The best Apple Watch alternatives in 2023

These fitness trackers and smartwatches offer sharp looks and deep sensor integration for Android users and anyone else interested in premium wearables outside Apple's ecosystem.

Best overall

Galaxy Watch 5 smartwatch

Galaxy Watch 5

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Best dedicated fitness tracker

The Fitbit Sense 2 is a dedicated fitness tracker and smartwatch.

Fitbit Sense 2

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Best stylish smartwatch

The Skagen Jorn is a stylish hybrid smartwatch

Skagen Jorn Gen 6 Smartwatch

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The Apple Watch was not the first connected watch. Thanks to Dick Tracy, people have been dreaming of wrist-worn communicators since the 1940s, and companies have actually produced usable companion devices since the early 2000s. But since “Apple’s most personal device ever” launched in 2015, it’s come to dominate the smartwatch market by sheer volume. However, the best wearable for everyone, especially Android users, isn’t necessarily Apple’s. Many Apple Watch alternatives provide various tech that can match and even top the Series 8 experience. Really, the phrase “Apple Watch alternative” sometimes does these gadgets a disservice. Apple’s offering is great, but other top smartwatches and fitness trackers deserve recognition for their own forms and features. The best Apple Watch alternatives satisfy all kinds of purposes: collecting health metrics, delivering notifications, tracking outdoor adventures, and much more fantastic functionality without committing to watchOS/iOS. 

How we chose the best Apple Watch alternatives

When selecting the recommendations included in this list, we evaluated a range of features, specs, and tools that make smartwatches useful and desirable. To function as an Apple Watch alternative, phone connectivity in some capacity was an absolute must. The selected watches also needed a robust array of sensors to capture important health and activity data. We aimed to choose watches with different styles since style is such a subjective topic. And lastly, we assessed important specs such as battery life, display quality, and durability. Combining this research with peer recommendations, critical reviews, and plenty of hands-on experience, we narrowed down our selection to the best Apple Watch alternatives.

The best Apple Watch alternatives: Reviews & Recommendations

The best Apple Watch alternatives are delightfully varied, and you’re sure to find one that strikes your fancy. So let’s look at the non-Apple products that can keep your phone in your pocket but your life connected.

Best overall: Galaxy Watch 5

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Specs

  • Weight: 1.2 ounces (44mm), 1 ounce (40mm)
  • Case size: 1.7 x 1.74 x 0.38 inches (44mm), 1.54 x 1.59 x 0.38 inches (40mm)
  • Display resolution: 450×450 pixels (44mm), 396×396 pixels (40mm) 
  • Battery life: Up to 50 hours
  • Waterproof rating: IP68
  • Connectivity: BT 5.2, Wi-Fi 2.4GHz & 5GHz, NFC, LTE
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer, ambient light, compass, GPS, BioActive sensor (Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis sensor, Electrical Heart sensor (ECG), and Optical Heart Rate sensor), mic/speaker
  • App support: Android

Pros

  • Attractive design, with swappable straps
  • Optional 4G LTE version
  • Available in two sizes
  • Plenty of health-tracking features
  • Excellent third-party app support

Cons

  • Battery life is lacking
  • Some features only work with Samsung phones

The Galaxy Watch is one of the most direct competitors to the Apple Watch. That’s partly because it is one of the few watches that offer an eSIM for cellular connectivity. The eSim and built-in mic and speakers mean you can take calls and receive and respond to text messages via the watch. You don’t need your phone on you all the time to take advantage of the smart features, which is a nice option to have. The combination of Wear OS and an Android 8.0 or above phone, however, allows for Google Maps navigation, interaction with Google Assistant, and more.

The Galaxy Watch5 has a sleek, minimal design. It’s available in two sizes—40mm and 44mm—and comes in four colors. At only 1.2 ounces for the larger watch (44mm), it’s lightweight, making it more comfortable to wear. It is packed with useful sensors, including Samsung’s BioActive sensor array, responsible for sleep tracking, heart rate, blood oxygen monitoring, ECG, and body composition analysis. It will provide lots of health and fitness insights. It even automatically detects exercise, which is helpful if you tend to forget to start tracking as I do.

The downside of this watch is the battery life. The 40mm watch utilizes a 284mAh battery, while the 44mm features a 410mAh battery. If you use the device for any exercise tracking at all, you’ll need to charge it daily. Nighttime is the most logical time to charge it for most, but that means you’ll miss out on sleep tracking, which is a selling point of the watch. (A titanium-cased Galaxy Watch5 Pro version increases the durability, wellness sensors, and battery life.)

