The best smartwatches you can buy

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best smartwatchDavid Slotnick/Business Insider

Smartwatches aren't yet mandatory tech purchases, but they may be one day. For those of you who like to live on the cutting-edge side of the tech world, there's no better status symbol than the smartwatch.

Thankfully, smartwatches are a lot more attractive than they used to be, so you don't have to worry about strapping a clunky, futuristic gadget on your wrist anymore. We've tested dozens of smartwatches over the years, and these are the very best ones we've used.

There's a smartwatch for everyone on this list, whether you're an iPhone user who needs the latest and greatest Apple Watch, a tech geek who wants to pay for your latte with your wrist, a fashionista, or a WearOS aficionado, we've got you covered.

Here are the best smartwatches you can buy:

Updated by Malarie Gokey on 02/07/2019: Added the Skagen Falster 2, the Kate Spade Scallop 2, and the Samsung Galaxy Watch. Updated prices and formatting.

Read on to check out our top picks.

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Best smartwatch overall

Best smartwatch overall
Why you'll love it: The Apple Watch Series 4 has a bigger screen, slimmer body, and impressive new health-focused features that make the best smartwatch you can buy better than ever.

It doesn't get better than the Apple Watch Series 4. The new slimmer body and bigger screen make it sleeker and more stylish than ever before. The unique modern design works for both men and women. The smartwatch comes in 40mm and 44mm styles to fit wrists big and small. You can buy it in several finishes to match your style and there are dozens of Apple-made and third-party watch bands to make the Watch your own.

No other smartwatch offers this much variety and customization, especially when it comes to female-friendly options. The Apple Watch is the only smartwatch I've ever worn regularly each day for months on end. I've reviewed dozens of WearOS watches, and although many of them are nice looking as well, they're not as fully featured or easy to use as the Apple Watch.

The Apple Watch boasts cutting-edge smartwatch tech including mobile payments with Apple Pay, stand-alone GPS, full waterproofing up to 50 meters, and thousands of apps. The user interface is very simple and attractive. It's easy to use and it has advanced, easy-to-use fitness tracking features, thanks to a plethora of sensors and an excellent heart rate monitor.

The Series 4 now has several new health-focused features, which are very intriguing, including the ability to detect when you fall and even alert emergency contacts if need be, as well as an electrical heart rate sensor that works with an app to alert you to heart health issues. The electrocardiogram (ECG) app has been certified by the Food & Drug Administration, but it's not out yet.

You can also get an LTE version of the Series 4 for standalone smartwatch functions like calls, texts, and internet access. That way, you can leave your phone at home when you go out on a run or a long hike.

The LTE connection will cost you about $10 a month at most carriers, and the LTE model does cost more. There's a non-LTE version, too, if you're not interested in the new feature. Most people probably don't need LTE, frankly, unless you regularly go on hikes or long runs and you don't want to be weighed down with your phone. Still, it's a nice option to have.

The Series 4 lasts a full day on a charge, but you can get more out of it if you don't get notifications from every app on your iPhone.

Tech reviewers across the board from call it the best smartwatch you can buy — period. Digital Trends even gave it a rare perfect score. While other companies struggle to pack tons of tech into bulky smartwatches, Apple effortlessly offers all the tech you need in the most compact and attractive smartwatch you can buy.

Pros: Gorgeous larger screen, slimmer watch case, haptic feedback from the crown, great watch faces, tons of band options, lots of apps, new health-focused features

Cons: Expensive, battery life is short, only works with iPhone

Buy the Apple Watch Series 4 at Macy's for $399+

Best smartwatch for Android

Best smartwatch for Android
Why you'll love it: The Skagen Falster 2 has the same unique, simple design as the original, but now it has a heart rate monitor, Google Pay, and GPS built in.

Skagen is known for its minimalistic design choices, and the Falster 2, its second smartwatch, is a prime example. The Falster 2 looks very different from most other smartwatches with its unique lugs and simple bands. It's also slimmer than the original Falster.

