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Black Friday is always a good time to look for a good deal on a wearable – but resist the temptation to snap up the first ‘bargain’ you see.
Not all smartwatches and fitness trackers are made equal – so a cheap price or a big discount is far from the only thing you need to consider.
Read our buying advice below so you can do your research in advance, and see our pick of the top deals we’ve seen below.
Best deals on Apple smartwatches for Black Friday 2020
Apple Watch SE – was £299, now £285 (4% off according to the retailer)
We liked Its wide range of features
We didn’t like It’s not accurate at measuring steps about the house
The Apple Watch SE is being pitched as a ‘cheap’ Apple Watch, and now you can get an extra £14 off at Very.
Its launch price was £299 for the 44mm version – more for designer versions or versions with LTE, of course. The
Even with the discount, it’s still not at all cheap, of course. But it’s enormously cheaper than the Series 6 (also new for this year), of which this is a stripped-back version.
And we think it’s actually a better choice for plenty of people than the Series 6, unless you particularly want the ability to take ECGs (electrocardiograms) and monitor your blood oxygen, or you want one of the colour options that are only available for the Series 6.
The SE is still a stylish, sophisticated watch, with a huge range of features and useful health tools such as heart rate monitoring, reminders to watch your hands for the recommended 20 seconds and the ability to make an emergency call for you if you’ve fallen over.
Don’t forget that, as with any Apple Watch, you can only pair it with an iPhone.
We tested the 44mm version, but the 42mm version is also on sale at John Lewis for £259: you can buy it now at John Lewis.
Comfort and smart features are important in a wearable, but you’ll also want one that can track your exercise accurately. Read our guide on smartwatch and fitness tracker accuracy for more.
Apple Watch Series 5 – was £529, now £399 (24% off according to the retailer)
We liked Its breathtaking range of features
We didn’t like The battery life: you’re tied into charging it daily
The Apple Watch Series 5 has since been superseded, and Apple has stopped selling it, but it’s still a high-end smartwatch.
It comes in two sizes – 40mm and 44mm – and a wide range of case materials and colours. It has plenty of features for staying connected, keeping fit and keeping tabs on your health, including the ability to make and receive calls, receive and respond to messages, track all kinds of sports (some in more detail than others) and take ECGs (electrocardiograms). You’ve also got many apps to choose from on the app store, so for tracking things like the live score of your favourite sports team, flight boarding information, or nutritional intake.
We haven’t tested the LTE version of the Apple Watch Series 5, but we have tested the non-LTE version. Based on times in the past when we have reviewed both versions of a watch, we wouldn’t expect the LTE version to be any lower quality. Just bear in mind that you will have to factor in the ongoing monthly carrier costs.
Best deals on Samsung smartwatches for Black Friday 2020
Samsung Galaxy Watch (42mm) – was £279.99, now £159 (43% off according to the retailer)
We liked Its stylish looks and high resolution display
We didn’t like Its heart rate monitoring, which, although not the worst, was often inaccurate
The Galaxy Watch looks very much like a stylish traditional watch. Colour-wise, you can pick between rose gold and midnight black.
It’s bigger than the average ladies’ wristwatch, so you probably won’t want to wear it at night. But we didn’t find it too heavy or chunky for daytime use.
It has a high resolution 360×360 pixel touchscreen and plenty of smart, including taking phone calls, making contactless payments, using Bixby voice assistant and replying to messages and emails. Android users will have slightly more options when it comes to smart functionality than iPhone users.
It was £279 when it was launched, so the new sale price is significantly cheaper.
There’s also a 46mm version, which is comes with a silver bezel. We’ve tested both sizes of the watch, with one scoring fractionally higher than the other in our tests.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 – was £419, now £349 (17% off, according to the retailer)
We liked Its wide range of features
We didn’t like Some features won’t be available to iOS users
The latest member of the Samsung Galaxy Watch family (Samsung skipped over a Galaxy Watch 2). It looks like an elegant traditional watch but it also comes with a host of fitness tracking features. It can also detect moments of stress, and offer you guided breathing exercises to help you restore a sense of calm: you can take readings on-demand whenever you want.
