Our guide to the best smartwatches is all you need to decide on what piece of snazzy hardware you’re going to wear on your wrist. From fitness-tracking marvels to timepieces equipped with AI voice assistants, this guide has something for everyone, no matter your needs or budget. Better still, we’ve tested all of these watches out ourselves, so we can give you our honest impressions of each.
Of course, a great smartwatch isn’t much use without a powerful smartphone to collect all your information. So, if you need an upgrade in both departments, check out our guides to the best Samsung phones, the best OnePlus phones, and the best Xiaomi phones. Or, if you’re looking for something a little fancier, see our picks for the best flip phones and the best foldable phones.
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.
Here are the best smartwatches in 2023:
- Apple Watch Series 9 – the best smartwatch for Apple users.
- Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro – the best smartwatch for Xiaomi users.
- Google Pixel Watch 2 – the best smartwatch for Google Pixel users.
- Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 – the best smartwatch for Samsung users.
- Garmin Forerunner 55 – the best budget smartwatch
- Ticwatch Pro 5 – the best alternative Android smartwatch
1. Apple Watch Series 9
The best smartwatch for Apple users.
|Battery||Li-Ion 308 mAh|
|Display||1.9-inch LTPO OLED (484 x 396 pixels)|
|Colors||Silver, Graphite, Gold|
- Seamless iOS connectivity
- ‘Double Tap’ gesture control
- Powerful S9 processor
- Disappointing battery life
- Same design as previous models
If you’re an iPhone owner, picking up the Apple Watch Series 9 just makes sense. With a detailed and bright display, fantastic connectivity with Apple’s bountiful fitness, lifestyle, and safety features, and a varied selection of snazzy clock faces, this Apple smartwatch has everything you need in a smart device, with a few perks for good measure.
While the design element might not be much different from the Series 8, nor the Series 7 in all honesty, the latest Apple Watch offers better performance than ever before thanks to its incredibly capable S9 processor. Another software innovation with this watch is the ‘Double Tap’ gesture system, allowing you to answer calls, view messages, and even snooze an alarm without touching the display. The latter of those features is a bit deadly for those who love a lie-in like I do, but it’s a practical feature that none of the other devices on this list can offer.
My main issue with this device is the battery life. Considering this is the ninth generation of Apple smartwatch, it should have more to offer than less than 48 hours if you’re using it for the bare minimum. If you’re using it actively, it’s even worse than that, offering a relatively measly 18 hours on average. In comparison to some of the non-Apple devices that make up the rest of this list, that’s pretty poor.
My other quibble is a little more subjective, but I’m just not a fan of the square clock face. It feels like a bit of a gimmick to help differentiate the Apple watch from the rest of the field, but I’m a bit of a traditionalist, and I prefer a circular clock face. It’s also worth pointing out there is a more luxurious option in the Apple Watch Ultra 2, but at almost double the price of the Series 9, we think the latter is the better option for most. For an even more in-depth look at this device, check out our Apple Watch Series 9 review.
2. Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro
The best smartwatch for Xiaomi users.
|Display||1.43-inch AMOLED (466 x 466 pixels)|
|Chipset||Qualcomm Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1|
|Colors||Black or Silver|
- Cheaper than the alternatives
- Vast fitness and well-being features
- Stylish design
- Screen smudges easily
- iPhone connectivity issues
While all of the devices on our list of the best smartwatches are impressive in their own right, the Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro is my personal favorite. It matches an elegant design, featuring an intelligently placed bezel guarding the glass against scratches and nicks with some stellar health and well-being features. Simply put, it’s the complete package. Better still, it’s cheaper than many alternatives, including the latest Google Pixel and Samsung smartwatches.
While the original Xiaomi Watch struggled to impress some due to the brand using its own, soon-to-be defunct, MIUI OS, the introduction of Google Wear OS with the follow-up model is a game changer. As I state pretty plainly in our Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro review, I think this device utilizes Google’s operating system better than the company’s own smartwatch. It’s not dramatically better, and of course, it’s a subjective opinion, but Xiaomi’s latest offering simplifies things while offering a full suite of fitness features you don’t need to pay for through a subscription service like Fitbit Premium.
The only caveat here outside of the smudgy screen is that, much like some of the other picks on this list, this wearable doesn’t always play nicely with Apple devices. Older Xiaomi devices seem to be fine, but at the time of writing, the latest from the company has some connectivity issues with iOS, occasionally not connecting at all.
3. Google Pixel Watch 2
The best smartwatch for Google Pixel users.
|Battery||Li-Ion 306 mAh|
|Display||1.2-inch AMOLED (450 x 450 pixels)|
|Colors||Polished Silver, Matte Black, Champagne Gold|
- Personal safety features
- Improved battery life
- Ships with different strap color options
- Divisive design
- Some fitness features require Fitbit Premium
The Google Pixel Watch 2 is Google’s latest attempt to stake a claim in the smartwatch arena, utilizing its own Wear OS software to offer a lifestyle and fitness-enhancing wearable. One of the more enticing selling points here is the emphasis on personal safety, with 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.
In terms of design, it’s one of the sleeker devices on our list of the best smartwatches, with a dome-shaped design that gives it a bit of a futuristic feel. Feeling like you’ve got a sci-fi watch does come with a slight cost, though, as the display is just slightly smaller than others on this list. In saying that, the Pixel Watch 2 has improved some of the maligned features of its predecessor, offering 24 hours of juice with an ‘always on’ display’, beating the Apple Watch Series 9 by a solid six hours and matching the Galaxy Watch 6.
