The 10 best smartwatches for iPhone users
If you’re an iPhone owner and you want a new smartwatch, the new Apple Watch Series 4 isn’t your only choice. Yes, it’s a fantastic wearable and our current smartwatch fave, but it’s not for everyone’s taste and hardly the most wallet-friendly.
Luckily, there’s a whole host of iOS-compatible smartwatches on the market with features that Apple’s device has yet to include.
Plus, of course, Wear OS is compatible with iOS and so are Samsung’s Galaxy and Gear smartwatches. So iPhone users have plenty of options to choose from.
So, if you find the new Apple Watch a little too pricey or just not to your taste, we’ve rounded up a selection of the best alternatives to pick from, any of which will sync with your iPhone.
Plus, we’ve outlined some incoming Apple Watch alternatives to look out for too.
Samsung Galaxy Watch
The swim-friendly smartwatch builds on the fitness and health features introduced on the S3 and the Sport adding more workout modes, enhanced heart rate monitoring skills and better integrated sleep tracking.
Tizen OS 4.0 runs the show and in our opinion is a more well-rounded platform than Google’s Wear OS right now. It’s still of course packing that great rotating bezel for navigating the OS when you don’t want to get your fingers all over that super sharp touchscreen display.
The Watch will play nice with iPhones of course and whether you go 42mm or 46mm sizes, they’ll offer more battery life than Apple’s smartwatch.
If Samsung or Wear OS don’t do it for you, then there’s always Fitbit’s latest smartwatch to consider. And, if we’re honest, this is easily the watch that people mistake most for the Apple Watch when we have it on our wrists.
And like the Watch Series 4, it’s all about fitness. So it’s got a waterproof design, along with swim tracking and an onboard heart rate monitor to measure workout intensity. What it doesn’t have, however, is built-in GPS – for that you’ll want to pay a bit more and get the Fitbit Ionic.
You can also expect the usual Fitbit fitness tracking features, including arguably the best sleep monitoring features of any wrist-worn wearable.
As far as core smartwatch features are concerned, it supports notifications for messages and from third-party apps (with replies available if you’re connected to an Android phone), and has an onboard music player with support for Deezer, and if you live in the US, Pandora, too (note that these can only be played offline). You can download apps from Fitbit’s growing app store, and there’s also contactless payment support via Fitbit Pay (another note: if you’re in the US, you’ll need to get the Special Edition to have Pay).
Unlike Apple’s smartwatch, it does work with Android, iOS and Windows smartphones and with up to 5 days battery life you don’t need to charge it every night. It’s a strong alternative, and one that’s going to improve as Fitbit builds on the strong array of sensors it’s loaded inside – with sleep apnea detection promised to be on the way.
Garmin Vivomove HR
Like the Steel HR below, the Vivomove HR is a sporty hybrid that packs in a lot of features. Unlike the Vivomove, Garmin’s new hybrid is available in designs for men and women and includes a sleek discreet display that appears on the watch face when you give it a tap.
On that display you can see a whole raft of information including fitness tracking data, resting heart rate, smartphone notifications and will even let you check in on your stress levels.
If you care about battery life, it’s a fine performer offering two weeks in watch mode and around five days when you tapping into all of those smartwatch features on a regular basis.
Starting at $199.99, Amazon
Withings Steel HR Sport
Withings is back, and its new Steel HR Sport gives the Apple Watch a run for its money in terms of wellness tech, a serious fitness tracker disguised as an analogue watch. The optical heart rate sensor is one of the best you can get on the wrist.
It offers a decent analysis of your daily heart rate and tracks resting heart rate over time – arguable doing better than the Apple Watch in this department. New for the Sport is VO2 Max, which will give you a look at how much oxygen you’re utilizing during workouts.
While it’s an analogue watch, it’s not without a digital screen. There’s a small OLED panel that displays notifications and some relevant health stats. And while the older watch didn’t support GPS, the Sport does – though it’s the connected kind. It does though require piggybacking off your phone’s GPS.
