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Best Smartwatches for Fitness

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Are you an active individual who's seeking a smartwatch that delivers powerful fitness and health tracking tools along with an eye-catching design? The Garmin Vivoactive 4 has built-in GPS, music storage, full waterproofing, and even NFC for mobile payments with Garmin Pay. It's as fully-featured of a smartwatch and fitness tracker that you'll find, so it might be just what you're looking for.

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Announced late last year, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 is one of the company's newest smartwatches to hit the market. It's got some significant improvements when compared to its predecessor, like new on-screen workouts, two size options, and music storage is now standard. Admittedly, these are some significant upgrades, but they come at a cost. If you can get past the hefty price tag, it's a phenomenal fitness smartwatch that will track your every move.

Previously, the Vivoactive was only available in one size. With this release, you can choose between 45mm or a smaller 40mm, which is known as the Vivoactive 4S but has all of the same features as its big brother. You also had to pay more for a music edition with the latest smartwatch, but music storage comes standard on the Vivoactive 4.

On the fitness side of things, you've got your usual heart-rate monitoring with activity and sleep tracking. New features include respiration and hydration tracking, a Pulse Ox sensor, Body Battery™ Energy monitoring, and 20+ preloaded sports apps. If you're not familiar, the Pulse Ox sensor is designed to monitor blood oxygen saturation levels. The Body Battery lets you check your energy levels throughout the day by collecting essential metrics, so you can schedule your workouts and rest time accordingly. The built-in GPS allows you to map outdoor runs without having to bring your phone, and the watch is waterproof up to 50M.

When you combine all of that with an NFC chip for Garmin Pay, the 8-day battery life in smartwatch mode (or 6 hours in GPS mode with music), and a lovely stainless steel design, and 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.

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Not ready quite yet for a full-fledged smartwatch? The Withings Move might be the right fit. Rather than having a touchscreen display and an on-device operating system, the Move takes the form of a traditional watch with physical hands. Despite the discrete look, the Move is actually a well-rounded fitness companion.

With the Withings Move, you get 24/7 activity tracking, sleep tracking, automatic workout detection, and waterproofing up to 50M. While the lack of built-in GPS is a bummer, you can still map outdoor bikes/runs as long as you bring your phone with you. All of your data is synced to Withings' Health Mate app, which can then sync with Google Fit, Fitbit, MyFitnessPal, and Apple Health.

If you don't want to be bothered with charging at all, you'll appreciate that the Withings Move can last up to 18 months thanks to its replaceable battery.

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There's a lot to say about the new Fitbit Versa 2. It's a fabulous device that successfully pairs the company's best fitness features with some outstanding smartwatch perks. This model offers 5+ days of battery life, and Fitbit Pay is now standard. It also boasts a slim new design, a noticeably faster processor, a microphone so Android users can easily reply to notifications, and built-in Alexa support.

As far as fitness goes, the Versa 2 gives you 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 are designed to coach you through each move and 5 ATM water resistance with swim tracking.

While it's certainly disappointing that the Versa 2 lacks built-in GPS, it more than compensates for it by gathering copious amounts of useful data. Plus, it's hard not to love those on-screen workouts on a beautiful AMOLED display.

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Fossil Gen 5

Best with Wear OS

Google's Wear OS platform has had its fair share of ups and downs over the years, but if it's your smartwatch OS of choice, we highly recommend checking out the Fossil Gen 5 smartwatches. You'll receive a breadth of features that make it a worthy competitor, like a built-in speaker for taking calls when your phone is connected, an improved battery that promises three days of moderate usage, and a whopping 1GB of RAM for the most impressive performance in the Wear OS ecosystem yet. 

While this generation of Fossil smartwatches doesn't have 'Sport' in the name, this bad boy can handle your activity tracking needs like a champ with Google Fit. It's waterproof, offers 24/7 heart-rate monitoring, and it even has GPS that allows you to track your runs without having to bring your phone with you. It provides other bonuses as well, like Google Pay and Google Assistant.

It might lack sleep tracking and a more robust activity tracking suite like some of the others on the list have, but you still get a lot for your money. It's hard to argue with the updates that have made for some significant improvements this time around. You can choose between the stylish Carlyle or the more feminine Julianna model. Either way, it's not a bad choice at all.

