There’s an old saying that goes something like “your wrist deserves the best”, and since we live in the age of smart-stuff, today’s article is about the best cheap smartwatch. And if you’re wondering why “the best cheap smartwatch”, well, unfortunately we’re not all millionaires; otherwise, we’d be all driving Ferraris and wearing Patek Philippe time pieces.
We’re only exaggerating a bit for dramatic effect, but there are some pretty expensive smartwatches out there, from big names like Tag Heur, which cost thousands of dollars a piece. The good news is that if you can’t afford a thousand-dollar gadget, you can always go for a smartwatch under $100 that’s capable of performing just as well feature-wise.
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How to Choose the Best Cheap Smartwatch
Choosing the right smartwatch is not an easy task, especially if you don’t have the time to read countless reviews and opinions on the interwebz, or if you’re not a tech geek like us. But don’t worry, we’ve already done the research and here are the main lessons to take home before going on a shopping spree. The first thing to consider is what type of smartphone you already own, as usually speaking, your smartwatch will work “hand in hand” with your smartphone, i.e. if you’re on Android OS, you’ve already hit jackpot, as there are countless Android compatible models out there, and they’re pretty cheap too, unlike Apple-made gear.
Built-in Fitness Features
If you’re a fitness buff, look out for built-in fitness features, things like a heart rate sensor for example; the good news is that you will find lots of fitness-focused smartwatches, such as the Fitbit Versa, or its cheaper alternative Letsfit. Some watches are perfectly capable of working independently, but most “wearables” are designed to work symbiotically with your smartphone, and that’s that.
Here’s a short list of “don’ts” when shopping for a smartwatch: never buy a smartwatch without making sure it’s compatible with your smartphone, read carefully the tech-specs with an emphasis on autonomy, look for GPS and heart rate sensor if you’re into fitness, check out if the wrist band is easily replaceable/available, and also look at the OS and the selection of compatible apps with your smartphone.
The display is another important factor to consider. Most current-year smartwatches feature color displays, including AMOLED stuff, which means you’ll be able to watch all sorts of content on your smartwatch, but there’s a trade-off for high quality-high res displays: shorter battery life.
The interface issue comes to play, as you have two basic options: touchscreen vs old school buttons. Even if touchscreens seem to be a no-brainer choice for most people reading this, truth is that classic buttons are sometimes easier to use, especially when on the move/run. A touchscreen may be difficult to operate on a tiny touch display, and often, especially on cheap smartwatches, gesture-based interfaces don’t work so great.
A smartwatch worth its salt will do a good job with notifying you about emails, incoming calls, text messages, social media mentions and various other alerts via a quick jolt to your wrist and/or sound. Look after social network integration, if you’re into that crazy business, as well at the choice of built-in sensors to track your physical activity.
The overall design, including ergonomics and customization options is another important factor to consider, but that boils down to one’s personal preferences. Bottom line: there are advanced watches out there, that allow you to make mobile payments via NFC; others offer water resistance and wireless charging, and so on and so forth. The possibilities are endless, and the final factor is your budget and your personal choice. With all these in mind, let’s take a quick look at Amazon’s best cheap smartwatches in no particular order:
Best Cheap Smartwatches
Fitbit Versa 2
The Best Budget Android Smartwatch
The Fitbit Versa 2 is one of the most popular, let’s say affordable, smartwatches (it ain’t dirt-cheap), and makes for an excellent smartwatch for women because it’s available in pink. Okay, we’re just kidding a bit, but the Fitbit Versa is a great example of what can you do if you combine a smartwatch with a fitness tracker. So, yeah, if you’re into life-extension technology, the Fitbit Versa 2 is the “droid” you’re looking for, as it comes with awesome fitness features, an excellent AMOLED touchscreen and even Alexa live compatibility.
