Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2Source: Android Central

Best Apple Watch Alternatives for Android Android Central 2020

For some, the Apple Watch is considered the gold standard of smartwatches, but whether it is or not makes no difference to Android users who couldn't use it even if they wanted to. Smartwatches for Android users abound, and the one that stands out from the pack is the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 because of its balanced functionality and stylish design that caters to wider subset of users.

Best Overall: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central

It may be a bit odd that the top Android smartwatch runs on an operating system that isn't developed by Google, but that's where we're at. Samsung corrected a key feature missing in the previous model by putting in a touch-sensitive bezel to emulate the physical rotating one that was a staple in the company's prior designs. It makes a significant difference in navigating the interface, offering an alternative from just tapping on the screen.

It comes in 40mm and 44mm sizes, making it an attractive option for both men and women. It's the sleekest build Samsung has come up with to date, and the color combinations with the available straps add an extra touch of personalization. With improved battery life lasting up to two days with heavy usage, the watch also has the stamina to keep up with an active lifestyle. The GPS tracking, unfortunately, won't match the accuracy of bringing your phone along, which is crucial if you're a stickler out on a run.

The app integration gets a boost with how Spotify works. It's a truly effective integration that lets you play music from it exclusively on the watch. Still, as good as Tizen is, it's sometimes hindered by the lack of interest developers put into its app ecosystem. Samsung continues to fight an uphill battle reeling in greater support, which is always a caveat to using a Tizen-based watch, but until Wear OS hits a sustained stride, it's as good as it gets here.

What ultimately makes this the best right now is the combination of hardware with a beautiful display, plus a user-friendly interface that covers much of what you'd expect as it relates to activity tracking.

Pros:

  • Great hardware design with capacitive bezel
  • Gorgeous screen
  • Solid activity tracking features
  • Comes in two sizes
  • Better app integration than previous models

Cons:

  • Third-party app support remains a struggle
  • GPS run/bike tracking not as accurate as phone

Best Overall

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

The fullest package currently available

For a smartwatch that covers a lot of bases for Android users, this one does so in ways that others don't, and that's why it's the one to beat.

Best Value: Fitbit Versa 2

Fitbit Versa 2 with leather band being heldSource: Joe Maring / Android Central

Google may now own Fitbit, but the Versa 2 has no trace of Google in it. That doesn't really matter when it comes to how well FitbitOS runs and what it offers. While this watch may not be the cheapest of the bunch, it offers really good value and is among the easiest smartwatches to accessorize. The approximately five days of battery life doesn't hurt, either.

Given this is a Fitbit smartwatch, the health and fitness features are already carryovers from the company's activity trackers. That includes Fitbit Premium as a subscription service, but also basic shortcuts to the exercises you like to do most. Health tracking is excellent, and probably the best you can find in any smartwatch, though you will need to take along a phone for GPS tracking. Fitbit Pay is convenient for quick payments, and there's an app you can download to load up loyalty cards, too. Considering how limited any sort of app ecosystem is here, that's something of a consolation.

The Versa 2 isn't a dramatic step forward from the Versa or Versa Lite, but it does benefit from a nice AMOLED screen and a built-in mic that serves up access to Alexa. There's no speaker, so you won't hear Alexa say anything back, but it is one way to control compatible smart home devices. The physical buttons are gone, which changes the overall way you interact with the watch, but it's not necessarily a bad omission.

Pros:

  • Beautiful AMOLED display
  • Alexa and Fitbit Pay integration
  • Excellent battery life

Cons:

  • No built-in GPS
  • Dearth of app availability
  • Limited onboard storage

Best Value

Fitbit Versa 2

Health, wellness, and payments all in one

This watch strikes a balance of being one of the best for tracking daily health and activity, while also being serviceable in several other ways.

Best Style: Michael Kors Access Bradshaw 2

Michael Kors Bradshaw 2 smartwatchSource: Daniel Bader / Android Central

First and foremost, this smartwatch comes in sizes and styles for both men and women, and initially stands out for not looking like a typical smartwatch. The classy look comes in a variety of colors, and even some extra design tweaks to add some flair to its overall appearance. It's an objectively nice-looking watch in any of its variants and straddles the line between dressy and casual.

The 1.7-inch AMOLED screen is what sets it apart the most from a standard watch with a similar design. Running on Wear OS, it comes with the trappings of that system, including access to Google Assistant and Google Pay. It's not necessarily the best thing to wear for rigorous workouts or runs, simply because of its weight and the fact that silicone bands are better at absorbing sweat. But as a daily activity tracker, it does the job. It even has a good level of waterproofing, making it possible to take for a swim in the pool.

Dedicated watch faces complement the customizable ones that are available. This is the kind of watch where you might want to turn on the always-on display to add to its look. Battery life isn't exceptional, and the always-on display will sap that even faster, dropping it to 24 hours per charge.

Pros:

  • Classy and elegant design
  • Michael Kors custom watch faces
  • Built-in GPS and NFC

Cons:

  • Not ideal for sweaty workouts
  • Could be too big for some wrists
  • Battery life isn't exceptional

Best Style

Michael Kors Access Bradshaw 2

A touch of luxury peppered with modern tech.

