If you’re an iPhone owner and you’re hunting for a smartwatch the Apple Watch is naturally the perfect choice – but it costs a lot and the battery life is terrible. If that bothers you, there are plenty of alternatives.
There’s a whole host of iPhone-compatible smartwatches on the market with features that Apple’s devices have yet to include. Plus, of course, Wear OS watches are compatible with iOS and so are Samsung Galaxy and Samsung Gear smartwatches.
So iPjhone users have plenty of other options to choose from.
Read on for our guide to the best smartwatches for iPhone users – and find out our list of the best smartwatches 2020.
For iOS users the Apple Watch Series 5 is as close to smartwatch perfection as we’ve seen to date. It’s perfectly designed to work with iOS, and indeed, Android users need not apply.
It offers a huge range of features, including LTE – and now with an always-on display. The Series 5 comes in 40mm and 44mm sizes, with more space for the new features introduced in watchOS 6.
The Series 5 built-in GPS for tracking of outdoor workouts and a swim-proof design – and fitness tracking using the iconicMove, Stand and Calorie rings is a powerful system. There’s still no native sleep tracking here, either, but this can be done via a third-party app.
The Series 5 offers an ECG monitor, which has been been FDA cleared, so can be used to detect heart rhythm irregularities.
Battery life is the main gripe still, and, for all the improvements, Apple can still only offer 24 – 48 hours, which for many simply isn’t good enough.
Read our full Apple Watch Series 5 review.
Price when reviewed: $399 – Apple Watch Series 5 product page
Yes, the Apple Watch Series 5 is expensive, but Apple has now essentially cleaned up the market by offering the Series 3 for just $199.99. It means you get a smartwatch which was previously the best smartwatch for iPhone users at a price only a shade more than cut-price competitors.
However, be aware that this base price tag is for the 38mm, GPS model. If you want the cellular model, or indeed the bigger, 42mm case variation, will will cost more.
What’s more, the Apple Watch Series 3 runs watchOS 6 software, so you’re essentially getting all the latest features, watch faces and apps. However, features that rely on hardware such as ECG, always-on display or fall detection obviously aren’t supported. You still get GPS for location tracking, 4G/LTE for cellular support, Apple Pay, swim tracking and heart rate monitoring.
All the core features are all still here – and it’s currently our pick for the best cheap smartwatch you can buy.
Check out our full Apple Watch Series 3 review.
Price when reviewed: $199.99 – Apple Watch Series 3 product page
Huawei Watch GT2e
The Huawei Watch GT2e doesn’t offer that much over its predecessor the GT2, bar a visual redesign that’s a little more sporty.
But it makes a great Apple Watch alternative because of its 14 day battery life, which is the main gripe about the the market leader.
It boasts a rich 1.39-inch AMOLED display, and many people find round-faced smartwatches much more attractive on the wrist than square devices.
It doesn’t scrimp on features either. Sports fans are especially looked after with a bunch of sport profiles including swimming (thanks to 5ATM water resistance), cycling and an excellent running experience. That’s thanks to a ton of metrics and Firstbeat’s VO2 Max and recovery stats.
The only downside is that due to a lack of third party plugs ins, so you can’t boot data out to Strava, and there’s no other apps to use.
Sleep tracking was also excellent – and while not quite as informative and deep as Fitbit, the data was in the same ball park. And let’s not forget, the Apple Watch requires you to use a third party sleep tracking app – and juggling that with battery life is quite a headache.
If you’re in Europe the Huawei Watch GT2e is great value for money, but with the restrictions in the US, you’ll be made to pay through the nose, and the value just isn’t there.
Price when reviewed: $250
Fitbit Versa 2
Like so many modern smartwatches, the Versa 2’s strengths are all about fitness. It’s got a waterproof design, along with swim tracking and an onboard heart rate monitor to measure workout intensity.
What it doesn’t have, however, is built-in GPS – for that you’ll have to pay a bit more and get the Fitbit Ionic.
Fitbit’s taken the step of adding Alexa to your wrist, an interesting and potentially useful change.
You can also expect the usual Fitbit fitness tracking features, including arguably the best sleep monitoring features of any wrist-worn wearable.
As far as core smartwatch features are concerned, it supports notifications for messages and from third-party apps, and has the Spotify app packaged in for music streaming and control. You can also download apps from Fitbit’s growing app store, and there’s also contactless payment support via Fitbit Pay.
It’s a great Apple Watch alternative thanks to five days battery life, while still offering great sleep and health tracking features.
