The Best Android Smartwatches In 2021
What do you get when you transform a traditional wristwatch into a digital device that connects to the Internet, has its own operating system, is capable of running a vast selection of apps and incorporates a handful of data-collecting sensors? We call those smartwatches, which are incredibly powerful, versatile and customizable wearable computers that can easily handle a wide range of communications, productivity, organization, entertainment-oriented, health, fitness and medical-related tasks.
As a result, health and fitness enthusiasts have discovered that using a smartwatch can dramatically help them plan their workout routines, engage in physical activities more efficiently, analyze their results, and track all sorts of related data. With so much potential, it’s no wonder that so many different manufacturers now offer smartwatches designed to appeal to active-minded wearers.
The first thing you need to understand about smartwatches is that they operate, like a computer, using an operating system. Some of the best Android-based smartwatches use Google WearOS, while Fitbit devices use FibitOS, and Apple Watches rely on the powerful Apple WatchOS to function.
What each of these operating systems is capable of is relatively similar when it comes to health and fitness applications. However, if you already use an Android-based smartphone, you’ll best be suited to a smartwatch that relies on WearOS, as these are both designed to work seamlessly with Android-based smartphones.
Fitbit is an independent smartwatch company that uses its own operating system (FitbitOS), which offers full compatibility with both Android and iOS-based smartphones, so any of Fitbit’s popular fitness-oriented smartwatches are also ideal choices for Android smartphone users. Apple iPhone users, however, will typically appreciate the seamless functionality and data integration that the Apple Watch is capable of.
For the more than 131 million active Android-based smartphone users in the United States (many of whom are interested in health and fitness), let’s take a look at 11 of the most powerful, feature-packed, and cutting-edge Android smartphone-compatible smartwatches currently on the market.
Best Android Smartwatch Overall
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
If you’re an Android smartphone user, you can’t really go wrong with any smartwatch featured within this article, but for most people, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic is all-around the best smartwatch you can buy if you’re an Android-based smartphone user. Both a WI-Fi only and a slightly more expensive Wi-Fi + 4G LTE version of the watch is available.
The 4G LTE version takes advantage of a cellular data network, so the watch can work more autonomously from your smartphone. This is useful when you’re out for a run, working out or swimming, for example, and don’t have your smartphone nearby. The watch will still have full access to the Internet as needed, plus allow you to make and receive calls and/or text messages directly from the watch.
For health and fitness enthusiasts, the Galaxy Watch 4 has a slew of built-in sensors. For example, it does all the usual stuff, including heart rate, ECG and sleep monitoring, but also includes SpO2 (blood oxygen saturation levels) and VO2 max (oxygen consumption during exercise).
Right out of the box, the watch can track your activities and workouts, count your steps, track calories burned and keep you from getting lost using its built-in GPS. In fact, the watch can automatically track more than 90 different types of activities, exsercises and workouts.
Other sensors built into the watch include a barometer, geomagnetic sensor, accelerometer and fall sensor. Throw in water resistance and a huge library of fitness apps, and it’s hard to beat.
The watch’s battery life is approximately 40 hours, and the casing is made from ultra-durable stainless steel. The circular-shaped display (available in 42mm or 46mm) uses the latest AMOLED technology and Corning Gorilla Glass DX.
What sets the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic apart from many other WearOS (or otherwise Android-compatible) smartwatches is its versatility in terms of functionality and appearance. The watch syncs data with a wide range of productivity, communications and scheduling apps built into your smartphone, offers the Google Assistant voice assistant, works with Samsung Pay, offers a vast selection of optional apps, plus many different digital watch faces and optional watch bands.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic is available directly from Samsung’s website, as well as Amazon and many other popular retailers. Right now, Samsung is offering up to a $135.00 instant credit when you trade in an eligible smartwatch and purchase this new watch from the company’s website.
Most Stylish Android Smartwatch for Men
Motorola Moto 360 (3rd Generation)
Available in black, grey or gold, the Mot360’s focus is on timeless style, as well as functionality. This is a smartwatch you can wear with your nicest business suit or your most comfortable workout outfit. In fact, it comes bundled with a leather band and seperate waterproof silicone band.
Moto 360 is designed to communicate and sync data directly with your smartwatch, and offers a nice selection of features you’d expect from a high-end WearOS (Android-compatible) device, including access to the Google Assistant voice assistant, Google Pay functionality, on-screen access to Google Maps (for navigation), plus compatibility with an ever-growing collection of optional apps. It’s the optional apps that can transform this watch into a feature-packed fitness and health-tracking tool, although it lacks some of the sensors built into more versatile smartwatches.
