If you're looking for your first smartwatch or replacing an old one, there are a lot of factors to consider when trying to figure out the best smartwatch for your needs — especially since it will probably be strapped to your wrist 24/7. You'll want to decide on your preferred shape for the watch face, whether you want a model with a fitness emphasis (sleep tracking, a heart rate monitor) versus other smart features (working well with third party apps) and which operating system you want (iOS versus Android).
But that just scratches the surface. A smartwatch should be able to offer everything from heart-rate monitoring and activity tracking to GPS tracking and smart notifications. Some smartwatches can even be used for contactless payment. They should all work seamlessly with smartphone notifications. And, regardless of whether you're an Android user and iPhone user, you should be able to make the most of your wearable device.
We've rounded up the best smartwatches based on function, price and compatibility, and here are three of CNET's top choices.
The best Apple Watch for your money
Apple Watch SE
CNET TAKE: If you've never owned an Apple Watch, this is the one to get. The Apple Watch SE is a cheaper alternative to the Series 6 with a lot of the same great features plus a slightly longer battery life. Aside from the extra health sensors (ECG and SpO2), the most notable difference between the two is that the SE doesn't have an always-on display. But you probably won't miss it if you've never had this feature.
The best value Android smartwatch
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
CNET TAKE: The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 offers almost all of the same features as the new Galaxy Watch 3, including an ECG app and fall detection, for about half the price. It's not as flashy as the Watch 3 with its physical rotating bezel and thicker frame, but it's less bulky and more comfortable to wear at night and during workouts. The Active 2 handles calls, texts and app notifications, and it offers Spotify support as well as all the basic fitness features you'll need. You can also get an LTE edition of this smartwatch, which can receive calls on the go without your Android phone nearby.
The most affordable smartwatch
Amazfit Bip S
CNET TAKE: If you're looking to get more value for money, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better deal than the Amazfit Bip S. This $70 smartwatch is compatible with both Android and iOS devices and checks most of the boxes when it comes to features: heart rate sensor, always-on display, built-in GPS tracking and the best battery life of any device on this list. You can get up to 40 days of use on a charge, or about two weeks of heavy usage with the GPS on and brightness up (a time that's still above and beyond the rest).
You may have to make some sacrifices when it comes to aesthetics, though, as it has a plastic casing and the screen isn't as bright or responsive as the ones on the Galaxy and Apple Watch.
The following CNET staff contributed to this story: former CNET staff member Vanessa Hand Orellana, Senior Editor Lexy Savvides and Copy Editor Jim Hoffman. For more reviews of personal technology products, please visit www.cnet.com.
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