Whether you’re obsessed with the gym or just interested in getting a little healthier, smartwatches have become an invaluable accessory. Pretty much all of them now come with heart-rate monitors, and plenty include GPS trackers, which is a great start for runners and cyclists.
But while almost all of the best smartwatches nod towards fitness, some take it far more seriously than others. At the other end of the scale, some wearables are loaded with fitness features, but have limited smarts. In this guide, we’ve tried to pick the best of both worlds: genuine smartwatches that are also great for fitness.
Start working out with these fitness trackers
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
Ready for some exercise
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 sports a powerful processor, the latest version of Wear OS, a hearty battery, and a durable build. It's got plenty to be a dependable fitness tracker.
- Bigger and much brighter touchscreen
- Plenty of health and fitness tracking options
- Improving app support through Wear OS
- Limited hardware upgrades
- Most new software features are already rolling out to the Watch 5/4
- More expensive
If there’s truly a sweet spot between an excellent smartwatch and a quality fitness tracker, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 continues the trend. Right out of the box, it can track over 90 different exercises, ensuring there's a way to track and measure even the most complicated fitness routine. And while Samsung Health lacks the in-depth metrics of Garmin Connect because it’s built on Wear OS, you can always introduce plenty of other third-party apps to mix things up.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 doesn’t just track heart rate and location, but also measures blood oxygen, heart rhythm, bioelectrical impedance, akin temperature, and even blood pressure in some regions. All of this adds up to a great all-rounder at a pretty reasonable price. But if you want to save a few bucks, consider the last-generation Samsung Galaxy Watch 5, which isn’t all that different.
Garmin Venu 3
The sporty alternative
The Garmin Venu 3 takes much of what its predecessors delivered and improves on them by mixing all the excellent activity tracking features with solid phone integration.
- Larger display
- Sleep Coach ramps up sleep tracking
- Plenty of tracking options for sports and fitness
- ECG and skin temperature sensor not active yet
- Only comes in one size
Garmin's slow roll to making a true smartwatch with broader appeal is coming into greater focus, as evidenced by how the Venu 3 straddles the line between fitness and lifestyle. The built-in speaker and microphone means you can talk without touching your phone, including to your digital assistants straight from the wrist. Despite that, third-party app support still trails the likes of other Google Wear OS watches, but you could still find something pretty useful in the Garmin IQ store. Truth be told, the first reason you'd want to strap this on your wrist is for the deep fitness tracking features.
Garmin watches have long been the runner’s choice due to accurate GPS tracking and bevy of options, like training regimens and workout routines, but the passive health features are just as good, like Body Battery and Fitness Age, among others. These features give you real feedback on how well you're doing and where there might be room for improvement.
Improved and deeper sleep tracking will do the same every night, too. New ECG and skin temperature sensors can also look out for atrial fibrillation or skin temperature fluctations, but Garmin has yet to turn those on, so you'll have to wait for a future firmware update to unlock them.
Amazfit GTR 3
Sticking to the basics
The Amazfit GTR 3 keeps things simple for the most part, bringing many fitness features and excellent battery life to your wrist. You have to accept trade-offs in both hardware and software, but for something that costs less, it's an interesting choice.
- Sleek, slim body
- Battery life for weeks
- Plenty of activity and fitness tracking features
- Large bezels with clock markings
- Not the most comfortable strap
- Some software bugs
On a tight budget? Look no further than the Amazfit GTS 3 or GTR 3, which share the same MSRP and can be found for cheap as an alternative to the (slightly disappointing) Amazfit GTR 4. You can usually find it for under $150, meaning you get real bang for the buck wearing the Amazfit GTS 3 or GTR 3. Along with the usual GPS, accelerometer, and gyroscope, both watches also come with the BioTracker 3.0 optical sensor, which analyzes heart rate, stress, and blood oxygen levels. Between them, these sensors track 150 exercises (8 automatically) and provide insights like training load, VO2 Max, and recovery time to help you plan your workouts.
Both lack third-party apps and the polish of some rivals, but it’s hard to complain too much, given the low cost of entry. This is the kind of smartwatch you go with when you want to keep it simple and just focus on the activities you want to engage in.
Garmin Venu Sq 2
Still a Garmin, though
If you want the excellent fitness features that Garmin wearables provide, but can’t justify the expense of the Venu 3, then the Garmin Venu Sq 2 is a solid compromise. Yes, it loses the altimeter, gyroscope and workout animations, but it will still be a valuable workout companion at a fraction of the price.
