Overall, recommending an Apple Watch is easy: if you use an iPhone and want a smartwatch, sticking with Apple is usually your best bet.
But there are several Apple Watches on the market right now. The introduction of the Apple Watch Series 7 in September 2021 increased Apple’s lifespan to a total of nine, with the company currently offering three models on the market: the Series 7, SE and Series 3. There are several variants that differ in size. Connectivity, design and price.
Then there are older but still updated generations that you can dig up at third-party retailers like Best Buy and Amazon, as well as options to buy refurbished devices. Everyone has different needs, and you may be able to find an Apple Watch that is less expensive and better suited to your desires by following these avenues.
The upcoming launch of watchOS 9 will further complicate these decisions, and as usual, Apple is expected to launch new models in the fall. For those who want to take the plunge todayHowever, we’ve scoured the market for old, new, and refurbished Apple Watches and tested the current options to help you find the best one for you. We will update this guide over time as new models are introduced. So if you’re upgrading from an older model or looking to get on board for the first time, let us do your research for you.
The best Apple Watch for most people
Apple watch series 7
Buy: From $345 at Amazon, Apple, Target, Walmart
The Apple Watch Series 7 is the best smartwatch you can buy right now. It’s the best-equipped, best-supported wearable on the market, making it the truest extension of your phone on the market. The number of apps and integrations is unprecedented, allowing you to do everything from opening your garage door to checking the ocean tides right from your wrist. It’s not the most sophisticated fitness accessory – we’d go for a Garmin smartwatch for serious athletes and outdoorsmen who want longer battery life and deeper training capabilities – but again, the Series 7 catches up a bit.
Packed with sensors for EKG monitoring, blood oxygen measurements, and heart rate, the Series 7 hits the top-tier trifecta for wearable health metrics. Add GPS, a compass, an always-on altimeter, built-in fall detection, 50-meter water resistance, and the option for cellular capabilities, and you have a fitness companion that you can take anywhere for both tracking and security purposes.
Apple’s “digital crown” mechanism is still an intuitive way to scroll the watch, and there are fun case colors and a variety of band options to suit your style, including the Sports bands from Nike, stylish metal options, woven ribbonsand a ton more.
With the upcoming release of watchOS 9 this fall, the Series 7 will also gain the ability to provide advanced running metrics (e.g. stride length, cadence, pace), heart rate zones, and new multisport tracking modes, among other features.
The Series 7 also has the largest display of any Apple Watch, thanks to the smaller bezels and 1mm larger watch case compared to the Series 6. It’s not a huge difference – other than that the larger size makes it easier to use a QWERTY keyboard for text entry – but it allows for larger text sizes, which can be a game changer for people with visual impairments.
With charging coils and a USB-C-based charger, the Series 7 is also the fastest-charging Apple Watch, charging from 0 to 100 percent in just over an hour in our tests. That’s about half the time it takes to charge any other Apple Watch model. This is also the only dustproof (IP6X) Apple Watch and the only one that supports typing on a full QWERTY keyboard.
To be clear, like every Apple Watch in this guide, the Series 7 isn’t perfect. While Apple’s smartwatches enjoy the broadest support for third-party apps (and accessories), you won’t find every iPhone app on the Apple Watch — far from it. And not every app is particularly useful. (Do you Yes, really do you want to be able to scroll through Twitter on your wrist?) Still, pretty much all the relevant apps for a wrist-based experience are available there.
The bigger sacrifice you make by owning an Apple Watch is battery life; it only lasts a day or so. Other smartwatches, like those from Garmin and Fitbit, can last a week or more, although you won’t find the same level of app support (third-party or first-party) as you’ll find on your iPhone. And yes, Apple Watches are still iPhone-only, and that’s unlikely to ever change. But overall, and for iPhone owners in particular, the Apple Watch is the most well-rounded wearable platform out there – and right now the Series 7 is the most comprehensive offering for the majority of people.
Who is it for: Those who want the latest health and fitness features or simply need a bigger screen
The upgrade is worthwhile for: Series 5 and below