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Less well known wearable brands to look out for

Beyond Apple and Samsung, find out which other brands' fitness trackers and smartwatches are worth considering - and how they compare

If you're thinking of buying a smartwatch or fitness tracker, chances are Apple, Samsung and Garmin are some of the names you'll recognise when browsing. But there are plenty of lesser known brands that make products well worth considering - and they could save you money too.

We've tested wearables from more than twenty different manufacturers and found good and bad performers amongst almost all of them, showing that you don't necessarily need to go for a household name to ensure a good all-round experience.

Discover the brands to consider and what you can expect in terms of price and features, as well as what to watch out for when choosing.


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Lesser-known vs well-known wearable brands: what's the difference?

On the surface it may not look like there's very much difference from one wearables brand to the next, regardless of whether their models cost around £100 or upwards of £300-400. 

Just as we've tested excellent models that won't break the bank, we've also come across pricier branded options that failed to make the grade in our independent lab tests. 

Usually, spending more on a big brand will get you some extra features - but it doesn't guarantee an increased level of accuracy. You might end up with more advanced fitness tracking, premium materials, or potentially a strap and bezel made from stainless steel or aluminium rather than plastic.

More often than not, though, you are paying extra simply to be wearing a recognisable brand such as Apple, Fitbit, Garmin or Samsung. That isn't to say they aren't worth purchasing, but it's worth considering the alternatives, especially if you are trying to cut costs.

Check out our guide to the most reliable smartwatch brands to help you narrow down your options.


Browse all of our smartwatch reviews and fitness tracker reviews to see which models are best


Smartwatch and fitness tracker brands you may not know about

New wearable brands crop up constantly, but we've rounded up a handful that we think are worth considering:

Amazfit

Established in 2015, Amazfit products are owned and manufactured by Chinese company Zepp Health. The first smartwatch was launched in 2016, followed by the first fitness tracker in April 2017.

We've tested Amazfit smartwatches that range from £79 up to £179, as well as one fitness tracker at the bargain price of £29. They tend to have clean, simple designs reminiscent of those by Apple or Fitbit - think minimalist screens and functional, silicone wristbands.

You can expect the majority of Amazfit wearables to come with standard fitness features like heart-rate monitors and GPS tracking, and the pricier models have started to come with features such as pulse oximetry and Alexa voice control as standard.

See all our Amazfit smartwatch reviews or our Amazfit Band 5 fitness tracker review to see how Amazfit products fare in our rigorous lab tests.

Honor

Honor was founded in 2013 as a sub-brand of Chinese technology corporation Huawei, then sold in November 2020 to Shenzhen Zhixin New Information Technology, a majority state-owned company controlled by the Shenzhen municipal government.

It debuted its wearable technology in the US in January 2016. The smartwatches and fitness trackers have a slightly 'sportier' look, so the products may appeal to you if that's the look you're going for - you might struggle to squeeze one discreetly under a shirt sleeve though.

The Honor smartwatches we've tested range in price from £75 to £125, and the fitness trackers both cost less than £35. They generally offer the health and fitness features we'd expect to see, but in terms of smart functionality you might find them a little more limited than pricier models.

See all our Honor smartwatch reviews or Honor fitness tracker reviews to find out whether or not this is the brand for you.

Realme

Realme is a relatively new addition to the world of wearables - it was originally founded in 2018 as a sub-brand of Chinese manufacturer Oppo, but became its own independent entity less than a year later. 

The Realme fitness tracker we've tested is exceptionally cheap - just £12 - and none of the three smartwatches we've tested cost more than £60. They look pretty similar to the Amazfit models, with minimal controls, wipeable silicone wristbands and the ever-popular 'squircle'-shaped screen.

It's a bit hit and miss on whether you'll end up with certain features, such as built-in GPS, when buying a Realme model, but they're all able to do the basics such as step counting and heart-rate monitoring. Don't expect to see anything particularly advanced in terms of smart functionality though.

Looking to keep it simple (and cheap)? Check out our Realme smartwatch reviews or the Realme Band fitness tracker review to see if this brand does basic well.

Xiaomi

One of the more established wearables brands, Xiaomi was founded back in 2010, specialising mainly in smartphones at the start.

We've tested five Xiaomi smartwatches and another five fitness trackers, ranging in price from just over £20 for the most basic tracker to £200 for the priciest smartwatch. The designs vary massively from one model to the next, with some sleek, slimline models and a handful of chunkier options.

As a rule, Xiaomi wearables pack in a decent amount of features (think heart-rate monitoring and GPS tracking) but the models at the lower end of the price scale tend to be a touch more basic, so it's always worth double-checking what's included before you purchase.

Take a look at our Xiaomi smartwatch reviews or Xiaomi fitness tracker reviews for a more in-depth overview.

What to be aware of when buying a less well-known brand

As you may have realised by now, the common denominator with lesser-known wearables brands is the fact that certain features (like GPS) aren't always guaranteed, especially if you opt for a model at the cheaper end of the range.

We've also come across a handful of smartwatches from smaller brands that have some minor privacy and security issues, such as a lack of full communication encryption. That's not to say that you'll never encounter problems like this buying from a 'big brand' either, though.

The final thing to consider is software and security support policies. Recently, we asked a range of popular wearables brands how long they'd support devices for with important security updates after launch, and Amazfit, Realme and Xiaomi all failed to provide us with any information at all.

It's obviously desirable to buy and use a device that you know will receive update support for a good period of time, otherwise it could prove a false economy, so while none of these brands might put you at immediate risk there's still some work to do. Thankfully Honor has pledged to support smartwatches for at least two years from launch.

Find out more in our guide to smart devices and security

Other smartwatch and fitness tracker brands to consider

If none of the brands listed above take your fancy, that doesn't necessarily mean you have to opt for an expensive branded model - there are other options out there that won't break the bank.

Huawei, the original parent company of Honor, also manufactures its own wearables. We've tested 10 Huawei smartwatches and six Huawei fitness trackers, ranging in price from just over £20 to more than £300 for the most advanced model.

Another big name on the smartwatch scene is Polar, which isn't necessarily cheap but does offer a good range of models for real fitness fanatics. The Polar smartwatches we've tested range from £100 up to around £270.

Head to our guide on how to buy the best smartwatch for more hints and tips on features to look out for, as well as how much you might need to spend.