While some smartwatches exist purely to track your fitness and mirror your notifications, many of the top-tier smartwatches have far more interaction such as the ability to receive and reply to text messages.
As someone who’s always in and out of meetings, I love the ability to quickly respond to important messages on the sly, without having to get my phone out. That’s why I’ve spent countless hours researching which smartwatches allow you to send text messages, and I’ve shared these recommendations below.
Our top pick is the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 which comes with their messages app preinstalled, allowing you to view all of your text messages and respond to them using your voice, by handwriting on the screen, or with an emoji 💬. There’s also support for responding to messages from third-party apps such as WhatsApp and Hangouts.
The Galaxy Watch 3 is a great all-rounder, but it’s not for everyone. Keep reading for all our recommended smartwatches for texting, with picks for iPhone users, fitness enthusiasts, and one that can be used for messaging tether-free.
Best Smartwatches for Texting
Best Overall: Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
View your text messages on your watch
Three input methods for sending messages
Smooth user interface thanks to scrolling bezel
Battery only lasts one day
Limited ability with iPhone
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 ticks a lot of boxes in terms of specs and features giving it our number one spot. It runs Samsung’s Tizen platform, although can be paired with most Android phones and iPhones.
The user experience of this watch makes it intuitive to use, this is thanks to a physical rotating bezel around the watch face that can be used for quickly scrolling through menus.
As well as GPS and heart rate monitoring found in the previous generation, the Galaxy Watch 3 also has enhanced sleep tracking, blood oxygen monitoring, and VO2 Max which gives an overview of your general fitness.
With texts, you can look back through your messages on the preinstalled texting app. You can send new messages or reply via three input methods: dictating your message, using handwriting-to-text, or just send an emoji. The watch has a notification indicator on the watch face that will alert you of any missed messages.
Messaging is similar for third-party apps such as Whatsapp or Messenger, however, you can’t look back through older messages and need to reply immediately from the notification.
If you have an iPhone connected to the Galaxy Watch 3, unfortunately texting is currently unavailable. Battery life is the only major concern of this watch, it will last just over a full day on a single charge.
Best for iPhone: Apple Watch Series 6
Send texts and iMessages from your wrist
Scribble for accurate handwriting
LTE version available for tether-free messaging
Battery life of 18 hours
For those with an iPhone, you won’t be surprised to find that the Apple Watch is our top pick. The Series 6 is Apple’s top tier smartwatch, featuring their super-fast S6 processor and features such as an always-on retina display, GPS, heart rate and blood oxygen sensors, and Siri built-in.
The Apple Watch is the only smartwatch to have full integration with Apple’s Messaging app for sending both SMS and iMessages.
As well as voice-to-text, the Apple Watch has a feature called Scribble that allows you to handwrite on the screen and it will convert it to text. This is great for texting or using messaging apps and even allows you to handwrite emojis. Compared to similar features in other watches, Scribble is far more accurate.
Natively, the Apple Watch doesn’t come with a full on-screen keyboard. However, there are plenty of keyboard apps such as Shift Keyboard which add this functionality, including swipe typing.
The watch is available as either GPS-only or LTE, with the latter offering you a completely tether-free experience. With the LTE version, you can stream music, make phone calls, and send/receive text messages whilst away from your phone.
The watch has a battery capacity of 304mAh which allows it to last around 18 hours with normal use, just enough to get you through a full day.
Best with WearOS: Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle
Respond to messages via notifications
Native QWERTY keyboard with swipe typing
Design inspired by Fossil’s traditional watches
Cannot look back through previous texts
If you’re invested in Google’s ecosystem, then you might want to opt for a smartwatch that runs their WearOS platform such as the Fossil Gen 5.
The watch packs in GPS, a heart rate monitor, onboard storage for listening to Spotify or Podcasts offline, and NFC for making payments with Google Pay.
As well as the broadest selection of third-party apps, WearOS is the only platform with Google’s own much-loved apps such as Google Maps, Google Keep, and integration with Google Fit.
Unlike Samsung and Apple, WearOS does not have a native way to look back through your old texts which can be slightly annoying. However, when you receive a new text message, there are several ways you can respond to it.
The simplest way is using speech-to-text which makes use of Google’s excellent language processing abilities to get your message correct almost every time. Alternatively, you can pull up an on-screen QWERTY keyboard, you can handwrite on the screen (similar to Apple’s Scribble) or you can set quick responses.