Best dedicated fitness tracker: Fitbit Sense 2

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Specs

  • Weight: 0.8 ounces
  • Case size: 1.5 by 1.5 by 0.45 inches
  • Display resolution: 336 x 336 pixels
  • Battery life: Up to 6 days
  • Waterproof rating: Water resistant to 164 feet
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, NFC
  • Sensors: GPS/GLONASS, heart rate, altimeter, skin temperature, gyroscope, accelerometer, ambient light, SpO2, cEDA, mic/speaker
  • App support: Android and iOS

Pros

  • Very slim and lightweight
  • Lots of sensors
  • Good battery life
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • No music support
  • Subscription required to take full advantage of its features

The Fitbit Sense 2 is the company’s best and brightest smartwatch. It packs plenty of sensors, including onboard GPS to track your runs and bike rides. It also features a skin temperature sensor and Fitbit’s cEDA (continuous ElectroDermal Activity) sensor to help track stress. And it promises a six-day battery life (depending on usage), which is very strong.

At less than an ounce, this is one of the lightest smartwatches available, especially for one with such a robust set of sensors. It’s sleek and minimal, fitting nicely even on small wrists. And you can choose between three colorways. In addition, the Sense 2 gets an added physical button compared to the first version, making navigation easier.

Unfortunately, Fitbit removed third-party app support from the Sense 2. That means it isn’t as much of a smartwatch as other options. For example, there’s no Spotify app or music support, so you’ll have to rely on your phone. But there is a built-in speaker and microphone, so you can take calls on your wrist, as long as your phone is nearby. 

Best smartwatch for Android users: Ticwatch Pro 3

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Specs

  • Weight: 1.5 ounces
  • Case size: 1.8 x 1.9 x 0.5 inches
  • Display resolution: 454 x 454 pixels
  • Battery life: Up to 72 hours (Smart Mode) or 45 days (Essential Mode)
  • Water rating: IP68
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi
  • Sensors: GPS/Beidou/Glonass/Galileo/QZSS, accelerometer, gyroscope, PPG heart rate, ambient light, barometer, mic/speaker
  • App support: Android and iOS

Pros

  • Good battery life
  • Dual display helps save battery life
  • Fast and responsive
  • IP68 waterproof rating

Cons

  • Somewhat pricey
  • A bit bulky

With a Snapdragon 4100 processor, the TicWatch Pro 3 is among the fastest Apple Watch alternatives on the market. It has all the usual high-end smartwatch features, including onboard GPS and NFC for payments. There’s a whole host of sensors and data tracking features, including a heart rate monitor, barometer, sleep tracking, and SpO2 monitoring.

It also has one very clever feature: a lower-power LCD screen right on top of its regular AMOLED display. That allows you to switch over for up to 45 days of battery life in “essential mode.” And there is an ambient light sensor in the watch, so it can automatically adjust the brightness of the AMOLED display.

The Ticwatch features a rugged design that will hold up to whatever activities you participate in. It’s a waterproof smartwatch with an IP68 rating, so you can even swim in it. That said, even though it is 28 percent lighter than the previous version of this watch, it is still fairly large and chunky. It may not be best for the small of wrist.

Best smartwatch for the triathlete in training: Garmin Forerunner 955

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Specs

  • Weight: 1.8 ounces
  • Case size: 1.8 x 1.8 x 0.5 inches
  • Display resolution: 260 x 260 pixels
  • Battery life: Up to 15 days (smartwatch mode)
  • Water rating: 5 ATM water resistance
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-Fi
  • Sensors: Heart rate, GPS/Glonass/Galileo, thermometer, pulse oximeter, accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, barometric altimeter
  • App support: Android and iOS

Pros

  • Long battery life
  • Highly customizable
  • Collects loads of data
  • Useful training assistance

Cons

  • Pricey

Garmin specializes in super-advanced fitness and outdoor tech gear, making its gear one of the best Apple Watch alternatives for serious athletes. The Forerunner 955 is specifically focused on running, though it can track about any kind of workout you can think of, including ones specific to triathlon training. It includes a dizzying array of sensors to ensure you improve. It calculates elevation changes, measures your pace against an average for your fitness level, calculates VO2 Max, and can even measure stuff like ground contact time and stride length. In addition, the watch provides plenty of training help, such as suggested workouts and training load insights, to help you maximize your fitness. 

