The best smartwatch to buy for 2018
Smartwatches have been a slow burner for many consumers, but as the technology improves and their popularity moves beyond gadget-lovers there are plenty of good reasons to buy one. Many smartwatches emulate fitness trackers, offering abilities such as heart rate monitoring, GPS and water resistance. Others have gone down a luxury route, trying to match the style of traditional timepieces. Smartwatches can connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth, giving you up to date information from notifications and alerts. Whether you are after an Apple Watch for your iPhone or just a simple Fitbit, The Telegraph has broken down some of the best smartwatches for different uses to help pick a timepiece that is right for you. The best smartwatch to buy in 2018 Apple Watch Series 3 with 4G £429, Currys Apple Watch Series 3 The Apple Watch Series 3 is the culmination of Apple's recent advancements in smartwatch technology and is still the best you can buy. It's also one of the top fitness gadgets out there, thanks to all the features of WatchOS 4, useful for running, swimming and health tracking. It comes with a heart rate monitor, and will soon be able to plug in to a variety of gym equipment, logging your data as you go. It's also first and foremost a smartwatch. It can take emails and text messages, and can now operate using its own 4G and mobile signal, meaning you don't need your iPhone with you to use the watch to make calls. On top of this you get access to a host of apps such as WhatsApp and Apple Music on the go. However, with a battery life that will often not last the day, you will need to keep a charger handy. Connectivity also is not cheap. The mobile version of the Series 3 Watch is a £70 premium at £429, a massive asking price. EE, the only UK network it works with, charges £5 a month for the service. You can read James Titcomb's full review of the Apple Watch Series 3 here. Telegraph rating: 9/10 Buy now Samsung Gear Sport £299, John Lewis Samsung Gear Sport Credit: Samsung Samsung's Gear Sport is the company's latest attempt to make a high-end sport and fitness smartwatch. Features like waterproofing make it suitable for swimming. It comes in a smart black or standout blue colours, but is not the most attractive watch you can put on your wrist, plus it is a little chunky and heavy on smaller wrists. The Gear Sport does, however, have one of the most functional smartwatch interfaces I have tried. Simply twist the watch face to access different apps and services from messaging apps to music. The Gear Sport can be used for paying with Samsung Pay too, although it is not as easy as the simple tap and pay from an Apple Watch. One big drawback is the Samsung Gear app, which is tricky to navigate and features adverts and app suggestions. The Gear Sport is cheaper than Samsung's other smartwatch offerings, like the older Gear S3. This watch has the capacity for 4G LTE calls, although since the function is not available in the UK the Gear Sport may be a better buy for now. Telegraph rating: 8/10 Buy now Huawei Watch 2 £199, Currys Huwaei Watch 2 Huawei's smartwatch offering comes in the form of the Watch 2, an Android-powered smartwatch from Chinese smartphone maker Huawei. For set up you will have to download Huawei's own watch apps to link to the smartwatch. It comes with a heartrate monitor, plenty of customisable watchfaces and can work with apps like Facebook Messenger, Uber and more. We weren't totally into the Huawei's look, it's a bit bulky (but most smartwatches are). We also think it would be two big for some people. Huawei's Wear app lets you track your fitness tracking, although it is perhaps not as intuitive as Apple's software. That said, we've continued to use it, and it can be used to link to services like Google's Assistant. Telegraph rating: 7.5/10 Buy now Apple Watch Series 1 £219, Currys Apple Watch Credit: PA It's had some upgrades since it was released in 2016 but the form factor of the Apple Watch is similar to when it was first released. It has the easily navigable watchOS and the functionality of Siri, as well as Apple Pay. The Apple Watch is now also considered one of the top fitness watches you can buy, with intuitive fitness tracking apps and a heart rate monitor. While Apple says its battery life should be 18 hours with regular use, most people will easily get two days out of the watch if you limit use to time checking and the odd workout. Telegraph rating: 7/10 Buy now Fitbit Ionic £239.99, John Lewis Fitbit Ionic Fitbit's line of sports watches has at last gone one step beyond, with the Fitbit Ionic embracing smartwatch tech with a payments system, smartwatch functions, calls texts, emails WhatsApp messages and more. With around four days of battery life it will also easily outlast most smartwatches. It's also still a top fitness tracker too, combining Fitbit's simple app with an exercise coach, timers for running, a heart rate monitor, and built-in capabilities for music storage. It can also connect via Bluetooth to the new Fitbit Flyer headphones, which can be used on the go so you can take your music with you when exercising. It's Fitibt's most advanced fitness watch yet, although in the UK you can only make payments through a handful of small banks. The look is a little divisive too, and it can look chunky on smaller wrists. It has recently come down to as low as £239 on some stores. Telegraph rating: 7/10 Buy now Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro £199, John Lewis Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro Credit: Samsung At the border of smartwatches and fitness trackers is Samsung's Gear Fit2 Pro. While it does not have some of the full smartwatch capabilities such as wrist-based NFC payments, it can link up to a number of apps on the Samsung App store. You can download songs directly to Spotify with up to 500 songs stored on playlists. Like other smartwatches, the Gear Fit2 Pro links to your smartphone and can be used to quickly respond to calls with instant text messages. This is primarily a fitness device, and