Track your workouts anywhere with the best fitness smartwatches

Track your workouts anywhere with the best fitness smartwatches

September 8, 2021 0 By Joe Maring

If you’re an active individual and you want to track your workouts with an Android smartwatch, there are several options out there. The Garmin Vivoactive 4 is one of the best fitness smartwatches for many reasons. You’ll have tons of perks such as GPS, activity/sleep tracking, music storage, and full waterproofing. It’s as fully featured of a smartwatch and fitness tracker that you’ll find, so it might be precisely what you’re looking for.

Best overall: Garmin Vivoactive 4

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 isn’t the newest watch on the market anymore, but it’s still one of the best fitness smartwatches you can buy. Most importantly, it offers some significant upgrades compared to its predecessor, including on-screen workouts, two size options, and music storage is now a standard feature. It’s not quite as expensive as it once was, but it’s not the cheapest option either. With that said, it’s a phenomenal fitness smartwatch that will track your every move. It’s also an ideal option if you want a running watch that can help you improve your performance.

On the fitness side of things, you’ve got your usual heart-rate monitoring with activity and sleep-tracking. New features include a Pulse Ox sensor, Body Battery energy monitoring, and 20-plus pre-loaded sports apps. If you’re not familiar, the Pulse Ox sensor monitors blood oxygen saturation levels. The Body Battery lets you check your energy levels throughout the day, so you can schedule your workouts and rest time accordingly. The built-in GPS allows you to map outdoor runs without bringing your phone, and the watch is waterproof up to 50 meters.

When you combine all of that with an NFC chip for Garmin Pay, the eight-day battery life in smartwatch mode (or six hours in GPS mode with music), and a lovely stainless steel design, it’s easy to see why this is our top pick. It may be expensive, and you only get two color choices with the larger watch, but it’s got a lot to offer for those who are dedicated to tracking their health and fitness.

Pros:

Two size options
Heart-rate monitoring
Built-in GPS
50-meter waterproofing
NFC for Garmin Pay
Up to eight days of battery life

Cons:

Pretty expensive
45mm size has fewer color options

Garmin Vivoactive 4 GPS Smart Watch

$234 at Amazon
$350 at Best Buy
$235 at Walmart

The best fitness smartwatch for details

No detail is missed with the Garmin Vivoactive 4. You’ll have stellar battery life, GPS, fitness tracking, and many other perks.

Best value: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

The Galaxy Watch Active 2 provides users with a compact and lightweight design that’s as stylish as ever. You’ll have a stunning AMOLED touchscreen with easy navigation, courtesy of the capacitive bezel. Tizen OS is smooth but might take some getting used to if you’re new to the software. Whether you choose the 40mm or 44mm model, you’ll get around two to three of battery life. Given that this is a true smartwatch packed with features—you can expect to charge it every couple of days.

Like its predecessor, the Active 2 offers an array of health and fitness-tracking features. It comes with built-in GPS, automatic activity-tracking, heart-rate monitoring, sleep-tracking, plus water, food, and caffeine-consumption tracking. The improved Running Coach feature now provides you with real-time pace metrics, along with a breakdown of what to expect from your session before you begin.

Some recent updates have further improved this smartwatch. You’ll now have the Running Analysis feature to help you become a better runner, improve your form, and prevent injuries. The Galaxy Watch Active 2 can measure VO2 max, which indicates the maximum amount of oxygen one can utilize during intense activity. The blood pressure monitoring feature and electrocardiogram (ECG) sensor for detecting irregular heartbeats are also available.

Of course, there are plenty of smartwatch features to go around. You’ll have support for smartphone notifications, Samsung Pay, Wi-Fi connectivity, and music storage. Having an LTE model is a marvelous upgrade, especially if you’re seeking a well-rounded smartwatch. Keep in mind that it will cost you more than the Bluetooth-only model. It will take some time to learn Tizen OS and third-party app support is mediocre at best.

Pros:

Compact, lightweight design
Two-to-three days of battery life
Automatic activity tracking
Running Analysis
Water-resistant up to 5ATM
Built-in GPS, NFC, ECG
Optional LTE connectivity

Cons:

Mediocre third-party app support
Tizen OS learning curve

Best value

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 Smartwatch

From $200 at Amazon
$200 at Best Buy
$200 at Walmart

An unbeatable value

The Active 2 is available in two sizes and offers a digital rotating bezel, GPS, ECG, 5 ATM water resistance, and more.

