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The top wearables we’ve tested

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The top wearables we’ve tested

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There has never been a better time to buy a smartwatch, with wearables available in all kinds of shapes and sizes at a variety of price points.

From the humble beginnings of Pebble, where smartwatches were essentially just wrist-worn pagers, the market has blossomed. Fast forward to 2023 and there’s a broad range of feature-packed wearables to choose from, each with a different focus. Whether you’re looking for a wearable to check your notifications and control your music or you’re a hardcore triathlete in need of a serious training companion, there’s a smartwatch that’ll suit your needs.

But while the wide selection of wearables is great for choice, it can also make the decision of which to buy a difficult one. With so many wearables focusing on specific types of user and the market, and many still costing a fair amount of cash, how can you be sure that you’re getting the right smartwatch for your needs?

You’ve also got elements like compatibility to consider. Apple Watches, for example, only work when paired with an iPhone, making them a poor investment for Android users. Android users aren’t safe either; the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and 5 Pro will work on any Android, but only Samsung phone users will be able to access the whole suite of features.

There’s also the issue of seemingly-strong smartwatches not performing well in the real world, offering terrible battery life and poor build quality, despite having decent specs sheets.

That’s where the expert team at Trusted Reviews comes in. We’re here to help you avoid these pitfalls and help you find the right smartwatch for your specific needs and budget with our hand-picked selection of the very best smartwatches available in 2023.

Every wearable in our list has been used by the reviewer for at least a week, during which time they test just about every element of the smartwatch, from tracking accuracy to battery life, ease of use and build quality, so you can trust that our advice is solid.

If you don’t find exactly what you’re looking for here you can also check out our more specific best fitness tracker, best Apple Watch and best running watch guides, which go into more detail for those specific categories. We’ve even got a guide to the best Samsung Galaxy Watch for Samsung fans.

At a glance

How we test

Find out more about how we test smartwatches

Every smartwatch we test is used by the reviewer for at least a week, or longer if the battery life lasts beyond that point or we need more time to trial its features.

During testing we will check it for key metrics including app support, usability and battery life. If the device offers fitness, location or health tracking features we will also test these for accuracy and reliability. 

For distance tracking we record how accurately the device recorded runs on tracks we know the length of. We also record how much battery is lost using things like in-built or connected GPS per hour. To check heart rate accuracy we compare the results recorded on the wearable to a dedicated HRM strap.

After recording the data we then pair it with our general experience using the wearable day-to-day, letting you know if it’s comfortable to wear or if we encountered unexpected bugs during use over the review period.

Apple Watch 8

The best smartwatch

Pros

  • Excellent tracking features
  • Plenty of sensors, including clever use of temperature sensor
  • Charges quickly
  • Additional low power modes

Cons

  • No big battery upgrade
  • Minimal additions over the last model

As the latest device in the mainline Apple Watch range, the Series 8 builds upon the solid foundations of its predecessors by bringing a few new features to the table, making the watchOS experience better than ever.

Car crash detection (which is also available on the iPhone 14) is the headline feature here. Much like Fall Detection, Crash Detection can register the impact from a collision and contact not only the local authorities but also anyone listed in your emergency contacts.

Cycle tracking has also been greatly improved thanks to the new temperature sensor built into the Series 8. The watch is now able to pick up on changes in your skin temperature to determine when you’ve ovulated, which can be a huge help for people who are trying to conceive or establish a better understanding of their ovarian health.

The Series 8 uses the same end-to-end display that was brought in for the Apple Watch Series 7, which makes great use of larger watch faces, including Modular Max which crams a ton of information into the watch face.

While the battery hasn’t been changed over its predecessor, the Series 8 does now come with a ‘Low Power Mode’ that shuts off features like the always-on display and fall detection, but in doing so it can bump the battery life from 18-hours to a whopping 36-hours.

The list of available colour variations have also changed, moving to a more subdued palette in the form of Midnight, Gold, Silver and Graphite, just to name a few.

