Smartwatches for iPhone: Top 10 Reviewed Watches for 2022
Smartwatches aren’t just high-tech gadgets for folks in Silicon Valley anymore. Instead, more and more regular Joe’s are appreciating what smartwatches can bring to their daily lives and what they can do to improve their workout routines. Many of the best smartwatches can now track your calories, heart rate, sleep quality, and even your stress level! They’re health accessories more than anything else.
But they can also provide extra conveniences, especially for folks constantly on the go. Smartwatches can notify you about calls or texts, help you pay remotely without bringing out your wallet, and much more. All of this high-tech convenience seems to be a perfect combination for the Apple brand.
But despite this apparent match-made-in-heaven, lots of smartwatches seem to be tailored more for Android devices. I personally wondered why this was. Turns out, even though there are plenty of Android-focused smartwatches, there are also lots of great smartwatches for iPhone users. The trick was finding them.
Being who I am, I wasn’t content to just find them on Amazon. I also wanted to try them out myself to see if they were just as good as the competition. As a bonus, now you (yes, you, iPhone user!) can see an awesome collection of top iPhone-compatible smartwatches you know will work with your Apple device.
Since the iPhone model plays a big role in what a smartwatch can be useful for, I tailored this review’s sections with a list of smartwatches compatible with iPhones identified by iPhone model or OS version. With all that said, let’s get started!
Top 10 Best Smartwatches for iPhones in 2023 – At a Glance
- Best Overall Smartwatch for iPhones – Apple Watch 6
- Best Overall Smartwatch for iPhone – Apple Watch Series 7
- iPhone Smartwatch with the Best Design – Withings Steel HR
- Best Fitbit Smartwatch for iPhones – Fitbit Versa 2
- Best Value Smartwatch for iPhone – Amazfit Band 5
- Best Affordable Watch for iPhone Users – Apple Watch 3
- Full Featured Smartwatch for iPhone – Apple Watch SE
- Best Non-Apple Smartwatch for iPhone – Fossil Gen 5
- Best iPhone Smartwatch for Fitness Tracking – Garmin Vivoactive 4
- Best Cheap Smartwatch for iPhones – Amazfit Bip
1. Apple Watch 6 – Best Overall Apple Smartwatch for iPhones
Any smartwatch worth pairing with your iPhone needs to be a great smart device in its own right. That’s why I chose the Apple Watch 6 as the best overall iPhone smartwatch; it’s great not only as a counterpart to an iOS device but also as a staple watch for any purpose you can imagine.
For starters, it features one of the best GPS signals of all iPhone-compatible smartwatches. As a result, the smartwatch can capably track your location, which works well in conjunction with many of its other excellent features, like the proprietary ECG app and other fitness-related apps that can help you maintain an active lifestyle and meet your fitness goals.
This functionality even extends to measuring your blood oxygen thanks to the sensor and app included with the smartwatch by default. I found this to be great for keeping track of my energy level when in high altitudes or when hiking in unfamiliar environments.
But perhaps most interesting is the “always-on” display. This is about 2.5 times brighter outdoors and whenever your wrist is down. In a nutshell, it’s just a unique way that the Apple Watch Series 6 maintains maximum visibility at all times. It’s a far cry from some cheaper smartwatches that can’t be relied on in bright sunlight.
To add to the watch’s value, it comes in five different colors, many of which are perfect for both men and women. Plus, each watch comes with an aluminum case and a black sport band. This guarantees pretty good weatherproofing and excellent durability, though the rubber band clearly marks the watch as a fitness tool rather than a businessperson’s top accessory.
Still, I found it ultimately to have everything you’d want in an iPhone smartwatch. Like most other top iPhone wrist watches, this device can take calls and texts, let you listen to music, and obviously works quite well with Apple Pay and Siri. It’s a lot like having a full-on smart tablet on your wrist without any downsides!
Well, almost. I did find that the battery life of 18 hours is a little short compared to the multi-day batteries offered by smartwatches elsewhere on the market. But this ultimately minor downside doesn’t take away from the facts: this smartwatch is one of the best for iPhone users, bar none.
- Made with a lightweight and durable aluminum case, and comes in multiple colors
- Bright display is about 2.5 times brighter than the competition
- Lots of apps and functions well designed for use with iPhones and other Apple devices
- Great Bluetooth connectivity and one of the best GPS smartwatches, even in spotty areas
- Some unique sensors, like those for measuring your blood oxygen
- The battery life of 18 hours could be a little better, especially for the asking price
2. Apple Watch Series 7 – Best Overall Smartwatch for iPhone
The Apple Watch Series 7 has quickly become one of the most popular apple watches, and with good reason. It allows you to stay connected with your friends and family, even when your phone is away. You can connect your Apple Watch to your cellular provider. This connection allows you to receive and respond to texts, phone calls, emails, and social media from your watch.
