The smartwatch has become a great smartphone accessory. But lets face it, you are forking out lots of cash already on smartphones, tablets and other gadgets. Wouldn’t it be great if there were some smartwatches that were actually budget friendly?
Essential reading: Top hybrid smartwatches, the best of both worlds
Well there are. While compiling this list, we’ve examined functions and features carefully and thoroughly. We try to test every device personally, but where not possible we took user reviews into consideration and dismissed devices with bad customer reviews and low ratings. This left us with the following selection.
The old adage – you get what you pay for – is usually true. Not in this case. Amazfit Bip covers pretty much everything an average person needs for 24/7 activity tracking. With its built-in GPS, it monitors your runs, cycling and other sports with mapped routes, detailed stats and heart rate zones. Most important of all, it does all this well and without any fuss.
In terms of non-fitness features, the device allows you to view and reject incoming calls from a smartphone, view messages and other app notifications. There are also some extras such as a 7-day weather forecast, alarms, timer, stopwatch and more.
With its always-on colour screen, it looks good too. Not stunningly beautiful but not cheap either. A cheerful-looking smartwatch that both men and women would be equally happy to wear.
If you’re after a simple wearable that keeps tabs on your fitness, tracks your running and cycling with GPS and you don’t want to be bothered with charging often, the Bip makes a strong case for itself. You’ll struggle to find a smartwatch that delivers anywhere near the same level of features for the price.
Pebble is the startup credited for being one of the first companies to launch a modern smartwatch. The company failed to attract traditional investors back in 2012, so turned to crowdfunding instead. Its campaigns ended up being massively successful.
Its hardware was frozen in time after the Kickstarter darling was acquired by Fitbit, but the watches can still be bought on Amazon while stocks last. And while Fitbit may be pulling the plug on the watch servers at the end of this month, a new operating system called RebbleOS aims to pick up the slack.
Essential reading: Guide to choosing the best Pebble watch
Pebble 2 is the company’s most advanced wearable and sits somewhere between a fitness tracker and smartwatch. The device connects to both Android and iOS phones, so can display notifications from the phone. It sports a high contrast black and white e-Ink screen, and weights only 31.7 grams. The screen is always on and looks sharp.
The watch has enough battery life to last up to 7 days, depending on use of course. But in this sense, it compares very favourably to the competition, no doubt helped by the monochrome 144 x 168 pixel display.
There are two versions to choose from – the standard edition and the more expensive heart rate enabled edition.
ASUS ZenWatch 2 is a great entry level device. With a square look, the watch comes in two sizes and a range of styles.
You can get messages from friends, weather updates at a glance, and a variety of useful assistance that helps you make the most of your day. In terms of fitness tracking, there is no heart rate monitor, but the watch automatically counts your steps, and encourages you to move at regular intervals.
Its smartphone companion ZenFit tracks a range of workout activities such as walking, running, push-ups, and sit-ups. It also comes with a watch face designer so you can customise the look.
The watch sports a two-day battery life. There is also a quick charge function – plug it in for just 15 minutes to reach a 60% charge.
All in all, this is a feature packed and powerful mobile package, especially when you take its price into consideration.
The Alcatel Onetouch is a really nice looking smartwatch that comes across as a Motorola Moto 360 double. The device has a host of features including fitness tracking, a built-in heart rate monitor, notifications, weather alerts, a stopwatch, compass and an alarm. The watch will even alert you if you leave your phone behind.
Measuring just 10.5mm thin and weighing in at a mere 55 grams this is very lightweight timepiece. It has a bright 1.2 inch IPS display and an eye catching design. Its water-resistant which means you can wear it 24/7. The watch runs a proprietary operating system and comes with an app which works with both iOS and Android smartphones.
It gets more interesting though when we come to the battery. On a single charge, Alcatel Onetouch can keep going for up to four days, depending on use of course. A novel feature is a built-in USB charging cable in the strap, which means you can charge it anywhere you spot a USB port.
The Sony Smartwatch 3 is an interesting Android Wear option for those on a budget. The device has built in GPS and comes with an integrated music player with 4GB of onboard storage for music. This means fitness enthusiasts can leave their phone behind when going for a jog or a run in the park. It does not have heart rate monitoring though but you can always wear a chest strap.
In terms of looks, the watch has a 1.6 inch colour touchscreen display, and comes in a number of stylish designs that look equally good in the gym or on a night out. There is even a stainless steel option if you want to go for the really smart look.
Sony Smartwatch 3 works with both Android and iPhones, gives you water protection and a little more than one day on a single charge.
The Martian Notifier Smartwatch is a seriously budget friendly hybrid that comes in below the $50 price point. As its name implies, for that price you get notifications. Lots of them!
Anything from ID, SMS, e-mails, social media posts, fitness stats, news and sports headlines to other alerts from compatible Android and iOS phones. You can also customise its vibration patterns so you know exactly what’s coming in without even looking at your wrist.
With three colours to choose from, the device comes across like a regular watch rather than a smart one. Its easy-to-read 1.5″ graphic OLED Display and traditional analog watch dial gives you the best of both worlds.
The watch also has a dual battery. A Lithium polymer rechargeable battery which will keep going for 5 days, and a separate analog watch battery which is good for up to 2 years.
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