The 12 Best Apple Watch Alternatives You Can Buy in 2021

Sep 28, 2021

Category: Tech

Since its debut back in 2015, the Apple Watch has taken on a life unto its own, becoming much more than a mere piece of tech; an increasingly robust smartwatch, sure, but also a status symbol and even something of a cultural phenomenon. Because let’s face it. The iconic square-shaped wearable is everywhere these days, making its way onto the wrists of no shortage of influential actors, athletes, designers, and musical sensations. Hell, even former President Obama has been spotted wearing his on more than one occasion. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you live, or even how much you make, everyone wants — no, needs — to have an Apple Watch of their own.

But that’s not to say that the Apple Watch is the only option on the market worth considering — not hardly. There’s a world of smartwatches out there, and while they may not fall within the Cupertino-based company’s extensive product ecosystem, they’re still well worth your consideration. After all, the Apple Watch is far from perfect — for, despite its polished surface and effortless iPhone integration, there are still plenty of users complaining about everything from poor battery life to Bluetooth connection issues to random reboot bugs. And besides, just because it works for most of the population, doesn’t mean it’ll do everything you need from a smartwatch. So, whether you’re looking for something that offers more sport modes than you’ll ever use or even just something that can go days on end without a recharge, rest assured we’ve got you covered with our list of the 12 best Apple Watch alternatives.

Photo: Suunto

Getting The Most Out Of Your Smartwatch

What To Look For

If you’re buying a smartwatch that falls outside of Apple’s lineup, there are a number of factors you should consider to ensure that you get the best bang for your buck. Admittedly, you may find that needs may vary from what we’ve included, but we’ve broken down the big ones to get you started on the right track.

Operating System: When smartwatches first began flooding the market, the options that boasted any kind of cross-compatibility were few and far between. As such, Apple and Android users found themselves locked into their respective operating systems or making the most of what their watches offered when left unpaired. These days, you can download an app for pretty much any wearable, but it’s definitely worth looking into the software your smartwatch is running. Some, like Garmin’s Watch OS are all but seamless in their integration, enabling incredible wrist-based functionalities like push notifications, music playing, and even NFC payments. However, others — such as Samsung’s Tizen OS — are a bit more limited depending on your device. For instance, if you have an iPhone, you won’t be able to reply to iMessages and you’ll miss out on helpful features like “Find My Phone.” In any case, no setup is perfect, but some are better than others.

Connectivity: Most watches on the market offer, at the very least, some degree of Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity. As with smartphones, these are limited to short-range applications such as headphone pairing, third-party sensor communication, and wireless system updates. However, smartwatches are also increasingly featuring support for cellular networks, be that in the form of 3G, 4G, LTE technology. In practice, this means that you effectively get a fully-functional phone on your wrist, with no pairing required for music streaming, taking calls, and GPS navigation. Ultimately, how much connectivity you require will be determined by how you intend to use your smartwatch. If you plan on having your phone nearby anyway, save yourself the expense of adding another device to your monthly payment plan.

Battery Life: If you’re one of those Apple Watch users who’s constantly complaining about their wearable’s limited battery life, you’ll be glad to know that there are some alternatives that fare much better. In fact, some of the options we’ve featured on this guide rarely need to leave your wrist, as they can go a week or two at a time without the need for a recharge. That being said, smartwatches are notoriously battery-hungry devices and their wear time is entirely dependent on what your usage looks like on any given day. Music streaming, activity tracking, and other such data-intensive services will run through your wearable’s juice much faster than will telling the time or checking your messages. It’s also worth noting that you can usually extend your smartwatch’s life by turning off the always-on display feature. As beautiful as that AMOLED screen is, it’s not doing your battery any favors.

Activity Tracking: One of the main benefits of smartwatches is their ability to double as an activity tracker, whether that’s tallying simple daily step counts or providing more in-depth workout analyses. If physical fitness is one of your chief concerns, go for a model with a wide range of sport profiles. Come time to you head out on a jog or a ride, you’ll get much more at-a-glance functionality out of dedicated running and cycling modes than you would with a mere caloric estimate and a general idea of how far you’ve traveled. Oh, and should you be curious about the quality of your rest each night, there are even smartwatches that offer built-in sleep tracking, measuring things like time awake and nocturnal movements.

GPS: Last but not least, many smartwatches now boast integrated GPS units, allowing them to track distance traveled on runs, provide accurate wrist-based navigation, and even cater weather reports to your surrounding area. On the off chance that a fitness-focused wearable doesn’t offer GPS connectivity, it’ll probably piggyback off of your smartphone’s location service instead. However, apart from having to carry an extra device with you, you’re not likely to notice a big difference in performance.