You can do other things with your Apple Watch as well. For example, you can stream music, listen to podcasts, and enjoy audiobooks on the go. The Apple Watch will connect to wireless earbuds so you can enjoy your music and entertainment no matter where you are. Furthermore, you can pay instantly using Apple Pay from your watch.
Like any good smartwatch, the Apple Watch Series 7 tracks health vitals. It can measure your blood oxygen, take an ECG, track your heart rate, and follow your workouts. Use the Apple Watch with your iPhone fitness app to track your daily activities and see your trends over the long run (pun intended).
The design of the Apple Watch Series 7 is notable as well. It has a large face, making it easy to read and respond to your notifications. The model itself is also water-resistant at 50 meters. So, you can wear this watch whenever swimming in shallow waters. For further protection, the model is dust resistant.
Because there are five different colors to choose from, you get to customize the appearance based on your personal style. The only thing to remember is that the face is extra-large, which not all wearers enjoy. The more prominent face makes it a bit easier to crack the screen. So, be careful with the watch.
The number one drawback of the Apple Watch Series 7 is its expensive price tag. Even though all Apple watches are relatively expensive, this one is by far the most costly. It is about double the price of any other watch on my list. Not to mention, the price tag will go up once you connect it to your family’s cellular plan.
Despite the expensive price tag, the Apple Watch Series 7 is the number one watch to get if you have an iPhone. It comes with many features to ensure you have everything you need when on the go, even when you don’t have your cell phone in hand.
If you have to pick one smartwatch for your iPhone and budget is not a factor, get the Apple Watch Series 7. This Apple Watch comes with all of the features you need and want from an Apple Watch, allowing you to stay connected from everywhere without your phone.
- Tracks health and vitals
- Can connect to your cellular plan
- Receive and respond to phone notifications
3. Withings Steel HR – iPhone Smartwatch with the Best Design
This slim smartwatch has a steel casing that comes in silver, slate gray, and rose gold colors depending on your preferences – each can be great for both fitness or business environments. It reminds me almost of Fossil smartwatches, which balance form and function super well in my eyes.
But looks isn’t all that the watch brings to the table. Indeed, I was pleased to find that it has one of the longest-lasting battery lives of up to 25 days on one charge. Or you can alternatively engage a power-reserve mode that only tracks your activity and the time and get another 20 days of battery life for over a month in total. This makes it one of the best vacation or long-distance travel iPhone smartwatches you can find.
When set to its regular mode, the watch can automatically track over 30 activities depending on your fitness goals. The watch, of course, comes with a connected GPS sensor that can provide a map of your location and your session. Heart rate monitoring is included by default, too, and you can rest assured about this function’s accuracy due to the long-lasting battery.
But I also really liked the simplified and minimalist interface that isn’t nearly as cluttered and digital-number-heavy as some of the more popular smartwatches on the market. Even though the watch seems simpler than other smartwatches, you’ll still benefit from additional features and functions like sleep tracking and a host of standard smartphone notifications like calls, texts, and other app notifications. Alexa Skill is included, too, to facilitate this kind of convenience.
All in all, it’s one of my favorites due to its elegance and function. There are a few gadgets that combine style and features as well as this.
- Comes with one of the most simplified but elegant aesthetics on the smartwatch market
- Lots of customization choices based on your personal aesthetics
- Has all the fitness and health-related features and apps you would expect, plus a few extras
- Amazon Alexa comes built-in
- Has arguably the longest battery life in the industry and can go over one month if you engage the power reserve mode
- No Apple Pay functionality, and the notification screen for apps and calls is necessarily small due to the minimalist aesthetic. Some will appreciate this more than others
4. Fitbit Versa 2 – Best Fitbit Smartwatch for iPhones
The Fitbit series of smartwatches is one of the most popular on the market. I found the Fitbit Versa 2: an affordable and versatile smartwatch that works equally well for iPhone devices as it does for Android smartphones and tablets.