And it can automatically detect hard falls with its accelerometer and send an SOS message to one of your emergency contacts. If you’re tempted by the much-publicized Apple Watch’s fall detection feature, but you don’t have an iPhone, this watch is a viable alternative. Although, if fall detection is your main motivation for buying a smartwatch, though, don’t forget that you can buy fall detectors, which will be cheaper.
It’s definitely a watch to consider if you’re an Android user and prepared to pay for a high-end watch. Fewer features are available to iPhone users.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active – was £199, now £129 (35% off according to the retailer)
We liked Its accurate tracking
We didn’t like Its comparatively short battery life (just over two days, with GPS switched off)
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active has useful fitness tools such as built-in heart rate monitoring and GPS. And it has a good set of smart features, including the ability to respond to messages, NFC for contactless payments with compatible banks, wi-fi and compatibility with third party apps.
Samsung has since brought out the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 (£234) which offers more detailed exercise analysis. But, if you can live with top-level data, the original Samsung Galaxy Watch Active remains a solid choice, particularly for Android users (iPhone users will miss out on some of the smart functionality).
Samsung is currently selling it for £129, reduced from £199, as are a number of retailers such as John Lewis and Argos.
Best deals on Garmin smartwatches for Black Friday 2020
Gamin Venu – was £299, now £199 (33% off according to the retailer)
We liked Its fantastic range of sports and fitness features
We didn’t like Its heart-rate monitoring, which was disappointingly inaccurate at times.
The Garmin Venu is a beautiful-looking watch, with a nice screen, on-board music storage, and a raft of sports and fitness features. It’s similar in many ways to the Garmin Vivoactive 4 (currently £229).
It’s a good choice for keen sports people; probably overkill if you’re only casually interested in exercise and you’re just dipping your toes in the water when it comes to fitness tracking.
Other interesting features include incident detection, so it will send a message to an emergency contact if it detects that you’ve fallen over during a walk, run or bike ride.
Currys PC World is currently selling it for £199, reduced from £299, which is still its price at a number of other retailers at time of writing.
The £199 deal only seems to apply to the black, blue and white versions at the moment.
(A recent Which? investigation into Currys PC World suggests the firm has an issue with how it handles complaints about faulty products. So do consider this before making a purchase.)
Garmin Forerunner 645 Music – £199 (23% off)
We liked Its detailed running analysis
We didn’t like Its rather limited smart functionality
The Garmin Forerunner 645 is a few years old now, but it’s still an impressive running watch.
Cadence, stride length, ground contact time (the less time, the better), ground contact time balance (a measure of your symmetry when running: the more symmetrical the better) and vertical oscillation ratio (the amount that you bounce when running, divided by your stride length) are some of the advanced running stats you’ll get from this watch to help you improve your running style. Plus you’ll get evaluations of your training status and recovery time.
You can’t stream music through the watch, but you can install music onto the watch, to listen to through Bluetooth connected headphones while exercising.
It’s currently being sold for £199 at Argos, versus more than £260 elsewhere.
As with the Samsung Galaxy Active watch deal from Argos we’ve featured above, this isn’t a Black Friday deal, and it has been this price for a few months. But we’ve included it here as we wouldn’t want you to miss out on this price if you’re in the market for a running watch.
Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music – was £249.99, now £149.99 (40% off according to the retailer)
We liked Its accurate fitness tracking
We didn’t like Its smart features are decent but not the most sophisticated
If the Garmin Forerunner 645 Music (above) isn’t for you, or if you’re into exercise but don’t specifically need a running watch, take a look at the Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music.
As you’ll get from the name, it’s very similar to the Garmin Vivoactive 3 (£149.99) but has music features: handy if you need some power ballads to help you power through your workout.
There’s 4GB of storage for more than 500 songs, which you can listen to through your Bluetooth connected headphones. You can also stream music via selected streaming services, including Spotify.
It can also track more than 15 sports, from standard ones like cycling, running and swimming to more obscure ones like golf, yoga and – for when we’re lucky enough to enjoy holidays again – stand-up paddle boarding, skiing and snowboarding. You can use pre-loaded ones, or create customised ones.
It’s £249.99 from Garmin, and had been £249.99 at Very before, so £149.99 is a very good price.
