Best budget smartwatch 2022: The best cheap wearables for Android and iOS
You don't need to splash the cash for a high-quality smartwatch or fitness tracker – our best list proves there are plenty of top-notch budget versions.
Smartwatches come in all shapes, sizes, and designs these days, plus all manner of price points too. If you find yourself wincing at the triple-figure sums that many brands are asking of their top-end wearables, you're not alone.
Consumers often find it hard to invest large sums of money on a wearable when they've already spent so much on another smart device. A major challenge for manufacturers in the early days of smartwatches was justifying their need when set against a perfectly good smartphone. Of course, years of research and development have now established smartwatches as the perfect companions to the phones they're paired with.
But here's the thing: you really don't need to splash the cash to pick up a fantastic quality smartwatch. In fact, if you're mostly interested in basic fitness tracking, we would advise against it.
There's a staggering amount of choice at the budget-friendly end of the smartwatch market, but it can be hard to know where to begin looking. That's why we've put together our list of the best budget smartwatches and fitness out there. You'll find options from major brands including Apple, Samsung, Garmin, Huawei and Fitbit, each with its own particular strength.
And once you’re done reading? We have a best budget tablet round-up if you're into affordable tech across the board.
- Best budget smartwatches at a glance
- How to choose the best budget smartwatch
- Best budget smartwatches to buy in 2022
Here's a quick run-down of each of the budget smartwatches you'll find in our expert round-up. We've arranged them in price order below:
- Best budget Samsung smartwatch: Samsung Galaxy Fit 2, £39
- Best value budget smartwatch: Xiaomi Mi Band 6, £39.99
- Best budget smartwatch for display: Honor Band 6, £44.99
- Best budget smartwatch for workouts: Huawei Watch Fit, £89.99
- Best budget smartwatch for health: Garmin vívosmart 5
- Best budget fitness tracker: Garmin Forerunner 45, £159.99
- Best budget Apple Watch: Apple Watch SE, £269
There's a couple of bits of information that you need to know before spending in this price category.
- Budget is relative. You’ll find wearables from as little as £39 to as much as £269 in our best list. That’s because lots of brands offer 'lite' versions of pricier flagship, for example, Apple and its Watch SE; these are wearables you would class as smartwatches. However, lots of budget smartwatches offer a limited range of features in comparison to more expensive models, focused primarily on tracking metrics such as your heart rate, step count or distance covered.
- Think carefully about what you want from your smartwatch. If you’re looking to track your daily run or workout, then there’s little reason to spend outside of double digits. If you’re after a super-smooth extension to your smartphone – and one with all the latest features – we’re going to point you in the direction of our best smartwatch and best Android smartwatch lists.
- Is style or customisation important to you? It’s worth considering that budget-friendly fitness trackers tend to be rather simplistic affairs, often consisting of a strap and watch face that is moulded into one unit.
- Battery life. It's probably our strongest case for choosing a budget smartwatch over a higher-end one. With less features and less complex working parts, low-spec fitness trackers can last for impressive lengths of time before they need charging. Flagship wearables like the Apple Watch 7 will guzzle power in less than a day, and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 just two days, you’ll find options below that will last for a fortnight. Something to think about if you’re that person who always finds their device is on its last legs before you head out for the day.
Apple Watch SE, £269
Best budget Apple Watch
- A wealth of reliable features
- Highly intuitive UI
- No visual difference to Apple Watch 6
- Limited 18-hour battery life
- No 'always-on' display
- Still no Android compatibility
You might be asking yourself what on earth a £269 wearable is doing on a best budget smartwatch list (especially from a brand that's hardly known for its affordable products). Ultimately, the Watch SE takes its place here for two reasons: firstly, we know plenty of Apple-lovers who wouldn’t dream of wearing any other brand on their wrist. Secondly, the Apple Watch SE is genuinely an excellent affordable alternative to the Apple Watch 7, which starts at £369.
Our experts loved the ultra-smooth UI, the wealth of metrics and other features available. You won’t get the ‘always-on’ display or the blood oxygen and ECG apps of the flagship Watch 6 – but besides that, there’s very little to distinguish the two watches apart. Except for that £110 price difference.
Read our full Apple Watch SE review.
Samsung Galaxy Fit 2, £39
Best budget Samsung smartwatch
- 21-day battery life
- Highly affordable
- Effective and reliable tracking features
- Limited watch face and strap personalisation
- Icons on 2.78cm display may be hard for some users to see
By contrast, Samsung’s Galaxy Fit 2 doesn't have the features and capabilities of the flagship Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 – which should come as no surprise as it’s almost a tenth the price. Instead, the Galaxy Fit 2 is positioned as a no-frills fitness tracker for those who aren’t looking for particularly advanced metrics (it offers movement tracking, sleep monitoring and sleep/REM tracking).
Samsung’s pedigree as one of the world’s leading tech brands is what makes the Fit 2 shine: it boasts the easy-to-use UI, reliable features and crystal clear display that we’ve come to expect from the brand. We would have loved the option of a swappable strap – the Fit 2 is one moulded rubber band – but at the recently reduced price of £39, we know it’s a tall order.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Fit 2 review.
