Best Smartwatches for Fitness Android Central 2021
Are you an active individual who's seeking an Android smartwatch that delivers powerful fitness and health-tracking tools along with an eye-catching design? The Garmin Vivoactive 4 is one of the best fitness smartwatches with built-in GPS, music storage, full waterproofing, and even NFC for mobile payments with Garmin Pay. It's as fully-featured of a smartwatch and fitness tracker that you'll find, so it might be just what you're looking for.
- Best Overall: Garmin Vivoactive 4
- Best Value: Withings Move
- Best Fitbit: Fitbit Versa 3
- Best With Wear OS: Fossil Gen 5
- Best Battery: Amazfit GTS 2
- Best Upgrade Pick: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
- Best Premium Option: Apple Watch Series 6
- Best Oversized Option: Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
Best Overall: Garmin Vivoactive 4
Announced late last year, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 is one of the company's newest smartwatches to hit the market. It's got some significant improvements when compared to its predecessor, like new on-screen workouts, two size options, and music storage is now standard. Admittedly, these are some significant upgrades, but they come at a cost. If you can get past the hefty price tag, it's a phenomenal fitness smartwatch that will track your every move.
Previously, the Vivoactive was only available in one size. With this release, you can choose between 45mm or a smaller 40mm, which is known as the Vivoactive 4S, but has all of the same features as its big brother. You also had to pay more for a music edition with the latest smartwatch, but music storage comes standard on the Vivoactive 4.
On the fitness side of things, you've got your usual heart-rate monitoring with activity and sleep-tracking. New features include respiration and hydration tracking, a Pulse Ox sensor, Body Battery energy monitoring, and 20-plus pre-loaded sports apps. If you're not familiar, the Pulse Ox sensor monitors blood oxygen saturation levels. The Body Battery lets you check your energy levels throughout the day, so you can schedule your workouts and rest time accordingly. The built-in GPS allows you to map outdoor runs without having to bring your phone, and the watch is waterproof up to 50 meters.
When you combine all of that with an NFC chip for Garmin Pay, the eight-day battery life in smartwatch mode (or six hours in GPS mode with music), and a lovely stainless steel design, it's easy to see why this is our top pick. It may be expensive, and you only get two color choices with the larger watch, but it's got a lot to offer for those who are dedicated to tracking their health and fitness.
- Two size options
- Heart-rate monitoring
- Built-in GPS
- 50 meter waterproofing
- NFC for Garmin Pay
- Up to eight days of battery life
- Pretty expensive
- 45mm size has fewer color options
Best Value: Withings Move
Not ready quite yet for a full-fledged smartwatch? The Withings Move might be the right fit. Rather than having a touchscreen display and an on-device operating system, the Move takes the form of a traditional watch with physical hands. Despite the discrete look, the Move is actually a well-rounded fitness companion.
With the Withings Move, you get 24/7 activity tracking, sleep-tracking, automatic workout detection, and waterproofing up to 50 meters. While the lack of built-in GPS is a bummer, you can still map outdoor bikes and runs as long as you bring your phone with you. All of your data is synced to Withings' Health Mate app, which can then sync with Google Fit, Fitbit, MyFitnessPal, and Apple Health.
If you don't want to be bothered with charging at all, you'll appreciate that the Withings Move can last up to 18 months thanks to its replaceable battery.
- Battery lasts for 18 months
- Looks like a normal watch
- Water-resistant up to 50 meters
- Automatic workout detection
- Doesn't have built-in GPS
- No heart-rate sensor
- No apps or phone notifications
Best Fitbit: Fitbit Versa 3
There's a lot to say about the new Fitbit Versa 3. It's a fabulous device that successfully pairs the company's best fitness features with some outstanding smartwatch perks. This model offers onboard GPS (finally!), six-plus days of battery life, improved heart-rate technology, Active Zone Minutes, and Fitbit Pay. It also boasts a new design that is slimmer and sleeker than its predecessor. It also has a built-in microphone and speaker, which makes it easier to use the voice assistants. Not to mention that you can now handle Bluetooth calls from your wrist.
As far as fitness goes, the Versa 3 gives you all of the features you'd expect such as 24/7 heart-rate monitoring along with tracking for activity, sleep stages, and female health. You'll also enjoy the benefit of on-screen workouts that coach you through each move. It's water-resistant up to 50M as well. The new Active Zone Minutes feature helps you get the most of your workouts by letting you know when you enter your personalized target heart-rate zone.
If you had racked up a solid collection of previous Fitbit Versa bands, you might be disappointed to learn that they won't be compatible with the new edition. The Versa 3 introduces the company's new infinity bands with a quick-release system that's easy to use. As usual with Fitbit wearables, the app selection is rather limited.