Reviewer: Max Parker
Full review: Apple Watch 8 Review

Apple Watch SE

The best value Apple Watch

Pros

  • Excellent value
  • Huge range of tracking features
  • The best smartwatch OS around
  • Wide variety of straps available

Cons

  • No always-on display
  • Battery life still only really a day

The only other downside to Apple’s flagship Watch line is that it’s very expensive and a lot of the general perks are also offered on the cheaper Watch SE. This is why we recommend the cheaper Apple Watch SE to people that don’t need the 7’s more advanced health tracking. It’s worth noting though that Apple has announced the Apple Watch SE 2, which we’re reviewing at the moment. If it’s good enough, it’ll replace the SE in this list when our review is done.

We found the Apple Watch SE still feels like a premium wearable. Despite being smaller than the Apple 7, it remained wonderfully comfortable to wear throughout and we never once struggled to interact with the screen using touch inputs and the crown control.

The SE also has the exact same software as the 7 and is more than fast enough to run any app or feature we threw at it without any issue. The experience never felt compromised throughout our tests.

There are a few compromises you should be aware of though. First, it’s not as ruggedly built as Apple’s priciest option. Though it feels premium the watch doesn’t have the same dust resistance rating as the 7 and its screen isn’t Sapphire Glass, it’s ionX. We never had any issue with build quality, but this means it will pick up scratches more easily, especially if you take it to the beach or use it for more animated exercise tracking.

Health tracking has also been stripped down with it lacking the blood oxygen and ECG sensors seen on its more expensive sibling. Based on our testing this means it’s not as useful for people that want a wearable to keep tabs on their health and fitness.

Reviewer: Max Parker
Full review: Apple Watch SE Review

TicWatch Pro 5

Best Wear OS smartwatch

Pros

  • Outstanding battery life
  • Wear OS 3 is finally on a TicWatch
  • Fast charging
  • The secondary FSTN display is always welcome

Cons

  • Not the most stylish of smartwatches
  • Included watch faces are hit and miss
  • No Google Assistant

Mobvoi is one of the longest-running proponents of Wear OS, and while the company has had some hits and quite a handful of misses, it finally managed to stick the landing with the TicWatch Pro 5.

For starters, the TicWatch Pro 5 is the first of Mobvoi’s smartwatches to boast Wear OS 3 at launch and the whole experience feels like a true step up from what the company has previously put out. The UI looks a lot sleeker than usual, and that’s helped by the new Snapdragon W5 Plus Gen 1 chipset, that keeps things ticking along just as you’d hope in day to day use.

What really helps the TicWatch to stand out (particularly against the Pixel Watch) is its phenomenal battery life. Under the right circumstances, it’s entirely possible for the Pro 5 to get from Monday to Friday on a single charge which just absolutely decimates the competition in this area. Even the latest Samsung watches struggle to get past two-days of use.

You don’t even have to wait too long for the Pro 5 to charge either, as we were able to get from 15% to a full battery in just slightly over an hour. If you are in a rush however, you can get a pretty significant chunk of battery back quickly. Just 32-minutes of charging got us from that 15% level to 79%.

Part of what helps to keep the battery going is the return of TicWatch’s secondary FSTN display which sits above the main panel and is able to convey key information like your step count, heart rate and the time of day in a low power state. Plus, it can now also flash a particular colour during a workout to indicate your heart rate zone without needing to wake up the watch.

The only major thing holding the TicWatch back is its lacklustre design, which doesn’t really pop in the same way as the Pixel Watch or the Galaxy Watch 5. Still, if you’re not too fussed about how it looks then you’ll find one of the best Wear OS experiences out there in the TicWatch Pro 5.

Reviewer: Thomas Deehan
Full review: TicWatch Pro 5 Review

Garmin Fenix 7

The best fitness tracker

Pros

  • Strong outdoor tracking accuracy
  • Responsive touchscreen
  • Improved battery life

Cons

  • It’s not cheap
  • Not the full smartwatch experience
  • Core experience similar to Fenix 6

The Apple Watch 7 and Galaxy Watch 4 might be two capable fitness trackers, there’s one wearable they don’t hold a candle against in this area: the Garmin Fenix 7.

