Best smartwatch 2017
|Best smartwatch||Price||Key specifications|
|Huawei Watch||£289||Android Wear, Snapdragon 400, 1.4in 400x400 display, 512MB RAM, 4GB storage, heart-rate monitor, Wi-Fi, IP67|
|Apple Watch Series 2||£369||WatchOS 3, Apple S2, 38/42mm 272x340/312x390 display, Force Touch, 512MB RAM, 8GB storage, heart-rate monitor, GPS, IPX7|
|Samsung Gear S2||£249||Custom OS, Exynos 3250, 1.2in 360x360 display, 512MB RAM, 4GB storage, heart-rate monitor, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, IP68|
What's the best smartwatch? The best smartwatch in 2017 is the Huawei Watch, but we also recommend the Apple Watch Series 2 and Samsung Gear S2, and there are plenty of other top Android watches and iPhone watches to choose from. Learn about these smartwatches and more in our best smartwatches chart. These are the best smartwatches on the UK market for iPhone, Android, fitness and more. See also: The best activity trackers 2017.
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Best smartwatch 2017 UK: Why do I need a smartwatch?
There's an interesting theory that smartwatches are to the smartphone what wristwatches were to the pocket watch. Picture the way the average gentlemen used to have to rummage through his pocket for his watch prior to the 20th century - now skip forward 100+ years and the average smartphone user still has to dive into his/her pocket to check their phone. Read: The best smartphones: The best phone you can buy in 2017.
The kicker now is that your smartphone holds far more information than a pocket watch ever did, yet all of which is still locked into your pocket. The theory behind smartwatches is not for you to make calls with and speak into, although some can do this, but instead they mainly provide a quick and easy way to check what notifications are on your smartphone, so you can decide whether it's worth delving into your pocket or searching around your bag to fetch your smartphone or not.
Best smartwatch 2017 UK: What smartwatch do I need?
There are two type of smartwatch around at the moment: Those with a colourful touchscreen like would find on your phone, and those which combine a regular analogue watch with smart features - we call them 'semi-smartwatches'. The latter we class as a semi-smart device and normally gives you information via a small LCD screen, LEDs or even smaller hands on the watch face.
While a fully-fledged smartwatch can do a lot more, the juice guzzling screen results in a short battery life. Semi-smart watches benefit from longer battery life with some even having separate cells for the watch and smart features.
If you're an Android user then an Android Wear smartwatch is the obvious choice but it's not necessarily the best for everyone. Google's OS tweaked for wearables also plays nicely with iOS but with cut down functionality so iPhone owners will get more from the Apple Watch.
Others have an entirely different system such as Pebble's range of devices and some even work with Windows Phone like the Vector Watch. Samsung is sticking with its own Tizen, too, so there's something for everyone here. Also see: Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear will make all kinds of wearable devices better.
Best smartwatch 2017 UK: What makes a good smartwatch?
So when testing for what is the best smartwatch, the important factors to consider are how much of your smartphone's functionalities can it perform, and how well does it handle each task, the final attribute is obviously style - it's still bling after all.
You'll also want to make sure it's compatible with your smartphone - some are only for iPhone or Android while others support most phones. Note that Android Wear now has iOS support but the experience is cut down in comparison. Some smartwatches use different software such as the Gear S3 which runs Tizen, Samsung's own OS - it's a legitimate alternative to Android Wear.
As is stands, you'll need to pick a watch with more limited functionality if you want long battery life while ones which can do all sorts will typically last a couple of days. Fitness fans will want to look for a device with a heart rate monitor and built-in GPS, although the heart rate monitors are often poor.
We consider the important factors of a smartwatch to be level of notification detail, battery life, style, water resistance, compatibility with a range of devices/smartphones, plus additional features such as microphones and Wi-Fi support so you don't have to connect to a phone for full functionality.
With very similar, if not identical, hardware on offer with many of the Android Wear smartwatches, a large part of the decision will come down to design and price.
Best smartwatch 2017 UK: Smartwatch security warning
According to a new report titled Friend or Foe? Your Wearable Devices Reveal Your Personal PIN, it isn't at all difficult for a hacker to figure out your PIN or password utilising motion sensor data from your wearable, with researchers getting it right around 80 percent of the time.
Their advice is for us to create a certain kind of noise data, or to input our PINs and passwords using the other hand.
But we have to say, we do that anyway... at least those of us who are righthanded. We fix our watch strap to our left arm using our right hand, and enter our PINs and passwords using our right hand.
Do you enter your password or PIN using your watch hand? Let us know in the poll below, and scroll down for our list of the 20 best smartwatches.