Garmin Vivomove 3s – was £219.99, now £139.99 (37% off according to the retailer)
We liked Its battery life (it lasted more than five days in our tests)
We didn’t like Its lack of built-in GPS
The Garmin Vivomove 3s is a hybrid smartwatch that looks very much like a traditional timepiece, with real watch hands and a hidden touchscreen display.
So it could appeal if you want a smartwatch but you’re not a fan of the recognisable smartwatch ‘squircle’ shape adopted by brands such as Apple, Fitbit and Amazfit.
Android users can read messages and send pre-set responses, receive phone calls, control your smartphone music and get calendar and social media notifications. Some of these features won’t be available to iPhone users.
If you’re after a smartwatch primarily for sports, this one isn’t the best of the Garmins, as it doesn’t have built-in GPS or the long list of run-tracking features that come with the Forerunner range. Stil, the activity tracking it does have is decent.
Amazon is selling it for £139.99 in the Black Friday sales. It’s also selling the larger size, the Garmin Vivomove, for the same price.
Best deals on Fitbit fitness trackers and smartwatches for Black Friday 2020
Fitbit Versa 3 – was £199.99, now £179 (10% off according to the retailer)
We liked Its accurate tracking
We didn’t like Its disappointing Alexa feature, which often didn’t recognise our commands
The Versa 3 is a definite step up from the Versa 2 in terms of specs, now with built-in GPS – freeing you up from taking your phone out running with you – and a larger, higher resolution display.
It tracks steps and distance accurately, and heart rate accurately during high intensity exercise.
Fitbit also recently launched the Fitbit Sense (£269), which is very similar but has more features, including the ability to take ECGs.
Fitbit Versa 2 – was £169, now £129 (41% off according to the retailer)
We liked Its wide range of features
We didn’t like Its inaccurate heart rate monitoring
The Versa 2 is a good-looking watch with a high-resolution 300 x 300 pixel touchscreen. Its aluminium bezel comes in black, grey, rose gold or copper gold and its straps come in black, grey, pink, purple or dark green, so there’s plenty of scope to buy one that suits your look.
There’s a strong emphasis on fitness (it’s a Fitbit after all), with more than 15 exercise modes, water resistance for swimming in the pool or sea and a Coach app for talking you through different workouts.
Rather surprisingly, for a watch geared towards fitness, it has to rely on your tethered phone’s GPS, so it’s not one for those who prefer running phone-free. Its successor, the Fitbit Versa 3 (£199), has an upgraded heart rate monitor and built-in GPS.
Fitbit Charge 4 – was £129.99, now £99.99 (23% off according to the retailer)
We liked Its accurate activity tracking
We didn’t like Its screen is hard to read in bright sunlight
The youngest member of the Fitbit Charge family is £129.99 if you buy from Fitbit (its price at launch), but £99.99 at a number of retailers, including John Lewis, Argos and Amazon.
It’s Fitbit most advanced fitness tracker. It has plenty of health and fitness-tracking features: automatic exercise detection, built-in GPS for phone-free route-tracking on your run, heart rate monitoring (and notifications when you’re exercising in your target heart rate zone), sleep-tracking and VO2 max estimates (estimates of how much oxygen you’re consuming when you’re exercising and, therefore, of your cardiovascular fitness) for starters. The built-in GPS is a welcome addition to the Charge lineup, as the Charge 3 didn’t have it. You’ll also get a metric called Active Zone minutes, based on your age and heart rate when working out and at rest.
The Charge 4 is a good choice if you’re pretty into exercise – if you’re looking more of an all-round wellness tracker for keeping fit and active in a more casual way, check out our review of the Fitbit Inspire 2 (£89.99) instead, or keep on reading to find out more about it.
Fitbit Inspire 2 and Nest Mini (2nd Gen) bundle – £89.99
Fitbit Inspire 2
We liked How accurately it tracks steps (on walks and runs at least)
We didn’t like Its lack of in-built GPS
Google Nest Mini
We liked Its ability to handle voice commands
We didn’t like Its sound quality for music
The Fitbit Inspire 2 is Fitbit’s latest fitness tracker, and is more for those who want to keep fit and active than for hardcore fitness devotees. It doesn’t have GPS, which will disappoint keen runners looking for phone-free route-tracking, but it does offer heart rate monitoring, sleep-tracking and useful stats such as pace for runners, cyclists and swimmers.
