Smart Watch Deals

smart watch 2A smart watch is so much more than just a fitness tracker. With a smart watch, you can not only track your movement and fitness, but you can also take phone calls, receive texts, listen to your music wirelessly (with some wireless headphones, of course), pay bills, get directions, and much more. Have a look at our buyers guide below for recommendations on the top brands and what to look out for when choosing your smart watch.

See Also: Fitness Trackers | Apple Watch | Fitbit

Smart Watches Buying Guide

smart watchFirst we had watches. Then we had smart phones. Then fitness trackers followed shortly after. Now we can combine the functionality of all three in a Smart Watch device. A wearable piece of technology that combines both style and substance, the smart watch is a fantastic gift for those who want to stay ahead of the curve and look good at the same time.

What Is a Smart Watch?

A smart watch is much more than a watch with a fancy display. It connects to your phone via Bluetooth and alerts you when messages, calls, and other notifications come through. Many include the ability to answer calls without reaching for your handset, and some can even offer calling and messaging functions when you are well out of your phone’s Bluetooth range. Most also include fitness trackers so you can keep on top of your fitness goals, and many have the ability to customise their appearance creating a watch to suit your sense of style.

Benefits of a Smart Watch

Having a smart watch is all about convenience. Say goodbye to missed calls as you hunt around for the ringing phone that you have buried in the bottom of your rucksack or handbag. Instead, you can tap the display on your wrist to take the call. If you live an active lifestyle, then you can still keep in touch with friends and family whilst out running or hiking without the risk of dropping your phone as you move, and some can also be used as music players with Bluetooth headphones. What’s more, with step counters, heart rate monitors, and other health monitoring features, you no longer need to wear a separate fitness tracker alongside your watch.

Many of the more sophisticated (and pricier) models offer additional features, such as fall detection, voice activated Internet searching, GPS tracking, and even the ability to control other smart devices in your home, such as your smart doorbell or smart thermostat. Furthermore, on some devices you can add your bank card details and use the watch as a form of contactless payment. In the UK, that means you can pay for items with a value of less than £30 without needing to carry your wallet around with you.

A smartwatch certainly won’t replace the smart phone. You won’t want to use your smartwatch to view Netflix, for example, but it will give you easy access to many of the functions that a smart phone can provide, and some models have the option to add various apps giving you the ability to add functionality that suits your usage. Furthermore, smart watches are no longer the realm of tech nerds with bulky faces and plain black straps. With customisable faces, changeable straps, and cases designed for the style conscious, in 2019, smart watches actually look pretty good.

Popular Brands of Smart Watches

It’s easy to think that Apple have led the way when it comes to smart watches, but the technology has been under development for a long time with multiple manufacturers getting in on the act. However, it’s certainly the case that the release of Apple’s first smart watch resulted in the item being seen as something that could be stylish as well as functional. In recent years, there has been an explosion in the availablity of smart watches as manufacturers attempt to attract sales and here we look at some of the top brands currently on the market.

Apple

apple watch series 5Apple are one of the market leaders in smart watch technology, but there is a catch, and that is that you also need to own an iPhone to operate one, or at least, have access to one to set it up. That being said, if you already have an iPhone then the Apple Watch is the obvious choice when making your smart watch purchase. You can read our full guide to buying an Apple Watch here so what follows is a brief overview of the options available.

Series 3, 4 & 5

Currently, the official Apple store has two Apple Watches available: The Series 3 and the Series 5. The Series 4 is also available in some high street stores and mobile network providers but it has effectively been replaced by the Series 5. The Series 3 offers great value for money. It’s competitively priced and would suit an iPhone user on a limited budget. The watch is capable of connecting to your iPhone to answer calls and messages.

Features

With a separate network plan it can also be used independently from your phone so you don’t have to carry two devices with you at all times. It features a range of health tracking functions, plus the ability to use Apple Pay as a contactless form of payment. It has 16GB of storage space so you can add podcasts and music to listen to via Bluetooth headphones even if you are away from your phone or out of mobile signal range. Through the Apple App Store, you can download a number of apps to your device to increase its functionality, such as weather forecasting, recipe finders, language translation, and social media access.

