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

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

TODO alt text

These are the very best smartwatches money can buy, from the stylish Apple Watch Series 3, through the powerhouse Samsung Gear S3, 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 3.

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

Of course, it's worth noting that Apple has just announced the Apple Watch Series 4, we'll be reviewing that, and I'm sure it'll make its way onto this list soon.

So there you have it, we're recommending the Apple Watch Series 3 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 nine brilliant alternatives for those unwilling to sell their souls to the Apple Cult.

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

1. Apple Watch Series 3

Simply the best smartwatch out there right now

Reasons to buy
+Fashionable waterproof design+Leading ecosystem
Reasons to avoid
-Fiddly UI-iOS only

What has the Apple Watch done to revolutionise the smartwatch? Let's take a look.

First off, it's generated 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 three generations. Next is the Digital Crown. It's an innovative input method which removes reliance on the small and often crowded touch screen, making navigating the WatchOS much easier. 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 - pretty much addressing our initial problems with the Apple Watch, without shaking things up too much.

The Series 3 improved on the Series 2 by adding Cellular, so it can would without your iPhone present, but again, remaining loyal to the original design.

Put simply, Apple's third smartwatch impresses us. The design is well considered and sleek, 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 4), especially compared to more simple rivals such as Android Wear, and it's also iOS only, so if you have an Android Phone, you're going to want to continue reading this guide…

The Apple Watch Series 3 sits at the top end when it comes to cost, with prices ranging from £300 to £1,200+. That makes it slightly more exclusive, again drawing comparisons with the luxury watch market.

You can get the Apple Watch here:

Best of the rest - 7 other excellent smartwatches and reasons to consider them:

Of course, even more so than smartphones, picking a wearable is so much about personal style and taste. With that in mind, here are seven other excellent smartwatches we'd recommend.

2. 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.

3. Samsung Gear S3 Frontier

The best smartwatch for Android users

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

If you're not willing to sell your soul to the Apple Cult, the Samsung Gear S3 is a very worthy competitor. This is the best smartwatch if you're an Android user, but, even in its third generation, it still remains to be seen whether it can best 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 3 and Android Wear. It'll work with most Android smartphones, and even iPhones.

There are a couple of things that let the Gear S3 down. Mainly its lack of an ecosystem, the app store is still barren in comparison to Apple's. Secondly, it's chunky, and hard to picture the Gear S3 in Vogue, it's just not as fashionable as the Apple Watch (although, the Frontier version is much better than the Classic model).

The pros far outweigh the cons however, and you won't be let down by the Samsung Gear S3.

4. 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.

5. Huawei Watch 2

A comfortable, everyday Android Wear smartwatch

Reasons to buy
+Very comfortable+Great specs
Reasons to avoid

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.

6. 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.

7. Skagen Falster Smartwatch

A dainty 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.

8. Huawei Watch

Can't stretch to the TAG? This is the best Android Wear watch around

Reasons to buy
+Premium build and specs+Price has come down
Reasons to avoid
-So-so battery life-Android Wear

The Huawei Watch is the best Android Wear smartwatch on the market (that is, if you can't afford the TAG Heuer). It's a perfect balance between price, luxury design, and functionality. It's one of the more expensive smartwatches out there, but that extra cash brings premium materials, solid build, and top specs.

The screen is great, and the pre-installed watch faces make it stand out from rivals. Android Wear feels very samey across all devices, but it's a well developed OS. It's reasonably intuitive and simple, but there's a little too much swiping and tapping on the small screen. It also works across both Android and iOS, although iPhone functionality is limited (no apps etc.)

Huawei is also trying to make their Watch a fashion item - they even launched a limited edition designer model during Milan Fashion Week.

Liked this?