The price of top smartwatches may have risen over the past few years, but there are superb options now at the lower end of the budget that are well worth considering. The likes of Amazfit and Xiaomi are making in-roads, and Apple has had to respond by slashing the price of its Apple Watch Series 3, which is now a bargain in its own right.
Whether you’re looking for a watch around the $200 mark, or your budget will only stretch to $150 or $100, we’ve got a list of top picks for you to sift through.
There’s no doubt you’ll have to compromise on some of the latest features and design specs, but, for unfussy buyers and smartwatch beginners, this is the ideal place to start.
Update: We first published this article in September 2014, and continue to update it regularly. In February 2020, we included the latest Amazfit watches after our testing.
1. Apple Watch Series 3
When the latest generation of the Apple Watch was announced in September, the older Series 3 was cut into budget smartwatch territory for the first time – now available at just $199.99.
It makes it the first truly affordable Apple Watch, and, if you happen to be picking one up around Black Friday or the holidays, you may be able to nab it for even less.
However, be aware that this base price tag is for the 38mm, GPS model. If you want the cellular model, or indeed the bigger, 42mm case variation, you’ll have to pay slightly more.
Explore the difference: Apple Watch Series 5 v Series 3
So, what else do you get for your money? Well, the Series 3 is able to run on the same watchOS 6 software as the Series 5, and you still get GPS for location tracking, 4G/LTE for cellular support, Apple Pay, swim tracking and heart rate monitoring.
You’ll have to put up with the slightly boxier design, and you don’t get things like the always-on display or ECG monitoring, but the core features are all still here – and it’s currently our pick for the best cheap smartwatch you can buy.
Read our full Apple Watch Series 3 review
2. Fitbit Versa 2
Buy now: Amazon | $199.95
The Fitbit Versa 2 builds on the solid foundations of the original and produces what is easily the best fitness tracking experience in a smartwatch.
Simply, if you’re more interested in monitoring your resting heart rate and tracking sleep than fiddling around with apps and taking calls directly from your wrist, this is the device for you.
However, just because fitness tracking is at the heart of this Fitbit, that doesn’t mean smartwatch features don’t exist, too.
There’s Fitbit Pay support, Alexa, space for music storage (though, beware, this is only for MP3 files), notifications, an always-on screen option and more – all of which you can enjoy for around 3-6 days, depending on how heavy your use is.
As well as a heart rate monitor, which can track beats around the clock, there’s also the SpO2 sensor, which will leverage biometric information, such as sleep apnea detection, after a future update.
You’ll have to live without GPS and things like offline Spotify support, but this neat and customizable Fitbit is still an excellent choice for both men and women.
Read our full Fitbit Versa 2 review
Buy now: Amazon | $149.99
It’s an Apple Watch clone, for sure but Amazfit has got so much right on the Amazfit GTS. And for once it’s not just the price.
It’s a health and fitness smartwatch that actually delivers, with good sleep tracking and a weekly rating of your activity and fitness using Mio’s PAI score. It’s a single number derived from all your weekly health and fitness activity – and we have a lot of respect for that technology and glad it’s seen the light of day here.
You get 14 tracked sports, with outdoor workouts tracked by GPS that passed mustard in terms of accuracy.
There’s an always-on display and you’re looking at around a week of battery life with all the advanced features turned on, which is certainly more than the Apple Watch’s single-day.
It’s not much of a fashion statement. But from a usability perspective it comes recommended.
4. Amazfit GTR
Buy now: Amazon | $179
If you prefer your watches round, the Amazfit GTR could be a better choice.
It’s got an 1.39-inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 454×454 (for the 47mm version) looks superb, and there’s a host of vibrant watch faces to download.
You get 24 day battery life for the larger model, and there’s GPS and heart rate monitoring on board, too. In our testing of the 47mm model the battery life was half that stated by Amazfit – although still an impressive 12 days. This is achieved by the custom OS, but that means that third party apps aren’t available as they are on Apple Watch or Wear OS.
5. TicWatch E2
Buy now: Amazon | $159.99
If you prefer the look of Google’s Wear OS to something from Apple or Fitbit, the TicWatch E2 is the best option you can pick on a budget.
Mobvoi’s smartwatch gives you a balanced, affordable entry into smartwatches. Everything you want is here: a design that’ll remind you of an old Swatch, solid GPS performance, waterproofing, apps, customizable watch faces, Google Assistant and more.
A little disappointingly, battery life is only around 24-36 hours, but it’s a solid all-rounder that does a great job for the price.
Just be aware that this only comes in a 46mm case, which is also 13mm thick and only available in black; it’s by no means the prettiest smartwatch you can buy, but one that should suit those with larger wrists just fine.
Read our full TicWatch E2 review
6. Amazfit Bip
Buy now: Amazon | $79.99
Xiaomi’s wearable maker Huami, which also owns the Amazfit brand, has been making budget smartwatches for some time, but its latest effort is its most compelling. And now there’s an improved Amazfit Bip S waiting to be reviewed.
The lovechild of a Pebble and an Apple Watch has an impressive headline feature, too: 45 days of battery life. That figure blows the competition out the water, though this naturally reduces if you turn on some more advanced features, like continuous heart rate monitoring.
It’s also extremely light and comfortable, though this is more down to the plastic case and silicon band, which have their issues with durability. The interface is also a little clunky and takes some getting used to, so keep that in mind.
For those looking for the best smartwatch below $100, though, this is our current pick of the bunch – at least until we fully test out the just-announced Xiaomi Mi Watch.
Read our full Amazfit Bip review
7. Withings Move ECG
Buy now: Amazon | $129.95
Following a short stint under the Nokia brand, Withings is back to being a scrappy startup, with the Move ECG one of the first products of the new era. It’s a simple hybrid with plenty of character – all at a super affordable price.
There are actually two versions here to pick between, the regular Withings Move and the Withings Move ECG, with the latter offering an electrocardiogram sensor for a bump in price – one that makes this the cheapest way to get an ECG reading from a wearable.
You essentially get the same package in both, except for that ECG functionality and a six month difference in battery life (the Move has 18 months, compared to the Move ECG’s year-long battery), with things like 24/7 activity tracking and automatic sleep tracking all logged in the intuitive Withings Health Mate app.
There’s waterproofing to 5 ATM, as well, and, if you opt for the standard Withings Move, you get the choice to customize your watch dial, case, hand and band.
The standard Move costs just $69.95, while the ECG version is priced at $129.95 and is now clinically approved in the US and EU.
Read our full Withings Move ECG review