We all know the terrible feeling that comes from hearing your phone hit the ground after it’s fallen out of your pocket or hand. The thud and smack from the device hitting the tile or concrete evokes an unrivaled feeling of dread, and picking it up off the ground to find your screen has been shattered is even worse.
Carrying your phone with you while working out was, at one point, a necessary evil. It allowed you to keep up with important calls and texts while you were working out, and it can track your steps or note your distance, but it also put your phone at risk of being decimated in the process.
Luckily, there are other smart options aside from using your phone to track your fitness goals. If you want to know how far you hiked or how quick your run was, consider investing in one of the best smartwatches outlined below instead. Trying to choose between a smartwatch and a fitness tracker? Tap or click here to find out which is a better fit for you.
1. Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
If you’re a tech fanatic who’s looking for a smartwatch with advanced capabilities and a sleek design, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 deserves consideration. This smartwatch combines a full range of smartphone capabilities with top-notch health technology in one lightweight package.
Not only will the Galaxy Watch 3 help you manage your day-to-day life, but it will also help you keep tabs on your fitness and health, too. It’s also lighter and smaller than most options.
But while this watch may be lightweight, it offers the choice between two watch face sizes — 41mm or 45 mm — both of which are significantly larger than much of the competition. In addition to the oversized watch face, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 offers quick access to your watch apps via a rotating bezel, and the screen gives you enough space to easily organize — and find — what you’re looking for.
Another standout feature is the health and fitness capabilities it offers. Not only does it offer fitness tracking and health apps, but it can also do things like notify an emergency contact and share your location if your watch detects a hard fall during your workout. You’ll also get an automatic sleep tracker built-in which uses an advanced algorithm to calculate your sleep score.
It also monitors your stress level and offers breathing guides to help you recenter, access to over 120 home workout videos on Samsung Health app, and it tracks seven popular fitness activities automatically. The cool part about the home workout videos is that it’s not limited to your watch — you can pick a program from your Galaxy3 app on your phone and cast it to your TV.
As you work out, your heart rate will be displayed as part of the workout broadcast in real-time. If you want to ensure you’re getting super accurate fitness stats, you can invest in the Ridge Sport Band, which works seamlessly with this smartwatch to offer data related to your workouts.
Another perk to the Samsung Galaxy3 is the smartphone capabilities it offers. This watch doesn’t just offer text and email access like some of the competitor options; it also gives you easy access to images and logs your chat history so you know what the conversation is about.
You’ll also get the option for smart replies when a text comes in. If you’re unfamiliar with smart replies, they’re the suggested replies offered by your smartwatch after it analyzes texts and photos you receive, which makes it easy to quickly reply to a text, even if you’re in the middle of a workout or meeting.
You won’t need to drag your phone around to use your Galaxy3, either — it allows you to call, stream and check your steps — all from your watch, so your phone can stay home without fear that you’ll need to make a call or miss important communication. Plus, you’ll get GPS and maps access, too — and you can even integrate your watch with your smart home devices to control them from your watch face. Pretty nifty.
Related: 5 health apps you never knew existed
2. Apple Watch Series 5 (with cellular)
If you’re an iPhone owner, the Apple Watch 5 with cellular connectivity is going to be your best bet for smartwatch and phone compatibility. Luckily, you don’t have to compromise features for compatibility, because the Apple Watch comes loaded with useful features that integrate with your phone.
Most bank, productivity, and other useful apps work with your Apple Watch, so you don’t have to worry about the inability to check your bank statements or credit card limits on the go — and you can easily use your Apple Wallet for contactless payments right from your watch, too.
But while those features are handy, one of the biggest selling points for the Apple Watch — especially right now, in the midst of a pandemic — is that you can set your watch up to be your health and wellness companion. Your Apple Watch 5 with cellular tracks your heart rate, reminds you to complete your daily fitness goals, prompts you to get up and move, and offers a bunch of other wellness features as well.
Plus, while some of the older Apple Watches had issues with battery power, the Apple Watch 5 has an 18-hour battery life, which means you won’t have to charge your watch nearly as often as you did with the older versions. Other notable features include an always-on display, a new low-power display driver and better refresh rates, updated maps, and a built-in compass.