Polar Unite

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly fitness watch, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better option than the Polar Unite. For just $150, you get 30 meters of water resistance, wrist-based heart rate monitoring, phone-supported GPS connectivity, and Sleep Plus Stages sleep tracking. What’s more, it comes with a slew of smart coaching features like built-in fitness tests and running programs so that you can really dial in your training routine.

Operating System: Polar Beat
Max Battery Life: 4 Days
Connectivity: Bluetooth
GPS: Phone-based

Purchase: $150

Timex Metropolitan S

Timex may be best known for its affordable analog timepieces that “take a licking and keep on ticking,” but that’s not to say that the American brand is without its tech offerings. Just take the Metropolitan S, for instance. It comes with a host of helpful features typically found on much more expensive options, such as a 2-week battery life, an onboard GPS, and 24/7 activity tracking. Oh, and you can’t help but notice the similarly square-shaped metal case that comes complemented by a robust Gorilla Glass lens.

Operating System: Timex Smart
Max Battery Life: 14 Days
Connectivity: Bluetooth, NFC
GPS: Built-in

Purchase: $180

Motorola Moto 360

Motorola’s Moto 360 is widely regarded as one of the best Wear OS smartwatches money can buy, and it’s pretty easy to see why when you consider its 60-minute fast-charging function, wide-ranging app store support, and scratch-resistant PVD-coated case. That being said, above all else, this watch makes for an ideal option when you’re in need of something versatile. It offers thousands of different customizable dial faces, and there is no shortage of silicone, leather, and metal bands from which to choose, allowing you to get the perfect look no matter the occasion.

Operating System: Wear OS
Max Battery Life: 12 Hours
Connectivity: Bluetooth, NFC, Wi-Fi
GPS: Built-in

Purchase: $200

Fitbit Versa 3

Fitbit has had a stake in the wearables game for far longer than any other manufacturer on this list, so it’s safe to say that they’re seasoned pros when it comes to crafting smartwatches that are equal parts capable and user-friendly. As the latest iteration in the Versa line, the Versa 3 offers everything you need to jumpstart your fitness journey, including a blood oxygen saturation monitor, 20+ activity modes, and guided breathing sessions personalized to your particular heart rate.

Operating System: Fitbit OS
Max Battery Life: 6+ Days
Connectivity: Bluetooth, NFC, WiFi
GPS: Built-in

Purchase: $225

Withings ScanWatch

For all of the added utility that smartwatches provide, admittedly, the futuristic aesthetic isn’t for everyone. If you find these wrist-based wearables to be a bit of an eyesore, do yourself a favor and grab the ScanWatch from Withings. In addition to a unique hybrid design, it also boasts plenty of advanced 21st-century features under the hood,  such as ECG readings, respiratory scanning, and automatic activity detection. Even better is the fact that you’ll get a solid 30 days of use from its long-lasting battery.

Operating System: Withings OS
Max Battery Life: 30 Days
Connectivity: Bluetooth
GPS: Built-in

Purchase: $280

Skagen Falster 3

Skagen’s Falster 3 is easily one of the best-looking smartwatches on this list — an exercise in modernism that combines a slim 42mm stainless steel case with a set of straight lugs and a stylish silicone strap. And the thing is, it doesn’t just look the part; it’s also a pretty solid tech item thanks to its speedy Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor and Wear OS software. Offering a suite of Google-supported services like Google Pay, Google Assistant, and Google Fit, this is one watch that’s perfect for those who want maximal functionality in a minimalist package.

Operating System: Wear OS
Max Battery Life: 2 Days
Connectivity: Bluetooth, NFC, WiFi
GPS: Yes

Purchase: $295

Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3

If you haven’t heard of Mobvoi’s TicWatch before, just take our word for it when we say that it’s the real deal. Because let’s be honest. While it may not be as well-known as some of the other options we’ve included, its 45-day maximum battery life, IP68 water-resistance, and integrated mic and speaker tell you all that you need to know. And that’s not even mentioning its built-in GPS, barometer and 24-hour heart rate monitor, additions that enable impressive features like sleep tracking, stress monitoring, and even noise detection.

Operating System: Wear OS
Max Battery Life: 45 Days
Connectivity: Bluetooth, NFC, WiFi
GPS: Built-in

Purchase: $300

Garmin Venu

Garmin has the smartwatch segment all but cornered these days, with the only chink in its industry-dominating armor being a certain square-shaped option. Launched in an effort to go toe to toe with the Apple Watch, the Venu offers comparable capabilities when put up against its higher-priced competitor — onboard music storage, contactless payments, and smart notifications, among many others — whilst also taking advantage of Garmin’s sport-specific expertise. This means that you get access to a host of health-focused functions that include everything from body battery energy monitoring to animated on-screen workouts to hydration tracking.