Fitbit.com and a number of retailers are selling the Fitbit Inspire 2 for £89.99, but you could pay the same price at Currys and also get a Google Nest Mini (being sold individually for £49.99 at Currys PC World) thrown in.
Advanced warning – the sound quality on the Nest isn’t great, so it won’t do justice to your music. Check out our Best Buy wireless and Bluetooth speakers to find out which ones will really impress. But if you’re looking for a cheap way to get started with a voice assistant, it’ll do the job nicely. It handles the spoken word adequately too, so it’s fine for podcasts and audiobooks.
Best deals on Huawei smartwatches for Black Friday 2020
Huawei Watch Fit – was £119.99, now £89.99 (25% off according to the retailer)
We liked Its huge range of sports and activity tracking features
We didn’t like Its comparatively limited smart functionality
The Huawei Watch Fit can track an enormously long list of sports, including some of the more obscure ones like darts and belly dancing. For many sports, it’ll also show little animations – a ‘virtual pace setter’ – to motivate you.
It doesn’t have particularly sophisticated smart features, though. You’ll get notifications for calls, messages, emails and social media updates, and you can read texts, but you can’t respond to anything. And you can’t download third party apps onto the watch either.
It’s available in graphite black, mint green, pink or orange.
Huawei was previously selling it for £119.99, and is now selling it for £89.99 – 25% off. It’s also available at that price at a number of other retailers, including AO and John Lewis.
Best deals on Honor smartwatches for Black Friday 2020
Honor Watch GS Pro – was £249.99, now £179.99 (28% off according to the retailer)
We liked Its huge range of sports and activity-tracking features
We didn’t like No major flaws, but it doesn’t have the latest smart features
The Honor GS Pro is a chunky, rugged-looking smartwatch for keen sports fans and outdoorsy types. It has a vast range of activity tracking modes, including for more niche sports like martial arts, but particularly for outdoor sports like open-water swimming, skiing and mountain hiking.
It has an ok but not especially advanced set of smart features. You won’t be able to respond to messages or stream music, for example. You will get notifications for messages, calls and social media updates, and you can store music on the watch or use the watch to control music playing from your smartphone.
It’s currently being sold for £199 on Amazon, down from £249.99 previously: a saving of 20%.
Best deals on Fossil smartwatches for Black Friday 2020
Fossil Gen 5 The Carlyle HR – was £279, now £149 (47% off according to the retailer)
We liked It’s elegant-looking and well built, unlike some watches that look great from afar, but cheap up close.
We didn’t like Its fitness tracking isn’t accurate for some activities.
If you’re looking for a workout tool, or a lightweight watch, this isn’t for you. However, if you’re looking for a stylish men’s watch (the women’s version is the ‘Julianna’) with classic Wear OS features – and you’re an Android user – you’ll probably be more than happy.
It has near-field communication (NFC) for contactless payments, assuming your bank is compatible, the ability to send texts and make phone calls when your connected phone is nearby, and it has Google Assistant and music streaming options. If you’re an iPhone user, be aware that some of these features won’t be available to you.
It’s currently being sold on Amazon for £149, which is the cheapest we’ve ever seen it. It’s the version with a black bezel and black silicone strap, but you can change the strap at a later date if you fancy a change.
Best Black Friday deals: our pick of the Best Black Friday deals on coffee machines, mobile phones, mattresses and more.
How to pick the right smartwatch or and fitness tracker in the sales
If you’re in the market for a new wearable, do your research in advance to make sure you find a model that suits your needs.
Should you buy a smartwatch or fitness tracker?
For some people, this will be the first consideration. For others, it will be the final one, once you’ve weighed up how much you’re willing to spend and what features you’re after.
There’s a lot of overlap between them, but here are the differences in a nutshell.
