With Apple dominating the smartphone market, you won’t be surprised to find smartwatch makers working hard to ensure their devices appeal to iPhone owners.
The Apple Watch will be the first to spring to mind, and rightly so given how well Apple has integrated their ecosystem. However, I’ve dug deeper and found a world of smartwatches that can be used for notifications, calls, messaging, and more, even if you have an iPhone. I’ve put together this guide to share my findings and help you choose the best watch for your needs.
Our top pick is the Apple Watch Series 6, this smartwatch packs in every feature you could need and some things you don’t even know you need. It has seamless integration with the iPhone, including the ability to download songs from Apple Music and make payments with Apple Pay.
Apple Watches aren’t for everyone with the price and battery life providing some well-known barriers, so keep reading to find plenty of other smartwatches that work with iPhones in the list, from budget picks to one that lasts up to 14 days on a charge.
Best Smartwatches for iPhone (iOS)
Best Overall: Apple Watch Series 6
Fastest processor out of all Apple Watches
Digital crown has haptic feedback for easier scrolling
32GB of onboard storage for music
Most expensive Apple watch
The Series 6 is Apple’s signature smartwatch and a deserved top position for iPhone users. Apple Watches offers the most seamless integration with the rest of Apple’s ecosystem with features that can’t be found on rival operating systems.
This includes Apple Pay for making contactless payments, Apple Music which allows songs to be downloaded to the watch for offline listening, and full use of iMessage.
Key features that see the Series 6 stand out from Apple’s other watches are the always-on retina display and the top-of-the-range S6 processor which Apple claims to be 20% faster at opening apps than their previous processor.
It also has a blood oxygen sensor which isn’t seen in any other iterations of the device, this would appeal to anyone looking to monitor a condition where your oxygen might drop (i.e. asthma) or if you’re a keen hiker heading up to high altitudes.
It also includes an electrocardiogram which was first introduced in the Series 5, and a digital crown with haptic feedback that makes it very easy to use.
There’s both a GPS only and a cellular version of the watch available if you’d like to make and receive calls whilst away from your iPhone.
Runner Up: Apple Watch SE
Cheaper than Series 6 but still has most of the high-end features
Haptic feedback as you scroll with the digital crown
GPS and cellular versions available
Doesn’t have the always-on display
Fewer health sensors than Series 6
The Apple Watch SE was launched around the same time as the Series 6, and for the most part, offers many similar features but at a lower price.
It brings across the digital crown with haptic feedback from the Series 6, the always-on altimeter, and Family Setup which is a feature in the Series 6 and SE. Family Setup allows the watch to be used for making calls and sending messages without an iPhone, positioning the watch as suitable for kids who don’t yet have a phone.
The watch also packs in the same 32GB of onboard storage, the compass, and the same 18-hour battery life found in the Series 6. With all these features and a lower price, you’re probably wondering why the Series 6 exists? Well, the SE is missing some of the most premium features.
There is no blood oxygen sensor or ECG, two features that may appeal to someone managing a health condition or doing endurance exercise. It’s also missing the always-on display so you’ll need to lift your wrist to wake the watch, however, it does still have the same retina display when it’s on.
The Apple Watch SE is also available as both a GPS-only and LTE version. There’s no stainless steel option as with the Series 6 so you’re limited to aluminum, however, there’s a variety of case colors including silver, space grey, and gold.
Budget Pick: Apple Watch Series 3
Integration with Apple’s ecosystem from Apple Pay to Apple Music
No haptic feedback on the digital crown
Screen is smaller and doesn’t go to the edge of the watch
The third Apple Watch we’re going to recommend is the Series 3 which is aimed at those looking for a more budget-friendly choice.
The Series 3 is a lot more basic than the SE and Series 6 previously mentioned and runs on a cheaper S3 processor so might feel a bit slower to use.
As for design, the case isn’t as slim as the Series 6 which can make it feel bulkier on your wrist. It also uses an older screen that is smaller and with square corners, this isn’t a big issue but means you may end up scrolling a lot more to read your messages.
It still has the digital crown for easy scrolling, however, it doesn’t have haptic feedback which makes the crown on the Series 6 and SE feel more alive and like a mechanical dial of a watch.