Operating System: Garmin Watch OS
Max Battery Life: 5 Days
Connectivity: Bluetooth, NFC, WiFi, Ant+
GPS: Built-in

Purchase: $350

Suunto 7

As the first Suunto model to make use of Google’s powerful Wear OS software, the 7 comes well-equipped to tackle whatever your day has in store. So, whether you’re checking your calendar, taking calls, or managing incoming notifications, rest assured — it provides you with everything you need to stay on top of your schedule. However, come time to work out, it’s also incredibly capable as a sport-minded smartwatch, boasting some 70 different workout modes, free offline outdoor maps, and support for a variety of different third-party fitness apps.

Operating System: Wear OS
Max Battery Life: 40 Days
Connectivity: Bluetooth, NFC, WiFi
GPS: Built-in

Purchase: $400

Samsung Galaxy Watch3

It should come as no surprise, but Samsung’s Galaxy Watch3 is pretty much the definitive Apple Watch alternative if you’re a wearer who’s working with an Android smartphone. For starters, it comes with integrated LTE connectivity, allowing you to call, text, and stream music completely phone-free. What’s more is that thanks to Samsung’s Wireless Power Share, you can actually boost your battery from a compatible Galaxy model. Add to that automatic exercise recognition, a MIL-STD-810G certification, as well as some 50,000 different watch faces to customize your look, and the result is a smartwatch that proves it’s much more than the next best thing.

Operating System: Tizen OS
Max Battery Life: 2 Days
Connectivity: Bluetooth, NFC, WiFi, LTE
GPS: Built-in

Purchase: $480

Garmin MARQ Athlete

When nothing but the best of the best will do, a smartwatch from Garmin’s luxury MARQ line is the timepiece for you. Despite being the most affordable option in the range, the Athlete pictured here comes heaped with a host of advanced training options that make it an ideal choice for those looking to level up their workout performance. Find your stride using its in-depth running dynamics, plan your ascents using its ClimbPro elevation monitor, or navigate your next excursion using its turn-by-turn directions — these are just some of the many things that it can do.

Operating System: Garmin Watch OS
Max Battery Life: 12 Days
Connectivity: Bluetooth, NFC, WiFi, Ant+
GPS: Built-in

Purchase: $1,500

Tag Heuer Connected Titanium

Backed by 160 years of brand heritage and built with a titanium case, ceramic bezel, sapphire crystal, the Connected smartwatch is just as luxurious as any of Tag Heuer’s traditional timepieces. Granted, you won’t find a Swiss-made movement inside of this one, but what it lacks in pedigree, it more than makes up for in technological potential. That’s because, in addition to its own in-house Tag Heuer Sports app, it comes powered by the same Wear OS software found on many of the above watches, enabling a wide range of wrist-based abilities at the twist of the crown.

Operating System: Wear OS
Max Battery Life: 1+ Days
Connectivity: Bluetooth, NFC, WiFi
GPS: Built-in

Purchase: $2,150

The 8 Best Alternatives For Apple AirPods

Determined to stand apart from Apple’s army of devotees? Just looking for something different? Whatever the case may be, if you’re in the market for some earbuds but you don’t want to hop on the hype train, be sure check out our guide to the best alternatives for Apple AirPods.

HiConsumption is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

More From Tech

Featured Image

DJI Utilized Their Drone Tech in Their Professional-Grade Ronin 4D Camera

The Ronin 4D offers unparalleled innovation in the forms of Automated Manual Focus, a modular build, and a Z-axis for added stability.

Posted By

Oct 20, 2021

Featured Image

Alienware Revamped Their Aurora Desktop to Commemorate 25 Years

The legendary gaming brand's latest is a looker.

Posted By

Oct 20, 2021

Featured Image

Apple’s M1 Pro & Max-Equipped MacBook Pros Are Its Most Powerful Ever

With 3.7-times faster speeds & up to 21 hours of battery life.

Posted By

Oct 18, 2021

Featured Image

Apple’s Third-Gen AirPods Offer Extra Battery Life & a Familiar Design

The wireless earbuds are currently available for pre-order.

Posted By

Oct 18, 2021

Featured Image

Nokia Released a Modern Version of Their “Unbreakable” Cell Phone

The iconic "brick" phone makes its long-awaited return with some new features and, of course, Snake.

Posted By

Oct 15, 2021

Featured Image

RockShox Introduces the Only Fully Active Mountain Bike Suspension System

A state-of-the-art smart, electronically-controlled suspension collection.

Posted By

Oct 14, 2021