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Find Ratings

What's behind our smartwatch Ratings?

Experts at our National Testing and Research Center tested 24 models in smartwatches to see which ones perform best.
We look for:
  • Overall score
    This is based mainly on ease of use, ease of interaction, ease of pairing, readability in bright light, readability in low light, step-count accuracy, scratch resistance, and water resistance. The displayed score is out of a total of 100 points.
  • Ease of use
    Considers how easy it is to access core device functions and perform key tasks, such as accessing messages, calendars and alarms, and app notifications, as well as pair the smartwatch with another device for the first time. Display performance under various lighting conditions also factors into this score.
  • Ease of interaction
    An evaluation of the steps necessary to access core device functions and perform key tasks, such as accessing messages, calendars and alarms, and app notifications.
  • Ease of pairing
    An assessment of the steps necessary for pairing the smartwatch with another device for the first time.
  • Readability in bright light
    How easy it is to read the display (time, texts, etc.) under bright lighting conditions, such as in sunlight.
  • Readability in low light
    How is easy it is to read the display (time, texts, etc.) in relative darkness, indoors or at night.
  • Step count accuracy
    The pedometer’s accuracy in a variety of situations, such as climbing stairs and walking briskly up and down ramps.
  • Scratch test
    Durability is a greater concern for smartwatches than for any other personal electronics device because, by design, they’re exposed to the elements and are vulnerable to any hazards that your arms encounter. We use the Mohs scale, which compares the scratch resistance of minerals relative to one another using 10 minerals of increasing hardness as reference points. It rates talc as 1 and goes all the way up to diamond at a 10 rating. Our score is a reflection on how well the smartwatch crystal performed on the Mohs test, as well as against other smartwatches in our Ratings.
  • Water resistance test
    How resistant the watch is to water, as tested by submersion to the depth the manufacturer claims the watch can withstand
  • Heart-rate monitor accuracy
    Heart-rate monitor accuracy.

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Recommended smartwatches

Recommended smartwatches are standout choices with high scores. They include CR Best Buys, which offer exceptional value. When narrowing your choices, weigh features, price, and attributes that matter to you.
  • Buying Guide
  • Price & Shop
Smartwatches are becoming hot wearable products among consumers, as shown by the excitement surrounding the recently-released Apple Watch and the bevy of smartwatches from Samsung and other smartwatch makers. Smartwatches vary greatly in price, comfort, and features, so it's wise to do some research before making your smartwatch buying decision. If you're looking for information on smartwatches, Consumer Reports is your best resource. Consumer Reports' smartwatch reviews will give you honest buying advice that you can trust. Use our smartwatch buying guide to discover which features are most important to consider. We also provide unbiased ratings and reviews to help you choose the best smartwatch for your needs.

Smartwatch buying guide

A smartwatch is a wearable-technology device--a minicomputer you wear on your wrist--that does a lot more than tell time. It notifies you of calls, texts, instant messages, social-network updates, and more fed from your smartphone or other mobile device via wireless Bluetooth connection. Some smartwatches also let you accept or reject phone calls and hold a conversation right on the watch, conjuring up images of Dick Tracy.

But they can be pretty smart on their own. For instance, a few of the latest models (the Samsung Gear S, for one) come with their own network connections, so they can perform many advanced tasks without being paired to a nearby phone. And they often include some combination of built-in sensors--including accelerometers, barometers, and heart-rate monitors--that give them more capabilities, such as tracking your physical activity. Wireless technologies, such as NFC in the Apple Watch, let you use a watch to make mobile payments at the register.

Like other digital devices, smartwatches run on operating systems. Two of these are versions of Android and Linux: Samsung's Tizen (found on three of its watches) and Android Wear, which Google developed specifically for wearable devices. The Apple Watch runs on Apple's Watch OS. The Pebble Watch line of smartwatches uses Pebble OS, a customized version of FreeRTOS. Each wearable OS has its own apps--check to see which ones are available for the smartwatch you're considering.

This is a relatively new product category. Many current smartwatches are large and bulky, and some of the devices have quirky shortcomings, such as hard-to-use chargers. A number of them can be paired with only a limited number of mobile devices.

But the newest smartwatches are starting to look and feel sleeker, lighter, and more fashion-savvy. And in the not-too-distant future, smartwatches will probably do a lot more than they can today. Operating systems and app ecosystems are still developing, and could drastically change what these devices are capable of.

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