Fitbit does also offer the Versa Lite Edition, which looks very similar to the Versa 2, but is cheaper. You will have to live without features like Alexa and swim tracking though.
Price when reviewed: $199.95 – Fitbit Versa 2 product page
It’s an unashamed Apple Watch clone, but Amazfit has got so much right on the Amazfit GTS – and it’s not just the $149 price tag that’s worthy of attention.
There’s an always-on display and you’re looking at around a week of battery life with all the advanced features turned on, which is certainly more than the Apple Watch’s single-day offering.
The built-in GPS is accurate, as is the heart rate unless you’re doing HIIT. And as a fitness tracker it truly excels, and the use of Mio’s PAI score really works. It’s a single number derived from all your weekly health and fitness activity – and we have a lot of respect for that technology and glad it’s seen the light of day here.
The sleep monitoring is also excellent, with accurate graphs, wakeups properly recorded, and a sleep score feature.
It’s not much of a fashion statement. But from a usability perspective it comes recommended. Check out our full Amazfit GTS review.
Price when reviewed $149.99 – Amazfit GTS product page
If you prefer a round-faced option the Amazfit GTR could be for you.
The 1.39-inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 454×454 (for the 47mm version) looks superb, and there’s a host of vibrant watch faces to choose from.
There’s also a 42mm version for smaller wrists, and with 24 day battery life stated on the larger model. There’s GPS and heart rate monitoring, and you can get that all for just $179.
Now the bad. In our testing of the 47mm model the battery life was half that stated by Amazfit – although still an impressive 12 days. This is achieved by the custom OS, but that means that third party apps aren’t available as they are on Apple Watch or Wear OS.
Price when reviewed: $179 – Amazfit GTR product page
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
Bear in mind that Samsung is about to launch the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, which could spell the end for the Galaxy Watch Active 2 altogether. But given we’re likely to see some good deals on the Watch Active 2, we’re still including in the list.
The sporty, sleek wearable offers similar battery life to the Apple Watch, but makes up for it with all of what you’ll need if you’re looking to get properly active, as the name suggests. It’s got GPS, swim tracking and a reliably good heart rate monitor.
It runs on Samsung’s Tizen OS, with an expanding range of downloadable apps available, although admittedly no-where near the amount you’ll find on the Apple Watch.
You get Samsung pay for contactless payments, and it does have Bixby, although Samsung’s smart assistant is still a bit of a sorry sort – you’re unlikely to use it much.
For the price, which is impressively low, you won’t find many better smartwatches than the Galaxy Watch Active.
Price when reviewed: $200 – Galaxy Watch Active 2 product page
The Vivoactive 4 is Garmin’s sport focused smartwatch, designed to offer the benefits of notifications and smart features with a jack-of-all-trades sports tracking which supports up to 20 activities.
It rivals the Apple Watch with a lazer focus on sports tracking, so running (indoor, outdoor, treadmill), cycling (indoor and outdoor), swimming (pool only), golf, strength, cardio, elliptical, indoor rowing, yoga and more. That enough for you? And, yes, you guessed it, 5ATM water resistance is on board.
You can track all that via and Apple Watch, but Garmin watches – and Garmin Connect – puts much more focus on training. If you love to dig into workout data, this is a clear choice.
None are tracked with the insane level of detail used by the specialist Forerunner or Fenix devices – so you’ll miss out on stuff like recovery, training load, training status, VO2 Max and the like. It’s more of a jack-of-all-trades device, which makes it a great smartwatch.
Notification support is great, although you can’t reply from the watch itself or take calls, like you can on the Apple Watch.
You will get decent fitness tracking, and sleep is aided by the pulse ox sensor that will deliver advanced sleep stages and information on your respiration as you sleep. Hardcore stuff.
And when you think that the Apple Watch Series 5 will only last a single day and won’t get you through a marathon unless you turn off the heart rate monitor, you get seven days battery as a smartwatch and 13 hours of GPS on the Vivoactive 4.
Full test: Garmin Vivoactive 4 review
Price when reviewed: $269.99
Skagen Falster 3
The Falster 3 can’t really compete technically with the Apple Watch on any level, but it’s undeniably a great looking smartwatch. And if you care more about what your smartwatch looks like than the features, performance, apps or biometrics then this is a worthy Apple Watch alternative.
It runs on Fossil Group’s Gen 5 platform, with Google’s Wear OS in the background. That means it’s powered by the latest Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor, has upgraded memory, water resistance and heart rate monitor. Battery life is still only 24 hours.
