The Best Smartwatches to Buy in 2020 — Stay on Top of Your Agenda

By Vaidyanathan Subramaniam / April 21, 2020

Just like smartphones, smartwatches have become very popular as they help in literally keeping up with the times. Smartwatches incorporate fitness and time management features that alert you instantly without you having to reach a smartphone every time. Recent smartwatches also come with a built-in LTE option that allows you to make calls, send texts, respond to notifications, or stream music directly from the watch.

Before deciding in on a smartwatch, a lot of factors need to be considered. Not all smartwatches are good at fitness tracking. So, if you're a fitness freak or an athlete, make sure that the watch has a lot of sensors such as a heart rate monitor, altimeter, barometer, etc. Smartwatches send this data to a health app that you can install on your smartphone. The features of the health app are also important to help you make sense of all the fitness data or share it with a clinician. The other major factor to consider is the platform. We haven't yet reached a stage where watchOS can seamlessly work with Android phones, or Android Wear OS can seamlessly work with iOS devices. They can pair well, but you will lose access to some native platform features such as calling, texting, or app support. Some brands such as Fitbit have their own OS as well.

Battery life plays a very major role in deciding on a smartwatch. Most smartwatches are lenient on the battery, but if you keep the GPS or cellular on continuously, you will run out of battery in the middle of a workout session pretty easily. At least, the smartwatch should offer a way to quickly top up the battery as and when needed.

With these factors in mind, we have selected some of the best smartwatches that truly live up to their claims. So, here are the 10 best smartwatches to buy in 2020.

1. Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS + Cellular)

The Apple Watch Series 5 continues the tradition of being the leader in smartwatches and is something that every smartwatch aspires to be. Watch Series 5 is an incremental upgrade over last year's Apple Watch Series 4, and it feels as if Apple is in no mood to rush with the implementation of any path-breaking features. The Watch Series 5 comes with an always-on display that shows only the relevant information when not used thus, saving battery life. The display also sports a variable refresh rate — for example, it can operate at 60 Hz when you are interacting with it and throttle down to 1 Hz when idle. Otherwise, much of the build is exactly the same as the Apple Watch Series 4.

Series 5 is IP68-certified for dust and water resistance so you can take it with you to the pool or let it get wet in the rain without having to worry about damaging the electronics. watchOS 6 further refines the Apple Watch experience with new watch faces, a Compass app, a Noise app, and a Cycle Tracking app for keeping a tab on menstrual cycles. Apps can now be downloaded directly to the Watch or via your iPhone. LTE functionality still requires pairing with an iPhone and appropriate carrier support. However, you do not need to carry your phone to actually use the watch once paired with your iPhone. While the Watch Series 5 has everything going for it, the latest watchOS 6 still needs some work. Battery life can also take a beating if you prefer to use the always-on display. Otherwise, the Apple Watch Series 5 is still one of the best smartwatches in the market.

2. Ticwatch E

The Ticwatch E might not be everyone's cup of tea but is one of the best smartwatches if you are just taking baby steps into the smartwatch world. But that has not stopped the Tickwatch E from becoming quite popular already. This model alone has garnered over a thousand ratings on Amazon, most of them very positive. Barring some minor design hiccups, this is easily the best Android-based smartwatch on the market at the moment.

The low price and high workability of the watch make it an excellent choice for anyone starting with smartwatches. Build quality is an issue sometimes and the battery runtime is less than average. However, with a few easy tweaks, you can drastically improve the battery life of the watch. The overall design is great, and so are the heart rate sensor and GPS sensors. For fitness enthusiasts, almost every feature that you’d expect from a smartwatch are present in this watch.

3. Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is to Android what the Apple Watch is to iOS devices. With the Watch Active 2, Samsung has incorporated several new features that were previously only found in the Apple Watch while also adding some exclusives of its own. You now get LTE connectivity, a rotating bezel for navigation, sleep tracking, and even an ECG monitor. The ECG monitor is yet to be turned on via software, but the rest of the features work like a charm. Watch Active 2 has minimal aesthetics and does not look in-your-face. Like the Apple Watch, the Watch Active 2 is also available in both 40mm and 44mm models. The 320x320 AMOLED screen is a treat to watch and looks great even in bright sunlight. Watch Active 2 is IP68-certified as well, which means it is good to go for tracking swimming workouts or even getting wet in the rain.