It's an interesting smartwatch, because it could easily suit men or women. I tried the Falster 2 on for size, and while it was large for my notoriously small wrists, it looked just fine on other women's larger wrists and on men. If you like bigger watches, it'll look right at home on you.

Just like all other WearOS (previously Android Wear) smartwatches, the Falster 2 works with both iPhone and Android devices. As always, WearOS is best with an Android phone. Some functions simply don't work as well when you pair this watch to an iPhone.

You can download thousands of apps from the Google Play Store and get notifications on your wrist. This second generation smartwatch also has GPS, NFC for Google Pay, and a heart rate monitor built in, so it's more fully featured and high tech than the original Falster. It's everything we wanted the original Falster to be.

Pros: Cool design, simple mesh band, suits women and men, WearOS, works with iPhone and Android, GPS, NFC, heart rate monitor

Cons: A bit pricey

Buy the Skagen Falster 2 on Amazon for $295

Best feminine smartwatch

Best feminine smartwatch
Why you'll love it: The Kate Spade Scallop 2 is a truly feminine, whimsical, and charming smartwatch that packs serious tech features like a heart rate monitor, GPS, and NFC for mobile payments.

Most smartwatches are still more unisex than specifically made for women. Even though Fossil, Skagen, and Apple make very convincing unisex watches that women can actually wear, none of them are unapologetically feminine. If you, like me, have been waiting for the day when you can look at a smartwatch and say, "Oh my God! It's so cute!" your day has come.

The Kate Spade Scallop 2 is fully and completely designed for women. The round metal watch casing is relatively slim, very sleek, and absolutely adorable because it has the cute little detail of scalloping around the watch face.

The watch faces themselves are classic Kate Spade designs. You get a sultry winking moon face with perfectly curled lashes, calling you a leading lady; cute bubbly balloons for a digital watch face with numbers; a speeding cab that reassures you that you'll be there in a New York minute; and a daisy that loses petals as the time ticks away in a classic game of "He loves me; he loves me not."

The cute scalloped silicone band in black or a leather band in blush pink and the well-made, slim metal bracelet style watch band complete the feminine look. It is these little touches that make this watch so fun.

Underneath all the fun design is WearOS (formerly Android Wear) with all its skills and limitations. Like all the other WearOS watches in our guide, you can pair it an iPhone or Android device to get apps and all your notifications.

The second generation Scallop even has GPS, NFC for payments, and a heart rate monitor, making it more high tech than ever.

Pros: Adorable design, feminine watch faces and casing, cute straps, subtle details for fun, GPS, NFC, heart rate monitor

Cons: A bit expensive

Shop all Kate Spade Scallop Smartwatch styles for $275 and up

Best stylish smartwatch for women

Best stylish smartwatch for women
Why you'll love it: The Fossil Q Venture HR is a sleek smartwatch with a classic design and the power of WearOS.

If you're an Android user who wants a female-friendly smartwatch, you're in luck. Over the past few years, fashion brands and watchmakers have started making great WearOS smartwatches. Fossil's smartwatch line continues to grow each year, and the new Q Venture HR is its fourth-generation model.

The improvements are immediately obvious: The watch casing is smaller and less bulky and the touchscreen looks more refined. There's also finally a heart rate sensor, GPS, and NFC for mobile payments.

Fossil offers several different finishes for the Q Venture's watch casing. I love the simple rose gold casing and tan leather strap option, but you can also get one with a bedazzled ring around the watch face. There's also a rose gold metal bracelet strap or one that mixes rose gold with a bold navy color.

Women who are less into trendy colors can obviously go for the more traditional finishes like the silver and gold. If you don't like any of the included straps, Fossil and other brands sell dozens of 18mm watch straps you can choose instead to really make the Q Venture your own.

