Saturday, June 22, 2024

The best Android smartwatches in 2024: 7 top picks for every need and budget

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The best Android smartwatches are seamless, dynamic extensions of your Android phone. At the very least, they should send notifications from your phone, be easy to navigate, and offer various health and fitness tracking tools. Exceptional Android smartwatches do all three to the highest degree compared to the competition.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is our top pick among the best Android smartwatches. Though it’s a previous generation model that works best with a Samsung phone, this rugged wearable still offers the finest combined Android smartwatch and fitness tracker experience with a range of trackable activities, an intuitive interface, and multi-day battery life. For a budget pick, we like the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, which has similar features to the Watch 5 Pro at a more affordable price. 

Our top picks for the best Android smartwatches

Best overall: Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro – See at Amazon

Best Fitbit: Fitbit Sense 2 – See at Amazon

Best for Pixel users: Google Pixel Watch 2 – See at Amazon

Best with bezel: Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic – See at Amazon

Best budget: Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 – See at Amazon

Best battery life: Fitbit Inspire 3 – See at Amazon

Best for runners: Garmin Forerunner 745 – See at Amazon


Best overall


Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro

Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is the best fitness tracker for Android users thanks to its multi-day battery life, an intuitive operating system in WearOS, and a wide variety of advanced health and fitness tracking.

With a price drop, the previous-generation Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is still the best Android smartwatch, even when the Galaxy Watch 6 is available. With multi-day battery life, accurate activity tracking, and distinctive insights such as body composition data and sleep analysis, it’s the perfect combination of a smartwatch and a health and fitness tracker for the Android user — more so than the Galaxy Watch 6 series.

Design-wise, the Watch 5 Pro’s titanium frame discerns itself from the aluminum Galaxy Watch 6. It has a round watch face and a 1.36-inch touchscreen display that offers tons of viewable data. With the right watch face, you could have everything from the week’s upcoming weather forecast and the sunrise/sunset schedule to your daily steps, burned calories, and workout shortcuts displayed.

As a smartwatch, the Watch 5 Pro is excellent. It uses Google’s Wear OS operating system with Samsung’s own flair, which functions seamlessly and offers access to a comprehensive list of apps. It gets app notifications, text alerts, emails, and phone calls and is easy to navigate. 


A Samsung Galaxy Watch5 Pro smartwatch.

Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is still the top smartwatch for Android users.

Rick Stella/Business Insider



Fitness-focused folks will appreciate the variety of activities it tracks, including common things like running and cycling, as well as advanced sports like snowboarding, hiking, or trail running. It even has a useful track-back option that works like a digital breadcrumb, showing your exact route through a forested area. However, this only works with hiking and cycling, which is disappointing as it’d be great for runners, too. 

One of the Watch 5 Pro’s best features is its health tracking. It has everything from in-depth sleep tracking, which monitors sleep patterns and habits, to a body composition app that charts body fat percentage and muscle mass. 

There is one minor caveat: some features, like the ECG app that tracks heart rhythms, are only compatible with Samsung phones, diminishing the watch’s overall experience on other Android phones like the Google Pixel 8. It’s not a dealbreaker, but it’s worth considering if you don’t own a Samsung phone. 

Despite those issues, Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is the best Android smartwatch for almost anyone. It excels as a smartwatch, has robust fitness-tracking capability, and offers unique health insights. This model is as good as it gets on Android.  

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro review.


Best Fitbit


Fitbit Sense 2

Fitbit’s Sense 2 combines the brand’s advanced health and fitness features with decent smartwatch capability, unique sleep tracking, and a clean design reminiscent of the Apple Watch.

Fitbit’s Sense 2 is everything you want in a dependable fitness tracker. It’s compatible with several trackable activities, provides unique insights into your fitness habits, monitors your sleep, stress, and menstrual cycles, and has a built-in GPS. It even has a battery that lasts upward of five to six days.

We found it to be one of the most accurate fitness trackers we’ve worn, and it quickly syncs its GPS — the watch found a GPS signal within seconds, and we were ready to start tracking our activity. It also has an interface that’s easy to navigate, which is especially helpful for first-time Fitbit wearers or those new to fitness trackers.

The Sense 2 has several helpful health and wellness tools, too. These include a skin temperature sensor, heart rhythm (ECG) readings, and Fitbit’s new real-time stress tracker. Stress tracking was especially interesting during our tests as we liked how well it charted our stress levels while offering useful feedback on ways to lower them. 


