The best smartwatches of 2022: Tested and rated options for every budget

19 Oct.,2022

 

Smartwatch With ECG And Blood Pressure

Smartwatches are now extremely versatile and powerful tools, with the very best options able to track exercise, monitor advanced health metrics and provide a handy second screen to a smartphone.

Finding the right smartwatch for your needs isn't just about picking the most feature-packed watch that pairs with your iPhone or Android device, though. There's plenty to consider, and it's important to choose a watch with a design you'll actually enjoy wearing, as well as one that matches your lifestyle requirements.

We've thoroughly tested and reviewed every major smartwatch on the market here at Wareable, ranging from the latest Apple Watch and Samsung smartwatch models all the way down to Wear OS and Fitbit devices. It's why we're best placed to guide you through the top options available now.

In our entries below, we'll provide a brief summary of the best smartwatches we've reviewed, which also includes some pros and cons and a full list of specs.

How do we choose the best smartwatches?

Trying to rank the top smartwatches is a bit of a complex task; no two devices are ever the same, nor are the people using them. With this in mind, we use our expertise to provide our opinion on the watches that fit the categories listed in the quick summary below.

Ultimately, though, this buyer's guide is an extension of our full, in-depth reviews, which see us test a device over the course of several weeks - and often, longer. During this time, we rigorously analyze the design, features, health monitoring, activity tracking, and, of course, the claims made by the manufacturer.

  • Read more about how we test and review at Wareable

Summary: The best smartwatches in 2022

1. Best overall smartwatch: Apple Watch Series 8

2. Best smartwatch for Android: Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro

3. Best affordable smartwatch for iPhone: Apple Watch SE

4. Best Garmin smartwatch: Garmin Venu 2 Plus

5. Best outdoor smartwatch: Apple Watch Ultra

6. Best smartwatch under $200: Huawei Watch GT 3

7. Best smartwatch under $100: Amazfit Bip 3 Pro

1. Apple Watch Series 8

$399/£419 (41mm) | $429/£469 (45mm) - Amazon | Apple

Credit: Wareable

Key specifications

OS: watchOS 9 | Phone compatibility: iOS | Case size: 41mm / 45mm | Battery life: 18 hours | Water rating: 5ATM | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, LTE | Display: OLED | Weight: 42g / 51g

For
  • Superb, unisex design
  • Incredible health tracking capabilities
  • Unmatched app store
Against
  • Only works with iPhone
  • Some won't require advanced health and safety features
  • Not a huge leap forward from Apple Watch Series 7

The Apple Watch Series 8 is the best smartwatch to own in 2022.

It may not represent a huge upgrade over the Series 7, with the inclusion of a body temperature sensor and Crash Detection being the only real notable differences, but the expert blend of design, features and tracking see it take its rightful place atop our smartwatch rankings.

The OLED display is bright and beautiful, as it was on the last generation, and the new features available through watchOS 9 continue to refine the experience. One notable new addition, Low Power Mode, is able to double the battery life to around 36 hours - though there are natural compromises here.

Generally, though, unless you need a smartwatch with great battery life or one that works with Android, this is an experience with very few compromises. It's a device that's a great workout partner, an ever-growing health monitor and a superb companion to your smartphone.

Not everybody needs all this functionality, but there's no better option than the Series 8 for those who do.

  • Read our full Apple Watch Series 8 review

2. Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro

$429/£469 - Amazon | Samsung

Credit: Wareable

Key specifications

OS: Wear OS | Phone compatibility: Android | Case size: 45mm | Battery life: 50 hours | Water rating: 5ATM | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, LTE | Display: Super AMOLED | Weight: 46.5g

For
  • Super battery life
  • Great smartwatch features
  • Solid health monitoring
Against
  • Only works with Android
  • Some sports tracking inaccuracies
  • Health features require a Samsung phone

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Pro may not be perfect, but it is the best watch for those with an Android phone.

It offers up a fairly nondescript design, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Like with the Apple Watch, Samsung is sticking with a relatively similar formula in both design and features for its 2022 flagship model. So, really, the headline feature of this smartwatch is the improved battery life. It's comfortably better than a lot of options on this list, giving you a good few days of use before needing to return to the charger.

As we say, it's not all plain sailing, though. While sports tracking and health monitoring are genuinely impressive for the most part, there are still the odd niggles - and not much has really been improved on since the Galaxy Watch 4 lineup. We would also say the regular Galaxy Watch 5 is likely a better fit for those with smaller wrists.