Best for beginners: Withings Move

Not ready quite yet for a full-fledged smartwatch? The Withings Move might be the right fit. Rather than having a touchscreen display and an on-device operating system, the Move takes the form of a traditional watch with physical hands. Despite the discrete look, the Move is actually a well-rounded fitness companion with plenty of fitness perks.

With the Withings Move, you get 24/7 activity tracking, sleep-tracking, automatic workout detection, and waterproofing up to 50 meters. While the lack of built-in GPS is a bummer, you can still map outdoor bikes and runs as long as you bring your phone with you. All of your data is synced to Withings’ Health Mate app, which can sync with Google Fit, Fitbit, MyFitnessPal, and Apple Health.

If you don’t want to be bothered with charging at all, you’ll appreciate that the Withings Move can last up to 18 months, thanks to its replaceable battery. It’s not nearly as advanced as some of the other smartwatches on the market, but it’s a great place for beginners to start tracking their fitness journey.

Pros

Battery lasts for 18 months
Looks like a normal watch
Activity/sleep-tracking
Water-resistant up to 50 meters
Automatic workout detection

Cons

Doesn’t have built-in GPS
No heart-rate sensor
No apps or phone notifications

Best for beginners

Withings – Move Activity Tracker

$56 at Amazon
$56 at Best Buy

Fitness tracking for newbies

This unique hybrid smartwatch has a long-lasting battery and plenty of fitness features, and it’s a budget-friendly choice.

Best battery: Garmin Venu 2

If you don’t want to be charging your watch every few days, you’ll want to search for the best fitness smartwatch with long battery life. In that case, you should take a look at the Garmin Venu 2. It’s one of the company’s newest models, so it’s loaded with new features for an excellent fitness tracking experience. What’s more, you can get up to 11 days of battery life in smartwatch mode with the Garmin Venu 2. The smaller 40mm model offers up to 10 days of battery life, which is still impressive. You also have a battery saver mode that will help you extend battery life even further.

The Venu 2 comes in a 45mm case (or 40mm case if you opt for the smaller 2S model) and has a gorgeous AMOLED display. Both models are compatible with interchangeable bands. There are several different style options to choose from, so you won’t have to worry about sacrificing your love for fashion when buying this Garmin smartwatch.

Not to mention that you’ll enjoy plenty of fitness features, including built-in GPS, activity/sleep tracking, over 25 sport modes, heart-rate monitoring, Pulse Ox, Body Battery, and female health-tracking. You also get onboard music storage and NFC payments with Garmin Pay.

The new fitness age feature can estimate whether your body is younger or older than your chronological age using key stats such as your actual age, weekly vigorous activity, resting heart rate, and BMI. There are helpful tips on how to lower your fitness age if that’s one of your goals. It’s an expensive smartwatch, but some people may find the unbeatable battery life and feature set to be worth it.

Pros

Gorgeous AMOLED display
Up to 11 days of battery life
Built-in GPS
Heart-rate monitoring
50-meter water resistance
Stylish design

Cons

Pretty expensive
Smaller model isn’t cheaper

Best battery

Garmin Venu 2 – Smartwatch

$400 at Amazon
$400 at Best Buy
$400 at Walmart

The fitness smartwatch with amazing battery life

The Garmin Venu 2 offers many perks, including amazing battery life, so you don’t have to charge it every single day.

Best upgrade pick: Samsung Galaxy Watch 4

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is one of the newest wearables to hit the market, and there’s a lot to love. Upon further inspection, you’ll notice the Galaxy Watch 4 is the Galaxy Watch Active 2’s successor. There’s also a model called the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, which has the same smartwatch and health/fitness tracking features. The only difference is the physical appearance, which has a physical rotating bezel rather than a digital one. Also, the cases are made of stainless steel instead of aluminum, so they’re heavier than the Galaxy Watch 4 models.

What’s most important is the major upgrades from the previous Galaxy Watch models. The biggest change is that these watches run on the new Wear OS 3 platform. When you add Samsung’s Exynos W920 SoC and a whopping 1.5GB of RAM and 16GB of storage to that, you get silky-smooth performance that makes for a wonderful user experience.

