Buying a smartwatch can be a tricky dilemma. There are many smartwatch options here in NZ and to make matters worse, they all have different capabilities and features.
Some smartwatches can be used for freediving; some can take and make phone calls; some can store music; some smartwatches are compatible with NZ’s most popular apps, and so on.
Smartwatches vary in price. The lower-tier devices can cost as little as $100, while premium options can be closer to $1,500. The best-of-the-best are usually more expensive as they bring more to the table.
If you’re looking for a premium smartwatch, you can expect crisp, vibrant displays, long-lasting batteries, a variety of health and fitness trackers, sturdy resistance ratings and more. And it always pays to remember that smartwatches are usually better when paired with a premium phone made by the same company.
In this expert guide, we’ve ranked what we think are the best smartwatches available in NZ to help you with your purchasing decision.
As a disclaimer, this list doesn’t consider more running-oriented smartwatches. It’s primarily focused on tech-based devices.
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The Best Smartwatches NZ
1. Apple Watch Series 8
GPS + Cellular | 484 x 396 resolution | 18-hour battery | IP6X resistance rating
The Apple Watch Series 8 is the best smartwatch on the market if you’re an Apple user. It adds a significant amount to the Apple ecosystem, so much so that you’ll never want to be without it.
It boasts more features than most competitors, is compatible with all the most popular apps in NZ, and Android-based devices have a long way to go to catch up to its quality.
Apple’s Watch products have constantly pushed the industry forward. New hallmarks like car crash detection in which the emergency services will be alerted if you’re in a crash, and temperature sensing now feel like must-haves.
And, of course, everything else is still here, like accurate GPS tracking, a crisp always-on display, several health trackers like ECG, sleep and blood oxygen tracking and the ability to make and take calls on the device.
At 18 hours, the battery isn’t the longest, which may impair your ability to use it at night for things like sleep tracking. However, it’s more than enough to last a full day.
2. Apple Watch Ultra
GPS + Cellular | 502 x 410 resolution | 36-hour battery | IP6x resistance rating
The Apple Watch Ultra is a beast. It’s big, powerful and bright. The only reason it sits in second place is because this is more of a niche device for those who enjoy the extreme walks of life like hiking, camping, biking, or diving, and it’s very expensive.
The 502 x 410 resolution display is brilliant, boasting a maximum brightness of 2,000 nits. You can easily see colours and details in direct sunlight. The 36-hour battery is an impressive feat for a smartwatch with this display, and the new action button gives you access to various controls like setting a compass point or beginning a dive.
Of course, Apple’s accurate trackers are here as well, like running form, running power, heart rate zones, and a precise GPS system. It all adds to the usability of the Ultra.
It’s an impressive smartwatch, but it’s also very expensive. At $1,500, this is the most expensive smartwatch on this list. With that said, you won’t be disappointed in Apple’s Watch Ultra if you’re an extreme sportsperson.
3. Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro
GPS + Cellular | 450 x 450 resolution | 70-hour battery | IP68 resistance rating
Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is the best smartwatch for Android users. If you have a Samsung phone, the 5 Pro is even better.
The Watch 5 Pro has an accurate BioActive sensor that can measure heart rate, blood pressure, blood oxygen and ECG measurements. It also has Samsung’s Turn-by-Turn directions which will guide you when using maps.
This smartwatch looks excellent and comes with a massive number of customisation options. With its 70-hour battery life, you can easily use it all day and all night without worrying about where you’ll find your next charge. Ideal for sleep tracking.
It supports Google’s Wear OS, so it’s compatible with all your favourite Google apps. And is powered by Samsung, so the company’s own first-party apps are here as well.
4. Huawei GT3 Pro
100+ workout modes | 466 x 466 resolution | 14-day battery | IP68 5ATM resistance rating
Huawei’s GT3 Pro is a fantastic smartwatch boasting the biggest battery on this list.
The crisp 466 x 466 resolution display is bright and vibrant, and the watch can last up to 14 days on moderate usage, which is very impressive.
With 100+ workout options and the ability to be used for free dives in up to 30m of depth, there’s nothing this smartwatch can’t handle.
But the reason it’s this far down the list is because it isn’t compatible with US-based apps. This means no Spotify, no Google apps, and no Strava and the GT3 Pro is held back by this.
Huawei has quickly started releasing its own in-house apps, and the GT3 Pro will work with Android and iOS devices. However, you won’t be able to use NZ’s most popular apps.
If Huawei can remedy this and get app support, this watch will be much higher on the list. It has a fantastic battery, a great display, an easy-to-use interface, and is a very good smartwatch overall.