Fenix is one of Garmin’s most premium sports watch lines and if you’re a regular reader you’ll know we’re big fans. Over the past four years Garmin’s Fenix watches have consistently impressed when we’ve gotten them in for testing with every one since the Fenix 5 scoring at least 4.5/5. This remained true when we put the Fenix 7 through its paces.

Out of the box, the Fenix 7’s sports focus is immediately obvious with it having a utilitarian black finish that combines a chunky metal chassis with a comfy, but undeniably industrial-looking rubber strap. This is a wearable that’s designed to survive everything from tumbles into the open sea while surfing to the extreme temperatures and conditions of an ultramarathon. With our reviewer having accidentally bashed the screen into a rock while using a climbing wall we can personally confirm the Fenix 7 is the most rugged wearable on this list.

But what really sets it apart is its best-in-class tracking options and post-workout analytics. During testing we found the Fenix 7 can track pretty much every activity you could ever think of. These include running and swimming, but extend to some activities we’d never even heard of, such as “Pickleboarding”. Doing our standard suite of tests the device offered best-in-class location tracking. The GPS connected within milliseconds and after a month of using it our reviewer never noticed any serious anomalies in distance or dropouts. Heart rate tracking is also excellent for a wrist-based wearable.

The Watch’s real-time directions and mapping powers proved to be a boon when we used them to navigate a cycle route we weren’t familiar with in London and hike in the Lake District, with the watch offering reliable turn-by-turn instructions.

The multi-sport functionality is much more developed than the Apple and Galaxy Watches on this list, with it having dedicated modes and much more intuitive transition controls that let us switch sports in a couple of clicks.

Post-work analytics are where the wearable really differentiates itself from its more generalist competition, however. The watch can track blood oxygen, VO2 Max Estimates and a few other metrics that are important to serious athletes or health-conscious buyers. But it’s the guidance it offers that’s best. The watch uses heart rate zones, VO2 Max Estimates and all the other data it collects to offer guidance on how effective your workout was and recommendations on how long you should rest before your next session. This made it very easy for our reviewer to tailor their workout to always be productive and gauge when they were close to overstraining during testing.

The 1-2 week battery life we detected during our tests also means the Fenix 7 offers the best battery life of all the wearables on this list.

The flipside of this is that the Fenix 7 offers incredibly limited smartwatch functionality compared to its Apple and Samsung rivals. The app library is limited to fitness, location tracking and a small collection of music streaming services (Deezer and Spotify). Though it supports NFC the watch is also only compatible with Garmin Pay, which doesn’t support every mainstream bank in the US or UK. As a result, we generally just found ourselves using it for basic notifications and music controls for audio coming from our phone during testing.

The only other downside is its upfront cost, with the base model retailing for $700. This, plus its undeniably hardcore focus is a key reason we recommend entry-lever runners go for a more affordable wearable: the Fitbit Versa 3.

Reviewer: Michael Sawh
Full review: Garmin Fenix 7 Review

Garmin Vivomove Trend

Best hybrid smartwatch

Pros

  • Great look
  • Well integrated digital display
  • Impressive array of fitness and wellness features
  • Handy wireless charging

Cons

  • Fiddly to get to some sub-menus
  • Not your typical big Garmin battery life
  • Higher quality displays on other Vivomove watches
  • Not much cheaper than Vivomove Style

The Garmin Vivomove Trend has a fantastic design, offering a combination of an analogue case and a traditional watch-faced design with a discreetly hidden display. It can be found in four colours, Cream Fold, Slate, Peach Gold and Silver, giving customers plenty of choice when it comes to styling.

The hidden display sits at 1.01 inches with a 254×256 resolution, meaning that you will be missing out on the OLED and AMOLED displays on watches like the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. We still found it to be fine for general use indoors, although we did need to adjust the brightness to be higher when used on particularly sunny days. 