In terms of design, the Versa 2 looks pretty cool, being an Apple watch clone first and foremost, and it’s comfortable enough to wear as an everyday timepiece. Controls-wise, the smartwatch combines a touch screen plus a single button combo, and tinkering around with it is pretty straightforward and easy.
Unfortunately, there’s no built-in GPS module, and that’s a shame, but according to Fitbit philosophy, less is more in order to keep the price down, so you’ll have to live without the perks of having a GPS-enabled watch. However, most probably your smartphone has one, so there’s no problem in this regard, as Versa 2 will do just fine with using your smartphone’s.
The watch case is made of aluminum, the display is a 300 x 300 pixel touchscreen AMOLED, and connectivity-wise, you get Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, 3-axis accelerometer, water-resistance up to 50 meters, altimeter, optical heart rate monitor, NFC, an ambient light sensor, a microphone and relative SpO2 sensor. As you can see, this smartwatch really has it where it counts.
- All the necessary features for a smartwatch and a fitness tracker
- Well designed and comfy
- Stellar 5 days autonomy on a single charge
- AMOLED display with great sunlight legibility
- No GPS sensor
- Doesn’t stream from Spotify
- You’ll have to pay for fitness insights
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active
The Best Smartwatch Under 200
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active has already achieved legendary status, as it makes for a relatively affordable smartwatch, which is also beautiful and comfy all day long. The Galaxy Active basically takes all that was great in Samsung smartwatches and goes to the next level, i.e. it arrives in a smaller form-factor, cheaper than the fully featured Galaxy Watch, which is the “premium version” so to speak.
The Active is for, well, active people, as it lacks some of the high-end features, but it’s way more affordable, smaller and lighter. If you’re looking for the best cheap smartwatch, the Galaxy Active should rank high on your shopping list, as it features a classic circular design (no rotating bezel this time), it’s incredibly light, thin, looks premium (metal-made), and it’s available in 4 colors: silver, black, pink for the ladies and blue. The band is made of silicone and the display measures 1.1-inch and boasts a resolution of 360 x 360 pixels.
The OLED touchscreen is bright and sensitive, there are 2 discrete buttons to “push around”, and the Tizen OS is pretty good and intuitive, plus you get a wide variety of apps. Being made for active folk, this Samsung smartwatch is IP68 rated, which means you can take it for a quick dive (up to five meters). Finally, everything runs smoothly on this smartwatch powered by a dual-core Samsung Exynos 9110 processor with 750MB of RAM, yet some complain about limited on-board storage. But hey, nobody’s perfect.
- Looks and feels premium
- Excellent display, good fitness tracking options
- Decent battery life (approximately 2 days)
- Robust notification system
- Tons of features
- Tizen OS is a mixed bag (limited 3rd party apps)
- Doesn’t work great with non-Samsung smartphones/apps
Garmin Vívoactive 3
The Best Cheap Smartwatch
Next in line we have another “established” brand, the Garmin vívoactive 3 GPS smartwatch respectively. Just like the previously reviewed smartwatches, this one retails for under $200, yet it delivers a lot of technological oomph for the price asked. Just to give you an idea, the 3rd gen vívoactive has an optical heart rate monitor and GPS with GLONASS, which makes it the ideal companion for fitness freaks, not to mention a plethora of Garmin Connect IQ apps, smartphone notifications and the amazing 7-days autonomy on a single charge.
Yes indeed, this Garmin gadget really has it where it counts, and it also makes for a serious contender (at a much more affordable price) for Google Pay or Apple Pay via its Garmin Pay payment system.
Design wise, the Garmin vívoactive 3 is a classic round-faced smartwatch with a thick silver bezel, featuring a touchscreen, a single button on the side (for menu-accessing) and Side Swipe controls. The Side Swipe user interface is well implemented and together with the physical button makes interaction with the menus very easy and intuitive, especially during a workout. The vívoactive 3 is available in 2 color ways, white and black, with both of them featuring that huge silver bezel, and it’s great as an everyday wearable, as it’s a versatile and well-designed fitness-focused gadget.
