If you’re considering a new smartwatch, but you’re put off by touchscreens and rectangular cases, the answer could be to explore the world of hybrid smartwatches.
A hybrid packs in many of the fitness tracking, health tech and notification features you’ll find on a regular smartwatch – such as the Apple Watch Series 5 or Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 – but inside a traditional-looking watch, with hands and numbers.
It means you get the best of both worlds, opening your wrist up to activity tracking, sleep monitoring, health data, notifications and longer battery life, while still looking like the regular analogue watch you’re used to.
Over the years, we’ve tested waves of hybrid smartwatches from the likes of Fossil, Garmin and Withings, making us ideally placed to guide you on the key considerations.
Below, you can peruse our rankings and decide which is best for your wrist.
Upcoming hybrid smartwatches 2020
Before we get into what you can buy right now, there’s a couple of new hybrids we are anticipating will land before the year is out that you might want to know about too.
First up is the Withings ScanWatch (pictured above), a hybrid with serious health monitoring powers. Along with packing an ECG sensor, it also features an SpO2 sensor, which will help it to detect signs of the sleep disorder sleep apnea. There’s still no firm launch date, though Withings will need to get the appropriate regulatory approval in place before people can start putting those health tracking features to good use.
Alpina X Alive
ETA: September 2020
Other upcoming hybrids include Swiss watch brand Alpina’s X Alive smartwatch. The outdoor-centric hybrid includes GPS, a heart rate monitor and an AMOLED touchscreen to show off your data. It’s tipped to launch in August and September.
Best hybrid smartwatches 2020
Garmin Vivomove 3 series
The old Garmin Vivomove HR held our title of best hybrid smartwatch since its launch in 2017, and its successor, the Garmin Vivomove 3 series, has now taken over as our top recommendation.
The emphasis here is still on blending the hidden screen around physical hands, but now there’s many more options to pick from, with case sizes coming at 39mm, 42mm and 44mm.
We’re fans of all the styles, as they offer largely the same on-screen experience – it’s just a case of how much you’re willing to spend and what fits your wrist best.
The Vivomove 3 and Vivomove 3S are at the more affordable end, with the hidden screen sitting on the bottom half of the watch face and delivering the likes of notifications, activity data and more.
With the pricier Vivomove Style and even pricier Vivomove Luxe (the only variation to offer a color screen, as shown above), that hidden screen extends to cover the full face. With a double tap on the screen, you can start swiping to see your health, fitness and other updates.
New features include a pulse oximeter to offer richer sleep data, Garmin Pay, the ability to track respiration rate (via heart rate), a sport tracking profile for cycling and connected GPS to piggyback off your phone to map outdoor activities. You still get the best of Garmin’s fitness tracking and notification support for both Android and iPhones.
Garmin may not be the first company you would think of when looking for a classic-looking watch, but the Vivomove 3 series offers excellent build quality and a real touch of style, particularly in the Luxe range, which comes with metal or leather straps.
Price when reviewed: From £249.99
Wareable verdict: Garmin Vivomove 3 series
Withings Move ECG
French company Withings – formerly owned by Nokia – initially made its name with affordable hybrids, and the Move ECG is a great pick for those looking for a health-focused watch.
The first hybrid watch to feature the ability to take an electrocardiogram reading – helping detect the signs of atrial fibrillation – the Move ECG is also water resistant up to 50 meters and will automatically track your activity.
That means walks, runs, cycles and swims will all be logged and reported to the companion app on your phone. And you don’t need to worry about charging it before exercising it, either, with 12 months of battery available from the button cell battery.
Unfortunately, this one is currently still undergoing clinical validation from the FDA in the US, though it is available in the EU already.
If you can get hold of it, you’ll get a sleek-looking hybrid with some decent fitness tracking features and a potentially life-saving one with the addition of ECG.
