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The Best Fitness Smartwatches

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The line between fitness trackers and smartwatches has become ever more blurred over the years – most smartwatches stray into tracker territory and even the cheapest trackers provide notifications from a paired phone. That means that you can call pretty much any tracker a smartwatch (and some do), but we prefer to be a little more discerning when selecting our smart devices. Essential, that means we have some conditions that a wearable must meet for us to consider it truly smart.

It’s partly down to form factor. While a typical fitness tracker is typically a plastic wristband with a removable tracker that’s around 2.5cm in size, smartwatches tend to have larger faces allowing more data to be read on the screen. They also offer more features, providing not just notifications but also built-in software that makes them more of a “phone away from phone” – storage space for music, NFC for contactless payments, additional apps and so forth. And the very best smartwatches also bring top-quality activity and sports tracking, ideally using built-in GPS and a heart rate monitor.

Below you’ll find a range of smartwatches that fit the bill, with models to suit all budgets and lifestyles.

Apple Watch Series 7

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RRP from £369 | Apple Watch Series 7 review

The Apple Watch's native sports tracking may not be as detailed as on a dedicated running or multisport watch, and the battery life remains stubbornly stuck at 18 hours, but it is still the best smartwatch by a country mile (unless you use an Android phone, of course). It has a gorgeous design and an impressive, highly accurate heart rate sensor, plus the ability to take both ECG and SpO2 measurements. The Series 7 has a 20% larger screen than its predecessor, something that has been introduced without affecting the battery life on the watch.

The brilliance of the Apple Watch, however, lies in the extensive choice of apps. All the most popular fitness names are there, including Strava, Nike Run Club and Cyclemeter, as well as lesser-known options like WorkOutDoors which can turn the Apple Watch into something resembling a Garmin or Polar device (browse our favourite Apple Watch fitness apps to get a better sense of the range available). There are also many genuinely useful smartwatch features, like music and the Apple Wallet, which can hold your payment cards, supermarket loyalty cards and tickets.

Apple’s everyday activity tracking, consisting of three rings you have to fill, is also surprisingly compelling, even addictive. The always-on screen which arrived with the Series 5 is a welcome development for people who exercise – especially as third-party sports tracking apps begin to take advantage of the always-on feature.

Buy from Apple (opens in new tab) | From £369


Suunto 7

Best For Android Smartphone Owners

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RRP £429 | Suunto 7 review

Finnish company Suunto has long been well known for its sports watch expertise, and it has used that experience to provide the best sports tracking you’ll find on an Android smartwatch. The Suunto 7 runs Wear OS to offer a full smartwatch experience complete with Google Pay for contactless payments and access to the Google Play store, which is loaded with excellent apps. Suunto then handles the sports tracking side of things itself and offers a considerable upgrade on the native tracking available on Wear OS watches, even if it does fall short of what you’d get on a dedicated sports watch.

Unique to the Suunto 7 is maps, one of our favourite features, which can overlay heat maps to show you where people have tended to go in the past, whether they were running or doing something more niche like cross-country skiing. You can also sync playlists across if you have a Google Play Music account to listen to when parted from your phone, but unfortunately this feature is not available for Spotify users.


Buy from Suunto (opens in new tab) | £429 (currently reduced to £339) | Suunto 7 review


Garmin Epix 2

Best For Sports Tracking

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Garmin Epix 2

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RRP £799.99-£999.99 | Garmin Epix 2 review

Garmin leads the way in sports watches and its Fenix range has included some useful smart features in recent years too. However, it’s the Epix 2 that stands out as the best option for people who want a mix of smarts and top-notch sports tracking, because it adds a bright AMOLED touchscreen to the Fenix 7’s feature set.

The sports tracking is a significant step up on what you get from a smartwatch, with every detail of your workout logged and then fed through Garmin’s insightful training analysis tools to help you get fitter and faster. The Epix 2 also has colour maps and brilliant navigation tools to help you explore outdoors.

There’s music storage on the Epix 2 and you can link the watch to a Spotify Premium or Amazon Music account to sync playlists wirelessly for offline listening. The Epix 2 also has NFC payments and an app store, though the range and amount of apps available fall well short of what you get from the Apple or Android stores.

It’s a terrific watch that excels on the sports front and includes useful smart features, but the Epix 2 does come at a staggering cost. If you can live without its AMOLED screen you can get the same features and more battery life with the Fenix 7 for £200 less.