The watch’s battery lasts a full day on a single 60-minute charge, and the screen is made from durable Gorilla glass with a scratch-resistant PVD coating. If you’re interested in a truly stylish and timeless looking smartwatch, the Moto 360 is a great choice.
Most Stylist Android Smartwatch for Women
Puma Sport Smartwatch
As one of the world’s leading sports brands, it makes sense that Puma has decided to enter into the smartwatch business with the PUMA Sport smartwatch. It offers a lightweight design, colorful touchscreen, built-in GPS and heart rate monitor, plus has the ability to sync certain app-specific data with your smartphone.
Instead of focusing on creating a smartwatch that offers versatility and a ton of health and fitness-related functions, the PUMA Sport does a really nice job serving as a smartwatch specifically for runners, although it will appeal to people with an active lifestyle who are looking for a sleek and comfortable watch that utilizes a silicon watchband and a 44mm screen. The watch’s battery will last approximately 24 hours per charge.
In addition to tracking heart rate, distance traveled, calories burned and other basics, the watch has the Google Assistant built-in and supports Google Pay. The real functionality as a fitness tool comes from the Google Fit app and how this app works with the screen and technologies built into the watch.
Best Budget Android Smartwatch
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
If you love the idea of the rotating bezel to control your watch, but don’t want to spend extra for the newest Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 is a good alternative. This is a solid, smart-looking and well-equipped watch that is priced somewhere in the middle of the pack. It has a heart rate monitor, ECG and VO2 max sensors, is waterproof and hosts a slew of fitness features, like automatic exercise detection. It’s a watch that does a lot of things pretty well. This is the one to choose if you don’t have a hankering for a specific model or a particular set of features.
Android Smartwatch With the Best Battery Life
Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3
If you don’t carefully follow the smartwatch business, you’ve probably never heard of Mobvoi’s TicWatch Pro 3. It would be a shame not to consider this watch, though, because it has all the essentials you expect in a smartwatch, including a really generous battery life. You’ll get up to three days of normal use, and up to 45 days in Extended mode, which disables non-essential features.
It’s not all about the battery though. The large OLED display is bright and colorful, and it includes a a heart rate monitor as well as an SpO2 sensor. It’s also waterproof (able to track swim workouts) and features a handful of custom exercise and fitness apps to supplement the many Wear OS features.
Best Minimalist Style Android Smartwatch
Skagen Connected Falster 3 Gen 5
The latest version of the Skagen Connected Falster 3 is a very stylish watch that has some distinctive design features—notably the three buttons on the right, which gives this watch a certain industrial design cachet. In reality, the two buttons that surround the center button/crown combo are user-configurable to launch your favorite apps.
Otherwise, you get a good implementation of Google’s WearOS with a highly configurable battery. You can set any of four different modes to control how long the battery lasts, which can deliver weeks of runtime in its most conservative mode. And while this watch almost looks too fancy for workouts, it’s waterproof to 5ATM, adding swim tracking as one of its many fitness features. Like most smartwatches that run the WearOS operating system, this one nicely supports the powerful Google Fit app, but it also has its own proprietary Wellness app built in.
Best Android Smartwatch for Running & Fitness
Garmin Forerunner 55
Almost any smartwatch can help you get through your daily workout. They pretty much all have heart rate monitors and are compatible with fitness tracking apps. But the Garmin Forerunner 55 is almost unquestionably the right choice for dedicated runners and other fitness fanatics. For starters, it’s equipped with GPS so you don’t need to bring your phone on workouts. You can use the built-in adaptive exercise coaching and get a Performance Condition assessment, which tells you in real time how well you’re performing compared to your actual potential.
If you’re a hardcore runner training for competition, you’ll appreciate advanced analytics like ground contact time balance, stride length, vertical ratio and more (when you use the watch with additional, optional Garmin sensors). Despite all that, the Forerunner 55 still manages about a full week of battery life, in part because the display is not a touchscreen. That might seem like an off choice for a smartwatch, but with the Forerunner’s focus on sports and fitness, having a non-touch screen can actually be seen as an advantage.
Best Fitbit Overall
When it comes to Fitbit smartwatches, it’s important to understand that these run using the company’s proprietary FitbitOS operating system, which is fully compatible with Android-based smartphones. The Fitbit Sense is currently Fitbit’s flagship smartwatch, meaning it does all of the health and fitness tasks you’d expect, but can also handle more general purpose applications (like making and receiving call and text messages, syncing with your smartphone’s calendar, and even allow you to request an Uber). These are tasks that Fitbit’s popular fitness trackers aren’t designed to handle.
