Group Test: 5 smartwatches for every occasion

Timekeepers of technology

Closing in on a decade-long stint on our wrists, have we warmed up to being cuffed with tech?

Words: Nishant Padhiar, Sambit Satpathy, Kaizad Billimoria, Khumail Thakur

Apple Watch S7

Best for: iPhone users

What’s the story? 

The Series 7 begins with an all-new display that is now available in 41 and 45mm sizes, both featuring a useable screen area that is 20% larger than the Series 6 and it’s most noticeable against an all-white watch face where you can see the display being pushed further towards the edges with even slimmer borders. Even specific watch faces like Contour, World Time and Modula Duo have been added to benefit from the increased real estate. 

Is it any good? 

Almost as unbelievable as flying pigs, you get a full QWERTY keypad on the Apple Watch S7 now and before you start spewing “exploding head” emojis, read on. It actually uses SWYPE, so you can simply glide your index finger around and the AI software does an amazing job of getting it right 99% of the time, which is a fantastic hit rate! In the email, you get 50% more text on a single screen, which means less scrolling. System-wide text resizing is possible too, along with Dynamic sizing on some apps. 

Doubling the thickness of the front crystal, Apple claims to have made the most crack-resistant Watch ever. Even though the dimensions have been altered marginally, S7 is compatible with all previous Watch bands.

As an added bonus, the S7 also is the first version to get IP6X dust-resistance certification along with being already water-resistant up to 50mts, giving it a Garmin-like appetite for adventure. The brighter rest-mode screen, larger tap points, SWYPE functionality keyboard, slightly faster-charging thanks to the USB-C charging puck...all add to the existing allure of all the health and fitness credentials it has racked up over the years. It may still be the most expensive smartwatch in the market, but it also feels the “smartest” of the lot with its huge array of functionality, especially if you’re tied into the Apple ecosystem.

Stuff Says ★★★★★ 

Adds new functionality due to the larger display. Even better!


Amazfit GTR 3

Best for: Long battery

What’s the story? 

The winter season is nigh and the trails are no longer covered in moss and rainwater. For outdoor fitness enthusiasts, this is perfect to step outside and get a feel of the outdoors. And for that, the Amazfit GT3 series watches are packed with features to track outdoor fitness regimes and also for indoor life schedules. We’ve got the GTR 3 which is the mid-spec watch from Amazfit and it fights the toughest battle with Xiaomi and OnePlus on either side. 

Is it any good?

The Amazfit GTR 3 packs a lot of tracking features for the price. It’s sufficiently accurate too. The ZeppOs on the watch is almost similar to what Xiaomi, OnePlus and others have been doing. Swipe right and left to access tracking features and swipe up or down to access the notification and settings menu. It’s all simple and easy to use and the bright AMOLED screen makes life a wee bit easier in the sun. We got around a week and a half of heavy usage but if you sleep with this thing to track your snooze then expect a little less battery life.

It has a solid build and is big and round but sadly, it comes in one size only and that could be unpleasant for sleep tracking. It can recognise 8 workouts and start tracking immediately but for some reason, this feature didn’t work as well with us.

However, if you use it as a regular companion then the battery life can be well over two or even three weeks. Battery life is one of the crowning features of the Amazfit GTR 3 watch but it also packs a navigation crown that rotates and clicks like the Apple Watch. It’s not as tactile but for the price, we’re not complaining. With over 150 activity modes to track and a battery life to match, the GTR 3 is a solid workout tracker and an everyday watch. We wish the watch faces were a little sophisticated. There are no kiddie faces like the Huawei Band but the lack of pomp is somewhat disappointing. OnePlus Watch still tops our list in this price range.

Stuff Says ★★★★✩

Amazing for fitness and battery life, and nothing else...


Fossil Gen 6

Best for: Style over function

What’s the story? 

Not everyone fancies a smartwatch that looks like a mini-calculator on their wrists. Some prefer the traditional watch look, with a bit of modern technology sprinkled on top. Fossil continues to cater to such an audience, and its new Gen 6 smartwatch is no different. 

Is it any good? 

The circular AMOLED display is lovely to look at sporting colours that pop, and inky blacks, which come to the fore when choosing a dark watch face. Speaking of which, there are quite a few to choose from by default, ranging from sober to informative. If you still need more, then there’s always the Play Store, which hosts thousands of third-party watch faces. Under the hood is the Snapdragon 4100+ chipset, which is noticeably faster than what we have seen before. Apps open and shut with ease, and everything just feels snappy. 

