Whether for its fitness tracking features, or as a less distracting alternative to your phone, a smartwatch can be a great addition to your tech portfolio in 2021. And while the Apple Watch may be out of the question if you have an Android phone (it’s only compatible with iPhones), there are plenty of other worthy contenders from the fitness-focused to the fashion-forward, for just about any budget.
You’ll notice we’re not recommending any watches powered by Google’s own WearOS for two reasons: We haven’t reviewed many new ones in the last year, and we weren’t too impressed by them to begin with. And now that , we expect the company to double down on that brand — and its Fitbit OS — going forward. Samsung watches, meanwhile, run its Android-friendly Tizen operating system.
The Versa 3 is compatible with both iOS and Android phones and lets you choose between Alexa or Google Assistant as your go-to voice assistant. It doesn’t offer all the apps and smart features that some of its competitors do, but it’s a well-rounded smartwatch with plenty of health and fitness features to keep you on track, such as onboard GPS and live heart rate zone notifications. It’s the best sleep tracker on this list and even gives you a breakout of your SpO2 and body temperature data overnight (for Fitbit Premium users). Battery life is also better than most: I got about four full days (and nights) of use with the screen always on.
The Active 2 offers almost all of the same features as the new Galaxy Watch 3, including an ECG app and fall detection, for about half the price. It’s not as flashy as the Watch 3 with its physical rotating bezel and thicker frame, but it’s less bulky and more comfortable to wear at night and during workouts. The Active 2 handles calls, texts and app notifications, and it offers Spotify support as well as all the basic fitness features you’ll need. You can also get an LTE edition of this smartwatch, which can receive calls on the go without your Android phone nearby.
If you’re looking for a fitness-focused watch without too many distractions, which works with both Android and iOS, the Garmin Venu Sq is the watch to get. It has a built-in GPS, plenty of workout options to choose from, and lots of data about your workout like heart rate zones and running dynamics in the mobile app.
It also doubles as a health tracker with high and low heart rate alerts, a comprehensive sleep analysis and SpO2 tracking. It measures blood oxygen levels on demand, or automatically throughout the day and night just like the latest Apple Watch Series 6, but for half the price. But you do compromise on design. The watch has a plastic frame, and the screen isn’t as big or as vibrant as those on some of the other watches on the list.
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If you’re looking to get more value for money, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better deal than the Amazfit Bip S. This $70 smartwatch is compatible with both Android and iOS devices and checks most of the boxes when it comes to features: heart rate sensor, always-on display, built-in GPS tracking and the best battery life of any device on this list. You can get up to 40 days of use on a charge, or about two weeks of heavy usage with the GPS on and brightness up (a time that’s still above and beyond the rest).
You may have to make some sacrifices when it comes to aesthetics, though, as it has a plastic casing and the screen isn’t as bright or responsive as watches from Samsung and Apple.
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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.