What to Look For in a Budget Smartwatch in 2022
As the smartwatch market has matured, budget smartwatches have gone from being glorified pedometers to smart gadgets with a reasonably decent set of features. However, while buying a budget smartwatch, you have to keep a few things in mind.
The most important thing to consider is compatibility. Unfortunately, not all smartwatches can be paired with both Android and iOS. For example, the Apple Watch SE only works with iPhones. Similarly, Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 is only compatible with Android. So, make sure the smartwatch you are buying is compatible with your smartphone.
Battery life is another crucial detail. This can range from one day to several weeks, but it’s typically dependent on the feature-set of a smartwatch and how much you use it. Unless you have no issues charging your smartwatch daily, ensure you are comfortable with how frequently you may need to charge your purchase before pulling out the credit card.
Although premium smartwatches usually have a fairly robust set of health and fitness tracking options, budget smartwatches can sacrifice some tracking features to keep the cost down. Therefore, it’s prudent to check whether your smartwatch can track the activities and exercises you participate in.
Additionally, depending on your usage and budget, you may also want to check for water resistance, GPS, and cellular connectivity in a smartwatch. Lastly, the design and build quality are also important. You want something that you are comfortable and happy to wear.
With the basics out of the way, let’s dive into our recommendations.
- ✓ Blood oxygen and heart-rate monitoring
- ✓ Long battery life
- ✓ Bright and vibrant display
- ✓ Built-in GPS
- ✗ No support for third-party apps
- ✗ Trouble locking in GPS signal
The Amazfit GTS 2 Mini is the reigning champion of budget smartwatches. It’s packed with tons of features and costs only a fraction of the premium options in the market.
This smartwatch comes with a titanium alloy and plastic combo construction that feels well made. It has a safe design that won’t stand out but looks good nonetheless. That said, the removable 20mm silicone strap gives you an option to play around with the look of the watch if you want to try another watch band.
The 1.55-inch AMOLED display is bright and vibrant. In addition, the watch is rated 5 ATM for water resistance, allowing you to take it for a swim with you.
There is a comprehensive array of tracking options in the GTS 2 Mini. For example, you can monitor your heart rate, blood oxygen level, sleep, stress levels, and menstrual cycle. Additionally, you get almost 70 sports modes for tracking a host of indoor and outdoor workouts and activities.
Battery life is also excellent, and the smartwatch will last almost five days with an always-on display and heavy usage. If you are a light user, you may be able to get even more out of the battery.
The company has also included GPS in the smartwatch, which, although quite helpful in tracking your runs or walks, can often take a long time in locking in your location. Unfortunately, support for third-party apps is also missing, but it’s a sacrifice you will have to make with the most budget smartwatches.
Best Budget Smartwatch Overall
Amazfit GTS 2 Mini
The Amazfit GTS 2 Mini offers an ideal middle ground between cheap activity trackers and premium smartwatches.
- ✓ Long battery life
- ✓ Heart rate and sleep tracking
- ✓ Tile integration
- ✗ No built-in GPS
- ✗ Lacks a color display
- ✗ Need to pay for the premium subscription after the first year
The Fitbit Inspire 2 is a no-frills fitness tracker that’s perfect for people who want something affordable. It’s an unassuming wearable that features a 1.4-inch monochrome OLED display.
The screen is relatively small and only shows a limited amount of information. However, it’s big enough to display smartphone notifications without issue.
In terms of health and fitness features, the Inspire 2 can track your sleep, stress, heart rate, and much more. There are over 20 exercise modes, many of which the watch can automatically recognize, covering most average fitness tracker users.
Another highlight of the Fitbit tracker is its long battery life. It can last up to 10 days on a single charge, you don’t need to worry about charging it constantly.
Fitbit also bundles one year of its premium subscription with the tracker, but it will cost you $10 a month after the free period. The subscription fee is less than ideal for a budget fitness tracker, but you at least have a year to decide if the features are worth the price.
Unfortunately, the Inspire 2 lacks a built-in GPS. So you’ll have to keep your smartphone with you to track your runs, bike rides, or hikes. If you need built-in GPS, you might want to go with our best overall pick.
Best Budget Fitness Tracker
Fitbit Inspire 2
The Fitbit Inspire 2 is an excellent activity tracker with a slim design, long battery life, and a good selection of fitness features.
- ✓ Support for third-party apps
- ✓ Refined operating system
- ✓ Optional cellular connectivity
- ✗ Average battery life
- ✗ No always-on display
The Apple Watch SE is the best value for money smartwatch for the iPhone user. However, it’s not exactly cheap, compared to our other recommendations. But it’s the best an iPhone user can get without spending almost $400 on the Apple Watch Series 7.