Like any modern smartwatch, one can track activities, but the accuracy is not on par with the likes of the Apple Watch or the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4. The screen is a visual treat with colours that pop and deep blacks. The screen also reacts very well to touch commands. Also to make sense of the collected data, you will need to download the Google Fit app, which we found to be a bit fiddly to set up. Another thing you need to be careful about is the variant you choose. The stainless steel model we reviewed is heavy and not suited for gym sessions. If fitness tracking is what you want, the silicone straps are the ones you need. The quick-release straps are easy to pop out and replace. You can choose from stainless steel, silicone to leather. 

The Gen 6 is let down on the software front. The Wear OS 2 onboard feels dated, especially when compared to the latest Wear OS on the Galaxy Watch 4. That said, the Gen 6 is slated to receive the latest OS update sometime next year. Another letdown is the battery, which struggled to survive an entire day. Charging is super fast though, and you can get enough juice to last an entire day in the time it takes you to shower.

Stuff Says ★★★★✩
A fantastic looking ‘smart’ watch that’s held back by dated software

Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR

Best for: Old school cool

What’s the story?

Off with their screens! If a watch could bark out orders, that’s what the Skagen would command! Let’s face it, a vast majority of people still love the traditional look and feel of the analogue watch. There’s something mesmerising about the physical hands that move around and no fancy ‘watch face’ on a display can beat that - rectangular or circular. The Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR does have a display behind the traditional hands but it’s an E Ink display like the ones you get on a Kindle. It is a subtle enough catalyst that blends both the digital and the analogue world with each other.

Is it any good?

Oh, it’s charming alright! A big part of its charm is the long battery life it has. Since it doesn’t have an outrageous OLED display, it can tick-tock for over two weeks and when it runs out of juice, there’s rapid charging on board too. There are two sizes available - 38mm and 42mm and a total of five designs to choose from. We had the stainless steel version with the brown leather straps the undersides of which are rubberised and great for a workout. You may not be able to take it for a proper swim and shower with it, but it is rated 3ATM so a few splashes are okay.

However, with no WearOS on board, what you get is Skagen’s very own app that helps track your activity, which is quite limited but you can set up Google Fit. Natively, you can track your footsteps, active minutes, active calories, heart rate and sleep. It may not be the most extensive tracker out there but that’s the whole point here. Tap twice on the Skagen’s face and it lights up like the first night of Diwali on Marine Drive! Quite sparkly! 

It’s got features that you’d use day-to-day. There are weather forecasts and commute times that will let you select your destination and give you real-time updates of estimated commute times depending on the traffic. It also pushes notifications for your apps and there are options for customised quick response options for calls that work like a charm just like the handy music control options. 

Stuff says ★★★★✩

It may not be the smartest but it’s the perfect blend of both worlds


OnePlus Watch Harry Potter Edition

Best for: Hardcore hipsters

What’s the story?

Always the stickler for details OnePlus has ensured that for Potterheads, the experience begins from the unboxing process. A beautiful brick-wall box with the Hogwarts seal encases the Watch itself and it comes with an exclusive start-up screen, using a wand effect and even some cool watch faces to represent the four different houses of Hogwarts. 

There are a couple of bonus watch faces too, featuring the castle and the Hogwarts emblem but they are only active watch faces and cannot be selected as the Always-On watch face. There’s another selection of specific dials only for that purpose and honestly, they are pretty smart too! The leather strap, embossed with a ‘H’ logo is of extremely high quality and feels supple on the skin and along with the bronzed dial and blackness of the AMOLED screen give it a really striking look that is both luxurious and avant-garde. The Harry PotterEdition is 5ATM and IP68 rated so you might want to keep a spare sports strap instead of the leather.

Is it any good? 

As before, the design, materials and comfort on the OnePlus Watch are top-notch. The large 46mm round display is bright and crisp with supreme touch response and feel. The haptic engine isn’t as nuanced as the Apple Watch and the platform has limited functionality too, but in terms of price, it also undercuts the Apple Watch or Samsung Galaxy Watch by a considerable margin. The built-in storage allows you to use about 2GB for music from the 4GB of total available space.

Some omissions have been fixed from the earlier edition, like the inclusion of a camera shutter control. There are more than 100 different exercise routines available but like before, there is no way to go back to the home screen while a workout is on and even to see the time, you have to go back to one screen. Since this is just an “edition” update, the only real new features are the cosmetic and visual changes, however battery life is now over a week!

Stuff says ★★★✩✩

Only for the die-hard fans with no changes to the OS or hardware