Heart rate monitors have become commonplace in smartwatches over the past few years. This is because they add lots of useful features such as tracking your workouts to see if you’re pushing yourself enough, monitoring your sleep patterns, and estimating how many calories you burn.
As someone big on health and fitness tracking, this is an essential feature that I look for in a smartwatch so I’ve been researching the market to find the best heart rate monitor smartwatches. I’m sharing everything I found in this helpful guide.
The best smartwatch with a heart rate monitor is the Ticwatch Pro 3. It runs Google’s WearOS platform which gives it access to a huge selection of third-party apps and it has a dual-screen for improved battery life. Mobvoi has kitted it out with a dedicated TicPulse app for measuring your heart rate via the built-in sensor on the back.
Keep reading for the full list of recommendations, including dedicated options for runners and those who want something a little more snazzy.
- 1 Best Heart Rate Monitor Smartwatches
- 1.1 Best Overall: Ticwatch Pro 3
- 1.2 Best for iPhone Users: Apple Watch 6
- 1.3 Best for Fitness: Fitbit Versa 3
- 1.4 Best for Runners: Garmin Forerunner 245 Music
- 1.5 Best Hybrid: Withings Steel HR
- 1.6 Best for Outdoor Sports: Suunto 7
- 1.7 Budget Pick: Amazfit Bip U
- 1.8 Best for Design: Michael Kors Access Lexington 2
- 1.9 Battery Life: Huawei Watch GT 2
Best Heart Rate Monitor Smartwatches
Best Overall: Ticwatch Pro 3
Heart rate monitor with dedicated TicPulse app
Signature dual screen is good for battery life
Large range of third-party apps
The Ticwatch Pro 3 is my top pick when it comes to smartwatches with a heart rate monitor. It runs the latest Snapdragon 4100 chipset which makes it lightning fast and it packs in a huge range of features for health, fitness, and everyday use.
The device runs Google’s WearOS platform, but it is unlike any other smartwatch using this platform. For starters, it has a dual-screen with an LCD screen overlaid on top of the smartwatch screen to show an always-on watch face like a digital watch. This provides a huge advantage in terms of battery life, lasting 3-5 days which is far above others using this operating system.
But, that’s not the only way that Mobvoi has tried to differentiate it from other WearOS watches. It comes with a range of preloaded apps, known as the Tic-Suite which add extra functionality above and beyond what Google already provides.
This includes TicPulse which is used to monitor your heart rate and feed the data into the TicHealth app. It’s able to provide 24-hour heart rate monitoring, calculate your resting heart rate, and helpful graphs to show your heart rate over the past 7 days.
It also has automatic activity detection which isn’t found in other WearOS watches. This will keep track of your daily exercise without having to start a specific workout each time.
Best for iPhone Users: Apple Watch 6
Apple Watch is known as one of the most accurate heart rate monitor smartwatches
Seamless integration with Apple’s other services
Also has ECG and blood oxygen monitor
Only works with iPhone
All of the Apple Watches have a heart rate monitor, but the top-of-the-range Series 6 is a great buy for anyone serious about their health tracking. According to research, the Apple Watch is one of the most accurate commercially available smartwatches within 1.5bmp, although this research used an earlier Apple Watch Series 3 so you can expect improvements upon this by the Series 6.
As well as seeing your current heart rate, using the dedicated heart rate app, you can see your resting, walking, breathing, workout, and recovery rate. This helps see if you’re managing to improve your overall health over time.
The heart rate monitor is automatically turned on during workouts and Apple uses it to provide an accurate estimate of how many calories you have burned. There’s also a feature that allows you to get a notification when your heart rate is outside of a specific window or irregular.
In addition to the heart rate monitor, there’s also an ECG which will show if your heart is beating regularly, and a blood oxygen monitor to measure how well your blood is absorbing oxygen, this is particularly useful if training at high altitudes.
Another feature in the Series 6 that isn’t in any other Apple Watches is the always-on display, this allows you to easily glance at your health vitals.
The only downside to the Apple Watch is that they don’t work with Android phones. If you have an iPhone, you’re in luck because all of Apple’s best services integrate with the device, including Apple Pay, Apple Music, and Siri.
Best for Fitness: Fitbit Versa 3
Detailed sleep score that takes lots of factors into consideration
Both Alexa and Google Assistant built-in
Some features require a Fitbit Premium subscription
Fitbit made a name for itself with activity trackers, but many of their newer launches are full-blown smartwatches such as the Versa series.