- Large screen
- Plenty of health and fitness tracking options
- Excellent battery life
- Not so good for lifestyle features
- No altimeter to track stairs or elevation
- No voice features for calls or assistants
If you want the excellent fitness features that Garmin wearables provide, but can’t justify the expense of the Venu 3 or Venu 2 Plus, then the Garmin Venu Sq 2 is a solid compromise. Granted, you lose out on the altimeter, gyroscope, and workout animations, but it proves itself a valuable workout companion at a fraction of the price.
You may also like the 11 days of battery life, accurate fitness tracking, and brilliant Garmin Connect app, which includes all the stats you could ever want. The excellent Body Battery feature will tell you how prepared you are for a workout on any given day, making it extremely handy for those looking to build their fitness.
Fitbit Sense 2
Make Sense of your health and fitness
The Sense 2 is ideal for casual fitness seekers looking for a bit of guidance from a very intuitive app, along with sensors for temperature, stress and blood oxygen levels. It tracks activity, offers breathing exercises and has a week-long battery life. But Fitbit OS is a lot more limited than Wear OS, and Fitbit has also cut off other key features.
- Full-featured health tracking
- Google Maps and Wallet support
- Battery life is solid
- Made of aluminum, not stainless steel
- No third-party app support anymore
- More a fitness tracker than smartwatch
As a smartwatch, the Fitbit Sense 2 is only smart-ish, but you must admire Fitbit’s dedication to fitness and wellness. To that end, as well as packing the usual GPS and heart-rate sensors, the Fitbit Sense 2 can measure stress, blood oxygen, body temperature, and an irregular heartbeat via its ECG sensor.
It’s able to track up to 40 exercises and has one of the most user-friendly apps around, clearly showing progress to beginners while encouraging friendly competition between friends and colleagues. Yes, some of the better features are pay-walled, but the watch comes with six months of Fitbit Premium, which isn’t bad at all. However, what is bad is the lost features from the previous generation: third-party apps have gone, there’s no music storage, and playback controls have also inexplicably vanished. There are signs it’s getting better — Google Wallet and Maps were recently added — but if you want a truly smart experience, you may want to look elsewhere.
Put all things Google on your wrist
Google's first real Android smartwatch is something of a hybrid because it also comes with Fitbit health tracking to help you stay fit or get fit easily. Plus, Wear OS brings us Google's vision for a wearable UI and exclusive Wear OS apps for Google services, like Google Assistant, Maps, Wallet, and Home.
- A stylish design with visual appeal
- Premium hardware
- Excellent watch faces and apps
- Not the greatest battery life
- Health tracking could be better
- Not as rugged as other smartwatches
As well as owning Fitbit, Google has a smartwatch of its own: the Pixel Watch. Indeed, the company promised “help from Google” and “health from Fitbit” which sounds like the best of both worlds when you’re looking for a fitness-focused smartwatch.
In truth, the results are more mixed. It’s missing out on a few things that make the bundled Fitbit Premium valuable for the Sense 2, including a number of sensors (EDA, ECG, temperature) and automatic workout detection. Its one-day battery also runs down the built-in GPS quickly, which isn’t ideal for aspiring athletes. But as a smartwatch, it’s hard to fault, which is unsurprising given it’s essentially a device designed to show off what Wear OS can do.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic
Getting back in rotation
Samsung's latest generation of the Galaxy Watch 6 comes in a larger Classic version. It sports a bigger case and a physical rotating bezel to control the watch, alongside all the other welcome improvements in the vanilla Watch 6.
- Strong performance
- That physical rotating bezel is easy to like
- Gorgeous display
- Very incremental improvement from previous gen
- Much more expensive than Galaxy Watch 6
After skipping it for a year, Samsung brought its vaunted physical rotating bezel back in the Watch 6 Classic, which only makes navigating the interface faster and more intuitive. It’s also officially the largest Samsung smartwatch — specifically the 47mm variant — though you can also go with the 43mm if you prefer. With a stainless steel body and a sapphire crystal glass screen, there's a certain durability to the watch that builds trust in it withstanding some punishment.
You can still track over 90 exercises, and with improved sleep tracking, you get some coaching to help you enjoy your slumber more every night. If you have a Samsung phone, you can use the Health Monitor and ECG apps to look for potential signs of atrial fibrillation (AFib). Body Composition gives you a more holistic look at where you stand. Plus, Wear OS gives you apps, including the likes of Google Maps, Samsung Wallet, and more.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro
Samsung's tougher and rougher option
The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is Samsung's first Pro smartwatch, an amazing showcase of what it can do with Wear OS, and generally just a built-tough all-day warrior for workout fiends and multitaskers eschewing their phones.