Watch Active 2 uses Tizen OS instead of Google's Android Wear. Tizen OS offers a neat selection of watch apps and the UI navigation is done by a digital rotating bezel. Using Tizen OS on the Watch Active 2 is a smooth experience but can use some improvements such as being able to directly connect to a PC for transferring songs or a shortcut to access the last-used app. Still, it offers a great selection of apps that should get the job done for most use cases. Exercise tracking is good and there is an inbuilt sleep tracker as well. All your exercise parameters can be tracked using the Samsung Health app available for both Android and iOS devices. Battery life on the Galaxy Active Watch 2 is good and will easily last you till bedtime and more. Overall, if you are on the lookout for the best smartwatch for Android, the Galaxy Active Watch 2 is the one to get.

4. Fitbit Versa

The Fitbit Versa brings all the fitness-related features that Fitbit is famous for into a great smartwatch experience. The Versa allows you to monitor 24x7 heart rate, activity, and sleep patterns. The measurements are fairly accurate and can give a very good profile about your overall health and fitness goals. Fitbit uses its own OS to offer customized features such as on-screen coaching, watch faces, apps, and more. The Versa is water-resistant up to 50 m and uses the phone's GPS for navigation.

When you set up the Versa with an Android phone, you also get notifications, quick replies, and phone-free music. The one rather prominent downside for this watch is the onboard storage which is lower than most other watches on the list. That said, the watch also lasts for almost four days once it is fully charged. That’s phenomenal considering most other watches do not last you one full day. Add to that the affordability factor and the Versa becomes one of the best smartwatches you will see in 2020.

5. Garmin Vivoactive 3

Garmin is known traditionally for GPS and navigation systems but the Garmin Vivoactive 3 is one of the best smartwatches from the company yet. Of course, being a Garmin, the focus is on GPS and navigation but you also can download up to 500 songs for offline listening, stream to wireless headphones via Bluetooth, and even use NFC for contactless payments. Garmin offers thousands of watch faces to download from its Connect IQ store. It also comes preloaded with 15 sports apps for yoga, running, swimming, strength training, which can also be customized as per your workout regimen. Battery life is great - up to 7 days in smartwatch mode and 5 hours in GPS with music mode.

The Garmin Vivoactive 3 is best suited for fitness freaks and athletes. However, there are few quirks to be aware of. The software is still under development so can be quite buggy at times. Also, not all cards work with Garmin Pay as of yet. The optical heart rate sensor is also not very reliable, especially during swimming sessions. That said, Garmin offers regular updates to the Vivoactive 3 so any bugs would have possibly been ironed out.

6. Casio Men's Pro Trek WSD-F20

The Casio Men's Pro Trek WSD-F20 is meant for those who don't fear adventures. The WSD-F20 has a 1.32-inch monochrome LCD and a TFT color touchscreen. It runs on the Android Wear 2.0 platform and offers up to 50-m water resistance. The low-power GPS is very accurate and you can store color maps offline. You also get an altimeter, barometer, and compass sensors and a military-grade construction. You also get a decent app selection right out of the box. These include apps such as ViewRanger that provide navigation guidance and location data, Hole19, which is a comprehensive Android golf assistant, and Fishbrain, which is a community-based app for fishing forecasts.

We would have preferred the WSD-F20 to sport an OLED screen as that is more efficient on the battery and offers better colors. The overall UI navigation also feels a bit slow compared to other Android Wear-based watches. The battery life is great for an outdoor watch but constant GPS activity will offer lower runtimes.

7. LG Watch Style

The LG Watch Style offers a professional-looking smartwatch that is based on Android Wear 2.0. It offers an IP67 rating for dust and water protection although, it is not suitable for swimming. Google Assistant is easily available by just saying "Ok, Google" or a press of the Power button. The LG Watch Style is best for people with small wrists or those who prefer something less flashy than most other smartwatches. The Style also offers magnetic wireless charging, which makes it easy to handle unlike those that require a USB cable plugged in.

When you set up the LG Watch Style initially, the battery life seems to be low whenever it downloads huge OS or app updates. However, once you configure everything, you can expect to be left with enough charge by the end of a typical workday. We would also like if the Style's buttons were ambidextrous.