The Versa 3 has the same heart rate monitor as the more expensive Fitbit Sense but doesn’t have the ECG or skin temperature sensors that their premium watch has. If you’re just looking for a heart rate monitor, then the Versa 3 is a more savvy pick.
As well as the heart rate monitor, it has blood oxygen monitoring and Fitbit’s sleep monitoring which uses a ton of data points like time awake, restlessness, and heart rate to give you a daily sleep score.
One of my favorite things about Fitbits wearables is that they currently support both Alexa and Google Assistant so you have your choice of voice assistant. However, given that Google has recently acquired Fitbit, we’ll see whether that will change in the future.
The watch is aimed at fitness fanatics so you won’t find a huge range of ‘everyday’ apps, a notable missing feature is the ability to download Spotify for offline listening, only Deezer and Pandora are supported for music downloads.
Fitbit claims a 6-day battery life, however, this is based on very light usage. Overall users on Amazon seem happy with the battery life, although some suggest that 3 days is more realistic. That’s still better than many smartwatches we’ve reviewed.
Best for Runners: Garmin Forerunner 245 Music
Onboard storage for up to 500 songs
Dynamic training plans via Garmin Coach
Add additional fitness apps via Garmin Connect IQ
No NFC for contactless payments
For anyone that predominantly uses their smartwatch during running (or fast walking in my case), the Forerunner 245 Music has been designed with this exact use case in mind.
Some of the features include dynamic training plans via Garmin Coach that will adapt based on your performance, incident detection that can send emergency alerts, heart rate monitoring, pulse oximeter, and 6 hours of battery life in full GPS mode.
If you’re keen to get a precise heart rate reading, the great thing about this watch is that it’s also compatible with a chest strap heart rate monitor which is slightly more accurate. (source)
I recommend the Forerunner 245 Music over the original Forerunner 245 as you get Wi-Fi connectivity and 3.5Gb of music storage capacity which is suitable for up to 500 songs. This means you can use the watch tether-free and still listen to music on your runs.
Garmin has a good selection of supported streaming services for offline music, including Spotify, Deezer, and Amazon Music, in addition to MP3 downloads. As well as music apps, there’s also a growing selection of third-party apps via the Garmin Connect IQ, most of these are fitness-focused such as Strava Routes, Runsafe+, bleep test, etc.
Being a watch designed for runners, it does have a very sporty aesthetic which might not be appealing for every occasion. It also lacks NFC so you can’t make contactless payments as you can with other Garmin smartwatches.
Best Hybrid: Withings Steel HR
Lasts 25 days on a single charge
Blends in like a traditional watch
Relies on a smartphone for most features as there is only a small digital screen
The next device on our list is the Withings Steel HR. This is a hybrid watch as it packs in all of the sensors of a smartwatch but still has a traditional analog watch face. This allows it to track your health and fitness, whilst having a significant impact on battery life. This allows the watch to last 25 days with full GPS and heart rate tracking.
The main watch face is analog but there is a tiny digital screen embedded within it that can show notifications, heart rate, calories burned, battery, and a few other key stats. You can choose what you’d like the screen to show and can cycle through the different measures with the button.
The Steel HR can monitor your heart rate with regular recording 24/7 and continuous recording during workouts. All of the data is provided in helpful reports via the companion app or you can see your current heart rate on the digital screen.
Your heart rate is also combined with accelerometer data to provide a sleep score based on how long you are asleep and how restless you are.
The main downside to this watch is the limited number of features that stem from it not having the usual smartwatch screen. You will need to rely on your phone for managing and using the watch, plus there is no NFC, GPS, or offline music storage.
Best for Outdoor Sports: Suunto 7
A rugged watch designed for extreme environments
Offline maps with heat maps automatically download in new locations
Offline music via 8GB internal storage
The device is quite bulky compared to others recommended here
If you enjoy trail running, mountain climbing, or other outdoor sports, the Suunto 7 smartwatch is a great device to have on your wrist.
Similar to the Ticwatch which I rated as the best overall watch, the Suunto 7 also runs Google’s WearOS operating system which gives it notification mirroring, third-party apps, and the ability to download music to its 8GB internal storage.
Suunto, a brand known for its expert sports devices, has made this watch their own with rugged hardware and extra features that are ideal for use in the great outdoors.
The watch is shock, water, and dirtproof with a scratch-resistant screen. It can be used at temperatures between -20°C to 50°C and submerged up to 50m in water. However, this extra durability does come with some added weight and thickness compared to other smartwatches at 70g and 15.3mm respectively.