Despite all the data it collects, the battery life is fantastic. And You can easily customize battery consumption to get what you need out of the watch in a given situation. In smartwatch mode, Garmin promises 15 days of battery life. And when using the All Systems GNSS plus Multi-Band mode (the most accurate location tracking), Garmin specifies up to 20 hours. Should you want a little extra juice, Garmin also makes a solar version of this watch. Of course, battery life depends on your usage, but I was easily able to get the promised numbers when using the Solar version of this watch, even without getting the minimum sun exposure. 

There is no microphone on the watch or optional cellphone connectivity, so you will need your phone to take advantage of the notifications and safety features (unless you opt for the older Forerunner 945 LTE). But you can send pre-formatted responses to calls and texts and interact with notifications from certain apps. And it is surprisingly sleek for all the sensors that are onboard, even on small wrists. Of course, if you’re more of a weekend warrior and don’t mind charging more often in exchange for the most vivid visual experience, the Garmin epix 2 has an AMOLED touchscreen display that brings it near parity with an Apple Watch presentation.

Best stylish smartwatch: Skagen Jorn 38MM Gen 6 Hybrid Smartwatch

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Specs

  • Weight: Not provided
  • Case size: 1.5-inch diameter, 0.5 inches thick
  • Display resolution: 240 x 240 pixels
  • Battery life: Up to 14 days
  • Water rating: 3 ATM water resistance
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 LE
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, microphone, PPG heart rate
  • App support: Android and iOS

Pros

  • Sleek, attractive styling
  • Unique hybrid design
  • Good app support
  • Built-in microphone

Cons

  • Fitness tracking isn’t great
  • Lacks a speaker

Skagen, the Danish-design-inspired imprint of Fossil, has a line of hybrid smartwatches called Jorn, which have uniformly been extremely good-looking watches. The hybrid design may not be for everyone, but it is a unique combination of classic watch looks with smartwatch features. The watch hands cleverly move out of the way so that you can easily read the E Ink display, and it still offers plenty of customization options. And it comes in 38mm or 42mm sizes with different color and band options. 

The Jorn features a built-in microphone as well as Amazon Alexa support. You can use voice control to set timers, reminders, and ask questions. Unfortunately, it lacks a speaker, so responses are displayed on the watch instead of spoken back to you, and you can’t take calls. But it does add a layer of functionality that some may appreciate. And it’s Android and iPhone compatible, so you can use it’s companion app with just about any phone.

The sensors in the Jorn watch are somewhat minimal but include an accelerometer and PPG heart rate monitor for basic exercise and health stats. These will track your steps, sleep, heart rate, and SpO2. Unfortunately, there’s no built-in GPS, so the watch relies on tethered GPS, which requires your phone. If you are looking for a serious fitness watch, this isn’t the best option, but we think it’s the most stylish Apple Watch alternative available. 

Best for health data: Polar Ignite 3

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Specs

  • Weight: 1.2 ounces
  • Case size: 1.7 x 1.7 x 0.4 inches
  • Display resolution: 416 × 416 pixels
  • Battery life: Up to 30 hours (training mode)
  • Water rating: Water resistant to 98 feet
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.1
  • Sensors: GPS/Beidou/Glonass/Galileo/QZSS, accelerometer, heart rate 
  • App support: Android and iOS

Pros

  • Attractive styling 
  • Really slim on the wrist
  • Lots of smart health and training features
  • Vibrant display

Cons

  • GPS is inaccurate 

Polar has long been a staple in the fitness and health world, investing heavily in research and offering a range of watches and sensors. The third iteration of the Ignite is the sleekest yet, with attractive yet minimal design features. It’s available in four colorways, some of which (such as the Greige Sand) hardly look like fitness watches. It features an extremely slim profile, barely sticking up from my wrist.

The watch offers fairly minimal sensors, but it still collects plenty of data for excellent health and fitness insights. It provides the Polar Precision Prime sensor for highly accurate heart rate data. Unfortunately, despite the multi-band GPS, the location data is disappointing and inaccurate. This won’t matter for some, but if precise location tracking is essential to you, this watch won’t be your best choice. 

Where the Ignite 3 does shine is the health data it collects and the insights it provides. It provides accurate sleep-tracking information and uses that to help guide daily workout suggestions. It even provides secondary workout suggestions, such as stretching activities to keep you healthy. And Polar’s FitSpark suggests different types of exercise to keep your training well-rounded. It can provide a lot of information to help you stay on top of your training and health in general.