- Smartwatches tend to offer more in terms of staying connected (sending messages, taking and making phone calls) and have bigger screens which makes this sort of thing easier. They also come in a greater range of ‘looks’, including rugged styles, watches that look more traditional, watches that look like jewellery and everything in between. And you can buy specific smartwatches for certain activities, such as the Garmin Forerunner range for runners.
- Fitness trackers tend to look much more similar to each other (although, you’ll still find attractive ones and ugly ones). Their prices go much lower than smartwatches, with some available for as little as £12. And, while fitness trackers are getting increasingly sophisticated, you’re less likely to find a sports-specific tracker than you are smartwatch.
Our guide to choosing between a smartwatch or fitness tracker goes into more detail.
Features and performance are important, but so is how long a product will last. Read more about how unique Which? estimated lifetime data can help you pick the right brand.
What features do you need on a wearable?
It’s not worth paying for features you won’t use. Maybe you primarily want a wearable for running, for sleep-tracking, for staying connected or for counting your steps while you’re doing household. Here are some key things to consider:
- Step tracking All wearables will do this, but don’t assume they all do it accurately (more on this later).
- Heart rate monitoring Increasingly, even cheap trackers offer this (as with step tracking, some do this more accurately than others). Some wearables offer sophisticated heart health tools.
- GPS Important if you’re a keen runner but don’t want to take your phone out with you. Those that don’t have in-built GPS will use your tethered phone’s GPS or, if your phone isn’t nearby, will base it on step count, which is often less accurate.
- Sports tracking Some come with millions of sports modes, but only really track the basics, while others offer a detailed analysis of particular sport, such as running, hiking or swimming, or of several sports.
- Sleep tracking Many wearables can track your sleep, but some in much more detail than others. You’ll need to consider weight, comfort and battery life on a good sleep tracker. For more, read our guide to sleep tracking.
- Smart features Most will give you the basics, such as notifications for messages, while others let you craft messages from scratch, make calls, stream music, make contactless payments and more.
- LTE Also known as cellular connectivity. This allows you to use all the smart functions (such as making calls) even when your phone isn’t to hand, effectively turning your watch into a mini phone on your wrist. Bear in mind that there will be monthly carrier fees.
- Advanced healthcare features Some can take ECGs (electrocardiograms), make an emergency call if you fall over, remind you to wash your hands properly, alert you to the fact that you’re listening to dangerously loud music and much more. These are cool features, but they’re more like toys for conscientious healthy people: if you’re genuinely worried about your health, speak to your doctor.
Will it be compatible with my phone?
Many wearables are compatible with both Android and iOS, but Apple Watches are only compatible with iPhones and a handful of other models also work exclusively on Android. Quite a few models, including all watches running Wear OS, will generally work on both, but some features won’t be available to iPhone users.
Check our reviews before buying to find out what the differences are between iOS and Android for the watch you’re looking at, so you can make up your mind if you’re happy to skimp on certain features.
Fitness tracker or smartwatch accuracy
There’s no point you monitoring your stats assiduously if those stats are actually wildly inaccurate and give you a skewed idea, or not the foggiest idea, of your progress. The more seriously you take your training, the more accurate you’ll need your wearable to be.
If you’re not a serious sportsperson, you might be thinking that it doesn’t matter too much if your stats aren’t exact, but you’ll still want your wearable to give you the right overall picture.
Check out our page on smartwatch and fitness tracker accuracy to find out more.
Ease of use
Some wearables offer a lot, but are a real pain to use, meaning they will swiftly be retired to the back of a drawer.
Every year, we survey wearables users to find out about their experiences of using their smartwatches and fitness trackers. Broken straps were the most common complaint that came up this year – and it’s not the first time we’ve heard about it.
That’s why, as of this year, no wearable can earn our Best Buy recommendation if its strap isn’t removable. A broken strap is annoying, but it’s far worse (and bad for the environment) if this effectively means you need to replace the whole thing.
We rate trackers and watches for comfort, so you can get an idea of which ones have stiff, uncomfortable straps or feel bulky and heavy on the wrist. Everyone’s different, though, so check the returns policy of the site you’re buying from, especially if you’re buying for someone for Christmas.
This story was originally published on 10 November 2020. We’ll continue updating it when we spot new deals on wearables that truly impress us.