(Pocket-lint) - Smartwatches are here to stay. These wrist-worn phone companions can receive calls, texts, emails, and social media notifications. Many attempts have been made, some more successful than others, some much better looking than others and some smarter than others.
If you're looking to take the smartwatch plunge, you've come to the right place. We've rounded up the best out there that we have had the pleasure of reviewing in full.
This feature covers smartwatches on various platforms, from Google's Wear OS to Apple's watchOS. If you are only interested in Wear OS smartwatches or Apple Watch options, we have separate features you can read to find the perfect smartwatch for you.
Our pick of the best smartwatches to buy today
Apple Watch SE
The Apple Watch SE misses off a couple of the more accomplished Series 6's features, including the always-on display, blood oxygen sensor and ECG sensor, but it has the same design, runs the same software and it's cheaper.
By pulling together some of the best parts of the discontinued Series 4 and Series 5, the Watch SE is an affordable entry point to the Apple Watch, offering a great middle ground between the sensor-rich Series 6 and the older Series 3.
Garmin Fenix 6 Pro
We won't pretend that the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro is priced at a point that many people would stomach, but the reality is that it offers one of the most complete and impressive feature-sets on any smartwatch. Whether you're taking huge hikes in the wilderness or using it as an everyday smartwatch, it'll steer you right and work smoothly.
Garmin's reputation for fitness tracking is richly deserved, and the Fenix 6 Pro will be overkill for many people, but it's still a massively comprehensive watch that's top of its class in most regards, price notwithstanding.
Apple Watch Series 6
The Apple Watch Series 6 improves on its predecessor with battery and display refinements, along with a couple of extra sensors, including a blood oxygen sensor and an always on altimeter.
For some, it will be sensor overload and the Watch SE will more than suffice. For others, despite the new sensors feeling like a bit of a tick-box exercise, there's still no better smartwatch on the market for iPhone users.
Tag Heuer Connected 2020
The Tag Heuer Connected 2020 fully delivers in offering a smartwatch that looks like a traditional Tag.
It doesn't quite rival the sports tracking skills of a Garmin or Polar but Tag Heuer remains ahead of the pack as far as building a truly desirable smartwatch that feels worthy of that steep price tag. It is a beauty of a smartwatch.
Michael Kors Access Runway
The Michael Kors Access Runway is the perfect smartwatch for those after stylish wrist-wear with solid performance and plenty of features. It has built-in GPS and heart rate monitoring, as well as plenty of apps thanks to Google's Wear OS platform.
Its battery life isn't the best out there and despite a range of fitness features, it's definitely a more fashion-focused device but for the Michael Kors fan, the Access Runway is a fabulous smartwatch and everything you could want.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 features a light, sporty design with case options of 40mm and 44mm. There is waterproofing up to 50-metres, great sports tracking features and great performance, with specific options for loads of different sports.
As it runs on Tizen rather than Wear OS, there is a slight lack of third party apps, and this isn't an amazing choice for iPhone users, either. If you're looking for a smartwatch to go with your Android device that also happens to be a great fitness and activity tracker though, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is a very compelling device to consider.
Skagen Falster 3
The Skagen Falster 3 has a fabulous Scandinavian design, offering a simple and minimalist look that's perfect for those after a subtle smartwatch.
It doesn't have the best battery life of those on this list, but with NFC and GPS on board it's a really great option if you like its design. Plus, with good storage for offline music playback and good solid performance, it's still useful if you leave your phone behind.
Fossil Gen 5 Garrett HR
The Fossil Gen 5 Garrett smartwatch is a great looking smartwatch and one of many offered under the company's umbrella - most of which offer the same features.
It and the Gen 5 offer a good performance, interchangeable straps, a solid build quality and come with a heart rate sensor and built-in GPS. If you're on Android, the Wear OS software will work as well as it can with your device too.
Huawei Watch GT 2e
The Huawei Watch GT 2e offers a fantastic battery life, good fitness options, a wealth of data in the accompanying health app and a vibrant and bright screen.
It might not be perfect but if you haven't got the budget to spend on a smartwatch from Apple, or a high-end fitness watch from Garmin, the Huawei Watch GT 2e is a great middle ground.
Michael Kors Access MKGO
The Michael Kors Access MKGO is an excellent smartwatch for the active Michael Kors fan. It offers a lightweight and sporty design, a lovely display and a great feature set, including waterproofing, built-in GPS and NFC for Google Pay payments from your wrist.
It's not as premium as the Michael Kors Access Runway (above), it doesn't have the best battery on this list and there are a couple of performance issues here and there, but overall, the MKGO and its customisable Michael Kors faces and heavy MK branding will be perfect for some Kors fans.
The Casio WSD-F21HR has successfully built another great outdoor watch with a long battery life, a durable design and a secondary mono display that is great for timekeeping.
There's a heart rate sensor on board, making it much more useful than it's predecessors and the Moment Setter watch app is really great too. If you want a solid, durable outdoor smartwatch, the F21HR is definitely Casio's best effort yet.
How to buy a smartwatch
Now more than ever, there are absolutely loads of options out there in the smartwatch market, so picking the right one for you can be a bit of a challenge.
How to pick the right size smartwatch
A key decision is to decide how big you want your watch to be - most smartwatches range from 38mm to 46mm or so in size, reflecting the many sizes of normal watch available.
Working out what you prefer can really narrow the field, so is a great first step.
How much should you pay for a smartwatch?
The next thing to think about could be your budget, which will also constrain what you can choose. If you're looking to spend less than £200/$200, for example, there are fewer quality options to go for.
Equally, if you're happy to spend over £500/$500 you open yourself up to premium options like many Garmin watches. Spending much below £150/$150 starts to make quality control difficult, but all the options on our list above are safe bets.
Smartwatch battery life
Another key consideration for a smartwatch is battery life. Most of the popular mainstream options like the Apple Watch and Wear OS devices will struggle to make it through two days. In general, the more features you get, the shorter the battery life might be.
However, while some models do manage week-long battery or better, we'd say that most people get used to a nightly charge pretty easily - it's not a huge sacrifice, in our eyes.
What features should a smartwatch have?
Features offered by smartwatches vary massively, but some you should look out for include standalone GPS, which is really helpful for fitness tracking.
Bluetooth is also really useful, to connect to headphones and more, and being able to store music offline can be great for taking runs without your phone.
Sleep tracking is another optional extra that some smartwatches manage, while heart-rate monitoring is nearly ubiquitous at this stage. Some more advanced watches might also pack in SpO2 monitors, but you're unlikely to need this.