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The Best Sports Watches for Every Fitness Level

Track your daily activity and workouts to become a fitter, healthier version of you.

sports watches best review 2020
Kayla Ramsey

Whether you’re a casual user in pursuit of a healthier lifestyle or an enthusiast looking to reach a new level of fitness, you need a high-quality sports watch in your workout routine. These timepieces will help you track, monitor, and improve your performance, thanks to their onboard sensors and other special features.

Many sports watches can also guide you through your workouts via on-screen animation — as well as track your sleep and recovery patterns — to help you always feel your best and avoid injuries. They are also excellent smartwatches, which can send you smartphone notifications, offer access to your favorite virtual assistant, and even allow you to control connected home products.

The Best Sports Watches

How We Tested

We’ve been reviewing sports watches for years, and have researched more than 30 products in the space to identify the ones that matter. This process involves sifting through specs, reading in-depth reviews from industry experts, and evaluating consumer feedback.

From there, we put the devices that captured our interest through our testing process. We wore the watches daily and used them for various forms of exercise — power walking, hot yoga, strength-training, and even marathon training — to determine the effectiveness of their fitness-tracking features. We also asked our testers to report on battery life, comfort, ease of use, and overall design.

What to Consider

There are several important factors to consider before picking out your sports watch, with the most important being phone compatibility. For example, the Apple Watch — a rock-solid contender for the product category’s best — is only compatible with an iPhone. Its competitors from Fitbit, Garmin, and Polar, however, can also play nice with Android phones.

In addition to compatibility, you should also keep design, onboard sensors, display quality, and battery performances in mind as well. We break these criteria down further below.

Design

Unless you plan to use it only during workouts, a good sports watch should rock a cool design that’s suitable for everyday wear. Having it constantly on your wrist will allow you to take full advantage of its onboard sensors and tech, instead of simply keeping tabs on your pulse at the gym. A sports watch should also be fully waterproof — the higher its rating, the better.

Sensors

When it comes to onboard sensors, every good sports watch should be able to track your heart rate well. Additional features like ECG capabilities and a blood oxygen sensor are becoming increasingly common. A built-in GPS chip for precisely mapping your outdoor exercises is also important. (Save for one product, all our picks have one.)

Display

Of course, the display quality of any sports watch is essential. The best ones have sharp and vibrant panels that are equally great for glancing at your stats during workouts, as well as emails from work. Combined with the onboard sensors, the screen will impact your timepiece’s battery endurance — products with lower-tech screens typically last longer between charges.

Battery Performance

Depending on your workout routine, consider the battery life of a fitness watch before buying. Every option on this list will deliver at least a full day (or much more) of mixed-use. The latter will include standard smartwatch mode and a workout session of continuous fitness tracking with GPS and other available sensors constantly enabled.

After countless hours of activity and months of testing, these are the best sports watches to fuel your workouts right now. Get ready to take your sweat sessions to a whole new level.

Learn more about how we test products, from the questions we ask our testing team, to the types of products we feel are actually worth testing, to the overall time we put into our testing process.

(Looking for smartwatches for kids? Here is the perfect smartwatch for your tot or teen.)

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1
Best Overall
Apple Watch Series 7
Apple
Now 13% off

Key Specs

  • 41- or 45-millimeter case
  • Heart rate and blood oxygen sensors
  • Always-on Retina display
  • Waterproof to 50 meters

    The Apple Watch Series 7 is the product category’s gold standard, so long as you have an iPhone. It’s the most intuitive and desirable product on this list. The timepiece is easily customizable with bands and cases, too.

    The Series 7 has best-in-class health-, fitness-, and wellness-tracking capabilities, thanks to an ECG-capable heart rate sensor and a blood oxygen tracker. It also delivers snappy performance and fast charging.

    If you're shopping on a tighter budget, consider the sub-$200 Apple Watch Series 3 with fewer features. It will reliably keep track of your health and fitness.

    More: Our Review of the Apple Watch Series 7

    • Best-in-class sensors
    • Sharp and vibrant display
    • Intuitive to use

    • Needs daily charging
    2
    Best Fitbit
    Fitbit Sense Smartwatch
    Fitbit
    Now 33% off

    Key Specs

    • Heart rate sensor with ECG
    • Temperature sensor
    • AMOLED display with always-on mode
    • Waterproof to 50 meters

    The Fitbit Sense is the company’s most capable fitness-tracking smartwatch to date. It’s packed with features, including the ability to measure your stress levels and skin temperature. It is a good Apple Watch alternative at a lower price point — albeit with inferior hardware.

    The Sense is also compatible with Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant. It can store and play music, too.

    The Sense is available in carbon or gold. If you're shopping for a Fitbit on a tighter budget, consider the Versa 3 instead. It has the same design but a less elaborate set of fitness-tracking tools.

    • Great health- and fitness-tracking features
    • Excellent battery life
    • Reasonable price

    • Could use a bigger and sharper display
    3
    Best Garmin
    Garmin Venu 2 Smartwatch
    Garmin
    Now 11% off

    Key Specs

    • 40- or 45-millimeter case
    • Heart rate and blood oxygen sensors
    • AMOLED display with always-on mode
    • Waterproof to 50 meters

    The Venu 2 is Garmin’s best fitness-tracking watch for most consumers. It has a lightweight case with a sleek design, a vibrant display, an easy-to-navigate touchscreen interface, and excellent battery life. Plus, it can deliver phone notifications, stream music to your wireless earbuds, and make contactless payments.

