Best smartwatch for fitness Android Central 2021
If you consider yourself an active individual and you're searching for the best Android smartwatch to meet your fitness needs, there are several options to pick from. The Garmin Vivoactive 4 is one of the best fitness smartwatches, which comes with key features such as GPS, music storage, full waterproofing, and even NFC for Garmin Pay. It's as fully featured of a smartwatch and fitness tracker that you'll find, so it might be exactly what you're looking for.
- Best overall: Garmin Vivoactive 4 GPS Smart Watch
- Best value: Withings - Move Activity Tracker
- Best Fitbit: Fitbit Versa 3 Health & Fitness Smartwatch with GPS
- Best Wear OS: TicWatch Pro 3 GPS Smartwatch
- Best battery: Garmin Venu 2 - Smartwatch
- Best upgrade pick: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 Smartwatch
- Best premium option: Apple Watch Series 6 Smartwatch
- Best oversized option: Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 Smartwatch
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. It's also an ideal option if you want a running watch that can help you improve your performance.
Previously, the Vivoactive was only available in one size. With this release, you can choose between 45mm or a smaller 40mm, 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 bringing 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. If you like the Versa 3 but find yourself craving more advanced health features, you may want to consider the Fitbit Sense instead.
- 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 Wear OS: TicWatch Pro 3
It might be on the pricey side, but the TicWatch Pro 3 is definitely the best fitness smartwatch for Wear OS users. Not only does it offer the company's dual-layer display and superior battery life, but it also comes with many other features for a great wearable experience. There are different modes to choose from that will determine the battery life of the watch. Daily Mode allows you to use all of the important features, but you'll need to charge it daily. Extended Mode lets you use key features and will only require recharging every few days. In Essential mode with only a few features enabled, the TicWatch Pro 3 can last for up to 45 days.
At 47mm, this is a fairly large smartwatch. Mobvoi states that it has refined the design, which is now about 30% lighter. The case is still huge, but it's nice that the company made an effort to make it more lightweight. Other improvements include the addition of Snapdragon Wear 4100, which leads to speedy performance. You get some new and refreshed apps, including TicExercise and TicPulse. There's also TicOxygen for SpO2 tracking, TicHearing for noise detection and alert, TicBreathe for breath training, and TicZen to monitor stress levels using heart-rate data.
If you're not bothered by how large this smartwatch is or the hefty price tag, this could be the right fitness smartwatch for you. It's a perfect example of what a successor should offer. You'll enjoy the new processor's snappy performance, the improved design, new health sensors, and more apps.
- Improved performance
- Built-in GPS
- Heart-rate monitor
- Blood oxygen tracking
- Swim-proof design
- NFC for Google Pay
- Too big for some wrists
- Expensive price tag
Best battery: Garmin Venu 2
If you don't want to be charging your watch every few days, you'll want to search for the best fitness smartwatch with long battery life. In that case, you should take a look at the Garmin Venu 2. It's one of the company's newest models, so it's loaded with new features for an excellent fitness tracking experience. Most importantly, you can get up to 11 days of battery life in smartwatch mode with the Garmin Venu 2. The smaller 40mm model offers up to 10 days of battery life, which is still impressive. You also have a battery saver mode that will help you extend battery life even further.
The Venu 2 comes in a 45mm case (or 40mm case if you opt for the smaller 2S model) and has a gorgeous AMOLED display. Both models are compatible with interchangeable bands. There are several different style options to choose from, so you won't have to worry about sacrificing your love for fashion when you buy this Garmin smartwatch. Not to mention that you'll enjoy plenty of fitness features, including built-in GPS, activity/sleep tracking, over 25 sport modes, heart-rate monitoring, Pulse Ox, Body Battery, and female health-tracking. You also get onboard music storage and NFC payments with Garmin Pay.
There are some new features, including improved sleep tracking. You'll now get a sleep score via Firstbeat Analytics, which is based on the quality and quantity of your previous night's sleep. Also, you can now view your sleep stats on the watch rather than having to open the mobile app.
The new fitness age feature can estimate whether your body is younger or older than your chronological age using key stats such as your actual age, weekly vigorous activity, resting heart rate, and BMI. There are helpful tips on how to lower your fitness age if that's one of your goals. It's an expensive smartwatch, but some people may find the unbeatable battery life and feature set to be worth it.
- Gorgeous AMOLED display
- Up to 11 days of battery life
- Built-in GPS
- Heart-rate monitoring
- 50-meter water resistance
- Stylish design
- Pretty expensive
- Smaller model isn't cheaper
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. Whether you choose the 40mm or 44mm model, you'll get around two to three 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+, 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, 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 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 many 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 decide
Any of the wearables on this list will serve you well, but we feel confident that the Garmin Vivoactive 4 is the best fitness smartwatch for most users. We've already given a lot of praise for it here, but let's reiterate why we think it's the best overall pick.
On the fitness side of things, there's a little something here for everyone to enjoy. You'll get activity- and sleep-tracking, animated on-screen workouts, heart-rate monitoring, a Pulse Ox sensor for blood oxygen tracking, and the Body Battery energy monitoring feature. All of your fitness stats are readily available on the watch — and you can access even more details when you sync it to the Garmin Connect app on your phone.
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 that 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.
Credits—The team that worked on this guide
Joe Maring Joe 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. 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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