The Best Smart Watches for iPhone and Android Devices

Humanity is headed for a very smart future. First, it was our phones; next, our belt buckles and cufflinks will tell us when a Kardashian tweets or someone likes one of our Instagram posts. Right now, smart watches are on everyone’s lips—if not yet on everyone’s wrists—and while much of the talk has centered on the Apple Watch, that highly anticipated gadget isn’t the only option for people looking to do things like read texts and emails, check the weather, and snap selfies using Bluetooth-enabled timepieces.

And since the Apple Watch only works with iPhones, it’s hardly the perfect fit for everyone. With that in mind, we decided to test out four smart watches that work with both iOS and Android devices. None of them can do everything the Apple Watch can, but they’re all priced well below $349—the starting point for the Apple—and each suits the needs of a certain type of individual. 

This media is not available on this platform.

Pebble Steel  

Price: $175.99

Perfect for: People who want to do a lot without paying a lot

Like every other watch on this list, the Pebble Steel alerts you to whatever notifications are enabled on your phone. These include incoming calls, texts, and emails; missed calls; social-media activity; and calendar events. And like the others, it lets you snap photos on your phone—thereby eliminating the need for a selfie stick—and control the playback of music. So what makes the Pebble rock? In a word: options. This watch supports dozens of apps—everything from calculators and games to remote controls for home alarm systems and appliances. There are even multiple apps that beam in video from your phone or tablet, which basically turns the Pebble into a baby monitor or spy cam.

The video capabilities would be more impressive if the Pebble weren’t black and white, and a touchscreen would also sweeten the deal. But this thoughtfully designed watch offers a ton of bang for the buck, and even with four buttons, the menus are easy to navigate. 

This media is not available on this platform.

Garmin vívoactive

Price: $249.99

Perfect for: Active folks of all stripes

Sleek and lightweight and outfitted with a color touchscreen, the Garmin vívoactive is great for athletes—runners and walkers in particular. There’s a built-in step counter that kicks in during sedentary moments and reminds you to get moving, and because it also boasts GPS, you can use it without your phone. When you get back from your jog, stroll, or bike ride, simply sync back up to your iPhone or Android, and you have access to all sorts of nifty data (pace, calories burned, route followed, etc.) via the easy-to-use app. Speaking of that app, it allows you to download other apps and “widgets” and share fitness activities with friends, facilitating friendly (or not-so-friendly) competitions. 

The biggest drawback is the relatively limited number of apps and widgets, but as more become available, the vívoactive may win fans outside the fitness community. For now, the main audience is athletes, and they won’t be disappointed.

This media is not available on this platform.

Martian Victory

Price: $159.99

Perfect for: Style mavens on the move

If Don Draper owned a smart watch, this might be it. The Martian Victory doesn’t have a fancy digital display—notifications scroll by a tiny LED strip below the old-school hour and minute hands—and it doesn’t offer much in the way of functionality. But it looks classy, and it does have one major thing going for it: Voice Command. In true ‘50s Dick Tracy, ‘60s James Bond fashion, you can use this thing to make and receive calls and send texts via voice. This comes in handy while you’re engaged in any task that makes reaching for your phone dangerous or inappropriate.

Of the four watches we tested, the Victory is the sharpest looking and simplest to use. If you want to discreetly check emails and texts while discussing Mad Men at a dinner party, this is your pick. One thing to note: Once an incoming message scrolls by, you only have a minute to tape the glass and initiate a replay, so once you feel your wrist buzz, don’t dawdle in taking your peek.

This media is not available on this platform.

Alcatel OneTouch

Price: $149.99

Perfect for: Those prizing fashion over function

With its brightly lit touchscreen, vibrant color palette, customizable-watchface options, and user-friendly icons, the OneTouch looks almost like an Apple product. It doesn’t work like one, but in fairness, it doesn’t aspire to. The OneTouch is a fun starter smart watch for anyone more interested in, say, having their watchface match their outfit or display a favorite photo than they are concerned with doing any high-level tech stuff.

By scrolling through the 14 icons, you have access to a five-day weather forecast, a compass, a stopwatch, a pulse monitor, a phone finder, controls for your phone’s camera and music (complete with handy swipeable volume adjuster), and a step counter that, via the app, allows you to work toward adjustable distance and calorie goals. The fitness tracking isn’t as sophisticated as the Garmin’s, so once again, the OneTouch mostly gets by on aesthetics. With that in mind, it’s too bad the screen goes dark after a number of seconds (15 being the max) and only turns back on when you either hit the button on the side or move your arm upward. If you want to glance down at your wrist and check the time, you’re out of luck. 

Then, the frequent watchface darkness leads to a multi-day battery life that saves you from using the USB charger built into the strap—another cool feature.