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The 8 best smartwatches for 2023

Popular Mechanics; Courtesy of Apple

Sometime in the early years, tracking daily steps became a thing among the fitness-obsessed. That was years before watches had smarts and apps were a new thing. Fast forward a decade, and wearable devices on our wrists do everything from track your health, fitness, and sleep, to take calls, stream music, and, you know, tell the time.

While smartwatches will never replace the basic wristwatch and re-released classics like Casio’s calculator watch will always have a fan base, it’s fair to say they’ll become even more ubiquitous and do cooler things as time goes on. There are so many makes and models on the market today that it can be difficult to choose which one best suits your lifestyle and budget. We’ve rounded up our favorite smartwatches for your consideration and added some helpful tips to keep in mind before you buy.

The best smart watches

What to consider

The most important considerations when shopping for a smartwatch are compatibility, battery life, and the features you’ll use the most, along with the ones you won’t. There’s also comfort and style, of course. Below we’ve outlined all the essentials you need to know to begin your search.

Compatibility

The operating system of your smartphone must be compatible with the smartwatch of your choice; usually it’s iOS or Android, and some smartwatches support both. A smartwatch is only as smart as its operating system: Apple’s latest is watchOS 9 and Samsung uses Google’s Wear OS.

Battery duration

Read the fine print when looking at battery life and comparing different models (in this case, we did it for you). Varies depending on individual use and the settings of the battery drain function your watch is running. For example, turning on GPS or having an always-on screen drains your battery faster.

Characteristics

Budget aside, ask yourself what you need your watch for most and which features are must-haves and which are nice. Are you a marathon runner in the market for a running smartwatch that tracks mileage and stride length, or a weekend road warrior looking for a solid smartwatch for cyclists? Do you often go hiking or skiing in the backcountry and want a smartwatch with reverse function and full GPS coverage? Consider these use cases, as well as how the watch handles things like notifications from your phone, before you buy.

Style

Screen size and quality are often overlooked, but they’re incredibly important, especially if you want to be able to look at your smartwatch while you’re on the go. Because you’ll probably sweat if you wear your watch to track workouts, comfort is important, too. Most have silicone sport straps—ideal because they’re lightweight and wipe clean—while others come with leather, nylon, or canvas straps.

how we select

To put together our list, we relied on our own smartwatch testing experience and consulted with our colleagues at runners world Y Bicycling to include the best smartwatches we’ve tested. We also take into account expert advice from the people of cabling Y techradar. To make our final pick, we compared the smartwatch’s specs as mentioned above and factored in the overall design, as well as upgrades from previous generations, and value based on price.

Looking for more smart tech recommendations? Check out our stories on the best sleep trackers, fitness trackers, and Garmin watches for women.

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