Best cheap smartwatch 2020: affordable smartwatches for everyone

We reveal the best cheap smartwatches available today

Best cheap smartwatch
(Image credit: Fitbit)

Looking for the best cheap smartwatches? Then you've come to the right place. Whereas most budget smartwatches are pretty flimsy offerings, lacking useful features and providing low-grade performance, there are some diamonds in the rough. And we've brought them all together for you in one post.

Don't get us wrong, these are not the best smartwatches overall, not by a long way. But if you'd rather save some cash, and don't need the very latest features or fashion looks, then these budget models may be a better fit for you.

All of them are strong on health and fitness features, allowing you to set goals and track your progress using tools like GPS and heart-rate monitoring. That said, if that's all you're interested in, you may be better off checking out our selection of the best fitness trackers

If however, you'd like your watch to offer more, such as letting you set notifications, download apps or make contactless payments, then read on. Note that the following smartwatches all work with both iOS and Android smartphones, all offer some level of water resistance, and all came in under £150 (US$200) at time of writing. 

Best cheap smartwatches: Ticwatch E2 Smartwatch

(Image credit: Ticwatch)

1. Mobvoi Ticwatch E2

The best cheap smartwatch overall

Specifications
Size: 46.9 x 46.9 x 12.9mm
Weight: 35g
Battery life: 2 days
GPS: Built-in
Heart rate monitoring: Yes
Water resistance: 5ATM
Reasons to buy
+Google apps +Swim tracking
Reasons to avoid
-Can't use for payments-Two-day battery life

Despite being a cheap smartwatch, the Mobvoi Ticwatch E2 packs in several features that you’d normally expect to find on much more expensive models. It’s based on Google’s Wear OS operating system, so you can take advantage of tools like Google Fit and Google Assistant, which allows you to interact using voice alone. Beyond that, you can download any of the thousands of Google Play apps to suit your specific needs and interests. 

The Ticwatch E2 also includes 24/7 heart-rate monitoring, and built-in GPS for for run tracking. It’s particularly good for swimmers, too, being water-resistant to a depth of 50m, and offering swim tracking with data such as lap count, stroke count and swimming style.

While it’s not the most stylish watch, it's lightweight, comfortable and still looks pretty good on the wrist. If you prefer a chunkier and more rugged build, though, then you may prefer the only slightly pricier Ticwatch S2, which offers US military grade durability (and otherwise functions in the exact same way).

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.

Best cheap smartwatches: Fitbit Versa Lite

(Image credit: Fitbit)

2. Fitbit Versa Lite

The best cheap smartwatch for sporting and fitness activities

Specifications
Size: 35 x 35 x 11mm
Weight: 38g
Battery life: 4 days
GPS: Yes, but not built-in
Heart rate monitoring: Yes
Water resistance: 5ATM
Reasons to buy
+Range of exercise modes +4 days battery life
Reasons to avoid
-No built-in GPS-Can't use Fitbit Pay

Fitbit was the brand that revolutionised fitness tracking, and they haven't stopped innovating since. A fact clearly demonstrated by the Fitbit Versa Lite which, despite its low price, is a seriously smart, capable and feature-rich device. 

Design-wise, it’s almost identical to its stylish cousin, the pricier Fitbit Versa: the only difference is that this model swaps the two buttons on the right-hand side for one button on the left-hand side. The display, meanwhile, is beautifully minimalistic, while still easy to understand and use. 

There are 15 exercise modes to choose from, where you set goals and get real-time statistics back on your activities, as well as an altimeter and a stopwatch. The four-day battery life is very impressive, and the watch is water resistant to up to 50m (although there’s no swim tracking). Plus there’s an always-on heart rate monitor, so you can use the Fitbit app to track your heart rate throughout the day. 

Fitness activities aside, this is a rock-solid smartwatch in general, allowing you to get call, calendar, text and app alerts from your phone, and send quick replies to messages if you're an Android user. Plus there are plenty of apps to download, from Fitbit or third-party developers, not just for fitness, but things like finance, sports and news.

On the downside, there’s no built-in GPS: you have to connect it to your phone’s GPS for run tracking. And while the watch does offer NFC, there’s no Fitbit Pay. Despite those slight niggles, though, this remains our top pick if you're looking for the best cheap smartwatch for sporting and fitness. 

Best cheap smartwatches: Fossil Men's Gen 4 Explorist HR

(Image credit: Fossil)

3. Fossil Gen 4 Explorist HR

The best cheap smartwatch for men’s fashion looks

Specifications
Size: 45 x 45 x 13mm
Weight: 20g
Battery life: 1-2 days
GPS: Built-in
Heart rate monitoring: Yes
Water resistance: 3ATM
Reasons to buy
+Men's fashion looks +Supports payments +Lots of Google apps 
Reasons to avoid
-Limited battery life

Created by men’s fashion brand Fossil, the Gen 4 Explorist HR offers the most stylish looks of the cheap smartwatches on our list. (Sadly, we couldn’t find a cheap smartwatch to recommend from a women’s fashion brand; the closest we came was the Michael Kors Sofie at £199 (US$250).