The software on the phone is identical, so you’ll still get access to all the essential features such as Apple Pay, Apple Music (with 8GB offline storage), and iMessage. It’s also equipped with GPS for tracking your workouts and a speaker and microphone for making calls and accessing Siri.
Some of the more premium features have been left out of the Series 3, for example, there’s no compass, fall detection, or blood oxygen sensor.
Best Round Smartwatch: Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
Rotating bezel makes it easy to navigate the menus
Includes Samsung Pay as an alternative to Apple Pay
Make and receive calls from your iPhone using the watch
Can’t use iMessage
The Apple Watch range offers a lot of variety in terms of features and pricing, but one thing they all have in common is their square shape which might not be to everyone’s liking. That’s where the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 can step in to provide a viable alternative that still works well with iPhones.
It’s not just the look of the Galaxy Watch 3 that’s appealing, the user interface is very sleek to navigate. This is mostly due to the rotating bezel around the edge of the screen that puts Apple’s digital crown to shame, even with the haptic feedback.
You’ll have to make a few compromises to access some of the features, for example, using Samsung Pay instead of Apple Pay, Bixby instead of Siri, and Samsung Health instead of Apple Health. Whilst each service is very similar, your preference will depend on what you are used to using and may take some adjustment.
There are some things you just can’t do, for example, iMessage is unavailable on the Galaxy Watch 3 so you can’t use it for texts either. You can still make and receive calls using the Galaxy Watch’s built-in microphone and speaker, plus, there are all the third-party apps such as Whatsapp.
But, there are also things the Galaxy Watch 3 can do that the Apple Watches cannot, for example, downloading from Spotify to the watch’s internal memory for offline listening.
Best Value: Honor Magicwatch 2
Great value for money
Above-average battery life of 5 days
Good range of health-related features and sensors
Cannot control your iPhone’s media from watch
Limited to the pre-installed apps
Next up is the Honor Magic Watch 2, a mid-range smartwatch in terms of features, but with a price tag that’s very easy to swallow.
The watch runs on a Huawei Kirin A1 chipset and uses Huawei’s Lite OS platform, in some respects it’s just a cheaper version of the Huawei Watch GT2. It’s even the same weight as the GT2 at 41g which makes it light on your wrist.
The watch can mirror your phone’s notifications, sync fitness data such as your heart rate, and track workouts using the built-in GPS.
The vast majority of the features on the Honor Magic Watch 2 are available to iPhone users including the ability to make and receive calls on the watch with the built-in microphone and speaker. However, one notable exception is the ability to control music playing through your phone which is limited to Android users.
The watch comes with a good range of health and fitness apps, including Huawei Health which brings together everything tracked by the watch in a central app. However, if you’re hoping to install your own fitness apps, you may be disappointed as the Magic Watch 2 doesn’t support third-party apps.
Honor claims that the watch can last up to 14 days, but with regular use of the always-on display and heart rate monitor, users on Amazon suggest that around 5 days is more realistic.
Best for Fitness: Garmin Vivoactive 4
Integrated Garmin Coach provides expert training plans
Offline storage for up to 500 songs from Spotify or MP3
Around 2-3 days battery life with regular use
Fewer apps than the Apple Watch
Garmin is best known for their fitness trackers, but the Vivoactive 4 is more of an everyday smartwatch that still encompasses some of their best fitness features.
Notably, Garmin Coach provides adaptive training plans that have been developed with professional athletes and will personalize your fitness plan based on your performance and progress as tracked by the watch.
The watch screen uses a transflective display which is easy to see in sunlight making it perfect for runs or other outdoor fitness. This also means it has a good battery life as transflective screens don’t need as much power.
With regular use, expect around 2-3 full days, although this can be stretched up to 8 days in smartwatch mode without the always-on display or GPS usage.
The Vivosport 4 has one of the broadest selections of streaming services, with Spotify, Deezer, and Amazon Music, all of which allow offline listening via the Vivosport 4’s huge internal storage for up to 500 songs.
Using Garmin Connect IQ on your iPhone, you can add various third-party apps and mirror your iPhone notifications on the watch. You are more limited when it comes to calls and messaging, with no onboard speaker or microphone, you can read your messages but that’s about it.