- Stylish and subtle circular design (the black version rocks)
- Excellent for fitness tracking, decent battery life
- Comes with heart rate monitor and GPS module
- Has its own payment system, plus smartwatch notifications
- Very light and comfy to wear, waterproof
- Feels kind of cheap (plastic/polymer made)
- Can’t store MP3s on-board
Amazfit GTS Smartwatch
The Best Smartwatch for Fitness
If you want a fitness tracker that’s pretty much a clone of the Apple Watch, the Amazfit GTS definitely has the looks, and if you check out the price tag, well, forget about it, I’m down for two! Okay, we’re only joking around, but the Amazfit GTS really looks the part, i.e. it’s a 1:1 clone of the Apple smartwatch, but what’s inside is another story. Obviously, you won’t get Apple software in this baby, but the build quality and the materials are impressive for the price asked.
The body is slim and made of metal, with a great tactile feel. However, the back panel is all plastic and comes with a heart rate sensor. The smartwatch is very light and feels comfy, but its main selling point is the beautiful 1.65 inches wide 348 x 442 pixel AMOLED display boasting an impressive 341 PPI density. Brightness is not an issue even on a sunny day in Cali, and if you’re into customizing your screen obsessively, there are over 20 watch faces to choose from the app.
The software/OS is a mixed bag though, as some settings work nice and easy, while others may become a pain in the rear end if you’re not a “zoomer” (read tech-savvy). However, even if you’ll have to tinker around with the OS for a while, you’ll figure it all out in the end, especially if you read the manual. Battery life is amazing, as the smartwatch is advertised to last for 14 days on a single charge, but don’t bet on that if you’re using it enthusiastically, i.e. you should expect something like 10 days tops, which is not bad at all for an under $200-gadget.
Finally, compatibility-wise, the GTS works with Android 5.0+ and iOS 10.0+, and features GPS + GLONASS, Bluetooth 5 BLE, 6 axis accelerometer, barometer, 3 axis geomagnetic sensor, e-compass and an ambient light sensor.
- Looks and feels premium and well-made
- Comfortable super-slim design
- Bright AMOLED screen, excellent connectivity options
- Solid fitness tracker, tons of features
- Fantastic battery life, water resistant (5 ATM)
- The software/user interface needs work
- Updates and syncing are annoyingly slow
Fitbit Inspire HR
The Best Cheap Smartwatch for iPhone
Here comes another cheap smartwatch from Fitbit, the Inspire HR this time, and no, HR doesn’t stand for Human Resources. The Inspire HR is one of the simplest fitness trackers on the market, and also one of the best if you’re into minimalism. If you’re looking for a competent fitness tracker with a slim and elegant design, strong battery life and premium build quality, the Fitbit Inspire HR should rank high on your shopping list.
Retailing for under $100, this smartwatch is excellent for tracking all-day activity, including distance, steps, active minutes, hourly activity and calories burned; moreover, the Inspire HR also tracks sleep pretty well, and since it comes with a heart-rate sensor, you will benefit from in-depth analysis of your sleep patterns (deep and REM sleep stages). The display is black and white, very elegant in our view, with thick bezels at the top and bottom, and the OS/software is strong when it comes to day-to-day performance stats.
Using it is fairly easy, as there are tons of basic fitness features that kick off right away as soon as you start exercising, things like daily step tracking for example, due to the watch’s heart rate monitor and connected GPS; on top of that, you’ll get more than fifteen exercise modes. Battery life is pretty good, as the Fitbit Inspire HR will last you for 4-5 days on a single charge, but obviously, the more you use it in “tracking” mode, the less autonomy you’ll get.
