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Best smartwatches in South Africa for 2021

Included in this guide:

Best smartwatch 2020
(Image credit: Samsung, Apple and Fossil)
PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

All top watches can perform lots of tricks, like searching the internet with your voice, tracking your location with GPS or even monitoring your heart rate to protect your overall health. And these usually work best in conjunction with your phone, although some of the watches on our list work just fine all on their own

We've tested them all, including the best that Apple, Samsung, Garmin and others have on offer. To produce this list we take account the materials and design, features and specs, battery life, price and more. The watches below needed to score well in all these categories to make our definitive list. 

You might be surprised at who newly tops our ranking of the best smartwatch, and at the three-year old product which just sneaked in, but we believe we have made our case fairly strongly.

Best smartwatches, at a glance:

  1. Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
  2. Apple Watch 6
  3. Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
  4. Fossil Sport
  5. Fitbit Versa Lite
  6. Fitbit Versa 2
  7. Apple Watch 3

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3

(Image credit: Samsung)

1. Samsung Galaxy Watch 3

Our best smartwatch in the world right now

Specifications
OS: Tizen OS
Compatibility: Android, iOS
Display: 1.2" or 1.4" 360 x 360 Super AMOLED
Processor: Dual-core 1.15GHz
Band sizes: 22mm or 20mm
Onboard storage: 8GB
Battery duration: 3 days on 45mm / less on 41mm
Charging method: Wireless
IP rating: IP68
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LTE (for extra)
Reasons to buy
+Great, premium design+Rotating bezel is useful
Reasons to avoid
-Battery could be better-High price

The best smartwatch money can buy right now is the Galaxy Watch 3 from Samsung, which is the company's most accomplished wrist wear yet. It's a sequel to the Galaxy Watch from 2018, and it keeps a lot of that device's design elements but refines them.

The Galaxy Watch 3 features a unique rotating bezel that makes navigating around the smartwatch a joy. We find that a lot easier than trying to use the display, which is something you have to do on a lot of other smartwatches in this list.

Apps available on the watch are more limited than Wear OS or watchOS - two rival smartwatch operating systems - but it still offers the core basics and Samsung has provided a watch that's good at fitness as well as sporting a great design and lots more functionality too.

Features are more limited if you're using this with an iPhone, but it's still compatible with those devices. We'd recommend considering the Apple Watch below though if that's your phone of choice.

Overall, the Galaxy Watch 3 is the full package if you're looking for a smartwatch to track your fitness, look good on your wrist and a whole lot more.

Read the full Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 review

Apple Watch 6

(Image credit: Apple)

2. Apple Watch 6

The best Apple Watch money can buy

Specifications
OS: watchOS 7
Compatibility: iOS
Display: 1.78" OLED
Processor: Apple S6
Band sizes: Varies based on watch size
Onboard storage: 32GB
Battery: 18 hours
Charging method: Wireless
IP rating: Water-resistant to 50m
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, LTE
Reasons to buy
+Great color additions+Always-on display
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks a headline upgrade-Battery life needs to be longer

Apple hasn't taken the top spot in our best smartwatch list, but this is the best device you can get if you own an iPhone. It works seamlessly with Apple's phones, and it's well worth considering if you plan to stick with the iPhone range for at least a few years.

The Apple Watch 6 – alongside the Apple Watch SE – is Apple’s latest wearable, and while the SE is relatively affordable, the Apple Watch 6 is the company’s top model. We've chosen Samsung's smartwatch as the best choice for everyone, but it's a very close race and if you're an iPhone user you may find this is the very best option for you.

It isn't a huge upgrade over the Apple Watch 5 though. There are new features like blood oxygen monitoring and an upgraded chipset, but largely it's a similar device with the exact same screen and design.

All of that said, if you're after an Apple Watch this is the best from the company ever and it may be made specifically for you to strap around your wrist and pair with your iPhone.

Read the full Apple Watch 6 review

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

(Image credit: Samsung)

3. Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

Adding in a digital rotating bezel for a nominal price bump

Specifications
OS: Tizen OS
Compatibility: Android, iOS
Display: 1.2" 360 x 360 Super AMOLED
Processor: Dual-core 1.15GHz
Band sizes: 20mm
Onboard storage: 4GB
Battery duration: Around 2 days
Charging method: Wireless
IP rating: 50m
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Reasons to buy
+High-end design+Rotating digital bezel
Reasons to avoid
-Few features for price bump-Still limited functionality with iOS

Samsung shrank the best parts of the the Galaxy Watch into this sportier smartwatch that's slimmer, lighter and, arguably, more comfortable - then released a second version months after the first that included a few coveted features, including a rotating digital bezel and LTE version.

Overall, not much has changed - which isn't a bad thing, as it's still a quality smartwatch at a decent price. Galaxy Watch Active 2 features a 1.2-inch 360 x 360 display that is bright and beautiful yet small enough to be strapped around your wrist than a lot of the other devices in this list.

It still comes sporting all of the top-end fitness features you'd expect from Samsung's Tizen watch range, with 39 workout modes, a heart rate and ECG sensor, and health app with stress and sleep monitoring.

While it's still more affordable than the leading Apple Watch, the price was bumped up from the original Watch Active, shrinking its value compared to the competition. It's certainly not a cheap smartwatch, but when compared to the original RRP of the Galaxy Watch you may prefer to opt for this version that's remarkably similar.

