Consumer Reports: Smartwatches

Posted at 6:55 PM, Jan 12, 2016

Smartwatches can count your steps, check your heart rate, and display lots of other data conveniently on your wrist.

And of course they tell time, too.

Consumer Reports rated more than a dozen watches, putting them through a variety of tests. Consumer Reports tested the durability of the cover glass by scratching it with picks of increasing hardness.

Consumer Reports tested heart-rate accuracy by comparing watches with its highest-rated heart-rate monitor. Testers assessed water resistance by putting watches in a pressurized tank. The $175 Sony SmartWatch 3 failed that test and landed at the bottom of Consumer Reports’ ratings.

At the top of the ratings is the Apple Watch, which starts at $550. Consumer Reports found that the face doesn’t scratch very easily. Like the Android Wear and the Pebble watches, Apple Watch accepts apps developed by third parties. That means plenty of options like Fantastical, a calendar app, and OmniFocus, a personal-organizer app.

A good, less expensive choice is the $130 Asus ZenWatch 2. Unlike Apple, you can use it with a phone that runs on iOS or Android.

Another gift option: The $350 Samsung Gear S2, which offers 3G so you don’t have to stay tethered to your phone to receive calls and notifications.

Battery life is a big issue for smartwatch users. So it’s good to know that all of the smartwatches Consumer Reports recommends lasted at least a day.