Best Apple Watch Alternatives Android Central 2021
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. The best Apple Watch alternative for Android users that stands out from the pack is the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 because of its balanced functionality and stylish design that caters to a wider subset of users. There are plenty of other options worth exploring, too.
- Best Overall: Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
- Best Runner Up: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
- Best Value: Fitbit Versa 3
- Best for Fitness: Fitbit Sense
- Best for Runners: Garmin Vivoactive 4
- Best Style: Fossil Gen 5 LTE
- Best for Casual Use: Skagen Falster 3
- Best on a Budget: Amazfit GTS 2 Mini
Best Overall: Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
After focusing for over a year on the Active models in its Galaxy Watch lineup, Samsung came back this year with a newer premium design. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 offers a slimmer frame and while it's not quite as small as the Active models, there are 41mm and 45mm sizes to choose from.
The biggest design treatment setting this watch apart from others is the trusty physical rotating bezel that makes navigation feel fluid when wading through the various menus and options. You can still tap on the screen if you want, and the combination helps make the software easier to handle.
t 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's Tizen OS is not Android, though it's currently the best integration for Android phones, and a big reason why it's at the top of the heap as an Apple Watch alternative. App support and availability remain a thorny issue for Samsung, but not all apps are out of reach. The integration with Spotify is excellent, even letting you store playlists offline to play with paired headphones.
Samsung tries to make up for what others won't include in the watch by bringing in as much of its own tech as possible. The electrocardiogram (ECG) still hasn't gone live despite FDA approval for it, but there's a pulse oximeter (SpO2) to measure blood oxygen levels, as well as VO2 Max to gauge oxygen intake while exercising.
And all that is on top of the built-in GPS and exercise tracking. The watch can track dozens of exercises, a few of which start automatically when you get moving. Phone notifications are slick, and taking or making calls through the watch itself also feels seamless. Battery life isn't dramatically different from previous Samsung watches, so you don't get any inherent advantage that way. And Samsung Pay, which is more readily available now, still doesn't support MST on this device.
Still, 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.
- Great look and design
- Rotating bezel is great
- Vibrant screen
- Solid activity tracking features
- Comes in two sizes
- Easy to change straps
- Third-party app support still needs work
- Not a big change in battery
- No MST for Samsung Pay
Best Runner Up: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
Samsung corrected a key feature missing in the previous Active 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 the Galaxy Watch Active 2 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 an 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 genuinely 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.
- Great hardware design with capacitive bezel
- Gorgeous screen
- Solid activity tracking features
- Comes in two sizes
- Better app integration than previous models
- Third-party app support remains a struggle
- GPS run/bike tracking not as accurate as phone
Best Value: Fitbit Versa 3
The Versa 3 was somewhat overshadowed by the Fitbit Sense, the company's flagship, but it still stands out as one of the best options available. One major design change that immediately changes its usability is the new latch system for bands and straps. No more fiddling with the older latch when new straps just click in and out with ease.
Fitbit took a lot from the Versa 2 and applied it here, only it also added key features that set it apart in important ways. Built-in GPS is a big one because it means you won't have to take your phone with you when you want to track distance or cover a route. It also includes Fitbit's newer PurePulse 2.0 heart rate monitor for more accurate readings and better overall data collection when looking at it later in the app. There's also the SpO2 sensor for blood oxygen levels, as well as the ability to track menstrual cycles.
Some of the Sense's features do cross over here, particularly with phone calls and the new built-in speaker, though it's far more a continuation of what the Versa 2 first offered. You do get Alexa, and Google Assistant is a new addition. Fitbit is still working on getting more apps to work on its platform, but it's clearly still an uphill battle. While a small number work well, there's still room for improvement. Fitbit Pay has grown nicely since it first launched, and the NFC chip inside this watch makes it easier to keep the phone away at points of purchase.
- Built-in GPS
- Improved heart rate tracking
- Alexa and Google Assistant integration
- Vivid screen
- Phone call integration
- Newer latch for straps
- Needs more apps
- Still no offline Spotify
Best for Fitness: Fitbit Sense
When Fitbit first launched the Sense, not all features were live. Luckily, that's no longer the case now the phone call and Google Assistant integration features are good to go. It adds up to a very different smartwatch from the company, but health and fitness features remain the primary focus, and those are driven by the litany of sensors inside.
The EDA (electrodermal activity) sensor measures stress by sensing small electric charges to your skin and noting your sweat levels. A new skin temperature sensor works separately when you sleep to look for fluctuations that may be a sign that you're coming down with something. Heart rate variability also utilizes the various metrics, plus the new PurePulse 2.0 heart rate monitor to alert you of any unusually low or high beats per minute (BPM). You get the SpO2 sensor for blood oxygen levels. There's even an ECG inside, which went live about a month after the smartwatch launched. All of this information shows up in the Fitbit app and helps provide some general metrics, like a Stress Management score.
