Apple has seemingly ruled the roost of smartwatches for years – but the excellent Apple Watch Series 6 certainly comes at a price.
What if you don’t want to stump up for Apple’s premium offering? Well, there are plenty of great alternatives begging to be wrapped round your wrist.
Different smartwatches will appeal to different kinds of people. Are you interested in sport or fashion? Do you value battery life or app ecosystems?
To give you an overview of the best budget smartwatches you can buy right now, we’ve rounded up the below options.
Let us know what you think or if any of them appeal to you in the comments box below.
Best for daily data: Garmin Venu SQ
While Apple charges more if you want an SpO2 (blood oxygen) sensor, it’s just one of many health-related stats Garmin’s Venu Sq collects, with GPS and an optical heart-rate monitor on board for tracking a huge number of activities. Prefer a more horizontal way of life?
There’s in-depth sleep tracking available too. The Venu Sq also has a decent multi-day battery life, even with the display in always-on mode, but with a pretty basic interface and limited access to extra apps, it’s more of a fitness tracker that just happens to also show notifications from your phone than a full-on smartwatch.
Best for iPhone owners: Apple Watch SE
OK, £269 still isn’t pocket money, but Apple’s more affordable Watch SE has pretty much everything most people could need from a smartwatch: you can track your workouts, make payments and read and reply to texts from your wrist.
There’s no ECG or SpO2 sensor like you get on the more expensive Series 6 but the lack of an always-on display is a bigger miss in day-to-day use. The way this integrates with your iPhone and deals with notifications is unrivalled, though, and the best range of available apps means it can be pretty much whatever you want it to be.
Best for fitness fanatics: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2
A lot of fitness-focused gadgets can’t help but show off their muscles – but with its understated design, Samsung’s Galaxy Watch Active2 is just as happy in the pub as it is down the gym.
As the name suggests, though, fitness is its first love, with tracking for a whole host of activities and day-to-day health metrics, sleep monitoring and a built-in running coach to help you beat your PB.
The neat touchsensitive bezel around its brilliant 1.2in circular display makes it a joy to interact with in all situations, although you’ll definitely get more out of it with a phone running Android rather than Apple’s iOS.
Best for Android fans: Oppo Watch
Put the Oppo Watch and Apple Watch alongside each other and most people would have a job telling them apart – the names even sound similar if you say them with your mouth full.
The Oppo Watch has its own skin over the top of Google’s WearOS that’s actually easier to navigate, even on the fairly small 1.6in AMOLED screen, but it’s very much designed to work with Android phones.
There’s a decent selection of apps available, including Spotify and Strava, and while battery life could be better, it charges quickly – 15 minutes is all it takes to top up by about 25 per cent.
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