It's time to think outside the box for Father's Day gifts — and a great way to do that is to get your dad his first smartwatch. But smartwatches are tough to give as a gift because there's so much personal choice involved, from design to features, and a wide range of choices. We're here to help you pick the best one for your dad's needs, and have narrowed down all of the great smartwatch options to four main picks.
If you don't really know what your dad's looking for in a smartwatch, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 is a great choice because it's an all-around performer. It has a simple design that wears well with a variety of clothing, and can dress up a bit by swapping to a different band. (And chances are you'll want to get the larger 44mm version.)
It has solid all-around fitness capabilities for tracking everything from daily activity to a variety of different workouts. But even if you don't think he'll be very active with the watch, it also has a bunch of classic smart features with widgets, apps and data-rich notifications. Samsung's watch software takes a little time to get used to, but it can do as much, or as little, as you need it to.
Great overall smartwatch
Smooth, elegant, and smart
The Active 2 offers a great display, GPS, ample activity tracking, and a capacitive bezel for easy navigation. It also has a simple design that can dress up or down.
For a dad who's always on the go, staying active, and wants a smartwatch that can take abuse both through work and into fitness activities in the evening and on the weekends, Garmin's Forerunner 245 is an incredible choice. It has fewer "smart" features, and doesn't even have a touch screen, and that makes it a good choice for who's maybe used to normally wearing a classic digital sports watch.
The display is easy to see in all conditions, and its fitness tracking is excellent — both in-workout with great GPS and heart rate monitoring, and afterward in the companion app for statistics, training and recovery data. The case is light but durable, and that gives you peace of mind it'll hold up without any worries. And because it has limited smartwatch functionality, the battery typically lasts a week even with multiple GPS-backed runs, walks or bike rides.
For runners and bikers
A solid, simple fitness tracker good enough for pros
Garmin's GPS tech is paired with a reliable heart rate sensor in a light watch that has fantastic fitness tracking. Its "smart" features aren't as robust, but it has great battery life.
If your dad isn't as technically inclined, and is a bigger fan of mechanical watches (I know a traditional smartwatch wouldn't fly with my dad), don't force the issue. But know there is a nice middle ground he may enjoy: a hybrid smartwatch.
Fossil's Hybrid HR watch doesn't use a screen, and has real physical watch hands that move with a regular watch movement. But under those hands is a non-reflective black-and-white display that can track and show information like your steps, heart rate, notifications and more. That means it has incredible battery life, going two weeks or more on a charge, and a timeless look — but it ushers in a few smart features for the modern day, and that may be just the balance he wants.
A hybrid alternative
A hybrid lifestyle
You'll get classic mechanical watch styling, but with some smarts inside that add a few interesting features. It's simple, and battery life stretches two weeks or more.
Look, we may be Android fans, but we can't discriminate if your dad has an iPhone. If that's the route he's gone and the phone he's comfortable with, it's much easier for you to get him a smartwatch that fits that phone rather than convince him to switch to Android (maybe try that at a later time). I have no qualms with recommending an Apple Watch for someone who loves their iPhone, as it's a great companion piece — and like the Galaxy Watch Active 2, it's a solid all-around smartwatch with a lot of features.
Though it's worth noting that both the Garmin and Fossil watches recommended above work just fine with an iPhone as well, since they really don't have a ton of advanced phone-related features and everything can be handled just fine over a companion app.
For the iPhone
The pick of the lot for iPhone users
If you have an iPhone, Apple's own watch is a great companion. It has all-around capabilities from notifications and apps to fitness, and a solid design.
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Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.