The Fitbit Sense offers a sleek and comfortable design, plus includes a battery that lasts up to six days per charge. The watch itself comes in just one size with an adjustable silicone band, but offers three casing color choices—grey, carbon/graphite, and white gold—which are made from stainless steel.
Built in sensors and apps are designed to help with fitness tracking, stress management, and can assist you in optimizing your sleep. The Sense can measure your ECG, skin temperature, heart rate/pulse and SpO2 levels. It also offers apps that can track your breathing rate, heart rate variability, and menstual health, along with GPS to track your location and movement.
If you’re looking for a well-rounded and powerful health and fitness tool that doubles as a feature-packed smartwatch, the water resistant Fitbit Sense definitely gives the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic a run for its money.
To get the most out of this watch as a fitness tool, you’ll want to subscribe to the Fitbit Premium service ($9.99/month or $79.99/year). This service combines the use of proprietary smartwatch and smartphone apps to offer a comprehensive and highly instructional series of health and fitness programs. For an additional $45/month, one-on-one health coaching is available.
Best Cheap Fitbit Smartwatch
Fitbit Versa 2
Fitbit is such a fixture in the smartwatch field that it definitely deserves its own category. The Versa 2 is a really nice companion to your Android-based smartphone, even though it’s not the most premium or cutting-edge smartwatch in the Fitbit lineup. In fact, because Versa 2 is an older model, its price has dropped to less than $150.00 (compared to the $229.95 MSRP for the newer Versa 3 and $249.95 MSRP for the newest Fitbit Sense).
Of course, the first thing you’ll notice is that it’s got a square-shaped, bright and sharp AMOLED display. Despite being always-on, the watch still manages six full days on a single charge. Unlike other low-cost smartwatches, this one include several powerful sensors, including oxygen saturation (SpO2) tracking, ECG monitoring and a 24/7 heart rate/pulse monitor. The Alexa digital assistant is built-in as well.
There’s on-board GPS, which is great considering Fitbit is widely considered the master at health and fitness features. It can track 20 different activities with a wealth of automatic exercise detection modes. The watch casing comes in one size, is made from aluminum and you can choose between three colors—black, grey, or rose gold.
Best Android Smartwatch for Outdoors
G-SHOCK Limited Edition GSWH1000-1 Men’s Watch
Casio’s G-Shock brand offers a full line-up of smartwatches, yet the new GSWH1000-1 is the first to run Google’s WearOS operating system, making it the new flagship watch in the product line. For someone who enjoys the outdoors, this watch is ideal. It’s extremely rugged, shock resistant and water resistant (up to 20 meters).
The watch was designed to be used in conjunction with a variety of sports and activities, like running, indoor workouts, road biking, surfing, snowboarding or swimming. With its built-in sensors, it’s able to measure heart rate, plus things like altitude, air pressure and speed/pace. It also has built-in GPS functionality.
To conserve battery, the GSWH1000-1 utilizes both a monochrome and full-color 1.2”display that’s somewhat customizable by the user, allowing for the information that’s important to the wearer to be displayed. The watch weights 103 grams, its battery will last 1.5 days (after a three hour charge) and it’s compatible with both the latest Android-based smartphones and Apple iPhones.
Best Garmin Smartwatch
Garmin currently offers a complete lineup of smartwatches, most designed with health and fitness enthusiasts in mind. The company’s top-of-the-line smartwatch, the Enduro, is designed for the extreme endurance athlete who is looking for a feature-packed, but lightweight watch with an extra-long battery life and built in GPS.
With an MSRP starting at $799.99, the Enduro is not cheap, but it does offer some really unique features. For example, in addition to using a traditional charger to recharge the watch’s battery, Enduro features Power Glass solar charging, which uses the sun to dramatically extend the watch’s battery life (between 80 and 300 hours, depending on whether you’re using the watch’s GPS).
The 1.4” display is designed or easy viewing in all lighting situations (including direct sunlight) and with its titanium casing, Enduro is made to withstand all sorts of abuse from water, harsh temperatures and an extremely active lifestyle.
In addition to offering GPS-based navigational tools on your wrist, Enduro has an altimeter, 3-axis electronic compass, and a barometer to monitor weather. Whether you’re a runner, swimmer, surfer or skier, Enduro offers tools to help you stay active and fit while ensuring you’ll never get lost.
