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Best cheap smartwatch 2021: Affordable wearables from just £55

Joe Coombs
23 Jun 2021
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Getting more than the time on your wrist needn’t cost you an arm and a leg

These days, the very best smartwatches on the market can pack all manner of features onto your wrist. Fitness tracking, phone notifications, contactless payments and other apps have all become commonplace on modern wearable technology. It would be logical to assume, therefore, that these top-end features would be accompanied by a top-end price.

Not necessarily. If you’re looking for a smartwatch on a budget, there are plenty of options. They may not all have the bells and whistles as their more expensive counterparts but, for the most part, they offer the same key features and perks without breaking the bank.

We’ve put together this selection of the best cheap smartwatches to suit budgets of up to £200, including some options that are much cheaper than that. Before we get into it, though, check out our short buyer’s guide for advice on how best to make your purchase, and what features you should look out for in a budget smartwatch.

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Best cheap smartwatch: At a glance


How to choose the best cheap smartwatch for you

What sensors do you need?

When buying cheap smartwatches, cost savings have to be made somewhere, and typically that will be in the number of built-in sensors. Think carefully about what you want and need, because the chances are this will be a series of trade-offs. Do you need built-in GPS, or are you happy to run with your phone? Do you want to be able to pay for things with your wrist? If so, you’ll need NFC.

Does the operating system matter?

As with smartphones, the majority of smartwatches run Google’s own operating system – in this case Wear OS. That, as you might imagine, plays nicely with Android, but has some teething problems when talking to iPhones.

Generally though, the OS doesn’t matter too much. Samsung watches use the company’s own Tizen software, while smartwatches by Fitbit use the company’s own code. With most of the smartphones in the world running iOS or Android, compatibility shouldn’t generally be a problem, but for best results it always helps to match company to company (i.e Apple Watches work best with iPhones, and Samsung watches love to be matched to a Galaxy.)

How long should the battery last?

To keep smartwatches slim, the battery tends to be small – often as little as 200mAh. To put that into perspective, most smartphones have batteries that are 3,000mAh or more.

That’s okay – they do a lot less, but battery life varies hugely, with some requiring charging every night and others lasting a week or more. Why the huge difference? Well, it tends to be down to their design: as a rule of thumb, the more beautiful and feature-packed a smartwatch, the shorter the battery life. Ones with black-and-white reflective displays will last a lot longer than those with bright, always-on OLED displays and GPS built-in.

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The best cheap smartwatches to buy

1. Mobvoi TicWatch E2: Our favourite cheap smartwatch

Price: £92 | Buy now from Amazon

Mobvoi’s crowdfunded TicWatch S and E were two of our favourite affordable smartwatches upon their release back in 2017. Following on such success, Mobvoi has released the updated TicWatch S2 and, here, the TicWatch E2. Although the new version hasn’t significantly built on the features of its predecessor, there’s no denying that the TicWatch E2 gives you unbeatable value for money.

For under £150, you’ll get features normally found on wearables that retail for double that price. There’s an attractive AMOLED display, Google Assistant integration, swim tracking, built-in GPS and more. Pair those features with excellent build quality and respectable battery life, and you have yourself a cheap smartwatch that is unrivalled in today’s market.

Read our full Mobvoi TicWatch E2 review

Key specs – Operating system: Wear OS; Screen size and type: 1.39in 400 x 400 AMOLED; Battery life: 2 days; Replaceable strap: Yes; GPS: Built-in; Heart rate: Yes; NFC: No

2. Amazfit Verge Lite: Best smartwatch under £100

Price: £80 | Buy now from Amazon

For under £100, the Amazfit Verge Lite has a lot under its belt, including built-in GPS, heart-rate monitor, IP68 waterproofing, sleep tracking and a very impressive battery life of up to 20 days.

It doesn’t win many awards in the aesthetics department, but this chunky budget smartwatch is a bargain when you take into account the features it offers. Its pricier sibling, the Amazfit Verge, is also competitively priced at £150, and offers a few extra features, including an in-built microphone and speaker which can be used to interact with Alexa. However, at £80, it’s the Verge Lite that’s the real star of the show here.

Read our full Amazfit Verge and Verge Lite review

Key specs – Operating system: Bip OS; Screen size and type: 1.3in 360 x 360 AMOLED; Battery life: 20 days; Replaceable strap: Yes; GPS: Yes; Heart rate: Yes; NFC: No

3. Apple Watch Series 3: Best value Apple Watch

Price: £197 | Buy now from Amazon

Admittedly, a £195 price tag stretches the boundaries of what we consider to be a ‘cheap’ smartwatch but, if you’re already invested in the iOS ecosystem, then the Apple Watch 3 is undoubtedly the best way to go. Why? Because it’s still one of the very best smartwatches money can buy but it’s considerably cheaper than the latest Watch 6.

As well as doing practically everything its successors can do, the Apple Watch 3 is small, lightweight and beautifully designed. Notable features include GPS, in-depth fitness tracking (including swim tracking), contactless payments and music playback via Spotify. There are plenty of workouts to choose from as well as a new competition mode, so you can challenge your friends. Digital assistant Siri has also been refined.

