Not everyone is able to keep their phone with them at all times throughout the day, or glance at their phone every time it creates a notification. This is where smartwatches come into play — although their usefulness goes beyond that.
Aside from acting as a secondary screen for your smartphone, a convenient smartwatch manages a wide array of tasks — such as exercise tracking, standing reminders, audio streaming, phone calls and more — even when your smartphone isn’t close by.
The top smartwatches for 2024
Every smartwatch needs to be paired with a smartphone. Whether you use an Apple iPhone or an Android-based phone, there are a variety of truly excellent smartwatch options. The challenge is to select the best one to meet your requirements and that suits your individual style. Our team of consumer technology experts has put together this list of the best smartwatches currently available.
Our preferred smartwatches offer cellular connectivity, performing almost fully autonomously from a phone. Make and receive calls, communicate via text messaging, access a digital assistant, check email, stream audio (including music, audiobooks or podcast), use a maps application for real-time navigation and much more. In fact, the best smartwatches even function as safety devices that can call for help if you fall or are involved in a car accident.
Our top smartwatch selections for 2024
For individuals seeking a smartwatch that’s customizable but versatile, here are some of the best options currently available. Our top pick for iPhone users is the Apple Watch Series 9 (GPS + Cellular).
Options for Casing Size: 41mm or 45mm | Casing Material: Aluminum or Stainless Steel | Color Options for Casing: 5 (Aluminum), 3 (Stainless Steel) | Type of Display: Always-on Retina (2,000 nits brightness) | Operating System: WatchOS | Cellular Option: Yes | Processor: Apple S9 SiP | Water Resistance: 50 meters | Battery Life: Up to 18 hours | Phone Compatibility: Apple iPhones
The Apple Watch Series 9 with GPS and cellular connectivity is Apple’s most versatile watch for everyday users. It’s intended to be a powerful communications, productivity, health, fitness, entertainment and safety tool that’s highly customizable. Loaded with advanced functionalities like heart monitoring, crash detection, and more, it comes in a sleek and compact design that makes it a worthwhile upgrade from the previous model.
Moreover, it boasts impressive health-tracking capabilities, including electrical heart sensors for ECG and a body temperature sensor. Women can also use the smartwatch to track their menstrual cycles. But keep in mind: The oximeter feature that once came with this model is no longer included.
Choose from hundreds of easily interchangeable watch faces (or create your own). Apple and third parties also provide a large selection of watch band options. And through the Apple Watch app store, you can find thousands more apps.
If you’re considering purchasing an Apple Watch, keep in mind it must be used in conjunction with an iPhone, although once the Apple Watch with cellular capabilities is set up, it will work almost entirely autonomously from the phone. Because cellular connectivity greatly enhances what an Apple Watch can do, we highly recommend this configuration.
Best smartwatch for iPhone users: Apple Watch Series 9 (GPS + Cellular)
For budget-conscious individuals, the Apple Watch SE (2nd Generation, GPS + Cellular) is another great option.
Options for Casing Size: 40mm or 44mm | Casing Material: Aluminum | Color Options for Casing: 3 | Type of Display: Retina (1,000 nits brightness) | Operating System: WatchOS | Cellular Option: Yes | Processor: Apple S8 SiP | Water Resistance: 50 meters | Battery Life: Up to 18 hours | Phone Compatibility: Apple iPhones
All current iterations of the Apple Watch, including the SE edition, run the same version of the WatchOS operating system and come with the same preinstalled apps. What sets the Apple Watch SE (2nd Generation) apart is that its hardware is scaled down compared to the Series 9.