Looks aside, the Explorist HR is pretty impressive under the hood as well. Like the Ticwatch E2, it’s based on Wear OS , so you can access Google apps aplenty. Moreover, unlike the E2 it supports Google Pay, so you can use it to buy things in shops, bar, restaurants and elsewhere.

Beyond that, you can get alerts from apps, your calendar, email, social media, and so on, as well as controlling your music. The smartwatch also offers music storage, heart-rate tracking, and onboard GPS. There’s a built-in fitness tracker, alarm clock and LED flashlight, and it’s waterproof to 30 metres.

On the downside, battery life is fairly limited, at 1-2 days depending on usage, although there is a Time Only mode to conserve battery when you’re low and just need to keep track of time.

Best cheap smartwatches: Amazfit Bip

(Image credit: Amazfit)

4. Amazfit Bip

The best super-cheap smartwatch

Specifications
Size: 39 x 34 x 9.5mm
Weight: 32g
Battery life: 45 days
GPS: Built-in
Heart rate monitoring: Yes
Water resistance: 3ATM
Reasons to buy
+Very cheap +45-day battery life +Lightweight
Reasons to avoid
-Not the fastest processor

This Amazfit Bip is a pretty good watch, at a pretty amazing price. For just around £50 (US$70), you can get a device that offers some quite remarkable capabilities. 

For starters, it has by far the best battery life on this list, at an astounding 45 days. (To be fair, that’s with all the smart features disabled, but even with everything at full blast, you’re still going to get a good whack of battery life.) The reflective screen is readable under strong sunlight, and the display is always-on, which even some versions of the Apple Watch can’t manage. Plus it’s waterproof to 30 metres, and offers built-in GPS, continuous heart-rate monitoring, and sleep tracking.

We’ll be honest: the plasticky look isn’t that great, and this smartwatch isn’t the fastest working on our list. Nor does it have the highest resolution display. But overall, this is one heck of a smartwatch for a very low price.

Best cheap smartwatches: Huawei Watch GT 2E

(Image credit: Huawei)

5. Huawei Watch GT 2e

The best cheap smartwatch for custom workouts

Specifications
Size: 53 x 46.8 x 10.8mm
Weight: 43g
Battery life: 14 days
GPS: Built-in
Heart rate monitoring: Yes
Water resistance: 5ATM
Reasons to buy
+Wide range of custom modes +Auto-detects different activities+Two week battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Limited smartwatch features

The Huawei Watch GT2e’s recommended retail price is £159.99 (US$200), but as it’s been out for a while now you should be able to get one for much less. So is it worth the investment?

The GT 2e comes with a few basic smartwatch features including app notifications, a timer, an alarm app, weather updates, customisable watch faces and music storage (Android users only). But we should be clear: the main purpose of this device is primarily to serve as a health and fitness tracker. So if your life revolves around watching Netflix on the sofa, this won’t be the best cheap smartwatch for you.

Active people, though, will be lured by the 85 custom workout modes, covering everything from running, swimming and cycling to more exotic pastimes like rock climbing, street dance and surfing. It can also automatically detect six types of workouts and start tracking your data the moment you start moving, which is very handy for time-pressed gym goers. The watch includes continuous heart-rate monitoring, and the battery life of up to two weeks is not to be sniffed at either.

Further, the rounded design of the watch is sleek and stylish, it’s waterproof to 50m, and the information it displays is fully customisable. On the negative side, if you want a wide range of non-sporting smartwatch features, such as the ability to make payments or use maps for navigation, you’ll need to go elsewhere. However, if fitness is your primary reason for having a smartwatch, you’ll find a lot to like here. 

Best cheap smartwatches: Garmin Forerunner 30

(Image credit: Garmin)

6. Garmin Forerunner 30

The best cheap smartwatch for runners.

Specifications
Size: 41 x 36 x 13mm
Weight: 20g
Battery life: 5 days (watch mode); 8 hours (GPS mode)
GPS: Built-in
Heart rate monitoring: Yes
Water resistance: 5ATM
Reasons to buy
+Optimised for runners  +Easy to use+Niche training tools
Reasons to avoid
-Pointless for non-runners

Sitting somewhere on the border between smartwatch and fitness tracker, the Garmin Forerunner 30 is squarely aimed at runners. This narrow focus means it doesn’t have a lot of features, but on the plus side that means it’s very easy to pick up and start using. 

Besides notifications for calls and texts, pretty much everything on this smartwatch is geared towards running. The built-in GPS tracks how far, how fast and where you run. The 24/7 heart rate monitor provides information on your resting heart rate, and estimates calories burned as well as your VO2 max (basically, your ability to metabolise oxygen). Runners can also benefit from specialised training programs such as Auto Pause, Auto Lap and pace/speed selection. 

While the Move IQ feature automatically recognises you're engaged in an activity like running, swimming or cycling, you can only really get useful stats on running. The one exception is when you’re in bed, as there is a very good sleep tracker too.

Besides that though (in case we hadn’t made it clear), this smartwatch is for runners. Indeed, we’d say it’s overall, the best cheap smartwatch for runners. But if you’re not a runner, it would be an entirely pointless thing to buy.

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