It’s a good “one-stop-shop” for most major smartwatch features you would expect, including scanners for your heart rate, your sleep quality and restlessness, and all kinds of other exercises. In fact, the smartwatch comes with over 20 goal-based exercise modes you can engage at the touch of a button. It’s also water-resistant down the 50 m, so it’s fine for tracking your efforts and progress with swim-based exercises.
Of course, it also gets calls, texts, and plenty of smartphone app notifications so long as you connect the smartwatch to your iPhone via Bluetooth. This connectivity is a bit weaker than some other fitness-focused smartwatches I’ve seen, but it wasn’t too bad. Fitbit Pay is a unique application that syncs easily enough with most Apple devices, so this is a decent replacement for Apple Pay if you like to pay for stuff on the go with your smartwatch.
More important is the 90-day trial you get for Fitbit Premium upon purchasing the smartwatch. This makes it one of the best iPhone smartwatches for fitness enthusiasts all around. While the Premium subscription will need to be renewed manually after 90 days, lots of folks will find the additional insights and tracking apps that come with it to be well worth the handful of bucks it costs.
Other than that, it’s a solid all-around piece of equipment that’s offered in six different colors so it can match multiple personalities and aesthetics without straying from its core style. The band is unfortunately not changeable, but it’s flexible and soft on the wrist and shouldn’t cause any undue discomfort. You do, however, get two versions of the same band when you make the purchase: a small band and a large band. Both men and women can enjoy this smartwatch as a result.
- Offers over 20 exercise modes to help you track your fitness goals and progress
- Also includes a 90-day trial for Fitbit Premium
- Features a pretty large display that has lots of room for notifications and other digital alerts
- Comes in multiple different colors and offers two sizes of bands when you make a purchase
- Offers special Fitbit Pay feature to let you make digital payments
- Bluetooth range seems to be a little shorter compared to some other smartwatches, maybe around 20m instead of 30m
5. Amazfit Band 5 – Best Value Smartwatch for iPhone
There are plenty of good smartwatches for you to afford and hook up to your iPhone. Even if you are on a budget. My favorite best value smartwatch for the iPhone is the Amazift Band 5. This model is highly affordable, yet it allows you to track your vitals and stay connected.
Most notably, the Amazift Band 5 is only a fraction of the price of the Apple smartwatch. In fact, it is under $50, making it suitable for those even on the most limited of budgets. Given that it is an Amazon product, it also lasts and works as it claims.
Despite being affordable, it has many functionalities and features to help monitor your health. It has a blood oxygen saturation monitor, a 24/7 heart rate tracker, sleep tracker, step counter, and women’s health tracker. It also has 11 built-in sports modes so that you can accurately monitor your exercise.
In addition to the numerous health monitoring features, the Amazift Band 5 is convenient and long-lasting. It comes with an Amazon Alexa built-in to quickly set alarms, check the weather, or control your watch with just your voice. Furthermore, the watch has a 15-day battery life, so you don’t have to worry about charging your watch.
Something I truly love about this product is its slim design. Although the Apple Watch is convenient if you want to check and respond to emails and texts, a face like that can get bulky, especially during workouts. The Amazift Band 5 has a slim design so that it is constantly out of your way and does not hinder your activities.
Users report that the Amazift Band 5 offers exactly what it claims. It is comparable to the Fitbit, but it is way more affordable, but it works the exact same. Many users claim it works fantastically with Alexa and connects seamlessly with any iPhone.
What about iPhone connectivity? Because this is not an iPhone product, you might worry that it doesn’t connect properly. You don’t have to worry about that. This product connects quickly and perfectly with your iPhone, despite being a non-Apple product.
The only downside is that it doesn’t always have the most reliable tracking data. Many users report that the sleeping function, for example, is not very accurate. Still, they find it is accurate in other sectors. Most of the other complaints are very minor.
Even though the Amazift Band 5 is way more affordable than the Apple Watch, it is still a great purchase if you want an affordable smartwatch to connect to your iPhone. It merges seamlessly with iPhones and allows you to track and stay connected without breaking your budget.
If you are looking for a smartwatch to connect to your iPhone on a budget, you need the Amazift Band 5. Although it isn’t perfect, it offers plenty of features and capabilities to stay healthy and notified, even when your iPhone isn’t around.
- Comes with a leather band instead of a rubber one, offering additional flexibility for different environments
- Highly affordable
- Slim design
- Many tracking features
- Connects easily with iPhone
- Minor complaints
6. Apple Watch 3 – Best Affordable Watch for iPhone Users
The Apple Watch brand returns once again, and it’s no surprise since these watches are designed from the ground up to be compatible with most iPhone devices. But this older version of the Apple Watch line is on the list since it’s much cheaper than the Series 6, but provides some of the same benefits as its more recent and advanced counterpart.
