10 Best Cheap Smartwatches for Under £100
The increased functionality of smartwatches, along with the recent release of the highly anticipated Apple Watch, has led to an exploding interest in these wrist-worn gadgets.
The problem is that lots of them are expensive — well over £100 — and we’re already spending so much money on devices. Add up what you’ve spent on your smartphone, tablet, smarthome upgrades, and other gadgets that sync with an app, and you might be amazed that you have anything left over for buying lunch.
It would be great if there were some smartwatches that were actually budget friendly.
Smartwatch on a Budget
The good news is that there are; you can even get one for under £100. No, it won’t be the latest and greatest model, and it certainly won’t run Watch OS, but if you want a cheap smartwatch that won’t break the bank, here are four that you might want to consider.
1. Pebble Watch
Ah, the big name that also made our Top 10 Best Appcessories 2014! Yes, you can get a Pebble Watch for £100 — the original Pebble Watch. (The more recent models will set you back at least £149.) It still does quite a lot, though.
Lots of apps work on Pebble, many of which are iOS and Android compatible. This means that you can get notifications and answer calls if you have a BlueTooth headset. It’s got a built-in fitness and sleep tracker, and it’s water resistant up to 50 metres.
The battery should last about seven days. The original Pebble Watch comes in a few different colours, and it’s fairly low profile.
2. Sony Smartwatch 2
While the Model 3 is well over £150, the Sony Smartwatch 2 is available for around £75. It’s an Android smartwatch, and there are over 400 apps available for it. NFC capabilities makes pairing a snap.
Like the Pebble, it gets notifications from a paired phone, and you can take calls with it if you use a BlueTooth headset. It’s not a stand-alone GPS watch (you need you smartphone’s GPS), but the apps makes this watch a pretty good fitness tracker.
It’s perhaps a bit more rugged than the Pebble, and it also comes in a variety of colours. The Sony Smartwatch 2 may not have the coolness factor of Pebble (or the Apple Watch, for that matter), but it’s certainly a well-appointed device at a highly affordable price.
3. Sony Smartwatch 3
We know that the Sony Smartwatch 2 is already on this list, but the next version (the 3, that is) is currently priced at £99.95, just under the wire of our £100 limit. This is an Android smartwatch that — get this — actually has built in GPS! There’s no heart rate monitoring, but the navigation capabilities plus good fitness tracking make the Smartwatch 3 a perfect, inexpensive smartwatch for runners.
Not only that, but with 4GB of onboard storage, you can keep your favourite tunes or podcasts on it, pair it with some BlueTooth headphones, and go for a serious workout, phone-free.
The Smartwatch 3 has a 1.6 inch colour touchscreen display, which is adequate but not as brilliant as the screens of some other smartwatches. It’s totally waterproof, and you should get a little more than a day on a single charge.
The Sony Smartwatch 3 is by no means a perfect device (how could it be at under £100?), but the onboard GPS is a huge selling point for fitness enthusiasts.
4. Samsung Gear Fit
OK, so the Samsung Gear Fit may technically be a fitness tracker, but hear me out. Samsung insists it’s also a smartwatch; at £100, it’s a pretty decent one at that. If you’re a highly active person, this might be the budget smartwatch for you.
It can, of course, measure all of your activity data. It’s extremely lightweight, so you won’t have to worry about wrist fatigue. Plus, you can pair it with a smartphone to get emails and notifications on its 4.6cm AMOLED display, which is gently curved so it lies flat on the wrist.
It’s also water resistant and has a four-day battery life. Yes, it still looks more like a fitness tracker than a smartwatch, and there aren’t any extra apps for it, but for the price, it does a lot and performs well.
5. MiGo BlueTooth Smartwatch
Looking for a super budget option? This Chinese smartwatch may be for you.
It’s definitely not as good looking as the previous three, and it does have some limitations, but for around £60, it’s an affordable and functional smartwatch.
It can pair with just about any smartphone (Android, iOS, and Windows), though there are some issues with SMS notifications from iOS devices.
The 240 by 240 pixel touch display makes for easy navigation, and there’s also an included stylus (really!) that gets tucked into the wristband when you’re not using it. For phone calls, you can use it as a phone in speaker mode á la Dick Tracy, or you can use a BlueTooth headset. The MiGo is definitely clunkier than the other watches discussed here, but the price is right, and it can do a fair amount.
6. Samsung Gear Live
At just £89.99 from Amazon, the Samsung Gear Live is a great deal on an Android smartwatch from a well-respected company. This model is a few years old (it’s from 2014, to be exact), so it doesn’t offer as many bells as smartwatches that have come out in the past year or so. Of course, it’s also a lot less expensive than newer models.
The display on this one is a beautiful 320×320 AMOLED touchscreen; it’s big and responsive, though it is a bit hard to read in bright sunlight. It boasts 512MB of RAM and 4GB onboard storage, and you can use the fun “OK Google” command to control it with your voice.
The Gear Live does have heart rate monitoring and some basic activity tracking, plus game support. It does need to pair with an Android phone, and you’ll be able to manage the notifications that come through to your wrist. You can’t really make calls on this model, but you can see when a call is coming in, and you can initiate dialling with that same “OK Google” line.
There’s no camera on this one, and the battery life is less than a day. Still, the Gear Live does have a sleek, lightweight, and low profile design. The watch band itself is kind of ho-hum, but it can be switched out for something more attractive — a move that will probably put you over the £100 price point. Still, this is a nice starter smartwatch from a brand that you’ve actually heard of.
