Smarts for Less: The 10 Best Cheap Smart Watches 2017
What makes a great cheap smart watch? High functionality is key, of course, but design is also important. The best cheap smart watches needs to look sleek, better than a fitness tracker yet less pretentious than something you need to call a “time piece” but does nothing more than display the time of day on an analog face. Effortless smartphone sync is a must, activity tracing is necessary, and lots of available apps for complete customisation is essential as well.
Sure, the Apple Watch may be the undisputed king of the smart watch sector, but cheap smart watches are having an increasingly large impact on the market. According to Gartner, Inc., 2016 was expected to be a huge year for smart watches, and it’s not all coming from Apple. Consumers were expected to spend $11.5 billion USD on the wearables, and unit sales are projected to be over 50 million. With Apple Watch sales down significantly in 2016, other, cheap smart watches are selling more.
Affordable Intelligence – Cheap Smart Watches
Looking for the best cheap smart watches
may initially seem like looking for a product that probably doesn’t exist: can it be good and cheap? The answer is yes. You don’t have to drop £259 or more (lots more) on an Apple Watch — you can get a much cheaper smart watch, and yes, it will have apps and tracking and good design and everything else you want. Here are our picks for the best cheap smart watches, from most expensive to cheapest.
1. Motorola Moto 360
Priced at £199, the Motorola Moto 360 may not exactly be a cheap smart watch, but it’s certainly more affordable than Apple’s offerings. This one is a strong example of form over function, as it’s a truly beautiful device, with a smooth, round, metal face covered with Gorilla Glass 3 and held together with a leather band. It boasts a touch screen that looks really sharp and not at all like a sports watch. Plus, it comes in men’s and women’s sizes — that is, larger and smaller.
The Moto 360 has a 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor and runs Android wear; it’s powered by names you know and trust. There’s an activity tracker with optical heart rate monitoring, as well as smart notifications and full voice control. It has an ambient light sensor, which can keep the screen dim instead of shutting it off completely; it’s a nice feature, but it does decrease battery life. Speaking of the battery, it should last about two days, and the watch charges in a cool wireless charging cradle.
You can’t actually make phone calls on the Moto 360, which is a surprising omission in a device like this. It does have wifi and BlueTooth connectivity, and it works with both Android and iOS. It’s dust and water resistant, though not fully waterproof. And yes, it’s £199, but you know that you’re getting a big name watch and not a ridiculously cheap product from a company you’ve never heard of. It’s the most expensive of the cheap smart watches, but it looks great and performs well.
2. Sony Smartwatch 3
Sony’s latest iteration of their smart watch retails for £189.95 but can often be found for half that. It’s an Android wear watch that’s mostly geared toward athletes and fitness enthusiasts, mostly because it has built in GPS. This all-important and often omitted feature allows you to use your watch for tracking route and distance information when you run or walk. Plus, thanks to 4GB of storage space, you can keep some tunes on the Smartwatch 3. Pair up some BlueTooth enabled headphones, and you can go for a run and leave your phone at home.
The Smartwatch 3 is also an all day tracker, plus it has smart notifications, voice control, and is totally waterproof. Battery life is about a day; charge it every night and you shouldn’t have to worry about running out of juice during the day. A big feature that it’s missing, though, is heart rate monitoring. However, if the Smartwatch 3 is truly aimed at athletes, then the intended audience will know that the most accurate heart rate numbers don’t come from wrist-based monitors anyway.
It looks like a sports watch, with its rubbery wristband and ordinary squarish face; the default band can be swapped out for a stainless steel or leather one if you want an upgrade. The colour on the 1.6 inch touchscreen display is a bit lackluster, but it gets the job done. The Sony Smartwatch 3 is the best cheap watch for serious runners, and it’s your best bet if you want your take on the cheap smart watches with built in GPS.
3. Pebble Time
Pebble made its name as the first real viable smart watch option when it debuted on Kickstarter in 2012. It was initially an expensive choice, but now it’s one of the best cheap smart watches on the market. The Pebble Time, which sells for £149.99, differs from other, less expensive Pebble models in that it has a colour reflective screen instead of just a monochrome epaper display. What’s more, it’s always on, and you might think that its battery life would suffer as a result, but you’d be wrong: it lasts about four days and charges via Pebble’s proprietary contact cable.
There’s no touchscreen on the Pebble Time; it’s controlled via side buttons. The face is covered with Gorilla Glass, however. The overall design is somewhat utilitarian and definitely less sleek than some other models, and its oblong face is not especially fancy but definitely not ugly either.