It’s 42mm, so directly between the two Apple Watch sizes, and boasts a case with great looking (if fiddly) straps. The1.3-inch AMOLED display is really punchy, with good colors for some well-designed Skagen watch faces.
The beauty of the Falster 3 is still its thinness, and at 11mm there are few devices that look and feel so sleek on the wrist.
Performance of the watch itself is great, although the accuracy of the heart rate sensor isn’t anywhere near good enough when working out. However, the design and strap are hardly suited to sweaty workouts – so this is one for general day-to-day wear.
The only real bugbear here is Wear OS. The platform is stagnating, with poor health and wellness features in particular, and it’s not an ecosystem we’d heartily recommend. But we love the Falster 3 design, so it gets the nod for those who care about style more than features.
Read our full Skagen Falster 3 review.
Price when reviewed: $299
After the demise of Pebble, Mobvoi and its Ticwatch range is now our plucky smartwatch startup of choice. And the Ticwatch E2 builds on the Ticwatch E most notably by adding a waterproof design.
It runs Wear OS, is packed with features including GPS and a heart rate monitor, and has now added swim monitoring to its sports tracking prowess. Crucially, it comes at the tantalising price of just $159.99, so it’s a more affordable Apple Watch alternative.
It has a 1.4-inch OLED display with a solid 400 x 400 resolution, which matches up well to the Apple Watch’s screen.
The design is fun and quirky, and it’s a nice relief from the monotony of the same old brands – but with the certainty and stability of Wear OS under the hood.
Check out our Ticwatch E2 review.
Price when reviewed: $159.99 – Ticwatch E2 product page
With dedicated modes for running (indoor, outdoor, treadmill), cycling (indoor/outdoor), swimming (pool only thanks to 5ATM water resistance), golf, strength, cardio, elliptical, indoor rowing, yoga and more the Garmin Venu is more than just a smartwatch.
The glossy 390 x 390, AMOLED touchscreen display rivals the Apple Watch, but under the hood it features Garmin’s sports tracking tech – and a great choice for serious runners.
Everything hooks into Garmin Connect, for everything from deep workout analysis to metrics like Stress Score and Body Battery. There’s also a Pulse Ox sensor to add even more data.
You sacrifice some battery life for the AMOLED screen, but you should still get five days of wear as a smartwatch, with one or two short runs or workouts thrown in. GPS battery life is 8 hours – so significantly less than the Vivoactive – but this is no doubt the better looking watch.
Price when reviewed: $399.99 – Garmin Venu product page
Garmin Vivomove HR
Like the Steel HR below, the Vivomove HR is a sporty hybrid that packs in a lot of features. Unlike the Vivomove, Garmin’s hybrid is available in designs for men and women and is available in a bunch of new luxury looks too. There’s a followup coming out very soon, the Vivomove 3, which looks to improve even further on this impressive hybrid; we’ll be reviewing it as soon as we can.
Its killer feature is the sleek discreet display that appears on the watch face when you give it a tap. On that screen you can see a whole raft of information including fitness tracking data, resting heart rate, smartphone notifications and it will even let you check in on your stress levels.
If you care about battery life it’s a fine performer too, offering two weeks in watch mode and around five days when you’re tapping into all of those smartwatch features on a regular basis.
Have a read of ourfull Garmin Vivomove HR review.
Price when reviewed: $199 – Garmin Vivomove HR product page
Withings Steel HR Sport
Withings is back, and its new Steel HR Sport gives the Apple Watch a run for its money in terms of wellness tech; a serious fitness tracker disguised as an analogue watch. The optical heart rate sensor is one of the best you can get on the wrist.
It offers a decent analysis of your daily heart rate and tracks resting heart rate over time – arguably doing better than the Apple Watch in this department. New for the Sport is VO2 Max, which will give you a look at how much oxygen you’re utilising during workouts.
While it’s an analogue watch, it’s not without a digital screen. There’s a small OLED panel that displays notifications and some relevant health stats. And while the older watch didn’t support GPS, the Sport does – though it’s the connected kind, which requires piggybacking off your phone’s GPS.
It offers automatic detection of exercise and will monitor your heart rate during a session and count that into your daily goal. It’s also an excellent sleep tracker, which fills a hole left wide open by the Apple Watch, and it offers 25 days of tracking on a single charge.
It’s a different proposition, but those mainly interested in the Apple Watch as a fitness tracker would do well to consider the Steel HR.
Check out our Withings Steel HR Sport review.
Price when reviewed: $199.95 – Withings Steel HR Sport product page