The best smartwatch 2024: top wearables for your wrist

The best smartwatches help you stay on track with your health and fitness, play games and organize your life. Find the device that best matches your phone.

Custom image for best smartwatches guide with the Ticwatch Pro 5 facing forward

best smartwatches are more than just fashion accessories. Today, smartwatches let you play games, track your fitness, enhance productivity, play music, and more – all from your wrist. Many of the best smartwatches in 2024 offer cross-compatibility with iOS and Android devices so that you can pair your watch with the best gaming iPhone or best Android phone. 

We’ve tested the top smartwatches on the market, including the latest Apple Watch Series 9 review and Google Pixel Watch 2, to see how they fare in real life and help you decide which is right for you. Whatever budget and platform you’re working with, you’ll find something that fits the bill in our expert round-up.

Why you can trust our advice ✔ At Pocket Tactics, our experts spend days testing games, phones, tech, and services. We always share honest opinions to help you buy the best. Find out how we test.

Best smartwatch in 2023

1. Apple Watch 9 – best for iPhone

2. Samsung Galaxy Watch6 – best for Samsung phones

3. Google Pixel Watch 2 – Best for Pixel phones

APPLE watch

Apple Watch 9 specifications:

  • OSwatchOS 10
  • CompatibilityiOS (iPhone)
  • Display1.69 / 1.9″ OLED
  • Storage64GB
  • Battery life18 hours
  • ConnectivityWi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, GPS, Cellular (extra)
  • Size41mm, 45mm
  • WaterproofingYes, to 50m (IP68 rating)

Reasons to buy

  • Bright screen
  • Powerful processor

Reasons to avoid

  • Looks identical to previous model
  • Disappointing battery life

With a detailed and bright display, fantastic connectivity with Apple’s bountiful fitness, lifestyle, and safety features, and a varied selection of faces, the mid-range Apple Watch 9 is more advanced than the Watch SE but half the price of the Watch Ultra.

Although the design is nearly identical to the Series 8 (and Series 7), performance is much better thanks to the S9 processor – based on the A16 bionic model in the iPhone 14. We also like the ‘Double Tap’ gesture that allows you to answer calls, view messages, and snooze an alarm without touching the display.

The biggest letdown is battery life, which averages 18 hours. But if you’re an iPhone owner, the Apple Watch Series 9 is one of the slickest smartwatches on the market and the best Apple Watch for most.

Samsung Galaxy Watch6

Best Android smartwatch overall

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Samsung Galaxy Watch6 specifications:

  • OSWear OS (One UI Watch 5)
  • CompatibilityAndroid
  • Display1.5″, 1.3″
  • Storage16GB
  • Battery lifeOne day
  • ConnectivityWi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, GPS, Cellular (extra)
  • Size40mm, 44mm
  • WaterproofingYes, to 50m (IP68 rating)

Reasons to buy

  • Easily customizable
  • Bright, detailed display

Reasons to avoid

  • Display eats battery juice
  • Some Galaxy-only features

The Galaxy Watch 6 is another smartwatch using Google OS, it stands out thanks to its Wear OS One UI 5 skin. It might not be a drastic improvement on its Galaxy Watch 5 predecessor, but it is hard to better something already quite impressive.

The rotating bezel lets you navigate through most of the features without leaving smudge marks on the screen. This is all the better as the display is one of its most impressive features, offering a peak brightness of 2,000 nits and a varied collection of clock faces. The battery life is less impressive, and daily charging is necessary. While Samsung suggests a life of up to 40 hours, or thirty with the Super AMOLED ‘always on’ display, we found it to be more like 20-25.

Like the Apple Watch 9, there are two case sizes, and you get access to excellent fitness monitoring, sleep tracking, navigation, and messaging features. There are some Galaxy-only features, including heart rhythm notifications and phone separation alerts, so we’d recommend this smartwatch with the best Samsung phones.