Buy from Garmin (opens in new tab) | From £799.99

Garmin Venu 2 Plus

Best Multi-Platform Smartwatch

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Garmin Venu 2 Plus

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RRP £399 | Garmin Venu 2 Plus review

The Venu 2 Plus plays nice with both iOS and Android phones, and pairs Garmin’s native sports tracking with smart features like an AMOLED display, music and NFC payments. The sports tracking is not as impressive as on the Epix 2, and the limited app store caveat applies here too, but it’s much cheaper than Garmin’s top watches and offers a notable upgrade on the native sports tracking on smartwatches.

Compared with the standard Venu 2, the Plus version of the watch allows you to make calls and use the voice assistant on your smartphone, using the new mic and speaker. These are two small but welcome steps towards true smartwatch status, and the Venu 2 Plus offers a good balance of sports and smarts for its price – though those who take their sport seriously will be better served by dipping into Garmin’s Forerunner range.

Buy from Garmin (opens in new tab) | £399


Fitbit Sense

Best Fitbit Smartwatch

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Fitbit Sense

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RRP £299.99 | Fitbit Sense review

It’s not as smart as an Apple Watch or Wear OS device, and it doesn’t offer the slick sports tracking of a Garmin or Polar, but the Sense is still well worth considering thanks to the excellence of Fitbit’s partner app and the advanced health tracking the watch offers.

The latter includes ECG measurements, blood oxygen saturation tracking at night, and an electrodermal activity sensor that can help monitor your stress levels. The Sense also has built-in GPS and a heart rate monitor, and the Fitbit app does a great job of putting all the data it can track with these sensors into context to help you understand what it all means and any areas of your health and fitness that are worth addressing.

To get the most from the device you will need to also pay for Fitbit Premium, which offers guided programmes to help you do things like get fitter, lose weight and sleep better, as well as more stats on your sleep and mindfulness sessions designed to reduce your stress levels. You get six months of Premium free with the Sense, after which it is £7.99 a month or £79.99 a year.

Buy from Fitbit (opens in new tab) | £299.99


Huawei Watch GT 2e

Best Budget Smartwatch

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RRP £159.99 | Huawei Watch GT 2e review

The most appealing thing about the GT 2e is undoubtedly its price, which is cheap even at the full £159.99 – but it’s almost always discounted and often outrageously so during sales events when the price can dip below £100.

While the GT 2e doesn’t run Google’s Wear OS software, and thus has minimal apps to enhance the experience, it still has some smarts in the shape of music storage (Android users only) and notifications. The large, bright AMOLED touchscreen certainly looks the part for those who want a smartwatch. By not using Google’s software Huawei has also managed to make the GT 2e last up to two weeks on a charge. With regular sports tracking and the always-on display turned on, that comes down to around seven days in practice, which is still impressive given the display you’re getting.

The sports tracking is also better than on most Wear OS devices. The GT 2e has more than 100 sports modes, and offers guided workouts and training plans to runners. It also uses the same Firstbeat analytics software found on Garmin devices to provide insight into whether your training is proving productive and an estimate of your VO2 max. The GT 2e is still not up to the standard of a dedicated sports watch but it’s not far off, and you’re also getting that fabulous screen plus music – and all for less than £100 if you time it right.

Buy from Huawei (opens in new tab) | £159.99 (currently reduced to £109.99 with free Huawei Smart Scale)


Motorola Moto 360

Most Stylish

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RRP £299.99 | Moto 360 review

The original Moto 360 was one of the wearables that kicked off the smartwatch revolution, but was abandoned by Motorola after just two iterations. This reboot, the work of a company called eBuyNow which licenses the brand and logo, certainly picks up where the original left off in the style stakes.

It’s probably the best-looking Wear OS smartwatch around, with a large circular 1.2in (30mm) 390x390 always-on display giving you pertinent information at a glance. The Moto 360 even comes with two straps in the box which can be changed at will – a sporty silicon number for exercise and a leather strap more suitable for a night out.  
 
And because it uses Wear OS, app support isn’t a problem – which is just as well, since for some reason Google Fit insists on using your phone for location data rather than the built-in GPS chip. Downloading Strava will fix that, though not much could be done about the battery life, which offers a disappointing one day’s use. 

If you want a device that dazzles on a budget, the Amazfit GTR 2 is also worth a look. It’s a little slimmer than the Moto 360, but still includes built-in GPS and a 14-day battery life for around half the Moto’s RRP (opens in new tab). The downside is the lack of third-party apps, and although it includes NFC, it only supports China’s AliPay.

Buy from Moto (opens in new tab) | £299.99 (currently reduced to £199.99)

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.