Best smartwatch for fitness 2021

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Garmin Vivoactive 4Source: Courtney Lynch / Android Central

Best
smartwatch for fitness
Android Central
2021

If you’re looking to improve your fitness routine by tracking workouts with an Android smartwatch, there are several options. We recommend the Garmin Vivoactive 4 as the best fitness smartwatch for many reasons. First, you’ll have tons of perks, including GPS, activity/sleep tracking, music storage, and full waterproofing. You get a perfect blend of smartwatch perks and fitness tracking features, so it might be just what you’re looking for. But other top picks will fit any style or budget, and they’re all right here.

Best overall: Garmin Vivoactive 4

Garmin Vivoactive 4Source: Courtney Lynch / Android Central

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 isn’t the newest watch on the market anymore, but it’s still one of the best fitness smartwatches you can buy. Most importantly, it offers some significant upgrades compared to its predecessor, including on-screen workouts, two size options, and music storage is now a standard feature. It’s not quite as expensive as it once was, but it’s not the cheapest option either. With that said, it’s a phenomenal fitness smartwatch that will track your every move. It’s also an ideal option if you want a running watch that can help you improve your performance.

On the fitness side of things, you’ve got your usual heart-rate monitoring with activity and sleep-tracking. New features include a Pulse Ox sensor, Body Battery energy monitoring, and 20-plus preloaded sports apps. If you’re not familiar, the Pulse Ox sensor monitors blood oxygen saturation levels. The Body Battery lets you check your energy levels throughout the day, so you can schedule your workouts and rest time accordingly. The built-in GPS allows you to map outdoor runs without bringing your phone, and the watch is waterproof up to 50 meters.

When you combine all of that with an NFC chip for Garmin Pay, the eight-day battery life in smartwatch mode (or six hours in GPS mode with music), and a lovely stainless steel design, it’s easy to see why this is our top pick. It may be expensive, and you only get two color choices with the larger watch, but it’s got a lot to offer for those who are dedicated to tracking their health and fitness.

Pros:

  • Two size options
  • Heart-rate monitoring
  • Built-in GPS
  • 50-meter waterproofing
  • NFC for Garmin Pay
  • Up to eight days of battery life

Cons:

  • Pretty expensive
  • 45mm size has fewer color options

Best overall


Garmin Vivoactive 4

Garmin Vivoactive 4 GPS Smart Watch

The best fitness smartwatch for details

No detail is missed with this watch. You’ll have stellar battery life, GPS, fitness tracking, and many other perks.

Best value: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

Galaxy Watch Active 2Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central

The Galaxy Watch Active 2 provides users with a compact and lightweight design that’s as stylish as ever. You’ll have a stunning AMOLED touchscreen with easy navigation, courtesy of the capacitive bezel. Tizen OS is smooth but might take some getting used to if you’re new to the software. Whether you choose the 40mm or 44mm model, you’ll get around two to three of battery life. Given that this is a true smartwatch packed with features—you can expect to charge it every couple of days.

Like its predecessor, the Active 2 offers various health and fitness-tracking features. It comes with built-in GPS, automatic activity-tracking, heart-rate monitoring, sleep-tracking, plus water, food, and caffeine-consumption tracking. The improved Running Coach feature now provides you with real-time pace metrics, along with a breakdown of what to expect from your session before you begin.

Some recent updates have further improved this smartwatch. You’ll now have the Running Analysis feature to help you become a better runner, improve your form, and prevent injuries. The Galaxy Watch Active 2 can measure VO2 max, which indicates the maximum amount of oxygen one can utilize during intense activity. The blood pressure monitoring feature and electrocardiogram (ECG) sensor for detecting irregular heartbeats are also available.

Of course, there are plenty of smartwatch features to go around. You’ll have support for smartphone notifications, Samsung Pay, Wi-Fi connectivity, and music storage. Having an LTE model is a marvelous upgrade, especially if you seek a well-rounded smartwatch. Keep in mind that it will cost you more than the Bluetooth-only model. It will take some time to learn that Tizen OS and third-party app support is mediocre.

Pros:

  • Compact, lightweight design
  • Two-to-three days of battery life
  • Automatic activity tracking
  • Running Analysis
  • Water-resistant up to 5ATM
  • Built-in GPS, NFC, ECG
  • Optional LTE connectivity

Cons:

  • Mediocre third-party app support
  • Tizen OS learning curve

Best value


Galaxy Watch Active 2 (40mm)

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 Smartwatch

An unbeatable value

This one is available in two sizes and offers a digital rotating bezel, GPS, ECG, 5 ATM water resistance, and more.