The Fitbit Sense 2 sitting on a wood desk.

The Fitbit Sense 2 is a great all-around activity tracker, and although it does lack some standard smartwatch features, it’s still an impressive wearable.

Rick Stella/Business Insider



The Sense 2 doesn’t overly impress as a smartwatch in its price range. It’s technically one of Fitbit’s “smartwatches,” but it doesn’t exactly live up to that billing. For instance, there’s no third-party app support available, which is a frustrating decision by Fitbit. 

And bafflingly, it doesn’t support Google Assistant like the original Sense did, which is confounding since Google is the parent company. Oddly, the Sense 2 supports Amazon’s Alexa instead. 

Still, overall, the Sense 2 is an adequate smartwatch that still gets notifications like calls, texts, and emails, but its strengths lie in its health and fitness tracking. For those looking for a fitness-first smartwatch, the Sense 2 is the Android smartwatch to buy (and one of the best Fitbits overall).  

Read our full Fitbit Sense 2 review.


Best for Pixel users


Google Pixel Watch 2

The Pixel Watch 2 is one of the best well-rounded wearables for Android users as it has a sleek, stylish design, a variety of useful smartwatch features powered by the new Wear OS 4, and reliable, accurate GPS.

Google addressed several of the original Pixel Watch’s shortcomings with the Pixel Watch 2, and it’s easily the best smartwatch for Pixel users. The Pixel Watch 2 not only excels in being a smartwatch, but Google’s improvements make its current smartwatch a suitable option for fitness tracking and health monitoring, unlike the original. 

The Google Wear OS operating system delivers a seamless experience between the apps you can access, any notifications you might receive, and smart features like Google Assistant, Google Maps, and Google Wallet. These features allow it to satisfy the one major requirement of a smartwatch: to be an effective extension of your smartphone. Plus, it’s compatible with a variety of the best Google Pixel Watch 2 bands to fit anyone’s style.


The home screen of a Google Pixel Watch 2

The Google Pixel 2 is a big improvement over the original.

Rick Stella/Business Insider



The Pixel Watch 2’s GPS is accurate for fitness tracking, and you get a solid range of health and fitness features, like sleep tracking, all-day heart-rate monitoring, stress monitoring, and ECG readings. New skin temperature sensors and an updated heart rate sensor contribute to unique sleep quality insights. 

Unlike the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro or other Samsung smartwatches, the Pixel Watch 2 makes its features available to all, no matter which Android phone you use. However, some features, like advanced sleep data, advanced stress management tools, and Fitbit’s unique Daily Readiness feature, are behind Fitbit’s Premium $10/month subscription service. When you buy the Pixel Watch 2, you can try Fitbit Premium for a six-month free trial to decide whether it’s worth keeping.

Read our full Google Pixel Watch 2 review.


Best with bezel


Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic

Samsung’s latest smartwatch, the Watch 6 Classic, brings back the rotating bezel from the Watch 4 line, and it makes navigating the excellent Wear OS 4 operating system that much smoother and easier.

Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 6 Classic retains the high bar set by previous generations, even if it doesn’t push the line forward in any major way. But despite its minimal new additions, the Watch 6 Classic still delivers a high premium experience, making it not just one of the best Android smartwatches you can buy but one of the best smartwatches.

The most notable update on the Watch 6 Classic is the return of the rotating bezel, a feature last seen on the Watch 4 series. Instead of relying on the watch’s touchscreen to scroll through the interface, the rotating bezel allows easy navigation. I found it especially useful while working out where spinning the dial was more manageable and quicker than trying to swipe the screen.

The Watch 6 Classic also has impressive battery life — depending on how often I used the built-in GPS for workouts, I consistently got almost two days-worth. I always got a full day and night of battery, though sometimes I needed to recharge the watch the following afternoon. This lifespan is a welcome upgrade over the Watch 5, though it is still a bit shorter than the multi-day battery life of the Watch 5 Pro.


A Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic sitting on a countertop.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic has a satisfying rotating bezel that offers extra control.

Rick Stella/Business Insider



Beyond those upgrades, the Watch 6 Classic resembles the previous Watch 5 generation. It has a large catalog of health and wellness features, including sleep tracking, a body composition analyzer, and stress level monitoring.

The two health features I used most were the body composition analyzer and the stress tracker. With the body composition analyzer, the watch provided real-time readings of my body fat percentage, BMI, and muscle mass, which I used to chart my overall fitness progress. The Watch 5 Pro also offered this, so I had a baseline of knowledge (and existing data) to compare to, and it functioned the same.

