Galaxy Watch 3 Both SizesSource: Andrew Martonik / Android Central

Best Samsung Smartwatch Android Central 2020

Samsung has taken more than a few cracks at different product categories, and smartwatches have been no exception. With several attempts at getting it right already in the books through new smartwatches and fitness trackers every year. We take a look at some of the best available, including the newest of the bunch with the Galaxy Watch 3 and its stylish take on telling more than just time.

Best Overall: Samsung Galaxy Watch 3

Galaxy Watch 3Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central

After focusing on its more fitness-focused smartwatches in 2019, Samsung pivots back to its more refined design philosophy with the Galaxy Watch 3. The watch isn't radical in sporting any sort of redesign, and it will look familiar to anyone who knows Samsung's smartwatches. But it is smaller, lighter and thinner, which could make it more appealing to a greater subset of wearers. The genuine leather band is casual and elegant all at once, and the standard lugs mean you can always strap on another one.

It's also feature-laden, though a couple of key ones will need more time before they get a green light stateside. SpO2 and VO2 Max monitoring have a bigger impact on the improved sleep tracking performance available here. It runs on Tizen, which fits so well with the physical rotating bezel that has become such a signature part of Samsung's best smartwatches.

Unfortunately, the two premier features missing out of the box are the blood pressure monitor and ECG (electrocardiogram). They're currently only available in South Korea, though Samsung did announce the ECG app also got approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). App support, generally speaking, is still a thorn in Samsung's side, as it keeps trying to woo more developers.

The watch does run on the older Exynos 9110 processor that was originally used in the previous Galaxy Watch and Galaxy Watch Active 2. It does come in more expensive than the others, but the full gamut of what's available helps punctuate why this watch is the best Samsung has.

Pros:

  • Refined look and feel
  • Lighter and smaller
  • Trip Detection when falling
  • Improved sleep tracking
  • Home workout routines

Cons:

  • Blood pressure and ECG not in U.S. yet
  • Older Exynos processor
  • Needs more app support
  • Still pricey

Best Overall

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3

Coming back with style and substance

Samsung trims its top smartwatch without losing out on the features that make it a great option when looking for something new.

Best Value: Samsung Galaxy Watch

Samsung Galaxy WatchSource: Andrew Martonik / Android Central

The standard Galaxy Watch is bulky by design, making it a compelling alternative for anyone who likes something extra on their wrist. Samsung added Gorilla Glass DX+ on the watch's display to ward off accidental scratches, and water resistance means you can track swimming in shallow clear water. It can also withstand depths of 50 meters for up to 10 minutes.

That's not to say that kind of durability doesn't exist in its successor, only that you might like the additional girth in the form factor. It runs on Tizen, has the excellent physical rotating bezel, and a responsive touchscreen. The exercise and sleep tracking is still solid in light of the watch's relative age, while the standard lugs mean you can always replace the strap with whatever you like. That's all on top of the GPS and Samsung Pay support inside.

All that aside, this is a big watch, especially the 46mm model. You have to want something bigger to appreciate this, considering there are smaller options. App support, which is a consistent issue for Samsung's smartwatches, is a total mixed bag here because there may not be any integration with certain apps you like to use. The Exynos processor is a bit dated now, though the company feels confident enough to keep using it in the newer Galaxy Watch 3.

Pros:

  • Good if you want bulk
  • Durable and water resistant
  • Physical rotating bezel
  • Responsive AMOLED display
  • Exercise and sleep tracking

Cons:

  • Not good if you want a smaller body
  • Older Exynos processor
  • App support is a mixed bag

Best Value

Samsung Galaxy Watch

A smarter watch for bigger wrists

Samsung may have trimmed some fat since launching this watch, but that doesn't mean it won't deliver for wrists needing some size.

Best Active: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

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

The Galaxy Watch Active 2 is Samsung's best smartwatch for being active for the simple fact it is built for that reason. Coming out only six months after the previous Galaxy Watch Active, the differences between them aren't expecially stark, except for one key tweak: the touch-sensitive bezel.

Physical rotating bezels have been staples of Samsung smartwatches for years, and by removing that in the first Active model, the company veered away from a standard navigation input method. The Galaxy Watch Active 2 brought it back in a unique way that gives haptic feedback as you touch it. As nice as it is, Samsung also updated the previous Galaxy Watch Active to gain the same functionality.

With 2.5GB of free onboard storage, the watch's Spotify integration is really useful because you can go to the gym or out on a run by playing music offline stored on the watch, paired with Bluetooth headphones.

Built-in GPS comes in handy for those outdoor runs, though it becomes a battery drain, which is why this watch may not always last longer than two days tops. It's also worth noting that this watch was to include both blood pressure monitoring and an ECG, but neither of them ever got off the ground, despite FDA approval.

Pros:

  • Lighter and smaller
  • Sweat and water resistant
  • Touch bezel with haptic feedback
  • Exercise and workout tracking
  • Spotify offline playback

Cons:

  • Blood pressure and ECG not available
  • Battery won't last as long
  • Minor upgrades over older model

Best Active

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

A more active bezel

Samsung adds touch feedback to this watch, doubling down on exercise tracking, Spotify integration, and water resistance.

