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Best Apple Watches

Updated October 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 13 Models Considered
  • 8 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 154 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best Apple Watches

    Last Updated October 2018

    From iPhones to iPads to iPods, Apple is a pack leader when it comes to handheld technology. So it’s hardly a surprise that the company would try its hand at wearable tech – and the Apple watch is definitely a device that can make life easier.

    If you like the idea of a wearable device that offers many of the same conveniences as your iPhone or iPad, then an Apple Watch is certainly worth your consideration. There are a variety of Apple Watches to choose from, so which is best for you? You’ll need to select the size, band, wireless technology, and other features that best fit your lifestyle. If you’re unsure where to start, you’ve come to the right place.

    At BestReviews, we approach each product for review with an open mind, avoiding any pitfalls that could lead us to product bias (such as a free sample from a manufacturer). By working with industry experts, testing some items in our labs, and consulting product owners, we identify the key pros and cons of all items we’re considering. Using the information we provide, you can make an educated shopping decision.

    Ready to start shopping for an Apple Watch? We invite you to examine the product list above for our top picks. If you want general tips on choosing an Apple Watch, our shopping guide has plenty of good advice.

    While all Apple Watches can track basic exercises like walking, running, and biking, advanced models can also track snowboarding and skiing.

    What can an Apple Watch do?

    An Apple Watch is a smartwatch that works in conjunction with your iPhone and other Apple devices to perform a variety of functions.

    • You can make calls and send text messages. An Apple Watch has a built-in microphone and speaker, so you can take phone calls on it or dismiss them if you’re not interested in talking. You’re also able to dictate text messages or choose a stock message to send. Some Apple Watches require you to keep your iPhone nearby, while others offer their own internet and phone connectivity. The latter allows you to make calls and send messages even if your phone isn’t close by.

    • You can use apps. Apple Watches support a variety of apps just like an iPhone, including those for a photos, music, maps, and a calendar. They can also receive push alerts from apps that you have on your iPhone.

    • You can consult with Siri. Apple’s personal assistant app, Siri, is available through the Apple Watch. You can use Siri to get directions, perform basic searches, and send messages.

    An Apple Watch can unlock some newer Mac model computers, so you don’t need to enter your password every time you start it up.

    • You can listen to music. Using an Apple Watch, you can adjust the volume or change tracks for music on your iPhone. Some models allow you to stream music even if your iPhone isn’t in the vicinity.

    • You can track your fitness goals. Apple Watches offer convenient fitness tracking on your wrist, so you don’t need a separate fitness tracker. The watch can count steps, monitor your heart rate, track calories burned, and share your information with fitness and health apps. Some models are even swim-proof, so you can use the watch to track laps. You can also choose a model with built-in GPS to automatically track runs.

    • You can utilize Apple Pay. An Apple Watch can make shopping easier because it supports Apple Pay, which uses an NFC chip to make secure purchases at a variety of retailers and restaurants without your credit or debit card.

    • You can use it as a remote for an Apple TV and other home theater devices. With an Apple Watch, you don’t have to worry about losing the remote in your sofa again. It allows you to scroll through menus, play, and pause content on Apple TV, as well as other home entertainment programs and devices.

    • You can monitor your car. Depending on the make and model of your car, you may be able to open and lock its doors, locate it in a parking lot, start the engine remotely, or check an electric car’s battery level.

    • You can control smart home features. If your home features a variety of smart technology, an Apple Watch can help you use it. Through the watch, you can turn on smart lights, adjust a smart thermostat, and control other smart devices remotely.

    EXPERT TIP

    With an Apple Watch, you can share your fitness activity information with friends and family to create a friendly competition that helps keep you motivated.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Apple Watch feature considerations

    Screen and display

    Most Apple Watches feature an Ion-X glass screen that is highly durable yet lightweight. However, some higher-end models have a sapphire glass screen, which is extremely durable and even less likely to scratch than an Ion-X screen. Sapphire glass is notably heavier, too.

    In terms of display quality, 38mm Apple Watches offer a resolution of 272 x 340 pixels, while 42mm Apple Watches provide a resolution of 312 x 390 pixels. They also feature energy-efficient Retina displays for extra-crisp text and graphics.

    The Apple Watch offers a nightstand mode, which shifts its display to landscape orientation so you can easily read it when you’re lying in bed.

    Size

    Apple watches are available with cases of two different sizes: 38 millimeters and 42 millimeters. This measurement refers to the length from the top of the watch screen to the bottom.

    • The 38mm size works best for individuals with small wrists; often, this size is a good option for women.

    • If you have larger wrists, the 42mm option would probably be the better choice.

    • In terms of width, the 38mm Apple Watch measures 33.33 mm wide. The 42mm Apple Watch measures 35.9 mm wide.

    • Both watch sizes have a depth of 10.5 mm.

    Materials

    Apple watch cases are usually available in three material choices: aluminum, stainless steel, and ceramic.