The one downfall of the Fossil Gen 5 is battery life, and it’s no surprise given how bulky the WearOS platform is. You will only just get through the day on a single charge so expect to recharge it every night.
Budget Pick for Android: Ticwatch E2
Battery life of around 2-3 days
No built-in speaker or NFC
The E2 is the latest in Ticwatch’s budget line of smartwatches, but even at a low price point, it’s got some beefy specs that are worth considering. It runs WearOS and is powered by a Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor.
Being another WearOS smartwatch, the texting ability is identical to the Fossil Gen 5 including speech-to-text, onscreen keyboard with swipe typing, handwriting on the screen, or quick responses.
It has a built-in microphone for dictating messages or accessing the Google Assistant, however, there is no speaker so it’s not suitable for making calls.
There’s a range of fitness features including GPS for tracking your runs, a heart rate monitor, and a 5ATM rating for up to 50m which means you can wear it for surfing and swimming.
Battery life isn’t too bad and outperforms the Samsung and Apple smartwatches. Most users on Amazon report around 2-3 days battery life with regular use, including daily fitness tracking.
One notable feature that is missing is NFC, so you can’t use it for making contactless payments like the rest of Ticwatch’s range. It’s also worth mentioning that the included watch band is very basic, although you can easily replace it with any 22mm band.
Budget Pick for iPhone: Apple Watch Series 3
More affordable than Series 6
Scribble and voice-to-text for texting
Includes GPS and NFC
Smaller screen makes handwriting more difficult
No always-on retina display
Just because you have an iPhone, that doesn’t limit you to the more expensive Series 6 Apple Watch. If you’re looking for something more affordable, the Series 3 is a budget-friendly alternative.
When it comes to texting, the series 3 still has the option for using voice-to-text, Scribble, and the option to install a third-party keyboard. However, with a smaller screen than the series 6, the latter two options become more difficult.
The Series 3 also lacks the always-on retina display found in the Series 6 and has a slimmed down internal memory, but at 8GB it’s still more than most smartwatches.
You’ll still have the essential sensors such as a heart rate monitor, GPS, and NFC for making payments with Apple Pay. However, it doesn’t have the blood oxygen sensor and ECG like the series 6.
The series 3 has a smaller 279mAh battery capacity, however, with fewer features to power, it still achieves the same battery life of around 18 hours on a single charge.
Best for Fitness: Samsung Galaxy Active 2
Slim and light on your wrist
Touch bezel for quick scrolling
Offline listening with Spotify Premium
Battery only lasts one day
If you need a fitness-focused smartwatch, the Samsung Galaxy Active 2 boasts similar specs to the Galaxy Watch 3, however, its slimmed-down aesthetic makes it lighter on your wrist and much better for wearing whilst working out.
They’ve traded out the physical bezel for a touch bezel so you still get that great user experience, and at just 37g, it’s one of the lightest smartwatches in this round-up.
The watch has 4GB of onboard storage which can be used to download music from Spotify Premium for offline listening during your workouts. By connecting your Bluetooth headphones directly to the watch, there’s no need to take your bulky phone out whilst running.
As with the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, this watch is also great for texting thanks to the pre-installed messages app that allows you to read your messages and reply to them via dictating, handwriting-to-text or emojis.
However, bear in mind that texting will be unavailable when you aren’t tethered to a phone as the watch doesn’t have any cellular connection (keep reading for a cellular recommendation).
Best for Sports: Garmin Forerunner 245 Music
Read text messages on screen
Garmin Coach for personalized training plans
Offline storage for 500 songs
Can’t type new messages (quick responses only)
The Forerunner 245 is a running-focused smartwatch from Gamin, but the features will appeal to a broad range of sporting enthusiasts.
With Garmin Coach, you can sync personalized training plans directly to the watch and monitor your performance via the built-in heart rate and blood oxygen sensors. Adding to this, the GPS and accelerometer provide accurate tracking of your activity.
Whilst you can’t type text messages on the watch, there is a great quick response feature that allows you to quickly flick through the potential responses on your watch.
These responses can be set up in the Garmin Connect app where you can choose from a predetermined list or set your own custom responses. There is a similar option for incoming calls too, although both of these features are limited to Android phones.