Best for beginners: Amazfit GTS 3

Amazfit Gts 3 walk statsSource: Courtney Lynch / Android Central

If you’re buying a fitness smartwatch for the first time, you might be a tad overwhelmed by how many options you have. Luckily, several wearables cater to beginners and first-time users. You may not need a watch equipped with every fancy feature under the sun. If you’re just getting started, you should check out the new Amazfit GTS 3.

This smartwatch is robust and affordable, which is a rare combo in the wearable world. It offers activity/sleep tracking, heart-rate monitoring, onboard GPS, blood oxygen tracking, and much more. So when you’re in a hurry, select the “one-tap measuring” feature to get a detailed reading in under a minute. This 4-in-1 health measurement records your heart rate, blood oxygen, stress, and breathing rate all at once.

Fitness enthusiasts who are always on the go don’t usually have time for charging their watch every other day. Even when recording a daily workout, the Amazfit GTS 3 still offers double-digit battery life. It can last up to 12 days, depending on your usage. While this figure may vary a bit, it’s pretty impressive to get anywhere near that number in the first place.

It may not be overflowing with smartwatch features like some of the other watches on this list, but the Amazfit GTS 3 does come with Amazon Alexa built-in. This voice assistant can do it all. Whether you need to ask a question, set an alarm, or launch a workout, you’ll have the assistance you need. There’s no speaker on the watch, so you’ll have to read responses on the watch display. There are no third-party apps available, so don’t expect to be downloading your favorites on this watch. If you’re focused on finding an affordable fitness watch that’s perfect for daily wear, you’ll love this one.

Pros

  • Onboard GPS
  • Heart-rate monitoring
  • 4-in-1 health measurement
  • Automatic workout detection
  • Up to 12 days of battery life

Cons

  • Lacks third-party apps
  • No NFC payments
  • No speaker

Best for beginners


Amazfit Gts 3

Amazfit GTS 3

Fitness tracking for newbies

The Amazfit GTS 3 is great for beginners who don’t want to spend a fortune but still want a solid set of fitness features.

Best battery: Garmin Venu 2

Garmin Venu 2 4Source: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central

If you don’t want to be charging your watch every few days, you’ll want to search for the best fitness smartwatch with long battery life. In that case, you should take a look at the Garmin Venu 2. It’s one of the company’s newest models, so it’s loaded with new features for an excellent fitness tracking experience. What’s more, you can get up to 11 days of battery life in smartwatch mode with the Garmin Venu 2. The smaller 40mm model offers up to 10 days of battery life, which is still impressive. You also have a battery saver mode that will help you extend battery life even further.

The Venu 2 comes in a 45mm case (or 40mm case if you opt for the smaller 2S model) and has a gorgeous AMOLED display. Both models are compatible with interchangeable bands. There are several different style options to choose from, so you won’t have to worry about sacrificing your love for fashion when buying this Garmin smartwatch.

Not to mention that you’ll enjoy plenty of fitness features, including built-in GPS, activity/sleep tracking, over 25 sport modes, heart-rate monitoring, Pulse Ox, Body Battery, and female health-tracking. You also get onboard music storage and NFC payments with Garmin Pay.

The new fitness age feature can estimate whether your body is younger or older than your chronological age using key stats such as your actual age, vigorous weekly activity, resting heart rate, and BMI. There are helpful tips on lowering your fitness age if that’s one of your goals. It’s an expensive smartwatch, but some people may find the unbeatable battery life and feature set to be worth it.

Pros

  • Gorgeous AMOLED display
  • Up to 11 days of battery life
  • Built-in GPS
  • Heart-rate monitoring
  • 50-meter water resistance
  • Stylish design

Cons

  • Pretty expensive
  • Smaller model isn’t cheaper

Best battery


Garmin Venu 2

Garmin Venu 2 – Smartwatch

The fitness smartwatch with amazing battery life

Offers many perks, including amazing battery life, so you don’t have to charge it every single day.

Best upgrade pick: Samsung Galaxy Watch 4

Galaxy Watch 4 Google Fit RingsSource: Ara Wagoner / Android Central

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is one of the newest wearables to hit the market, and there’s a lot to love. Upon further inspection, you’ll notice the Galaxy Watch 4 is the Galaxy Watch Active 2’s successor. There’s also a model called the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, which has the same smartwatch and health/fitness tracking features. The only difference is the physical appearance, which has a physical rotating bezel rather than a digital one. Also, the cases are made of stainless steel instead of aluminum, so they’re heavier than the Galaxy Watch 4 models.