The Series 5 is the latest smart watch from Apple and is a significant upgrade from the Series 3. It has double the storage space, double the processing power, and a whole host of additional features, including the ability to detect when a person has fallen and alert the emergency services. It can also carry out an ECG on your heart, rather than just monitor your heart rate, potentially detecting any life threatening conditions. Plus, it can be used as a magnetic compass. Whilst the Series 3 has a few options for design customisation, the Series 5 has a lot, lot, more, with various straps and cases available, ensuring there is something to suit most style tastes.

Samsung

samsung galaxy watchSamsung were established as forerunners in the smart watch market a couple of years before Apple joined the party and since the first Samsung Galaxy Gear was launched in 2013 the company has come a long way. The great thing about Samsung’s watches is that they are compatible with both Android and iOS phones so if you change your phone you don’t have to change your watch.

Active2

At the top end of Samsung’s current range is the Galaxy Watch Active2. It’s designed for the health conscious, with a range of features that includes the ability to automatically track workouts and set goals, as well as monitor your heart, record your sleeping patterns, and even give you breathing exercises for when you are feeling stressed.

Its slim design should make it comfortable to wear during workouts and you can access all its features, including accepting calls, away from your home with a separate mobile network plan. However, if your budget is limited, then check out the original Galaxy Active Watch that was released just six months before the Active2. The primary difference is the lack of 4g connectivity, which means that you need to have your phone in range to access the full features, plus a slightly different user interface.

Galaxy Watch

For those who prefer something a little more stylish and are not so worried about using a smart watch to work out, then the Galaxy Watch is a fantastic piece of kit. This watch is available in two sizes, and the smaller size comes with either a beautiful rose gold design, or an executive midnight black.

You can still use all the active features that come with the Active2 watch, but this version is slightly thicker, and what’s more it fits with standard watch straps so you are not limited to what is available through Samsung. You can use the Galaxy Watch away from your phone with a separate mobile plan, and it’s capable of a plethora of tasks, including answering calls, streaming music (with space available to download playlists when you don’t have internet access), contactless payments, and much more.

Garmin

garmin fenix 6Garmin are best known for their GPS devices and so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to discover that they also have a smart watch range since GPS tracking is one of the benefits of using a smart watch. Of course, Garmin also have a popular range of fitness trackers and if you are keen to keep an eye on your fitness goals then a Garmin smart watch is certainly worth considering thanks to the fitness tracking capabilities they offer and it’s clear that this is where Garmin’s focus lies. Garmin’s watches can be connected to your smart phone to alert you of messages and phone calls but unlike the Apple Watch or some Samsung watches, you can’t use Garmin’s watches to answer calls independently from your phone.

Forerunner 35, Vivo, Fenix 6

Garmin’s range of watches is impressive, with something to suit most budgets. Their entry level watch is the Forerunner 35 that really blurs the lines between a fitness tracker and a smart watch. The Vivo range are mid-level priced watches that are fairly stylish in appearance with a range of design options. They have some impressive health and fitness tracking capabilities such as hydration logging, menstrual cycle tracking, and respiration tracking.

At the top end of Garmin’s range is the Fenix 6, a watch that is really designed for semi-professional athletes with multiple sensors to track your health, race pacing prompts, preloaded ski maps, video workouts that appear on screen, climbing maps, weather sensors, GPS, and so much more. If you have money to spend and want to buy a watch for the adventurer in your life, then this should be a front runner.

Huawei

huawei gt 2Huawei is a Chinese smart phone manufacturer and it currently has three smart watches available on the market.

Watch 2

The Watch 2 comes with standalone 4g connectivity so you can make and receive calls on the go without your phone. It has some useful fitness tracking features including the ability to coach you through your workout, giving you prompts on pace, distance, and when to cool down. This watch uses the Android Wear operating system so you can connect it to your Google Assistant to control other Google devices and access your favourite apps such as social media apps.

Watch GT & GT2

The Watch GT and its newest version, the GT 2 offers more sophisticated fitness tracking features, with multiple sensors that will help you keep track of your goals. The GT range does connect to your phone, but it lacks independent mobile network capabilities. What’s more Huawei have chosen to ditch Android Wear OS for this device and use their own operating system instead, limiting its function further. However, as a result of this, these watches have an incredibly long battery life.

Fossil

fossil smart watchWhen smart watches first came onto the market they were seen as sophisticated gadgets that offered a lot of convenience, but most of them were not that appealing aesthetically. Of course, if you want to get consumers to wear your product, it has to look good, and that is something that Fossil, watch, jewellery, and accessories designer are known for.