Best battery life: Garmin Instinct 2S Solar

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Specs

  • Weight: 1.8 ounces (45mm), 1.5 ounces (40mm)
  • Case size: 1.8 x 1.8 x 0.6 inches (45mm), 1.6 x 1.6 x 0.5 inches (40mm)
  • Display resolution: 176 x 176 pixels (45mm) 156 x 156 pixels (40mm)
  • Battery life: Up to 28 days, unlimited with solar (smartwatch mode)
  • Water rating: Waterproof to 328 feet
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth and ANT+
  • Sensors: Heart rate, GPS/Glonass/Galileo, thermometer, pulse oximeter, accelerometer, compass, barometric altimeter
  • App support: Android and iOS

Pros

  • Outstanding battery life
  • Two sizes available
  • Lots of training tools
  • Highly accurate data collection

Cons

  • Rugged, old-school design isn’t for everyone

Garmin’s Instinct 2S Solar has a lot going for it, but its battery life is certainly the main highlight. In smartwatch mode, Garmin says it offers unlimited battery life if you get three hours of 50,000 lux sunlight conditions a day. Of course, when you use the various GPS modes and tracking exercises, that goes down. But I got about a week of life from my 40mm version while doing some activity once a day, even without getting the required sun exposure per day for the solar benefits.

The watch also gets a robust set of sensors and tracking features, in line with most of Garmin’s products. It can suggest workouts and keep track of your training status to ensure you are getting the most out of your activities and advancing your fitness. You can even use it to navigate should you need help getting back to your starting point. Overall it’s a fantastic training partner.

The Instinct 2 Solar is a vastly different Apple Watch alternative in its styling. It has a rather rugged, old-school watch styling, which some may not like. The display is also a simple monochrome transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) display, so don’t expect fancy color graphics or touchscreen functionality. But it connects to your phone and provides notifications on the watch. There is no microphone or speaker, so you can’t take calls on the watch, but you can use it to reject or accept a call that you then take on your phone. And like the Forerunner 955, you can send prewritten responses to texts or calls directly from the watch, which is handy if you are in the middle of something. 

Best budget smartwatch: Amazfit GTS 4

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Specs

  • Weight: 1 ounce
  • Case size: 1.7 x 1.4 x 0.4 inches (without heart rate base)
  • Display resolution: 390 x 450 pixels
  • Battery life: Up to 8 days (typical use)
  • Water rating: 5 ATM water resistance
  • Connectivity: WLAN 2.4GHz, Bluetooth 5.0, and BLE
  • Sensors: Geomagnetic, accelerometer, barometric altimeter, gyroscope, ambient light sensor, dual-band & 6 satellite positioning systems, BioTracker™ 4.0 PPG biometric sensor, mic/speaker
  • App support: Android 7.0 and above, iOS 12.0 and above

Pros

  • Sleek and comfortable design
  • Lots of sport modes
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • Data collection isn’t the most accurate

Amazfit is a well-established maker of budget smartwatches, and the GTS 4 is a great one. It provides an eight-day battery life (depending on usage), which is surprising for a watch of this price. That can even be extended to 16 days in battery saver mode. It also has lots of sensors to measure your heart rate, steps, blood oxygen levels, stress, sleep, location, and more. 

As a smartwatch, the GTS 4 pairs with your phone and delivers notifications right to your wrist. And it can sync with apps like Strava and Google Fit. It features a built-in mic and speaker, so you can receive and make calls from the watch if your phone is near. It has a strikingly Apple Watch-like design, which is sleek and minimal.

Of course, as a somewhat inexpensive watch, there are some downsides. The companion app (called Zepp) is a bit clunky, with some settings difficult to find. And the data collection tends to be a bit inaccurate, especially the sleep data and the automatic stand suggestions. And you’ll lose some features like third-party app compatibility. But it still has a lot to offer as long as you aren’t relying on the data for precise training.

What to consider when looking for the best Apple Watch alternatives

Non-Apple Watch smartwatches are available running all kinds of different software platforms. And many of them will work with both Android and iOS, in case you ever switch phones. Apple Watch alternatives come in a few different flavors. There’s the direct competition, which would be Google’s Wear platform and the Samsung Galaxy Watch. And there are also more fitness-centric offerings, both for casual workouts and intense outdoors lovers, plus a whole crop of budget-friendly smartwatches that provide health tracking and notifications.

What’s the difference between a smartwatch and a fitness tracker?

In general, the phrase “fitness tracker” is used to differentiate these models from a smartwatch in a few ways. Fitness trackers are typically smaller. They often look more like a bracelet with a small screen than a big, fancy watch. They are, as their name suggests, focused on fitness: a good fitness tracker should have not just a step tracker, but also a heart rate monitor and sleep tracking tech. Many high-end fitness watches can also integrate with more robust devices like chest strap heart rate monitors. 