Still, there’s something to keep in mind if you’re tempted by the Google Pixel Watch 2. Google locks some of the most impressive fitness features and in-depth tracking behind the Fitbit Premium service. You get a six-month subscription on purchasing the device, but then you’re on your own, left with the choice between continuing with the plan for $9.99 a month or missing out on some of the watch’s most impressive features.
4. Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
The best smartwatch for Samsung users.
|Battery||Li-Ion 425 mAh|
|Display||1.5-inch Super AMOLED (480 x 480 pixels)|
|Colors||Silver, Graphite, Gold|
- Dazzling display
- Easily customizable
- Unique One UI 5 skin
- Incredibly accurate tracking
- Disappointing battery life
- Little change from the predecessor
While the Galaxy Watch 6 is another Google OS utilizing pick on our list of the best smartwatches, it stands out from the crowd thanks to its Wear OS One UI 5 skin. It might not be a drastic improvement on its Galaxy Watch 5 predecessor, but it is hard to better something already quite impressive, and Samsung has continuously produced some of the better wearable devices of the last few years.
One of the perks of this smartwatch is the rotating bezel, so you can navigate through most of the features without the fear of leaving smudge marks on the screen. This is all the better as the display of the Galaxy Watch 6 is one of its most impressive features, offering a peak brightness of 2,000 nits and a varied collection of clock face options. Combine all of this with some of the most accurate fitness and well-being tracking available, and the Samsung wearable is one of the most attractive propositions in the current crop of smartwatches.
The downside is that the Galaxy Watch 6 is less impressive in the battery department than most of the other entries on this list. While Samsung suggests this smartwatch can last for up to 40 hours, or thirty with an ‘always on’ display, it’s more like 20-25. This means you have to charge it daily, and forgetting to plug it in for an hour in the morning can completely scupper your workout plans for the rest of the day.
5. Garmin Forerunner 55
The best budget smartwatch.
|Battery||Rechargeable lithium-ion battery|
|Display||1.04-inch LCD (208 x 208 pixels)|
|Colors||White, Blue, Black, Grey|
- Stellar battery life
- Plenty of fitness features
- Easy-to-read display
- Great price
- No voice assistant
- No option to change the straps
While Garmin might be better known as a massive sat nav brand, the company also offers a range of budget smartwatches. The best of these, in terms of design, features, and, of course, pricing, is the Garmin Forerunner 55. With an exhaustive list of fitness features, including respiration tracking, daily suggested workouts, and a recovery advisor, it’s ideal for anyone looking to keep fit without breaking the bank.
The battery life on the Forerunner 55 is also pretty impressive. It can go for up to two weeks while in smartwatch mode or around 20 hours in GPS mode, with even lengthy workouts barely depleting the battery more than a couple of percentage points. Match all that with a comfortable, no-nonsense build, and this is definitely a low-cost contender for the best fitness-focused smartwatch.
However, unlike the rest of the entries on our list of the best smartwatches, this thing is essentially just for fitness tracking and telling the time, without many of the lifestyle features we’ve seen in other devices. There’s no Google Assistant or Siri equivalent, so if you’re looking for something that has utility outside of your exercise regimen, you might have to hold off until your budget allows for one of the other recommended devices.
6. TicWatch Pro 5
The best alternative Android smartwatch.
|Display||1.43-inch AMOLED (466 x 466 pixels)|
|Chipset||Snapdragon® W5+ Gen1|
- Stylish design
- Accurate and reliable fitness tracking
- Snapdragon processor
- Similar in price to bigger brands
- Android only
The TicWatch Pro 5 is a fantastic alternative to some of the other Android watches on this list, with up to 80 hours of battery life, fantastic fitness features, and one of the sleekest designs out there. Put simply, it’s a contender, and that’s the reason it’s on our list of the best smartwatches.
While all of the devices on this list have pretty impressive displays, there’s something about the TicWatch 5 Pro that makes it stand out from the crowd. The bright clock faces help, but it’s practical as well as pretty, with responsive touch controls and ease of use that’s ideal for someone looking for their first smartwatch.
The only drawback here is that this device is similar in price to the Samsung and Xiaomi alternatives while lacking the big-name draw, though the features are just as good. It’s also worth pointing out this is a no-go for Apple users, with the TicWatch 5 Pro currently not compatible with iOS devices.
How we chose the best smartwatches
When it comes to choosing the best smartwatches from a crowded market of wearable devices, we take multiple factors into consideration. The most important thing is the list of features included, especially things like fitness trackers, though we also take into account AI assistants and safety features. Value for money plays into our thinking too, though, explaining why we include the Garmin Forerunner 55, which has no AI assistant but is a fantastic watch for fitness enthusiasts.
However, design and comfort are also crucial to our decision-making process. It’s not much use having a wearable with fantastic features if it feels clunky on your wrist, especially as all of them are at their best when exercising. Picking out entries based on design is a bit trickier, as aesthetics are much more subjective, but with the variety on offer there should be something to suit different tastes. For more details on how we write our buying guide lists, check out our page detailing how we test hardware.
There you have it, our guide to the best smartwatches on the market. If you’re more concerned with gaming than fitness tracking, check out our best gaming phone guide. Or, if you’re something of an artist, see if anything in our guide to the best stylus for iPad and iPhones sparks your imagination.