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Top five smartwatches for 2017

By Hannah Walsh

From battery life to notifications and even fitness-tracking accuracy, we test it all so you can pick the perfect smart watch for you.

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Whether you’re looking for a stylish smartwatch to keep up with notifications such as calls, texts and emails, or a device that can help you track your activity, we’ve got a top-scoring model for you. We’ve tested the latest smartwatches from brands such as Apple, Garmin and Samsung.

We test every smartwatch in a range of different scenarios, both inside and outside our test lab, to find out how they perform when it comes to notifications and smart features, as well as how accurately they track your fitness. We test how long it takes to fully charge your device and how much battery life you can expect to get.

The very best models have brilliantly clear and reactive screens, myriad functions and lots of apps to choose from. They will have plenty of juice in the battery from one charge and be able to accurately track your activity, too. Poor performers in our tests lack the features needed to make them useful, and you’ll still need to dig out your phone to properly view and respond to notifications.

Only logged-in Which? members can view our recommendations in the table below. If you’re not yet a member, you can get instant access by taking a £1 trial to Which?.

Best smartwatches 2017

Apple Watch Series 1
Typical price £269.00
Which? score 74%
Reviewed Dec 2016
Best Buy
Ease of use:
4 out of 5
Smart notifications overall:
5 out of 5
Health:
4 out of 5
Built in heart rate monitor:
Member exclusive
Android compatibility:
Member exclusive
iOS compatibility:
Member exclusive

The most accurate Apple Watch model we've tested.

Apple Watch Series 2
Today's best price £369.00
Which? score 72%
Reviewed Nov 2016
Best Buy
Ease of use:
4 out of 5
Smart notifications overall:
5 out of 5
Health:
4 out of 5
Built in heart rate monitor:
Member exclusive
Android compatibility:
Member exclusive
iOS compatibility:
Member exclusive

A fast processor and plenty of memory make this a speedy smartwatch. It’s packed with features, too.

Garmin Vivoactive
Today's best price £149.94
Which? score 72%
Reviewed Jul 2016
Best Buy
Ease of use:
4 out of 5
Smart notifications overall:
4 out of 5
Health:
4 out of 5
Built in heart rate monitor:
Member exclusive
Android compatibility:
Member exclusive
iOS compatibility:
Member exclusive

Pleasant to use and a raft of accurate fitness features. Exceedingly long battery life.

Samsung Gear S3
Today's best price £264.00
Which? score 70%
Reviewed Apr 2017
Best Buy
Ease of use:
4 out of 5
Smart notifications overall:
4 out of 5
Health:
4 out of 5
Built in heart rate monitor:
Member exclusive
Android compatibility:
Member exclusive
iOS compatibility:
Member exclusive

It has advanced smart and fitness features, but how did it perform in our tough tests?

Samsung Gear S2
Today's best price £179.99
Which? score 67%
Reviewed Jul 2016
Ease of use:
4 out of 5
Smart notifications overall:
4 out of 5
Health:
3 out of 5
Built in heart rate monitor:
Member exclusive
Android compatibility:
Member exclusive
iOS compatibility:
Member exclusive

This good-looking smartwatch has a great range of exercise-tracking features, as well as a crystal-clear screen.

Pricing, recommendations and test scores correct at May 2017.

Not found the product for you? Browse all of our smartwatch reviews.

Three tips for picking the best smartwatch

We run every smartwatch through a barrage of tests, checking how well they deal with notifications, to how accurately  they track your fitness and how long a fully charged battery will last. We spend weeks with each device, to assess it for comfort, too. But, performance aside, how do you pick the perfect smartwatch for you?

  1. Operating system - there are three main operating systems for smartwatches: Android Wear, Tizen and watchOS. The type of smartphone you own will dictate the operating system you can go for. Android Wear will work with both Android and iOS devices, although the features and functions will differ for iPhone users. Tizen will pair with both Android and iOS smartphones. watchOS is Apple's operating system, and is designed to work exclusively with iOS devices.
  2. Decide on your budget - smartwatches cost from around £100 to more than £650 and, while you would have once had to spend a lot to get a smartwatch worth buying, we recently found a Best Buy smartwatch for less than £150. Price is by no means an indicator of performance, as more expensive models often have a swankier design but don't offer more features.
  3. Features - deciding which features you need is important. Some devices offer the whole gamut of smart functions, including being able to answer calls and  respond to texts or emails without using your smartphone. Others will be more suited to fitness fanatics, with advanced activity-tracking features such as built-in GPS or a heart-rate monitor. Find out more about which features to look for using our how to buy the best smartwatch guide.
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