Not everyone needs or wants a screen on their wrist, but for those of us who like tracking workouts and responding to notifications without reaching for a phone, smartwatches and fitness trackers can be fantastic tools. They can give us enhanced insight into our health, or simply give us easier access to tools and controls without pulling a phone out.
We’ve put together a small list of our favorite wearables, from the fitness-oriented Fitbit Inspire to Samsung’s newest Tizen smartwatch. These devices are in no specific order.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active
Samsung’s latest smartwatch has a lot going for it: the software experience is clean and fast, the hardware design is excellent, the frame is lightweight, and it’s fairly inexpensive — the regular price is just $199.99.
The Galaxy Watch Active has a 1.1-inch (28.1mm) circular Super AMOLED screen, an Exynos 9110 processor, 4GB of internal storage, and a 230mAh battery. It also has plenty of sensors and wireless features, including Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi, NFC (for Samsung Pay), GPS, a heart rate sensor, and an ambient light sensor.
The Watch Active can track your workouts, manage notifications, and use a limited set of apps. While the health tracking on the Watch Active isn’t quite as good as tracking from dedicated fitness wearables (like the Fitbit Inspire), it’s still enough for basic fitness activities.
In our review, we said, “I don’t think anyone buying the Watch Active will come away disappointed, except perhaps long-time Tizen users who live and die by the rotating bezel. At $50 cheaper than the Fossil Sport, and $200 cheaper than the Apple Watch Series 4, the Watch Active is probably the best bang-for-your-buck smartwatch you can buy right now.”
Fitbit Inspire/Inspire HR
If you’re in the market for a fitness tracker without any of the added complexities (and reduced battery life) of a smartwatch, the Fitbit Inspire is probably the best option. It still has a touchscreen display, customizable clock faces, and the ability to display notifications — but with the all-day activity/sleep/exercise tracking and compact design that smartwatches usually struggle with. Battery life is estimated at five days, but that varies significantly; heavy use can bring it down to as low as two days.
There’s also an upgraded model, the Inspire HR, which adds 24/7 heart rate tracking, 15+ exercise modes, guided breathing sessions, and more. The base model can be purchased for just $60, and the Inspire HR is $100.
If you prefer Google’s smartwatch operating system, the Fossil Sport is the best watch available running Wear OS. It has the latest Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor (though Wear OS doesn’t take advantage of many of its features right now), 5 ATM water resistance, Google Pay support, dedicated GPS, and a lightweight design.
While the Fossil Sport does offer some health tracking, it’s not quite as good as the Galaxy Watch Active’s abilities, or the functionality you would get from a dedicated fitness tracker. Wear OS does offer more applications any other smartwatch platform, though — including Google Assistant.
In our review, we wrote, “If you’re using an older Wear OS watch, like the Moto 360 or Huawei Watch, the Fossil Sport is a great upgrade. If you’re new to smartwatches in general and you have an Android phone, the Sport is one of the best options right now.”
Mi Band 4
Xiaomi’s Mi Bands are some of the most popular fitness trackers around, mostly thanks to their incredibly low prices. The Mi Band 4 was released last month, and is equipped with an AMOLED screen, 5ATM water resistance, health tracking, and a lightweight design. There’s also a more expensive version with NFC for Alipay payments.
The Mi Bands aren’t officially sold in the United States, but you can find the non-NFC Band 4 from resellers for around $25. Xiaomi says it will be sold officially in the UK and Europe later this year.
If you can’t spend $200+ on a Fossil Sport and you really want a Wear OS watch, the TichWatch E2 and S2 are decent alternatives. The E2 is priced at $159, and includes 5 ATM water resistance and built-in GPS. The upgraded S2 model has a more durable design, but also costs $179. Neither watch has the latest Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor or NFC for Google Pay.
No list of of the best wearable devices would be complete without mentioning the Apple Watch, but considering it doesn’t work with Android phones, it’s probably not a good fit for most readers of a site called Android Police. Still, if you rock an iPhone as your main device, it’s one of the best smartwatches you can get.