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Most reliable smartwatch brands for 2019

By Christina Woodger

Unique Which? reliability data can help you choose the best smartwatch for you. We've surveyed owners of Apple, Fitbit and Garmin smartwatches to find the brands that develop the least faults.

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Broken straps, cracked screens and syncing errors are among the most common smartwatch problems, according to the results of our latest reliability survey. We've quizzed more than 800 smartwatch owners in the UK on our mission to find the best smartwatch brands.

If you're about to spend big money on a smartwatch, you'll want to know that the device will stand the test of time. We've studied fault rates for Apple, Fitbit, Garmin, Huawei and Samsung smartwatches. For one of these brands, a significant 42% of owners reported a fault on a one-year-old device.

Our reliability survey data takes into account fault rates, the severity of those faults and how quickly they occurred. In our latest analysis, we've calculated a reliability rating for major smartwatch brands so you know which names won’t let you down.

Differences between the best and worst smartwatch brands

As you can see, there are significant differences between the best and worst smartwatch brands. While the average score for our top-performing smartwatch brand stands at an impressive 75%, last place is taken up by a brand that scores a measly 44%.

The most reliable smartwatch brands 

The table below summarises this year’s reliability results. Brands are ranked by their customer score, which relates to whether their customers would recommend them. The more stars for reliability, the fewer the problems reported.

Brand Reliability rating Reliability score Customer satisfaction score
93% 82%
62% 68%
68% 76%
97% 68%
84% 76%
Table notes
Results based on feedback from 852 smartwatch owners, surveyed April-July 2019.

Key

Member Content

Common smartwatch problems 

As part of our annual reliability survey, we question Which? members about faults they've experienced while using their smartwatch. This year, we've seen that the most common fault affecting smartwatches is related to the strap breaking. In fact, 27% of respondents said that this was an issue with their smartwatch.

There are plenty of other faults that can impact your smartwatch. We also heard from Which? members suffering through dodgy data syncing (19%), cracked smartwatch screens (8%) and cases where the heart-rate monitor stopped working or proved inaccurate (6%). 

A whopping 42% of smartwatch owners reported that they had experienced a fault on a year-old device from our worst-rated manufacturer.

Which smartwatch brand stays fault-free the longest? 

The graph above shows how the brand that stays fault-free for the longest compares with the worst brand and the overall average. Which? members can see how brands compare for faults over a five-year period in the table below.

Brand name % faults after one year % faults after three years
6% 8%
42% 45%
35% 37%
3% 3%
18% 19%
Table notes
Results based on feedback from 852 smartwatch owners, surveyed April-July 2019.

Key

Member Content

How we measure faults and reliability in smartwatches

The table data takes into account minor, major and catastrophic faults (see below).

  • Minor A fault that doesn't affect the product's performance significantly or a fault that only occurs occasionally with minimal impact. This issue may be irritating or annoying but it isn't frequently problematic and you can easily work around it – for example, a dip in performance.
  • Major A fault that has a noticeable effect on the product’s performance. This fault affects how you use the product and can be problematic – for example, a cracked display.
  • Catastrophic A fault that renders the product unusable, with the fault needing to be repaired or parts replaced before it can be used again. One example would be a hardware issue that means the screen stays blank even when the smartwatch is fully charged.

Smartwatch brands rated 

Choose a brand from the list below to find out more detail about its performance in our survey.

Apple smartwatches overview table
Number tested in the past three years 5
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes Average test score based on results of models tested in the past three years (as of October 2019) that are still available. The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey of 852 smartwatch owners conducted in April-July 2019. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand to a friend, and reliability is based on members' experience of that brand. Table last updated October 2019.

Key

Member Content
  • Find out how well Apple smartwatches score for reliability, and how Apple fares against rival smartwatch brands.
  • Find out what the most common problems people have with their Apple smartwatches are.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, join Which? to get instant access.
Fitbit smartwatches overview table
Number tested in the past three years 3
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes Average test score based on results of models tested in the past three years (as of October 2019) that are still available. The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey of 852 smartwatch owners conducted in April-July 2019. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand to a friend, and reliability is based on members' experience of that brand. Table last updated October 2019.

Key

Member Content
  • Find out how well Fitbit smartwatches score for reliability, and how Fitbit fares against rival smartwatch brands.
  • Find out what the most common problems people have with their Fitbit smartwatches are.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, join Which? to get instant access.
Garmin smartwatches overview table
Number tested in the past three years 2
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes Average test score based on results of models tested in the past three years (as of October 2019) that are still available. The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey of 852 smartwatch owners conducted in April-July 2019. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand to a friend, and reliability is based on members' experience of that brand. Table last updated October 2019.

Key

Member Content
  • Find out how well Garmin smartwatches score for reliability, and how Garmin fares against rival smartwatch brands.
  • Find out what the most common problems people have with their Garmin smartwatches are.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, join Which? to get instant access.
Huawei smartwatches overview table
Number tested in the past three years 3
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes Average test score based on results of models tested in the past three years (as of October 2019) that are still available. The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey of 852 smartwatch owners conducted in April-July 2019. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand to a friend, and reliability is based on members' experience of that brand. Table last updated October 2019.

Key

Member Content
  • Find out how well Huawei smartwatches score for reliability, and how Huawei fares against rival smartwatch brands.
  • Find out what the most common problems people have with their Huawei smartwatches are.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, join Which? to get instant access.
Samsung smartwatches overview table
Number tested in the past three years 5
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes Average test score based on results of models tested in the past three years (as of October 2019) that are still available. The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey of 852 smartwatch owners conducted in April-July 2019. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand to a friend, and reliability is based on members' experience of that brand. Table last updated October 2019.

Key

Member Content
  • Find out how well Samsung smartwatches score for reliability, and how Samsung fares against rival smartwatch brands.
  • Find out what the most common problems people have with their Samsung smartwatches are.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, join Which? to get instant access.

Head to our smartwatch reviews

Know which smartwatch brand you want? Use the links to go straight to our reviews and find your ideal model:

How we calculate the best and worst brands 

Which? has a wealth of information on Britain's favourite smartwatch brands. Every year, we ask Which? members to tell us about the technology products they own – from how likely they would be to recommend a brand, to how reliable the products are once they get them home. This year, more than 10,000 Which? members told us about more than 20,000 devices. We calculate a brand's reliability and its customer score based on the results of our annual survey.

Our reliability surveys, combined with our extensive lab tests, mean we can recommend the best smartwatches you should buy.

This data is crucial for our testing, too. If a brand falls far below the category average, we take away the manufacturer’s Best Buy status and won’t recommend any of its products unless a marked improvement in reliability is shown.

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