Smart watches are quickly becoming an essential item for many people in the modern world. They offer unparalleled convenience, making them a perfect match for the fast-paced lives we live. Wearing a smart watch is like having an assistant on your wrist that helps you stay on top of your schedule, monitors health and fitness, and keeps you connected with instant notifications.
It’s incredible what we’ve managed to pack into a tiny screen, huh? From the behemoth ENIAC in 1945 that took up an entire room just to do calculations, to today's sleek smart watches that effortlessly performs complex tasks, technology has advanced leaps and bounds. These compact devices not only handle calculations but also track your daily activities, manage health monitoring, and some even act as an independent phone.
Our expertly curated list of top smart watches for 2024 will help you select the perfect companion for your lifestyle. And for those focusing more on fitness, don't miss our rundown of the Top Fitness Trackers in New Zealand too. Before we dive into our top picks, let's first talk about some key considerations to keep in mind when weighing up your options.
How to Choose a Smart Watch
When choosing a smart watch, there are a few factors you want to consider. These include:
Compatibility: Your smart watch will need to communicate with your smartphone to function, so this one is important. Ensure the smartwatch is compatible with your smartphone's operating system. For example, an Apple Watch is only compatible with iPhone, a Samsung Galaxy is only compatible with Android, while others may be compatible with both!
Features: The first thing to consider is the primary use of your smart watch, such as fitness tracking, communication or productivity. From there, you can identify what type of features will be important to you! If fitness is a priority, you'll want to keep an eye out for a watch that has ample fitness features; on the other hand, if productivity is a priority, you'll want ensure the smart watch has built-in features to support this, or allows third-party apps.
Price: Price can vary greatly from smart watch to smart watch. A pricier smart watch will often have enhanced features, better build quality, and generally more to offer. However, choosing the best of the best isn't always the most practical option, especially if you won't be using all of extra features. Price is something to keep in mind, but ultimately, should be weighed up alongside the other factors.
Communication: All smart watches have Bluetooth connectivity allowing them to connect to your phone to send/receive messages, take phone calls, stream music and so on. If you want the ability to do this without your phone on you, look out for a smart watch that offers 4G / cellular connectivity.
Design: Beyond functionality, the design is something else to consider when choosing a smart watch. Things to consider include shape, material, colour, but most importantly, size. If you don't like the chunky look or have small wrists, you'll want to take care in choosing a smart watch that is not oversized. Some smart watches are naturally more slim and sleek, others are naturally chunkier, and some offer different watch face options so you can choose one that fits!
1. Apple Watch Series 9
Best for iPhone
Display: 1.6/1.8" OLED | Battery Life: 18 Hours | IP Rating: IP6X | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, GPS
Whether or not you’re an Apple fan, there’s no denying that the Apple Watch series is one of the best options when it comes to smart watches, and the Apple Watch 9 is definitely the best one yet! The Apple Watch is known for its excellent performance, fantastic app selection, and ample health and tracking features; and Series 9 is more powerful than ever thanks to the new S9 SIP which increases performance and capabilities. With the previous generation, we saw a skin temperature sensor (can be used for cycle and fertility tracking), new motion sensors for crash detection, and improved gyroscopes and accelerometers. Along with increased performance, the Series 9 introduces a new double tap gesture, a brighter display, Precision Finding for iPhone, and more. It also runs watchOS10 which introduces the new Smart Stack, new watch faces, new cycling and hiking features, tools to support mental health, and more!
The area the Apple Watch falls behind the rest of the pack is with its battery life. Apple promises 18 hours, though you could probably stretch this a bit if you’re using it lightly. If you plan to use your smartwatch for sleep tracking, you’ll either have to stick to charging your watch during the day, or you might want to consider another watch on this list. If this isn’t a deal-breaker though and price isn’t a concern, the Apple Watch Series 9 is a great choice! If you're an Apple fan who is after a more affordable option, check out the Apple Watch SE. While the build isn't as premium and it has fewer features, for many users, it offers all of the necessary features you would need for half the price of the Watch 9.
2. Samsung Galaxy Watch6
Best for Android
Display: 1.4 Super AMOLED | Battery Life: One Day | IP Rating: IP68 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS
Samsung’s flagship - the Galaxy Watch6 - is the best smartwatch money can buy for Android users. With a big feature list, an excellent OS, and an attractive design, it’s easy to see why. It combines smartphone-level productivity with leading health technology, all in one premium and sleek device. The Watch6 is available in a 40mm and 44mm case size, sporting a classic circular screen. It has a rotating bezel complete with that satisfying mechanical click, and the overall size has shrunk since previous generations making it slimmer, lighter, and more comfortable to wear than ever.
