BEST FOR OUTDOOR TYPES: Garmin Fēnix 6 Pro, £479
One of the best multisport watches money can buy, this versatile model offers advanced training features. Renowned for its GPS capabilities, the Fēnix 6 Pro comes with preloaded maps to help navigate the outdoors – you can track runs, hikes, rounds of golf and even your time on the slopes. Climbers will appreciate the ClimbPro feature, which gives real-time data on gradient, distance and elevation, while runners will never get bored thanks to a feature that calculates local routes for you. A super top-spec version of the 6X – the Pro Solar –boasts a titanium body along with solar panels around the watch face’s rim to give an extra boost to battery life.
Key Features: Enhanced wrist heart rate, multisport tracking, smart notifications, Pulse OX sensing, Garmin Pay, mapping, music, intelligent pace planning, 14-day battery life.
BEST FOR RUNNERS: Garmin Forerunner 245, £229.99 (was £249.99)
Our top recommendation for keen runners, this model has all the features runners of any level will need, including wirelessly syncing with Spotify Premium. The Forerunner 245 will track your runs, guide you through training plans, and suggest recovery times based on the intensity of your sessions. It can also track dozens of other sports, including strength training and swimming, and provide insights into how your workouts are developing your endurance, speed and power. There are more expensive Garmin models available, but this watch ticks all the boxes at a decent price point.
Key Features: Accurate GPS, heart rate tracking, impressive battery life (up to seven days), smart notifications, unobtrusive lightweight design.
BEST FOR SLICK DESIGN: Apple Watch Series 6, from £379
The latest iteration of the Apple Watch, which originally launched in 2015, is identical in design to the Series 5, but has a faster chip for better performance and a new sensor that enables blood oxygen monitoring for improved wellbeing. The Series 6’s display is also 2.5 times brighter when outdoors, making it easier to see in sunlight, and it can be charged to full in 1.5 hours – far quicker than previous models. The watch’s fitness tracking capabilities are good, though this one’s more suited to more casual sportsmen than dedicated runners and triathletes.
Key Features: New blood oxygen sensor (handy for high-altitude training), water resistant to 50m, sleep tracking, GPS, smartphone alerts, heart rate tracking, music storage.
BEST FOR RACE PREP: Timex Ironman GPS, £93.21
Competitive types itching for the return of sporting events should check out this Timex model, which proves you don’t always need the smartest watch to train better. The large display makes it easy to stay on top of split times and intervals without distractions, and it offers guided training plans for running, cycling and triathlons developed by top athletes. You can also count on a sunlight-readable display and a powerhouse battery designed to last for up to 25 days (that’s multiple marathons on one charge). The heart rate monitor offers personalised guidance on cardiorespiratory fitness levels, making sure you get the most out of every session.
Key Features: Interval training timer, hydration alerts, touchscreen enabled, water resistant to 50m, fast GPS, easy-to-use menus.
BEST FOR FITNESS NEWBIES: Fitbit Charge 4, £149.99
Bridging the gap between an activity band and a serious running watch, the Charge 4 is one of Fitbit’s bestselling models. A good option if you’re looking for a GPS smartwatch without a torrent of data, the Charge 4 has you covered for every workout thanks to features including automatic exercise recognition, heart rate zone tracking and personalised reminders. The monochrome display is backlit so it’s bright and clear even in direct sunlight. This one’s also slim and light – a real plus for something that’s designed to be worn both day and night.
Key Features: Built-in GPS, 24/7 heart rate tracking, sleep tracking, Spotify control, up to seven-day battery life, swim-proof, syncs wirelessly.
BEST FOR ADVENTURE: Polar Grit X, £379
The first fitness watch built specifically for adventure and ultra-endurance, the Polar Grit X is a top choice for ultra-runners and mountain fiends. As well as a stellar battery life (longer than any other Polar model), it offers smart fuelling recommendations, route guidance and hill tracking. Post-workout, you’ll get a breakdown of the fuel sources used, split into carbs, fat and protein, then automatic recovery measurement will make sure you’re taking adequate rest days to better conquer the trails. Bonus points for the weather feature, which shows current conditions and a two-day forecast.
Key Features: Military-level durability, 40 hours of GPS battery life, compass and altimeter, smart coaching features, route guidance, advanced heart rate tracker, phone notifications.
BEST ALL-ROUNDER: Fitbit Versa 3, £199.99
The third generation of Fitbit’s Versa is a competitive all-rounder. The first Fitbit model to offer in-built GPS, it can track your real-time pace and distance when you’re working out without your phone, and the Sp02 sensor takes blood oxygen saturation readings while you sleep. It also offers speedy charging, with a 12-minute charge giving you 24 hours of battery life, and its Relax app uses calming on-screen visuals to offer guided breathing sessions based on your heart rate. Sign up to Fitbit Premium for £7.99 a month and you’ll also get access to Fitbit Coach, which sends personalised workouts straight to your wrist.
Key Features: Water resistant, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant enabled, six-day battery life, built-in GPS, improved heart-rate tracking.
BEST FOR ANDROID USERS: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2, £219
A worthy rival to the Apple Watch, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 is a sleek smartwatch with advanced workout tracking, built-in sleep tracking, above-average battery life and an intelligent ECG sensor for diagnosing atrial fibrillation. One of the more stylish trackers out there, its performance is also slick as Samsung makes both the hardware and the software for all of its models. This one will automatically sense what type of workout you’re doing, while its stress tracker will keep you on top of frazzled nerves. We also rate the minimalist charging mechanism – no charging jacks or wires required.
Key Features: Expansive exercise tracking, easy-to-read display, two-day battery, military-grade durability.
BEST FOR SOMETHING STYLISH: Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro, £231.43
For those who want a smart sports watch that offers good levels of data and a never-ending battery life, the GT 2 Pro is an ideal option. A fitness tracker with an emphasis on sleep monitoring, it also has GPS and packs support for over 100 sports. As it has so many sports-focused features, the watch comes with two swappable bands – a leather strap and a silicone version for workouts and swimming. Data captured from the watch will feed into Apple Health, Google Fit or MyFitness Pal, but it’s currently not compatible with third-party training apps like Strava.
Key features: Two-week battery life, updated heart rate sensor, 100+ workout modes, sleep monitoring, Bluetooth calls.
BEST FOR RECOVERY: Whoop Strap 3.0, strap & membership from €21
A fitness watch with a difference, the Whoop Strap is the only tracker that will tell you when not to workout. Using your heart rate variability (HRV), average resting heart rate and sleep patterns, it will advise you when to push through a tough workout and when to take a rest day. A top choice for those who take their exercise seriously, Whoop is designed to help you improve performance, recover better and get more sleep. Acting as a coach rather than a cheerleader, this clever tracker is membership-based, costing around £30 a month.
Key Features: Five-day battery life, 24/7 data tracking, personalised metrics.
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