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Google's Wear OS is one of the most widely used smartwatch operating systems.

Known as Android Wear until it was rebadged several years back, there have been plenty of new features added in Wear OS 3.5 to help it compete with the likes of Apple, Garmin and Fitbit.

Over the past couple of years we've seen Wear OS 3 roll out to the wider stable of smartwatches under Google's banner, from Fossil Group through to the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 and - of course - Google's own Pixel Watch.

In this guide, then, we'll be detailing what we believe are the very best watches to run on Wear OS by Google. There's something for every budget and every style, and if you're still not sure which to opt for after reading our choices, dive into the section on how to choose the right Wear OS smartwatch.

TicWatch Pro 5
Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5
1. Best overall

The Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 offers unrivalled battery life thanks to its clever dual-layer display technology. It's also the fastest option available, thanks to the inclusion of the latest Snapdragon W5+ chip.

  • Excellent battery life
  • Clever dual-display technology
  • The latest Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1 chip
  • No Google Assistant
  • Bloated app structure

The biggest problem with Wear OS smartwatches is that the system is very battery-hungry, so options that will last for more than a day on a charge are few and far between. Mobvoi has solved this problem on the TicWatch Pro 5. It uses an ingenious ultra-low-power always-on display, which is layered over the top of the OLED panel. This gives you the benefits of an all-day display, without the battery drain, and means that this watch can easily go four days between charges with most smart features enabled.

If that wasn't enough, it's also the first watch to sport Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1 chip, which means it's the fastest and smoothest Wear OS experience we've had to date.

It's not all perfect, it's only available in black, and in one (pretty chunky) size - so it won't be the right watch for everyone. But for our money, it's the best option on the market today.

Galaxy Watch 6 water drops close up
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
2. Best Wear OS watch for Samsung phone users

Galaxy Watch 6 is Samsung's latest smartwatch, offering a larger screen and faster processor than its predecessors. It's also more durable and comfortable to wear.

  • Comfortable and lightweight
  • Affordable price
  • Tonnes of useful fitness features
  • Bloated software
  • Design is a bit plain

If you're a Samsung phone user, few smartwatches will offer the companion experience for your phone like the latest Galaxy Watch. It's designed to tie in perfectly with your Samsung, including access to any of the Samsung account features. Of those, Samsung Health is the driver of the experience and offers a huge number of fitness and health features.

You get in-depth sleep insights and coaching, plus advanced health metrics like the body composition tool that can tell you how much of your mass is skeletal muscle, fat or water. Add that to accurate heart-rate during workouts, advanced running insight, and the usual selection of SpO2, stress and ECG sensors, and you get pretty much all you could ask for in a watch.

It's not a massive improvement on the Galaxy Watch 5, but the more durable Sapphire Crystal on the screen, the larger display and smoother performance are all welcome upgrades. If you get the basic model you won't have to pay all that much for it either.

best wear os smartwatch photo 29
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro
3. Best Wear OS watch feature set
$399.99 $449.99 Save $50

The top of the line Galaxy Watch offers great battery life, build quality and a rich feature list.

  • Good battery life
  • Great-looking, durable design
  • Strong feature set and lots of fitness tracking options
  • It's a little expensive
  • Only works with Android phones

When it comes to a balance of features, performance and value, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro strikes the right balance. You'll easily get 2-3 days of battery from the watch, if not more, and it has all the sensors for fitness tracking that you'd need.

That includes an accurate multi-band GPS system, a very accurate heart rate sensor that works well - even for HIIT sessions - plus you get all the proper smartwatch stuff like offline music, contactless payments and interactive notifications, downloadable apps and messages.

With its durable Titanium case, raised bezel and Sapphire Crystal display, it can take a beating too. All in a device which - while not cheap - is not hideously expensive either. The only real downside is that Samsung only offers it in one size and in two different case colours. Other than that, it's great. There's a reason Samsung kept it in its product portfolio after launching the Galaxy Watch 6.

best wear os smartwatch photo 27
Google Pixel Watch
4. Best Wear OS software experience
$377 $399.99 Save $22.99

With its combination of great design, fluid software and comprehensive fitness tracking, the Pixel Watch is a great first home-made option from Google.

  • Gorgeous design
  • Fluid and intuitive software
  • Onboard Fitbit tracking
  • Only one size
  • Battery life is quite poor
  • Some Fitbit features locked behind paywall

Google's first generation home-made smartwatch isn't perfect, but it is a lovely watch to wear and to use. The fluid, clean interface is easy to use and effortless and is only helped further by that glossy, rounded glass over the front.

It has all the features you'd want from a "proper" smartwatch, offering downloadable apps, interactive notifications and message threads, plus contactless payments. The big talking point is built-in Fitbit tracking.