- Sleek, slim design
- Six-plus days of battery life
- Onboard GPS
- Active Zone Minutes
- Built-in mic and speaker
- Fitbit Pay
- Old bands aren't compatible
- Small app selection
Best With Wear OS: Fossil Gen 5
Google's Wear OS platform has had its fair share of ups and downs over the years, but if it's your smartwatch OS of choice, we highly recommend checking out the Fossil Gen 5 smartwatches. You'll receive a breadth of features that make it a worthy competitor, like a built-in speaker for taking calls when your phone is connected, an improved battery that promises three days of moderate usage, and a whopping 1GB of RAM for the most impressive performance in the Wear OS ecosystem yet.
While this generation of Fossil smartwatches doesn't have "Sport" in the name, this bad boy can handle your activity tracking needs like a champ with Google Fit. It's waterproof, offers 24/7 heart-rate monitoring, and it even has GPS that allows you to track your runs without having to bring your phone with you. It provides other bonuses as well, like Google Pay and Google Assistant.
It might lack sleep-tracking and a more robust activity tracking suite like some of the others on the list, but you still get a lot for your money. It's hard to argue with the updates that have made for some significant improvements this time around. You can choose between the stylish Carlyle or the more feminine Julianna model. Either way, it's not a bad choice at all.
- Stylish and functional
- Top-notch performance
- Built-in GPS
- Heart-rate sensor
- NFC for Google Pay
- Lacks sleep-tracking
- Display could be better
- Expensive price tag
Best Battery: Amazfit GTS 2
If you're looking to dip your toe into the smartwatch market but you don't want to spend a fortune, there are plenty of options from Amazfit to consider. One of the newest models is the Amazfit GTS 2. It offers a full week of battery life with typical use, which is impressive for all that this watch can do. It should come as no surprise that this is one of its most attractive features, especially for those who are constantly on the run and don't have time to stop and charge daily. It might look like an Apple Watch, but the battery will last much longer.
With the Amazfit GTS 2, you also get heart-rate monitoring, activity and sleep-tracking, waterproofing up to 50 meters, and built-in GPS. All of your data is synced to the new Zepp app. While app improvements are welcome, this one still needs work. There's not much support for this app or these new watches. Unfortunately, the setup process is a bit more complicated than it needs to be. Speaking of support, you won't have access to third-party apps aside from the future Alexa integration. While internal music storage is helpful, it would've been nice to have streaming apps such as Spotify.
While the battery life is the main attraction, the price tag is also worth mentioning. Most other smartwatches with features like GPS, heart-rate monitoring, and a beautiful AMOLED display are going to set you back a bit financially. However, the Amazfit GTS 2 offers all of this and more at a fair price. As you might have noticed, it looks a lot like the Apple Watch. If you're a fan of that design but not so much the price, this is a perfect alternative.
- AMOLED display
- Up to week-long battery life
- Built-in GPS
- Heart-rate monitoring
- 50-meter water resistance
- Affordable price tag
- Zepp app needs work
- No third-party music apps
Best Upgrade Pick: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
The Galaxy Watch Active 2 provides users with a compact and lightweight design that's as stylish as ever. You'll have a stunning AMOLED touchscreen with easy navigation, courtesy of the new capacitive bezel. Tizen OS is smooth, but might take some getting used to if you're new to the software. Depending on whether you choose the 40mm or 44mm model, you'll get two-to-three days of battery life. Given that this is a true smartwatch packed with features—you can expect to charge it every couple of days.
Like its predecessor, the Active 2 offers an array of health and fitness-tracking features. It comes with built-in GPS, automatic activity-tracking, heart-rate monitoring, sleep-tracking, plus water, food, and caffeine-consumption tracking. The new-and-improved Running Coach feature now provides you with real-time pace metrics, along with a breakdown of what to expect from your session before you begin.
Some recent updates have further improved this smartwatch. You'll now have the Running Analysis feature to help you become a better runner, improve your form, and prevent injuries. The Galaxy Watch Active 2 can measure VO2 max, which indicates the maximum amount of oxygen one can utilize during intense activity. The blood pressure monitoring feature and electrocardiogram (ECG) sensor for detecting irregular heartbeats are also available.
Of course, there are plenty of smartwatch features to go around. You'll have support for smartphone notifications, Samsung Pay, Wi-Fi connectivity, and music storage. Having an LTE model is a marvelous upgrade, especially if you're seeking a well-rounded smartwatch. Keep in mind that it will cost you more than the Bluetooth-only model. It will take some time to learn Tizen OS and third-party app support is mediocre at best.