1. Huawei Watch
- Reviewed on: 4 November 15
- RRP: £289
Although it's pricy, the Huawei Watch is best Android Wear smartwatch on the market with its absolutely stunning design and exquisite build quality. There's still work to be done though as the watch lacks GPS, the heart rate monitor doesn't work very well and the charger is bit fiddly.
Read our Huawei Watch review.
- Reviewed on: 28 September 16
- RRP: £369, US$369
The new Apple Watch Series 2 takes the main complaints about the original - slow operation, lack of GPS, lack of official waterproofing, short battery life - and solves or at least improves them systematically. If you're into fitness tracking with a sprinkling of notifications and superb integration with the iPhone, this is an almost perfect wearable for you... although, being greedy, we'd still like an even better battery life, and the price remains pretty steep. We thought long and hard about whether to give the Apple Watch Series 2 five out of five, and it was a close-run thing. But those two issues are still, just, keeping it from a perfect score. Great wearable, though, and the only one we've seen that feels like it has any chance at all of taking wearables into the mainstream.
Read our Apple Watch Series 2 review.
- Reviewed on: 21 January 16
- RRP: £249
Based on our time with the Samsung Gear S2, we think it's a sleek smartwatch with an attractive design. It offers fairly standard smartwatch features like fitness tracking, but also includes some rather interesting features including a rotating bezel used for navigating the UI and enhanced app capabilities. At £249, it sits itself alongside the likes of the Moto 360 2, and we think the Gear S2 is a great, if not better option for Android users – especially with a custom, intuitive UI.
Read our Samsung Gear S2 review.
- Reviewed on: 10 March 16
- RRP: £259
There's no doubt that the Fossil Q Founder is a well-made and good looking Android Wear smartwatch which is also a competitive price. The hardware on offer is good, although some may miss the heart rate monitor and GPS. As much as we love it, the flat tyre effect of the screen is a big drawback stopping it being really great.
Read our Fossil Q Founder review.
- Reviewed on: 8 December 16
- RRP: £349, US$349
The Gear S2 arrived on a deserved wave of hype, but for some reason we aren’t overly excited about this new Gear S3 Frontier. The only thing it actually adds is GPS, and at a £100 cost it’ll definitely put some people off. The reduced functionality when not using a Samsung phone is also a turn-off, despite the software being easier and more intuitive than Android Wear.
The problem isn’t entirely the S3’s fault, it’s in the inherent limitations of smartwatches. You’ll always need a smartphone to finish the majority of tasks, and added to the fact that this is practically a repackaged Gear S2 means not much new ground has been broken. If you want a smartwatch and can afford to spend £349, this is the one to get. It just isn’t essential.
Read our Samsung Gear S3 Frontier review.
- Reviewed on: 4 November 14
- RRP: £199, US$220
The Moto 360 is a fantastic smartwatch with excellent build quality, luxurious design and an affordable price tag. However, it's not flawless with one day battery life, a lower resolution screen which is tainted by the black section at the bottom. It will also be too big for some users. Despite the flaws, it's the best smartwatch we've reviewed to date but watch out for the LG G Watch R, Asus ZenWatch and Apple Watch.
Read our Motorola Moto 360 review.
- Reviewed on: 17 July 15
- RRP: £259
There's a lot to like about the LG Watch Urbane with it's handy Wi-Fi connectivity and the welcome new version of Android Wear. Since it's essentially the same device as the G Watch R in terms of hardware, your purchase really hinges on the design. It is expensive and bulky so we can't see it appearing to the masses so the G Watch R is still our recommended choice.
Read our LG Watch Urbane review.
- Reviewed on: 22 February 17
- RRP: £189
The SmartWatch 3's biggest strength is its built-in GPS, but you'll still need a smartphone for driving directions. It's also great to see a standard USB charging port. The transflective screen is a good idea, but in practice battery life is no better than other smartwatches with better-looking screens. Ultimately, unless you're on a fixed budget, the G Watch R is the better choice. If you can't afford that, wait a few months: the price is bound to drop.
Read our Sony SmartWatch 3 review.
- Reviewed on: 4 August 16
- RRP: £186
Available for under £200, the Motorola Moto 360 Sport is one of the best smartwatches for fitness. You get the some of the regular 360 style in a design which is practical for activities like running. The GPS tracking is accurate but it's shame the same can't be said of the heart rate monitor and we still find the 'flat tyre' on the screen an eyesore. A solid effort but hard-core fitness fans might need something which is more in-depth.
Read our Motorola Moto 360 Sport review.
- Reviewed on: 2 February 17
- RRP: £179, US$179.95
If you’re not fussed about a full on touchscreen smartwatch, the Withings Steel HR is stylish, well-made and offers excellent battery life. We’re glad to see the addition of the heart rate monitor and the screen for smart features, even if they are basic. A great semi-smartwatch for the price.
Read our Withings Steel HR review.