As for OS, the Pebble Time runs its own Pebble OS, and it can run quite a few apps. It comes with its own Health app, but there are games and more. The device can also give you smart notifications and a useful calendar timeline. It’s compatible with both Android and iOS. And while the Pebble Steel and the original Pebble watches are cheaper than the Pebble Time, we like the Time for its full colour display. It feels more like a real smart watch and less like a strange wearable gadget. It’s not the fanciest choice, but it’s still one of the best cheap smart watches.
4. Samsung Gear Fit2
At £149, the Samsung Gear Fit2 straddles the line between smart watch and fitness tracker. If your motivation for buying a smart watch is to keep tabs on things like heart rate and daily steps, though, the Fit2 is one you’ll want to seriously consider. It boasts heart rate monitoring, onboard GPS, and even automatic exercise detection. It also has advanced fitness tracking that can keep tabs on all sorts of exercises, including cycling, running outdoors or on a treadmill and just about anything you might do at the gym.
The 4GB of onboard storage means you can put some tunes on the Fit2, pair it with some BlueTooth headphones, and exercise without your phone nearby. That is, unless you want to use Spotify; the Fit2 integrates with the music service, but only if your phone is within range. Battery life isn’t bad at just over two days, especially considering that GPS and heart rate monitoring need a lot of power.
The design of the Fit2 is a big standout. It’s stunning, with a full colour, always on AMOLED touchscreen display that’s curved so it fits around your wrist rather than sitting on top of it. The screen isn’t narrow, but its 216×432 dimensions make it feel that way, so a lot of swiping is necessary to see all of your data points.
The biggest downsides of the Fit2 are that it works only with Android phones, and it won’t run any apps besides the built in fitness widgets. Still, it’s one of the best cheap smart watches out there — that is, if you consider it a smart watch. (We do.)
5. Asus ZenWatch 2
It’s easy to mistake the Asus ZenWatch 2 for an Apple Watch. It has the same chunky square face with rounded corners, the same premium band (your choice of metal links or leather), and the same side button — or digital crown, if you will. But of course, it’s not an Apple Watch. This is a ZenWatch 2, and it costs just £109.95.
Obviously, this is a cheap smart watch that looks amazing, but it can do a lot too. It runs Android wear and has a built in mic and speaker, so you can take and make calls from the wrist. It’s easy to send and receive text messages, and it delivers smart notifications as well. It can do fitness tracking; there’s no GPS or heart rate monitoring, but it can handle the basics.
The ZenWatch 2 is powered by a 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor and has 4GB of onboard storage. Battery life maxes out at two days, and it charges via proprietary magnetic charger. If you’re on the lookout for a device that looks like an Apple Watch but isn’t even half as costly, the Asus ZenWatch 2 may be the best cheap smart watch you can buy.
Relevant: The Best Android Wearable: Sony Smartwatch 3 vs. Asus ZenWatch
6. LG W100 G Watch
Unassuming and simple, the LG W100 G Watch can be found for just under £100. It looks good, like a slimmer and lower profile Apple Watch, and its rubbery strap can easily be swapped for other G Watch straps from LG. The display is full colour and fully touchscreen; there are no buttons! What’s more, it’s an always-on display if you want it to be.
Another Android Wear smart watch, the G Watch has 4GB of storage for a good number of apps, an onboard mic and speaker for making and taking calls, and great “OK Google” integration; just ask a question, and you’ll get the right response. It can deliver smart notifications, and is water and dust resistant. Battery life is over one day but less than two, so you’ll pretty much need to charge it every night with its micro USB cable.
The drawback of the G Watch is that it works with Android phones only. Otherwise, it’s a good cheap smart watch from a respected company. It comes in under the £100 threshold and is worth a look.
7. PowerLead Pwah PL-G3
Now we’re getting to the bargain basement of cheap smart watches; we’ve descended well below the £100 mark, and the first of those ultra cheap smart watches on our list is the PowerLead Pwah Pl-G3. Priced at £79.99, it looks like a lesser Moto 360 (which it sort of is), with its round, full colour touchscreen display. It works with both Android and iOS, but since capabilities are limited with iOS devices, we recommend it for Android users only.
Despite its low price, the PL-G3 has a heart rate monitor to go along with its fitness and health tracking functions. There’s also a built-in speaker and mic, and in fact, if you have a SIM card for it, you can even use it as a standalone 2G phone. The battery should last a few days and charges via magnetic cable.
Is the PL-G3 the best smart watch out there? Not by a long shot. Still, for the price, it’s an affordable one that can handle the basics and more.
