Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 ReviewSource: Daniel Bader / Android Central

Best Wear OS watch Android Central 2021

If you're shopping for the best Android smartwatch, you'll quickly notice that many of the options are Wear OS watches, including the new Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic. Now that the new Wear OS 3 platform is finally upon us, the game is changing. Keep in mind that not all existing Wear OS watches will be updated to the new system, so that's something to consider when making your choice. If you don't want to be left behind and you'd like to enjoy the new platform sooner rather than later, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 might be the best Wear OS watch for you.

Best overall: Samsung Galaxy Watch 4

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Hands OnSource: Android Central

By now, you've probably heard that the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 has arrived. While this normally wouldn't mean anything to Wear OS users, this Samsung smartwatch is the first wearable to run on Wear OS 3. There are two variants to pick from: the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic. The only difference between these two has to do with case size and physical design elements. The Watch 4 comes in a 40mm or 44mm aluminum case with a digital rotating bezel. The Watch 4 Classic comes in a 42mm or 46mm stainless steel case with a physical rotating bezel.

Other than the long-awaited debut of Wear OS 3, there are several improvements, but that's certainly a big draw. Samsung has outdone itself with the new 3-in-1 BioActive sensor. This clever technology uses a single chip for several key sensors. It offers optical heart rate, electrical heart (ECG), blood pressure, and Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA). The new BIA sensor can analyze your body composition by recording key metrics. Some examples include body water and fat percentage, skeletal muscle mass, basal metabolic rate, and more.

The performance on the Galaxy Watch 4 is quite impressive, thanks to Samsung's Exynos W920 SoC. Combined with 1.5GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, you'll enjoy snappy performance. If you've gotten comfortable with Wear OS, don't worry. You won't experience a night-and-day difference that feels like an impossible adjustment. One positive change is improved app support. You'll find several preloaded apps aside from the usual Samsung ones. Now, you'll also have Google Maps, Messages by Google, and Google Pay.

Right now, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 4 Classic are the only devices running Wear OS 3. However, Google says that existing eligible smartwatches should start receiving the update during the mid or second half of 2022.

Pros:

  • GPS, HRM, NFC
  • Optional LTE
  • Great performance
  • Improved health/fitness tracking
  • Several size options

Cons:

  • Not your typical Wear OS experience
  • Mediocre battery life

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4

Galaxy Watch4

Wear OS 3 is in the building

If you're eager to get your hands on a smartwatch with Wear OS 3, you'll love the new Samsung Galaxy Watch 4.

Best runner-up: Fossil Gen 5E

Fossil Gen 5ESource: Ara Wagoner / Android Central

If you're a fan of Fossil watches, but you want something slim and sleek, you'll appreciate the 5E's refined design. More importantly, it's packed with essential features that most users will find useful. You can choose whether you want a men's model in a larger 44mm case or the women's model that comes in a 42mm case. Both Fossil Gen 5E variants are compatible with interchangeable bands. There are numerous color options, including Silver/Gold, Rose Gold, Pink, Black, and more.

As far as features go, there is a lot to unpack. The Fossil Gen 5E offers heart-rate monitoring, activity/health tracking, NFC payments, smartphone notifications, Google Assistant, and multiple battery-saving modes. It also has a built-in microphone/speaker, so it can easily take Bluetooth calls on your wrist. It's water-resistant up to 30 meters, which means you don't have to panic if it gets wet.

You might've picked up on this by now, but one of the main missing features is onboard GPS. You'll need to use your phone for connected GPS. If you're a serious athlete, this might be a deal-breaker. You get the same Snapdragon 3100 Wear processor that the original Gen 5 models have, but you'll get 4GB of storage instead of the previous 8GB. If you so desire, you can take advantage of the multi-day battery modes. These can be useful to prevent your watch from dying on you, but they can limit what features are available for use. In Daily Mode, you can use most features, but you'll still need to charge it every 24 hours or so.