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If you're looking to dip your toe into the smartwatch market, but you don't want to break the bank, the Amazfit GTS is an excellent pick. Most importantly, you have a full two weeks of battery life before you need to charge it again. This is easily one of the most attractive features, especially for those who are constantly on the run and don't have time to stop and charge daily.

With the Amazfit GTS, you get heart-rate monitoring, activity and sleep tracking, waterproofing up to 50M for use in the pool if you want to track your swims and built-in GPS. All of your data is synced to the Amazfit app, which does what it needs to do, but not without a few obstacles along the way. Be prepared for a lengthy setup process and sluggish updates when the time comes for that.

While the battery life is the star of the show here, the price tag is also worth mentioning. Most other smartwatches with features like GPS, heart-rate monitoring, and a beautiful AMOLED display are going to set you back a bit financially. However, the Amazfit GTS offers all of this and more at a fair price. As you might have noticed, it looks a lot like the Apple Watch. If you're a fan of that design but not so much the price, this is a perfect alternative.

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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 new capacitive bezel. Tizen OS is smooth but might take some getting used to if you're new to the software. 

Depending on whether you choose the 40mm or 44mm model, you'll get 2–3 of days of battery life. The LTE model will likely drain faster, especially when using GPS. 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 an array of 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 new-and-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. It's complete with audio cues that can be heard through the watch speaker or Bluetooth headphones. 

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're seeking a well-rounded smartwatch. Keep in mind that it will cost you more than the Bluetooth-only model.

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While it might seem odd to address an always-on display as the most notable feature, it's been a long time coming for the Apple Watch. With each release, users continued to express discontent at the lack of such a simple feature: an always-on display for telling time. It still goes to sleep when not in use, but the display stays on in low power mode. If you're not a fan of this long-awaited improvement for some reason, you can always disable it.

Another new feature is the digital compass that allows you to record and show heading, incline, latitude, longitude, and elevation. This could be helpful from time to time, especially when you're looking at your map. Other than that, it's a fairly basic feature that's nice to have.

The new Apple Watch also offers international emergency calling. It works in over 150 countries, according to Apple. The best part? You don't even need to have your phone nearby to use the feature. As long as you have a cellular-capable model, you'll be good to go.

When it comes to tracking and other smartwatch features, the Apple Watch Series 5 is mostly the same as its predecessor. You'll enjoy detailed health and fitness tracking, built-in GPS, Apple Pay, smartphone notifications, 5 ATM water resistance, and more.

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For our last pick, we wanted to highlight a smartwatch that really goes all out on just about every front. It's big, packed with every feature you could ask for, and costs a pretty penny. It's the Samsung Galaxy Watch. Where the Galaxy Watch Active is a small, affordable watch made for everyone, the regular Galaxy Watch is for those with deeper pockets that don't want to sacrifice a single thing.

You've got access to the same fitness features as the Galaxy Watch Active, including activity and sleep tracking, heart rate monitoring, automatic workout detection, and reminders to move and breathe. Your data is readily visible on the Galaxy Watch, in addition to the Samsung Health companion app.

The Galaxy Watch has a pretty big, bulky design, but because of this, you gain a military-grade durability rating in addition to waterproofing up to 50 meters. The bezel around the screen also rotates as a fun way to navigate menus rather than touching the screen, and with Samsung Pay, you can use NFC and MST for payments — allowing you to pay for things with the Galaxy Watch at virtually any store you go to.

Bottom line

Any of the smartwatches on this list will serve you well, but at the end of the day, we feel confident that the Garmin Vivoactive 4 is the best all-around choice. We've already given a lot of praise for it here, but let's reiterate why it's our current favorite.

On the fitness side of things, there's something here for everyone to enjoy. You'll get activity/sleep tracking, animated on-screen workouts, heart-rate monitoring, and the Body Battery feature. All of your fitness stats are readily available on the watch, and you'll have even more details when you sync it to the Garmin Connect™ app.

However, fitness is just one side of the smartwatch equation. When you aren't breaking a sweat, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 is just an excellent smartwatch, too. It's fully waterproof so it can handle your day-to-day activities, and it looks nice doing it. 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 this fitness smartwatch to just about everyone.

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