LTE smartwatches right now are the Apple Watch Series 9 GPS + Cellular for iOS users and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 LTE for Android.

How to choose the best smartwatches

Your choice of smartwatch will largely be dictated by what smartphone you have. After all, there’s no point getting an Apple Watch if you have an Android phone. Apple Watches will only work with iPhones as they use the same iOS, but you can use Google Watches and Samsung Galaxy watches with all Android phones.

It’s worth thinking about what features you need, and what will be costly and unused. The Apple Watch Ultra’s 100-meter water resistance isn’t going to be helpful unless you’re a deep-sea diver, for example. Design and comfort are also important. Most smartwatches come in several sizes, so consider how large your wrists are, and whether you need a larger screen or a watch that looks subtle when worn.