I found the stress tracker to be a helpful feature, too, mainly because it’s interesting to see when the watch would say I had higher stress levels and when I didn’t. The feature positively impacted my day-to-day life as I would implement some of the recommendations for lowering my stress and found them effective.

The Watch 6 Classic does severely lack as a fitness tracker, though, and its inaccurate GPS makes it difficult to recommend for those actively wishing to track fitness. Not only would it take upwards of a minute to sync a GPS connection, but its distance and pace tracking were off by significant margins. Those looking for a quality fitness tracker experience should instead opt for the Watch 5 Pro, which is a key reason it’s still the top pick for Android users overall.

Design-wise, the Watch 6 Classic is a stylish smartwatch that I thoroughly enjoyed wearing. Its big 47mm watch face might be too large for folks with smaller wrists, but I liked how much data I could display on it. Its bright watch face makes it easy to quickly reference the screen or tell the time. A smaller 43mm model is also available. 

Overall, the Watch 6 Classic looks, feels, and functions like a premium wearable, and while it may not satisfy those looking for a reliable fitness tracker, it’s an excellent smartwatch.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic review.


Best budget


Samsung Galaxy Watch 4

Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 may be an older smartwatch, but it’s still one of the best on the market, and now that it’s available at a lower price, it’s a great budget option for Android users.

When we first tested the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, we recognized it as the closest thing to an Apple Watch for Android users. Two years later, that sentiment goes to the next-generation Watch 5 Pro, but the Watch 4 is still an impressive wearable — only now, it costs far less than when it was released. 

The release of the Galaxy Watch 4 was Samsung’s first go with utilizing Google’s Wear OS as the watch’s operating system instead of Samsung’s own Tizen OS. The switch paid off in spades as Wear OS pairs perfectly with the Watch 4. Navigation is fluid, notifications can be fully customized, and there’s a wide selection of downloadable apps (thanks to Google Play Store access). 

Other highlights of the watch include its extensive health and fitness capability. It tracks activities like running, cycling, and hiking, and we found the syncing and tracking capability to be on par with some of the best fitness trackers


Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 worn on the author’s wrist.

The Galaxy Watch 4 is still available at an excellent price.

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider



We especially like its in-depth sleep tracking, which monitors sleep patterns and can help turn bad habits into good ones. Its body measurement features are also unique as it analyzes your body weight, muscle mass, and water weight to give you an idea of your overall body composition. 

This combination of factors equates to the Watch 4 being one of the best Android smartwatches. Of course, there are still a few drawbacks, most notable of which is its watered-down experience on anything other than a Samsung phone, as some features, like the ECG app, aren’t available on other Android phones. We don’t see this as a total dealbreaker, but users of other phones, like the Google Pixel, should consider this before purchasing. 

Often available for under $200, the Watch 4 isn’t just at its lowest price since its release, but it’s also the cheapest smartwatch of this quality we’ve seen. You rarely find a premium, full-featured wearable in this price range. 

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 review.


Best battery life


Fitbit Inspire 3

The Inspire 3 may be one of Fitbit’s most basic watches, but it still packs a powerful fitness-tracking punch with tons of trackable activities, advanced health features like skin temperature sensing, and a comfortable, lightweight design.

Fitbit’s Inspire 3 is one of the brand’s most basic and affordable wearables, but it’s still an impressive activity tracker for Android users. It’s also the best Fitbit (and Android smartwatch) for battery life, with up to 10 days of battery life. For $100, it’s a hell of a bargain. It offers a range of health and fitness tracking insights, a no-frills interface, and advanced features like skin temperature sensing and in-depth sleep tracking. 

But what makes the Inspire 3 such a great tracker is how anyone, from beginners to expert users, will be satisfied using it. Navigating the watch is intuitive enough for first-time wearers, while the wide variety of trackable activities and useful health metrics give it appeal to those familiar with fitness trackers. It’s also compatible with a range of the best Fitbit Inspire 3 bands, so users have even more ways to customize their wearable.


A person wearing a Fitbit Inspire 3 on their wrist.

The Fitbit Inspire 3 has stunning battery life.

Shannon Ullman/Business Insider



The watch does have a few drawbacks, though. It lacks built-in GPS and the ability to download additional apps. Although the lack of apps isn’t a huge downside, not having GPS is, especially for hardcore athletes who want exact timing and activity tracking. Our tests found that the tracking worked well when you sync GPS via a companion phone, but that means you have to tote your phone along.