Most important are the significant upgrades from the previous Galaxy Watch models. The biggest change is that these watches run on the new Wear OS 3 platform. When you add Samsung’s Exynos W920 SoC and a whopping 1.5GB of RAM and 16GB of storage to that, you get silky-smooth performance that makes for a wonderful user experience.

Another improvement is Samsung’s new 3-in-1 BioActive sensor, which consists of one chip that houses several health sensors, including optical heart rate, electrical heart, and Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA). You can easily record your heart rate, take a quick electrocardiogram (ECG) reading, or measure your blood oxygen level. The BIA sensor is a new addition designed to measure your overall body composition by recording key metrics, including body water and fat percentage, skeletal muscle mass, and more.

Users will appreciate having a larger app selection thanks to the merging of Samsung and Google. You’ll have many preloaded Google apps on the Galaxy Watch 4, such as Google Maps, Messages by Google, and Google Pay. It’s worth mentioning there’s no compatibility for iOS users, though. The battery life can last for up to 40 hours, which isn’t that impressive. Otherwise, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is well on its way to becoming one of the best fitness smartwatches.

Pros:

  • Slim and very lightweight
  • First Wear OS 3 smartwatch
  • Silky-smooth performance
  • Activity/sleep tracking
  • Optional LTE connectivity
  • Better app support

Cons:

  • Battery life hasn’t improved
  • Not compatible for iOS users

Best upgrade pick


Samsung Galaxy Watch 4

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Smartwatch

A worthy upgrade all around

This watch can track many aspects of your health and fitness. It comes in 2 sizes and offers ECG, BIA, and optional LTE.

Best Fitbit: Fitbit Versa 3

Fitbit Versa 3 Heart RateSource: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central

There’s a lot to say about the new Fitbit Versa 3: It’s a fabulous device that successfully pairs the company’s best fitness features with some outstanding smartwatch perks like onboard GPS (finally!), six-plus days of battery life, improved heart-rate technology, Active Zone Minutes, and Fitbit Pay. It also boasts a new slimmer and sleeker design than its predecessor. It also has a built-in microphone and speaker, making it easier to use the voice assistants. Not to mention that you can now handle Bluetooth calls from your wrist.

As far as fitness goes, the Versa 3 gives you all of the features you’d expect, such as 24/7 heart-rate monitoring along with tracking for activity, sleep stages, and female health. You’ll also enjoy the benefit of on-screen workouts that coach you through each move. It’s water-resistant up to 50M as well. The new Active Zone Minutes feature helps you get the most of your workouts by knowing when you enter your personalized target heart-rate zone.

If you had racked up a solid collection of previous Fitbit Versa bands, you might be disappointed to learn that they won’t be compatible with the new edition. The Versa 3 introduces the company’s new infinity bands with a quick-release system that’s easy to use. However, as usual with Fitbit wearables, the app selection is limited. So if you like the Versa 3 but find yourself craving more advanced health features, you may want to consider the Fitbit Sense instead.

Pros:

  • Sleek, slim design
  • Six-plus days of battery life
  • Onboard GPS
  • Active Zone Minutes
  • Built-in mic and speaker
  • Fitbit Pay

Cons

  • Old bands aren’t compatible
  • Small app selection

Best Fitbit


Fitbit Versa 3

Fitbit Versa 3 Health & Fitness Smartwatch with GPS

Fitbit’s most complete smartwatch to-date

Outfitted with a slim design, stellar battery life, and plenty of fitness features, it brings a lot to the table.

Best Wear OS: TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS

Ticwatch Pro 3 Ultra Gps LifestyleSource: Chris Wedel/Android Central

Mobvoi has done a fantastic job perfecting the TicWatch Pro lineup over the years. The new TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS is no exception. This watch is still equipped with the features that users know and love while offering some useful improvements to improve the overall user experience.

The design was already a popular feature, but it’s been further refined with a new customizable backlight for the display’s top layer. The company also added some amazing new software features to the TicHealth suite. If you’re seeking the best fitness smartwatch on Wear OS, this could very well be the watch of your dreams. Users who embark on rugged adventures will appreciate its improved durability thanks to the MIL-STD-810G rating.

Most people who buy this watch are fascinated by the dual-layer display technology. This feature is one of the reasons the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS can offer such great battery life. It will last for up to 72 hours in smart mode and 45 days in Essential mode. Now, you’ll also have the option to customize the backlight of the top display by choosing 18 vibrant colors.