    We like that the timepiece can guide you through workouts via on-screen animations. Its companion app will also allow you to access and share your fitness data.

    The Venu 2 has a 45-millimeter case in blue or black with swappable 22-millimeter straps. A Garmin Venu 2S with 40-millimeter housing is also available.

    • Cool and customizable design
    • Rich set of fitness- and health-tracking features
    • Solid battery life

    • Notifications work better for Android users
    4
    Best Budget
    Garmin Venu Sq Smartwatch
    Garmin
    Now 25% off

    Key Specs

    • 40-millimeter case
    • Heart rate and blood oxygen sensors
    • LCD touchscreen with alway-on mode
    • Waterproof to 50 meters

    The Garmin Venu Sq smartwatch is feature-packed, user-friendly, and reasonably priced. It has an intuitive user interface, a tough build, and long battery life. You can order it in black, white, and purple.

    The gadget's health- and fitness-tracking capabilities include the ability to monitor your body's energy levels. The Venu Sq can also observe your stress levels, breathing, and sleep quality.

    Other key features of the watch include a built-in GPS for detailed maps of running routes. You’ll also get a Garmin Coach — a feature to help you achieve your running goals via personalized guidance.

    • Lightweight and comfy
    • Long battery life
    • Affordable
    • Monitors energy levels

    • LCD display is not as good as AMOLED panels
    5
    Most Lightweight
    POLAR Vantage V2 Fitness-Tracking Smartwatch
    POLAR

    Key Specs

    • 47-millimeter case
    • Heart rate sensor
    • Always-on touchscreen
    • Waterproof to 100 meters

    The Vantage V2 by Polar is an excellent option for workout enthusiasts. Its aluminum case (in black or silver) meets military-level durability standards. Yet, it’s impossibly lightweight at a fraction above 1 ounce without a band.

    The product has everything you could want in terms of fitness tracking features. Being a Polar product, it can also keep tabs on your body strain to help avoid injuries.

    You can expect about 40 hours of battery life in training mode with active GPS and continuous heart rate tracking from the Vantage V2 and up to a week between charges in watch mode.

    • Lightweight, comfy, and tough
    • Long battery life

    • Underwhelming display
    6
    Best for Casual Users
    Fossil Everett Hybrid Smartwatch
    Fossil
    Now 16% off

    Key Specs

    • 45-millimeter case
    • Heart rate sensor
    • Negative display
    • Waterproof to 30 meters

    Fossil’s Everett HR is an excellent option for fashion-conscious buyers looking to keep track of their basic activity and sleep patterns. At a glance, it seems like a classic timepiece with mechanical hands and a three-button layout.

    However, with an always-on e-ink display and a heart rate sensor, the watch will also deliver notifications from your phone and track your activities.

    The 2-week maximum battery life of the Everett HR is excellent, too. A companion app will allow you to customize its display layout and hardware buttons’ functionality. It will also deliver an overview of your fitness data.

    • Classic design
    • Robust activity-tracking features

    • No onboard GPS
    7
    Epic Battery Life
    Suunto 9 Peak Fitness Watch
    SUUNTO

    Key Specs

    • 43-millimeter case
    • Heart rate and blood oxygen sensors
    • Circular touchscreen
    • Waterproof up to 100 meters

    The rugged Suunto 9 Peak stands out with up to 25 hours of activity tracking with GPS switched on or a week in regular smartwatch mode with health tracking enabled. Using it like a traditional watch will get you up to 2 weeks of battery life.

    The Peak has a ton of fitness- and health-tracking tools. It can detect and monitor more than 80 sports and activities, including swimming and cycling.

    The stainless steel case of the Peak (available in black or silver) has an equally luxurious sapphire glass cover. A slightly pricier titanium version is also available. 

    • Cool design and luxurious workmanship
    • Fantastic battery life

    • Pricey
    8
    For Android Users
    Samsung Galaxy Watch4 Smartwatch
    Samsung Electronics
    Now 18% off

    Key Specs

    • 40- or 44-millimeter case
    • Heart rate sensor
    • Super AMOLED display with always-on mode
    • Waterproof to 50 meters

    Powered by Google’s Wear OS, the Samsung Galaxy Watch4 is an Apple Watch alternative for Android users. Like its competitor, it is a great smartwatch with a stellar set of health-, fitness-, and sleep-tracking features.

    The device’s overall user experience is miles ahead of what Fitbit, Garmin, and Polar products offer. So is its ability to deliver notifications. Its phenomenal AMOLED display makes every interaction more enjoyable.

    The Watch4 has an ECG-capable heart-rate sensor that can detect atrial fibrillation and an irregular heart rhythm. It will automatically track workouts and sync your fitness data and stats to Samsung's Health platform.

    • Vibrant AMOLED screen
    • Supports standard wireless chargers
    • Great smartphone-pairing feature

    • Works best with an Android phone
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