Canstar Blue’s smartwatch & fitness tracker ratings compare Apple, Garmin, Samsung and Fitbit on their ease of use, compatibility, battery life, features and functionality, appearance & style, value for money, accessories and overall satisfaction.
See our Ratings Methodology.
Trading up to a smartwatch or wearable isn’t just about tracking how many kilometres you clock up during a run. You can use smart devices to pay for groceries, check your daily schedule, do guided workouts, make video calls and send quick texts ─ all without having to reach into your back pocket or dig through your bag. But with so many wrist gadgets now available on the market, how do you know which would be the perfect fit for your needs and lifestyle?
To find out, we asked more than 660 Australian consumers for their feedback on the new wearable device(s) they have purchased and used in the last two years. Brands were rated on ease of use, compatibility, battery life, appearance and style, value for money, features and functionality, available accessories and overall satisfaction. Those which received at least 30 responses are included in our report.
Here are the best brands of smartwatches and fitness trackers in Australia, as rated by consumers in Canstar Blue’s 2022 review:
After placing second in 2021’s inaugural ratings, Apple has stepped up to take the gold medal in our 2022 report. The tech giant scored an impressive five stars for overall satisfaction, beating out last year’s winner Samsung and popular fitness brands Garmin and Fitbit.
Apple was also rated five stars for ease of use, compatibility, features, appearance and style and accessories. However, the company did lose out to Samsung, Garmin and Fitbit on value for money, and trailed behind Garmin for battery life.
Read on for a quick overview of the brands in our report, including the products, prices and specs they have on offer.
Tech giant Apple launched its popular smartwatch line in 2014 and has since grown to produce several generations, plus exclusive collaborations with Nike and Hermès.
The latest models, the Apple Watch Series 7 and Apple Watch SE share many of the same features. The Series 7 features a larger Retina Display, a dust-resistant and swim-proof design and all-day battery life with fast charging. You’ll also get a range of heath features including Blood Oxygen and ECG measurements, as well as standard fitness and sleep tracking and the option to subscribe to Apple’s Fitness+ service.
Prices usually start from $599 for the latest Apple Watch Series 7, or $1,119 for models with the stainless-steel case with either a leather link or Milanese loop band. The previous Apple Watch Series 3 begins from a more affordable price tag of $299, but the variety is limited to a silver or space grey aluminium case. The new Apple Watch SE meets in the middle with a starting price of $429 and provides a long list of designs similar to the Apple Watch Series 6.
The cost also varies between sizes. The Series 7 comes in 41mm and 45mm sizes, the SE offers 40mm and 44m, while the Series 3 is available in either 38mm or 42mm. Some models to expect include:
Apple was rated an impressive five stars for overall satisfaction, and achieved an additional five-star score for ease of use, compatibility, features and functionality, appearance and style and for accessories. It also received four stars for value for money and for battery life.
If you want to be spoiled for choice, Garmin has a huge variety of wearables and smartwatches. Many of the models can be sorted based on activity, such as swimming, hiking, running, boating & sailing and tactical training. There are also a number of solar-powered GPS smartwatches, including the Fenix 7 which is claimed to provide up to 22 days worth of battery life!
Garmin also offers hybrid wearable for more fashion-conscious consumers, which combine the functionality of its sports range with a classic design. The company also produces fitness trackers for children, including the Vivofit Jr 3 series which offers Disney and Marvel designs and includes parental controls via the accompanying app.
The cost of Garmin’s solar-powered GPS outdoor watches will usually set you back $799 for different editions of the Instinct watch, although the original Instinct model retails for half the price ($399 RRP*).
A few Garmin smartwatches currently available include:
Garmin scored five stars for value for money and battery life in our 2022 ratings. It also achieved four stars for overall satisfaction, appearance and style and compatibility.
Samsung aims to create a range of Galaxy smartwatches that are ‘out of this world’, especially if you’re looking for health and wellness tech packed in a traditional watch design. The company’s range includes the Galaxy Watch4, the more premium Galaxy Watch4 Classic, and the fitness-focused Galaxy Fit and Galaxy Watch Active series.
The Galaxy Watch4 series is Samsung’s first smartwatch that measures body composition ─ including fat, muscle and water percentages ─ thanks to the included BioActive Sensor. It also includes a bevy of fitness tracking and health features, such as blood oxygen measurement, sleep analysis, and blood pressure and ECG data. Aside from fitness functionality, the Watch4 range also includes Samsung’s new Wear OS interface and a fast 1.18GHz processor.
Most Samsung smartwatches come in 40mm and 44mm sizes, although some models are available in 41mm, 42mm, 43mm and 46mm. These are available as either a Bluetooth-only or cellular/LTE option, although cellular models are typically pricier. Size may also add extra dollars to the price tag. Prices for the Galaxy4 series begin at around $400, going up to the $700 mark if you don’t add extra customisation. Popular Samsung wearables include:
Samsung was rated four stars for overall satisfaction, ease of use, compatibility, features and functionality, appearance and style and for accessories. It also scored a five-star review for value for money.