On the software side, Suunto has added free offline maps that automatically download via WiFi when you are in a new area so that you don’t have to remember that yourself.
Using their extensive knowledge from together Suunto products, the maps provide heat maps of where other Suunto users have frequented, broken down into 15 different sports such as running, swimming, and cycling.
The heart rate feature shows your current heart rate as well as a daily graph showing how it has changed over the last 24 hours. The watch integrates with several fitness apps including Strava, Endomondo, and TrainingPeaks. Plus, being WearOS, it also has Google Pay and Google Assistant.
Budget Pick: Amazfit Bip U
Very affordable price tag
Heart rate included in a 7-day rolling health assessment score
Sleep assistant will track your heart rate at night
No NFC or third-party apps
If you’re on a low budget, Amazfit is an up-and-coming competitor that has focused on offering excellent value for money. Their Amazfit Bip U smartwatch made it to the number one spot in our breakdown of the best budget smartwatches, and with good reason.
You can either opt for always-on heart rate monitoring or use the sleep assistant which allows you to track your heart rate while your sleeping.
If you’d like to conserve battery life, there is lots of customization available with the heart rate monitor. You can reduce the frequency it checks your heart rate from the default of 1 minute to every 5, 10, or 30 minutes.
The Bip U has over 50 watch faces to choose from, these have modular widgets which means you can add your heart rate, step count, or other key stats to the home screen for quick access.
Amazfit has recently rebuilt and rebranded its companion app. Rather than relying on the Huawei Mi Fit app, they now have the Zepp app where all of your watch’s settings and fitness tracking can be found.
One unique feature about Amazfit watches is that they provide you with a Health Assessment Score based on the PAI system, this uses your heart rate and activity to provide a 7-day rolling health score. This is very motivating as the goal is to score 100.
As well as heart rate monitoring, the watch has GPS for tracking your route and a blood oxygen monitor to see the saturation of oxygen in your blood.
Best for Design: Michael Kors Access Lexington 2
Stylish design with bespoke Michael Kors watch faces
Choice of colors and styles
Make and receive phone calls
Just because you’re getting a smartwatch, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a designer name. Several traditional watchmakers have moved into the smartwatch game including Michael Kors with devices that mirror the design of their traditional watches.
The Michael Kors Access Lexington 2 runs Google’s WearOS, similar to the Ticwatch and Suunto 7 shared earlier. However, Michael Kors has gone for a very vanilla WearOS experience, with no additional apps or customizations other than some watch faces with their logo.
For me, this isn’t a bad thing as WearOS is already a great platform with lots of everyday and fitness features, plus you have access to a large range of third-party apps on the play store. There’s also a built-in mic and speaker for making calls and accessing Google Assistant with your voice.
As for the heart rate monitor, it provides consistent you can see real-time data on the watch or see reports using the Google Fit app.
Where this watch has differentiated itself is in its design. The watch has a full stainless steel case and band with proper links. It’s available in a variety of colors including gold, silver, black, and several dual-tone options. Some of the designs also have an etched bezel around the screen. And, of course, you have the Michael Kors logo which adds luxury in itself.
Battery Life: Huawei Watch GT 2
Two-week battery life
Option for always-on display
Integrate with MyFitnessPal and Google Fit
Heart rate not very accurate
Finally, we have the Huawei Watch GT 2. This is an everyday watch with a stainless steel casing and a leather watchband.
The watch has a heart rate monitor which can provide 24/7 monitoring like many of the other watches here. However, if you need precise measurements, this isn’t for you as it uses predictive algorithms rather than constant monitoring.
According to users in Huawei forums, the watch can be anywhere from 5-10bpm off your actual heart rate.
In addition to the heart rate monitor, the watch also has GPS which is ideal for runners as it will provide you with route maps in the Huawei Health app alongside your heart rate performance.
Huawei has developed their operating system known as LiteOS which focuses on battery life over features, so you cannot make or receive phone calls via the device as you can with other flagship smartwatches and there is no Wi-Fi or third-party apps.
This has allowed them to achieve an impressive 2-week battery life which means you won’t need to charge it every night like some brands. There is an option for an always-on display (known as the lock screen on this device), however, this will impact the battery life as you’d expect.
Although the watch doesn’t support third-party apps, the Huawei Health app on your phone does integrate with Google Fit and MyFitnessPal so you can share your activity data with these apps if you wish.