Smartwatches, fitness trackers, and even jewellery—if it’s technology you can wear, Photo: Alex Cranz, Gizmodo
Who are you?
You want the best of the best and don’t mind paying for it.
Our pick: Apple Watch Series 4 ($599 – $799)
Apple haters might groan, but the fact is the Apple Watch is the best smartwatch out there. It’s stylish enough for a night on the town, but durable enough for a hard workout. For health nuts, it’s got accurate activity tracking, and on the medical side, it’s FDA-approved to take ECG readings but the same doesn’t go for Australia – we don’t get that feature. The Series 4 also has LTE option for standalone connectivity, can withstand the pool, streams music, and works with Apple Pay. And like all Apple products, the whole user experience is intuitive and seamless.
The biggest problem with the Apple Watch is that it’s not Android friendly, and you’ll have to charge it every night. If that’s a dealbreaker, then the Samsung Galaxy Watch is a great alternative. It’s got an intuitive bezel-based interface, 3-5 days of battery, LTE connectivity, and it doesn’t look too shabby. At $549 for the 42mm version (though it’s just $499 over on the Samsung online store right now), and $569 for the 46mm, it’s also a bit cheaper than the Apple Watch.
The best fitness smartwatch
Who are you?
You start your mornings guzzling protein shakes and are determined to crush that 10,000 step goal every day. You want a wearable with enough battery life to keep up with your epic lifestyle and don’t mind if it’s a little ugly.
Our pick: Fitbit Ionic ($399.95)
No one’s going to give the Ionic an award for prettiest smartwatch. It’s pretty hideous. That said, it’s got the goods when it comes to fitness. We got up to 7 days of battery in testing, and like all Fitbit devices, it’s got accurate tracking, as well as continuous heart rate monitoring and fitness-focused software. For example, you can get guided workouts on your wrist, and your exercise tracking will pause automatically if you’re stuck at a stoplight. Plus, you get solid standalone capability with built-in GPS and on-device music storage, though there’s no LTE connectivity. While there are a few apps, the selection is way more limited than a Wear OS device or the Apple Watch. Still, the Fitbit platform is one of the most streamlined for fitness, and it has a large, competitive community to keep you motivated.
The Garmin Forerunner 645 Music isn’t a looker, and it’s a good deal more expensive than the Ionic at $599. But Garmin’s platform is the most comprehensive when it comes to the data tracked. Runners can get anything and everything from average pace and moving speed, to stride length and cadence. You can store up to 500 songs, and the battery lasts up to 7 days. The lack of a touchscreen makes navigating between menus a bit annoying, but at least you still get heart rate monitoring, built-in GPS, and NFC payments.
The best Android-friendly smartwatch
Who are you?
Someone who has an Android phone and wants a smartwatch that works intuitively with it.
Our pick: Fossil Sport ($US255)
There’s plenty of Wear OS watches out there, but we like the Fossil Sport best. It’s got the newly-released Snapdragon 3100 processor, and it tested well when it came to delivering notifications and tracking activities. Rapid charging takes the sting out of the relatively short battery life, and with 28 straps, you’ve got style options.
Editor’s Note: We’re still waiting on an Aussie price and release date on the Fossil Sport.
The Fitbit Versa is stylish, gets your notifications, and is pretty good for casual fitness tracking. It lacks standalone GPS, but makes up for it with five days of battery life. It’s reasonably priced at $299.95, and works with Android phones right out of the box. The Fitbit app ecosystem is a little thin, but if you just want the basics, then this is a good bet.
The best hybrid smartwatch
Who are you?
A person who takes pride in looking good and needs some smartwatch to match. Someone who values classic design with basic functionality over advanced features.
Our pick: Garmin Vivomove HR ($499)
As far as hybrid watches go, the Garmin Vivomove HR is great at packing in solid fitness tracking and basic notifications into an analogue design. It’s also got good battery life, and Garmin’s detailed platform working in its favour. It might not have the latest metrics Garmin tracks, like “body battery” because that requires red pulse oximeter LEDs, but you do get all of Garmin’s detailed exercise metrics like cadence and average pace. Plus, you can track exotic activities like snowshoeing.
The Misfit Path is tiny, stylish, and looks just like a traditional watch. It’s a mere $US150, and you don’t have to charge it. While it doesn’t have a touchscreen, then watch buzzes when you’ve got a notification. And while you can’t view notifications, you can assign clock positions to correspond with your most frequent contacts or apps. For example, if the watch buzzes and the hands move to 3 ‘o clock, you’ll know it’s your mum calling.
Editor’s Note: While Misfit is sold in Australia, we haven’t seen the Path available as yet.
The best non-wrist tracker
Who are you?
Someone who hates watches, but wants something to track fitness or activity.
Our pick: Motiv Ring ($280)
You won’t get notifications on it, but the Motiv Ring is a fitness tracker that can pass for a minimalist ring. It tracks steps, active minutes, and even your heart rate. A recent update added biometric two-factor authentication. Miraculously, it looks nice on your finger.
The Oura Ring also rocks that minimalist vibe, and tracks sleep and activity. It’ll just punch a slightly bigger hole in your wallet.
The best budget fitness tracker
Who are you?
You want a basic fitness tracker but don’t want to pay a lot for it.
Our pick: Fitbit Alta HR ($199.95)
Slim and sleek, the Alta HR is a simple yet capable tracker that also gets you basic text, call, and calendar notifications. Battery life is a solid five days, and you can dress it up or down depending on your fashion needs du jour.
The Garmin Vivosmart 4 is slightly cheaper, but its screen interface is wonky and you can’t swap straps. That makes it a bit more frustrating to use mid-workout, and you’ll have to make peace with your colour choices at checkout. You’ll get most of the same features, on top of stress tracking, and solid battery life to boot. Fitbit’s Charge 3 is also pretty solid in this price range, but its chunkier straps, built-in GPS, and swimproof design are better suited to someone who’s slightly more serious about getting fit. Plus, the addition of apps on a monochrome OLED screen sort of blurs the line between smartwatch and tracker—to the Charge 3’s detriment.