includes a heartrate monitor and built-in GPS. It has a 1.5-inch display and comes in black or red, while the watch face can be customised with different backgrounds and widgets. It is a little bulky, however. Battery life is not terrible at around two days, but priced at £200 you might get more from spending a little extra on a more advanced watch. Telegraph rating: 6.5/10 Buy now Fitbit Blaze £149, Argos Fitbit Blaze Credit: Bloomberg The Fitbit Blaze was the fitness tracking company's first attempt at a smartwatch/fitness band hybrid. It is not a pure smartwatch as it lacks many of the key functionalities that other more expensive smartwatches include. However, it does have fitness tracking and heart rate monitoring inside. It can manage GPS tracking, but only when connected to your phone and not on its own. Plus a battery life of up to five days is impressive on a smartwatch. The lack of any real apps pulls down the appeal of the Fitbit Blaze, although it has a colour touchscreen, a more refined slimline design and features such as smartphone-synced music playback and notifications for texts and calendar reminders. At £149 it is now one of the cheapest smartwatches you can buy, read the Telegraph's full review here. Telegraph rating: 6.5/10 Buy now The fashion choice Michael Kors Access £284, Amazon Michael Kors Access Sofie Credit: Michael Kors For those who prefer something fashionable over a bulky smartwatch design, the Michael Kors access range combines the best of smartwatches with the best in fashion watches. At under £300 they are relatively affordable by smartwatch standards and come with Android Wear which includes voice assistant access from Google Assistant and plenty of apps to choose from. It comes in two models. The Sofie is aimed at a pure fashion market, while the Grayson has an executive look. While you can get all the normal notifications from calendar or text messages, it doesn't have the fitness and health functions like GPS you see on other models. Buy now Black Friday products disclaimer Should I buy a smartwatch? Many of the best smartwatches rival cheaper sports watches for fitness tracking performance, although you can still find good deals on the popular Fitbit and Garmin devices. Heart rate sensors and GPS are common features, but most have more advanced app options for Spotify or WhatsApp. And smartwatches offer significant levels of connectivity with your smartphone, from answering calls to voice control. More advanced models can offer 4G connection and contactless payments. If you want to see the best fitness trackers, see our buying guide and recommended picks. Which smartwatch operating system is best? There are several operating systems, most of which are fairly distinct and work with different types of smartwatch. Given that your smartwatch will spend most of the time connected to your smartphone, you will want to make sure it has a degree of cross compatibility. watchOS: The latest watchOS 4 for Apple smartwatches has been upgraded with fitness apps and improved health tracking. The improvements to watchOS now mean the Apple Watch can handle calls independently of an iPhone and access millions of songs online with 4G connectivity. Android Wear: The 2.0 edition of Android Wear was a step up with new functions including Google voice control, Android Pay and the ability to make 4G calls. TizenOS: Used for Samsung smartwatches, it has an intuitive interface and design. It can be used to make payments with Samsung Pay and for 4G connectivity on some models. Fitbit: The least mature smartwatch operating system, Fitbit's new system works with the Fitbit Ionic. It allows for music storage, connects to your calls and texts and can make payments with Fitbit Pay. Do I want to use my smartwatch for sport? When buying a smartwatch you will want to consider whether you want it as a fitness aid or a fashion statement. There are some differences between smartwatches and fitness trackers. Fitness trackers often have less functionality when it comes to reading and responding to texts or emails. But plenty of smartwatches are tailored for outdoorsy types and fitness fanatics, with step and calorie counters linked to your smartphone. If you want a smartwatch for sport you should also consider one with a more durable watch face, silicon straps and waterproofing. How much should I pay for a smartwatch? If you want the most out of smartwatch functions such as 4G compatibility and voice control you will be looking to pay in the region of £300 or more. The Apple Watch Series 3 gives the option to make phone-free calls, independent of your iPhone. Cheaper smartwatches come in at around £250 or less. These models from Fitbit and Samsung often have more limited functionality and are closer to smart fitness watches. The best smartwatches compared Other things to look out for in a smartwatch: Screen size: A screen that is too small may be fiddly to use, a screen that is too large may be heavy and chunky. Some smartwatches come in more than one size to fit different wrists. Battery life: This is the main sticking point for many smartwatch users. Battery life can vary hugely and is unimpressive compared to any normal watch. Ideally you want at least two days of charge with limited use, with regular use you may see a lot less. Processor and storage: Most smartwatches will have similar processors that do not make huge levels to difference to performance and many come with 4GB of storage as standard. Best technology you can buy grid Verdict If you want the utmost in smartwatch functions then the Apple Watch Series 3, with its phone-free ability to take calls, health functions and well-stocked app store it is the most versatile smartwatch. At £429 however, it is hard to recommend such an expensive gadget which still has only limited functions compared to your smartphone. The Samsung Gear Sport is a good option for non-iPhone users, although it does not have 4G connectivity. For those after something more fashionable, the Michael Kors Access range provides full Android Wear capabilities while keeping the style of a luxury watch.