Smartwatches & fitness trackers

Our buying guide explains the most important features in a wearable device, and the differences between a smartwatch and a fitness tracker.

Man wearing blue fitness tracker.

Whether you want a wearable device to improve your fitness or for its smart functions, our test method has you covered.

We've tested 41 smartwatches and fitness trackers.

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Overall score breakdown

Our overall score is comprised of:

Fitness functions (30%)

Step counter: We record the steps taken on a 10-minute walk, a 10-minute run, and while performing a range of household activities, including unloading a dishwasher and sweeping a floor. We compare the results to a calibrated pedometer to determine accuracy and consistency.

Distance tracker: We walk and run routes through various terrain, and assess how close the device gets to the true distance.

Heart rate: We measure the heart rate of our testers during low- and high-intensity exercise, and while at rest. We compare the results against a calibrated heart rate device that uses electrical signals.

We also assess the altimeter and elevation tracker, where available.

Smart functions (20%)

Functionality: We checkwhether the watch alerts the user to incoming calls, emails and messages, and whether it can respond to or initiate phone calls and messages.

Smartphone control: We examine if the watch can be used to control the connected phone’s functions, including the camera and music player.

Ease of use (20%)

An assessment by three people of the ease of set-up and everyday use, including while exercising. Ease of use includes ratings on the readability of the display in various lightings and how easy it is to navigate the menus.

Battery performance (15%)

Battery life: We test how long a fully charged battery lasts under simulated day-and-night usage tests, including receiving phone calls and messages.

Recharge time: We measure the time taken for the device to charge from 0% to 100%. Additionally, we record how much battery is gained from the first 30 minutes of charging.

App (5%)

Assesses the usability, functionality and features of the smartphone app on both Android and iOS, as well as its sync speed and the interface on the watch.

Features (5%)

Assesses the breadth of features available, including fitness and smart functions. We also look at how well you can customise the watch to your preferences, and how compatible it is with third-party apps.

Build quality (5%)

We scrutinise the quality of the material used in the watch and its strap or band, and note whether the band is replaceable. Additionally, we test scratch resistance by attempting to scratch it with a set pressure.

Smartwatches cta

Smartwatches & fitness trackers guide

Before you buy, check out our buying guide

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