Finding the best smartwatch that's suited to you can be an intense process, especially now that we're inundated with a plethora of choices. From the latest and greatest Apple Watch, the high-powered Samsung Galaxy Watch, to the already second-best Google Pixel Watch and the premium-tier TAG Heuer Connected, we tested, reviewed and ranked all kinds of smartwatches here to help you make the most informed choice about which one to buy.
It's not just the brand name that's important though – features and functionality are important to know which one of these best smartwatches are just right for you. Do you want a smartwatch that's outdoors-focused or one that puts productivity first? Do you want to take calls and speak into your wrist?
With so many excellent options all fighting for that space on your wrist, not to mention figuring out which models are compatible with your smartphone, it's easy to become confused.
With so many features, sensors and hardware functions available, you often have to spend weeks with these wrist wearables to thoroughly familiarise yourself with all they offer – precisely what we do when reviewing them. So worry not as we're here to help you through the decision-making process before you buy.
If you'd like to narrow down your search more, we'd suggest taking a look at T3's guide to the best Apple Watch if you're embedded within the brand's ecosystem or, if you're on a tight budget, check out our list of the best cheap smartwatches.
If you're really serious about exercise, then we suggest you take a look at the best running watches, best fitness trackers and best Fitbits buying guides for razor-sharp analysis of how to best help your run times.
The best smartwatches in Australia today
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There's no doubt Apple is king when it comes to smartwatches, but how has it achieved such meteoric success? Let's take a look…
First off, it's the only smartwatch which generates a tonne of interest, and not just from tech addicts, but from the general public. That interest hasn't exactly helped Apple's competitors, but it has helped Apple's smartwatch survive several generations.
Next is the big focus on health and fitness. The Apple Watch can monitor your heart rhythm and suggest you see a doctor if it detects something irregular, it can call the emergency services if you've fallen over, and it will keep you healthy by tracking your runs. These potentially life-saving features are a major reason people are ditching their traditional watches for an Apple Watch.
Finally, the design is almost perfect. There are two size options to help accommodate the majority of wrists, and they're also incredibly comfortable. It's probably also the only device which has straddled the line between tech and fashion and we think it's simply the best-looking smartwatch available.
Every generation of the Apple Watch has ushered in minor improvements that have gone a long way to help perfect it, and in the Series 8, we reckon Apple has nailed it (we no doubt expect new models in the future, of course).
On top of a long list of useful features carried over from previous generation, Apple has gifted the Series 8 with a temperature sensor, which can be used for cycle tracking, and a low power mode which can extend the battery life whilst maintaining core smartwatch functions.
Put simply, the Apple Watch Series 8 impresses us greatly. The design is well-considered and sleek, the larger screen is perfect, and the number of third-party apps and accessories is unrivalled.
The Google Pixel Watch is a beautiful piece of technology and probably the closest we've seen a brand come to creating a genuine rival to the Apple Watch, not bad for Google's first foray into smartwatches. And because of this, I think the Pixel Watch is the best smartwatch you can buy if you're an Android user.
My admiration for the Pixel Watch is more than just skin deep, however, as I found this smartwatch to be genuinely useful, thanks to the inclusion of all the intelligent software features you'd expect from Google. Having Google Assistant on your wrist has proven to be incredibly convenient, for example.
The Pixel Watch certainly takes the fight to Apple in the health and fitness arena too, thanks to its deep integration of Fitbit. You can get all of the metric data you'd want from the Pixel Watch, from automatic exercise tracking to sleep monitoring, and heart rate tracking to ECG readings, all of which can be viewed in the Fitbit app on your phone. It's great to have a trusted brand like Fitbit powering this side of things.
The Pixel Watch isn't perfect, however. This is a first generation smartwatch and it shows in a few key areas.
For a start, the display is a bit on the small side, which can make using the Pixel Watch feel a little awkward at times. Also, the battery life is much shorter than most of its rivals, and that's a big disappointment.
Overall, though, it's easy to look past these first gen foibles and fall in love with the Pixel Watch. It's useful, comfortable and very endearing - you won't want to take it off.
Want a smartwatch that's a bit more tough and rugged than the Series 8 or Pixel Watch? Enter the Apple Watch Ultra, a true flagship product for the range with advanced features aimed at adventure and extreme sports. For me, the larger, brighter screen and chunkier build is reason in itself to pick this over the Series 8, although admittedly, the chunky design might not be for everyone.
Of course, the added features, such as the superior GPS, three-microphone array, longer battery life, depth gauge and siren make it a serious choice for divers, climbers and endurance athletes.
Granted, most Apple Watch users won’t need these extra features and will be better served by the smaller and cheaper Series 8. Others, meanwhile, will find that the Ultra isn’t extreme enough, especially in terms of battery life. For anyone wanting the very best that Apple can offer in a smart watch, the Ultra excels.
This is a great looking and highly functional smartwatch. It does more than most people will ever need, which is no bad thing, and is priced no more than the former titanium Apple Watch. I can’t wait to see where this version goes in future models, as I’m sure it will only continue to improve. For now though, this is the ultimate Apple Watch.
