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Best Android smartwatch 2023: The top Apple Watch alternatives

Searching for a top-notch wearable? Then take your pick of the best Android smartwatches from Samsung, Garmin and more

Whether you’re keen to track more of your fitness metrics or you want the convenience of reading and replying to notifications from your wrist, an Android smartwatch is an easy way to learn more about your health and streamline everyday tasks.

The best Android smartwatches combine core smartphone functions – such as Google Pay, managing your email and viewing your calendar – with a variety of dedicated health and fitness features. Our list of the best fitness trackers to buy might be the place to look if you’re interested solely in a device to help you hit your exercise goals, but rest assured that opting for a smartwatch won’t see you compromise in this regard. Most smartwatches now offer at least basic fitness features such as step counting, while more sophisticated models include built-in GPS, sleep tracking and dedicated modes for a range of exercises.

If you’re looking for guidance on the features to consider when looking for a new Android smartwatch, our handy buying guide will provide all the information you need. Alternatively, skip straight to our roundup for mini-reviews to discover the best Android smartwatches you can buy right now.

Best Android smartwatch: At a glance

How to choose the best Android smartwatch for you

Why choose an Android smartwatch?

While we think very highly of Apple’s newest smartwatches – awarding five stars to both the Apple Watch Series 8 and Series 7 when we reviewed them – they’re only compatible with iPhones. So, if you use an Android as your primary device, you’ll need to look elsewhere when shopping for a wearable. Fortunately, there are numerous excellent Android smartwatches on the market to suit your needs and lifestyle.

What sensors do you need?

Some smartwatches come with a myriad of sophisticated sensors, while others track only basic metrics. As such, those who wish to monitor their heart rate or sleep will need to ensure the smartwatch they select has the right internals for the job.

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And, if you’re a keen runner or cyclist, a smartwatch with built-in GPS will allow you to track your activities, while NFC is required for making contactless payments.

How important is battery life?

Battery life is a crucial consideration when shopping for a new smartwatch. Some devices, such as the Venu 2 Plus, will see you through more than a week off a single charge, while others – especially those running Wear OS – will need topping up roughly every couple of days. If you don’t want to worry about your wearable running out of juice, invest in one with an impressive battery life.

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The best Android smartwatches you can buy in 2023

1. Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: The best Samsung smartwatch

Price: £269 | Buy now from Amazon

Samsung hasn’t reinvented the wheel when it comes to the Galaxy Watch 5. In fact, the only real upgrade from the Galaxy Watch 4 is a serious boost to the battery life, with both the 40mm and 44mm models seeing faster charging and a significant increase in capacity. While that subtle addition might not excite the majority, it’s a welcome improvement to an already winning formula.

There’s a range of health and fitness features, including a neat body composition measurement that assesses your body fat, fat mass and skeletal mass. The watch tracks core metrics well, plus it offers heart-rate and GPS tracking, albeit not with perfect accuracy.

It retains the attractive, minimalist design we’ve come to expect from Galaxy Watches, and the supplied band can also be swapped for an alternative 20mm watch strap if you want to change the look of the watch for a smarter occasion, for example.

Like its predecessor, it operates using Wear OS, giving users access to plenty of apps from Google and other third parties, including the Play Store and Google Maps.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review for more details

Key specs – Operating system: Wear OS; Screen size and type: 1.4in 450 x 450 super AMOLED; Battery life: Up to 40 hours; Replaceable strap: Yes; GPS: Yes; Heart rate: Yes; NFC: Yes

2. TicWatch Pro 3 GPS: The best Android Wear smartwatch

Price: £290 | Buy now from Amazon

The TicWatch Pro 3 GPS isn’t cheap, but it’s a premium wearable that comes with all the perks you’d want in a smartwatch. For fitness enthusiasts there’s heart-rate tracking, blood oxygen monitoring and GPS, plus IP68 dust- and water-resistance – making it suitable for any water-related activities.

In terms of everyday functionality, users can read and respond to messages, make contactless payments via Google Pay and summon Google Assistant with the built-in microphone. Although the battery life of the TicWatch Pro 3 is average, what sets it apart from most other Wear OS devices is its dual-layer screen, which extends the battery life of certain core features by up to three days via a secondary monochrome LCD panel. That means you can rely on it to deliver functions such as sleep tracking and step counting for longer when charging isn’t possible.