There’s also a heart rate monitor, pulse OX sensor, sleep monitor tools, body energy monitoring tools, hydration tracking and respiration tracking builtin, plus communications tools that link with your smartwatch. The Connect IQ App Store offers hundreds of optional apps and digital watch faces that can be installed onto the watch with ease.
If you’re serious about fitness, outdoor adventures are your thing, and you’re able to spend top-dollar for a cutting-edge and versatile smartwatch, you’ll appreciate everything the Enduro has to offer.
How to Choose the Best Android Smartwatch for You
When it comes to selecting the best smartwatch to meet your needs and budget, first think carefully about what you plan to use the watch for. For example, are you looking for a general purpose and highly versatile smartwatch that is a wearable communications, productivity, scheduling and entertainment tool that seamlessly shares data with your smartphone, or is your main focus on health and fitness tracking?
Next, consider what type of smartphone you’re already using. If you’re an Apple iPhone user, the Apple Apple Watch is probably a good fit. However, if you’re an Android-based smartphone user, any smartwatch that runs the WearOS operating system will interact seamlessly with your smartphone.
There are also plenty of smartwatches, like those from Fitbit, that run using a proprietary operating system, but that are designed to offer full compatibility with an Android-based smartphone or an Apple iPhone.
Once you know what you’re looking to do with the watch and what smartphone technology it needs to be compatible with, start focusing on the features and functions of the individual smartwatches available. Most smartwatches come in at least two display sizes, have a selection of different watch bands available, and offer a Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi + Cellular (LTE) model for connecting to the Internet. All also include wireless Bluetooth capabilities.
A Wi-Fi only smartwatch will rely much more heavily on your smartphone for Internet access and to handle many of its core tasks, while a smartwatch that’s able to connect autonomously with the Internet via a cellular data connection allows the wearer to use virtually all of the smartwatch’s features and functions without the watch needing to stay in close proximity to the smartphone it’s paired with.
The drawback to Wi-Fi + Cellular smartwatches is that they require a monthly subscription with a wireless service provider, which typically costs around $10 per month. This allows you to make and receive calls and text messages (using your smartphone’s phone number), as well as access the Internet.
Yet another consideration is the size of the optional app library available for each smartwatch. The third-party app library for WearOS-based smartwatches is extensive, and includes hundreds of health, fitness and medical-related apps, plus an ever-expanding selection of other general purpose and speciality apps.
Finally, focus on your budget. Do you want to pay top-dollar for the latest and greatest smartwatch, or would you prefer to save some money by investing in an older model or a smartwatch with less technology built into it? Keep in mind, regardless of which smartwatch you’re interested in, you’ll seldom need to pay the full MSRP. Between retailer and manufacturer sales, promotions and trade-in offers, there are almost always discounts to be found—even on the newest watches.
Should I Buy a Hybrid Smartwatch?
A hybrid smartwatch is one that uses a traditional mechanical design (with physical watch hands that move), but also incorporates a selection of cutting-edge features that allow the watch to communicate with a smartphone and access data from the Internet, for example.
These watches tend to have a traditional and elegant appearance on the front, but most still have concealed sensors and other technologies on the underside of and included within the watch’s casing. Many of the smartwatches from Fossil, for example, are considered hybrids, but still are chock full of tech-oriented features.
Meanwhile, a traditional smartwatch, such as the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, offers an entirely digital display, which can be personalized using a wide range of selectable and customizable digital watch faces and interchangeable watch bands. True smartwatches can also showcase colorful graphics and animations on their displays, and even showcase videos or full-color photos, which is something that’s not possible on a hybrid smartwatch.
Which Smartwatches Have the Latest WearOS?
WearOS is the smartwatch operating system developed by Google to work seamlessly in conjunction with the Android operating system for smartphones.
In August 2021, WearOS 3 was introduced in conjunction with the release of the Samsung Galaxy Watch4 and Watch 4 Classic, but only a few other existing WearOS compatible watches will be able to take advantage of this latest version of the operating system. Other watches that will support WearOS 3 won’t be able to do so for several more months, while many existing smartwatches won’t be able to handle this update at all.
Manufacturers of smartwatches that utilize WearOS include Samsung, Asus, Broadcom, Fossil, HTC, Intel, LG, MediaTek, Imagination Technologies, Motorola, New Balance, Qualcomm, Huawei, Skagen, Polar, Tag Heuer, Suunto, and Mobvoli. Thus far, only Samsung, Fossil and Mobvoli have announced future support for WearOS 3.
To ensure you’re using the latest version of WearOS that’s compatible with your existing smartwatch, make sure the watch is turned on and has Internet access, and then follow these directions offered by the WearOS by Google website.