Another improvement is Samsung’s new 3-in-1 BioActive sensor, which consists of one chip that houses several health sensors, including optical heart rate, electrical heart, and Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA). You can easily record your heart rate, take a quick electrocardiogram (ECG) reading, or measure your blood oxygen level. The BIA sensor is a new addition designed to measure your overall body composition by recording key metrics, including body water and fat percentage, skeletal muscle mass, and more.

Users will appreciate having a larger app selection thanks to the merging of Samsung and Google. You’ll have many preloaded Google apps on the Galaxy Watch 4, such as Google Maps, Messages by Google, and Google Pay. It’s worth mentioning there’s no compatibility for iOS users, though. The battery life can last for up to 40 hours, which isn’t that impressive. Otherwise, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is well on its way to becoming one of the best fitness smartwatches.

Pros:

Slim and very lightweight
First Wear OS 3 smartwatch
Silky-smooth performance
Activity/sleep tracking
Optional LTE connectivity
Better app support

Cons:

Battery life hasn’t improved
Not compatible for iOS users

Best upgrade pick

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Smartwatch

From $250 at Samsung

A worthy upgrade all around

The Galaxy Watch 4 can track many aspects of your health and fitness. It comes in 2 sizes and offers ECG, BIA, and optional LTE.

Best Fitbit: Fitbit Versa 3

There’s a lot to say about the new Fitbit Versa 3. It’s a fabulous device that successfully pairs the company’s best fitness features with some outstanding smartwatch perks. This model offers onboard GPS (finally!), six-plus days of battery life, improved heart-rate technology, Active Zone Minutes, and Fitbit Pay. It also boasts a new design that is slimmer and sleeker than its predecessor. It also has a built-in microphone and speaker, which makes it easier to use the voice assistants. Not to mention that you can now handle Bluetooth calls from your wrist.

As far as fitness goes, the Versa 3 gives you all of the features you’d expect, such as 24/7 heart-rate monitoring along with tracking for activity, sleep stages, and female health. You’ll also enjoy the benefit of on-screen workouts that coach you through each move. It’s water-resistant up to 50M as well. The new Active Zone Minutes feature helps you get the most of your workouts by letting you know when you enter your personalized target heart-rate zone.

If you had racked up a solid collection of previous Fitbit Versa bands, you might be disappointed to learn that they won’t be compatible with the new edition. The Versa 3 introduces the company’s new infinity bands with a quick-release system that’s easy to use. However, as usual with Fitbit wearables, the app selection is rather limited. So if you like the Versa 3 but find yourself craving more advanced health features, you may want to consider the Fitbit Sense instead.

Pros:

Sleek, slim design
Six-plus days of battery life
Onboard GPS
Active Zone Minutes
Built-in mic and speaker
Fitbit Pay

Cons

Old bands aren’t compatible
Small app selection

Best Fitbit

Fitbit Versa 3 Health & Fitness Smartwatch with GPS

From $228 at Amazon
$230 at Best Buy
$229 at Walmart

Fitbit’s most complete smartwatch to-date

Outfitted with a slim design, stellar battery life, and plenty of fitness features, the Versa 3 brings a lot to the table.

Best Wear OS: TicWatch Pro 3

It might be on the pricey side, but the TicWatch Pro 3 is definitely the best fitness smartwatch for Wear OS users. Not only does it offer the company’s dual-layer display and superior battery life, but it also comes with many other features for a great wearable experience. There are different modes to choose from that will determine the battery life of the watch. Daily Mode allows you to use all of the important features, but you’ll need to charge it daily. Extended Mode lets you use key features and will only require recharging every few days. In Essential mode with only a few features enabled, the TicWatch Pro 3 can last up to 45 days.

At 47mm, this is a fairly large Wear OS watch. Mobvoi states that it has refined the design, which is now about 30% lighter. The case is still huge, but it’s nice that the company made an effort to make it more lightweight. Other improvements include the addition of Snapdragon Wear 4100, which leads to speedy performance. You get some new and refreshed apps, including TicExercise and TicPulse. There’s also TicOxygen for SpO2 tracking, TicHearing for noise detection and alert, TicBreathe for breath training, and TicZen to monitor stress levels using heart-rate data.