For instance, it retains the bright retina display that allows you to see all the watch’s information even during bright daylight. In addition to this design, you’ll benefit from a sharp GPS tracker that works even in more remote areas, a swim-proof design, and automatic iTunes and Apple Pay compatibility so you can pay for things on the go, store music and audiobooks, and play your favorite media as you work out. Having the App Store on your wrist is certainly a nice bonus.
It’s ultimately one of the faster smartwatches on the market, as I discovered when I tinkered with it a bit. This is due to the dual-core processor embedded inside the smartwatch. This is what allows it to perform multiple functions simultaneously without stuttering or lagging.
Other nice features I found include an optical heart sensor and an emergency SOS beacon. That last function isn’t noted or easy to find on plenty of other smartwatches, but here it marks the Apple Watch 3 as a good smartwatch for explorers or off-the-trail hikers who have iPhones.
Unfortunately, this being the direct predecessor to the Apple Watch 6 means that it inherits many of the same disadvantages. For instance, battery life caps out at about 18 hours. Furthermore, the watch is stuck in an older Apple aesthetic, with a particularly thick band and only two available colors.
Still, I’d recommend this if you want an Apple Watch of one kind or another but don’t want to go too far back down the line’s history due to compatibility issues. It also doesn’t hurt that this is cheaper than the more recent iteration for the line.
- Very easy to link up with any Apple device
- Much more affordable than newer Apple Watches
- Allows you to store Apple media and browse the App Store on your wrist, plus take advantage of unique Apple features like Apple Pay
- Has an emergency SOS beacon, good GPS functionality, and other fitness-related apps
- Includes a very bright retina display so it’s easy to use even in broad daylight
- Battery life is still a little lower than what you can get these days at just 18 hours on a charge
- The aesthetic of the semi-thick rubber band won’t be appealing to a lot of modern fitness enthusiasts
7. Apple Watch SE – Full Featured Smartwatch for iPhone
If you consider yourself an outdoorsman, you might be looking for a smartwatch with all the features to keep yourself as safe and healthy as possible. In that case, I recommend that you get the Apple Watch SE. This watch will help you out whether you are in the city or out in the wild.
Like the other Apple Watch, you can connect the Apple Watch SE to your phone via Bluetooth and cellular connection. You will have to go to your cellular provider if you want the watch connected to your phone.
Once your watch is up and running, the Apple Watch SE is the perfect companion for your outdoor adventures. It has a built-in compass with real-time elevation readings to understand where you are going and what you are doing. It also has an emergency SOS feature so that you can call for help in the case of an emergency.
If you fall and cannot hit the emergency SOS, the Apple Watch can detect if you have fallen and call emergency services for you. This feature is critical for keeping you safe whenever hiking and adventuring outside.
You don’t have to worry about the Apple Watch breaking on your travels. It is made from 100% recycled aluminum, which is lightweight and durable. The model comes with a water resistance rating of 50 meters and dust resistance. You don’t have to worry about your watch getting damaged if it is raining or you cool off in a pond.
Even when you are not adventuring outdoors, the Apple Watch SE is still helpful. It allows you to receive and respond to text messages and phone calls from your wrist. It can even allow you to sync music and download podcasts and audiobooks to stay entertained.
When exercising in the city, you can monitor that as well. The smartwatch tracks your daily activity using the phone’s fitness app. You can even add your favorite workouts, such as swimming, yoga, tai chi, and pilates. Monitor your health by watching your vitals and heart rate throughout all of this.
Surprisingly, the Apple Watch SE is nowhere near as expensive as my Series 7 top pick. In fact, it is nearly half the price of the Apple Watch Series 7. This makes the Apple Watch SE better suited for individuals not willing to spend that much money. Although this watch is undoubtedly more expensive than my budget pick, it is not outrageously priced.
Like the Apple Watch Series 7, there are practically no drawbacks to this model. It is reliable and connects seamlessly to your Apple Watch. However, you must have other safety gear with you if you are hiking. This watch alone is not enough to keep you safe. Keep that in mind when on your travels.
Even though the Apple Watch SE should not be used alone in order to keep you safe while adventuring, it is a great tool to monitor your health, vitals, and tracking when out and about. Whether you are in the great wide open or in the city, this smartwatch can help you do it all.