Okay, so the Apple Watch Series 8 is the best smartwatch for iPhone, but if you have an Android phone – and don't fancy picking the Google Pixel Watch – then the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is a great option for you.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is a modern, stylish take on a smartwatch - it’s slim and we found it to be very comfortable on the wrist during our testing. It's made from tough armour aluminium so it’ll be able to withstand knocks and bumps, and it’s waterproof too, so will happily survive a splash or a swim.
The latest generation of Samsung's smartwatch impressed us with its new 'BioActive Sensor' which is able to track everything from your heart rate to blood pressure and ECG, and you can even use it to measure your approximate body composition. It takes a matter of seconds and you’ll be able to see data about your skeletal muscle, BMI, body water and fat percentage.
The only downside here is battery life, we found at 40 hours it’s not the longest-lasting on this list, and that goes down a fair amount when you’re using the GPS or workout tracking features. It’s still good enough for most people though. Find out more in the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review but long story short, this is one of the best smartwatches if you're an Android user.
If you spend a lot of time outdoors and you want a smartwatch to keep track of pretty much anything you can think of, look no further than the Garmin Fenix 7X. A tough and rugged beast, it can do it all, and it even has a built-in flashlight!
The inclusion of solar harvesting (which can be found on other Fenix models) is incredible and gives the 7X truly excellent battery life. In regular smartwatch mode you can expect up to 37 days with solar, but if you switch to battery saver mode you can see this increase to around a year or more.
It's not cheap, but when you consider it can do virtually anything you could possibly ever need a smartwatch to do, and then some, it should be expected. Put simply, this is the best multi-sports smartwatch you can currently buy.
TAG's latest attempt at a smartwatch, the TAG Heuer Connected Calibre E4, is a handsome looking wearable, mimicking a traditional mechanical watch, with its fully circular display and sporty-looking case. The new model improves on previous generations by offering two sizes, 45mm and 42mm, longer battery life, a brighter screen, and more sports tracking options.
The Connected is undeniably a class above its Wear OS siblings, and aesthetically preferable to the most expensive Apple Watch variants, which are the only rivals in the 'luxe smartwatch' market. Out of all of the smartwatches we've tested, it feels the most 'watch-like'.
Basically, if you're looking for a luxury Android smartwatch, or indeed a smartwatch that doesn't initially look like a smartwatch, this is the one for you.
If you've got an iPhone and don't want to spend lots of money on the Apple Watch Series 8 or Ultra, then the Apple Watch SE is a great alternative. Despite being 'the affordable' smartwatch from Apple, we think the SE is still a truly excellent performer.
You won't notice where Apple has made cutbacks in general use, making you feel as though you're getting the full Apple Watch experience, with all the advantages that brings in terms of convenience, fitness tracking, and health and safety features.
With prices starting at AU$399, you do get a lot for your money, from screen to design to sensors to being more future-proofed thanks to its faster processor. It's also important to note that these translate into better health features, including more accurate heart sensing (important for detecting irregularities) and fall detection.
The main differences between the Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 8 lie in the display and some of the included features. The display is smaller and is based on the Series 3, i.e. it isn't edge-to-edge, so exhibits a slight bezel. It also doesn't offer the Always-On display option, although some may not feel the need for this anyway.
Other features that don't make the cut include a blood oxygen sensor, ECG and a temperature sensor. But, if you just want to monitor your heart rate and track your workouts, it's more than up to the task.
The Garmin Venu 2, in our opinion, doesn't quite do enough to worry the likes of Apple or Google in the looks department, but it excels when it comes to health and fitness tracking, performance and (perhaps most crucially) battery life.
Garmin says you can get up to 11 days in smartwatch mode (12 in battery saver mode) and with GPS turned off. If you do turn GPS on then battery life does take an expected hit, but at 22 hours it's still one of the better performers.
This, coupled with a brilliant and vibrant display that no other Garmin watch has, makes it one of the best smartwatches you can get your hands on right now, especially if you're tracking multiple sports.
While the MARQ boasts all the features that make Garmin watches the most comprehensive fitness tracking devices out there, the large price tag might be too much to swallow for most.
Garmin has now released a second generation of MARQ smartwatches, although T3 Editor Matt Kollat has made it clear he won't be buying one anytime soon, due to the astronomical price.
But, if you do want something truly premium on your wrist, there’s no denying that this is a luxurious watch packing some damn gorgeous, high-quality materials. But we just don't think that’s enough to justify its price given what else is available.
Don’t get us wrong, there’s definitely nothing wrong with the MARQ, we just don't think it's a product many people are going to be genuinely interested in buying.
Still, most opinions about this watch will be split into two camps: you’ll either think it’s a ridiculous waste of money, or you think it’s a beautiful object that you just have to own. And to be honest, either is fair. If you’ve got the dosh and want to treat yourself, go ahead: you’re not likely to be disappointed (well, maybe except for the display).
