‘Tis the season to gift someone special the latest and greatest tech gear. Of course, at the top of most wish lists is a smartwatch.
It’s easy to see why, with their host of features including those that help the wearer keep in touch, stay active and navigate around town. Hoping to put a big screen under your tree as well? Tap or click here for our Black Friday buying guide for the best TVs on a budget.
While the brand selection for smartwatches is rife with Apple, Samsung, Fitbit, Fossil and even lesser-known brands like Mobvoi, you may be curious about the functions their flagship devices offer. So, in the spirit of giving, here’s the scoop on a few smartwatches, their features and available holiday deals.
In terms of appearance, Apple’s latest smartwatch, the Series 5, shows little redesign; however, there’s a slight increase in the display size. There’s the petite model at 40mm and a larger 44mm, which replaces the older 42mm version. New titanium and ceramic casings are also available.
Thanks to Watch OS 6, the Apple smartwatch lineup now hosts a group of new features including:
- Health trackers for menstrual and fertility cycles.
- Sensors that can detect if the wearer falls.
- Enhanced Siri.
- New watch faces.
- An always-on-display, which can show notifications, the time and other metrics when the screen isn’t activated.
- A built-in compass, handy for location apps and easy navigation.
- Cellular models can place emergency calls in over 150 countries.
While this operating system comes with the Series 5, older wearables can update via their connected iPhones.
As with everything Apple, expect a hefty price tag, but sometimes fashion and features are worth it.
If you’re an Apple fan on a budget, consider going with the Apple Series 3 smartwatch.
While this wearable isn’t the latest, you can still enjoy the features of Watch OS 6. Available with either cellular connectivity or GPS, this smartwatch offers:
- Cycle and run tracking.
- A water-resistant casing.
- A heart-rate monitor.
Similar to Apple’s Series 5, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 comes in two sizes, 40mm and 44mm. This second-generation model offers:
- A digital, rotating, bezel that replaces previous versions’ physical bezels.
- A round display.
- Pace sensor for runners.
- An always-on display that can be set to keep the screen off until the user raises their wrist.
The Active 2 also comes in a variety of shades and features leather straps. An ECG sensor and fall detection sensor are expected to be available early 2020.
With a more prominent and improved display, the Alexa-enabled Fitbit Versa 2 bears a striking resemblance to the Apple Series 5. This smartwatch comes with several features, including:
- An aluminum case that can be matched with a variety of accessory bands.
- Is water-resistant up to 50M.
- Heart-rate tracker.
- Female health tracker.
- Sleep and workout tracker.
Although it’s loaded with a collection of apps, including Spotify, and over 15 tracking features, the Versa 2 requires the wearer to have a yearly ($79.99) Fitbit Premium subscription for more in-depth insights on health, sleep tools and a wellness report.
A scheduled Fitbit OS update for December will bring new apps, more accurate tracking and mode enhancements for the always-on display.
The Fossil Gen 5 boasts a stylish, classic design with a round 44mm case. It’s available in three colors: rose gold, black and stainless steel. Bands come in a range of materials, including silicone, mesh, stainless steel and leather.
This smartwatch houses several features that are similar to those of Fossil’s competitors. The Gen 5 has:
- A dedicated GPS chip to navigate without needing your phone.
- An always-on display.
- An external speaker that allows you to take phone calls directly on the watch and relays Google Assistant responses.
- A heart-rate monitor.
- 8GB storage, which is double that of the Gen 4, and double the RAM.
The troubled operating system is known for having connectivity issues with its linked smartphone and Wi-Fi, and its drain on batteries as well. While the battery life on the Gen 5 is no better than those of its competitors, it offers customizable battery modes to help extend the time between charges.
Bonus: Mobvoi Ticwatch E2
This lesser-known smartwatch is chunky at its current size of 46mm and has a round display. The Mobvoi Ticwatch E2 is available in shadow, white or midnight.
If you can get past its plain appearance, this device is a full-function Wear OS smartwatch that offers many features common among smartwatches, including:
- Water-resistance up to 50 meters.
- A 24-hour heart-rate monitor (TicPulse).
- US-military grade durability.
- Tic Health, which provides general fitness stats.
- TicExercise, an activity tracker.
- It is compatible with both Android and iOS.
There is a built-in GPS, and a selection of apps, and you can further access the Google Play store or Apple App Store for your favorite apps using either an Android or iPhone.
It isn’t the appearance or features that smartwatch fans like about the Ticwatch E2, it’s the price. Unlike its rivals, this smartwatch is available at for only $159.99 on Amazon.
With so many options, you’re sure to find the right smartwatch this holiday season, whether it be for that special someone or for yourself.
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