One of the main things the Galaxy Watch5 Classic has going for it is the impressive feature list. Among these is the industry-leading health features such as fall detection; SpO2, ECG, and blood pressure monitoring; sleep tracking; running coach and running dynamics. The meaningful insights it provides can lead to positive changes around the clock, as it offers personalised and actionable tips, advice and encouragement. New to the Watch6 is in-depth analysis of Sleep Score Factors, more individualised sleep messages (co-developed with the National Sleep Foundation), Sleep Consistency Stats, Personalised Heart Rate Zone, and more.
When it comes to battery life, you’ll get up to 40 hours of battery life. Considering how top-spec this smartwatch is, that’s pretty reasonable; but if you’re after a smartwatch that’ll go longer without a charge, you should consider the Galaxy Watch5 Pro which also has a stronger and lighter build.
3. Fitbit Sense 2
Best for Health
Display: 1.5" AMOLED | Battery Life: 6+ Days | IP Rating: Up to 50m water resistant | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, NFC
The Fitbit Sense 2 isn't just a regular smart watch. It's a smart watch that's designed to enhance your overall health and well-being by helping you manage stress, sleep better, and live a healthier lifestyle. As Fitbit's most advanced health and fitness smartwatch, it's packed full of health tools and features to help you stay on top of your mind, body, and health. Plus, it has a sleek and slim design that's not only comfortable for all-day wear, but looks good too!
Alongside your usual smart watch features, such as notifications for calls, texts, calendar events and apps, the Sense 2 features fantastic tracking tools that help you steamline your daily routines. This includes a heart health tracker, SpO2 level detector, sleep and stress tracking, built-in GPS, fitnes tracking, and more! Plus, with Fitbit Premium, you can enjoy even more health benefits. Using data about your body, you'll receive personalised insights and recommendations to help you sleep better, reduce stress, and be your best. With an experience this personalised, it's easier to stay motivated and make progress with your health goals. The Fitbit Sense 2 is compatible with both Android and iOS, and is a fantastic option for those who prioritise their health and well-being!
4. Huawei Watch GT 4
Best for Fitness
Display: 1.43" AMOLED | Battery Life: Up to 2 Weeks | IP Rating: 5ATM Water Resistant | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, GPS
While the Huawei Watch GT 4 isn’t packed full of fancy features and apps like the first two, it nails the basics and is more affordable. Other highlights are the long battery life, great design, and excellent fitness features. The Huawei Watch GT 4 has an attractive design that could be enough to sway those who are concerned about the aesthetics of a smartwatch. It features a stainless steel case with a range of strap options to choose from. The Huawei GT 4 excels with its fitness features. It has the usual health tracking features - SpO2 monitoring which measures blood oxygen levels, precise GPS tracking, heart rate monitoring, a personal workout guide, and more.
Additionally, it can monitor and make suggestions to your training based on different factors such as your VO2 max, recovery time, training intensity, and aerobic/anaerobic exercise effect. It can also help you keep track of your calories with Can-Do Calorie Management on the new Stay Fit app backed by Huawei TruSeen. Unfortunately, you won’t get access to third-party apps in the Huawei app store. If you need those, this isn’t the smartwatch for you. However, if you’ll be using your smartwatch primarily for health and fitness tracking, the Huawei GT 4 will deliver. The most impressive feature of the Huawei Watch GT 4 is the long battery life with up to two weeks on a single charge!
5. Xiaomi Redmi Watch 3
Display: 1.75" AMOLED | Battery Life: Up to 12 Days | IP Rating: 5ATM Water Resistant | Connectivity: Bluetooth, GPS
Xiaomi has only recently released this product but if the predecessors are anything to go off of, the Redmi Watch 3 is a total winner for this category! Like almost every Xiaomi product, the Redmi Watch 3 delivers incredible value for money, so we’d be doing an injustice to not feature it on this list. The Redmi Watch 3 is an all-rounder that delivers in every area. It has a stylish and fashionable design, featuring a 1.75" AMOLED colourful touch display that’s crisp and bright (even in sunlight) with a metallic finish. The strap is pliable and comfortable for all-day wear and has an innovative position memory loop.
The Watch 3 has a five point built-in multi-system GNSS chip (for accurate tracking) and an abundance of sports-tracking features, including support for a whopping 120+ different sport profiles, running courses and 5ATM water resistance so you can wear it swimming. It also comes with a bunch of health features including an optical heart rate sensor, sleep tracking, as well as an SpO2 sensor for tracking blood oxygen levels. Additionally, the Redmi Watch 3 has support for Bluetooth phone calls which can be answered with a single tap.
The battery life is another area where the Redmi Watch 3 totally kicks ass. You’ll get 12-days of battery life on a single charge; this is perfect for those who don’t want the extra hassle of having to charge up your smartwatch regularly. Ultimately, if you’re looking for a solid, no-frills smartwatch at an affordable price, you won’t do much better than the Xiaomi Redmi Watch 3.