It's a chunky watch in comparison to the Apple Watch, which is great for women who like bigger watches. Even though it's stylish, this smartwatch is also waterproof up to 3 ATM, so you can swim with it on.

As for the tech inside, the Q Venture won't let you down. It runs WearOS (previously known as Android Wear) and works with thousands of apps on the Google Play Store. You can answer texts, interact with notifications, and choose your own watch face — just like you would on any other smartwatch. Fossil has lots of nice watch faces in feminine colors, too.

It'll work with both Android phones and the iPhone, but it's best with Android devices. When Android Wear watches are paired to the iPhone, a lot of functions no longer work, and you're left with a pretty watch that gives you notifications.

Pros: Classic watch design, stylish color options, lots of compatible watch straps, and it's compatible with iPhones and Android phones

Cons: It's a bit chunky, not as good with iPhone

Buy the Fossil Q Venture HR from Fossil for $199 (originally $255) Check out our guide to the best smartwatches for women

Best smartwatch for fashionable men

Best smartwatch for fashionable men
Why you'll love it: Fashion-forward men who aren't into the high-tech futuristic look will love Fossil's Q Explorist HR with its classic design and smartwatch powers.

Fossil shows up twice on this list for a reason — it's one of the few fashion brands and watchmakers that's making gorgeous smartwatches. The Q Explorist HR is the ultimate WearOS watch for men who want their smartwatch to look like a high-end wristwatch.

It's a hefty smartwatch that feels luxurious, but it doesn't cost a couple thousand dollars a la the Tag Heuer Connected smartwatch. Our guy friends just love the stainless steel casing with the chunky metal watch band, but you can choose a number of different finishes.

You can get the smartwatch in dark gray, black, and silver finishes with metal or leather straps. The straps are interchangeable with any 22mm watch band you can buy from Fossil and others.

When it comes to tech, the Q Explorist isn't the most high-end one on this list, but it runs WearOS and it's compatible with thousands of apps. You can send texts, view your notifications, and track your activity — just like you would on any smartwatch. The latest generation also has NFC for mobile payments, GPS, and a heart rate monitor.

Pros: Classic watch look, WearOS, use any 2mm watch band you like

Cons: No LTE

Buy the Fossil Q Explorist HR from Fossil for $199 (originally $275)

Best smartwatch for Samsung fans

Best smartwatch for Samsung fans
Why you'll love it: The Samsung Galaxy Watch is the best choice for anyone with a Samsung phone because it has a great design, an innovative rotating bezel, and other cool high-tech features.

Samsung's Galaxy Watch is the best smartwatch for anyone who owns a Samsung phone. It has all the high-tech features you want, including NFC for Samsung Pay, GPS, and a heart rate monitor. You can even get an LTE version if you want a standalone watch that doesn't rely so heavily on your phone.

The rotating bezel bordering the screen is what really sets this smartwatch apart from the competition, though. It lets you navigate through apps and screens without touching the watch face all the time.

Of course, like every smartwatch, the Galaxy Watch works with a wide variety of apps, delivers notifications, and tracks your activity and sleep patterns. The companion phone app is easy to use during the setup process. If you also happen to have smart Samsung appliances at home, you can control those with your watch as well.

The entire watch is water-resistant, and its overall military-grade durability makes it a practical accessory to wear for everyday life. The 42mm version's battery can last through multiple days of use, though the 46mm model can go four to five days without a charge.

Samsung made this watch quite unisex, though the rose gold color option is clearly more feminine. You can choose between a 42mm or 46mm watch casing based on your wrist size.

Since the watch bands are removable, you can swap the silicone watch bands out for leather ones if you want to personalize the watch even further. We tested the Galaxy Watch and we loved it.

Pros: Simple design, easy to use, rotating bezel, NFC, GPS, heart rate monitor, works best with Android and Samsung phones, designs for both men and women, LTE version

Cons: Expensive

Buy the Samsung Galaxy Watch from Samsung for $279.99 to $299.99
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