When it comes to the iPhone, there’s arguably no better accessory than the Apple Watch and we’ve rounded up the very best of them.
While there are tons of great iOS-compatible smartwatches out there from the likes of Withings, Fossil and Fitbit, none of them pair quite so seamlessly with Apple’s smartphones as the Apple Watch.
No matter which one you get, the Apple Watch has been designed to make the most out of iOS with features such as messaging on your wrist, hands-free Siri activation and even sleep tracking.
Apple recently announced three new wearables in the form of the Apple Watch SE 2, the Apple Watch 8 and the Apple Watch Ultra, all of which have yet to be reviewed and as such are currently absent from this list.
We’d recommend holding off on buying an Apple Watch just until we can get all of the latest devices in for testing, just in case they end up besting some of the watches featured here. If you don’t fancy waiting and simply want to get your hands on an Apple Watch as quickly as possible then we’ve still got you covered with the following round-up of the best Apple Watches you can buy right now.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that the Apple Watch 3 is no longer supported by Apple so we’d recommend steering clear of it, even if it is available at a tempting price, and those who are still sporting the Apple Watch 3 should look at getting an immediate upgrade.
How we test
Every smartwatch we test is used by the reviewer for at least a week, or longer if the battery life lasts beyond that point or we need more time to trial its features.
During testing we will check it for key metrics including app support, usability and battery life. If the device offers fitness, location or health tracking features we will also test these for accuracy and reliability.
For distance tracking we record how accurately the device recorded runs on tracks we know the length of. We also record how much battery is lost using things like in-built or connected GPS per hour. To check heart rate accuracy we compare the results recorded on the wearable to a dedicated HRM strap.
After recording the data we then pair it with our general experience using the wearable day-to-day, letting you know if it’s comfortable to wear or if we encountered unexpected bugs during use over the review period.
Apple Watch Series 7
The best premium option
- Much faster charging
- BIgger screen is great
- Wide range of easy-to-use fitness features
- Battery life remains a day
- No neutral black or silver aluminium colour options
The Apple Watch 7 is the best smartwatch at the moment and the obvious choice for any buyer with cash to burn.
During testing we struggled to find fault with the wearable, with it featuring the same comfortable to wear, water resistant design as past Apple Watch’s, but coming with a host of awesome features and technologies you won’t find elsewhere.
The biggest is the addition of faster charging. During our checks, though the watch only lasted a day with regular use, it charged much faster than other models. Doing our battery checks we were able to get a charge from 10-90% in under 40 minutes.
Add to this a larger variable refresh rate screen which is way easier to read full messages on and a full array of fitness focussed sensors including ECG, GPS and HRM and the watch became an easy recommendation for our reviewer.
The fitness tracking, in particular, was solid, with its distance readings proving suitably accurate for mid-level runners and the addition of local Spotify support making it a great companion when commuting or doing a quick 5km.
The only slight caveat we have is that it is very expensive and outside of the charging and larger screen, it is only a modest upgrade on the discontinued Apple Watch 6. So if you spot a decent deal on a refurbished 6, or find a place with excess stock it may be worth considering getting the older model, which is still supported by Apple despite being discontinued.
Apple Watch SE
The best affordable option
- Excellent value
- Huge range of tracking features
- The best smartwatch OS around
- Wide variety of straps available
- No always-on display
- Battery life still only really a day
The Apple Watch 3 is cheaper than the SE and still sold on the official Apple Store. But with software support ending we can’t recommend it anymore. This is why in this list we’re recommending buyers on a budget look at the Apple Watch SE instead, despite it costing a bit more.
Though the SE is hardly cheap, especially compared to some of the dedicated fitness trackers and WearOS watches we recommend, it’s still very good value. During testing we found the watch offers equivalent fitness tracking to the 7, near identical battery life and access to the same portfolio of apps. Performance also proved to be on a par with our tester never noticing any lag or slow down using the device.
The only compromises are that the SE doesn’t have an always on display option, which means you have to turn the screen on when fully whenever you want to check the time and that its charge speeds are much lower. It took well over an hour for us to get a full charge.
We found the compromises are worth making if you can live without these small luxuries which is why we actually recommend the SE over the 7 for most buyers.
Apple Watches are not fully compatible with Android devices. To make the most of them they need to be paired with an iPhone or iPad.
Only a select number of newer Apple Watches feature LTE connectivity. You should check their spec sheet before purchasing one if you need the added connectivity.
All modern Apple Watches support NFC and Apple Pay, meaning you can use them to make contactless payments in most regions and stores.
You can see a breakdown of the Apple Watch 7 and SE’s specs in the table below.
First Reviewed Date
Apple Watch Series 7
Midnight, Starlight, Green, Blue, PRODUCT RED
Apple Watch SE
30 x 40 x 10.7 MM
Silver, Space Grey, Gold