Get the Apple Watch SE smartwatch if you want an apple product that can go with you on adventures in the wild or in the city. It can help you stay safe when hiking, but it is still more affordable than the Series 7. Just make sure to pack other safety gear when adventuring with this watch.
- Several hiking safety features
- Monitors health vitals
- Built-in workouts
- Connects to phone
- More affordable than the Series 7
- Still expensive
8. Fossil Gen 5 – Best Non-Apple Smartwatch for iPhone
For whatever reason, you might be looking for a non-Apple smartwatch that works perfectly with your iPhone. Luckily for you, there are quite a few options to consider. However, one of my favorites is the Fossil Gen 5 smartwatch. This watch is not the Apple brand, but it is perfect for IOS operating systems and looks excellent.
The Fossil Gen 5 is designed for many phones. It can work with iPhones and Androids, perfect for practically all phone users. Although you might have an iPhone now, you can still use this watch if you decide to switch to an Android later. That’s a significant plus of this product! You can buy new 22mm Fossil bands, and they will fit the watch perfectly.
No matter what phone you are connecting the watch to, you will need to download Google Fit. Google Fit is a free app that will connect to this smartwatch. Once Google Fit is up and running, the Fossil Gen 5 will flow seamlessly with your iPhone.
Google Fit is designed to track a number of health and fitness ratings. It can track your heart rate, activity, and even distance. It even has a water-resistant design for shallow waters. These functions ensure you stay healthy and fit while using the Fossil Gen 5.
This smartwatch is great for your lifestyle as well. You can customize the screen with thousands of watch faces. Furthermore, the watch comes in three fashionable styles so that you get a smartwatch that is perfect for your style and fashion sense.
You can also integrate hundreds of apps into the watch for notifications. You can use social media, payments, music, games, and even assistance apps, all with the watch. That does not include the cellular connectivity of the Fossil Gen 5. With the Bluetooth connection, you will get notified about calendar notifications, texts, and phone calls in real-time. You can even answer your calls through the watch.
The price of this watch is closest to the Apple Watch SE. This makes the watch slightly expensive, but it isn’t outrageous. It is about half the price of the Apple Watch Series 7, my top pick.
The only drawback about this model is that it doesn’t have the longest battery life. You should charge this watch every night to ensure that it is charged and ready for the day. Aside from this drawback, the Fossil Gen 5 is an excellent non-Apple smartwatch for your iPhone.
Although the Fossil Gen 5 is not an Apple product, it seamlessly integrates with iPhones using the Google Fit app. Just download the app, and you will be able to enjoy this customizable, fashionable, and practical smartwatch provided by Fossil on practically all phones.
If you do not want an Apple smartwatch, I recommend going with the Fossil Gen 5 instead. It seamlessly integrates with your iPhone and offers all the same features and capabilities as your iPhone. All the while, it is about half the price of the Apple Watch Series 7.
- Not Apple
- Connects to iPhone with Google Fit
- Can use the watch on Android
- Health tracker
- Integrate with numerous apps
- More affordable than the Series 7
- Short battery life
- Still expensive
9. Garmin Vivoactive 4 – Best iPhone Smartwatch for Fitness Tracking
This Garmin Vasoactive 4 smartwatch is one of the more interesting and innovative models I found. That’s because, unlike most other smartwatches, it displays animated workouts right on the watch face.
It sounds like a gimmick, but to my own surprise, I found the workout animations to be a little instructive and even helpful when trying out a new workout or movement for the first time. The displayable workouts include strength training, yoga, Pilates, and even some cardio workouts.
But that’s not all. The watch allows you to easily download songs from Amazon Music, Spotify, and other providers. This makes the watch a great pick for iPhone users that may be used to being limited to iTunes or Apple Store-only songs. In addition to all of this musical functionality, the watch comes with over 20 preloaded indoor sports and GPS apps to help you track your fitness efforts and results over time.
It can do all this thanks to the eight-day battery life, even when in the main smartwatch mode with most of its features and apps enabled. However, keep in mind that the watch unfortunately drops to a six-hour battery life if you use music or GPS tracking. This precipitous decrease in power is the only big downside I noticed with my time with this watch.
On the brighter side, you can easily personalize the watch thanks to the selection of thousands of watch faces, widgets, and apps. All of these can be accessed from the proprietary IQ store (the button for which is located on the home screen). Other unique features, like safety and tracking apps and “incident detection” mark this watch is one of the most inventive, even if it isn’t outright the best or the most powerful.
