This year, 2020, has been unique in many ways. But a few things will start to feel familiar as we move closer towards the end of the year — the quickly approaching holiday season and the worry about finding the perfect gifts at the perfect prices.
Swappa is here to help ease those concerns, and we’ve got you covered if that special someone in your life has been asking for a smartwatch.
There are several different options to consider when it comes to smartwatches. Of course, you have the Apple Watch. You also have smartwatches that run Samsung’s Tizen operating system and Google’s Wear OS. And then there are smartwatches that focus more on fitness, such as those from Fitbit.
While there are several different options to consider, the decision on which model to choose will be somewhat dependent on what type of phone the smartwatch will be paired with. For example, if you are using an iPhone, you likely want to pick up an Apple Watch. And, if you are pairing the smartwatch with a Samsung phone, you’ll likely want to consider a Samsung smartwatch.
Matching the brands will help to ensure the best integration between your watch and your phone. But some smartwatches, such as the Fitbit Versa lineup, which is also an excellent fitness tracker, will work with iOS and Android smartphones. Continue reading as we outline the models we recommend.
The Apple Watch Series 6 was released in September 2020. While it can be fun to have the latest model, the Series 6 release really just made the previous years Series 5 a bit more appealing. Many of the new features that arrived with the Apple Watch Series 6 came by way of the watchOS 7 update, which is available for the Series 5 and Series 4. And, to clearly state the reason why the Series 5 (and the Series 4) became more appealing — lower prices.
The Apple Watch is available in a few color options, and two different sizes, 40mm or 44mm. The decision on which color and size to purchase will come down to the preferences of who will be wearing the watch. You can also get an Apple Watch with cellular connectivity, or one with just WiFi and Bluetooth — the cellular model also has WiFi and Bluetooth. Both of these options allow you to pair the smartwatch with your phone, and the models with cellular connectivity will allow you to venture out without your phone.
If you are looking for a smartwatch to pair with your iPhone — the Apple Watch is the first and best choice. We recommend checking out the Series 5 or the Series 4 if you are looking for the best deal. These models share many of the same features, however, the Series 5 added some goodies such as an always-on-display and a built-in compass app. If the always-on-display is a must-have feature for you, or for the person who you are buying for, go with the Series 5. Otherwise, if you are content with raising your wrist to activate the display — spend a little less and go with a Series 4.
Android Smart Watches
Unlike with the Apple Watch, where the majority of features are the same across various models when you are looking for the best smart watches for Android — you’ll want to keep in mind that some models offer better battery life, and some will have GPS and some will not. Similarly, fitness related features such as heart rate monitoring and blood oxygen sensors may not be available on all models.
Smart watches that are compatible with Android can run Tizen from Samsung, or Wear OS from Google. While that may sound like an added complication when choosing a smartwatch for an Android user — both Tizen and Wear OS work with Android. That said, if you are looking for a smartwatch to pair with a Samsung smartphone — the Galaxy Watch Active2 or Galaxy Watch3 should be the first options you consider.
Samsung touts many of the same features for these two models, such as multiday battery life, fitness tracking, auto workout-tracking, health monitoring, and sleep and stress monitoring. Both models also have similar-sized displays with the Active2 being 1.2-inches and the Watch3 being 1.4-inches. Perhaps the key difference is in the color options and the overall look. The Active2 has a slimmer, sportier look, whereas the Watch3 looks more like a traditional watch with chunkier buttons on the side and a physical bezel.
If the price is your biggest concern, we recommend going with the Galaxy Watch Active2. The Active2 is also a good option if you are looking for a watch with less bulk. Of course, some smartwatch buyers prefer their watch to look more like a traditional watch (as opposed to a computer on your wrist), so in that regard, the Galaxy Watch3 with the physical bezel may be better.
In addition to the Tizen-based models from Samsung, you also have other Android-compatible smartwatches, some of which are running Google’s Wear OS. One such model worth considering is the Ticwatch Pro. The Ticwatch Pro isn’t as popular of a model, so the available listings may be somewhat limited. However, the Ticwatch Pro consistently gets positive reviews and can be purchased for about $100.
Another option we recommend is the Fitbit Versa line. The Versa works with the iPhone and also with Android smartphones. The Fitbit Versa is a smartwatch with features such as an always-on display, multiday battery life, and Fitbit Pay, which allows you to make NFC payments with just your watch. Of course, as Fitbit is known for fitness tracking — the Versa lineup is also an excellent fitness tracker with step counting, heart rate tracking, sleep tracking and more.
You’ll find that Versa 2 and Versa 3 share many of the same features. However, there are some differences such as the Versa 3 having a bigger display, and the Versa 3 having built-in GPS, which allows for GPS tracking without using the GPS from your smartphone.
Smartwatches for kids
Depending on the age or maturity level, a smartwatch can be a good piece of technology for a kid. You can find some smartwatches that are made specifically for kids, such as the Garmin Vivofit Jr. However, some smartwatches, such as the Apple Watch may offer a better experience. For example, Apple introduced a feature called Family Setup with watchOS 7. Family Setup lets you set up a cellular-compatible Apple Watch for your child — without needing to also give them an iPhone.
Apple’s Family Setup works with the Apple Watch SE with cellular or with the Apple Watch Series 4, Series 5, or Series 6 with cellular (links to different buy pages). You’ll likely want to be careful with how much you spend on a smartwatch for a kid given they can be rough and there is the possibility of damage, so in that regard, we’d recommend checking out the Apple Watch Series 4, and possibly the newer Apple Watch SE.
Swappa’s Quick Picks
The holiday season is hard, and part of the difficulty comes in having to make decisions that aren’t always easy, or quick. That said, what follows is a list of quick picks to help make your decision making process a bit easier.
- Best watch for iPhone users: Apple Watch Series 5 (40mm or 44mm)
- Best watch for Android users: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 (40mm or 44mm)
- Best fitness-first smartwatch: Fitbit Versa 2
Whichever model smartwatch you choose, you can rest assured in knowing that you will get a great deal on Swappa.