Pros:

  • Heart-rate monitoring
  • Activity/health tracking
  • Built-in mic/speaker
  • Google Assistant
  • Google Pay

Cons:

  • Less storage than original Gen 5 models
  • Lacks built-in GPS
  • Short battery life

Best runner-up

Fossil Gen 5e Women

Fossil Women's Gen 5E 42mm Stainless Steel Touchscreen Smartwatch

A close second

It may not have Wear OS 3, but the Fossil Gen 5E is packed with useful features that offer an excellent user experience.

Best value: Ticwatch E3

Ticwatch E3 LifestyleSource: Chris Wedel/Android Central

One of the newest watches from Mobvoi is the TicWatch E3. It's also the second watch from the company to run the Snapdragon Wear 4100 chipset, so that you can expect stellar performance from this watch. You'll get around 2 days of battery life on a single charge depending on usage. Fortunately, this watch has Essential Mode. This feature disables the always-on display, but you can still use tilt-to-wake. The display will show the date, time, step count, heart rate, and battery indicator. In fact, the watch will still track your sleep in Essential Mode.

The design is similar to what you've seen on previous TicWatch E models. For starters, you get a large and bright 1.3" HD display. It is encompassed by a rather large and bulky bezel that you'll either love or hate depending on your preferences. Fortunately, the watch is compatible with 20mm interchangeable bands, so swapping it out for a new one is never an issue. It offers IP68 water resistance is suitable for pool swimming,

You get more than your share of features as far as the health and fitness side of things. The Mobvoi TicWatch E3 offers onboard GPS, activity tracking, heart-rate monitoring, sleep tracking, and more. There are a few extra perks as well, including Google Assistant and Google Pay. These are all fantastic perks to have, but the short battery life is a drawback. This is not unheard of for Wear OS watches, though. If you can live with that and the chunky bezel, this is an incredible value that's hard to beat. Most importantly, the TicWatch E3 will be eligible for the Wear OS 3 update.

Pros:

  • GPS, HRM, NFC
  • Activity/health tracking
  • Built-in mic/speaker
  • Google Assistant
  • Ultra-smooth performance

Cons:

  • Bulky bezel
  • Mediocre battery life

Best value

Ticwatch E3

Ticwatch E3 Smart Watch

The TicWatch E2 offers excellent performance and health/fitness tracking features at an affordable price.

Best style: Skagen Falster 3

Skagen Falster 3Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central

Perhaps you're not looking for the biggest Wear OS watch on the block. Those who prefer a more traditional aesthetic will love the stylish appeal of the Skagen Falster 3. It comes in a modest 42mm case, so it sits right in the middle of the size scale. You can choose whether you want the stainless steel case in Black, Silver, or Rose Gold. The band options include silicone, stainless steel mesh, and leather.

There's a lot to love about the Skagen Falster 3, including the clever three-button layout that comes with a smooth rotating crown. Scrolling through menus is effortless and eliminates the need to always use the touchscreen. The main features include built-in GPS, heart-rate monitoring, activity/health tracking, NFC payments, smartphone notifications, Google Assistant, and a built-in microphone/speaker. It also has a 3 ATM water resistance rating.

The proprietary bands can be a hassle to change, but that's a small disadvantage compared to the positives here. If style is the name of your game, you can't go wrong with the Skagen Falster 3. Again, the extended battery modes are available, but they'll restrict how you can use your watch. Otherwise, you can expect to charge it daily.

Pros:

  • Sleek, attractive design
  • Smooth rotating crown
  • GPS, HRM, NFC
  • Built-in mic/speaker
  • Google Assistant

Cons:

  • Proprietary bands
  • Short battery life

Best style

Skagen Falster 3 Gunmetal

Skagen Connected Falster 3 Gen 5

Fashion first

The Skagen Falster 3 is an attractive Wear OS watch that nails fashion and functionality in one gorgeous package.