Honor Band 6, £44.99
Best budget smartwatch for display
- Larger display than Band 5
- Reliable heart rate and sleep tracking
- Fast battery charge
- Dubious stress tracker
- iOS compatibility issues
If you were to put the Honor Band 5 and Band 6 side-by-side, you might find it hard to believe that they are adjoining generations in the same range. Such was Honor’s real revamp of their Band range with the 6, which boasts a display that’s 148% bigger and a far classier-looking design that screams ‘smartwatch’ versus ‘fitness tracker’. These updates, plus an exceptionally fast charging time, were enough to make us see past an unconvincing stress-tracking feature and some compatibility issues with iOS with Huawei’s Health app. Plus, we really liked the series of watch face designs that you can pick from, like the retro option featured in the picture above.
Read our full Honor Band 6 review.
Huawei Watch Fit, £89.99
Best budget smartwatch for workouts
- Clear and easy to navigate
- Straightforward and accessible work-outs
- Sleek design
- Music control function not currently compatible with iOS
- Set-up process could be smoother
The Huawei Watch Fit is a great option for fitness fans seeking a budget-friendly option but want a level of features and metrics that are a step above the most basic wearables out there. It features a SpO2 (blood oxygen) sensor that you won’t get from cheaper wearables, along with an animated personal trainer that will guide you through an impressive 12 different sets of workouts. Our experts also appreciated the sleek design, larger-than-average display size, comfortable fit and 10-day battery life.
Read our full Huawei Fit Watch review.
Xiaomi Mi Band 6, £39.99
Best value budget smartwatch
- Clear, easy-to-use UI
- SpO2 sensor
- Swappable straps
- Arrived with no charge
The latest generation from Xiaomi’s Mi Band series of wearables, the Xiaomi Mi Band 6, is just a little more expensive than the Samsung Fit 2. And while lots of people might gravitate towards a well-established name like Samsung over an emerging company, we genuinely think they rank pretty equally in terms of design, features and value for money.
Our experts loved the crystal-clear AMOLED display of the Mi Band 6, the user-friendly app (which puts Huawei’s clunky affair to shame), along with the fact you can pop the watch face from the rubber strap and insert it into one of another colour – you’ll find a fun, bright-coloured range of straps out there.
Read our full Xiaomi Mi Band 6 review.
Garmin Forerunner 45, £159.99
Best budget fitness tracker
- Super-accurate metrics
- Unique design among fitness trackers
- Push-button UI not for everyone
A cursory glance at the Garmin Forerunner 45 might suggest it’s a digital watch from 1995 or thereabouts. But beneath the distinctly old-school façade of Garmin’s budget-friendly fitness tracker, is a device with a hugely reliable series of tracking features that will keep all but the most metric-obsessed among you content.
Those born of a time when swiping across touchscreens was already the norm might be a little taken aback by a watch with (gasp) five separate touch buttons to operate. But those more familiar with classic digital wearables will likely feel very comfortable indeed with the Forerunner 45.
Read our full Garmin Forerunner 45 review.
Garmin vívosmart 5
Best budget smartwatch for health
- Compatible with iOS and Android
- Incident detection
- Extensive health features
- Social media notifications
- No built-in GPS
- Limited fitness activities
- No music storage
When it comes to a budget smartwatch for monitoring your health, the Garmin vívosmart 5 is second-to-none. It has extensive health features, including heart rate, hydration tracking (you can set alerts to remind you to have a drink), respiration tracking, blood oxygen monitoring, and stress tracking, amongst others. It also offers a women's health feature where you can track menstrual cycles on the compatible smartphone app.
As well as all of that, the fitness features are great, too. There are preloaded fitness apps, such as yoga, preloaded exercises, such as breathing exercises, GPS on your smartphone to track walks, and 5 ATM water-resistance so you can wear it in the shower (we've tried it, it's all good) and for swimming. The Garmin vívosmart 5 will also tell you your fitness age.
We would've loved for the smartwatch to have built-in GPS so that you don't need to take your phone out and about with you, as well as music storage to listen to some tunes while you're working out. But at £129.99 and with health features galore, we're definitely not complaining.
Read our full Garmin vívosmart 5 review.
How we test budget smartwatches
At RadioTimes.com, we don’t just review smartwatches – we also test smartphones, tablets, earbuds, soundbars and printers. As you can probably tell, we’re big tech fans.
That’s why we take our testing processes very seriously; every time we review a smartwatch, we always use the same set of criteria.
Our criteria include the watch’s range of features, the performance of each of those features, the battery life, the design and build quality, and how easy it is to set up. We assess the smartwatch on its value for money since a mid-quality product can easily be redeemed by a great price tag, while an excessive price tag often spoils a big-brand winner. Our experts will then award the product a star rating out of five to one decimal point in each of our smartwatch reviews.
Our team of experts constantly puts the newest products to the test, quite often before they hit shelves. To stay up-to-date with our latest reviews – along with the latest tech news and deals – you can sign-up for our newsletter above.