Like all Garmin watches, it is waterproof up to 50 metres, meaning that you can keep it on while showering or swimming without needing to worry about damage. If you’re looking for a smartwatch for diving or other intensive underwater activities, you will want to invest in a device like the Apple Watch Ultra, which has an underwater rating of 100 metres.

The Vivomove Trend puts its focus on being a health, wellness and fitness tracker, and it definitely thrives in that area. There is an optical heart rate monitor as well as a Pulse Ox sensor onboard, with an accelerometer to track movement and detect when you’re asleep. We were able to view our daily step goals easily, with prompts popping up if you’ve been sat down for too long. 

The heart rate monitor was effective, capturing a reliable resting rate and picking out any high heart reading rates from that day. You can even track your stress through heart rate variability measurements and respiration tracking; ideal for those who like to use real-life stats to keep an eye on their wellness. 

The main downfall of the Vivomove Trend is that you can find other more capable watches, like the Vivomove Style, for a little more money. If you’re interested in a stylish smartwatch that offers up fantastic wellness and health insights, the Vivomove Trend is a very easy recommendation. 

Reviewer: Michael Sawh
Full Review: Garmin Vivomove Trend

Fitbit Versa 3

The best affordable fitness tracker

Pros

  • Feature-packed for the price
  • GPS is finally here
  • Six-day battery with intensive use

Cons

  • Fitbit’s apps and app store still need work
  • The step count is just too eager
  • Still no support for offline Spotify
  • Fitbit Premium is essential for getting your money’s worth

Fitbit is a household brand when it comes to health and fitness tracking and the Versa 3 is the best option for casual users looking for a fitness tracker with basic smartwatch functionality, based on our experience using it.

We were impressed how many features Fitbit managed to cram into the tiny square chassis, despite the Versa 3 costing nearly a third of the Garmin Fenix 7.

For starters, the watch is incredibly comfortable to wear, even when exercising. The slim, almost Apple Watch SE sized frame gives it a fashionable and discrete look that let our reviewer comfortably wear it while out of the gym, and at smart casual work events. Based on our experience, it’s only up close that most people will notice it’s not an Apple Watch, due to the slightly larger bezel surrounding the screen.

Despite its low cost the wearable does have a few pluses we’ve not seen on many other wearables at this price. For starters, there’s an inbuilt GPS chip and SpO2 sensor. These let the watch offer reliable fitness tracking without the need to lug your phone along, as you have to on many other affordable wearables, such as the Garmin Vivosmart 5 we reviewed earlier this month. The SpO2 sensor also lets it track your blood oxygen to gauge performance improvements.

With real-world use both performed admirably. The GPS does take longer than the Fenix to connect, but once it did the tracking was uniform. The only time our reviewer experienced any dropouts was during city runs and cycles, where tall buildings would on occasion block the signal. Heart rate tracking remained uniform outside of our HIIT test, where it struggled to keep up with the rapid spikes during high-intensity segments of the workout.

During testing, Spotify still wasn’t on the app store, though you could download music to play from Deezer and Pandora locally. The ability to store any music locally is again a rare luxury on a tracker this price so the absence of Spotify is forgivable.

The only real downsides are that its app offering is behind Apple and Google’s and Fitbit, unlike Garmin, asks you to pay a subscription to access all the post-workout analytics the Versa 3 offers, which feels a bit cheeky.

Reviewer: Thomas Deehan
Full review: Fitbit Versa 3 Review

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro

The best Wear OS smartwatch

Pros

  • Solid fitness tracking services
  • Rugged, sports-ready design
  • Wonderfully bright display

Cons

  • Route planning process feels clunky
  • Battery life doesn’t match rival fitness trackers

If you’re not an iPhone user but want a top-tier smartwatch that has plenty of apps, then your best bet is currently the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. It might not quite hit the same heights as the Apple Watch 7 for its all-round capabilities, but right now it remains our pick of the bunch as far as Android-compatible smartwatches are concerned.

It’s got a highly robust design, including a titanium bezel and sapphire screen, along with IP68 impermeability and 5ATM water resistance. The Super AMOLED screen may lack a variable refresh rate but it’s brilliantly bright and packs excellent contrast, while it’s large enough that text and icons are shown off well too.