Synonymous with everything health and fitness since 2007, Fitbit’s wearable tech is stated to be designed to help you reach your goals by tracking ‘every part of your day’. This includes activity, exercise, food, weight and sleep.
While measuring heart rate is common in many smartwatches and fitness trackers, Fitbit claims to be the inventor of the world’s first ‘automatic, continuous heart rate tracking technology on your wrist’ ─ PurePulse.
Fitbit’s new smartwatches, including the Sense, Versa 2 and Versa 3, come with many of the same features. Some include 24/7 heart rate tracking, guided breathing sessions, stress management tools, all-day activity tracking, sleep tracking, SmartTrack Auto Exercise Recognition, Pace & Distance with phone GPS and more than 20 goal-based exercise modes.
Fitbit smartwatches usually start from $149.95 for the Inspire 2, $399.95 for the Versa 3 and $449.95 for the Sense model. A kid-friendly Fitbit is also available for $99.95 with Fitbit’s Ace 3. Buyers can also subscribe to Fitbit’s Premium membership plans for personalised health insights.
Several fitness trackers from Fitbit include:
Fitbit achieved a five-star score for value for money, and also locked in four-star results for ease of use, battery life and appearance. It was awarded three stars for overall satisfaction.
From tracking sleep patterns to enjoying guided workouts and video calling, there are plenty of reasons why many people are ticking over to wearable devices. In fact, one in four respondents (25%) to our survey wore a traditional analogue or digital watch before switching to a smartwatch or fitness tracker.
Two-thirds bought a smartwatch (66%), with a handful similarly opting for a hybrid smartwatch (8%). Just under a quarter of respondents (23%) alternatively bought a fitness tracker. The move isn’t cheap though, with Australians spending an average of $395 on a new wrist gadget ─ up from $311 in our 2021 survey.
Smartwatches can make everyday tasks a little easier, such as calling and messaging, checking your calendar and playing music at the flick of a wrist. You can also use the pay technology on your smartwatch to make transactions at the shops, just like a number of our survey respondents (17%). Although fitness trackers and smartwatches now typically share many of the same functions and apps.
Fitness trackers are a useful way to make the most out of your workouts and log your health goals. This is mainly thanks to functions which track information such as heart rate, calories burned, pace and distance, step count, sleep, menstrual cycle and time spent being active. However, according to our survey only 8% of respondents believe their fitness tracker has actually improved their training.
New fitness trackers like the Apple Watch Series 7 and Samsung Galaxy Watch4 also measure blood oxygen levels. Samsung describes this addition as a way to check if you’re breathing correctly, based on how effectively your blood is carrying oxygen throughout your body. But keep in mind that fitness trackers are not designed for medical use.
Here are the most common ways Australians use their fitness tracker, according to our survey:
A small number of people also purchased a fitness tracker to look more athletic (3%).
A major downside is that you will need to check if your smartphone is compatible with the wearable device you plan to buy. To stay on the safe side, or as a matter of brand loyalty, two in five consumers (41%) who took part in our survey, purchased the same brand of smartwatch as their phone.
There are many models that can work with any phone, however some smartwatches can only pair with phones of the same brand and its latest operating system (OS). Keep in mind also that some older smartwatches are only capable of updating up to a certain OS version, so you might not be able to experience new software updates. The Apple Watch Series 1 for example, only works with watchOS 6.2, the manufacturer’s previous version of the software.
Another risk is that certain smartwatches might not support specific apps or functionalities. This may include not being able to send texts to certain devices or not having access to particular apps.
According to our survey, which type of wearable device you buy largely depends on how you want it to complement your lifestyle. Almost one in five (18%) used a fitness tracker to keep track of their fitness or health, before purchasing a smartwatch. One in four (25%) also wore a traditional watch before switching to a smartwatch or fitness tracker.
This report was written by Canstar Blue’s home & lifestyle journalist, Tahnee-Jae Lopez-Vito. She’s an expert on household appliances, grooming products and all things grocery and shopping. In addition to translating our expert research into consumer-friendly ratings reports, Tahnee spends her time helping consumers make better-informed purchase decisions on all manner of consumer goods and services, while highlighting the best deals and anything you need to be aware of.Compare Smartphones
Picture credits: SeventyFour/ Shutterstock.com, Money Business Images/ Shutterstock.com.
*Prices taken from retailers, correct as of May 2022.
Our smartwatch & fitness tracker ratings saw a number of brands rated best in different areas:
Canstar Blue surveyed 3,001 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have purchased and used a brand new wearable smart device in the last two years – in this case, 666 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.
Here are past winners of Canstar Blue’s Most Satisfied Customers – Wearable Devices ratings:
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*Prices correct as of publication date.