The Mobvoi TicWatch E3 leads the pack for cheap smartwatches with its list of several important features that you’d normally expect to find on much more expensive models.
It runs on Google’s Wear OS operating system, which allows you to make full use of tools like Google Fit and Google Assistant. Beyond that, the watch will integrate seamlessly with any of the thousands of Google Play apps to suit your specific needs and interests.
The TicWatch E3’s health features include built-in GPS for all of your tracking needs, as well as 24/7 heart-rate monitoring. It’s also water-resistant to a depth of 50m, making it a great companion for swimmers alongside its specific swim tracking data metrics such as lap count, stroke count and swimming style.
With this watch you’re not getting the most stylish of options, but it's lightweight, comfortable and looks good enough on the wrist. If you prefer a chunkier and more rugged build,, then you may prefer the only slightly pricier TicWatch S2, which offers US military grade durability and many of the same functions.
The biggest downsides to this watch are the two-day battery life, which is far from the most generous on the list, and the lack of NFC; so the one Google app you won’t be able to use is Google Pay. As long as those aren't deal-breakers though, we believe this watch offers exceptional value at such a low price. And that makes it our clear pick for the best cheap smartwatch overall.
The Garmin Vivoactive 4 is a step up on its predecessor when it comes to battery life, and adds even more features physically active users love.
You can keep an eye on your health 24/7 with Pulse Ox (blood oxygen levels) and Body Battery energy monitor features, and you can even store music directly from a range of streaming apps. If you subscribe to a premium service, you can download your tunes to the watch and listen without needing your phone nearby.
It comes with pre-loaded exercises and offers on-screen animated workouts to help guide you through your fitness journey. You can also create custom training plans in the Garmin Connect app, making it particularly useful for runners.
It boasts a great display and will give you up to eight days of battery in smartwatch mode – and around six hours in GPS and music mode.
How we test the best smartwatches
We spend a lot of time reviewing the latest smartwatches, so when it comes to recommending what smartwatch to buy, you can be safe in the knowledge that we'll recommend the best options for you.
We'll usually spend a week or longer testing the latest smartwatches. We try out the very latest features to see if they work and if they're useful. This might be a new health monitoring tool, a new fitness tracking mode, or how comfortable a new strap is. We test everything in-depth, so if it's a new fitness feature, for example, we'll get our fitness editor to review it thoroughly.
All of these new features also get tested alongside everything a smartwatch should be classically good at, such as how bright and clear the display is, how reliable the smartphone connection is, how long the battery lasts, and how comfortable it is to wear every day.
Once the initial review period is complete, we'll publish a full review, give the smartwatch a star rating, and add an abridged review to this guide. If the smartwatch is then substantially updated after our initial review, we might choose to revisit that model to see if we need to change our verdict.
How to the choose the best smartwatch for you
When shopping for a smartwatch that's best suited to your needs, keep the following factors in mind:
- Compatibility: Apple Watches only work with iPhones. Smartwatches running Wear OS, Garmin and Fitbit are compatible with both Android and iPhone.
- Price: Smartwatch prices can range from very affordable to pretty expensive. Paying more will get you enhanced health and fitness tracking and build quality and anything more expensive than an Apple Watch will mainly see you paying for prestige branding and exclusivity.
- Battery life: Most smartwatches last around two days, if that's not enough for you, then opt for Huawei, Fitbit or Garmin, which offer slightly impaired functionality for vastly improved battery life.
- Fitness tracking: All smartwatches will do track basic fitness functions. But if you're training for a marathon or triathlon then you'll want a more serious running watch from brands such as Garmin or Polar.
- Communication: All smartwatches have Bluetooth – that's how they connect to your smartphone. Some even have a cellular connection, allowing you to stream music and receive messages and calls, even if you've left your phone at home. This costs extra, so you'll want to carefully consider if it's a function you're actually going to use.
- Size: Size is important. If you've got slender wrists you're going to want a smaller smartwatch, this is not due to looks, but due to comfort.
Is it worth buying a smartwatch?
The answer to whether a smartwatch is worth buying will depend on how easily you want to access your calls, texts, emails and more. In today's fast-paced digital world, a smartwatch is fast becoming a convenience rather than a luxury.
Essentially, a smartwatch is like having your phone on your wrist. You can get a heck of a lot of notifications pushed to your wrist, but compatibility with your paired phone will depend on whether you can respond to them via the associated app on your smartwatch. For example, you can reply to messages on your Apple Watch only for the default app, but if you use a third-party application like WhatsApp or Signal, then you can read them all but not reply. That said, if your smartwatch has LTE connectivity, you can easily take calls and speak directly into your wrist or use a paired set of wireless headphones.
Smartwatches also able to track fitness data and monitor your heart rate. Some even come with blood pressure monitoring these days but they will need TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) approval for them to work in Australia. Others, like the Fitbit Sense 2 can provide data on your stress levels.
So, is a smartwatch worth buying? If you want to stay connected to your phone without lugging it around all the time, then yes, a smartwatch is definitely worth considering.