Put simply, Apple’s smartwatches continue to set the gold standard for wearable technology, and the Series 3 currently offers the best value of anything in the California-based company’s range.

Read our full Apple Watch Series 3 review

Key specs – Operating system: watchOS; Screen size and type: 1.5in 272 x 340 OLED; Battery life: 18 hours; Replaceable strap: No; GPS: Built-in; Heart rate: Yes; NFC: No


4. Garmin Vivoactive 3: Best cheap smartwatch for sports tracking

Price: £200 | Buy now from Garmin

Although Garmin’s Vivoactive 3 had a starting price of £280, it can now be found for closer to £200. This is because the Vivoactive 3 was superseded by the Vivoactive 4 last year, which comes with the added bonus of Spotify playback from your wrist.

If you can go without built-in tunes, you still have one hell of a fitness-based smartwatch on your hands. The Vivoactive 3 pretty much ticks all the boxes in this respect: it’s easy-to-use and accurate, featuring built-in GPS, an altimeter, swim tracking, a heart-rate sensor and more.

As far as smart features go, you can control your phone’s music playback from your wrist, receive notifications and benefit from NFC payments via Garmin Pay. The latter system isn’t perfect, but if Garmin can sort out bank support for its contactless payments, the Vivoactive 3 would be the perfect all-rounder.

Read our full Garmin Vivoactive 3 review

Key specs – Operating system: Proprietary OS; Screen size and type: 1.2in 240 x 240 transflective MIP; Battery life: 7 days; Replaceable strap: Yes; GPS: Built-in; Heart rate: Yes; NFC: Yes


5. Huawei Band 3 Pro: Best cheap smart band

Price: £55 | Buy now from Amazon

Do fitness bands qualify as smartwatches? They might when they're as good as the Huawei Band 3 Pro which manages to pack in an awful lot of value into a £40 wearable.

Not only does it tell the time, track sleep and count steps as with every fitness tracker since the original Fitbit, it also manages to pack in both GPS and heart-rate sensors. On top of this, it also receives crystal-clear notifications on a seriously bright 0.95in touchscreen. The three-week battery life is very much the cherry on an already delicious cake.

Read our full Huawei Band 3 Pro review

Key specs – Operating system: Proprietary OS; Screen size and type: 0.95in 120x240 AMOLED; Battery life: Up to three weeks; Replaceable strap: Yes; GPS: Yes; Heart rate: Yes; NFC: No


6. Fitbit Versa Lite: Best cheap Fitbit smartwatch

Price: £138 | Buy now from Amazon

Fitbit’s Versa Lite costs 25% – or £50 – less than the standard Versa, but somehow barely compromises as far as features are concerned. Well, that’s not entirely true, but you won’t be missing out on any of the features that we think really matter. There’s no support for Deezer, no Fitbit Coach on-screen workouts and no Fitbit Pay (which doesn’t really matter if you live in the UK) and, perhaps most disappointingly, no altimeter.

If you can live without these features, (and we’re pretty sure most people can), the Versa Lite offers tremendous value for money. It’s light and looks great, benefits from the excellent Fitbit app and the community it brings, and still packs in features such as push notifications, a heart-rate monitor and 50m water resistance, among others. In short, the Versa Lite is eminently likeable and therefore easy to recommend.

Read our full Fitbit Versa Lite review

Key specs – Operating system: Proprietary OS; Screen size and type: 1.34in 300 x 300 LCD; Battery life: 4 days; Replaceable strap: Yes; GPS: Connected; Heart rate: Yes; NFC: No


7. Huawei Watch GT 2e: Best budget smartwatch for runners

Price: £105 | Buy now from Amazon

It might not be that smart – it lacks an app store and features such as NFC, for instance – but the Huawei Watch GT 2e is a great option for runners. In fact, we like it so much that we featured it in our best running watch roundup.

After its Watch 2, Huawei said goodbye to Google’s Wear OS in favour of its own Lite OS software. This explains the lack of some smart features, but it’s also the reason the Watch GT2e boasts an impressive two-week battery life.

Coupled with excellent sports tracking, with 100 workout modes available, it’s an all-round solid exercise companion. Runners are best catered for, however, with a range of preset workouts to choose from including training plans for events from 5K to marathon distance. Huawei has also partnered with Firstbeat (which provides training analysis for Garmin’s products) to offer insights such as VO2 max, training effectiveness and recovery times.

If you’re a runner in need of a smartwatch for your workouts, the GT 2e is an absolute bargain. Just bear in mind that it’s better paired with Android devices, as you’re able to load it with music. At present, it’s also not possible to sync the GT series of smartwatches with Strava.

Key specs – Operating system: Lite OS; Screen size and type: 1.39in 454 x 454 AMOLED HD; Battery life: Up to 20 days; Replaceable strap: Yes; GPS: Yes; Heart rate: Yes; NFC: No

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