    • Aluminum offers the most lightweight feel. If you’re active and want a comfortable watch, aluminum could be the right choice for you.

    • Stainless steel has a mid-range weight, and it gives the device a traditional watch-like feel.

    • Ceramic Apple Watches are the heaviest, but they are also usually the most stylish and attractive options.
       

    In terms of color, Apple watch cases are usually available in silver, gold, white, gray, and black.

    An Apple Watch offers a variety of fun, striking wallpapers to use as a background, but you can customize your watch with a personal photo if you prefer.

    Band

    Every Apple Watch comes with a band. Many models come with a sports band made of lightweight rubber. Apple also offers nylon sports bands, which are lightweight but offer a slightly more stylish look. These sports bands are an ideal option for athletes and other exercisers.

    If you want your Apple Watch to look like a traditional wristwatch, choose a model with a stainless steel or leather band. These watches are not as suited for physical activity, but they provide the most stylish appearance.

    Apple Watch bands come in a variety of colors. The exact shades depend on the material, but you can usually choose from silver, white, black, gray, purple, pink, orange, red, brown, green, blue, and yellow.

    Keep in mind that Apple also sells watch bands separately. If you choose, you can buy additional bands to change the look of your watch to match various activities and events in your life.

    If you’re allergic to synthetic rubber, avoid Apple Watch models that come with a fluoroelastomer sports band.

    Storage

    An Apple Watch provides storage space for apps, music, and photos. Some watches provide 8GB of storage space; others offer 16GB. For many people, 8GB is plenty of room. However, if you want to a large variety of music and apps on your device, it may be worth it to invest in a 16GB model.

    Waterproofing

    All Apple Watches resist water to a degree, which means that they can tolerate splashes and light rain showers. For most users, that’s enough water resistance. However, if you’re a swimmer and want to use the watch to track water workouts, you’ll want to choose a fully waterproof watch. Waterproof Apple Watches can function effectively in water up to a depth of 50 meters.

    While some Apple Watches are suitable for swimming, you shouldn’t wear one to scuba dive, water ski, or engage in other high-velocity or deep-water activities.

    Wireless technology

    Apple Watches are designed to be used in conjunction with an iPhone. All models offer WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, so you can easily sync your watch with your phone.

    However, because it relies on this type of connection, your Apple Watch and iPhone must be in fairly close proximity to one another to work together for functions such as taking calls, sending texts, streaming music, and utilizing GPS to track your runs.

    Some high-end Apple Watch models offer cellular LTE connectivity. This means the watch can function all on its own. These watches can make make and receive phone calls, stream music, send texts, and perform other functions when your iPhone isn’t in the vicinity.

    An Apple Watch with LTE connectivity obviously offers much more versatility; you can stay in touch even if you leave home without your phone. But it requires an eligible cellular service plan by a carrier that supports the iPhone, and both your watch and your iPhone must use that same carrier.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    An Apple Watch can connect to wireless headphones via Bluetooth, which makes it easy to listen to your favorite tunes while you work out.

    Apple Watch prices

    Apple Watch prices vary based on wireless connectivity, water resistance, GPS capabilities, and band material. They usually range from $249 to $1,399.

    Basic

    An Apple Watch that only offers WiFi/Bluetooth connectivity, isn’t swim-resistant, and doesn’t provide built-in GPS can run from $249 to $279.

    An Apple Watch provides one year of warranty protection, but you can pay extra for Apple Care to extend your coverage.

    Mid-range

    An Apple Watch that only offers WiFi/Bluetooth connectivity and isn’t swim-resistant but has built-in GPS can run from $329 to $359.

    Advanced

    An Apple Watch that offers cellular LTE connectivity, swim resistance, built-in GPS, and a sport band can run from $399 to $799.

    Models with these features plus a leather band can run from $1,149 to $1,399.

    If you choose an Apple Watch with built-in GPS, you’ll be able to track a run without bringing your iPhone along.

    FAQ

    Q. Do you need an iPhone to use an Apple Watch?

    A. Apple Watches are only compatible with iPhones, so if you have an Android or Microsoft phone, you won’t be able to sync it with the watch. Only certain iPhones work with the watch, too; you must have an iPhone 5 or later that’s running iOS 8.2 or later.

    Q. Can you wear an Apple Watch if you’re left-handed?

    A. While the Apple Watch comes oriented for right-handed users, the case can actually be flipped. That allows you to turn it so the crown that controls the device is on the left side, making it easy for lefties to use.

    Q. What kind of battery life does the Apple Watch offer?

    A. After an overnight charge, the Apple Watch can provide up to 18 hours of battery life. The exact amount of time you’ll get with each charge varies based on how you use your watch. For example, using it to sync with your iPhone via WiFi/Bluetooth or using an LTE-connected model to make calls will drain the battery faster than listening to or streaming music.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Katie
      Katie
      Editorial Director
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor

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