Smartwatches have yet to really hit the mainstream and become a must-have accessory for the masses, although these wrist-based mini computers are making solid strides forward with each passing year. In 2017 we have seen some compelling new products appear and here are our top 7 of the best smartwatches of the year.
1. Apple Watch Series 3
The Apple Watch is not for everyone, but it is one of the best smartwatches on the market – as long as you own an iPhone because it does not work with anything running Android.
The big feature added in the Series 3 edition in 2017 was the 4G LTE connectivity, so you can make and receive calls even if you have left your phone at home.
The Apple Watch continues to get more powerful and more useful. The Series 3 has a processor that's 70 percent faster than its predecessor, and now includes full two-way conversations with Siri. The battery life remains steady for 18 hours and the whole package can be yours for $399 with cellular, or without for $329.
2. LG Watch Sport
The LG Watch Sport stands out as one of the best Android alternatives to the Apple Watch Series 3. It also features 4G LTE and adds a very useful rotating crown button – which many Android Wear watches lack – and actually looks reasonably stylish too, though some may find it a bit on the chunky side.
Thanks to the onboard Android Wear 2.0 software, the watch can pair with an Android phone or an iPhone, though you get a more integrated experience when you have got two Google-powered devices working in tandem. The LG Watch has dropped quite considerably in price during the year, making it even more appealing.
3. Samsung Gear Sport
The Gear Sport was Samsung's main new smartwatch entry for 2017, and it is an excellent value option, particularly if you are rocking a Samsung phone as well (though it works with any Android or Apple handset).
The watch features integrated GPS, so you can get a lock on your position without a connected smartphone, and full waterproofing (down to 50m), so you can take it in the pool with you. As an added bonus, it is the first smartwatch to offer offline Spotify playlist syncing. Unfortunately, the app selection is not particularly strong, as Samsung's own Tizen OS is on board, but it ticks all the boxes for key smartwatch functions.
4. Huawei Watch 2
The Huawei Watch 2 was unveiled at the Mobile World Congress at the end of February. You get integrated GPS, and independent 4G LTE calling capabilities, and it is all wrapped in a rather distinguished-looking package that harks back to more traditional, mechanical watches.
With a 1.2-inch screen, it is a little smaller than the LG Sport Watch, which is its main rival in the list. The Huawei Watch 2 managed to pack in just about everything else you could want from a smartwatch. Android 2.0 is on board, which means Google Assistant, a smart keyboard, and a polished menu system that makes jumping around the various screens very initiative.
5. Garmin Forerunner 935
For the fitness fanatics, there is the Forerunner 935, which can pair with a chest strap or waistband clip to give you access to a whole host of extra training statistics.
In other words, you get more detail on the activities you do and how much good those activities are doing your body. It can track swimming and cycling in detail too, and it works both Android and Apple phones. To get all of this extra functionality though, you will need to pay a little extra than normal.
6. Garmin Fenix 5
Also from Garmin is the Fenix 5, which packs in even more features than the Forerunner 935. This smartwatch is aimed at hikers and fell runners as well as cyclists. It is a chunky watch, but it can measure just about anything you need it to, from your long-distance marathons, to your heart rate. It can also measure your VO2 Max levels, essentially a measurement of how fit your body is.
On top of all tracking capability, it is water-resistant, offers simple notification support for a connected Android phone or iPhone, and it can even have walking routes programmed into it. If you are looking for the ultimate outdoor smartwatch then this is the one. Prices online currently start around $500 mark.
7. Fitbit Icon
The difference between a smartwatch and a fitness tracker is not always a clear one, but Fitbit is certainly labelling the Icon as a smartwatch. It is quirky looking and available in a host of colour combinations, and has enough going for it in the features department to make it worth a spot on the list.
The watch features integrated GPS, swimming tracking, a heart rate monitor, sleep tracking, support for mobile payments and water resistance down to a depth of 50m.
The device runs Fitbit proprietary smartwatch software, but it will work on either Android or iOS to ferry your notifications over.
The Fitbit Icon excels in the fitness tracking department – as you would expect from Fitbit – and the price is fairly acceptable.