Smartwatches are an expensive way to tell time, and you might be thinking: Are they worth the hype and investment? If you consider the host of features that come with this smart timepiece, the price point is little cause for deliberation.
But the fact remains, it's the best two-in-one deal for those in search of a fitness tracker with smartphone capabilities. Today's models offer impressive health monitoring via built-in sensors, while looking perfectly stylish on the wrist.
"A smartwatch is one of the few wearables that we can wear at all times, so it gives us the opportunity to monitor our health round the clock, especially for patients of cardiovascular diseases or those at risk," said Sohmyung Ha, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at New York University Abu Dhabi. Ha leads the Integrated BioElectronics Lab on campus, which furthers research in wearable sensors, and is a former engineer with Samsung Electronics in South Korea.
Most smartwatches typically leverage the PPG (photoplethysmography) heart rate sensor to detect your blood flow. Newer, more advanced models, like the Samsung Galaxy Watch5 Pro, even perform an ECG (electrocardiogram).
"Some of the Galaxy Watches have ECG, which is more accurate than the PPG because it directly reads your heart's electrical activity. They take the reading with a finger to the side of the watch. Of course, commercial wearables cannot detect heart attacks, but they can provide us with some hints of the heart's abnormalities," said Ha.
What can a smartwatch do for me, besides track my health?
Smartwatches are a convenient extension of the smartphone - they encourage users to take part in phone-free activities. Rajat Asthana, head of sales at consumer electronics distributor Eros Group, said:
"A smartwatch keeps you productive and connected by delivering notifications and updates to your wrist. It offers apps, notifications, music control, microphones for phone calls, speakers, NFC (Near Field Communication), cellular connectivity, GPS, touchscreen capability and so much more".
While some smartwatches pair with handsets using a short-range Bluetooth connection, other advanced models communicate directly with your cellular network. This means you get to make and receive important calls and even text straight from your wrist, independently of your smartphone. The phone stays home where it's safe and sound.
Another plus is the built-in NFC function, which allows us to make contactless payments. Given the current climate, paying with a flick of your wrist is much safer, compared to swiping and tapping on the phone. Take the Apple Watch, for example. There are fewer touchpoints involved in activating Apple Pay on the smartwatch than on an iPhone, where unlocking the card requires a pin or a touch ID.
Play music, track your location, and ring up family and friends via a watch that's always on you. Looking for dedicated fitness trackers, instead? Check out this expert-picked list for all the best options. Given all these benefits, we selected the best of the latest smartwatches based on expert picks and user reviews. Many of them are discounted and Amazon Prime-eligible, so if you're a member, you can receive it the day after you purchase it.
1. Best Overall: Apple Watch Series 8 (GPS + Cellular, 41mm)
- Call and text from the smartwatch, using cellular connectivity
- Takes your electrocardiogram (ECG)
- Alerts emergency services in the event of a crash
- Battery lasts up to 36 hours in low power mode
- IP6X dust resistance, and swimproof in up to 50 metres of depth
- Incremental upgrades from the Series 7
- Best compatibility with iPhones
Apple’s venture into the healthcare sector began with the Series 7, and the tech giant has since upgraded its sensors in the latest Apple Watch. The dedicated ECG app on the device now generates readings incredibly similar to a single-lead electrocardiogram. The new Apple Watch Series 8 also tracks wrist temperatures to help predict women's monthly cycles more accurately. Another upgrade sees crash detection, where in the event of a car crash, the device instantly alerts the authorities and emergency contacts of your location. Likewise, a hard fall will put you in touch with dispatchers, as well. You're all set for fitness with the Workout app - it puts your heart rate zone on display and lets you craft your own workout schedule for the day. The Series 8 is our best overall pick for the bonus cellular connectivity, so that you can go on your morning runs without the hassle of lugging around a phone. There's more: enjoy the convenience of Apple Pay, built-in GPS (Global Positioning System) and streaming services on your wrist, making the watch a must-have wearable device for iOS users. And, if you're concerned about the battery life, the newly introduced low-power mode keeps the watch on for a whopping 36 hours.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh176.58 for 12 months with select banks.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh125 and a two-year extended warranty for Dh207.
