The best smartwatch 2018: T3's guide to the best intelligent timepieces

All the advice you need to choose the best smartwatch for you

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These are the very best smartwatches money can buy, from the stylish Apple Watch Series 4, through the powerhouse Samsung Galaxy Watch, and onto the incredibly desirable TAG Heuer Connected Modular 45.

But there can only be one 'best smartwatch', and the best smartwatch in the world right now is the Apple Watch Series 4.

Of all the wearables available in late 2018, the Apple Watch has the most developed platform. It's also the most attractive, and, arguably, more technologically advanced than its competitors.

So there you have it, we're recommending the Apple Watch Series 4 as the best smartwatch available to buy right now... but, there are of course alternatives, because if you have an Android device, the Apple Watch won't cut it...

Luckily for you dear reader, we've also got a selection of brilliant alternatives for those who don't have an iPhone.

No matter what smartwatch you're after, this page will help you find the best one.

Best smartwatch: Apple Watch Series 4

1. Apple Watch Series 4

Simply the best smartwatch money can buy

Reasons to buy
+Amazing design+Could save your life+Good battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn't work with Android phones

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 four 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 you've fallen over, and it will keep you healthy by tracking your run. These potentially life saving features are a major reason people are ditching their traditional watches for an Apple Watch.

Finally, it's the only device which has straddled the line between tech and fashion. It's simply the best looking smartwatch available.

Every generation has seen minor improvements that have gone a long way to perfect the Watch. The Series 2 added waterproofing and adding GPS, and the Series 3 improved on that by adding Cellular, so it can would without your iPhone present, but again, remaining loyal to the original design.

The fourth generation improves the design, with a stunning new screen which stretches to the edges of the device.

Put simply, the Apple Watch Series 4 impresses us greatly. The design is well considered and sleeker, the screen, in terms of PPI and colour depth, is perfect, and the number of third-party apps and accessories is unrivalled. 

That last point is important, because if you're buying a personal device such as a watch, you actually want it to be unique.

It does have a few negative points, the UI is fiddly (although greatly improved with watchOS 5), especially compared to more simple rivals such as Android Wear. Of course, it's iOS only, so if you have an Android Phone, you're going to want to continue reading this guide…

The Apple Watch Series 4 sits at the top end when it comes to cost, with prices ranging from £399 to £1,399. That makes it slightly more exclusive, again drawing comparisons with the luxury watch market.

Check out the best prices here:

Best smartwatch: Samsung Galaxy Watch

2. Samsung Galaxy Watch

The best smartwatch for Android users

Reasons to buy
+Bezel and UI+Excellent battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Slightly awkward looks-No apps

If you prefer Android phones to the iPhone, the Samsung Galaxy Watch is a very worthy competitor. This is the best smartwatch if you're an Android user, but, even in its fifth generation, it still can't quite compete with the Apple Watch on iOS.

The circular screen is on par with the Apple Watch, and the innovative rotating bezel and slick Tizen OS bests both WatchOS 5 and Android Wear. It'll work with most Android smartphones, and even iPhones.

It's more attractive than previous incarnations, and comes packing some neat new fitness tracking abilities, making for a compelling package.

Its availability in two sizes will definitely help it appeal to more people. It also has a very good battery life (we're talking between three and 6 days, depending on the model).

It's not perfect, however, as the Galaxy Watch isn't as comfortable to wear as the Apple Watch, and its app and accessory ecosystem pales in comparison.

The pros far outweigh the cons however, and you won't be let down by the Samsung Galaxy Watch.

Best smartwatch: TAG Heuer Connected Modular 45

3. Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45

The best luxury smartwatch

Reasons to buy
+Premium brand+Looks great
Reasons to avoid
-Android Wear clash-Expensive

TAG's second attempt at a smartwatch, the Connected Modular 45, is a handsome looking device, mimicking a traditional mechanical watch, with its fully circular display and sporty-looking case. The Modular adds some welcome customisation to the smartwatch mix.

The Modular 45 is undeniably a class above its Android Wear siblings, and aesthetically preferable to the most expensive Apple Watch variants, which are the only rivals in the 'luxe smartwatch' market. It feels more 'watch-like' than any other rival too. 

The seconds Connected feels more premium than the first generation, and TAG has upgraded the screen.

If you're looking for the most premium smartwatch look no further than the Tag Connected. If you really like watches and you really like tech, it's the only game in town outside of the Apple Watch.

Best smartwatch: Skagen Falster

4. Skagen Falster Smartwatch

The best smartwatch for smaller wrists

Reasons to buy
+Smaller design+Rose Gold
Reasons to avoid
-Still 42mm diameter

If you're looking for something a little more feminine, then try the Skagen Falster smartwatch in Rose Gold. Another piece from the Fossil Group, Skagen is a Danish brand known for creating simple timepieces.

The Falster, just like most other smartwatches on this list, is powered by Android Wear 2.0, which includes Google Assistant, smartphone notifications, activity tracking, world time, weather and more. 

