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Best smartwatches in SA

Best smartwatch 2020
(Image credit: Samsung, Apple and Fossil)

Our best smartwatch ranking could soon see some changes, as Samsung has announced the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3. That's the successor to the original Galaxy Watch, which currently has the number one spot on this list.

So could we now have a new best smartwatch? It's very possible, but we'll have to put the Galaxy Watch 3 through a full review to know for sure.

In any case, it's joining a crowded market, and one thing the best smartwatches all have in common is that they 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. These will likely work best when paired to one of the best smartphones on the market, but some of the models even work without a phone in tow.

We've tested the vast majority of the top-end wearables you can buy right now from the Apple Watch to Fitbits to Garmin watches to Tizen-sporting Samsung watches. There's also Wear OS which is Google's own wearable operating system in the vein of Apple's watchOS - you’ll see it show up in a lot of these devices.

During our review process, we take into account the design, features, battery life, spec, price and more for each smartwatch, rank it against the competition and enter it into the list you'll find below.

Samsung Galaxy Watch

(Image credit: Samsung)

1. Samsung Galaxy Watch

The sporty Samsung watch gains some style

OS: Tizen OS | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 1.2" or 1.3" 360 x 360 Super AMOLED | Processor: Dual-core 1.15GHz | Band sizes: 22mm or 20mm | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery duration: 4 days on 46mm / less on 42mm | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: 50m | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LTE (for extra)

Impressive battery life
Useful rotating bezel
Annoying charger
Bixby isn't great

Our best smartwatch you can buy right now is from Samsung, and instead of opting for the expected Gear S4 name it's called the Galaxy Watch. Following on from the Gear S3 series and the Gear Sport in 2017, the latest Samsung Watch is much improved.

We've tested out the larger 46mm version of the watch and it comes with a phenomenal four day battery life even when you're using it extensively. That's impressive considering a lot of other watches on this list last a day or so from a single charge.

The rotating bezel remains a highlight of navigating around the Tizen OS on the watch, and the interface is one of the easiest to pick up that we've seen on a smartwatch.

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 had provided a watch that's good at fitness as well as sporting a great design and lots more functionality too.

Read the full Samsung Galaxy Watch review

Apple Watch 5

(Image credit: Apple)

2. Apple Watch 5

The best Apple Watch money can buy

OS: watchOS 6 | Compatibility: iOS | Display: 1.78" OLED | Processor: Apple S5 | Band sizes: Varies based on watch size | Onboard storage: 32GB | Battery: 1 day to 36 hours | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: Water-resistant to 50m | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, LTE

Always-on display
More storage
Battery isn't incredible
Still pricey

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.

There aren't many huge upgrades over the Apple Watch 4, but the main change is it comes with an always-on display for the first time. That means you won't have to raise the watch to see your key stats, and instead it'll display most of the information you need on a dimmed screen.

The design is similar to the Apple Watch 4 - a look that we loved - so you'll get a larger display than earlier iterations of the device, and it comes in either 40mm or 44mm sizes.

All of the fitness features you'd expect come on this watch, and that includes a variety of top-end features such as the ECG monitor, GPS tracking, impressive heart rate monitoring and more.  If you're looking for the very best Apple Watch, this is it... it's just not our favorite smartwatch money can buy.

Read the full Apple Watch 5 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

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

High-end design
Rotating digital bezel
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

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

Lightweight design
Powerful watch
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

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

Low price
Solid battery life
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

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

Always-on display option
Good battery life
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

Apple Watch 4

(Image credit: Apple)

8. Apple Watch 4

Once the best Apple Watch money could buy

OS: watchOS 5 | Compatibility: iOS | Display: 1.78" OLED | Processor: Apple S4 | 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

Larger display
Lightweight design
Battery isn't amazing
Difficult to find now

This is remarkably similar to the Apple Watch 5 that we've spoken about above, but it's easy to forget how much of a big change 2018's addition was for the Apple Watch range.

The Series 4 comes with a larger display than preceding smartwatches, and thanks to the release of the Apple Watch 5 it's now much cheaper. It comes in either 40mm or 44mm sizes, and the screen on both of these versions is much larger than you'd get from a lot of other watches.

The most exciting tech here is the fact there's an ECG feature within the heart rate tracker. It can test your heart to see if you're at a high risk of atrial fibrillation, which will allow you to seek help earlier if your health is in danger.

There are tons of fitness features, the latest watchOS onboard and more. Just note that this won't work with an Android phone, so it's only an option for those who have an iPhone.

Read the full Apple Watch 4 review

Best smartwatch at a glance:

  1. Samsung Galaxy Watch
  2. Apple Watch 5
  3. Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
  4. Fossil Sport
  5. TicWatch E2
  6. Fitbit Versa Lite
  7. Fitbit Versa 2
  8. Honor Magic Watch 2
  9. Apple Watch 4
  10. TicWatch Pro