One of the most common worries when buying any Wear OS watch these days is whether or not it will upgrade to Wear OS 3. As you may know, not all watches on the platform will be eligible. Fortunately, you can cross this off your list of concerns. The TicWatch Pro 3 GPS Ultra will update to Wear OS 3 in early 2022. So if you’re patient, you’ll have an even better wearable experience when your watch starts running Wear OS 3.

Pros

  • Improved performance
  • Built-in GPS
  • Heart-rate monitor
  • Blood oxygen tracking
  • Military-grade durability
  • New customizable display

Cons

  • Too large for some wrists
  • Expensive price tag

Best Wear OS


Ticwatch Pro 3 Ultra Gps

TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS Smartwatch

The best fitness smartwatch powered by Wear OS

You’ll appreciate that the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS offers speedy performance, design upgrades, and Wear OS eligibility in 2022!

Best premium option: Apple Watch Series 7

Apple Watch Series 7Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central

Whenever a new Apple Watch hits the market, users are left wondering whether or not they should upgrade. In some cases, numerous improvements make it a worthwhile investment. In other cases, if you just bought the previous model, there may not be enough upgrades to justify buying a new watch so soon. Users may have mixed opinions regarding the new Apple Watch Series 7.

There are enough design improvements to win some users over. Apple introduced larger case sizes: 41mm and 45mm for starters. If you’ll recall, the previous measures were 40mm and 44mm. That’s not all. The watches now offer thinner bezels as well as bigger display areas. The larger display has its benefits, like the fact that the watch can fit 50% more text on the screen than its predecessor. Users will also have a full QWERTY keyboard, which makes typing easier.

While battery life has yet to improve, Apple offers a USB-C charging cable for faster-charging speeds. Apple users would love a longer battery life, but this is still a helpful improvement. You can take your dead watch from zero to 80% in less than an hour. If you’re really in a hurry to get out the door, you can charge your watch for eight minutes, and that’ll get you a total of eight hours of battery life.

Of course, if you’re buying an Apple Watch to support your fitness routine, then you’ll want to consider getting an
Apple Fitness+ subscription. This service offers an extensive library of video-led workouts. You can pick the one you want, and the video will display on your preferred Apple device. The real-time Apple Watch data will be displayed right on the screen during your workout.

Pros

  • Activity/sleep tracking
  • ECG & SPO2 sensors
  • Apple Fitness+
  • Faster charging speeds
  • Optional LTE connectivity

Cons

  • Pretty expensive
  • Daily charging required

Best premium option


Apple Watch Series 7 Gps Midnight

Apple Watch Series 7 Smartwatch

Tell time and more

The new Apple Watch boasts man improvements, including thinner bezels, larger displays, and much faster-charging speeds.

Best fitness smartwatches: How to decide

Any wearables on this list will serve you well, but we feel confident that the Garmin Vivoactive 4 is the best fitness smartwatch for most users. You have a little bit of everything, including an attractive design, solid fitness features, and a few extra smartwatch perks. This watch provides a well-rounded experience that most people will love. We’ve already given a lot of praise for it here, but let’s reiterate why we think it’s the best overall pick.

On the fitness side of things, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. You’ll get activity- and sleep-tracking, animated on-screen workouts, heart-rate monitoring, a Pulse Ox sensor for blood oxygen tracking, and the Body Battery energy monitoring feature. All of your fitness stats are readily available on the watch — and you can access even more details when you sync it to the Garmin Connect app on your smartphone.

However, fitness is just one side of this smartwatch equation. When you’re not busy breaking a sweat, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 is just an excellent lifestyle smartwatch, too. It’s fully waterproof so that it can handle your day-to-day activities, and it looks beautiful while doing so. You’ll love being able to store music on your watch and use Garmin Pay whenever you need to.

These are just a few reasons why we happily recommend the Garmin Vivoactive 4 as the best fitness smartwatch. However, if you want something even more stylish, something more affordable, or something a bit more basic, there are many other amazing options to choose from.

Credits—The team that worked on this guide

Author:

Joe Maring Joe loves talking about all things tech, but smart wearables are what get him really excited (just ask the drawer of smartwatches in his office). He also likes coffee and goes to Starbucks far too often. Hit him up on Twitter @JoeMaring1

Author:

Courtney Lynch is a freelance writer at Android Central. She’s obsessed with all things health, fitness, and music. At any given time, she can be found checking out the latest and greatest gadgets while simultaneously petting her dog and sipping iced coffee.

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