Those cons aside, the Inspire 3 is still a powerful activity tracker in a small, budget-friendly form factor. For Android users looking for something basic, trying out a fitness tracker for the first time, or seeking something straightforward and easy to use, the Inspire 3 is easily one of the best Android smartwatches on the market. 

Read our full Fitbit Inspire 3 review.


Best for runners


Garmin Forerunner 745

The Forerunner 745 is the perfect representation of the power of Garmin’s ecosystem, offering wearers fine-tuned workout recommendations and valuable fitness insight in an easy-to-use package.

The Garmin Forerunner 745 isn’t just the best running watch for Android users; it’s also one of the best running watches, period. It’s that good. Garmin has made its name on manufacturing powerful sports wearables, and the 745 is the latest in a long line of triumphs from the brand. 

What makes the 745 so good is its accurate tracking capabilities and easy-to-navigate interface. It also stands out from the competition with its unique approach to workout recommendations and focus on rest and recovery, two vital aspects of an effective workout routine. 

For the workout recommendations, the watch requires a 10-day monitoring period to assess your day-to-day activity and performance. Once those 10 days are up, it adapts its recommendations to your specific activity needs. One day, it might have you pump up the mileage and go for a several-mile long run, while another may see that you need more rest and dial the day’s workout down to a recovery jog. 


Garmin Forerunner 745

The Garmin Forerunner 745 is the best smartwatch for runners, no matter what ecosystem you use.

Adam Molina/Business Insider



Whatever it recommends, it does so in lockstep with its rest and recovery insights. In other words, the watch isn’t just going to run you into the ground but rather, it takes a thoughtful approach to giving your body the time to properly recover between strenuous workouts. 

The 745 feels like having a personal trainer on your wrist with all these active features. Of course, you don’t have to do the daily workouts, but they do prove worthwhile for anyone stumped about what to do on a certain day or those who want to take the guesswork out of how to train for a race or event. 

Other highlights of the 745 include a comfortable, lightweight design that won’t weigh heavy on your wrist, even during long runs, and a large, colorful display. The big display does tend to look rather large on folks with smaller wrists, but it’s especially useful in the middle of a run to easily see your training stats without having to squint or stop running. 

Then there’s the battery life, which Garmin claims lasts up to six days on a single charge. We found this to be mostly true during our tests, as it would last a little longer and a little shorter than that estimation, depending on how heavily we used it daily. 

Read our full Garmin Forerunner 745 review.


How we test Android smartwatches


A person wearing a Fitbit Inspire 3 while it tracks their breathing levels.

We put smartwatches through standardized testing and intensive daily use.

Shannon Ullman/Insider



To compile this guide, we compared the best Android smartwatches across various categories, including fit & comfort, features, battery life, ease of use, accuracy, and compatibility. Here’s how each category factored into which watches made the guide:

Fit & comfort: This was a straightforward assessment of how well the watch felt on the wrist while worn normally throughout the day and during workouts. We also looked at how easy it was to dial in the right fit with whatever the clasp system was.

Features: Simply put, what are all the features native to a certain Android smartwatch? We looked at what kinds of apps were natively available right out of the box and what was accessible via an app store like Google Play. We also assessed how well these features elevated the overall experience. 

Battery life: Battery life is one of the most important aspects of a smartwatch and can dictate which watch is best for a certain user. If a fitness-focused watch has a hard time getting through just one day on a single charge, then that watch won’t be good for something constantly using GPS or the heart rate monitor. Daily charging isn’t a dealbreaker, but knowing what a watch offers and how it affects the overall experience is useful. 

Ease of use: Smartwatches should ideally not have a steep learning curve and should be easy to navigate right out of the box. Of course, not all operating systems are the same, so there will be some differences from watch to watch. If a wearable is hard to navigate, you’re less likely to use it. 

Accuracy: Tracking accuracy can make or break a smartwatch, especially for folks who use it as a training tool. Some are inherently better than others but even small discrepancies in tracking capability can make a big impact. We tested this by running a mile with each watch and comparing the differences in time and distance. 

Compatibility: We tested compatibility for Android smartwatches by using each watch with several Android smartphones. No Android watch is fully compatible with every Android phone, but some function better on a competitor’s device without much change to the overall experience. For instance, our top pick, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, functions best on a Samsung phone, while the experience on something like the Google Pixel is watered-down.  