A battery-efficient dial design provides up to 24 hours of use on a single charge, and interchangeable straps allow you to customise your look. 

Each watch comes with an inductive magnetic charger.

Best smartwatch: Apple Watch Series 3

5. Apple Watch Series 3

Not as expensive as the Apple Watch Series 4

Reasons to buy
+Fashionable waterproof design+Leading ecosystem
Reasons to avoid
-Last generation-iOS only

Money can't quite stretch to the Apple Watch Series 4? The Apple Watch Series 3 is still a good option, and now it's more affordable than ever.

The Apple Watch Series 3 introduced a cellular connecting, meaning you can continue to receive phone calls and notifications away from your iPhone.

It also runs the latest software with all the latest features, it just misses the more futuristic design of the  newer Series 4.

Best smartwatch: Emporio Armani Art5003

6. Emporio Armani Art5003

Lots of options from Fossil, but the EA Art is one of our favourites

Reasons to buy
+Well designed metal case+Travel case included
Reasons to avoid
-Leather strap feels cheap-Speaker grill

If you prefer watches made from more traditional watch/fashion brands, then take a look at the Emporio Armani Art5003. Made by analogue watch-maker Fossil and running Android Wear, it's a surprisingly good device. 

Just like the Tag Heuer Connected it's very well made, and feels 'watch-like' for want of a better word. It's even managed to fit pretty decent specs into quite a slimline body.

Fossil has put a lot of money into connected watches, and this device demonstrates it's paying off. The Art5003 is a real rival to more established tech brands like Motorola and ASUS, so much so Fossil has pretty much pushed them out of the market altogether.

Best smartwatch: Huawei Watch 2

7. Huawei Watch 2

A comfortable, everyday Android Wear smartwatch

Reasons to buy
+Very comfortable+Great specs
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Plasticy

Watch 2 has a bright screen and everything runs smoothly and speedily. It's incredibly comfortable and the look is, if not great, then at least acceptable. It's unfortunate that Huawei hasn't included any rotary controls on this, especially as the bezel is a big old thing and as such probably quite easy to grip 'n' twist.

Despite that, it's a very competent Android Wear 2 watch. What's more interesting, however, is the concentration on fitness.While it features all of the necessary sensors to track running, cycling and swimming, our initial testing has revealed the Huawei Watch isn't the stellar performer we hoped it would be. Which is a shame, because emphasising the fitness element was exactly the right thing for Huawei to do, and hopefully the company can improve its fitness tracking software updates.

One final note we'll say about the Watch 2, something we're having trouble putting our fingers on. While the screen is small, the UI cramped, and the fitness tracking poor - we really enjoy wearing the Huawei Watch 2. It's incredibly comfortable, and just has a certain 'wearability' factor that makes us keep coming back to it.

Best smartwatch: Nixon Mission

8. Nixon Mission

The best rugged outdoors smartwatch

Reasons to buy
+Rugged+Very waterproof
Reasons to avoid
-Poor sports tracking-Massive

The Nixon Mission is a rugged 'action' smartwatch, and we really like it. The durable casing can take a bashing, while the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 keeps things ticking inside. It runs Android Wear, but also comes with some useful pre-installed apps which track real-time surfing and snowboarding conditions. It's water resistant to 10ATM (roughly 100m), and best of all, it comes in Orange.

Best smartwatch: Huawei Watch GT

9. Huawei Watch GT

Great battery life but a basic operating system

Reasons to buy
+Battery life+Screen
Reasons to avoid
-No apps-Very basic

The Huawei Watch GT is different to every other smartwatch on this list – it's a mix between a smartwatch and a fitness tracker. 

It looks like a smartwatch, and it has a great, high-resolution screen. It can even run basic system apps (like a calendar) and notify you about calls and messages. It can't run third-party apps, however, and you can't personalise the watch faces.

It's main focus is on fitness tracking, with the Watch GT keeping tabs on your lifestyle and exercises. It has a heart-rate sensor and GPS. Of course, without the integration of Strava or other fitness apps, this is more likely to appeal to fitness novices rather than road warriors.

What's most impressive is that the battery life lasts around 30 days, meaning, theoretically, you'll only have to charge it 12 times a year.

The Huawei Watch GT is a weird sell, but if basic fitness tracking, notifications, and a long battery life are key, then this could be the smartwatch for you.

Best smartwatch: Samsung Gear S3 Frontier

10. Samsung Gear S3 Frontier

The best smartwatch for Android users

Reasons to buy
+Rotating bezel+UI
Reasons to avoid
-Questionable design-No apps-Last generation

The Samsung Gear S3 is a couple of years old now, but in terms of hardware, it's still a more than capable smartwatch. It runs Tizen and the design is solid.

There are a couple of things that let the Gear S3 down. Mainly its lack of an ecosystem. It's also chunky and not as attractive as the Apple Watch (although, the Frontier version is much better than the Classic model).

Still, those foibles are easy to look past if you can pick one up for a decent price.

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