2019 was another banner year for smartwatches and wearables, with worldwide sales of individual units on pace to surpass last year’s volume by nearly 26 percent. Driving these figures were the usual suspects—Fitbit, Apple, Garmin, and Samsung. We’ve compiled the very best of these devices into our list of top wearables of 2019.
Fitbit Versa 2
One of the most welcomed surprises of 2018 was the Fitbit Versa. With stunning looks, a ton of exercise modes, and excellent battery life, it ranked as one of the best smartwatches of the year. This year, Fitbit returns with the aptly named Fitbit Versa 2, a worthy follow-up that embraces the lauded features of the original Versa and adds some nice updates, to boot. Of those upgrades, arguably the most notable are the inclusion of Alexa support, improved sleep metrics, and somehow even better battery life, which now runs up to six days. Its other standout features include a super-crisp 1.6-inch AMODLED touchscreen and some best fitness-tracking features on the market. Add to that a reliable optical heart-rate monitor and local storage for playing music directly from your wrist, and we’re once again talking about one of the best wearables of the year. However, like last year’s model, the one omission to the Versa 2’s long list of bona fides is that it doesn’t come with built-in GPS, meaning users must rely on their smartphone for GPS data. Whether this is a deal breaker or not depends on your needs and what you want out of a device, but even without onboard GPS, the Versa 2 is one of the best wearables of 2019.
Garmin Forerunner 945
Garmin is no stranger to best-of lists. The navigation and fitness giant has been a perennial leader in the wearable game for years, churning out sport watches and fitness trackers that are as sleek as they are sophisticated. 2019 saw this trend continue with the release of yet another outstanding device, the Forerunner 945. Like many of its predecessors, the latest Forerunner offers some of the most comprehensive sport-tracking features on the planet. It offers all the GPS features you’d expect from Garmin, including built-in color topo maps that include elevation data, street info, and POIs. The Forerunner 945 also supports onboard music playback, meaning you can leave your phone at home. For those reasons and more, the 945 ranks as one of the best wearables of the year and, for runners, it’s a darn-near-perfect device.
Apple Watch Series 5
Dedicated fitness watches and trackers are great, but most lack the processing power to compete with devices like smartphones and tablets. Cue the Apple Watch Series 5. If you’re not familiar with the Apple Watch, most likely your fitness routine includes bench-pressing that rock under which you’ve been living. The latest iteration of Apple’s do-everything device features an all-new always-on OLED touch display. You’ll still get the same solid battery performance of previous generations, only now you’ll be able to see the time and watch complications without having to wake the Watch up. In addition to its inherited features, the Series 5 boasts a bevy of new sensors to boost overall performance, including a very handy built-in compass that will tell you which way you’re facing when you’re using the Maps app. Apple also ramped up the Watch’s already impressive safety features. Specifically, the company improved both the fall detection and emergency SOS features by adding in international calling, ensuring your safety no matter where you go. Like its predecessors, the list of highlights of the Series 5 goes on and on (built-in ECG, local music storage, menstrual cycle monitoring, etc.) but suffice it to say this sleek, feature-heavy watch is one of the absolute best wearables of the year.
Galaxy Watch Active2
For users who want premium performance and a more traditional design, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 is certainly one of the best options out there. The Active2 offers fitness features similar to the Apple Watch and Versa 2, but with a look that’s more refined. In terms of your fitness goals, the Active2 provides daily activity tracking, real-time coaching, and supports third-party applications from some of the biggest names in the fitness community, including Under Armour and Strava. The result is a more conventional and handsome wearable that will deliver the performance and features users expect from a premium wearable.
Fitbit Charge 3
Like Kleenex, Stairmaster, and even Google, Fitbit has become so popular its name has practically been genericized. How many times have you heard someone refer to an activity tracker as a “Fitbit” regardless of its brand? Not that we can blame them. Fitbit has been at the forefront of the category for so long, it’s easy just to assume that it is the category. One of the reasons the products have been so popular is because of the strength of devices like the Charge 3. Measuring every data point an activity tracker should, including steps taken, distance traveled, and calories burned, and topped off with wrist-based heart-rate monitoring, iconic design, and an intuitive touchscreen display, the Charge 3 remains at the zenith of the category. It even manages to improve upon last year’s very popular Charge 2 by tweaking the design to be less bulky and adding two whole days of battery life. Add these improvements to the Charge 3’s robust suite of features and you have one of the best-performing activity trackers around. Technically, the Charge 3 debuted in 2018, but its status as one of the premier activity trackers currently available warrants its mention on our list.
Garmin vivosmart 4
Like fellow fitness tracker pioneer Fitbit, Garmin is largely responsible for ushering the activity tracker category into the mainstream. Since the debut of its first vivo device, this manufacturer has continuously released trackers lauded for their looks, performance, and long-lasting battery life. That streak continues, thanks, in part, to the vivosmart 4, which incorporates the best features of previous models into a slim, barely-there design. In addition to the standard activity tracking functions—steps, distance, calories, etc.—the vivosmart 4 also boasts a generous battery life of up to 7 days. Additional widgets for weather and an alarm app help make the vivosmart 4 more capable than the standard activity tracker. Also, its companion app does a great job of tracking health metrics and gamifying fitness goals—for those that find a reward system appealing. Like the Charge 3, the vivosmart 4 debuted in 2018, but it’s just such a great tracker we had to include it in our best-of list.
Questions about our list or wearables, in general? Let us know, in the Comments section.