It offers automatic detection of exercise and will monitor your heart rate during a session and count that into your daily goal. It’s also an excellent sleep tracker, which fills a hole left wide open by the Apple Watch, and it offers 25 days of tracking on a single charge.
It’s a different proposition, but those mainly interested in the Apple Watch as a fitness tracker would do well to consider the Steel HR.
With the demise of Pebble, the Ticwatch E is now our plucky smartwatch start-up of choice. We previously recommended the feature-packed Ticwatch 2 with its independent Ticwear OS, plus GPS, heart rate and more. That’s still work a look for those seeking something leftfield, but we’re now switching our official backing to the new Ticwatch E.
It runs Wear OS, and strips back features to a minimum, but at the tantalising price of $159.99, it’s a more affordable Apple Watch alternative. It has a 1.4-inch OLED display with a solid 400 x 400 resolution, which matches up well to the Apple Watch’s screen.
The design is fun and quirky, and it’s a nice relief from the monotony of the same old brands – but with the certainty and stability of Wear OS under the hood.
Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music
The Apple Watch offers a solid sports tracking experience, but with the Vivoactive 3 Music, it’s designed for those who dabble in a lot of sports. It’ll cover running, cycling, golf and more via its Connect IQ store. It will even cover gym workouts with the addition of rep counting. Garmin Pay has been added into the mix letting you make payments from the wrist, and improved notification support that now lets you respond to your messages. It now offers built-in music player and the ability to download offline playlists from Deezer too.
The battery life is top notch and the new circular design is a massive step up from its predecessor the Vivoactive HR. Get our definitive take with our Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music review.
Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45
Yes, this is the most expensive Wear OS watch out there by some distance, but if you want a luxurious smartwatch around your wrist, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Tag’s second Connected looks like a classic Tag for starters, with first-class build quality and a host of impressively detailed custom watch faces. Wear OS is there keeping things running but it definitely takes more of a backseat than on Wear alternatives from LG, Motorola and company. With NFC and GPS onboard, you’re well looked after no matter what you need.
Michael Kors Access Runway
If you want a great looking Wear OS smartwatch, the Fossil Group serves up some of the best options right now. The Michael Kors Access collection is one of sub brands that stand out above the rest.
The Access Runway is aimed toward a fashion-loving female audience, but we won’t hesitate to also classify it as unisex for those who want a smaller smartwatch on their wrist.
It’s a little more subdued than previous Michael Kors smartwatches, but it also has an undeniable high-end look that works as a statement wearable. While previous Fossil smartwatches lacked high end smart features in favor of style, that isn’t the case with the Access Runway.
NFC for Google Pay, GPS, a heart rate sensor and water resistance is all present, which means you can take your fitness more seriously with this stylish watch too.
From $295.99 Amazon
Kate Spade New York Scallop
The best sign yet that smartwatches for women are getting better, the Kate Spade New York Scallop is as gorgeous as it gets. The 1.19-inch AMOLED display is contained in a 42mm case, making it the same size as the larger Apple Watch, but the Scallop has a much prettier design.
What you won’t get is as many features – it’s particularly lacking in the fitness department, if that’s important to you – but what it does, it does well. You have Wear OS and all of its standard features and apps at your disposal, along with an array of Kate Spade-designed watch faces to give your watch some added personality.
And for the price, the Scallop stays accessible to the everyday smartwatch user – not confined to the luxury price bracket like the aforementioned Tag Heuer watches – and keeps it competitive to the Apple Watch.
From $324.99, Amazon
Skagen Falster 2
Skagen is arguable Fossil’s best-looking smartwatch. It sports a minimalist, classic look that will appeal to those who likes the Apple Watch’s more streamlined looks. It’s got a 40mm case, which is largely what the Falster looks like, but there’s a big difference here.
The Falster 2 is packed with features. From GPS to NFC to heart rate, it’s all here and ready for you. And with 20mm interchangeable straps, you can swap in something more fancy for a night out and something more in tune for your workouts.
There is one slight bad thing here: The heart rate sensor is a bit iffy. Still, the Falster 2 is one of the best looking smartwatches you can buy.
From $275.99, Amazon