- Compact, lightweight design
- Two-to-three days of battery life
- Automatic activity tracking
- Running Analysis
- Water-resistant up to 5ATM
- Built-in GPS, NFC, ECG
- Optional LTE connectivity
- Mediocre third-party app support
- Tizen OS learning curve
Best Premium Option: Apple Watch Series 6
While there aren't too many major changes to the Apple Watch Series 6 when compared to its predecessor, it is still a great watch for iOS users. You'll have plenty of perks, including heart-rate monitoring, built-in GPS, an always-on altimeter for tracking floors climbed, blood oxygen (SpO2) monitoring, sleep-tracking, Apple Pay, and 5 ATM water resistance.
The design is mostly the same this time around. However, you'll now have additional color options: blue, red, gold, and graphite. The case material options include aluminum, stainless steel, and titanium. As you might've noticed, Apple dropped the ceramic variant with this edition. You also get a new S6 processor with this device. The company says that the Apple Watch Series 6 will run faster and for longer than its predecessor.
Apple is doing all that it can to keep up with the other fitness smartwatches on the market. This new model introduces Apple Fitness+, which is a subscription service that boasts a library of video-led workouts. Users can pick their preferred workout and the video will display on the Apple device of your choice. While working out, the real-time Apple Watch data will be conveniently displayed on the screen.
Unfortunately, the Apple Watch Series 6 is still a fairly expensive wearable. Although, if you use an iPhone, this is the most seamless experience you'll find. If you don't mind the price tag and the fact that it's not a giant improvement from the predecessor, then you might be interested in upgrading. We're still getting the usual 18-hour battery life, which is a bummer.
- Always-on display
- Built-in ECG
- Native sleep-tracking
- Emergency calling
- Apple Fitness+
- Optional LTE connectivity
- Apple Pay
- Not too many upgrades from predecessor
- Pretty expensive
Best Oversized Option: Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is the ideal smartwatch for those who want a device that does it all. It's certainly not cheap, but it covers just about every feature you could possibly hope for in a smartwatch. Previously, it was more of a lifestyle wearable than anything else. Now, it has some improvements to the health/fitness tracking that make it appealing to a wider audience. It still comes in two sizes: a modest 41mm model and a much larger 45mm option.
While the original Galaxy Watch wasn't exactly a great pick for the health and fitness crowd, the successor brings more to the table. You'll have many of the same features as before, including built-in GPS, heart-rate monitoring, and Samsung Pay. You'll also still have the choice of adding LTE connectivity to your watch.
Two new health perks that users will enjoy are blood oxygen (SpO2) monitoring and VO2 max readings. You'll also have an electrocardiogram (ECG) sensor along with blood-pressure monitoring. Those who want an in-depth look at their health will appreciate these new additions. For fitness fans, the Galaxy Watch 3 provides built-in run coaching and recovery tools. You'll also have convenient access to over 120 home workout videos on the Samsung Health app.
While Samsung claims that this model is slightly slimmer, it's still bulkier than a lot of other options out there. However, with that bulk, you get a military-grade durability rating as well as waterproofing up to 50M. The bezel around the display rotates and serves as a fun way to navigate menus rather than touching the screen.
- Available in two sizes
- Rotating bezel
- Big, colorful OLED screen
- Military-grade durability + waterproof
- Activity and sleep tracking
- Heart rate monitor
- NFC and MST for Samsung Pay
- Pretty big
Best fitness smartwatches How to choose
Any of the smartwatches on this list will serve you well, but at the end of the day, we feel confident that the Garmin Vivoactive 4 is the best all-around choice. We've already given a lot of praise for it here, but let's reiterate why we think it's the best fitness smartwatch.
On the fitness side of things, there's something here for everyone to enjoy. You'll get activity- and sleep-tracking, animated on-screen workouts, heart-rate monitoring, a Pulse Ox sensor, and the Body Battery feature. All of your fitness stats are readily available on the watch—and you'll have even more details when you sync it to the Garmin Connect app.
However, fitness is just one side of this smartwatch equation. When you aren't breaking a sweat, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 is just an excellent lifestyle smartwatch, too. It's fully waterproof so it can handle your day-to-day activities, and it looks beautiful while doing it. You'll love being able to store music on your watch and use Garmin Pay whenever you need to. These are just a few reasons why we happily recommend this as the best fitness smartwatch to just about everyone.
Credits—The team that worked on this guide
Joe Maring Joe is Android Central's News Editor. He loves talking about all things tech, but smart wearables are what get him really excited (just ask the drawer of smartwatches in his office). He also likes coffee and goes to Starbucks far too often. Have a tip? Send an email to email@example.com or hit him up on Twitter @JoeMaring1
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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