We found the health tracking options to be varied and useful, with the focus on sleep tracking being a particular highlight, and the onboard route navigation is a brilliant boon if you’re an outdoorsy adventurer (although can be finicky to put into place). Fitness tracking is generally accurate as well, though you may not get quite the same wealth of post-workout analytics as you would from a top-end Garmin.

Battery life tends to last 3-4 days of moderate use, which is decent for a smartwatch such as this, and the charge speeds (1 hour 22 minutes to full) are decent but not best-in-class.

Reviewer: Alastair Stevenson
Full Review: Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro

Apple Watch Ultra

Best rugged smartwatch

Pros

  • Improved battery on previous Apple Watches
  • Surprisingly light design
  • Good sports tracking performance
  • Bigger, brighter Retina display

Cons

  • It’s not cheap
  • Design could be sleeker
  • Some outdoor features are a work in progress
  • New straps are a mixed bag

The Apple Watch Ultra packs in all the great features that we saw in the excellent Apple Watch Series 8, but it comes in a very different shell that is ideally suited to all weathers. Made with titanium metal and with a sapphire crystal screen, the watch is capable of putting up with extremes of temperature and altitude (as attested to by its military-grade MIL-STD-810H standard).

If you’re into ultra running, diving, or long-distance cycling then this would be a good choice as it can stand up to the environment and has much-improved battery life by comparison to the standard line of Apple Watches, lasting up to 60 hours when in low-power mode.

Activity tracking was generally accurate, with strong dual-band GPS cover even when surrounded by high-rise buildings, and you’ll once again have access to Apple’s brilliant software and app library, which is the best of the bunch when it comes to smartwatches, as far as we’re concerned.

However, we would note that the likes of the Garmin Fenix 7 offer better mapping support if you’re a keen hiker, and the Apple Watch Ultra is a large and relatively bulky watch to wear on your wrist especially if you want to use it for sleep tracking.

Reviewer: Michael Sawh
Full Review: Apple Watch Ultra

FAQs

How much do you need to spend on a smartwatch?

This depends on what you want to do with it. If you want a brilliant smartwatch that can do everything from local music to reliable, in-depth wellness and fitness tracking you’ll likely have to spend over $400/£400. If you just want a basic wearable to count your steps and push incoming notifications from your phone there are plenty of good options that retail for less than $200/£200.

Do you need LTE on a smartwatch?

LTE is useful if you use your watch a lot while away from your phone. But for most people, it’s not an essential purchase. The majority of users will always have their phone nearby and smartwatches can easily tether to them and share their data.

What other smartwatches are there other than Apple?

Apple is the biggest smartwatch maker in the world, but there are plenty of other smartwatch platforms. Google develops a competing Wear OS platform that’s used by most mainstream watchmakers, including the Fossil Group and Samsung. Fitness companies, like Garmin and Polar, also develop their own proprietary smartwatch software.

Comparison specs

You can see a full breakdown of all the smartwatches in this lists specifications in the table below. As you can see the main differences stem around the screen tech used, and features like GPS and battery life. Holistically the Apple Watch 7 is the most developed device in everything but battery life.

UK RRP

USA RRP

EU RRP

CA RRP

AUD RRP

Manufacturer

Screen Size

IP rating

Waterproof

Battery

Size (Dimensions)

Weight

ASIN

Operating System

Release Date

First Reviewed Date

Colours

GPS

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Harmony Evans is an award-winning author of Harlequin Kimani Romance, African-American romance, and so on. Harmony Evans is an award-winning author for Harlequin Kimani Romance, the leading publisher of African-American romance. Her 2nd novel, STEALING KISSES, will be released in November 2013. Harmony is a single mom to a beautiful, too-smart-for-her-own-good daughter, who makes her grateful for life daily. Her hobbies include cooking, baking, knitting, reading, and of course, napping and also review some of the best-selling and popular brands and services in the market and also write comprehensive blogs.

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