Smart watches help monitor your health, wake you up in the morning, notify you of calls and messages in a timely manner, and also track your activity throughout the day.
There are inexpensive bracelets and flagship watches on sale for the price of a good smartphone. I studied wearable devices in different price categories and tested the most interesting ones. I’m telling you about the best smartwatches that are worth a closer look.
Most smartwatch functions only work when connected to a smartphone, and some are completely limited to the ecosystem of their brand. For example, no matter how technologically advanced the Apple Watch is, it will be of no use to owners of Samsung or Huawei smartphones due to lack of compatibility. Moreover, there are compatibility problems even within Android models: Huawei watches work best with Huawei phones.
Therefore, this time there are two devices in the “best of the best” category: for iPhones and for Android smartphones. Models in the mid-range and budget segments are not so picky, so gadgets in other categories are universal.
We do not touch upon semi-professional and professional watches for athletes like Garmin in this article. They are quite expensive, but the overpayment will only be worth it for experienced athletes and extreme tourists.
Prices are current for the Moscow region at the time of publication, but we update them periodically.
How to choose a smart watch
When compiling the selection, I relied on the assortment of retail chains and reviews of gadget owners. Over the past years, I have tested many smart watches and bracelets, so I was guided by personal experience, as well as reviews from users and fellow tech reviewers.
After testing, I identified several criteria for choosing a good smartwatch . If the models from our list do not suit you or are unavailable, these tips will help you choose something yourself.
Screen quality. Smartwatches should not go blind in the sun, so you should choose models with a screen brightness of about 500 nits or higher. Equally important is a low minimum brightness so that the gadget does not dazzle at night and interfere with sleep. Before purchasing devices in the budget and mid-range segments, you should read reviews from owners about the operation of auto-brightness: some models do not correctly determine the ambient light.
A pixel density of 300 ppi ensures excellent icon clarity and smooth text. There is no need to sacrifice the oleophobic coating of the screen: it makes it easier to wipe off fingerprints from the glass.
Built-in sensors. Even inexpensive modern models should count steps, heart rate and blood oxygen levels. It is desirable that the watch not only display measurements, but also be able to convert the data into more understandable indicators such as sleep quality or stress level.
Some gadgets display alerts about dangerously high heart rates and detect falls. For example, Apple Watch can send messages to trusted contacts if the wearer faints or gets hurt. The most advanced watches can also take a cardiogram, which is useful for regularly monitoring your health.
Moisture protection and replaceable straps. Many smartwatches and bracelets can withstand a trip to the pool, a run in the rain, or a shower. IP67 and IP68 standards mean protection against fresh water only. The “5 ATM” marking means protection against liquids under pressure up to 5 atmospheres; a watch with it will be able to survive a vacation at sea. But you should n’t constantly swim in sea water with such accessories .
Replaceable straps are also important for the longevity of a watch. The glass and metal of the main body wear out more slowly than leather or silicone, so the straps will need to be replaced periodically. In addition, it is more practical to have several options for different occasions. It is better to visit the pool with a silicone strap rather than a leather one, which can get damaged.
Applications. The most advanced models allow you to download and install applications: instant messengers, notes, maps, smart home control panels, habit trackers and water meters. More often they do not work autonomously, but only when connected to a smartphone with the same application, but this is still useful.
Simpler watches and bracelets have more modest capabilities, but basic services such as a timer, alarm clock, calendar and player control should be available there.
Autonomous work. For top-end devices with powerful chips, bright screens and advanced health monitoring, it’s normal to work for one and a half to two days on a single charge.
But models with fewer functions should work for at least a week – otherwise this is a sign that the manufacturer has poorly optimized the software or installed a weak battery.
Additional features. The built-in speaker and microphone allow you to answer calls while working or driving – this feature is useful much more often than it seems.
Some models have built-in memory for downloading music – you can store hundreds of tracks and audiobooks right in the watch and do not need to take your smartphone with you when going for a run.
It’s best to check in advance for the availability of some options, like a women’s cycle calendar or support for your favorite workouts, especially if you do unusual sports like rowing.
Contactless payment for hours. Some watches and bracelets support touch payment, but for Russia this is not very relevant now. At the time of publication , neither Apple Pay nor Google Pay work with cards from Russian banks. On Huawei watches, payment works with cards from the Chinese UnionPay system – not all banks issue them in the Russian Federation. You can install Mir Pay on watches running Wear OS from Google.