For instance, the incident detection feature can figure out when you’ve had a fall or when something has gone wrong during an exercise, especially when the watch is paired to your iPhone. In the event of an emergency, the watch can automatically send your real-time location to pre-listed emergency contacts.
All in all, fitness enthusiasts or regular folks who want an all-in-one smartwatch will find a lot to like here. In a way, it not being designed exclusively for iPhone or Android devices means that the developers could spend more time coming up with interesting additions, like the incident detection app.
- Has a good, minimalist aesthetic and a comfortable wristband, plus a durable watch face that is waterproof
- Includes tons of unique features and safety settings, like an incident detection feature and some additional fitness inclusions
- Works well with most iPhone apps and assistants
- Uses animated workouts on the watch face, which is a unique development not seen anywhere else
- Allows you to easily download and listen to songs from most major playlists and music platforms
- While it has good battery life overall, engaging the GPS or music features will automatically drop the battery life down to less than a day, which is a big downside
10. Amazfit Bip – Best Cheap Smartwatch for iPhones
For my last pick, I wanted something cheap and affordable for folks who want an iPhone compatible smartwatch on a tight budget. The answer? The Amazfit Bip. This super-affordable and simple smartwatch nonetheless has a lot of things that may just make it worth your while.
For starters, it easily has one of the longest battery lives in the industry, clocking in at a whopping 45 days. The lithium-polymer battery inside the smartwatch will keep running and running and running even after heavy use, putting much more expensive and recent smartwatches to shame. Granted, this is partially because the watch doesn’t have as many features or advanced functions as some of the more modern smartwatches on the market.
Still, I like this. It only weighs 32 g, so it’s a light fit on your wrist, and it includes a lot of standard fitness-focused features like heart rate monitoring and a built-in GPS feature. It’s great for tracking the calories you burn and the quality of your sleep, and it even includes sport-specific apps for measuring your progress for things like cycling, walking, and running. It’s a little more basic than some other more sophisticated watches, but that’s what you get for a really affordable price.
The watch is also a good pick for all the reminders and notifications it can provide. Notifications for SMS messages, emails, and phone calls are accurate and consistent, and you can even set the watch to remind you about sitting for too long or for various other alarms. The downside is that this is one of the few smartwatches that doesn’t include a speaker so you can make phone calls. Again, it’s easy to see the limitations that the low price imposes.
But not everyone wants to bother with potentially spotty smartwatch phone calls anyway. In that case, the Bip provides just the raw essentials that you might want in an iPhone smartwatch: fitness tracking, GPS tracking, and connectivity with your iPhone device so you can use your apps and Apple Pay on the go.
Keep in mind too that the Bip isn’t customizable or all that aesthetically impressive. It’s a really simple watch for simple needs. In my mind, you won’t be disappointed if you go into this purchase with the right mindset and aren’t expecting the world from such a cheap, basic smartwatch.
- Can be purchased for a super affordable asking price
- Comes with a really long battery life of up to 45 days depending on the features you use
- Made with a durable band and watch face
- Includes most “critical” smartwatch features, like fitness tracking and integration with your iPhone for up to 20-30m, plus notifications for calls and texts
- Doesn’t include plenty of more advanced features, like the ability to make phone calls or including a speaker
- Some of the included fitness apps are pretty limited – for instance, more niche sports like tennis or swimming aren’t included with the tracking functions and must be tracked using the general software instead
- This watch isn’t very customizable and only comes in a single, bland black color
Finding the best watches for iPhone users didn’t involve me buying them all! For which I’m very grateful, by the way – it’s easy to bankrupt yourself if you try to buy all the new gadgets just for testing’s sake. Plus, could you imagine having dozens of different smartwatches in your closet, only to use one or two at all?
Instead, I asked around both the staff here and folks at actual electronic shops that I know. Word of advice? If you want to write for tech sites like me, get to know people in the industry. They’ll be more than happy to give you their unbiased opinions about different tech devices and gadgets, especially if they had a really good or really bad experience with any of them.
Anyway, I used a combination of both first-hand experience and secondhand experience from people I knew to develop the opinions and insights you see above. That’s why you’ll see plenty of scattered subjective information in addition to raw facts about what functions or apps each smartphone offers regardless of personal enjoyment.
Even with all the ones I checked out, I still left plenty of great choices. For instance, there are tons of good Fossil iPhone smartwatches. But I ultimately picked the final list based on ones I had tried personally or received personal information from.