The Watch SE looks like any other Apple Watch model, featuring curved edges, rounded aluminum chassis, and an OLED display. It sits in the middle of the Apple Watch lineup, but the watch is vastly more capable than the Series 3 and lacks only a few things compared to the Series 7.
With the SE, you get a host of health and wellness features. For example, the watch can monitor your heart rate, sleep, and menstrual cycle. It also supports dozens of workouts and can track them effectively. Additionally, you get automatic detection for exercises if you forget to start one manually.
In terms of software, watchOS is arguably the best smartwatch platform on the market. It gives you access to hundreds of third-party apps, a refined interface, Siri voice assistant, and tons of watch faces.
You also get to take advantage of the Apple Fitness+ subscription. It has curated workouts, guided experiences, and a lot more. The subscription needs an Apple Watch to work effectively since the fitness data it collects helps make these personalized workouts.
Another highlight of the Apple Watch SE is the optional support for cellular connectivity. So if you get the cellular version of Watch SE, you can even ditch your iPhone and still get access to calls, texts, notifications, and more.
Unfortunately, Watch SE’s battery life is average, even though it is missing always-on display support. You will get around one full day of battery life, so you’ll need to recharge daily to make sure everything is being tracked.
Best Budget Apple Watch
Apple Watch SE
There is no better option than the Apple Watch SE if you need an affordable smartwatch with iPhone support.
Best Budget Smartwatch for Battery Life: Amazfit GTS 2e
- ✓ Lasts up to 10 days with heavy usage
- ✓ Bright and vibrant display
- ✓ 90 sports modes for tracking
- ✓ Heart rate and blood oxygen monitoring
- ✗ Limited smartwatch features
- ✗ No support for third-party apps
Battery life is one of the crucial features many consumers look for while buying a new smartwatch. So if you want a budget smartwatch that can last more than a couple of days, there is no better option than the Amazfit GTS 2e.
The GTS 2e can easily last seven to ten days on heavy usage. And, if you are a light user, you can even extend the backup to two weeks, which is fantastic.
Battery life isn’t the only good thing about this Amazfit watch. The GTS 2e features a 1.65-inch AMOLED screen that provides inky blacks and vibrant colors. It also gets bright enough to get good under-sun visibility.
Activity and health tracking options are solid, as well. You get around 90 workout modes, covering the most common workouts and sports. The smartwatch can also automatically detect some of these activities. Additionally, it has heart-rate monitoring, stress monitoring, sleep tracking, and blood oxygen monitoring.
Unfortunately, being a budget smartwatch, the GTS 2e has some limitations. For example, while it can show notifications from your smartphones, you can’t use the watch to reply to texts or answer calls. Also, like other GTS-series watches, the 2e doesn’t support third-party apps.
Best Budget Smartwatch for Battery Life
Amazfit GTS 2e
The Amazfit GTS 2e can last up to two weeks on a single charge and has many health and fitness features.
- ✓ Durable and water-resistant
- ✓ Steps and activity tracking
- ✓ Replaceable battery with year-long backup
- ✗ No cellular connectivity or built-in GPS
- ✗ Activating backlight can be tricky for children
The Garmin Vivofit Jr. 3 ticks a lot of right boxes if you are looking for a smartwatch for your little one. For example, it is durable, features a color display, and is water-resistant. The smartwatch also comes with a replaceable coin battery that can last up to one year.
The Garmin smartwatch can track steps, sleep, and activity time in terms of features. It also encourages kids to remain active by unlocking games, adventures, quizzes, and more when they reach a certain activity level. Plus, parents can schedule reminders for chores and other tasks for kids using the smartphone they paired with the watch.
Although the color screen of the tracker is easy to read in good lighting, kids may find it difficult to activate its backlight when needed as it requires multiple steps. This is something to keep in mind if your child needs to look at the watch often in low-light.
Unfortunately, as the Garmin smartwatch lacks cellular connectivity and GPS, it’s not helpful in tracking your child’s location. Some parents may want such a feature to ensure their child’s safety—thankfully, there are other options with main mobile carriers that offer alternative smartwatches.
For cellular connectivity and GPS, we recommend going for Verizon’s GizmoWatch 2. It’s a fantastic smartwatch that supports activity tracking, GPS tracking, geofencing, and voice calling.
However, if you prefer a smartwatch that can work on T-Mobile’s network, the Xplora X5 Play is a good option. In addition to most features found on the Verizon watch, it has an interactive game platform that encourages kids to be active.
For AT&T users, the Angel Watch Series R is the best option. Apart from the usual smartwatch features for kids, it supports video calling and can track your child’s body temperature, blood pressure, blood oxygen level, and heart rate.
Best Budget Smartwatch for Kids
Garmin Vivofit Jr. 3
The Garmin Vivofit Jr. 3 is an excellent kids smartwatch with basic activity tracking, a durable build, and a color display.