Overall, there’s little between the Samsung Galaxy Watch6 and Apple Watch Series 9 in terms of features, so it comes down to whether you’re an Android or an iPhone user – as there’s no iPhone support

Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro review specifications:

  • OSWear OS
  • CompatibilityAndroid
  • Display1.43-inch AMOLED
  • Storage32GB
  • Battery lifeUp to 55 hours (LTE) / 65 hours (Bluetooth)
  • ConnectivityGPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, LTE
  • Waterproofing5ATM water resistant

Reasons to buy

  • Cheaper than the alternatives
  • Vast fitness and well-being features

Reasons to avoid

  • iPhone connectivity issues
  • Not available in the US

The Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro is the natural fit if you have one of the best Xiaomi phones. It’s cheaper than the latest Google Pixel and Samsung smartwatches but now features Google Wear OS to give you Google apps like Maps and Pay directly on your wrist.

Xiaomi’s latest offering is simple to use while offering a full suite of fitness features you don’t need to pay for through a subscription service like Fitbit Premium. There are over 150 sports modes, plus heart rate, SpO₂, and sleep tracking, but tracking accuracy isn’t as good as the Apple, Galaxy, or Pixel watches.

The design is elegant, with an intelligently placed bezel to guard the glass against scratches and nicks. Our main complaint is that this wearable doesn’t link up well with Apple devices, and there are major connectivity issues with iOS. It’s also not available in the US, which makes it harder to recommend.

Read our Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro review.

Is it worth buying a smartwatch?

Regardless of how you use it, our answer would have to be a resounding ‘yes’. Unless you don’t like wearing anything on your wrist, there’s unlikely to be a better option than a smartwatch. Smartwatches don’t have to be gaudy, brightly-lit touchscreen devices; hybrid smartwatches take the best of both worlds with a variety of smart features and the looks of a classic Swiss-made timepiece.

Which model you go for depends on whether your priorities are fitness tracking, health monitoring, or increasing productivity. Smartwatches and smartwatch brands have become so numerous, that you won’t struggle to find something that works for you.

Apple, Android, or platform agnostic?

There are obvious benefits to buying Android and iOS devices when you’ve bought into those specific ecosystems. The best Apple watches work seamlessly with iPhones, for example. However, if you want to remain a free agent when it comes to smart devices, platform-agnostic watches allow you to enjoy the benefits of smartwatch functionality without worrying about cross-compatibility. For example, if you have a personal Android device and a work iPhone, you may want a smartwatch that can integrate with both. In that case, a platform agnostic or even a hybrid smartwatch will be your best option.

What is a hybrid smartwatch?

The hybrid smartwatch is an excellent compromise between having a classic-looking analog watch on your wrist and being able to access some of the more sophisticated productivity, health, and fitness tracking features of a contemporary smartwatch.

Several hybrid smartwatches on the market offer everything from basic step tracking and notifications to fairly advanced fitness and health monitoring. Most are also platform-agnostic and will allow you to connect to iOS or Android devices.

What is LTE on a smartwatch?

If a smartwatch has Long Term Evolution (LTE) that means it can connect to the best cell phone providers and be used independently of your smartphone to send messages, use calls, and use data. Without LTE, a smartwatch will connect to your phone via Bluetooth and you won’t be able to access data if you want to go out and leave your phone at home, during a run, say.

Non-cellular smartwatches are more affordable, as you won’t have to take out a separate data plan for your watch. However, most watches give you the option to add cellular connectivity at checkout, and they function in the same way whether you take out 4G LTE or not. The best LTE smartwatches right now are the Apple Watch Series 9 GPS + Cellular for iOS users and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 LTE for Android.

How to choose the best smartwatches

Your choice of smartwatch will largely be dictated by what smartphone you have. After all, there’s no point getting an Apple Watch if you have an Android phone. Apple Watches will only work with iPhones as they use the same iOS, but you can use Google Watches and Samsung Galaxy watches with all Android phones.

It’s worth thinking about what features you need, and what will be costly and unused. The Apple Watch Ultra’s 100-meter water resistance isn’t going to be helpful unless you’re a deep-sea diver, for example. Design and comfort are also important. Most smartwatches come in several sizes, so consider how large your wrists are, and whether you need a larger screen or a watch that looks subtle when worn.

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