That said, the line between fitness tracker and smartwatch has blurred. Modern fitness trackers have some features we’re more likely to associate with smartwatches They may have the ability to deliver notifications of texts and emails from your phone, might have a speaker so you can activate Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Some even sport similar faces and design elements.

But if you plan on wearing your wristpiece all the time, it’s fair to want something less like a fitness tracker and more like a full-featured smartwatch: you want it to have a bigger screen, because you’ll be looking at it more, and to have non-fitness-focused features too.

What watch features and sensors do I need?

A brief comparison of smartwatches will reveal a wide array of features and sensors. Of course, many companies have their proprietary names for traditional sensors, making matters more complicated. What sensors and features you need in a watch depends on how you intend to use it. 

If you mainly want a smartwatch for notification and call purposes, make sure you prioritize a watch with a microphone, speaker, and potentially cellular connectivity as well. Suppose you are more interested in highly accurate fitness information. In that case, you’ll want a multisport watch with a whole suite of features such as multi-band GPS, accelerometer, barometer, gyroscope, heart rate monitor, and more. 

Do I have to spend hundreds of dollars on a smartwatch?

The current generation of Apple Watch, the Series 8, starts at a whopping $399 (and goes up to $799 if you decide the Apple Watch Ultra is the right one for you). If you don’t necessarily need all the bells and whistles, just something that’ll track your health metrics and stick that data into a fitness app, plus maybe deliver some alerts, you don’t need to spend that much. In fact, you can spend barely a tenth of that price and get something surprisingly great.

The biggest use cases for smartwatches, according to Statista, are notifications and fitness tracking—and you can snag a budget smartwatch or fitness bracelet that can do that for you, acting as your everyday connected wearable at a fraction of the price of full-featured smartwatches.

What’s the most stylish smartwatch?

Smartwatches and fitness trackers aren’t known for being the most stylish accessories. They have some fundamental requirements that make being stylish difficult. For example, they have to be big enough to contain a touchscreen, a heart rate monitor, and a battery, which means that even the smallest tend to be on the bulky side.

For those who take wristwatches seriously, even the Apple Watch can be underwhelming from an aesthetic perspective. It’s a basic square made of glass and aluminum. Most Apple Watch alternatives are the same way: either a slim bracelet-style fitness tracker or a square or circular smartwatch. These tend to look just fine at the gym or when out for a run, but in more formal settings can look out of place.

Luckily, a few companies are getting on board with different designs. For example, the Amazfit T-Rex 2 leans into retro-style chunkiness, while hybrid smartwatches like the Skagen Jorn or Garmin vivomove 3 offer traditional analog watch hands with smartwatch features.

FAQs

Q: What are the disadvantages of the Apple Watch?

Apple’s smartwatch may be popular, but it definitely has disadvantages. Most importantly, it’s not compatible with Android phones. That means that 73% of the global smartphone market is out of luck. It’s also only available in the one square style, which may not be to everyone’s taste.

Q: What is the best and cheapest smartwatch?

While “the best” is absolutely subjective, if you’re looking for the best combination of features at the cheapest price, we like fitness trackers. They’ll include the most popular uses for smartwatches (fitness tracking and notifications) without all the other stuff so that you can save money. Amazfit has various options for a super low price, while Fitbit has some of the best software combinations and cheaper options.

Q: Is there a smartwatch as good as the Apple Watch?

We think the best non-Apple smartwatch will vary depending on what you’re looking for. If you’re just wanting to track your fitness and exercise, we like the Fitbit Sense 2; if you have a Samsung phone and want a full smartwatch experience, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is a great option; and if you want something to help on your running journey, look at Garmin’s offerings.

Final thoughts on the best Apple Watch alternatives

There’s truly no shortage of wearables these days, with most smartphone makers offering watch choices and fitness trackers increasingly becoming more like smartwatches. Thus, choosing the best Apple Watch alternative can be overwhelming. The good news is that whether you are looking for a hyper-focused fitness watch, a stylish smartwatch, or a simple blend between the two, there is an efficiency-boosting accessory for you among the choices we’ve compiled so you can complement your look and lifestyle.

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Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.

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Abby Ferguson

PopPhoto Associate Editor of Gear & Reviews

Abby Ferguson is the Associate Editor for Gear and Reviews at PopPhoto, joining the team in 2022. She has been involved with the photography industry in various capacities since her undergraduate training at the University of Kentucky, with work ranging from client photography to program development and management of the photo department at Evolve, a vacation rental company. Education within the photography sphere has always been a big focus for Abby. She strives to help new and experienced photographers alike better understand the technology and techniques necessary to succeed within the medium.

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