5. Garmin Venu 2
360 x 360 resolution | 10 days battery (smartwatch mode) | 5 ATM water resistance
Garmin is better known for its exercise focussed watches, especially its running watches. The Venu 2 straddles the line between a fitness watch and a smartwatch, and it does it well.
While the 360 x 360 resolution display isn’t the best on this list, it’s still vibrant enough to see a massive amount of information on the screen.
It comes packed with Garmin’s market-leading health trackers and GPS functionalities. Respiration rate, blood oxygen levels, stress tracking, relaxation reminders, sleep tracking, hydration tracking and loads more.
The Venu 2 is compatible with Android and iOS devices; however, text responding on the watch is only compatible with Android phones.
What to consider when choosing the best smartwatch
How much should I spend on a smartwatch?
Similar to other tech products, smartwatches range in price. They can cost as low as $100 and range up to $1,500.
There are a lot of smartwatches available in NZ and there’s bound to be one that matches your budget, but most of the time, the more expensive smartwatches bring more to the table.
Better displays, more accurate trackers, app support, faster processors and advanced features like taking calls on the watch, are usually reserved for more premium devices. It’s important to know that if you want the most out of a smartwatch, you’re probably going to have to pay a bit extra.
Mid-range smartwatches might be compatible with some advanced features however it’s unlikely they will be compatible with all of them.
With that said, always consider what you want out of a smartwatch, as some of these “premium” features may not be of any use to you, and all they would be doing is pushing the price up.
Does my phone effect what smartwatch I should get?
Nowadays, technology is becoming more and more insular in that products work better in their respective ecosystems.
Apple smartwatches work better with Apple phones, Huawei smartwatches work better with Huawei phones, Samsung smartwatches work better with Samsung phones and so on. In fact, some smartwatches are exclusive to their own operating systems and platforms.
There are outliers to this, like Fitbit and Garmin that work with all devices, however most of the time, the smartwatch that’s best going to serve you is the one that pairs well with your phone.
Consider which phone you have and purchase a smartwatch accordingly.
Does the smartwatch support the apps/features you want?
Be aware that not every smartwatch is compatible with every app, and similarly not every smartwatch boasts the same number of features.
Some apps are simply unavailable like Spotify or Strava on Huawei devices. And a lot of smartwatches don’t have phone calling capabilities.
Always consider what apps you think you’ll want to use with the smartwatch and ensure the device is compatible with them.
How good is the smartwatch display?
Smartwatch displays vary wildly. Some boast high resolution screens that are vibrant and colourful, while some prefer less detailed screens that conserve battery.
If you’re looking for a smartwatch that’s nice to look at with a high maximum brightness, you’ll want a watch with a higher resolution. Usually, higher resolution displays produce a clearer and sharper picture. But they use more battery.
If you’re looking for a smartwatch that has a longer-lasting battery, look for a device with a lower resolution screen. These screens are still functional and will display all the information you need; they just don’t look as nice.
Is smartwatch battery life important to you?
As mentioned above the battery life of a smartwatch varies based on a lot of factors.
Smartwatches that are compatible with a lot of apps or have better displays usually last about a day and will require charging overnight. This means they won’t be great for overnight features like sleep tracking or snore detection.
Some smartwatches have batteries that can last weeks. These usually have less app support or have lesser displays, but they can be used overnight.
It also pays to remember that if you’re going to be using GPS tracking features for running or exercising, this can severely impact the battery life.
Make sure you consider how you think you’ll use your smartwatch and how much battery you think it’ll use then purchase accordingly. The size of the battery is usually the best way to measure how long the smartwatch will last on a single charge.
Health trackers set the best smartwatches apart
Premium smartwatches push their health and fitness features to the forefront. The best-of-the-best now boast accurate and reliable health trackers.
The amount and the capabilities of these trackers is what sets the best apart.
Some smartwatches can now track CO2 levels, heartbeat rates, blood oxygen levels, menstrual cycles and GPS tracking, just to name a few.
Think about what you will potentially want to track with your smartwatch and make sure the device has a tracker for that purpose.
Is the smartwatch waterproof?
There’s nothing worse than having to take your watch off every time you have a shower.
Most smartwatches have water resistance ratings, however some are resistant to dirt and sand as well. This means you could wear them in the ocean and not have to worry about getting damaged. Some also can go deeper underwater for activities like diving.
Alway have a look at the IP resistance rating of the device to see what it is resistant to.
How big is the smartwatch?
Often, smartwatches come in two designs, one larger than the other.
Consider the size of your wrist and purchase accordingly. Be warned that most of the time, the bigger the smartwatch the higher the price.