Read the full Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 review

Fossil Sport

(Image credit: Fossil)

4. Fossil Sport

Fossil's latest big smartwatch attempt

Specifications
Compatibility: Android, iOS
Display: 1.2-inch 390 x 390 AMOLED
Processor: Quad-core 1.2GHz
Band sizes: 22mm straps
Onboard storage: 4GB
Battery duration: Two days
Charging method: Proprietary
IP rating: IP68
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight design+Powerful watch
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks high-end features-GPS can be slow

Fossil has developed a lot of expertise in the wearable tech space over the last few years, and this has all culminated in the best smartwatch the company has made so far.

The Fossil Sport is a top-end watch with a lower price tag than the two devices above in this list. It features GPS, a lightweight - yet premium - design and at least two days of battery life from a single charge.

Fossil has packed a Snapdragon Wear 3100 chipset inside, which is the latest update from Qualcomm that offers a smoother experience than you'll get on a lot of older Wear OS watches.

It doesn't sport any truly unique features, but the overall package of the Fossil Sport may be the best watch for you. That'll especially be the case if you're looking for a fitness watch that comes with Wear OS software and won't look odd on your wrist when you're going about your day.

Read the full Fossil Sport review

fitbit versa lite smartwatch deals prices sales

(Image credit: Fitbit)

6. Fitbit Versa Lite

The watch with two screens

Specifications
OS: Fitbit OS OS
Compatibility: Android, iOS
Display: 300 x 300 LCD
Onboard storage: N/A
Battery duration: Up to 4 days
Charging method: Magnetic connecting pin
IP rating: Water resistance to 50m
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Reasons to buy
+Low price+Solid battery life
Reasons to avoid
-No GPS-Lacks on-screen workouts

The best Fitbit on our list is the Fitbit Versa Lite, a more affordable version of the Fitbit Versa with a few of the features dropped.

The Versa Lite has a good range of fitness features, a battery that'll last you a good few days (and beat out lots of the other devices on this list), and a body that's quite small and light, and will fit on your wrist easily without you noticing it lots of the time.

Some of the features the Versa Lite misses over the Versa, or the Versa 2 listed later, include no Fitbit Pay, no on-board GPS and a slightly less impressive screen. If you're looking for a good smartwatch on a budget though, you might not mind some of these omissions.

Read the full Fitbit Versa Lite review

Fitbit Versa 2

(Image credit: Fitbit)

7. Fitbit Versa 2

Fitbit's best smartwatch

Specifications
OS: Fitbit OS
Compatibility: Android 7+, iOS 11+
Display: 300 x 300 AMOLED
Onboard storage: 2.5GB
Battery duration: Up to 5 days
Charging method: Magnetic connecting pin
IP rating: Water resistant
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC
Reasons to buy
+Always-on display option+Good battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks GPS-Doesn't work with third-party health apps

The Fitbit Versa 2 is the latest part-smartwatch-part-fitness tracker from Fitbit, one of the most famous wearable companies about.

The Versa 2 brings a host of upgrades to the original Fitbit Versa, including an always-on display, Alexa integration, and a slightly smaller body.

However if the original Versa wasn't quite right for you, the Versa 2 may not be the best either, as it's still fundamentally the same device, and it lacks some of the trappings of different smartwatches, like GPS functions or offline Spotify.

But for general wearable fans, the Fitbit Versa 2 is a good option, and it's more affordable than some of the other options on this list too.

Read our full Fitbit Versa 2 review

(Image credit: Apple)

8. Apple Watch 3

The cheapest Apple Watch right now

Specifications
OS: watchOS 7 (with update)
Compatibility: iOS
Display: 1.65" OLED
Processor: Apple S3
Band sizes: Varies based on watch size
Onboard storage: 16GB
Battery: 1 to 2 days
Charging method: Wireless
IP rating: Water-resistant to 50m
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, LTE
Reasons to buy
+Cheapest Apple Watch+Clear, bright screen
Reasons to avoid
-Battery isn't amazing-Only for iPhone users

Wait, what is a three year old Apple Watch doing on this list we hear you cry? The Apple Watch 3 may not be the best piece of wristwear from the iPhone company, but it is the cheapest you can buy right now.

Apple continues to sell the Apple Watch 3, and the renewed price at its lowest ever has encouraged us to include the smartwatch on our list of the ten best again albeit right at the end.

The design is looking a little dated when compared to the Apple Watch 6 above - or the Apple Watch 4 and Apple Watch 5 - but it's still a gorgeous piece of wristwear with a lot of the tech you'd want.

It's also able to upgrade to the latest watchOS 7 software as well, making this a great addition to your Apple collection of gadgets. It isn't for you if you don't have an iPhone, but if you're after a cheaper smartwatch this may be perfect.

Read the full Apple Watch 3 review

Best smartwatches, at a glance:

  1. Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
  2. Apple Watch 6
  3. Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
  4. Fossil Sport
  5. Fitbit Versa Lite
  6. Fitbit Versa 2
  7. Apple Watch 3
James Peckham

James is Phones Editor for TechRadar, and he has covered smartphones for the best part of a decade bringing you news on all the big announcements from top manufacturers making mobile phones. James is often testing out and reviewing the latest and greatest mobile phones, smartwatches, tablets, virtual reality headsets, fitness trackers and more. He has also worked on other leading tech brands, such as T3 and Gizmodo UK, as well as appearing as an expert on TV and radio for the BBC and other publications. Be sure to follow him on Twitter for all the latest smartphone news.