8. Huawei Watch 2 Sport

The Huawei Watch 2 is one of the best smartwatches from Huawei and it comes loaded with features that can give any Android smartwatch a run for its money. The Watch 2 features Huawei TruSleep, a technology that allows the smartwatch to accurately track sleep. The Workout Coach feature gives your real-time guidance and workout data such as recovery time and VO2 Max. With built-in NFC, you can make payments straight from your wrist and Google Assistant is always available at the touch of a button. The Watch 2 can last two days on a full charge with all sensors enabled, which we think is fairly reasonable. The Watch 2 works best with Android but it can also pair with iOS with limited functionality.

While Watch 2 is a great smartwatch, there are some QC issues with respect to the build quality. Also, there are some bugs with the software. You need to ensure to select the Heatbeat app if you want to measure the heart rate. There is no way to revert to the correct setting if you select some other app for measuring heart rate without resetting the watch.

9. Fossil Men's Sport

Fossil Men's Sport is probably one of the best Wear OS smartwatches in the market today. The Fossil Sport is available for both men and women and is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 SoC for responsive and power-efficient operation. Google has been lagging somewhat when it comes to adding new features to Wear OS — so much so that even Samsung's Tizen OS has now more apps and functionality. However, Google has committed to investing in Wear OS so we can expect more features and enhancements in the days to come. That being said, the Fossil Sport does not lack too many features and is perfectly suitable as both a fitness tracker and a smartwatch. The use of the Snapdragon 3100 allows Fossil Sport to operate in a low-power mode that offers more battery life. Fossil Sport will appeal more to fitness enthusiasts than normal smartwatch users. It comes with an integrated heart rate monitor, GPS, NFC, and supports the Google Fit health platform.

Since the Fossil Men's Sport smartwatch uses Google's Wear OS, it comes with Google Assistant built-in. You can easily access your Google Feed and notifications are easy to interact with. Overall, there's a lot to like about Wear OS even in its current form so we expect future updates will bring even more functionality. Some other issues with Wear OS include occasionally delayed notifications, but other features such as integrated Google Pay work well. Another issue with Fossil Sport is poor battery life. You can extend it if you do not use the fitness features much, but that sort of defeats the purpose of owning it in the first place. It is not too bad, but don't expect battery life to run into multiple days — you'll often find the need to charge it when you hit the bed. Overall, Fossil Sport is a great smartwatch but does have its shortcomings, most of which are due to Wear OS. However, if you are not entirely dependent on your watch for day to day activities, Fossil Sport is definitely worth a try.

10. Skagen Falster 2

The Skagen Falster 2 will appeal for those looking to make a style statement. Falster 2 is arguably one of the best stylish smartwatches in the market and offers quite a few features for tracking your fitness and other activities. Falster 2 is very lightweight and is thus suitable as a smartwatch that works great both for the gym and the outdoors. The default strap is a black silicone one and is sweatproof for the most part. You can change it with many of the other strap choices that are available not just from Skagen but from third-parties as well. The watch as three buttons, the middle of which is used for navigation while the other two act as shortcut buttons. The Skagen Falster 2 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 2100 SoC. This is a relatively older chipset and you can see that it has aged while using the watch. The watch uses Google's Wear OS and although previous iterations of Wear OS were lag-free on the Snapdragon 2100, the latest iteration is somewhat heavy on the SoC. Otherwise, you get the standard Wear OS experience including some of the quirks we described above with respect to the Fossil Sport smartwatch.

The Falster 2 is swimproof up to 30 meters and all your fitness activities can be tracked using Google Fit. However, those using iOS devices need additional apps for proper fitness tracking as Google Fit's functionality is very limited on iOS. The watch also comes with a capable heart rate monitor and built-in GPS. Putting the watch through its pace can net about a typical workday's use. Anything more, and you will have to disable some of the smartwatch features. However, Skagen has equipped the Falster 2 with fast charging that can top-up the battery by 80% in under an hour. If you value a combination of style and performance, the Skagen Falster 2 is hard to miss.

Dear readers, those were our recommendations for the best smartwatches. Before buying one, we recommend that you first decide on the wrist size. Having a large watch on a small wrist makes the whole experience uncomfortable. Also, be sure to order any straps that you think will interest you. Sometimes, manufacturers change the watch body significantly, which renders some of the straps obsolete.

We hope that this article helped clear any confusion you may have regarding selecting the best smartwatches. As always, we are here to help if you need any further information. Post your questions and comments below, and we’ll get back to you at the earliest.

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