On the fitness side, built-in GPS helps a great deal for any exercises that include distance tracking. You still get basic shortcuts to the exercises you like most, including automatic tracking for select ones. With a Fitbit Premium subscription, you can access guided workouts and programs to hit certain goals. It's just a shame there aren't more apps to take advantage of all the features Fitbit makes available here. Fitbit Pay also works here as a convenience for hands-free purchases.
- Vivid OLED display
- Comfortable to wear
- EDA and temperature sensors
- Built-in GPS and NFC
- Better phone integration
- Easier to change straps
- ECG still not active
- Still needs more apps
- No offline Spotify
Best for Runners: Garmin Vivoactive 4
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.
You get 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 the 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.
- Solid running features
- Built-in GPS
- 5 ATM water-resistance
- Pulse Ox sensor
- Solid battery life
- 45mm has limited color options
- Garmin Pay needs to grow
Best Style: Fossil Gen 5 LTE
Sometimes, you want to find a smartwatch that is the perfect combination of brains and beauty. If that sounds like you, you'll have met your match with the new Fossil Gen 5 LTE. It took some time, but the company finally decided to join the LTE crowd. However, this watch isn't really new. Upon closer inspection, this smartwatch is basically the same as the original Fossil Gen 5 model with Verizon LTE connectivity added to it.
If you're not familiar with the original model, it's packed with useful features. You'll have access to built-in GPS, heart-rate monitoring, activity/health tracking, Google, Pay, and Google Assistant. When you add LTE connectivity to the mix, this changes the game. You'll be able to leave your phone at home when you go for a hike or hit the gym while still having the option to track your route, steam music, receive calls/texts, and utilize Google Assistant.
The fashionable design is nearly identical with a 45mm stainless steel case that is available in two colors: Smoke or Rose Gold. Another common Wear OS feature that's present is battery saving modes that are intended to prolong battery life. For example, you can use most features with Daily Mode but you'll still need to charge it daily. You can also opt for Extended Mode, which allows you to use key features and you'll have to charge your watch every few days.
The main attraction here is — you guessed it — LTE connectivity. This feature alone makes the Fossil Gen 5 LTE another excellent Apple Watch alternative for Android users. If you're already familiar with Wear OS and you want a smartwatch with LTE, you'll appreciate this stylish wearable. Unfortunately, the company did not implement the Snapdragon Wear 4100 processor. It's also worth noting that you can only use LTE connectivity with Verizon.
- Classy and elegant design
- Two color options
- LTE connectivity
- Built-in GPS, NFC, HRM
- Google Assistant
- Only available with Verizon
- Only comes in one size
- Still running Snapdragon Wear 3100
Best for Casual Use: Skagen Falster 3
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 despite that, this is an excellent 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.
- Excellent design
- Built-in GPS and NFC
- Space for storing music
- Battery life isn't robust
Best on a Budget: Amazfit GTS 2 Mini
The Amazfit GTS 2 Mini is a nice Apple Watch alternative for Android uses for multiple reasons. For starters, it mimics the design rather nicely. Many people won't have a clue that you're not wearing an Apple Watch. Best of all? This wearable comes at a fair price and still offers tons of great features, so it's ideal for those who don't want to break the bank on a smartwatch.
You can expect between 1 to 2 weeks of battery life depending on how heavily you use your device. You'll enjoy an attractive, lightweight design that's complete with a bright display. Other perks include built-in GPS, heart-rate tracking, over 70 sport modes, and blood oxygen monitoring.
Compared to the Amazfit GTS 2, the GTS 2 Mini is easily the more affordable option. Not to mention that you get longer battery life with the Mini. However, you'll have to sacrifice voice commands, music storage, and an altimeter for tracking floors climbed. If those aren't a big deal to you, then you might be perfectly content with the Amazfit GTS 2 Mini.
- Looks a lot like the Apple Watch
- GPS, HRM, SpO2
- Good battery life
- Surprisingly affordable
- No app store whatsoever
- No voice commands
- Lacks NFC payments
Best Apple Watch Alternatives How to decide
Finding the best Android smartwatch isn't hard when plenty of them are available. It's finding the one 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.
With that in mind, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 offers the best in integration, user experience, and durability. It's currently the best Apple Watch alternative for Android users. 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.
Courtney Lynch is a freelance writer at Android Central. She's obsessed with all things health, fitness, and music. At any given time, she can be found checking out the latest and greatest gadgets while simultaneously petting her dog and sipping iced coffee.
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