11. Microsoft Band 2
- Reviewed on: 4 October 16
- RRP: £199
It is very difficult to score the Band 2, because it is such a specific product with a unique feature set. But let's unpack it: it is definitely good value, as the combination of sensors and features is much greater than any comparable product at this price. And it is well made if not the last word in elegance, nor with perfect battery life. If you are looking for a GPS runner's or cyclist's watch it is a good one at a good price, and it also offers the productivity and sleep tracking. And if you want a smartwatch you will like what the Band 2 does, but you may hanker after the ability to compose and send messages. Simply, I don't. I like to wear my dumb watch, and I like for my phone to stay in my pocket rather than on my wrist. So for me the Band 2 is a winner. Microsoft has now discontinued its Band 2, though you might be able to find a bargain online.
Read our Microsoft Band 2 review.
12. Apple Watch
- Reviewed on: 8 September 16
- RRP: £269, US$269
We can't help but think that Apple has tried to do too much with this first generation Apple Watch. There are so many ways of interacting with it and so many different features and elements to get used to that the learning curve is surprisingly steep. It takes a lot of getting used to, and at times it feels counter-intuitive, something we're not use to with Apple devices.
That's why we'd struggle to recommend spending the £299 or more it'll cost you to buy this smartwatch. As is often the case, waiting for the second generation of the Apple Watch is likely to be a wise move, because Apple is going to learn a lot from this first generation smartwatch and from the customers and fans that are using it.
Read our Apple Watch review.
13. Misfit Phase
- Reviewed on: 16 March 17
- RRP: £165, US$175
If you feel comfortable spending £165 to get a stylish watch (albeit rather a chunky one) with smart features, and are confident that you won't miss GPS or heart rate monitor, you'll be pleased with the Phase. But for anyone questioning that price tag I'd recommend looking at Misfit's other trackers or waiting for the new Misfit Vapor smartwatch release.
Read our Misfit Phase review.
14. Pebble Steel
- Reviewed on: 23 October 14
- RRP: £179, US$149.99
The Pebble Steel may not have a high-res and colourful screen and the square design may not be for everyone, but we think it's stylish and the display has a retro charm which also provides excellent battery life. A good alternative to Android Wear if that's not your cup of tea.
Read our Pebble Steel review.
15. Fossil Q Grant
- Reviewed on: 3 August 16
- RRP: £165, US$175
The Fossil Q Grant is easily the best looking and well made 'semi-smartwatch' we've reviewed. It's both stunning and affordable although the plastic back which shows is a shame. Smart features including customised notifications and activity tracking work well but are fairly basic and limited. Our main issue is the connectivity issues with Android.
Read our Fossil Q Grant review.
- Reviewed on: 13 October 15
- RRP: £299
It's good to see a company approaching the smartwatch differently and we like the design and style of the Vector Watch Luna. A month-long battery life is a real standout point but you'll have to be happy with the retro low-res display as a sacrifice. This is all acceptable but the device falls down when it comes to functionality with poor apps, fitness tracking and notification system. Things are improving over time with software updates but that's not really good enough at this price point.
Read our Vector Watch Luna review.
17. Guess Connect
- Reviewed on: 16 August 16
- RRP: £289 (41mm), £299 (45mm), US$379 (41mm), $399 (45mm)
Looks-wise we're not at all keen on the huge, chunky and ostentatious Guess Connect: the Fossil Q Grant has a far subtler and more elegant design, and is less likely to bruise your child's face when you're having a cuddle.
But you may disagree, and if you can put up with - or are even charmed by - the Connect's brutal look, there's a strong feature set here to get your teeth into: it feels only a step or two down from a fully fledged smartwatch. With voice commands and the ability to pick up phone calls or have texts read to you, it's head and shoulders above the Fossil for sheer smartness.
For features, this is probably the strongest semi-smartwatch we've seen: activity tracking is the only significant chink in its armour. If that's a priority for you, plump for the Fossil Q Grant - which you may want to do anyway because it's also a lot cheaper and (in our view) more attractive.
Read our Guess Connect review.
18. Huawei Fit
- Reviewed on: 15 March 17
- RRP: £106, US$129
There's plenty to like here, from the extremely good battery life and decent water resistance rating to that always-on time display. Heart rate monitors aren't a given in this class of wearable and swim-tracking is an unexpected bonus. And it looks ok, especially if you swap in a third-party strap.
But it feels cheap, and perhaps more worryingly, it isn't particularly cheap - the price tag isn't really low enough to compensate for the missing features (such as GPS) or the dim and sluggish display. We also find the watch face options rather poor, offering little useful information. Better deals may and indeed should become available (on Amazon it costs less in dollars than in pounds, which suggests the UK option is overpriced at present) but until then, we'd suggest looking elsewhere.
Read our Huawei Fit review.