Best upgrade pick: TicWatch Pro 3

Ticwatch Pro 3 Wear Os Watch Face Change LifestyleSource: Chris Wedel/Android Central

If you're looking for a smartwatch that's built to go big or go home, look no further than the TicWatch Pro 3. It's one of the latest releases from Mobvoi, and it has many improvements. First, you get the company's signature dual-layer display, which you may be familiar with if you've used any Pro models. Now, the new-and-improved Display 2.0 comes with a live seconds counter and a useful backlight. The battery should last for about three days in Smart Mode, but this will depend on your usage. The key features include built-in GPS, activity/health tracking, heart-rate monitoring, blood oxygen (SpO2) monitoring, Google Assistant, smartphone notifications, and Google Pay.

When we say this watch is big, we're not exaggerating. For most people, 47mm is a fairly big watch case. Even still, the company states the new model is about 30% lighter this time around. It comes with IP68 water and dust resistance rating. Additionally, the TicWatch Pro 3 has refreshed some of its apps, including TicExercise and TicPulse. Some new ones were added to the lineup as well, like TicOxygen for blood oxygen monitoring, TicHearing for noise detection and alert, TicZen to track stress levels with your heart-rate data, and TicBreathe for breath training.

If you're not bothered by how large this device is, you may have met your match. It's one of the best Wear OS watches out there, thanks to the new Snapdragon Wear 4100, which leads to silky-smooth performance. The only other deterrent that might scare some people off is the expensive price tag. We should also mention that it only comes in one color option, Shadow Black. If this looks like the best Wear OS watch for you, you'll be glad to know it's one of the lucky few watches that will upgrade to the new platform in 2022.

Pros:

  • Outstanding performance
  • GPS, HRM, NFC
  • More lightweight design
  • Dual-layer display
  • Google Assistant

Cons:

  • Pretty expensive
  • Only comes in one color
  • A bit big for some wrists

Best upgrade pick

TicWatch Pro 3

TicWatch Pro 3 GPS Smartwatch

Dreamlike performance

If you need a watch with stellar performance and a light but durable design, you'll be in good hands with the TicWatch Pro 3.

Best for fitness buffs: Suunto 7

Suunto 7 Wear OSSource: Android Central / Russell Holly

If you're a fitness buff, you're probably looking for more from a Wear OS watch. The Suunto 7 fits the bill. Not only does it come in a large, durable case, but it's also packed with fitness features that will likely meet all of your tracking needs. It might not be as popular or well-known as some of the other options on this list, but it's got some serious potential.

Not only do you get built-in GPS as well as full-color accurate mapping software, but you also have access to more than 70 sport modes. We should also mention that with the apps available from Suunto, you can view helpful metrics that go into further detail than what's available on Google Fit, such as training load, training recovery, and much more. This watch is 5 ATM water-resistant.

These features are undeniably great, especially if you're a hardcore fitness buff. Make sure that you're content with only 2 days of battery life in smartwatch mode, though. It's also not uncommon to experience sluggish performance due to the ever-evolving nature of Wear OS, but that's not exactly a new problem. If you can deal with these minor flaws, this is the best choice for serious athletes.

Pros:

  • GPS, HRM, NFC
  • Durable, sporty design
  • Superior activity tracking
  • Full-color mapping
  • Google Assistant

Cons:

  • Gigantic
  • Mediocre battery life
  • Too expensive for some

Best for fitness buffs

Suunto 7 Wear Os

SUUNTO 7 GPS Sports Smart Watch

Time to get fit

If you're a fitness buff, you can't settle for anything but a serious Wear OS watch. The Suunto 7 has everything you need.

Best for connectivity: Fossil Gen 5 LTE

Fossil Gen 5 LTESource: Derrek Lee / Android Central

Those who have been longing for a Wear OS smartwatch with improved performance and LTE connectivity will be more than pleased with the Fossil Gen 5 LTE. This model was just recently announced, so it's relatively new to the market. This is also the first Fossil smartwatch to offer LTE. The one thing to note here is that it's only available on Verizon. This model has all of the same features that the original Gen 5 smartwatches had. The design is similar as well. You get a 45mm stainless steel case that is available in Rose Gold or Smoke. Both models are water-resistant up to 30 meters.

