Home Technology Best budget smartwatches

Best budget smartwatches

by Ajay Garg

If you’re looking for a best cheap smartwatch under $200/£200 there’s never been more choice. And for the first time there are sub-$100/£100 smartwatches that stack up as excellent smartwatches.

The likes of Amazfit and Xiaomi are making genuinely powerful smartwatches for low prices, and Apple has had to respond by slashing the price of its Apple Watch Series 3.

While top smartwatches like the Apple Watch Series 6 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 still command top prices for features like ECG, there’s an influx of cheaper devices going big on features and little on price. And in 2020, they’re actually offering good experiences that are easy to recommend.

If you’ve been trawling the nonsense sold on Amazon, check out our guide pulled from devices we’ve tried and tested.

  • No money constraints? Check out the best smartwatches of 2021
  • Find out the best smartwatches for Android users and iPhone users
  • Svelte and stylish: All of the current best smartwatches for women

Update: We first published this article in September 2014. It was updated in April 2021 with a host of new smartwatches some of which have not been reviewed by the Wareable team and have been marked as such. But such is the vibrancy of the market, a decision was taken to offer a better comparison of available devices.

Amazfit Bip U Pro

Price when reviewed: $69.99

Amazfit Bip U Pro

The Bip U and Bip U Pro is now available worldwide and is a huge update to the Bip S – at the same price. The screen has been improved most notably, and it boasts a larger 1.42-inch display, up from 1.28-inch on the Bip S.

The resolution has been doubled to 320×302, although the TFT screen tech is no-where near as good as the AMOLED you’ll find on Fitbit, Apple or Samsung rivals.

The Bip U Pro includes GPS, as well as SpO2 tracking, stress monitoring and breathing training, and your heart rate vitals are tracked with the Amazfit BioTracker 2 module. That will also help provide data from over 60 workout profiles.

And the Bip U Pro also supports Alexa on the wrist – if you like that kind of thing.

If you want to save extra cash you can pick up the standard Bip U, which doesn’t include native GPS or Alexa support. But at just $79.99 for the Pro version, why not splash out?

We’ve reviewed the Amazfit Bip U Pro and were astounded by the value on offer. It really is a strong package that doesn’t hold back features from more expensive Amazfits and belies its low price. Yes, there are sacrifices in terms of the build quality and yes, health data isn’t quite up to Fitbit/Apple levels. But it’s not that far short. A really savvy buy for bargain hunters.

Xiaomi Watch Lite

Price when reviewed: $TBC

Xiaomi Watch Lite

The Xiaomi Watch Lite is one of the most exciting budget smartwatches on the market, and at just £49.99 it offers excellent value – although availability is still patchy in the US, without an official release or price there.

It boasts a 1.4-inch TFT color display with a 320×320 resolution, and 5ATM water resistance. That puts it on par with the Amazfit Bip U.

It features 11 workout profiles, with running, cycling, swimming with an open water mode, trail running, trekking and cricket tracking. You also get GPS built-in for the accurate tracking of outdoor workouts.

Battery life is also excellent and Xiaomi quotes the GPS battery life as 10 hours, and it will last seven days between charges.

There’s a heart rate monitor on board, but no SpO2, which appears on pretty much every smartwatch these days.

We’ve spent serious time with the Mi Watch Lite. While it’s not the most exciting looking watch, it’s well built and offers good screen quality for the price. Core features work well enough and it’s an easy watch to get along with.

It’s a better option than the Realme Watch but the Amazfit Bip U Pro will get you a richer array of smarts.

Huawei Watch Fit

Price when reviewed: $138.99

Huawei Watch Fit

Another smartwatch that’s hard to find for US shoppers, the Huawei Watch Fit has plummeted in price and it is now available for $138.99.

The company has since launched the Huawei Watch Fit Elegant with a stainless steel finish, which has led to a big price cut for the original.

The Huawei Watch Fit is a surprisingly nice wearable to live with. We grew to like the tall 1.64 inch, 456 x 280 AMOLED screen, which is sharp and colourful.

There’s GPS on board and over 100 sport profiles, and running is well catered for with guided training programs and advanced data such as aerobic training effect, VO2 Max and a recovery time.

It’s waterproof to 50m, features swim tracking and there’s an SpO2 monitor for blood oxygen monitoring.

There’s still the odd software issues while heart rate monitor accuracy is still not great. It’s still a great shame Huawei doesn’t and probably won’t open up its platform to share with other apps.

But at this price it’s an excellent smartwatch, that delivers true value.

Amazfit GTS 2 Mini

Price when reviewed: $99.99

Amazfit GTS 2 Mini

Another budget Amazfit – the GTS 2 Mini comes in at $79.99, putting it between the budget Bip U and the fully-fledged GTS2/GTR 2.

So what’s the difference between the Bip U and the GTS 2 Mini? Not as much as you’d think. The build of the GTS 2 Mini is a little more stylish, and you get a superior AMOLED display over the Bip U. The case materials are better and it’s smaller. It’s only $20 more and we think it’s worth that little bit extra.

So the next question is why buy the GTS 2 Mini over the full blown GTS 2? Well, that’s a no brainer in our books.

The only real sacrifice over the flagship GTS is music storage, the on-board speaker and voice assistant. And all of those elements didn’t wow us on the GTS at all.

The GTS 2 Mini boasts a 40mm case over a 42mm on the full GTS 2, and shrinks the screen down to 1.55-inch. The resolution is also reduced to 306 x 354 pixels, but still punches out at 450 nit. It only weighs 20g, and you still get GPS, SpO2, the BioTracker 2.0 heart rate sensor and 14 days of battery life.

In terms of sports tracking, there are 60 workout profiles built in, and you get the same feedback in the Zepp app – plus support for third party APIs such as Strava.

And the best bit? It’s $99.99 compared to $179.99 – and you barely lose any features. We criticized the GTS 2 for being too expensive – but the GTS 2 Mini rights that wrong.

Apple Watch Series 3

Price when reviewed: $199.99

Apple Watch Series 3

When the latest generation of the Apple Watch was announced in September, the older Series 3 was cut into budget smartwatch territory for the first time – now available at just $199.99.

And as we go into Black Friday or the holidays, you may be able to nab it for even less.

However, be aware that this base price tag is for the 38mm, GPS model. If you want the cellular model, or indeed the bigger, 42mm case variation, you’ll have to pay slightly more.

So, what else do you get for your money? Well, the Series 3 is able to run on the same watchOS 7 software as the Series 5, and you still get GPS for location tracking, 4G/LTE for cellular support, Apple Pay, swim tracking and heart rate monitoring.

You’ll have to put up with the slightly boxier design, and you don’t get things like the always-on display or ECG monitoring, but the core features are all still here.


Related Articles

Leave a Comment