Best Value Active: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active

Galaxy Watch ActiveSource: Android Central

When Samsung first launched the Galaxy Watch Active, it tried to do two things: offer something smaller and lighter, as well as offer performance worthy of an active lifestyle. To pull it off, the company had to remove the physical rotating bezel and shave off space wherever possible to reach the slimmer size. It does only come in 40mm, whereas the successor Galaxy Watch Active 2 comes in both 40mm and 44mm variants.

Except, removing the bezel without replacing it is what made this watch so different from other Galaxy smartwatches. It meant that you could only navigate the Tizen interface using the touchscreen and side buttons. That changed when Samsung released an update bringing the touch bezel over to this watch, putting it even closer to its successor, overall. However, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 still holds an edge in heart rate monitoring, GPS and accelerometer accuracy. There's also an optional LTE model that this watch doesn't have.

In other respects, though, the two aren't far apart. The water resistance and battery life are too similar to warrant any notable contrasts, and you can tell Bixby to start an exercise by voice. Both track the same number of exercises, too. THis watch has no shot at an ECG feature whenever that goes live in the U.S., though does have blood pressure monitoring — albeit limited in usefulness and functionality.

Pros:

  • Light and small
  • Sweat and water resistant
  • Now has touch bezel
  • Exercise and workout tracking
  • Spotify offline playback

Cons:

  • Only 40mm size
  • No ECG availability at all
  • Not as accurate as Galaxy Watch Active 2

Best Value Active

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active

Catching up with the crowd

Samsung gives the Galaxy Watch Active enough to stand on its own as a solid activity and fitness-focused smartwatch.

Best Hybrid: Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro

Galaxy Watch and Gear Fit2Source: Android Central

Neither a full-on smartwatch, nor a dedicated fitness band, the Gear Fit2 Pro straddles the line continuously, which is what makes it such a unique product compared to the others. It's rectangular screen is unlike what a smartwatch looks like, which has both benefits and pitfalls.

On the one hand, the screen works perfectly fine for tracking activity and displaying basic stats and information. On the other, it isn't quite as robust or feature-heavy as the Galaxy Watch Active and Active 2 are. Those are more smartwatches than fitness bands, and it's not a surprise they are better at handling phone notifications and offer deeper app support. Still, it's not a total either-or situation in that the Fit2 Pro has built-in GPS, continuous heart rate tracking, and is water-resistant to the same extent. Battery life isn't all that different, either. Just tread carefully when swimming with it, and steer clear of saltwater.

This is truly the best of both worlds for those who need something fashionable and functional. It does come at a price that is more than the Galaxy Watch Active, so you would need to be comfortable paying extra to get this type of design.

Pros:

  • Unique touchscreen
  • Sweat and water resistant
  • GPS and heart rate monitoring
  • Exercise and workout tracking

Cons:

  • Not great for swimming
  • Very limited app support
  • Limited updates from Samsung
  • Pricey

Best Hybrid

Samsung Gear FIt2 Pro

Fashion and function in one

Samsung doesn't make them like they used to, and that's what the Gear Fit2 Pro feels like, given its unique screen and design.

Best Budget: Samsung Galaxy Fit

Samsung Galaxy FitSource: Andrew Martonik / Android Central

If the Galaxy Watch is too bulky, and the Gear Fit2 Pro too pricey, then you can consider the Galaxy Fit as an alternative. Sporting a full-color AMOLED display on a band that carries less of a footprint than other models do, it's something that could fit well on anyone seeking functional minimalism.

This is far more a fitness band than a smartwatch, but it's not without some crossover merit. You could take it for a dip in the pool (but watch out for swimming), or maintain daily activity tracking to stay on top of how much you move. Basic phone notifications will get through to the screen, but this device isn't going to integrate with every app you like to use. In keeping things simple, however, it removes distractions and sticks to its focus. If that's your jam, then you may like this combination.

While the band itself is relatively small, it's also somewhat deceptive. Women and children might balk at the thickness, which is far more noticeable on smaller wrists. The software is not as deep as Samsung's other models, though that does benefit battery life with a good few days of use per charge.

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Sweat and water resistant
  • Exercise and workout tracking
  • Good battery life
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Band is thick for small wrists
  • No real app integration
  • Not ideal for swim tracking

Best Budget

Samsung Galaxy Fit

Bang for the buck

When all the bells and whistles aren't necessary, and you just want an activity tracker that's easy to use, strap this around your wrist.

Bottom line

If we were forced to make a choice, then the Galaxy Watch 3 is the best option available. This smartwatch still has a slew of bells and whistles, while looking a bit more stylish and professional. You get a little more heft with either size, with top-notch design and performance.

If you still really want some of those health and fitness benefits, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 would be the next best option. It's a very capable smartwatch on its own, and with a decent price tag and feature set, it's an excellent choice as an alternative.

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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