It has a huge 3.5GB of offline storage which allows you to sync up to 500 songs from Spotify Premium to the watch for use during sports. Whilst the transflective LCD display is ideal for use in direct sunlight, unfortunately, it isn’t a touch screen device like the others shared here.
Best for Battery Life: Fitbit Versa 3
Includes both Alexa and Google Assistant
Dictate text messages via voice-to-text (Android only)
2-3 days battery life with normal use
Limited productivity apps
If you’re looking for a smartwatch that can last longer than a few days, then turn your eyes towards the Fitbit Versa 3. This smartwatch has a battery life of up to 7 days with regular use, although this will be reduced to around 2-3 days with the use of the always-on display and GPS.
An update in late 2020 saw Google Assistant added to the existing Alexa capability. Fitbit is the only manufacturer to offer both voice assistants on their watches, although now that the company has been bought by Google, we know which one will be their focus going forward.
The watch supports voice-to-text for responding to text messages, however, this is currently limited to just Android smartphones.
As for other messaging apps, you can reply to these using Fitbit’s quick replies feature. This allows you to set up to 5 custom quick responses for each messaging app that supports it, you can then send these quick replies directly from the message notification.
Being a Fitbit, of course, there are plenty of health sensors and tracking. There’s GPS, a heart rate monitor, and blood oxygen monitoring, all of which are pulled together in the Fitbit app. Whilst there are some music apps and Fitbit pay, the Versa 3 doesn’t have a broad range of productivity apps like the Apple Watch and WearOS.
If battery life is a priority for you, we put together a list of the best smartwatches for battery life.
Best with Cellular: TicWatch 4G/LTE
Cellular connection to send messages without your phone
Multiple input methods including swipe type
Dual screen gives at least 2 full days of battery life
On-going cost of a SIM card (varies by carrier)
I’ve already mentioned the Ticwatch E2 as a good budget smartwatch, but for a broader range of features and a cellular connection, the Ticwatch 4G/LTE that runs on WearOS is a great pick.
Despite running WearOS and a cellular connection, both of which require a lot of power, Ticwatch has still managed to give this watch 2 full days of battery life thanks to their dual-screen display.
The top screen is an LCD display that provides the watch face and always-on screen, using very little power to do so. However, when you wake the watch to use the smart features, it will use the AMOLED display found underneath.
Thanks to a cellular connection, you can read and reply to text messages or other messaging apps even when you’re out of range of your smartphone. Whilst you can compose a new text, being WearOS, you are still not able to look back through your previous messages.
But, you’re not limited to texting, with the cellular connection you can also make/receive phone calls or voice messages with ease.
The Ticwatch has all the other benefits that come with WearOS, including full integration with Google Fit, the ability to pay using the built-in NFC technology and Google Pay, plus access to Google Assistant using the microphone and speaker.
Best for Style: Michael Kors Access Lexington
Stylish design with several color choices for men and women
At least three input methods for sending text messages
Built-in microphone and speaker for calls
Cannot look back through old text messages
Battery only just lasts a full day
If you want a smartwatch that makes a statement then the Michael Kors Access Lexington is a perfect choice. It’s been designed to mirror their traditional Lexington watch range.
As you’d expect from a Michael Kors watch, smart or otherwise, it’s been designed to look stylish and elegant. It looks more expensive than any other smartwatch here, although you’ll be surprised to find a reasonable price tag for a watch with these specs.
The watch is available in a variety of colors from black and gold for men, to pink and rose glitz for women. It has a traditional watch strap with proper stainless steel links, bear in mind that you’ll need to visit a specialist if you want this resized.
On the inside, this is another WearOS watch so the feature set is similar to the Fossil and the Ticwatch. For texting, you can use speech-to-text, handwriting on the screen (emoji’s included), or swipe texting via the onscreen keyboard.
It features GPS, a heart rate monitor, NFC with Google Pay, and all the other benefits that come with WearOS. It also has 8GB of storage for offline listening via Spotify.
There’s no LTE version, so you’ll need to be tethered to your phone when using the messaging features, but it’s ideal if you need to send that urgent message during a meeting.
Recent studies have shown that over 50% of smartwatch owners primarily use them for texting and notifications as one of the daily functions so it makes sense that texting functionality is one of the main features that buyers look for.