When smartwatches really started to stir the tech scene back in 2014, they could only be defined as a fine-tuned smartphone packed into the body of a watch with a couple of extra fitness features here and there and, of course, a whole load more convenience. But since the initial introduction of smartwatches, it’s impressive to see how much the manufacturers continue to push the limits on what can be packed into smaller and smaller bodies. As it stands in 2022, there’s still an underlying misconception around smartwatches that they’re only fit for use by your average ‘Gym Bro’ who goes for non-stop bench PR's every weekend or the Michael Phelps and Mo Farah supporters. The brands on this shortlist have taken a whole new stance on what a smartwatch can really be and show just how much a smartwatch can benefit anyone.
Apple Watch Ultra
Announced at September's Apple event, the Apple Watch Ultra is essentially Apple's solution to the absence of a flagship smartwatch. The Apple Watch Ultra is considerably larger in size than other Apple smartwatches you may be used to, at 49mm in diameter, 4mm bigger than the already sizable 44mm Apple Watch Series 8. Whilst the bigger chassis leads to a larger screen, which is preferred by many on a smartwatch, the added weight may impact comfort for users of smaller smartwatches, so there will definitely be an adjustment period for anyone looking at the Apple Watch Ultra. The Apple Watch Ultra houses an OLED retina display, similar to that used on the iPhone 14, and outputs 4% more pixels than its younger sibling, the Series 8. Furthermore, the Apple Watch Ultra brings an insanely tough titanium chassis, which we've never seen in a smartwatch before; however, unless you decide you want to have a shot at fighting alongside the Avengers in New York, you'll probably never truly reap its benefits – nonetheless, a brilliant feature. The battery on the Apple Watch Ultra is a 542 mAh battery with wireless charging support, as we'd expect, and outputs around 72 hours of battery life on a single charge, which is just about entering three-day territory out of one charge; respectable for a watch packed with so many features. The Apple Watch Ultra’s key purpose is to be THE best smartwatch, and it's safe to say Apple passed these criteria with flying colours.
Fitbit Versa 3
When it comes to affordable smartwatches with plenty of fitness options, it doesn't get much better than the Fitbit Versa 3. The Fitbit Versa 3 underwent a considerable redesign over its predecessor, the Fitbit Versa 2, such as the removal of physical buttons in place for indented sensors as Fitbit attempts to deliver an easier-to-use smartwatch. However, the general consensus was that many preferred the physical buttons of the Versa 2. Nevertheless, the Fitbit Versa 3 is a fantastic wearable that can do most of what the Fitbit Sense can do at a fraction of the price. The Fitbit Versa 3 features a 40mm AMOLED display, which is impressive for a smartwatch at this price point. The user experience itself on the Fitbit Versa 3 is fast and snappy, with most of the only noted frustrations with the watch being the removal of the physical buttons and Fitbit's notorious paywall, which restricts users from accessing certain health features without a subscription. In better news, many retailers of the Fitbit Versa 3 offer free subscriptions alongside the watch as a bundle. As for the battery life on the Fitbit Versa 3, you can expect anywhere from 5 to 6 days of battery life on a single charge, which not one person could complain about—not unless you're reading this article in 2032. This battery duration quickly diminishes however, when users decide to switch on the always-on display, which reduces it by up to 60% down to 2 days.
Garmin Venu 2 Plus
The Garmin Venu 2 Plus is the 2022 successor to the Garmin Venu 2 and offers the same features with one significant addition, a microphone. This allows users to answer incoming calls straight from the watch itself, which is certainly not a new feature as far as smartwatches are concerned, but everyone has to start somewhere. What is new, however, is a smartwatch compatible with Siri, Google Assistant and Bixby, which the Garmin Venu 2 Plus brings, adding to the already great smartwatch and giving more flexibility to its users regardless of the smartphone platform they’re based on. The Garmin Venu 2 Plus brings a near identical build to last year’s Venu 2, with its main difference being its limited availability to 43mm models rather than having two size variants. The Venu 2 Plus has a bright, high-resolution AMOLED display, which is smooth and responsive to use; however (like the Fitbit Versa 3), it has an always-on mode which does put a big dent in battery life. Speaking of which, the battery life on the Garmin Venu 2 Plus lasts up to 10 days in battery saver mode, which is all you could ask for in a smartwatch.
Last but certainly far from least in today's article is the Mobvoi TicWatch. The Mobvoi TicWatch E3 takes a fundamental design approach with a round shape, several buttons and straps, and is a solid dark grey colour. The face of the device is a simple circle of curved glass that blends into a polycarbonate frame. Mobvoi calls the Tic Watch’s look "classic”, which couldn’t be closer to the truth- but that’s okay. Mobvoi's choice of polycarbonate helps keep the price down without sacrificing much in terms of robustness. Polycarbonate has a metallic finish that makes it look almost like metal, so if it's a premium look you're after, you can still find it in the Mobvoi TicWatch. The display on the Mobvoi TicWatch comes in a 33mm size, packing slightly less than the rest of the picks on this list; however, size isn't always everything. Whilst there's no mention of any OLED or AMOLED screen technology present, the Mobvoi TicWatch still has a pretty solid display whether that be outdoors, indoors or in low light. The battery on the Mobvoi TicWatch measures 380 mAh of capacity allowing the device to last a whole two days on a single charge which is pretty respectable.
Of course, every watch on this list has all of the standout core smartwatch features that you’d expect on a smartwatch in 2022, such as general health tracking, including heart rate monitoring & female health tracking, as well as smart apps and contactless payments. Let us know your take on our best wearables of 2022, and if there’s anything you’d add – voice your option in the discussion box below, and we may just feature it.