2023’s Best Smartwatch

2023's Best Smartwatch

The Best Smartwatches in 2023: Function, Price, and Compatibility

Apple Watch Ultra

There are more smartwatches to choose from than better-known options such as the Apple Watch and Samsung’s Galaxy Watch. But finding the right one depends on what type of phone you have, your budget, and the health and fitness tracking features that matter most to you.

In addition to basic exercise tracking, most smartwatches should include extras such as heart-rate monitoring, sleep tracking, GPS tracking, and the ability to show phone notifications on your wrist. Many of the best smartwatches also support contactless payments, and others have LTE or cellular connectivity, so you really can leave your phone at home.

Apple Watch Series 8

We’ve rounded up the top smartwatches you can buy in 2023 based on function, price, and compatibility to help you decide which is the best smartwatch for you. It’s also worth considering the best time of year to buy a new smartwatch. Apple and Samsung typically release new models in the late summer and fall timeframe. You can also usually find compelling smartwatch deals around shopping events like Black Friday and Amazon Prime Day.

Apple Watch Ultra: Best big smartwatch for iPhone owners

The Apple Watch Ultra is a souped-up Apple Watch Series 8, but it comes with a tough titanium construction, larger 49mm case size, and a new Action button to quickly start workouts or launch apps. It has an incredibly bright screen, able to reach a maximum of 2,000 nits, making it incredibly easy to see when adventuring in the great outdoors. It also has a built-in siren for safety and dual-band GPS for accurately tracking your route. LTE is also onboard, so you can venture out without a phone and still stay connected.

While many of its key hardware and software features are aimed towards adventurers and athletes, it’s still a fantastic all-round smartwatch. The microphones help reduce wind noise during calls, and you get all the same health and fitness tracking features found on other Apple Watches, including a blood oxygen sensor, electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) app, fall detection, and emergency SOS. The battery also lasts at least twice as long as all other Apple Watch models. But it’s only compatible with the iPhone, so if you have an Android phone, you’ll want to look at another option on this list.

Apple Watch Series 8: An update to the winning Apple Watch formula

The Apple Watch Series 8 might not be as adventure-focused as the Apple Watch Ultra, but it still features a dust- and crack-resistant design, a blood oxygen and ECG sensor, and comes in 41 and 45mm sizes. You can also choose a cellular or LTE model that lets you take calls and answer messages from your wrist without your phone, although that does cost extra.

It also has a new temperature sensor that can be used for applications like ovulation tracking. But battery life generally lasts 18 hours with typical use, less than many of its competitors.

Garmin Venu 2: Great fitness companion for Android and iOS

The Garmin name has long been synonymous with fitness tracking, but many of the company’s earlier watches haven’t exactly looked or felt that “smart.” The Venu 2 has a sleek, round design with a bright screen that’s easy to see in direct sunlight. It’s also compatible with Android and iOS and has great in-depth fitness features like comprehensive workout tracking, a body battery that tells you if you should push yourself to work out or take a rest day, plus women’s health tracking. It can also take blood oxygen levels, and the battery will last several days with moderate use.

The downside is that it doesn’t have as many smart features as other watches on this list, including no LTE or cellular connectivity. If you want a speaker and mic onboard to talk to your voice assistant or answer quick calls on your wrist while your phone is in range, take a look at the newer $450 Garmin Venu 2 Plus. It only comes in one 43mm size but shares all the same features with the original Venu 2 and 2S.

Google Pixel Watch: Android’s answer to the Apple Watch

Google’s first Pixel Watch wants to tackle the Apple Watch head-on. For the most part, it succeeds, thanks to a sleek, curved design and a range of health sensors, including an ECG app and blood oxygen tracking. It has a suite of fitness tracking features and analysis through the Fitbit app and accurate heart rate tracking. Google also updates the watch with new software features over time.

Beware that the battery isn’t as strong as with the other options on this list, and you will likely find yourself charging this watch every day, especially if you like to do outdoor GPS workouts and track your sleep. It’s also only available in one 41mm size.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: One of the best Android watches

Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro are among the best Wear OS watches you can get right now. They have longer-lasting batteries than last year’s Galaxy Watch 4 models and plenty of great fitness tracking features. Google apps, including YouTube Music, the Google Assistant, and Google Maps, are available, with many more apps accessible through the Play Store. Samsung is also bringing cycle tracking to the Galaxy Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro by partnering with Natural Cycles.

You do, however, need a Galaxy phone to use the ECG, but all the other features work seamlessly with other Android phones. Both watches miss out on the classic physical rotating bezel, one of the signature features of Samsung’s Galaxy Watch and Gear watches from years past.

Apple Watch SE: Best value Apple Watch

If you’ve never owned an Apple Watch, this is the one to get. The second-generation Apple Watch SE is a cheaper alternative to the Series 8 but has plenty of the same great features, including crash detection, heart rate monitoring, and water resistance. It misses out on health sensors like ECG, blood oxygen, and temperature sensing like the Series 8, but the most notable difference between the two is that the SE doesn’t have an always-on display. But you might not miss it if you’ve never had this smartwatch feature.

Fitbit Versa 3: Best cross-platform Apple Watch alternative

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 as some of its competitors, but it’s a well-rounded smartwatch with plenty of health and fitness features to keep you on track, like onboard GPS and live heart rate zone notifications. It has the best sleep tracking feature on this list and even gives you health features, including a breakout of your SpO2 and body temperature data overnight (Fitbit Premium users). There’s a newer version, the Fitbit Versa 4, but we haven’t fully reviewed that watch yet, so stay tuned.

Garmin Epix 2: Perfect for adventurers and athletes

The second-generation Garmin Epix features a tough titanium construction and a laundry list of features athletes want, including extensive mapping capabilities. It also has a bright AMOLED display, which sets it apart from a multitude of other sports watches, including Garmin’s own Fenix line, that often use transflective displays. The Epix 2 also has great battery life, considering its size and feature set, lasting almost a week under regular conditions.

But it doesn’t have LTE capabilities or an ECG app. Considering this is the most expensive watch on this list at $1,000, that might be a big drawback.

These are some of the best smartwatches you can find in 2023. Each one has its own strengths and features, so it’s essential to consider your specific needs and preferences when making a smartwatch purchase. Whether you’re an adventurer, fitness enthusiast, or just someone who wants to stay connected, there’s a smartwatch on this list to suit your style. Happy shopping!