It's the first Wear OS watch to come with Fitbit installed, and it offers comprehensive tracking and easy-to-understand data that are well-organised in the mobile app. Google needs to improve its HIIT tracking, and the fact some data is locked behind a Fitbit Premium paywall doesn't sit right either.

We'd love for battery life to be longer than 24 hours and for there to be more than one size available, but it's a great start for Google.

best wear os smartwatch photo 31
Tag Heuer Connected Calibre E4
5. Best luxury Wear OS watch

It may be limited on the fitness tracking front, but there's no smartwatch that compares with the Tag in terms of craftsmanship and design.

  • Stunning design
  • Durable build
  • Great looking custom watch faces
  • Very expensive
  • Heart rate sensor isn't very good

For some, the ideal smartwatch is one that's got that premium, luxury feel, but still delivers the basics you'd expect from a wrist-worn gadget. That's where the Tag Heuer Connected Calibre E4 comes in.

The case is a stunning, sculpted and polished hunk of titanium, and it's capped off with sapphire crystal and ceramic, with great attention to detail. Even the buttons have that look and feel of a feature the designers really cared about. They're so clicky, practical and good-looking.

Add to that some very nicely rendered custom watch faces - with brilliant AOD modes, and the best watch strap design you're likely to ever see on a smartwatch, and you have a truly high-end piece of smart jewelry.

It's expensive, and the heart rate sensor isn't very responsive, but it's a great watch.

Best Wear OS smartwatch 2020 The top Android watches photo 24
Fossil Gen 6
6. Best Wear OS Fossil watch
$239.99 $299 Save $59.01

Fossil delivers an excellent option for those craving a basic and clean smartwatch experience.

  • Fast and responsive
  • Clean, crisp design
  • Affordable
  • Wear OS 3 still hasn't landed
  • Fitness tracking is basic
  • GPS inaccuracies

As you would expect from the latest generation of Fossil's smartwatch line, the Gen 6 represents a very solid step forward compared to previous models. It's responsive, thanks to the Snapdragon Wear 4100+ chip under the hood, attractive on the wrist and available at a fairly reasonable price.

It's a true smartwatch-first experience, and a great pick, but it's also not entirely complete just yet with more updates to come. We'd also steer you away from this one if you're looking for a rounded fitness tracking experience. The GPS accuracy is mixed, to say the least, and activity modes are lacking.

How to choose a Wear OS smartwatch

It's actually a very interesting time to buy a Wear OS smartwatch - and that's something that hasn't necessarily been true over the last few years. With Wear OS 3 ushering in a new generation of performance, then, what should you consider before you buy?

Well, we've answered the following queries to help you narrow down your choice from the options above.

Does your smartwatch need Wear OS 3?

As we've covered throughout this guide, the arrival of Wear OS 3 is a fairly big landmark for the platform. You can read all about the ins and outs of the update in our Wear OS 3 explainer, but, essentially, Samsung's Tizen and Google's Wear OS has now blended into one unified platform. The result is big performance increases, new features (like app switching, improved watch faces, improved Tiles) and a fitness tracking experience that will be powered by Google-owned Fitbit.

The issue here is that it's only coming to a select number of Wear OS smartwatches, most of which we've featured in our picks above. It's not absolutely essential that you pick a watch that has (or will receive) the latest update and future updates, but we'd strongly recommend future-proofing your device - or waiting for a compatible one.

What will you use a smartwatch for?

No matter which Wear OS smartwatch you settle on, it must fit into your lifestyle. As we always advise with our smartwatch or fitness tracker guides, you need to understand what you'll actually use your smartwatch for.

Do you exercise a lot? Chances are you need to focus your attention on something like the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. Do you prefer something that promotes style and smartwatch features? You're likely best looking at the Pixel Watch. Want something that can do it all, no matter the price tag? Check out the Tag Heuer Connected Calibre E4.

How much do you need to spend?

Price is always a very important factor, which is why our list features a varied range. However, this is made pretty simple, too, by the fact that Wear OS smartwatches are, in our view, very reasonably priced compared to rival models from Apple.

The truth is, unlike with Apple Watch devices, spending more doesn't necessarily grant you a better Wear OS experience. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is an outstanding watch, but it also doesn't break the bank. The Tag Heuer Connected, meanwhile, is more basic on the software front but costs a four-figure sum.

As we've outlined, it's more important to pick a watch that's future-proofed and fits your lifestyle.

Wear OS v Apple Watch - which is best?

Historically, the Apple Watch has far outperformed the capabilities of Wear OS. However, with the arrival of Wear OS 3, that gap is closing, especially with the arrival of the Pixel Watch. Likewise, the latest Samsung watches are, as we've said, a great example of what the platform is capable of.

For a full ranking of devices from across different ecosystems, check out our complete best smartwatch guide.