This is still a great smartwatch for Android, but, with the Google Pixel Watch and other Wear OS watches set for release over the coming months, Samsung's time at the top could be short-lived.

  • Read our full Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro review

3. Apple Watch SE (2nd generation)

$249/£259 (40mm) | $299/£319 (44mm) - Amazon | Apple


Credit: Wareable

Key specifications

OS: watchOS 9 | Phone compatibility: iOS | Case size: 40mm / 44mm | Battery life: 18 hours | Water rating: 5ATM | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, LTE | Display: OLED Weight: 26g / 33g

For
  • Same S8 chip as Apple Watch Series 8
  • Superb value - and now an even lower price
  • Comprehensive features and tracking
Against
  • Only works with iPhone
  • No Always-On display
  • Not a huge leap forward from the original Apple Watch SE

The Apple Watch SE is quite comfortably the top pick for iPhone users in need of an affordable option - or perhaps something that isn't as full-on as the Series 8 or Ultra.

The package is fairly comprehensive here for the asking price, with Apple distilling all the most necessary elements of its smartwatch experience into a design that, while certainly not as premium as the more expensive Series models, still looks and feels relatively modern.

Apple has included the S8 chip in this second-gen version of the SE, too, and it ensures the experience is just as zippy (and will likely continue to be) as with the Series 8. We only wish this new, upgraded model for 2022 enjoyed the same always-on display as similarly new Apple smartwatches, and, of course, that it worked with Android phones.

Nevertheless, if you're in the Apple ecosystem already and want to get started with a solid smartwatch, you simply can't go wrong with the SE.

4. Garmin Venu 2 Plus

$449/£399 - Amazon | Garmin

Credit: Wareable

Key specifications

OS: Garmin OS | Phone compatibility: iOS and Android | Case size: 43mm | Battery life: 9 days | Water rating: 5ATM | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC | Display: AMOLED | Weight: 51g

For
  • Rich sports and fitness tracking
  • Great battery life
  • Comfortable to wear
Against
  • Less case sizes than Venu 2
  • Relatively pricey
  • Some sleep tracking accuracy issues

The real improvements to Garmin's Venu line were made with the second-gen model, and, with the Plus offering improvements such as voice control to that device, it retains its spot as the best Garmin smartwatch.

Of course, Garmin has tons of pricier and more feature-packed devices in its stable, but these models are more of what we would consider a sports watch. The Venu 2 Plus, meanwhile, is a true smartwatch - and one that's just as suitable in the office as it is on a hike.

It certainly has its downsides - value being one, and relatively clunky software being another - but there's no getting away from the fact that this is a rounded fitness and health tracking experience, and one that unlocks the door to the very rich world of Garmin Connect.

For those who don't feel like Garmin's more premium watches are the right fit, and also don't like the look of the Apple Watch or Galaxy Watch lineup, this is a long-lasting and compelling option.

  • Read our full Garmin Venu 2 Plus review

5. Apple Watch Ultra

$799/£849 - Amazon | Apple

Credit: Wareable

Key specifications

OS: watchOS 9 | Phone compatibility: iOS | Case size: 49mm | Battery life: 36 hours | Water rating: 10ATM | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, LTE | Display: OLED | Weight: 51g

For
  • Improved sports tracking over standard models
  • Display is a thing of beauty
  • Still a slick smartwatch experience
Against
  • Needs some native software tweaks
  • Battery life still isn't amazing
  • Not the prettiest case design

The Apple Watch Ultra is a curious device. A first-gen model that immediately catapults itself into a niche in the smartwatch market, we think this is a perfect fit for those who want a more outdoorsy look and feel from the Apple Watch. The Ultra is bold, kind of ugly in places and, yet, a must-have tool for the weekend warriors.

As we experienced in testing, the remarkable thing about the Ultra is how it manages to retain the core smartwatch feel of an Apple Watch, while expanding the experience to appeal to hikers, divers and runners. You'll need to probably hunt down some third-party apps to truly reach the ceiling of this experience, as the native software needs some work, but this really does achieve the aim of becoming an Apple Watch on steroids.

Let's just hope the battery life continues to improve over the next couple of generations, as, with only around two days of intensive use, that's currently the Ultra's glaring weakness.

