Basic smartwatches have been around for about 14 years, though up until about 2016, they were just watches that could connect to the internet. Then, the first Apple Watch dropped in 2015 and revolutionized the smartwatch industry, completely changing the game. Since the dawn of the Apple Watch Series 1, there’s been a race to improve and topple the technological giant that is Apple.
So, now that we’re a few months into the new year, let’s take a look at some of the top smartwatch picks for 2019.
Apple Watch, Series 4, $349
Apple products have long been hailed as top, cutting-edge technology, and their most recent smartwatch update continues to support that. The Series 4 was released in September 2018 and offered a powerful, versatile watch that provides a vast array of different features. This watch is easily able to switch between a fitness tracker, sports watch, and a health-monitor all while acting as a regular watch would.
Another cool feature? Exclusive to the Series 4 is a built-in ECG monitor that has the ability to seriously monitor your heart health. FDA approved, the feature can detect heart rhythm irregularities such as AFib or a heart rate that’s too low or too high. There’s also this handy fall detection mode that allows users to access Siri to contact emergency services or one of their emergency contacts. The screen size has been increased from 38mm and 42mm to new 40mm and 44mm sizes.
The drawbacks? It only works with iPhones and other Apple products. So, if you have any other type of phone, it won’t work. Also, the battery life only spans for between 24 and 48 hours which is a significant complaint from Apple users.
Samsung Galaxy Watch, $249.99
If you’re one of the people who prefer Android phones to iPhones, then this would be your top choice. The Galaxy Watch is easily the best Android-user smartwatch. The thing that gives it an edge? Its battery life. The Galaxy Watch can easily last between three and six days (depending on your model, of course), thus severely beating the battery life of the Apple Watch.
This watch is also compatible with both Androids and iPhones, so if you wanted a watch that could work with your iPhone without having to shell out almost $400 for the latest model, this is a pretty good option. The Galaxy Watch is considered by users to be Samsung’s most stylish model yet, as it moves away from the sportier look that many users didn’t care for.
The drawbacks? If you wanted a watch that would allow you to check and interact with your apps, then this one is not for you. The app selection and compatibility between watch and phone are severely stunted in comparison to the Apple Watch.
Fossil Sport Watch, $199
Another watch that works for either iPhone or Android, the Fossil Sport provides a lot of the same features that the Samsung Galaxy Watch offers including heart-rate monitoring, GPS, and several other things. The Fossil Sport offers a sleek, light-weight, and comfortable design that looks nice enough to wear out on the town after an intense workout at the gym.
The drawbacks? The Fossil Sport runs on Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon Wear 3100 chip, and one of the first to use this new CPU (CPU stands for ‘central processing unit’ and is what allows technology to understand the commands the user puts in). While this new CPU has helped the Fossil Sport’s performance, the improvement isn't significant enough for it to place any higher on this list.
Response times are a significant issue among users of this watch; it takes much longer for the Google Assistant to actually start listening to the user. Larger apps such as Google Maps also takes a bit of time before it works efficiently. Battery life for this is even worse than Apple’s, only lasting around 24 hours. Though, the watch offers quick-charging to offset the poor battery life.
Fitbit Versa, $179.95
Fitbit is easily one of the most recognizable names in fitness tracking technology, and the Versa does not disappoint. The Versa is one of the more affordable options on this list, costing under $200. Plus, the battery life is easily almost as good as the Samsung Galaxy Watch, coming in with a total battery life of up to five days on a single charge. In addition to regular workout tracking, the Versa and most other Fitbit watch models also offer sleep tracking. This watch comes in a variety of different colors and is easily styleable to your preference, with thousands of different bands available online.
The drawbacks? There’s no GPS tracking for your runs and users have complained that it isn’t as accurate as it should be. If you want a fitness watch that can track mostly moderate workout sessions, then the Versa is ready for the task. If you’re looking for something that can withstand high-intensity sessions, then you’ll probably want to take a look at some other options.
TicWatch Pro, $249
This watch is relatively new, but users have raved about it. The TicWatch Pro is compatible with both Android and iPhone, making it available to basically everyone. The cool thing about this watch is that it offers two displays–one layered on top of the other. The top layer will give you the basics (heart-rate, time, and battery), while the bottom one offers all of the fun stuff.
The most recent installment of the TicWatch line offers a classic high-end design and a decent two-day battery life in regular smartwatch mode, but its parent company Mobvoi boasts that the TicWatch Pro could last for up to 30 days in Essentials mode (basically, acting just as a watch rather than a smartwatch).
The drawbacks? The fitness features and app selections are nowhere near as extensive as others that have been mentioned on this list. With this innovative new screen technology, it might be a good idea to keep an eye on the TicWatch line in the future.
Nixon Mission, $399
If you’re more of an outdoorsy person or someone who likes extreme sports (specifically surfing or skiing), then this is the watch for you. For an adventurer, this watch is going to be your best friend with its GPS capabilities and all the ‘meters’ it gives you access to (an altimeter, thermometer, barometer, and an accelerometer).
This watch also has several pre-installed apps that are useful for tracking real-time surfing and snowboarding conditions. It’s also super water resistant! This watch is rugged and bulky, but if that’s your aesthetic, then you’re going to love this thing.
The drawbacks? This watch is gigantic, clunky, and bulky. Sleek designs have been proven best for most other smartwatches, but this one breaks the mold (in a not-so-great way). This behemoth of a watch is built to withstand surf and snow, not just your normal everyday run in the park. The device is also expensive for something so massive and clunky, an easy $350.
To be fair, the watch looks fantastic aside from its size and is covered in stainless steel (thus, the size and the cost). Not only that, but there are endless color options; you can change the color of the case, the bezel, and more than 30 different rubber straps and five steel straps.