3. Fitbit Versa 2
If you’re looking for a smartwatch that offers a ton of workout tracking and features, the Fitbit Versa 2 is right up your alley. Since the first Fitbit launched, the brand has become well-known for its lightweight, easy to use fitness trackers, and Versa 2 is no exception.
It’s lighter than most smartwatches, which makes it comfortable to wear while working out, and it has an always-on display so you can see your real-time exercise stats without having to enter any passwords or press any buttons.
But while the Versa 2 is geared toward fitness fanatics, it also comes with a ton of other features, too. If you’re an Android user, you can get phone alerts to your watch, and unlike some of the other Fitbit options, the Fitbit Versa 2 has an added microphone to give it some limited voice control abilities.
You can sync your watch with Amazon’s Alexa, or you can use the microphone to respond to texts, which will be converted to text format once you speak into the mic. This version of the Fitbit also offers Fitbit Pay, a virtual wallet much like Apple Pay or other digital wallet options. And, as an added bonus, the Fitbit Versa has a super long battery life — and can last up to 6 days in some cases.
You also get cellular and GPS connectivity with the Fitbit Versa 2, which means you can leave your phone behind if you’re headed out for a hike or a jog and still get your texts or calls. The downside is that the Fitbit Versa 2 isn’t super compatible with iPhones, and the voice-to-text option won’t work for replies if you’re syncing with an iPhone device, so if you’re an iPhone user, you might want to steer clear of this option.
4. Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
Trying to find a smartwatch that’s stylish, waterproof, and built to take a beating from your active lifestyle? The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 might be a solid choice for your needs. This smartwatch is built for a lifestyle filled with exploring, exercising, and being on the go.
This model lives up to the name when it comes to fitness features. It’s lightweight, has a touch screen that allows you to quickly navigate between menus, and it comes equipped with health features like heart rate tracking and a running coach powered by Bixby voice.
You’ll also get access to a built-in GPS with this smartwatch, which means you can leave your phone on the bench at the track or in your car while you’re out exploring the great outdoors and still have access to distance tracking and route information if you need it.
The slim, minimal, modern look keeps this fitness-focused smartwatch from being an eyesore without sacrificing any of the features or capabilities that go with it — like a digital haptic dial, LTE availability, and extra workout features, all of which rival what’s offered by the Apple Watch 5.
As an added bonus, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 works with both iOS and Android devices, though you won’t have full smartwatch capabilities if you’re syncing with an iOS device. You will have them with Android, though — and they include the ability to reply to messages or interact with email. You’ll also get Find My Phone functionality, which works with both Android and iPhone — even if Do Not Disturb is on.
This smartwatch does offer fully standalone for LTE capability, which means you don’t need a phone at all to use it for calls, texting, Spotify streaming, or other internet-based tasks. You will have to pay for an extra smartwatch cellular plan through your cellular network provider if you want to take advantage of that feature, though.
5. TicWatch Pro
You may not be familiar with the TicWatch Pro, but what this Mobvoi smartwatch lacks in name recognition, it makes up for in features and affordability. This smartwatch could be a benefit for someone who regularly has to dress in business professional attire and doesn’t care for the look of traditional smartwatches.
Aside from its more toned-down aesthetics, the TicWatch Pro offers three different display modes: Essential mode, smart mode, and hybrid mode. Essential mode is the most basic and gives users the time, date, step count, and heart rate, and preserves battery life for up to 30 days.
Smart mode, as you may have guessed, gives users full smartwatch capabilities and two days of battery life. Hybrid mode is a hybrid of the two, offering users extended battery life and a number of smartwatch capabilities.
TicWatch is a Wear OS smartwatch, which means that users get access to all of the benefits Google has to offer, like third-party app access, a number of different digital watch faces, and fitness tracking. The TicWatch Pro also supports NFC, which lets you use Google Pay for contactless purchases at point-of-sale terminals.
The downside is that the fitness capabilities with this watch are pretty limited. You’ll get step counts and other basic features, along with built-in GPS so you can take a run or hike without your phone and still track your progress. However, the exercise programs are all very basic: you’re really limited to tracking your time or distance, though you do have waterproof features that allow you to track your distance while swimming, too.
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