What to look for in an Android smartwatch


A person wearing a Fitbit Sense 2 smartwatch.

The best Android smartwatch for you will fit your needs and budget.

Rick Stella/Insider



Before purchasing a new Android smartwatch, it’s important to consider how you plan on using it and which models fit your lifestyle best. Here are a few things to keep in mind while shopping: 

Style: The best Android smartwatches come in several styles suited to different users. There are fitness tracker-type wearables like the Sense 2 or Inspire 3 designed to function best during activities. Then there are watches like the Google Pixel that evoke a more traditional wristwatch design. Deciding which style best suits your lifestyle is a key factor when shopping.  

Battery life: Battery life estimates vary wildly among the best Android smartwatches, as some, like the Google Pixel Watch, need to be recharged daily. Others, like the Fitbit Sense 2 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, boast multi-day battery life and are often better for active users using the built-in GPS throughout the day or traveling frequently. 

Smart features: Although every smartwatch comes with smart features, some are smarter than others. Take the Fitbit Inspire 3, for example. This watch offers basic smartwatch capability, including call, text, email, and app notifications, but not much beyond that. Compared to the Google Pixel, which offers in-depth smart features that allow users to interact with the notifications, the Inspire 3 is leagues lower.

Ecosystem: Each smartwatch in this guide shares the Android ecosystem as a foundation, but they all have a secondary ecosystem to consider. The Garmin Forerunners are compatible with the Garmin Connect App, the Sense 2 with Fitbit’s app (and Fitbit Premium), and the Watch 5 Pro with Samsung Health. It’s worth researching companion apps to see what you prefer. 

Display: The display native to an Android smartwatch can be as interactive as what’s found on the Google Pixel Watch or as basic as what the Fitbit Inspire 3 offers. Your overall experience will change based on a watch’s display, so it’s important to understand what it offers and if it syncs with your preferred smartwatch experience.


FAQs

What is the best Android smartwatch?

The best Android smartwatch depends on your preferences and how you intend to use it. Some Android smartwatches, like the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro or Fitbit Sense 2, are better for fitness-focused users, and the former is our top overall pick for its combination of a fitness tracker and smartwatch experience. 

For those looking for a smartwatch that works fully and seamlessly with any Android phone, including a Google Pixel phone, the Google Pixel Watch 2 would fare better. It’s also solid as a fitness tracker. 

It’s important to consider your intended use cases for a smartwatch to make the best purchasing decision.

Do all Android smartwatches work on any Android smartphone? 

Yes and no. While most of the best Android smartwatches are compatible with all models of Android smartphones, some deliver a different overall experience depending on the phone paired with them. 

For instance, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro and Galaxy Watch 6 Classic function more seamlessly on a Samsung smartphone than on a Google Pixel. Some app access is limited, while the companion apps used to customize the watch differ. However, Google Pixel watches function nearly similarly on Google and Samsung phones. 

Can you use an Apple Watch with an Android smartphone? 

No, the Apple Watch is only compatible with an iPhone running iOS. Unlike wearables from brands like Garmin or Fitbit, which work on iPhone and Android phones, the Apple Watch only functions on an iOS device.

Similarly, the best Android smartwatches won’t work on an iPhone and are only compatible with smartphones running the Android operating system. 

Do you need an Android smartphone to use these watches?

Yes. Although you don’t technically need a smartphone to power up a smartwatch, you won’t be able to unlock its full functionality without syncing it to a smartphone via Bluetooth. 

Without a phone, a smartwatch could only tell the time and perform a few basic functions, like counting steps and how many calories you’ve burned. However, you’d have no way of accessing the amassed data without a device like a smartphone (or tablet). 

Can you use an iPhone with an Android smartwatch?

No. To get the full functionality out of an Android smartwatch, you’ll need to use an Android smartphone. While nothing stops an iPhone user from wearing an Android smartwatch, they wouldn’t be able to take advantage of its basic smartphone compatibility and would have an incredibly watered-down experience.

Do some Android smartwatches work better with certain Android devices?

The most common compatibility issue Android smartwatches encounter is when using an Android device from a different brand. For instance, Samsung’s Galaxy Watches lose some functionality when used with a Google Pixel Phone. The same goes for using a Google Pixel Watch with a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, though it’s not as drastic. 

While you can still use those watches with phones from different brands, you’ll typically get the experience of using the same Android device brand with whatever Android smartwatch you buy.

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