Price when reviewed: £129.95
Wareable verdict: Withings Move ECG review
Fossil Hybrid HR
Fossil is no stranger to hybrid smartwatches, with an impressive back catalogue of options for both men and women, but the Hybrid HR is something a little bit different.
Instead of a hidden screen or smart dial, the Hybrid HR instead brings the smarts in an E Ink display that works around the physical watch hands.
This is still far away from the functionality you’ll find in a touchscreen watch, but it does impress by taking the hybrid concept and pushing it into a place we haven’t really seen before.
With the Hybrid HR range, there’s five different styles to choose between – three from the men’s Collider range and two for women, the Charter.
The E Ink display beneath the screen shows off the likes of notifications and weather updates, as well as activity metrics, such as heart rate, steps and calories.
However, through the Fossil app, these can all be customized to show whatever you’re interested in. And users can also swipe through screen to view notifications or expand music control.
Each model will also last around two weeks on a single charge, meaning features like sleep tracking are available, too.
Check out our full Fossil Hybrid HR review.
Price when reviewed: From £189
Withings Steel HR Sport
A more sport-focussed hybrid than Withings’ other devices, the Steel HR Sport adds connected GPS and VO2 Max data on top of standard activity information such as steps, sleep monitoring, heart rate readings and other basics.
Unlike some other Withings devices, though, customization is limited. The Steel HR Sport only comes in one 40mm size with a matte black metal case, the only option being a white or black watch face and your choice of band.
In terms of its hybrid leanings, the small digital screen on the face allows you to view data, including activity tracking and smartphone notifications.
As we say, there’s also a heart rate monitor on board to continuously keep a tab your heart rate through the day, as well as during your workouts.
You can expect 25 days of battery life with normal use, and another 20 in power reserve mode.
Price when reviewed: £189.95
Wareable verdict: Withings Steel HR Sport review
Misfit’s first hybrid smartwatch – the Misfit Phase – was a strong debut, but we would recommend going with the latest device, the Command.
A lot of the appeal with Misfit’s hybrids is in the design simplicity, and, for those who don’t want to be overwhelmed, the Command also keeps things simple with activity tracking basics and sleep tracking.
There’s no hidden screen here, unlike other options on the list, and the hands instead move to signal things like a new notification. Instead of a screen, you just use the bottom-half dial.
You can also unlock swim tracking to count your laps in the pool through an additional in-app purchase. All of the smarts are hidden under the surface, giving the Command the feel of a classic, understated watch.
And while we’re sure some would like it to do a bit more in the smarts department, it’s ideal for those who want something that’s simple, tracks activity and looks good.
Price when reviewed: £135.99
Wareable verdict: Misfit Command review
Fossil Q Neely and Jacqueline
There’s a whole bunch of Fossil hybrids you can pick from, and the Neely and Jacqueline still stand out as stylish budget option for those with smaller wrists.
The 36mm watch is classy, light and fairly slim at 12mm thick, and this is a hybrid experience where the activity tracking is kept to a minimum – counting steps and nothing more.
You can’t read notifications on it, but a little blue LED and vibrating buzz will let you know someone is trying to get in touch via third-party apps, including Instagram and WhatsApp.
The three physical buttons on the side of the watch also offer additional smarts, such as letting you control music playback or take a smartphone selfie, as well as more standard functions, like showing the date, showing a second time zone, starting the stopwatch or ringing your phone.
It’s big on style and the smarts are discreet, so, if you like that combination, then this could be the elegant hybrid for you.
Price when reviewed: From £99.99
Wareable verdict: Fossil Q Neely review
The Swedish hybrid startup was saved in 2019 after it was bought out of bankruptcy by Spanish watch brand Festina Lotus SA, and we are glad to see its stylish connected watches are still up for grabs.
Born out of a team where the core worked on Sony’s smartwatches, the Kronaby Connected comes in a range of different collections for both men and women with sizes ranging from 38mm to 43mm.