- Fashionable gadget with great band support
- Above average battery life
- Tons of fitness tracking features, GPS, heart-rate sensor
- The Fitbit app is well designed and easy to navigate
- Works well with modern iPhones and Android smartphones
- Screen-freeze issues reported
- Notification system is not the best
- Tiny monochrome screen is not for everyone
Samsung Galaxy Fit
The Best Cheap Smartwatch for Android
The Samsung Galaxy Fit makes for another great fitness tracker if you’re on a tight budget or you just don’t need all the technological bells and whistles in the world, as it makes for the company’s most accessible wearable to date. At first look, the Galaxy Fit looks pretty similar to the Fitbit Inspire HR, i.e. it boasts a minimalist yet stylish design, but unfortunately, it lacks the GPS module. However, the screen is made of glass, while the casing is crafted from high-quality anodized aluminum.
Needless to say, the choice of glass and aluminum confers the Galaxy Fit a premium look and feel, even if the watch retails for less than $100.
Unlike the Fitbit Inspire HR though, the Galaxy Fit comes with a full-color display, which is very nice to say the least, even if we’re talking about a tiny 0.95-inch wide 240 x 120-pixel OLED screen. There are 24 face watches to choose from, with 2 analogs, and the user-interface is gesture-based and can handle notifications pretty well. The 120 mAh battery is good enough to juice-up the smartwatch for up to seven days, depending on how you use it, hence, if you’re looking for a high-quality premium-looking fitness tracker from Samsung, the Galaxy Fit will fit you like a glove.
P.S. The Galaxy Fit complies with the MIL-STD-810G standard, which means is as tough as a coffin nail (yes, it’s also water-resistant).
- Good value for money
- Premium look and feel
- Above average battery life
- Excellent display and lightweight design
- Samsung Health offers tons of training programs and social features
- Lacks GPS module
- Setup is finicky
- Distance tracking is not very accurate
Apple Watch Series 3
The Best Smartwatch For iPhone Owners
The Apple Watch Series 3 is one of the most popular gadgets in Apple’s wearable portfolio, and there are many reasons for that. To begin with, if you’re an iPhone owner, the Apple Watch Series 3 is a must-have gizmo that will perfectly complement your high-end smartphone.
Secondly, the Series 3 comes with a GPS sensor and a beautiful Retina display, Apple’s specialty, plus an optical heart sensor, which is great for fitness tracking and stuff like that. The smartwatch is perfectly capable of storing podcasts, music and audiobooks, and that’s great for listening to your favorite stuff on the go.
Speaking of which, you’ll also get comprehensive fitness tracking features, like swimming, running, activity trends or cycle tracking, not to mention that everything runs smoothly due to the S3 chip with a dual-core processor.
Bottom line, if you’re looking for a relatively affordable gadget from Apple and a fully functional smartwatch to match your iPhone, the Apple Watch Series 3 has your name on it.
- Well designed
- Aluminum case
- Makes calls
- Receives messages
- Siri, alarms, notes etc.
- Interchangeable bands
- Requires daily charging
- Only works with iPhones
Letsfit Smart Watch
A Dirt-Cheap Fitness Tracker
Last but not least, we have a dirt-cheap smartwatch that also doubles as a fitness tracker, the Letsfit respectively. Despite being incredibly affordable, this baby is IP68 rated, i.e. it’s water and dust resistant, and features a 1.3″ color touch screen, a heart rate monitor, a sleep monitor, calorie chart, while being very lightweight and sporting a comfortable wrist band.
The watch also offers 14 exercise modes, all-day activity tracking and various notifications from your smartphone, plus seven days of autonomy on a single charge. Setting it up is pretty straightforward and the user interface is friendly, though the app itself could be better. However, the Letsfit smartwatch is a fantastic little gadget for the price asked, yet it’s not as accurate and feature-rich as its (more expensive) colleagues reviewed above.
- Well-designed and affordable
- Decent color touchscreen display
- IP 68 rating, works well on Android and iOS
- Plenty of activity tracking features
- Amazing value for money
- Slow to sync/update
- VeryFitPro App needs improvement