If you need a quick refresher on those features, we've got you covered. You'll get built-in GPS, heart-rate monitoring, activity/health tracking, Google, Pay, smartphone notifications, and Google Assistant. The new feature, of course, is LTE connectivity. This means you can leave your phone at home and still take calls, send texts, and stream music. Not bad, right? As you might've guessed, you also get the battery-saving modes on this Wear OS watch.

The only real problem might be that the Fossil Gen 5 LTE is exclusive to Verizon. If you're an existing customer, you might've hit the jackpot. If not, it might be more trouble than it's worth to switch carriers. We also would've liked to see the new Snapdragon Wear 4100 processor, but Fossil stuck with the 3100. You'll also want to be aware that LTE smartwatches aren't exactly cheap, so be prepared for the hefty price tag.

Pros:

  • LTE connectivity
  • Built-in GPS
  • Two color options
  • Activity/health tracking
  • Google Pay & Google Assistant

Cons:

  • Only one size option
  • Verizon exclusive
  • Missing Snapdragon Wear 4100

Best for connectivity

Fossil Gen 5 LTE Smoke

Fossil Gen 5 LTE Smartwatch

Get connected

Those longing for a Wear OS watch with LTE connectivity will have met their match with the Fossil Gen 5 LTE.

Best lifestyle watch Fossil Gen 5

Fossil Gen 5Source: Joe Maring / Android Central

Those who don't need a ton of bells and whistles might prefer a Wear OS watch that's suitable for daily wear, like the Fossil Gen 5. The 44mm stainless steel case is available in a few different models, including the Carlyle and the Julianna. The former is a men's model, and the latter is a women's model. This is yet another smartwatch that takes advantage of the rotating crown for easy navigation. You also get two additional buttons that you can program as you see fit. These watches are compatible with 22mm interchangeable bands.

In addition to being an attractive wearable, the Fossil Gen 5 comes with plenty of features that make it a perfect lifestyle watch. It has built-in GPS, heart-rate monitoring, activity/health tracking, NFC payments, and Google Assistant. It's also water-resistant up to 30 meters. With all the new models Fossil is putting out, the Gen 5 is more affordable than ever. This is an excellent value for anyone who wants an efficient lifestyle watch with several features.

This smartwatch's sunlight visibility isn't great, but that may not be a huge deal for most people. However, the ongoing theme with all of these models is — you guessed it — the short battery life. While you can access battery-saving modes if you find ourself in a life-or-death situation with your watch, they're not exactly realistic for frequent use if you want to use key features.

Pros:

  • GPS, HRM, NFC
  • Multiple color options
  • Lightweight design
  • Activity/health tracking
  • Google Assistant

Cons:

  • Poor sunlight visibility
  • Short battery life

Best lifestyle watch

Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle in grey

Fossil Gen 5

Affordable and efficient

If you want a watch that's excellent for daily wear with all of the essentials, you'll love the Fossil Gen 5 smartwatch.

Best Wear OS watch: Making a choice

As you can see, Wear OS covers quite a bit of ground in today's wearable market. It might be slightly different from the Wear OS experience you're used to, but the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is easily the best option right now. Considering that several watches on the old platform won't be upgraded to the new one, it's time to start thinking about this ever-changing landscape when choosing the best Wear OS watch for your needs.

With that said, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 has a lot to offer to long-time Wear OS users and new ones. For starters, you get to choose whether you want a physical bezel or a digital one. You can also opt for a model with LTE connectivity if you'd like. Other key features include onboard GPS, heart-rate monitoring, activity/sleep tracking, and many health sensors to keep you informed of your overall well-being.

If the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 isn't quite what you're looking for, don't sweat. There are many other wearables out there for you to explore. We've only just begun to touch upon some of the options. So whether you're a serious athlete, a budget shopper, or someone who wants to stay connected with LTE, you'll be able to find the best Wear OS watch for your needs.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Author:

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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