You pay a lot, but in return you’re getting on-trend looks, sapphire crystal protecting the watch face and Italian leather straps. All models are water resistant for up to 100 metres, though you’re more likely to jump in the shower with them than go for swim.
When it comes to smarts, there’s a surprising amount you can do here. From the sub-dial you can view daily step tracking progress. You can be buzzed for notifications letting you select different strength vibrations for different contacts. Assign features to the crown and pushers above and below it to control music playback or prop up your smartphone and take pictures from afar.
There’s also safety features that let you let favoured contacts see that you’ve made it home, while a remember this spot mode will make sure you can make it back home if you plan to go exploring.
It’s a hybrid that doesn’t look very smart features-wise, but actually does a surprising amount. Plus, it’s a great looker too.
Price when reviewed: £495
Wareable verdict: Kronaby Connected review
A lot of hybrid watches care about tracking your activity throughout the day, but the Bellabeat Time is more focused on your wellness.
It does still offer basic tracking, such as steps, but where it really places emphasis in the companion app isn’t in fitness metrics. It’s here where you can get meditation exercises, stress tracking and period logging, and it uses all of these to help you keep track of your own wellbeing.
Those meditation exercises, by the way, are held to a high standard. During our testing, we found them to be just as good as some dedicated meditation apps.
They’re divided into your mood, which is neat, so they can help you whether you’re hungry or hurting from menstrual cramps.
It can also link up with Bellabeat’s other products, like its connected water bottle, to track your hydration levels. All of this is topped by a very neat, classic design.
The Time is one of the few options on this list that are primarily aimed at women, which allows it to concentrate on features other smartwatches might not have even thought about.
In that way, it’s one of the most refreshing hybrids available.
Price when reviewed: £138.99
Wareable verdict: Bellabeat Time
If you don’t want to spend massive amounts on a hybrid smartwatch but still want the features to justify getting something connected, it’s worth casting your eye over the Withings Move.
Despite its budget price tag, it’s still a bit of a looker, letting you pick from five different face colours and a range of brightly coloured bands. That’s a bit of a departure from Withings’ more serious-looking (and more expensive) hybrids.
The 38mm sized watch features a plastic case, but there’s now also a pricier Move Timeless Chic option that upgrades it to stainless steel. Both versions are water resistant up to 50 metres and that sub-dial to show off you step counting progress.
It’s not just about steps either. There’s also support for sleep monitoring and automatic workout tracking for running, walking and swimming. There’s even connected GPS support, which means you can use your phone’s GPS to better track outdoor activities.
All of your data lives inside of the Withings Health Mate phone app (iPhone and Android) and the CR2430 coin cell battery typically found in many dumb watches will give you 18-month battery life.
There’s nothing in the way of smartwatch features like notifications, simply because there’s nowhere to show them. If you’re not too bothered about knowing an email has come through and just want a nice-looking watch with some decent fitness and sports tracking skills, then there’s plenty to like here.
Price when reviewed: £59.95
Wareable verdict: Withings Move review
Garmin Vivomove HR
The Vivomove HR has now been succeeded by the Vivomove series, but Garmin is still selling its predecessor and will give you a solid sporty hybrid for less than £200
We are mainly focusing on the Sport edition (there is a Premium version too) of the hybrid that launched back in 2017, but is still a solid option to consider.
The 43mm is available in six different looks including models with stainless steel and rose gold-colored bezels. All models include 20mm quick release bands and a display at the bottom of the face that only appears when you give it a tap.
From that screen you can see notifications, activity tracking stats and even stress measurements via the onboard heart rate monitor. There are some sports tracking features here too for running, swimming and automatic rep counting for your sessions in the gym.
Battery life is up to five days in smartwatch mode and 2 weeks in watch mode, so it lives away from the charger for a decent amount of time.
While you do miss out on some features like a pulse oximeter, additional sports profiles and improved heart rate monitoring support, the Vivomove HR is still a solid hybrid performer.
Price when reviewed: £169.99
Wareable verdict: Garmin Vivomove HR review