8. No. 1 G2
The name sounds remarkably like an Apple Computer, but never mind that — this is a cheap smart watch, and a fairly decent one at that. Available for £64, the G2 is aesthetically a lot like the Apple Watch, with a square face with rounded corners and a sporty band. Surprisingly, it’s covered in premium sapphire glass, a material you typically find on the more expensive smart watches. The display is a bright, full colour 240×240 touchscreen.
The manufacturer of the G2 claims that it’s compatible with 99% of the smartphones on the market today, so syncing should not be an issue. It comes with a few basic apps, and you can add more. There’s a built-in speaker and mic, so you can take and place calls, and there’s also fitness tracking with built in heart rate monitoring. The G2 even has an infrared sensor that works as an intelligent remote so you can control any smart devices in your home.
There is actually a built-in camera on the G2, though it’s just two megapixels and the image quality isn’t great. It’s water and dust resistant, and while it has BlueTooth connectivity, there’s no wifi. At just £64, the G2 is certainly affordable, even among other cheap smart watches. It’s worthy of consideration because it can do a fair amount, and it looks pretty good to boot.
9. StarryBay Smart Watch GT08
The GT08 is another Apple Watch look alike, and while it technically works with both Android and iOS, the manufacturer warns that it is “more suitable for Android phones than iPhone” due to limited functionality with call sync, music control, and a few other functions.
It costs around £40, which is a remarkable price given all it can do and how tasteful it looks. It features a full colour 1.54 inch square touch screen display with a side button like Apple’s digital crown. You get surprisingly good sound quality from the speaker, and there’s a built-in microphone for making and taking calls. In fact, if you insert a SIM card, the GT08 is a fully functioning phone. There’s also a built-in video camera, though as you might expect, the quality is iffy at best.
You also get an activity and sleep tracker on the GT08, and like some advanced fitness trackers, it can remind you to move if it detects you’ve been sitting too long. There’s no wifi connectivity, but it does have BlueTooth. There’s nothing especially noteworthy about it, but then again, there’s nothing especially bad about it either. The GT08 is one of the cheapest smart watches you can buy, and while there are definitely better options, its £40 price tag will get a smart watch on your wrist without totally emptying your wallet.
10. Aipker Touch Screen Smart Watch
The Aipker is a ridiculously cheap smart watch, selling for as little as £12.99. At that price, it’s worth buying just to see if you like having the thing around your wrist; department store bracelets often cost more, and they don’t do anything. The Aipker definitely looks like a poor man’s Apple Watch: the attempt at copying the design is apparent, but ultimately, it looks like something you’d pull out of a two pound claw machine. Still, this cheapest smart watch on our list does have some abilities, so let’s take a look.
First of all, the Aipker works with Android phones only. It has a full colour 240×240 touchscreen, and it comes with a 16GB SD card for storing music, apps, and more. (It can support an SD card up to 32GB.) It does have a built-in camera, though calling it a camera is generous, as the resolution of the photos it takes is not even a full megapixel.
It does have fitness and sleep tracking capabilities, it can make and take phone calls, it can play music and record audio, and it can sync with social media platforms and most apps. It’s not waterproof, though, and battery life is a little over a day. Again, the Aipker is not the best cheap smart watch option by a long shot; its price is the most appealing thing about it. If you want a smart watch on your wrist but have just a few quid in your pocket? The Aipker might be the one for you.
Coming Soon: Another Contender
Xiaomi is a Chinese tech company that’s famous (or infamous, depending on your perspective) for making the Mi Band, a fully functional fitness tracker that sells for under £20. Its successor, the Mi Band 2, is also available for just over £30. Clearly, Xiaomi has found a way to make functional technology highly affordable. So recently, when the company announced its upcoming Smart Watch, the industry was abuzz.
It’s all but a given that the Xiaomi Smart Watch shake up the field of cheap smart watches, and there’s lots of speculation on its features, design, and price. The release date of the Xiaomi Smart Watch is unclear; many expect it to launch by fall 2016, and it should certainly be out by the end of the year. Since we haven’t had a chance to evaluate it, we can’t say for sure if it belongs on this list. However, chances are it does. If you’re planning to wait a month or two before picking up a cheap smart watch, keep an eye out for Xiaomi’s contribution to the field.
Spend Less, Get Smart
It would be wonderful if we could all afford a beautiful new Apple Watch, but with Apple’s prices notoriously higher than the competition, it’s just not possible. Fortunately, there are many less expensive smart watch options, and many of them are quite good. The best one for you will depend on what you want your smart watch to do, how much of a premium you place on good design, and of course, how much you can spend.
What’s your favourite cheap smart watch? Why do you like it? Leave us a comment and tell us about it!
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Apple Watch Series 2