In general, recommending an Apple Watch is simple: if you use an iPhone and want a smartwatch, staying with Apple is usually the best choice.
But there are currently several Apple Watches on the market. The launch of the Apple Watch Series 7 in September 2021 brought Apple’s total lifespan to nine, with the company currently offering three models in stores: the Series 7, SE and Series 3. Among them are multiple variants that differ in size, connectivity, design and price.
Then there are older but still updated generations that you can find at third-party retailers like Best Buy and Amazon, as well as options to buy refurbished devices. Everyone has different needs, and you may be able to find an Apple Watch that’s cheaper and better suited to your needs by following these routes.
The imminent launch of watchOS 9 will further complicate these decisions, and as usual, Apple is expected to launch new models in the fall. For those who want to take the plunge TodayHowever, we’ve scoured the old, new, and refurbished Apple Watch market and tested the current options to determine the best one for you. We’ll be updating this guide over time as new models are introduced, so if you’re looking to upgrade from an older model or get on board for the first time, let us do your research for you .
The best Apple Watch for most people
Apple Watch Series 7
Buy: From $345 at Amazon, Apple, Target, Walmart
The Apple Watch Series 7 is the best smartwatch you can buy right now. It’s the best-equipped, well-supported wearable on the market, making it the best extension to your phone out there. The number of apps and integrations is second to none, allowing you to do everything from opening your garage door to checking the ocean tides from your wrist. It’s not the most decked out fitness accessory – we’d go for a Garmin smartwatch for serious athletes and those outdoorsy who want longer battery life and deeper training features – but the Series 7 closes some ground here, too.
With sensors for ECG monitoring, blood oxygen readings and heart rate, the Series 7 reaches the top of the range for health statistics in wearables. Throw in GPS, a compass, an always-on altimeter, built-in fall detection, 50 meters of water resistance, and the cellular capability option, and you’ve got a fitness partner you can take anywhere for both tracking and safety purposes.
Apple’s “digital crown” mechanism is still an intuitive way to scroll the watch, and there are fun case colors and a plethora of strap options to suit your style, including the Nike sports bands, stylish metal options, woven bandsand another ton.
With the upcoming release of watchOS 9 this fall, the Series 7 will also get the ability to offer advanced running stats (e.g. stride, cadence, pace), heart rate zones, and new multisport tracking modes, among other features.
The Series 7 also has the largest display of any Apple Watch, thanks to the smaller bezels and 1mm larger watch case compared to the Series 6. It’s not a huge difference, except the larger size allows for a QWERTY keyboard for text input – but it allows for larger text sizes that could be a game-changer for those with visual impairments.
With charging coils and a USB-C based charger, the Series 7 is also the fastest charging Apple Watch, going from 0 to 100 percent in just over an hour in our testing. That’s about half the time it takes to charge another Apple Watch model. This is also the only dust-proof (IP6X) Apple Watch and the only one to support typing via a full QWERTY keyboard.
To be clear, the Series 7, like every Apple Watch in this guide, isn’t perfect. While Apple’s smartwatches enjoy the widest level of support for third-party apps (and accessories), you won’t find every iPhone app on the Apple Watch, far from it. And not every app is particularly useful. (Do you For real want to be able to scroll through Twitter on your wrist?) Still, there are just about all the relevant apps for a wrist-based experience.
The bigger sacrifice you’ll make if you own an Apple Watch is battery life; it only takes a day or so. Other smartwatches, such as those from Garmin and Fitbit, can last a week or more, although you won’t find the same level of app support (third-party or first-party) as with your iPhone. And yes, Apple Watches are still iPhone-only, and that will probably never change. But overall, and especially for iPhone owners, the Apple Watch is the most complete wearable platform on the market — and right now, the Series 7 is the most complete offering for the majority of people.
For who is it: Those who want the latest health and fitness features or those who just need a bigger screen
Worth the upgrade for: Series 5 and below