1. Apple Watch Series 2: From £369, Apple
This is easily the best smartwatch, and the smartest-looking. This new model is swim-proof and has GPS built in, so you don’t need to carry your iPhone with you when you’re on an outdoor run. You do still need the phone for directions, though, as there’s no mapping stored on the Watch. The battery, already good in last year’s model, has been further improved. It lasts well over a day, though it’s best to charge it daily. The entry-level casing is aluminium, but you can pay extra for a stainless steel case and super-tough sapphire crystal display cover. There are thousands of apps so you can use it as a British Airways boarding pass, enjoy mindfulness with Breathe, identify music with Shazam, and so on. The display is very bright so it’s easy to read even on the sunniest day. Comes in two sizes, 38mm and 42mm.
2. Withings Steel HR: From £169.95, Withings
The latest smartwatch from Withings (now part of Nokia) is out on December 7. It has physical hands to tell the time with a smaller dial that counts you towards your exercise goal. But there’s also a small digital display, for details like an even more exact digital readout of your steps, the distance covered and calories burnt. It can also notify you when you receive a call or text. It also has a heart rate monitor to keep track of your heart rate as you work out, with detailed analysis on the smartphone app. The battery lasts for around three weeks, and it’s water-resistant up to 50m.
3. Samsung Gear S3: £349.95, John Lewis
The latest smartwatch from Samsung connects via Bluetooth to your smartphone. It comes in two styles, a snazzy Classic and more rugged Frontier. Both are water-resistant – half an hour in water 1.5m deep won’t hurt the watch, though it’s not dive-proof. The rotating bezel can be used to control apps – you can turn your Nest central heating up and down with one spin, for example. This watch will also have Samsung Pay, a digital payment system which should work with most card readers, not just chip-and-pin ones. Samsung Pay has yet to launch in the UK, mind – it’s set to be rolled out in 2017.
4. Apple Watch Series 1: From £269, Apple
If you don’t need your smartwatch to be water-resistant, and don’t need the GPS of the Series 2, this is a more affordable option. Like every Apple Watch, there’s a heart rate monitor which is useful during workouts. The Series 1 has the same, fast chip as Series 2, so apps load very quickly – slow responsiveness was a problem on last year’s Apple Watch with the initial software. There’s a big range of straps available here, though the Series 1 is only available in an aluminium finish, albeit in several colours.
5. Withings Activité Pop: £119.95, Withings
This is a brilliant, affordable watch. Like the Steel HR, it has real hands for the time and exercise levels. Tapping the touch-sensitive glass provides alarm functions and it’s easy to change the time when you travel. Though it lacks the extra features such as notifications found on other watches here, this is a highly accessible choice that looks good, is lightweight and works just as well on smaller wrists. It’s also water-resistant and spots when you’re swimming automatically, so it can count those calories, too. It uses a standard watch battery so it lasts eight months or more.