If you’re not bothered by how large this smartwatch is or the hefty price tag, this could be the right fitness smartwatch for you. It’s a perfect example of what a successor should offer. You’ll enjoy the new processor’s snappy performance, the improved design, new health sensors, and more apps. You’ll also be pleased to learn that the TicWatch Pro 3 will be eligible to upgrade to the new Wear OS 3 platform next year.

Pros

Improved performance
Built-in GPS
Heart-rate monitor
Blood oxygen tracking
Swim-proof design
NFC for Google Pay

Cons

Too big for some wrists
Expensive price tag

Best Wear OS

TicWatch Pro 3 GPS Smartwatch

$300 at Amazon
$280 at Walmart
$240 at B&H

The best fitness smartwatch powered by Wear OS

The TicWatch Pro 3 is the best fitness smartwatch for Wear OS users. It has activity tracking, GPS, and blood oxygen tracking.

Best premium option: Apple Watch Series 6

While there aren’t too many major changes to the Apple Watch Series 6 compared to its predecessor, it is still a great watch for iOS users. You’ll have plenty of perks, including heart-rate monitoring, built-in GPS, an always-on altimeter for tracking floors climbed, blood oxygen (SpO2) monitoring, sleep-tracking, Apple Pay, and 5 ATM water resistance.

The design is mostly the same this time around. However, you’ll now have additional color options: blue, red, gold, and graphite. The case material options include aluminum, stainless steel, and titanium. As you might’ve noticed, Apple dropped the ceramic variant with this edition. You also get a new S6 processor with this device. The company says that the Apple Watch Series 6 will run faster and for longer than its predecessor.

Apple is doing all that it can to keep up with the other fitness smartwatches on the market. This new model introduces Apple Fitness+, a subscription service with a library of video-led workouts. Users can pick their preferred workout, and the video will display on the Apple device of your choice. While working out, the real-time Apple Watch data will be conveniently displayed on the screen.

Unfortunately, the Apple Watch Series 6 is still a fairly expensive wearable. Although, if you use an iPhone, this is the most seamless experience you’ll find. If you don’t mind the price tag and that it’s not a giant improvement from the predecessor, you might be interested in upgrading. We’re still getting the usual 18-hour battery life, which is a bummer.

Pros

Always-on display
Built-in ECG
Native sleep-tracking
Emergency calling
Apple Fitness+
Optional LTE connectivity
Apple Pay

Cons

Not too many upgrades from predecessor
Pretty expensive

Best premium option

Apple Watch Series 6 Smartwatch

From $329 at Amazon
$329 at Best Buy
$329 at Walmart

Tell time and more

The Apple Watch Series 6 now has built-in sleep tracking, a faster processor, and a new service called Apple Fitness+.

Best fitness smartwatches: How to decide

Any wearables on this list will serve you well, but we feel confident that the Garmin Vivoactive 4 is the best fitness smartwatch for most users. You get a great combination of attractive design elements and solid fitness features, so it offers a well-rounded experience that most people will love. We’ve already given a lot of praise for it here, but let’s reiterate why we think it’s the best overall pick.

On the fitness side of things, there’s a little something here for everyone to enjoy. You’ll get activity- and sleep-tracking, animated on-screen workouts, heart-rate monitoring, a Pulse Ox sensor for blood oxygen tracking, and the Body Battery energy monitoring feature. All of your fitness stats are readily available on the watch — and you can access even more details when you sync it to the Garmin Connect app on your phone.

However, fitness is just one side of this smartwatch equation. When you’re not busy breaking a sweat, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 is just an excellent lifestyle smartwatch, too. It’s fully waterproof so that it can handle your day-to-day activities, and it looks beautiful while doing it. You’ll love being able to store music on your watch and use Garmin Pay whenever you need to.

These are just a few reasons why we happily recommend the Garmin Vivoactive 4 as the best fitness smartwatch. If you want something even more stylish, something more affordable, or something a bit more basic, there are many other amazing options to choose from.

Credits—The team that worked on this guide

Joe Maring Joe loves talking about all things tech, but smart wearables are what get him really excited (just ask the drawer of smartwatches in his office). He also likes coffee and goes to Starbucks far too often. Hit him up on Twitter @JoeMaring1

Courtney Lynch is a freelance writer at Android Central. She’s obsessed with all things health, fitness, and music. At any given time, she can be found checking out the latest and greatest gadgets while simultaneously petting her dog and sipping iced coffee.

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