2. Best for Samsung Users: Samsung Galaxy Watch5 Pro
- Takes your electrocardiogram (ECG)
- Long battery life - up to 80 hours
- Traces back the travelled route to keep you on track
- Detects more than 90 exercises
- Call and text over Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
- No cellular connectivity support
- Best compatibility with Samsung handsets
Samsung Galaxy Watch5 Pro comes in black and gray titanium colours, boasting a classic timepiece design with a D-Buckle sports band. Designed for the adventurer, the gadget brings an array of smart features to keep you informed of your health on spontaneous expeditions. Using a three-in-one BioActive sensor, the Watch5 Pro detects unusual heart rates and records blood pressure. For an ECG reading, all you have to do is place the index finger of your opposite hand on the home button. Though the watch is yet to see cellular support in the UAE, it's still capable of texting and calling via a Bluetooth connection. But this also means your smartphone needs to be within a certain range, like in your pocket or nearby, on the table. If you're out and about on a hike, a Track Back function guides you back home turn-by-turn with vibrations and voice navigation. It's staying put throughout the journey because this model carries Samsung's biggest battery capacity among its wearables, going strong for 80 hours at a time.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh102.50 for 12 months with select banks.
3. Best Budget: Amazfit GTR 3 Smartwatch
- Check calls and send automated texts over Bluetooth
- Battery life of up to 21 days
- Built-in Alexa
- Waterproof in up to 50 metres of depth
- Does not have an ECG sensor
- No Wi-Fi connectivity
Several reviews marvel at how gorgeous this smart timepiece is, given its affordable price tag. Asthana recommends the Amazfit range, if you want to get the most bang for your buck. The Amazfit GTR 3 connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth, letting you preview who's ringing and what automated text to send when you're busy. Health management is still a notable feature of this gadget, despite the absence of an ECG sensor. Its PPG sensor tests your heart rate, blood oxygen, stress levels and breathing rate in one single tap. Keep up to date with important appointments and pencil in more through Alexa, your everyday life assistant. Amazfit GTR 3 offers over 150 built-in sports modes, recognising eight of them as soon as you begin walking, running or swimming. It doesn’t end there – this budget smartwatch can also survive in up to 50 metres of water.
4. Best for iOS and Android Users: HUAWEI WATCH GT 3 Pro Smartwatch
- Takes your electrocardiogram (ECG)
- Receive, reject or mute calls via Bluetooth
- 100-plus workout modes
- 14-day battery life
- Resistant to free dives as deep as 30 metres
- Cannot initiate calls
The Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro is a multifunctional piece of gadget, great for both Android and iOS users. A cross between business casual and sporty, the GT 3 Pro looks premium in its titanium bracelet, rotatable crowns and a sapphire watch dial. There's an electrode on the side that generates real-time ECG reports, and uses the sensors to help you screen for arteriosclerosis. Sans cellular connection, the watch easily pairs with your smartphone via Bluetooth and takes clear voice calls, but do note that you cannot dial back or type out texts. Even after heavy use, the watch will keep functioning for at least eight days without needing charge. It makes for a fantastic travel companion with days-long battery life, say reviewers. And, rest assured, your go-to workout is somewhere in here, because there are over 100 modes to choose from, with special diving metrics geared towards swimmers.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh101.67 for 12 months with select banks.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh74 and a two-year extended warranty for Dh122.
5. Best for Bluetooth Connectivity: Garmin Venu 2 Plus
- Make and receive calls via Bluetooth
- Reply to texts using voice commands
- 25-plus fitness apps with animated workouts
- Up to nine days of battery life
- Contactless payment
- No ECG monitoring
- Android 10 OS does not support voice assistant on the Venu 2 Plus
The Garmin Venu 2 Plus may not be a pocket-friendly find, but its strong Bluetooth connection allows you to make and receive calls from both iOS and Android devices. Think taking calls whilst driving without the need for earbuds - reviews say the speaker is loud enough to do the job. Whatever your voice assistant may be on the phone, from Alexa to Siri, the watch instantly listens and replies to text using just commands. For this price point, you can also expect to make contactless payments from your wrist. However, Garmin does point out on its website that some Android 10-supported smartphones might not be able to use the voice assistant feature. It mentions the Huawei and Honor phone series in this list. As far as health monitoring is concerned, the Venu 2 Plus has more than 25 preloaded GPS and indoor sports apps, which feature animated workouts as a visual aid.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh130.01 for 12 months with select banks.
Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.