You can sync the fitness data from the watch to Apple Health, however, the watch cannot receive any data from Apple Health so you’ll have to view it all on your iPhone. Whilst there’s no Apple Pay, you can use Garmin Pay via the built-in NFC chip.
If you’re an audiophile, you might want to see our entire guide to the best smartwatches for music.
Best with WearOS: Ticwatch Pro 3
Dual screen allows it to last 3-5 days on a single charge
Access Google’s ecosystem of apps
Respond to messages from your notifications with speech-to-text or handwriting
No Apple Music or YouTube Music
No iMessage support
As an iPhone user, you’re probably not too invested in Google’s ecosystem. But on the off-chance that you have other Google devices such as a Chromecast or Nest Hub, we thought we’d throw in a WearOS smartwatch.
Its most notable feature is the dual-screen where Mobvoi has overlaid an LCD watch screen on top of the AMOLED smartwatch screen. This means the always-on watch face can consume significantly less power than most similar watches and lasts 3-5 days between charges which is unheard of for a WearOS watch.
Google has made a lot of updates to ensure that WearOS works well with iPhones, this includes building the Play Store and Google Assistant right into the platform itself so that iPhone users can access them. Google Pay even works when connected to an iPhone.
There are still some limitations, for example, there’s no iMessage support, and interactions with Apple’s calendar and email apps is more limited than the Apple Watch. But, you can still use third-party messaging apps via notifications and you can make calls too.
The watch has 8GB of onboard storage that can be used for downloading music from Spotify or Podcasts from other third-party apps such as Wear Casts.
Best for Health Tracking: Fitbit Sense
Only watch with an EDA sensor to measure stress
Tracks your sleep to give you a daily score
Both Alexa and Google Assistant built-in
Cannot respond to messages when connected to an iPhone
The Fitbit Sense rivals even the Apple Watch Series 6 when it comes to built-in sensors.
Like the Series 6, it has GPS, a heart rate monitor, and a blood oxygen sensor. However, it goes even further with an electrodermal activity (EDA) sensor which measures your response to stress and your skin temperature.
Combined with readings from other sensors, these provide a daily stress management score which can help track triggers and ways of dealing with stress.
The Fitbit Sense also provides in-depth tracking of your sleep, it tracks your temperature at night, blood oxygen, time awake/asleep, how much you toss and turn, etc. All of this is combined to give you a sleep score. Some of the more advanced reporting on health and sleep tracking does require a Fitbit Premium subscription.
Using the Fitbit app, iPhone users can connect the Fitbit Sense to receive notifications on their device of a text or call. However, you cannot currently respond to these messages when connected to an iPhone as you can with an Android.
There’s no Siri onboard the Fitbit, however, you’ll have plenty of voice assistant choices because the Fitbit Versa 3 has both Alexa and Google Assistant built-in.
Best for Battery Life: Amazfit GTS
Battery life of up to 14 days
Similar style to the Apple Watch at a much cheaper price
Mirrors your iPhone notifications and tracks workouts
Cannot install third-party apps on the watch
If battery life is of key concern, then you’re probably not going to want an Apple Watch or WearOS given that the operating systems use so much power.
Instead, we recommend looking towards the up-and-coming brand Amazfit who has launched several devices at the budget end of the market. The Amazfit GTS isn’t too dissimilar to the Apple Watch in design with its square shape, curved corners, and vivid AMOLED screen that fills the front face.
But inside the device is a proprietary operating system that is far more basic than anything in the Apple Watch lineup. It’s able to mirror call and text notifications, track your fitness and control your music.
Included in the fitness tracking are a step tracker, heart rate sensor, and GPS for tracking workouts. There are 12 different pre-set sports it can monitor from cycling to swimming (suitable up to 50m), or you can set a custom workout.
This lightweight operating system allows the watch to achieve an incredible 8-10 days of battery life with regular use, or up to 14 days with very light use. This is even more impressive when you consider the battery capacity is only 220mAh.
The watch cannot make payments, there are no notifications from third-party apps, and don’t expect to make calls as there is no built-in microphone or speaker. This is a budget device, so expect a no-frills experience.