I wrote this review after collecting all the information and forming a solid opinion on each watch. In the end, remember that all of the above 10 watches are good choices, even if I (and you) prefer some of them to others.
Reading my opinions (and the shortened opinions of different coworkers or industry insiders) is one thing. It’s quite another to actually buy an iPhone compatible smartwatch for yourself. To that end, here’s a buying guide – read through it so you know exactly what to think about when purchasing any smartwatch.
Why Not Just Use an Apple Watch?
This is the million-dollar question: if you have an iPhone or any kind of iOS device you want to pair with a smartwatch, why not just buy an Apple Watch? After all, that line of smartwatches has been designed from the ground up to work with recent iOS devices, and sometimes they even include special features that you don’t get from combining mismatched phone and watch brands.
There’s no denying that Apple Watches are among the best iPhone smartwatches for exactly these reasons. But at the same time, there are reasons you might consider going with a smartwatch from another manufacturer. For instance:
- Some smartwatches also come with unique features or applications that you can’t get from the Apple Watch line. The exclusivity that the Apple brand uses is ultimately a double-edged sword that Apple enthusiasts know too well. You’re limited, in some ways, from certain applications or improvements for brand loyalty
- Furthermore, some people aren’t sure that they’re going to stick with an iPhone over the long-term, especially given the recent power cable stuff that Apple has been forcing on its customers. If you get a smartwatch that isn’t limited to syncing with iPhone devices, you can feel free to pick up whatever new smartphone you want and rest assured that it’ll likely pair easily enough with your favorite smartwatch
- Lastly, some people just don’t like the look of Apple Watches. This is purely a subjective preference, but even I see what they mean – I tend to prefer smartwatches that are more professional and stylish, and maybe even a little streamlined in terms of their aesthetic. Some Apple products still retain the toylike, blocky quality that they can’t really get away from without reinventing the brand
All in all, Apple watches are great choices but they’re not the only ones available to you. Most smartwatches on the market can pair with iPhones of at least a certain OS update or later. This is why I include both Apple Watches and alternatives to Apple watches in my list above.
Apple Watch Alternatives
To help you visualize this a little more easily, I’ll break down all the Apple Watch alternatives I listed above in different categories.
Similar to Apple Watches
What makes a smartwatch similar to an Apple Watch? In my eyes, Apple watch alternatives that are similar to that line will have pretty similar aesthetics or preference for iOS devices.
- Fitbit Versa 2
- Amazfit Bip
- Fitbit Ionic
Note that these smartwatches that are similar to Apple Watches all have minimalized aesthetics and a focus on fitness apps and rubber wristbands. Meanwhile, they’re really easy to sync to Apple devices.
Different from Apple Watches
By the same token, more distinct Apple Watch alternatives will have unique aesthetics that stray from the Apple brand. Furthermore, they may even have a preference for Android devices but still link up well enough with Apple phones and tablets.
- TicWatch E2
- Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
- Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
- Garmin Vivoactive 4
- Withings Steel HR
In contrast, these Apple Watch alternatives feature more professional or other aesthetics. Some of them, like the Samsung watches, are also designed for Android users more than iOS users.
Either way, any of these watches can be a good fit for your iPhone if your device is of the appropriate OS version. Remember to check the appropriate update number as I described above so you don’t buy a watch that is incompatible with your iPhone’s operating system version.
Speaking of OS version, that is one of the big things you should focus on when purchasing a new watch for your iPhone. Any OS version or later means that iPhones that have been properly updated beyond the listed OS number should sync quickly and easily to a given watch.
But you’ll also need to note whether or not a watch has a phone limit. For instance, the Apple Watch 6 requires that you have an iPhone 6S or later. This is due to the hardware requirements that the Apple Watch 6 demands for linking with your phone and to ensure that the watch doesn’t cause both devices to slow down when it sends data back and forth.
iPhones can only update so much and a phone’s physical components limit the amount of processing power and storage space that the device offers. If a watch doesn’t list a specific iPhone model or generation, remember this: the best rule of thumb is to get a smartwatch compatible for iPhone 6 or higher. This will ensure maximum theoretical compatibility. You may need to do some more investigating if you’re on the border (say, you have an iPhone 5).
For my part, I used an iPhone 6S since that was what I had already.
How’s the Connectivity/GPS Range?
One other big thing to check when determining the best iPhone smartwatch for your needs is the watch’s connectivity strength and GPS range. Connectivity strength refers to how reliable the Bluetooth connection is, especially if you move from room to room or step significantly away from the phone.