It’s a swish-looking watch, too, and runs smoothly thanks to the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and crisp 1.4in 454 x 454 AMOLED touchscreen. If your budget can stretch to it, this is a great smartwatch ideal for Android users.

Key specs – Operating system: Wear OS; Screen size and type: Dual layer 1.39in 454 x 454 AMOLED and segmented FSTN display; Battery life: Up to three days (smart mode), 45 days (essential mode); Replaceable strap: Yes, 22mm; GPS: Yes; Heart rate: Yes; NFC: Yes

3. Garmin Venu 2 Plus: The best smartwatch for everyday fitness tracking

Price: £399 | Buy now from Amazon

The Venu 2 Plus is Garmin’s first wearable to include a microphone and a speaker, allowing users to interact with their phone’s voice assistant and to make and receive calls without having to dig out their phone from a pocket. As a result, Garmin now has a viable alternative to rival devices from Samsung and Apple.

As you’d expect, the watch is also loaded with Garmin’s usual array of impressive sports and fitness features, including accurate GPS and heart-rate tracking. Key stats such as stress and steps are prominently displayed, and it can track a host of activities, from cycling to yoga.

Add to this support for Spotify Premium and an excellent battery life – which lasts over a week in Smartwatch mode – and you’re looking at a top-notch sports-centric smartwatch.

The only real hiccups are the price and the lack of widespread support for Garmin Pay from UK banks. Nevertheless, provided the latter isn’t a deal breaker, and you have the money, the Venu 2 Plus is a superb smartwatch for everyday fitness use.

Read our full Garmin Venu 2 Plus review for more details

Key specs – Operating system: Proprietary OS; Screen size and type: 1.3in 416 x 416 AMOLED; Battery life: Up to nine days (in smartwatch mode); Replaceable strap: Yes; GPS: Yes; Heart rate: Yes; NFC: No

4. Google Pixel Watch: The best-looking Android smartwatch

Price: £339 | Buy now from John Lewis

With its stainless steel body and domed glass face, the Pixel Watch is a sleek, minimalist and supremely attractive device.

It doesn’t short-change users in terms of features, either, including GPS, an optical heart-rate sensor array and a “Multipurpose electrical sensor” for ECG readings among the range on offer. In addition, everyday smart features, such as Google Assistant and Google Maps, arrive via the latest version of Google’s Wear OS software.

Battery life isn’t great, which isn’t unusual for watches running Wear OS, and means you’ll probably have to pick between the handy always-on display and sleep tracking in the interest of making it last. Plus, while it looks superb, we found the glass display is vulnerable to scratches.

Still, for a stylish smartwatch with Fitbit integration that shows off the newest version of Wear OS, the Pixel Watch is well worth considering.

Read our full Google Pixel Watch review for more details

Key specs – Operating system: Wear OS; Screen size and type: 1.4in 450 x 450 AMOLED; Battery life: Up to 24 hours; Replaceable strap: Yes; GPS: Yes; Heart rate: Yes; NFC: Yes

Buy now from John Lewis

5. Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic: The best-value Samsung smartwatch

Price: £369 | Buy now from Amazon

It may not be Samsung’s most recent smartwatch, but provided the middling battery life isn’t a deal breaker, the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic is still a great device for those with a Samsung phone, and isn’t much of a step down from the newer Galaxy Watch 5.

Apps load quickly and run well thanks to the speedy Exynos W920 chip (the same processor that runs the Galaxy Watch 5) and since the watch employs a version of Google’s Wear OS rather than Samsung’s own Tizen OS features in previous generations, users gain access to a nice range of apps through Google’s Play Store.

Core features such as Google Maps, Google Pay and Spotify (with offline playback) are among the everyday essentials on offer. The Watch 4 Classic isn’t short of fitness features, either, including continuous blood oxygen tracking throughout the night and a new “BioActive” sensor for measuring body composition.

The downside is the lack of accessibility. The Galaxy Watch 4 is designed with the owners of a Samsung smartphone in mind. This means it isn’t compatible with iPhones, and owners of other Android devices will need to install a host of Samsung apps to make proper use of it.

Still, if you’re enamoured with the Samsung ecosystem, the Galaxy Watch 4 is an attractive, reasonably priced and snappy option.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic review for more details

Key specs – Operating system: Wear OS (46mm Watch 4 Classic); Screen size and type: 1.4in 450 x 450 AMOLED; Battery life: Approx 40 hours; Replaceable strap: Yes; GPS: Yes; Heart rate: Yes; NFC: Yes

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