- Titanium body and sapphire glass
- Tracks plenty of metrics for health and fitness
- Solid battery life in spite of everything it does
- GPX maps only support hiking and cycling
- No rotating bezel here
- Comes with a band that is clunky
Despite newer Galaxy Watch 6 models already available, the Pro version stands out on its own because of the more rugged design courtesy of a titanium body to match the sapphire glass. It offers many of the same fitness functions the other Galaxy Watches do, along with a couple of extra things fitness fans will appreciate, like maps for hiking and cycling with a handy trackback to help you retrace your route.
Also, the chunky 590mAh battery will last up to three days on a single charge. While GPS will eat into that quickly, it'll still manage 20 hours — enough for all but the most dedicated ultra marathoners.
Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5
No need to charge all the time
The TicWatch Pro 5 is Mobvoi's most versatile smartwatch with newer features and software that makes it a really intriguing choice for your wrist. Its dual-layer display takes the concept a little further, making it easier to see and saving battery life.
- Incredible battery life
- Rotating crown adds navigation convenience
- Dual-layer display proves super useful
- Mobvoi Health app needs streamlining
- Iffy sleep tracking
- Google Assistant still remains silent
If you want a long battery life without the high price tag, the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 is worth a look. The 628mAh battery should easily give you three or four days of use, which isn't all that common on Wear OS devices, but very welcome. That use of Wear OS means it’s an excellent and flexible smartwatch, but how is it for fitness tracking?
Not bad at all, with roughly a dozen workouts tracked from within the TicExercise app via the included heart rate and GPS trackers. It’ll measure blood oxygen levels via the built-in SpO2 sensor, too. It doesn’t feel as polished as other Wear OS wearables, and it’s undeniably bulky on smaller wrists, but the TicWatch Pro 5 packs a lot in for what it costs.
Apple Watch Ultra 2
Got an iPhone? Try this on for size
The Apple Watch Ultra 2 takes an already fantastic smartwatch and dials everything up to eleven. The display can reach a cornea-searing 3,000 nits, and the new S9 SiP SoC means that it can last longer than ever before. All of this great hardware comes at a price, though, and whether the slew of fitness features and pro-grade specs are worth it to you will depend on a lot of factors.
- Rugged titanium body and tough glass
- Plenty of fitness and exercise tracking features
- Emergency SOS and Crash Detection could be lifesavers
- Highly incremental over previous version
- Only works with iOS
- Very pricey
The Watch Ultra 2 is Apple's toughest smartwatch by far. With a titanium body flush against a rugged glass to protect the screen, it's built to handle whatever adventurous pursuit you have in mind. It's also super bright clocking in at 3,000 nits peak brightness for a much easier time seeing it in the bright sun. When it gets dark, it can drop all the way down to a single nit of brightness, preserving battery life (up to 36 hours) in the process. And with all that, Apple still used 95% recycled materials for the watch's casing.
It runs on Apple's faster S9 chipset, which enables new features like Double Tap, where you tap your index finger with your thumb twice to access certain features without even touching the watch. Then there's offline Siri support like that already available on the iPhone, where you can talk to the assistant without an Internet connection. All that comes on top of the plethora of exercise and health tracking readily available through the Watch Ultra 2.
What are your priorities?
As is often the case with wearables, you have to decide whether you’re looking for the best fitness tracking experience or the best smartwatch experience. There are plenty of ‘jack of all trade’ devices, but ultimately you need to decide whether you’re prioritizing fitness or smarts, and purchase accordingly. Overall, we picked the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 as the best choice here because it’s keenly priced, feature-packed, and offers plenty of health options, even if it’s still more of a smartwatch that dabbles in fitness than a dedicated fitness watch.
Our Premium Pick — the Garmin Venu 3 — is very much the other way around. It offers as good a fitness tracking experience as you’ll find in any dedicated fitness tracker, but there’s not much in the way of customization, and its smartwatch experience is considerably more limited.
Our value pick — Amazfit’s GTR 3 and GTS 3 smartwatches — are more focused on fitness than smarts, but offer an incredible amount of value for their low cost of entry. If you’re on a tight budget, you won’t be disappointed.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 is surely one of the best Android watches available, especially if you are already in the Samsung ecosystem. With a sapphire crystal display, Exynos W930 processor, 2GB of RAM, and up to a 425mAh battery, this watch is built to be a solid performer.