7. ZGPAX S8 Smartwatch
It sounds like the name of a planet in an outer galaxy, but the ZGPAX S8 is a surprisingly nifty standalone smartwatch and functioning phone. It’s essentially a cheap knockoff of the Samsung Gear 2, but for £79.88 for the 8GB model (and £20 less for 4GB), it’s really not bad at all.
The ZGPAX S8 is Android based, so its OS is comfortable and familiar. It has a nice 1.54 inch, 240×240 touch screen, a built-in 5 megapixel camera, and an onboard speaker with surprisingly good sound quality. There’s wifi and BlueTooth, plus if you slip in a 3G SIM card, and it’s a fully functioning wrist phone. There’s even gaming support, so you can waste all sorts of time with it.
The battery on this one lasts about a day, so charging every night is mandatory. It also has a decent design; it’s fairly low profile and comfortable on the wrist. It’s no Apple Watch, but for around £80, this is a shocking useful gadget.
8. OK Viper
This Australian 3G Android phone and smartwatch retails for $99 AUD, so about £50. It works as a standalone device, or you can sync it with a smartphone. Pairing of the OK Viper is wonky on both iOS and Windows phones, so we’ll just say it works only with Android.
As for looks, the Viper has a more than adequate 1.54 inch, 240×240 colour touch screen. The overall design is a bit chunky, and its aluminium body and silicone strap make it look like sort of a fitness watch, but we’re OK (no pun intended) with all of this; sometimes, design and comfort need to take a back seat to inexpensive functionality.
The Viper also has a 1.3 megapixel camera, it’s wifi enabled, and it can perform some basic fitness tracking functions. Plus, you can get it in your choice of three colours. It’s fairly no frills, but for a smartwatch that doubles as a Dick Tracy phone, £50 for the OK Viper isn’t bad at all.
9. Martian Notifier
Its futuristic sci-fi name makes the Martian Notifier sound much cooler than it actually is. At around £50, though, this is a more than adequate device for what it is: an affordable notification band that looks like an ordinary wristwatch.
The big selling point of the Notifier is that it puts smartphone notifications on your wrist. Actually, it puts them on a think 96×16 OLED screen that runs across the bottom left of its round watch face. This sort of throws the design of the thing off balance, though not too badly, and it’s forgivable given the device’s functionality.
The Notifier can sync with both Android and iOS phones to manage what notifications come through: calls, texts, social media activity, weather alerts, and so on. You can also customise vibration patterns for specific notifications, which is a really nice touch.
This is a surprisingly attractive device; it looks more like an ordinary wristwatch rather than a techy/geeky gadget. It’s simple, to be sure, but it works well, and the price is right.
10. Alcatel OneTouch
The Alcatel OneTouch is actually a beautiful round smartwatch for about £99, but there’s just one hitch. When it premiered at CES 2015, the reactions were the same across the board: this is a Motorola Moto 360 knockoff. You can see why everyone thought this, and why many continue to think it: it’s round, it’s about the same size, and if you didn’t know any better, it’s easy to mistake one for the other.
Still, the OneTouch is a nice budget smartwatch. The round display is a 1.2 inch full colour touchscreen. It runs its own OS, so it’s neither Android nor iOs; it’s a bit quirky, but the familiar swiping gestures make it easy enough to figure out. The device does have a heart rate monitor and surprisingly good fitness tracking too.
This smartwatch syncs with both iOS and Android smartphones using a simple but functional app. You can customise notifications with visuals and vibrations, and the watch face will even display a reminder if you stray too far from your phone. Battery life is also good: about three days on a single charge.
Speaking of, the OneTouch’s stiff band doubles as its own USB charging cable — a great detail because you’ll never have to worry about bringing a charger with you. Overall, the OneTouch is slim and lightweight, making it an especially good budget smartwatch for women or anyone with smaller wrists.
What to Expect from a Smartwatch Under £100
Economy smartwatches may be lacking in some features, but they should still offer a few basics; after all, £100 may not be much in the smartwatch world, but it’s certainly not chump change. For starters, a smartwatch should either function well as a standalone device or pair smoothly with your smartphone. It should offer basic fitness tracking abilities, and a camera would be a nice touch if the price is near that £100 mark.
It should also look and feel like a decent product. Sure, it’s understood that a budget smartwatch won’t look as sleek or as shiny as the Apple Watch, but it shouldn’t feel like a flimsy piece of plastic either. Look for something that’s attractive and is made from quality materials. It should also be somewhat durable, since replacing a £100 pound smartwatch once or twice isn’t budget friendly at all.
What You Shouldn’t Expect from a Cheap Smartwatch
While a low-price smartwatch will have some baseline capabilities, it’s the more advanced functionality that you typically don’t get with an inexpensive model. For example, it’s pretty unusual to find an economy smartwatch with things like heart rate monitoring or GPS, though you will find one or two on our list with these features. Advanced convenience features like NFC payments will also, for the most part, be absent from these economy devices.
One thing that has plagued a lot of ultra-cheap and knockoff smartwatches is poor pairing and syncing from non-stand-alone products. This is something you absolutely should not have to deal with, as the frustration over losing your connection will often make you wish that you paid more for a better quality device.
You’ve Got Choices
If you thought you had to spend over £200 to get a quality smartwatch, think again. There are a number of models available that can be on your wrist, tracking your movement, showing you text messages, and more, for £100 or less (see Uwatch U8 Review – The cheapest smartwatch).
While they’re not as robust as the latest versions, they also cost about half as much, leaving more in your pocket for lunch…or that smartphone upgrade you’ve been thinking about.
See recommended smartwatches on Amazon
Sony SmartWatch 3
Apple Watch Series 2