Most smartwatches these days have Bluetooth connectivity ranges of between 20 m and 30 m. However, most will also lose their connection if you move a wall between you and your connected device. This interrupts the Bluetooth signal.
All of the watches above have decent connectivity ranges. GPS range works pretty similarly but describes how accurate the GPS signal is. Some smartwatches’ GPS systems only work well if you stay within city limits, as that’s where satellite coverage is most common for Internet coverage and other communication purposes. But others can still work even if you head out into rural territory or the mountains for a hike. Naturally, the latter types of watches are better for outdoor fitness fanatics.
Is the Watch Weatherproof?
Weatherproofing involves sealing the smartwatch’s delicate internal components and electrical parts against water, wind, and fog. Weatherproof smartwatches are an absolute necessity if you plan to use the watch for outdoor exercise, especially since you can’t discount the possibility of sweat getting into and onto the watch.
Furthermore, you’ll need a durable and waterproof watch if you want to take it with you during your swimming exercises for the purposes of tracking calories burned or measuring your heart rate. The good news is that practically all smartwatches these days are weatherproof to one degree or another. The industry standard is waterproofing down the 50 m of depth, which is what all the smartwatches above post, even the Amazfit Bip.
In a way, this isn’t something you really have to worry about – just double check that the watch you are eyeing isn’t one of the rare exceptions to the rule.
How Can You Customize It?
Some of the best smartwatches for iPhones and other devices will allow you to customize their watch faces or displays. This isn’t strictly necessary for raw effectiveness or for fitness boosting, but it’s a nice bit of added value that can help to distinguish your watch from others at your gym or in your social group.
Plus, some people just like to customize their gadgets. There’s a reason we change all of our home screens on our phones and spend lots of time picking out different profile pictures for social media accounts. The same impulse holds true for iPhone compatible smartwatch customization.
Additionally, check to see whether the smartwatch in question has multiple exterior colors or materials. Some smartwatches, like the Amazfit Bip, only come with a single design and color, which limits the outfits or other iPhone accessories you can use with the watch without things looking weird.
Phone Call Quality/Functionality
The majority of smartwatches will also come with the ability to place and receive phone calls, or at the bare minimum to receive alerts that your iPhone is getting a call wherever you left it. This is something to check out, as there are a few smartwatches that don’t include speakers that would otherwise allow you to make your phone call without having to reach your phone physically.
You’ll also want to note the speaker quality if you have a smartwatch that can make calls, of course, to see if the feature is really worth your time.
Lastly, be sure to check out what other features a smartphone might include. Special apps, connectivity add-ons, or even special smartwatch assistants can swing the decision toward one smartwatch or another if you are stuck between two great picks.
At the end of the day, I really liked the Withings Steel HR and ended up buying it for myself. I know, I know, now I have two smartwatches! But now I figure I’m all set if one of them goes caput.
The big thing is that the Steel HR is ultimately much more affordable than some of the more high-tech Apple Watch offerings, but it still offers the aesthetic and style that I tend to prioritize in my gadget picks. I fell in love with the sleek watch face, minimalist design, and long battery life. In my opinion, it’s the best smartwatch for iPhones overall, even though it’s not an Apple product and it doesn’t work with Apple Pay.
But who knows? Your choice might very well be different from mine!
Q: Are all smartwatches compatible with iPhones?
A: No, but most are. Manufacturers include this so that their watches can reach as many people as possible. While most smartwatches can work with some iPhones, they also usually have limitations on the operating system version or iPhone physical model.
Q: Is it worthwhile to get a non-Apple smartwatch for use with an iPhone?
A: It can be. It depends on what you prioritize! Non-Apple smartwatches can come with certain additional fitness apps, features, or even aesthetic choices you might find more attractive than those that are only offered within Apple’s product collections.
Q: What happens if you use a smartwatch with an iPhone that doesn’t have the appropriate iOS version?
A: The watch will likely not be able to connect via Bluetooth correctly, if at all.
Q: Does Wear OS work with iPhones?
A: Yes, but only with iPhones within an OS version updated to 9.3 or later.
Q: What are the main differences between smart watches for men and women?
A: In general, smartwatches for women and men are identical with the exception of two aspects: size and aesthetics. Smartwatches for men will usually be a bigger size to account for men’s larger wrists, while the reverse is true for women. Some iPhone smartwatches for women may have brighter or more traditionally feminine colors like pink or red.
On the other hand, there are a few smartwatches that include women-focused fitness apps, like those that track hormonal cycles.
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