Best smartwatches and wearables: Apple vs Fitbit vs Samsung
- 19 February, 2021 14:45
Looking to extend your everyday connectivity beyond the confines of your smartphone? A smartwatch is one way to do exactly that.
Beyond the mere smart step trackers of the past, the smartwatches of today can support everything from music playback to contactless payments and more. Battery life and price, previously the two biggest barriers to smartphone adoption, have also eroded in recent years.
According to IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Wearables Tracker, the positive momentum in the category is expected to continue with wrist-worn wearables projected to reach 152.7 million units by the end of 2019 with 21.7% growth over last year and 194.1 million units by the time 2023 rolls around.
There’s never been a better time to nab your first smartwatch or upgrade your old one to something shinier. So if you’re looking to take advantage of the holiday seasons bevy of sales events like Black Friday, these are our picks for the best smartwatches.
Apple Watch Series 6
If you’re looking for the best smartwatch money can buy, the latest Apple Watch is it. If you’re looking to save a few bucks, the previous Series 4 and Series 5 are almost just as good. However, if money is no object and you’re after the best, the Series 6 Apple Watch is straight-up as good as it gets.
Unfortunately, unless you’re willing to change ecosystems, it’s only going to be a valid option for iPhone users. You can’t set up, pair or use the Apple Watch with an Android phone like the Google Pixel 5 or the Samsung Galaxy S21.
Apple’s latest smartwatch hasn’t changed all that much in its latest incarnation. However, it’s still miles ahead of the competition on both hardware and software. In terms of battery life, you’ll usually get about two days per charge. The one drawback here is sleep-tracking, which the Apple Watch still doesn’t officially support.
Fitbit Versa 2
Fitbit’s second-generation Versa smartwatch takes everything that worked about the original and adds a lot of what it lacked.
This time around you get a much better OLED display and a more-mature software experience. The battery life is also exceptional at 5-days per charge, which lets you get a lot of mileage out of the Versa’s sleep-tracking tech.
In Australia, the Fitbit Versa 2 is priced at AU$349. You can buy it through Amazon here.
In our review of the Fitbit Versa 2, we said that “The Versa 2 provides meaningful improvements over the original that make it the definitive Fitbit smartwatch to buy but little in the way of genuine innovation. Honestly, it doesn’t feel like Fitbit’s latest really pushes things forward or changes the smartwatch equation in any real way.”
“The Fitbit Versa 2 is a more than adequate alternative to the Apple Watch but it shouldn’t be confused for a substitute.”
Samsung Galaxy Watch3
If you're not particularly drawn to the square displays found in Apple and Fitbit's respective smartwatches, the Galaxy Watc3h might be more your style.
The new Galaxy Watch range picks up where the older Gear S range left off. It retains the snazzy bezel-based control scheme and boasts a lot of the familiar perks and features. It’s got IP68 waterproofing, built-in GPS, mobile payments, sleep tracking and plays nice with any and all other Samsung SmartThings.
In Australia, the Samsung Galaxy Watch3 is priced at an RRP of $649 for the cellular model and $549 for the Bluetooth model. You can buy it through Amazon here.
In our review of the original Galaxy Watch, we said that "if you’re the kind of user who digs where non-Apple smartwatches are at, you’ll probably get a lot out of the Galaxy Watch. It’s got every smartwatch feature you could want and some of the best battery life out there."
You can read our full review of the Samsung Galaxy Watch here.
Apple Watch Series 3
If you’re looking to pair up your iPhone with a watch for a little less than the pricey Series 6 Apple Watch demands, Apple has lowered the asking price for the less advanced but still great Series 3 Apple Watch.
The only features you’re missing out on here is the larger OLED introduced by the Series 4 and the always-on functionality added by the new Series 5. Otherwise, the Series 3 Apple Watch features a fairly synonymous design to the current model and runs on the same WatchOS 6 software. It supports all the same fitness tracking features and contactless payments via Apple Pay.
In our review, we said that “For my purposes, Apple Watch Series 3 is a software update and a couple apps away from being my dream device. But even in its current form, it’s miles ahead of its closest competitors when it comes to functionality and parsecs ahead with design.”
“There’s a reason Apple hasn’t visually changed its watch in three generations: It’s nearly perfect.”
You can read our full review of the Apple Watch Series 3 here.
Huawei Watch Fit
Huawei’s Watch Fit straddles the line between fitness tracker and full-blown smartwatch. It’s got the featureset of the former but the look of the latter. If you can stomach some slight software quirks, there’s definitely value to be found here. The design itself isn’t particularly original but it is well-executed, plus the battery life takes a lot of worries out of the process.
The Huawei Watch Fit boasts a 1.64-inch AMOLED display, built-in GPS and over 90 workout modes. Unlike the similar-looking Oppo Watch, it doesn’t run on Wear OS but instead runs on a simpler proprietary operating system. The software here is a little less snappier than some of the other options but it manages to match most of those alternatives when it comes to raw functionality.
The one major exception here is NFC payments, which the Watch Fit lacks. Still, if you’re willing to live with a little less of the tangible luxury that an Apple Watch gets you, the 10 days of battery life the Huawei Watch Fit delivers is a sweet enough consolation prize.
This article was originally published in November 2019 and updated in February 2021.