Class meets functional tech in this attractive combination that can cater to both men and women, courtesy of several variant colors.

Best for Runners: Garmin Vivoactive 4

Garmin Vivoactive 4Source: Garmin

To start with, it's important to note that the Vivoactive 4, which is a large 45mm size, also comes in a smaller 40mm size, though it goes by a slightly different moniker in the Vivoactive 4S. They are all but identical in what they offer, save for a larger battery in the bigger model, and a rose gold variant in the smaller one.

There are built-in GPS and 5 ATM water-resistance, making this just as good for swimming as it is for running. In the latter case, the watch can track a route without a phone, yet it also takes things further to glean insight. The newest feature is the Pulse Ox sensor to monitor blood oxygen saturation levels and respiration to track breaths taken per minute. That's on top of the altitude acclimation for running at higher elevations.

It's not exclusively a running watch like Garmin's Forerunner models tend to be, but this caters heavily to runners without skimping on other fitness features. There are several different workouts available to choose from, plus the Pulse Ox sensor can be helpful in getting better sleep. Then there's the Body Battery Energy monitor to track energy and stress levels throughout a day.

Battery life is reasonable throughout, especially when GPS is turned off. You can go up to four or five days with standard usage, but GPS takes its toll and can be the major factor in how long it lasts per charge.

Pros:

  • Solid running features
  • Built-in GPS
  • 5 ATM water-resistance
  • Pulse Ox sensor
  • Solid battery life

Cons:

  • 45mm has limited color options
  • Garmin Pay needs to grow
  • Expensive

Best for Runners

Garmin Vivoactive 4

Going out for a run and clearing the air

Garmin squeezes in a variety of features into a smartwatch that not only supports runners well but also tracks plenty of other activities.

Best for Casual Use: Skagen Falster 3

Skagen Falster 3Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central

It's hard to put the Falster 3 in a specific box because it doesn't really focus on one particular feature or focus. It's a stylish 42mm watch in its own right, yet equipped enough to handle a fair bit of functionality. Wear OS has its limits, and there's nothing branding can do about that, but in spite of that, this is a nice option for casual use.

The AMOLED display is nice and vivid, while the internal components add to the overall package. Built-in GPS means the watch can handle tracking the route on a run, Google Assistant adds effective voice support and NFC makes payments as easy as tapping your wrist. Activity tracking may largely depend on what app you're using, but in any case, the watch more than suffices for those using it to keep tabs on your average day.

Battery life is average, lasting about a day, which fits right in with a casual smartwatch, as heavy-duty users would probably find that to be a problem here. The design and styling are unique and understated all at once, fitting right in for most occasions. It is pricey for something that isn't great at one set feature, but it checks enough boxes to be a crowd-pleaser for most.

Pros:

  • Excellent design
  • Built-in GPS and NFC
  • Space for storing music

Cons:

  • Battery life isn't robust
  • Expensive

Best for Casual Use

Skagen Falster 3

Offering a little bit of everything.

For the enterprising influencer or YouTuber needing some kit in the field, or at home, this kit is a pretty good place to start.

Best on a Budget: AmazFit Bip

AmazFit Bip lifestyleSource: AmazFit

Don't mistake this for an Apple Watch clone, though a resemblance at first glance isn't out of the question. The squared 1.28-inch display isn't of the highest quality, which is understandable for a sub-$100 smartwatch. It's largely about making compromises, particularly when it comes to the overall user experience involved. This won't run Wear OS, Tizen, Fitbit OS or any other known platform. So, no apps that you can integrate to expand its feature set.

What you will get is a decent collection of features you'd expect from any smartwatch, like GPS tracking, heart rate monitoring, step counting and more. It's the battery life that really sets it apart, lasting up to 30 days with regular use, or up to 45 days with limited notifications coming in. For a smartwatch on a tight budget and reasonable expectations, the AmazFit Bip covers the bases.

Pros:

  • Looks a lot like the Apple Watch
  • GPS and heart rate monitor
  • Outstanding battery life

Cons:

  • No app store whatsoever
  • No way to respond to notifications
  • Limited strap options

Best on a Budget

AmazFit Bip

An affordable way to look like you have the real thing.

That this looks like an Apple Watch is part of the charm, but this watch pulls its weight well for the price of entry.

Bottom line

Finding a smartwatch isn't hard. They're plenty of them available. It's finding the one that you think will fit best on your wrist and in your lifestyle that proves to be the most elusive. The Apple Watch carries a reputation as being the example to follow, but that's also a matter of taste and personal preference. That's what this list is all about. The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 offers the best in integration, user experience and durability currently available as an alternative.

It works with any Android (or iOS, for that matter) phone, and is well suited to offering something for everyone. It corrected mistakes of past Samsung smartwatches, and that's a big reason why it sits at the top.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Ted Kritsonis loves taking photos when the opportunity arises, be it on a camera or smartphone. Beyond sports and world history, you can find him tinkering with gadgets or enjoying a cigar.

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