  • Read our full Apple Watch Ultra review

6. Huawei Watch GT 3

$190/£179 (42mm) | $199/£179 (46mm) - Amazon | Huawei

Credit: Wareable

Key specifications

OS: Harmony OS | Phone compatibility: iOS and Android | Case size: 42mm / 46mm | Battery life: 14 days | Water rating: 5ATM | Connectivity: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth | Display: AMOLED | Weight: 35g / 42g (without strap)

For
  • Very good battery life
  • Attractive and comfortable design
  • Solid sports tracking
Against
  • Mixed sleep tracking accuracy
  • No LTE or contactless payment support
  • HarmonyOS still not booming with apps

It may not be the newest Huawei smartwatch on the scene, but the 2021 model is still one of the top picks from the company - and certainly the best option for those wanting to keep their spending below $200 / £200.

Working with both iOS and Android is a big tick in its favor, as is the fact this is a smartwatch that continues to improve. In September, the company announced Strava support was coming to the device, and, while this alone doesn't solve the lack of third-party apps available through HarmonyOS, it is a sign Huawei is continuing to push.

Add this to the fact that you'll get around a week of battery life (and more like 10 - 14 days if you don't hit the GPS tracking or always-on display too hard) and a very solid sports tracking package, and we think this one is pretty hard to ignore.

It's not perfect, either, obviously, with some premium smartwatch features saved for more expensive Huawei wearables, but it's more than worth the outlay.

  • Read our full Huawei Watch GT 3 review

7. Amazfit Bip 3 Pro

$79/£69 - Amazon | Amazfit

Credit: Wareable

Key specifications

OS: Zepp OS | Phone compatibility: iOS and Android | Case size: 44mm | Battery life: 7 days | Water rating: 5ATM | Connectivity: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth | Display: LCD | Weight: 33g

For
  • A full week of battery life
  • Solid GPS accuracy
  • Slim and light to wear
Against
  • Some tracking inaccuracies
  • Not as pretty as other smartwatches
  • Not a huge upgrade on other budget smartwatches

Amazfit is still the leader at the entry-level price point, and, based on our testing, we believe the Bip 3 Pro represents the best balance between affordability and features.

It's true that there's now incredible competition in this area, but this is a smartwatch that covers the basics about as well as any of them, and also doesn't look too bad when doing so. Sure, the design isn't anything to get too worked up over, but it's also comfortable to wear no matter how big your wrists are.

The Big 3 Pro, like all cheaper smartwatches, does require a bit of forgiveness, as the tracking accuracy just simply isn't that accurate or useful. However, we still think this is a useful option for those who want to get started with a smartwatch and track the odd bit of exercise.

  • Read our full Amazfit Bip 3 Pro review

How to choose the right smartwatch

Case size

The fit, comfort and wearability of a watch are largely down to case size - and a few millimeters can make a huge difference. Those with small wrists should look in the 38-42mm range, while those that like chunky, oversized watches or have big wrists should look at anything above 45mm.

iOS vs Android

It's important to think about what smartphone you use. Apple Watch is iOS only, and Wear OS 3.0 watches, such as the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 lineup and the incoming Pixel Watch, are exclusive to Android.

Older Wear watches work on both, but the iOS experience is diminished and it's not recommended. Huawei, Fitbit and Garmin smartwatches work on both, but some advanced calling from the wrist features are usually Android only.

Check out our guides to the best smartwatches for iPhone and the top Android watches for more information.

Apps and extra features

Buying into Apple Watch and Wear OS watches means you can access bustling app stores full of options from big-name brands, such as Spotify or Strava, and expand on the core features.

If you opt for smartwatches from Garmin / Fitbit / Huawei, their platforms simply don't have developer support for quality apps, so you're limited to the advertised functionality of the watch.

Heath and fitness features

Smartwatches are increasingly becoming health and fitness tools, so make sure yours has the sensors you want.

You'll be hard-pressed to find a smartwatch without a heart rate sensor these days, and most are adept at keeping tabs on 24/7 HR and resting heart rate.

However, the likes of Apple and Fitbit now include ECG, a powerful health tool – read our ECG explainer if you're curious. Runners will want GPS on board to accurately track outdoor workouts, too.

Battery life

The Apple Watch and Wear OS smartwatches generally only last a day or two away from the charger, which is one of the biggest turn-offs for people. Luckily, a lot of other smartwatches now last in excess of a week, with Fitbit, Huawei, Amazfit and Garmin all pushing longer runtimes.

Cellular connectivity

One more key consideration is whether you want your smartwatch to work away from your phone.

Many manufacturers, such as Apple and Samsung, offer LTE versions, which you'll need to purchase a separate data plan to take advantage of. Most carriers and networks have plans for LTE smartwatches.

Check out our guide to the best LTE smartwatches, if this is important to you.