They have entered the smart watch market with a range of watches that use Android Wear OS, so for anyone with devices that use the Google Assistant (Google Home, Nest etc) these watches offer smooth connectivity that is easy as saying “Hey Google”. However, what makes the Fossil watches particularly appealing is their design, with a collection of stylish straps and cases available.

Gen 5 & Sport

Fossil currently have two smart watches available to buy. The Gen 5 is the flagship device and is capable of answering calls to your smartphone, though it doesn’t have standalone mobile networking so you need to be in range of your phone. The Sport is priced slightly lower but does lack the ability to answer calls, and its lightweight design is aimed at those interested in fitness. As with all Android Wear devices, these watches have access to a wide range of apps and both are capable of tracking your workout and heart rate, alerting you to incoming calls, and making contactless payments.

Mobvoi TicWatch

tic watchMobvoi is a digital Chinese company that has partnered with Google to create the TicWatch. Its affordable range of Android Wear OS devices comes with a selection of trendy and sophisticated designs. Looking beyond the appearance, there’s very little difference between the models. Not all of them are capable of making contactless payments, the battery life does vary, and only some models include a speaker, but they are all capable of connecting to an Android phone.

However, you can’t use them independently to get messages etc as there’s no inbuilt cellular connectivity. When choosing a TicWatch it’s certainly worth using their compare function to check out the full list of differences but if you are not too worried about the nitty gritty details then you can probably just choose the one that you think looks the best.

Fitbit

Think Fitbit, think fitness tracking, and when it comes to fitness trackers and smart watches the lines can be quite blurry, since many fitness trackers also tell the time.

Versa & Versa 2

The Fitbit Versa and the newest edition, the Versa 2, has certainly made the crossover into smart watch territory with its ability to connect to your phone and respond to text messages using your voice. What’s more, the Versa 2 has Amazon Alexa built in so you can ask it questions and control your Alexa compatible home devices. Of course, as you might expect from Fitbit, the fitness tracking capabilities of the Versa are top notch, with heart rate, sleep, and workout tracking, goal setting, pace management, and much more.

Features to Look Out For

smart watch featuresWith big names, such as Apple and Samsung, as well as smaller tech start ups and fitness giants muscling into the smart watch market, it can be hard to make a decision on which one to purchase. Here we look at some of features of a smart watch that you need to consider before you buy.

Smart Phone Compatibility

Whilst a few smart watches can be used independently from a smart phone with their own inbuilt mobile network connectivity, most are designed to be used as a complementary tool to your smart phone. For that reason, it’s essential that you choose a device that is compatible with your phone.

Apple watches will only work with Apple devices. Android Wear OS watches will work with Android and Apple devices but have limited functionality with Apple phones. Some of the older phones will not be capable of connecting to some of the flagship devices currently available on the market.

Fitness Tracking

If you are buying a smart watch primarily because you want to track your fitness, then you will want to focus on what fitness tracking capabilities it has. Look for a device with a heart rate monitor. Some of the more pricier devices include the ability to do an echocardiogram which will highlight any potential heart problems.

GPS is essential if you want to track runs, and the inclusion of an altimeter will track your elevation, an essential sensor if you are into climbing and mountain running. Some devices offer further functionality such as pace prompting and sleep tracking.

Mobile Network Connectivity

Most smart watches can only alert you to incoming messages and calls if you are within range of your phone. If you want to leave your phone behind, then you need to look for a device that is capable of connecting to a mobile network by itself. The downside is that you will likely have to pay extra for this separate connection, even if you are using the same number as your mobile phone.

Battery Life

Developments in batteries have simply not kept up with the demands of modern technology and you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that unlike your old analogue watch that had a battery that lasted years, smart watches need to recharged regularly. Some will last a few days, some will only last a few hours even with light use. It’s certainly a good idea to read some reviews on battery life before making your purchase.

Design Customisation

A smart watch isn’t just a piece of tech, it’s a fashion statement and if you want to be on trend then look for watches that have the option to swap straps. Some smart watch operating systems also let you change the watch face appearance. This means that one day you could opt for a timeless clock face, whilst the next you could choose a digital clock with additional information displayed, such as a step counter or the weather forecast.